May 3, 2010
Asteya: Practicing Non-Stealing
The Yamas in Yoga are described as “restraints.” These humanize ethical responsibility, showing us intention behind our actions and thoughts.
One of the Yamas, called Asteya means practicing non-stealing. Of course this meaning is so much deeper than taking something that does not belong to us. It is the mindset that an individual’s needs are more important than those of another person, or our earth. This self-importance, selfishness, and sense of entitlement manifest as stealing behavior.
Not stealing means refraining from taking what is not freely given to us. Because the self-ego is so terrified that it’s temporary and without ground, it seeks wealth and other external things to satisfy itself. As Gandhi responds to this ill mindset, he states “there is enough on earth for everybody’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”
The more we accumulate, the more we have to worry about. The vow of non-stealing, positions us toward a life free from discontent.
As Michael Stone teaches, “Any action motivated by craving, only leads to more craving. If our desires are endless and if self-image is inherently empty, no thing can ground us anyway. In this respect, taking what is not given freely only serves to reinforce our negative self-image whose substratum is the belief in insufficiency.
The subjective way of looking at the yamas consists of three basic criteria: 1.) Are your actions going to cause harm for you? 2.) Are your actions going to cause harm to some other being? 3.) What is the quality in the intention in the choice you’re making?”
So, we can ponder things in our own life, like: Am I taking things from my own body that is not given freely to me? (expecting it to digest foods that are non-pleasing, or pushing it too far past comfort?)
Am I taking food, water, or air supply that is not given freely to me? Can I reduce these amounts and reduce pollution to better preserve these resources that we rely on?
Do I expect others to pay for services that were not rendered to them? (recently I ran into this, as a refund for services that I did not receive was declined)
Keeping in mind that our actions easily become one piece of the whole evolving picture of life is a true Yogis way of living. When we work to transform the habit energies of the mind and body, we turn TOWARD the world, not away from it. This in turn is turning toward our own minds and bodies, as we are inherently one.