the greedy giver

aparigraha. non-greed. one of the basic precepts (yamas) of yoga. part of the moral code for living.

on the surface, this is an easy one. don’t take what you don’t need, and give what you can.


well, right-ish.

nothing in yoga (or life) is quite that simple.

any basically good human being knows that it’s a generally selfless act to give to others. whether you are offering charity or buying your friend dinner or even just giving of your limited free time, giving is good.

but here’s the problem: in order for one to be able to give, another must be willing to receive. and if we are all just givers, eventually no one will be able to give at all.

i call this the conundrum of the greedy giver.

there are some people who just want to give and give and give.

first they lend you money for a new home, then they break their back helping you move in, and then they give you the shirt off their broken back.

in return, they’ll accept…nothing. you can’t take them to dinner (they’ll secretly pay when you go to the restroom), you can’t make them dinner (you just moved in, they’ll say, you have enough on your plate), and when you buy them a thank you gift, they somehow convince you to take it back as it will look better on your own table/in your own wardrobe/next to your own bed.

and after a while it feels bad to receive from them.

if you want to practice true aparigraha, you need to learn to be both generous in your giving and gracious in your receiving.

the flipside is the greedy giver who also gives and gives and gives and only wants one thing in return: your lifeblood.

they lend you money for a new home and you hear about it for the rest of your life…well after the loan has been paid back, the debt has been paid off, and probably hell has already frozen over.

they help you move in and then every time they need help with anything until they are 103, you’ll be the first to know about it.

they give you the shirt off their back and you’ll never hear the end about how they’ve been unable to keep themselves warm since that one day they gave away their shirt.

giving is good. greed is bad. but greedy giving…that’s a whole new level of low.

so, practice your aparigraha. give, receive, be gracious. repeat.


  1. The Fallacy of Free | YOGAthletica on January 31, 2022 at 2:00 pm01

    […] Aparigraha, non-greed, is a very complex and nuanced concept. If you are taking from someone else something that you could just as easily pay for, maybe step back and ask why. Is it more important that you get something for free as your prize for proximity, or can you support those you love and create a win-win for everyone involved? […]

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