Asteya - non stealing and our desire to fill our lives
Updated: Jun 19, 2020
Asteya is the third Yama (the yamas are the yoga “Code of Conduct” and part of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, to find out about the first two have a look at my blog posts on them: Ahimsa & Satya) and is usually translated as Non Stealing, does this simply just mean refraining from taking what isn’t yours?
Well in a sense, yes. To act on Asteya could be to simply not take what isn’t yours, but to understand Asteya is a little different. The concept of Asteya explores the reason behind our crippling desire for material things.
Stealing, in this case, doesn’t just mean the criminal act of taking something without paying. An example of this could be the insane panic buying sprees some shoppers went on at the start of lockdown, although they paid for the items, their greed stole the essential items they overbought away from other people who also needed them. The same could be said for people who build up a large amount of wealth, far beyond what they really need, the money they are hoarding is therefore not available for people who really need it. Gandhi summed this up clearly:
“All amassing of wealth or hoarding of wealth above one’s legitimate needs is theft”
An excess of wealth robs those who don’t have enough money to live by because the money is no longer available to them. So Asteya could be understood as a call to donate a percentage of your excess earnings so as to not steal the wealth and opportunities away from others.
To delve deeper into the concept of Asteya you have to come to terms with the desire that creates greed; greed for money, designer clothes, food, holidays, technology, cars, all the things we buy but do not need and end up wasting. The root cause of Asteya is this thought and fear that “I am not good enough”. This belief manifests as a fear that we don’t have everything that we need, that we lack, resulting in trying to fill the empty spaces with “things”, and a jealousy towards those we perceive have the “things” that make you happy.
To eliminate this craving we need to accept life as it really is. We need to accept that we have all we need to make us happy already inside us, we are enough. In addition to this, we need to realise that the world around us, and ourselves, is constantly changing, we rob ourselves of happiness when we try to cling on to “positive” emotions.
The concept of Asteya forces us to realise that the things we crave will not complete us: we are already complete and must look within to find what we seek.
You are enough.
If you have found this blog post on one of the Yamas interesting, why not check out my 5 Week Yoga Course on the Yamas, including 10 live private classes: https://www.floga.org/yoga-courses