Non-Attachment and the Yogi Life
In todays society, the attenuation of material items is almost a status of wealth and success. The people who we deem successful have the highest paying jobs, the biggest house, the fanciest cars, and the most expensive clothes. In yoga philosophy, we are taught the concept of non-attachment. This idea spawns the notion that everything in the material world will eventually lead to some level of suffering in our lives; whether this is your car eventually breaking down or your favourite jacket getting old and worn out. We cannot put our happiness in material items. Instead the true source of happiness comes through the ultimate realization of the truth. The truth here is in reference to how the world works, and through the journey into our true selves. To incorporate non-attachment into your life can lead you to a path free from future suffering.
I have heard two slightly different interpretation of this concept. The first, stating that we should avoid material items all together. That there is no need for the accumulation of ‘stuff’ and that we should only have the essentials to life. To surround ourselves with items that are unnecessary only adds to our over indulgence and to the growing layers of our ego. Since only the essentials are required there is no need for anything else.
On the other side, non-attachment can be exercised in the presence of material items. The condition to this is knowing that you are not defined by these items and that you do not put yourself through destress if you are able to obtain it. There is that awareness that our true self goes beyond the material world, and therefore, we should not put much emphasis and importance to it.
I tend to agree more with the second point of view. I do not believe there is anything wrong in purchasing an item that you see value in. I, myself, am guilty of going on shopping trips and overindulging on an overpriced piece of clothing. I see nothing wrong in treating yourself or getting something more luxurious. Saying that, I do have the mentality and knowledge that these materialistic items do not change me as a person; it does not any value to who I am. What defines who we are deep down in the absence of our ego has nothing to do with the material world. Having the biggest and most up-to-date home does not add to how compassionate we are, or how caring and kind we are. It is my belief that non-attachment can be exercised through awareness and not necessary avoidance of the material world.