Practicing Asteya. Non-stealing.
The Third of the Five Yamas
By Ellen Sundell
.“We have inherited great wealth, but we behave as if we are poor. We have a treasure of enlightenment, of understanding, of love, and of joy inside us. It is time to go back to receive our inheritance. Being mindful will help us claim it.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
When we truly and fully “practice yoga”, we are aware of- and inspired by learning more deeply about–and by our living of–the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
The first limb of yoga is Yama (there are five yamas), which are the “Restraints” or the “Do Nots” of Yoga. The second limb of yoga is Niyama (there are five niyamas), which are the “Internal Observances” of Yoga. The third limb of yoga is Asana, or the “Physical Postures” of Yoga. The fourth limb of yoga is Pranayama, the breath-work or “Life Force” of Yoga. The fifth limb of yoga is Pratyahara, which is “Withdrawal of Senses” or internal reflection of Yoga. The sixth limb of yoga is Dharana, the “External Concentration” on a single point in Yoga. The seventh limb of yoga is Dhyana, the “Meditation” or internal concentration in Yoga. The eighth limb of yoga is Samadhi, which is the “Divine Oneness” we attain in practicing our Yoga. We continue exploring The Yamas, with Asteya…
The Third of the Five Yamas…
There is no distinction between the one who gives, the one who receives, and the gift itself.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Asteya means to live with the integrity of not stealing. Asteya means not stealing things from people, not stealing things from nature. Rather than ‘taking’ beautiful gifts from the earth (or from nature), what if we exchanged? What if we left a seed, a plant, food for critters, water, in its place? Imagine all that could be positively affected by this concept of ‘exchange’! We can apply this concept of exchange with people, too. What if we gave a gift and in exchange we graciously accepted a gift, allowing for the flow of reciprocity? Not stealing from nature could mean allowing the animals to use our land, recognizing all that humans have stolen from nature, what imbalances this stealing has caused to nature.
Asteya can mean not stealing from our future or from the future of our children. May we live so that we leave the earth bountiful, healthy and life-giving for our children, and for generations to come. May we not live with excess, rather may we imagine having only what we need and allowing what others need to be an available resource, rather than ‘collecting’ to our own excess. May we live with gratitude and allow abundance for all. May we pause to appreciate the gifts we have, may we know that we have ‘just enough’, and not ‘too much’. May we give freely, generously, in the spirit of abundance.
Asteya can mean not stealing time, from others or from ourselves. Asteya can mean being on time, showing up for people, showing up for ourselves, being honest with ourselves about our time, sometimes saying no if we don’t have time, being realistic about the time we do have. Asteya can mean truly living in the here and now, not living in the past, not living in the future, truly being in the moment.
“Nature celebrates continuously, without rhyme, without reason, with the universal rhythm of the seasons. Continuously! We humans miss the rhythm most of the time. Nature’s welcome, the universe’s call, the joy and laughter of that celebration is lost because we have too many other priorities. We think we have all the we ever wanted, all that we ever asked for until that day comes into our lives when we realize that we have missed that which remained unasked, unexpressed – the cry of our soul for peace and harmony, for the dance of the spirit, the music of the heart.” –Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari