When Derik said that the Yamas were listed in order of precendence, I knew I had to start at the end. My job, my life, and my sloppy self-reflection skills all demanded that I take it easy on this one. So, I went straight to the end: aparigraha. The three versions of the sutras I had access to (How to Know God, translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood; The Heart of Yoga by TKV Deshikar, and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Swami Satchidananda) all had slightly different takes on sutra 3.29. I decided to skirt the connotations of accepting gifts and reincarnation, and take the approach of examining grasping, greed, and outcome-driven actions within my individual life. I was a little bit intimidated by how intertwined all the yamas seem to be in human behavior, if not in concept. I was not able to come up with a testable hypothesis or question for this experiment, and instead just decided to keep the awareness of the yama as much as possible while going about my job.
My job entails several levels of grasping, outcome-oriented action, and greed. In the most general level, having a job at all is something I do in order to accomplish a standard of living for my family that I’m not willing to let go of. Beyond the practicality of money and all the life-giving or frivolous things it can buy, I have a huge stake in my identity as a responsible parent, doing what needs to be done. Part of my pride as an individual (in other words, ego) is in struggling through hard situations to achieve higher goals. If my family and I experienced life as easy and enjoyed every minute of it, I would definitely feel guilty; as if we were way too spoiled and there was something else I should be taking care of. Likewise, resignation to my family’s suffering without trying to resolve it (a nongrasping acceptance or giving of circumstance over to a higher power) seems lazy and misguided as well. I’m sure there are other options for how to approach making a living for a family, but I don’t understand them right now.