Asteya, or non stealing can translate into a multitude of scenarios. As I look to the work of Deborah Adele, she reminds her readers that as we compare our lives to others we are bound to realize disappointment. There will always be someone in the external world who has 'more worldly' goods than we do. Perhaps this person has a newer car, a better figure, a nicer spouse, more vacation time, etc. This is where feelings of jealousy begin to seep in. Perhaps in comparison we find that we don't quite measure up. But when we look to compare ourselves in an external way, we will always feel defeated. This defeat invites in feelings of depression and anxiety. Our words become harsh and curt as we judge others so that we don't have to feel the impact of our own internal judgement. Somewhere along our journey we thought we 'had' to have something in order to realize our worth and value. Maybe the richer question for us to ask is, "What internal qualities can I develop that so that I am not inclined to steal from others?"
Another aspect of comparison is related to feelings of being 'better than' someone else. As we release our egoic self, we begin to unconsciously 'manage' or 'manipulate' others because we somehow feel as if we have the upper hand. We took a longer vacation, we accumulated more overtime, we drive a faster car, we own a beach house, we know 'so and so,' and the list goes on and on. In this scenario we exude a sense of self importance. If someone mentions an important event or occurrence in their life, we have to take control and share an even more extravagant tale than they did. As we shift attention away from others we begin stealing their ability to share life experiences. Perhaps the richer question to ask ourselves is, "How often do I highjack another's story when they are sharing, and what practice could I put into place to become a more present listener?"
One of the best lines in Deborah's book is advice that she received from Yogi Bhajan, "Be a forklift; you should always be lifting people up." I love this! There is always a space of inquiry if we keep this question close at hand as we interact with others. Do they feel encouraged by our interaction? Are they more excited or content? Do they feel heard?
Stealing is not only limited to taking from others, we do it quite often to ourselves:
"All the ways we live in the past or future steal from ourselves. And all the ways we put up fences, whether real or imagined, around our physical belongings or around our mental idealisms, we put up barriers that steal from the full expansion of our own lives." We steal from ourselves we rescue others and ignore our own sense of self care. In our fast paced society, we often steal our present moments as we are distracted by our deadlines, titles, cell phones, and the hectic pace we keep.
I'm so thankful today to be reconnected to the Yama, to Asteya. I invite you today to begin noticing your engagement with Asteya. It's vastness reaches into so many areas of our lives. We have multiple levels to notice our interactions with Asteya.
May you compassionately lean into this observance in your own life! I wish you many successes my friends!!
May You Sweetly Seek:)