APARIGRAHA, Simplicity, Generosity
The final practice of Yama the yogic avoidance's, is Aparigraha, that is, to avoid accumulating beyond your needs. It literally means to not (a) grab, hoard, hold on to things or take more than you need (parigraha). It encourages a life of simplicity and generosity on all levels, having what is truly necessary and no more.
This practice encourages you to not accumulate excessive material objects, as the mind becomes engrossed in and bound by material objects when you do. Having more than you need does not usually lead to satisfaction but instead to an increased desire to acquire more and more. It makes the mind cluttered as well as the house. It clutters the mind with desire. In addition, what you have gotten in excess will no doubt leave another with less than their due. A kind of imbalance occurs in your life, and mental balance cannot be maintained in this circumstance.
Aparigraha does not mean that you should sell all that you own and simply have the shirt on your back. It isn’t that you should not meet your needs, and depending upon your situation, your needs will vary. However if you accumulate beyond your needs the practice of Aparigraha is lost. Then the house becomes filled with an accumulation of so many things you don't need. They become a clutter in the environment and where is your cleanliness in your cluttered environment? Have what you need, take what you need for your own self, for your own family, for your basic wants, but when you accumulate beyond your needs it leaves the mind cluttered and it instills fear.
Most people accumulate because it makes them feel safe. You place your welfare in material objects and not in the Divine Self. This does not generally work. It will not buy you permanent safety; it will only buy you suffering. This acquisition is the path to hell. True safety, true shelter, can only be gotten in the Infinite Entity. No other shelter will be with you when you are old and feeble. And when your time to depart the physical world has come, there is no other shelter for you. You will not be able to take all of these objects with you. So do not make them your shelter. It will only cause you suffering. Have what you need to utilize for a good life. This is appropriate and is the maxim of Aparigraha.
Rather than accumulating more perhaps it is better to use wealth in service to living beings. Excess accumulation of wealth not only harms you by misdirecting your trust and energy, but it harms others as well, for when excess material wealth lies in the hands of a few it creates a lack of needed resources among others. Practicing generosity instead of hording leads to a more balanced and spiritual life. That is why the yogis say live a simple life. Lead a life based in the solid ground of being and the love that weaves all living beings into one interdependent, interwoven community. Put your trust in your Divine source rather than what you can accumulate.
Maetreyii Ma: a teacher of yogic wisdom & practices