Asteya(non-stealing) is the third from the five yamas(self-restrictions) that are mentioned in the text Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It says “to not steal or desire something that is not yours, to not borrow something without the permission of the owner, to not take others’ ideas”. As to the rest of the yamas there is a lot more hidden behind this. Which makes it mean more than just stealing something from somebody.
Obviously most of us are not thieves, but every day we take things like water, food, clothes, objects, etc. Greed leads to stealing. One of the most important reasons that our planet is on the crisis is that we buy things that we don’t need, this way we steal all these goods from the next generations, that maybe, because of the over-consumption they won’t have clean water to drink, fresh vegetables to eat or worst planet to live in.
Every year we exhaust the sources of the earth sooner than the year before. Today we are at the 7th month and we already started to borrow next years budget. This year that date was at the 1st of August, earlier than ever.
The ecological footprint is a way to measure the effects that have human activities have on Earth. In 2013 the Global Footprint Network estimated humanity’s ecological footprint as 1.6. This means that according to their calculations, humanity’s demands(natural sources) were 1.6 times faster than what the planet’s ecosystems renewed. Watch the video below for more information and which are the ways that you can help:
The fastest way to observe Asteya is exactly this, meaning your relationships with things. This quality is your friend that pats you on the back, reminds you and says “Do you really need this?”
When I started mountaineering and climbing, this was the first thing that I admired at the people of this community, or better the people of the mountain, self-sufficiency! One of the most important skills of a climber is to know exactly what he needs to put inside his backpack for completing the route, this means clothes, gear, water, and food exactly for the days that he will spend on the mountain. And when we say exactly, we mean nothing extra because the backpack will be on his back for the whole time. On mountain schools, the organization of the backpack is one of the most important lessons. On high mountain missions like Himalaya or Andes that climbing some times lasts for more than 10 days even a few grams count. These people have the same attitude in their everyday life. What a beautiful example, isn’t it?
We often say that there is abundance in nature, but abundance results from this exact practice, which is the correct management of the goods and correct management of the energy. And maybe some things are not ending for us, but they are ending for others, we are not alone! Take whatever you give, and the opposite of course, if you only take at some time everything ends, and in the opposite situation you become empty. Isn’t it the same in our relationships? Healthy relationships have this characteristic, both sides give from their energy and through this, it is created a correct flow of energy, a beautiful circle that allows to both sides to feed and bloom, if this is not happening there are problems and finally it is not good for any of them.
Asteya to Ourself:
- Observe your relationship with Time, do you have the time inside your day to eat properly, to have your bath, to relax, to rest, to sleep, to do something that nurtures you, that gives you energy? How much time do you steal every day from yourself?
- Observe if you compare yourself with others, comparison creates a camouflage and this, in one way, is stealing from our nature, from our humanity, we are all from a different fruit that has nothing to be jealous. Fashion, commercials, some people from our environment are pushing us to change, some times to feel bad about ourselves and create us the need to do a lot of make-up, plastic surgeries, etc. Don’t create yourself with the standards of the season or what other people want. You are perfectly imperfect the way you are, inside and outside!
- Buddha said, “Be where you are otherwise you will miss most of your life.” Don’t go away from thoughts and emotions, live the goods and the bad, face them, there are there for a reason.
- At your practice observe your mind, how it flies away and if it sticks to the breath, train it to be present, if it is not don’t judge, this is what it has learned, just observe it.
- When you understand that the source for all the solutions you seek outside yourself are always present inside you, then Asteya naturally happens.
Below you will find some statements that will help you come closer to this quality:
- I live in gratitude with all I have.
- I take and use only what is rightfully mine.
- I respect the possessions and the talents of others.
- I release my desire to own objects or talents I do not have.
- I appreciate my life as it is.
I will leave you with a story: Once upon a time there was a farmer in a village. One day his horse left and he lost it, immediately all the village came to his house to tell him how sorry they are for his bad luck, he told them maybe. The horse came back in a few days and brought with it 100 more horses, again this time all the village came to congratulate him for his good luck, but again he answered maybe. His son was trying to learn how to ride one of the new horses and broke his leg, once again the village came to say how sad they were, his answer was the same, maybe. After a few days, a war began and they didn’t take his son to the army because he had a broken leg.
Of course, Asteya doesn’t end with the things I mentioned, but these tips can be a good starting point for someone. Enjoy your practice!
Quote of the week: I have all I need!