It is snowing today in the Finger Lakes. A lazy drizzle of white that reminds me to make sure I have socks on. This time of year is dark, when the sun is always hiding behind a cloud and setting too early. It’s a time to reflect on the darkness of the seasons, watching the plant life die, animals scurry to their hibernation holes, and when people seem to pass. Whether this passing is physical or spiritual, it is a shift some feel around this time of year. I like to reflect on things that I want to change, let go of, be better at, and use the waiting period of winter to carry out these goals.
In so saying, I find myself stuck on one of the yama’s, aparigraha, non possessiveness. In no way did I intend to jump around the yamas, I did want to go in order, but this is striking me very hard today. A death in the family occurred yesterday, and along with some personal issues this seems to hit hard this week, so I thought “let’s go for it”. Non possessiveness sounds like something easily done, like non stealing. Don’t be possessive over your material things, okay can handle that. Don’t be possessive over people…while difficult depending on the situation and other issues can be done. Yet I find myself questioning how much non possessiveness should be applied here. If you are totally passive, totally non possessive or attached, how can any relationship be formed? Of course a new mother is possessive and attached to her newborn, of course the newlyweds are possessive and attached to each other. Where does the line of having a relationship with someone end and the yama aparigraha begin? If sorrow and pain and unhappiness are caused by our emotional tie to things/people/places in this world, how can we live a yogic life of indifference and yet still be in a marriage, or not feel pain at the passing of a relative?
Trying to find some comfort, I went and looked up different pada’s and different opinions and commentary of the pada’s, and I found one that was comforting at least when looking at change or death:
“What is it that dies? A log of wood dies to become a few planks. The planks die to become a chair. The chair dies to become a piece of firewood, and the firewood dies to become ash. You give different names to the different shapes the wood takes, but the basic substance is there always. If we could always remember this, we would never worry about the loss of anything. We never lose anything; we never gain anything. By such discrimination we put an end to unhappiness. (118-119)”
― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
“…the basic substance is there always.” This reminds me of a lecture once on energy, that energy never dies, can never be destroyed. Now go easy here, the lecture was years ago, and part of me is certain energy can be destroyed when in contact with antimatter…but I digress. If energy can never be destroyed, theoretically, then the energy that is made up of us, our energy, goes somewhere. Whether it is into the Earth, another being, reincarnation, what have you. The energy is still here, with us, always…I find this oddly comforting when dealing with death and the ending of things. Which as I said, this time of year, permeates a lot of the reflection and self work that many pagans do. So despite their bodies having an ending, the energy goes onto a new journey. The same can be said about familial relationships, or marital relationships. That while the energy, vibe, may be in fluctuation, it does not necessarily mean an end. While it does not guarantee a continuation, if albeit changed, it doesn’t have to mean the end. “…the basic substance is there always.” I have a feeling this is going to be a mantra for me this week, and possibly the coming two months.
On that note, I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday, and that we all got something out of Swami Satchidananda. I promise to revisit the third yama shortly, maybe even tonight!