This week in class we are considering the third Yama, Asteya, often translated as non-stealing.
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.
- William Blake
One day, when I was a growing boy, my grandmother asked me a question, "Have you ever looked in Hasti's eyes?" Hasti was one of the elephants that frequently served in our religious ceremonies and that I had been learning to ride. Hasti's eyes, like the eyes of all elephants, were tiny - ridiculously small, really, for an animal so huge. "She has no idea how big she is," Granny said, "because she looks out at the world through such tiny eyes."
If the world seems hostile and lifeless, and if we seem insignificant in it, it is because, like the elephant, we look at it through such tiny eyes. Through those small eyes, shrunken by the desire for profit and personal gratification, we appear just as insignificant as all the green things - and all the other human beings, animals, fish, birds, and insects - that stand in the way.
When we are absorbed in the pursuit of profit, we live in the narrow world of the bottom line. In that world, our only neighbors are buyers and sellers, our only concerns property, profit, and possessions. Yet all around us is a world teeming with people, animals, organisms, and elements - a deeply interconnected environment that responds to all we do.
Words to Live By: Inspiration for Every Day – Eknath Easwaran
The homework is to consider the third Yama, Asteya, often translated as non-stealing. A practice of Asteya seems simple for most people. On a deeper level however it can be a bit more complicated. We are sometimes lulled into thinking that we are “entitled to” or “deserve” things, time, money, status, praise, a higher salary, bigger house, etc. This pursuit of that which we do not have can be considered stealing, as well. Sri Swami Satchidananda said that, “richness has nothing to do with monetary wealth. The richest person is the one with a cool mind, free of tension and anxiety.” In our pursuit of bigger and better, it is easy to overlook the precious jewels of the life we have already. It is said that a practice of Asteya allows us to abandon attachment to the possessions of others and gives us the opportunity to be content with the world as it is. And by this definition, a practice of Asteya allows us the opportunity to enjoy what we already have instead of aching after what others have. In what ways do your actions and thoughts change when you make a commitment to Asteya? It is said that if you are established in Asteya you feel integrity and satisfaction. How could a deeper observation of Asteya in your life allow you to be more content with the world as it is? What would be different?
Rushing Water Yoga
Serving Yoga to Camas, Washougal, and
since 2003 Vancouver Washington