I like to see myself as an honest person who would not intentionally steal anything. Don't we all see ourselves like that?
The truth is that I, too, have stolen a lot in my life. When I was 5 years old, I stole a candy bar from a store, I stole a lot of precious time, energy and peace from other people, I accumulated a lot of useless things, I often wanted what other people had, and in the past I took many innocent lives with consumption of animal products.
Asteya (non-stealing) is the third Yama of Patanjali's 5 Yamas of the Yoga Sutras. As with the other Yamas and Niyamas, "stealing" means much more than physically taking something that belongs to another.
Example: Has it ever happened to you that a yoga class should last from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., but it started (and ended) 15 minutes later due to latecomers waiting? This has already happened to me - I dedicated my precious time to a yoga class and arrived on time, but because of latecomers, not only did I lose the first 15 minutes, but my entire schedule for the rest of the day was ruined, and I was left without transportation.
If we are late to a yoga class or cause the class to start later than scheduled, we are not only being disrespectful to the teacher and other practitioners, but also stealing valuable time from people who have arrived on time. These people paid for the watch, but they may be losing part of the watch because of us, so they are indirectly losing their money as well. If we accompany this with a loud arrival when late, we also steal their peace. Have you ever thought about this aspect?
If she were to work illegally, she would not only be stealing from the country and its citizens, but would also be unfair competition to other yoga teachers. Although sometimes it seems much more difficult, more complicated and above all more expensive to work in this way, I try to live and practice what I teach.
In the times we live in, there is a lot of theft happening on many levels. Let's leave what others are stealing from us and ask ourselves what we are stealing from others - directly or indirectly. Are we contributing to the theft of sovereignty, inviolability, rights, peace? Can we answer this question very honestly?
Asteya can also mean not hoarding things we don't need, not recklessly consuming natural resources, not coveting other people's possessions, and not copying other people's ideas.
But at the deepest level, Asteya means letting go of the very intention or desire to possess or steal anything that does not primarily belong to us—whether it be objects, talent, relationship, gift, achievement, success, time, or natural resources—with force or deception or exploitation, by actions or words or thoughts.
The desire to steal in this way stems from greed, a sense of lack, helplessness and comparing oneself to others. When we touch these foundations and eliminate the causes, the virtue of Astaya is established within us. By practicing contentment and abundance, the feeling of lack will disappear.
In the words of the great master Lao Tzu, “Be content with what you have; look forward to things. When you realize that you lack nothing, the whole world belongs to you. ” This is the true spirit of Astaya. Or as Patanjali says, "He who masters the practice and discipline of Astaya will attract to himself all the wealth of the world."