Asteya: non-stealing

Saturday, 10 October 2020 12:04
In the blogs over the last few weeks we have been looking at the first 2 Yamas of the 8 limbs of yoga as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (Ahimsa and Satya).  The third of the 5 Yamas (Yoga-Sutra 2.30) is Asteya.  Asteya basically is translated as non-stealing. Taking something that doesn’t belong to you. But with all yogic philosophical terms the word has a multi-layered perspective. It means literally the non-stealing of physical items but also intangibles such as time, attention, energy, peace, freedom and knowledge.
The definition above implies that stealing is from other people. However, you can also steal from yourself. For example, in your yogic practices: Do you give your practise on the mat your full attention?  Or are you ‘elsewhere’? Are you involved in how your practise ‘should be’ or used to be in?  Do you push yourself more than what is truly nurturing and progressive for your development?  Do you compare yourself with others, rather than acknowledging that we are all different?  Do you rob yourself of the opportunity to be present and enjoy the moment you inhabit right now?  Do you devote whole-heartedly to challenging asanas or is there a desire for avoidance?  Do you make excuses to skip your daily practice?
Bringing awareness to your thoughts and actions is the starting point. The quote I used to start the blog entitled: The illusive mind:
“Mind is the most corrupted agent there is. It can find answers and reasons for everything. It can justify anything.” (Dr Martina Ziskova, Neurologist/Ayurvedic Practitioner in Agniyogana: The Path of Hatha Yoga Documentary 2019)
When we are aware of the devious workings of our minds we can make changes. We also learn from the actions of others. Do you know someone who is an energy sucker - someone who ‘downloads’ all their anxiety onto you when you speak to them? Someone in a yoga class who decides just to do their own thing rather than follow the instructions of the teacher? Or is always late to class?
What is the root cause of stealing? Whether it is the stealing of time, energy or money. It is a sense that we are not enough as we are. We need more to complete our sense of self. The requirement and the obtaining of more is the problem of where we are now in time. Stuck in a capitalist invisible dystopian being slaves to the system. Our insecurity and our dilemma with contentment stems even from our childhood, being bombarded with advertising teaching us to want more
Hoarding and our desire to buy more than what we truly need perpetuates the cycle. These cravings rob us of being present and being content. From a Marxist point of view exploitive capitalism is institutionalised theft.
You challenge your desires for more by being aware of your motivations. And you will begin to find people reacting to you differently the better you practice awareness, generosity, kindness and consideration to yourself and others. By wanting less, by taking less, you are given more - the gift of contentment and as Feuerstein says a ‘cornucopia of spiritual riches’ (Yoga Morality - Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis, Hohm Press, Arizona 2007 p.155)
Get on your mat, find your truth :)
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