Asteya is a sanskrit word that means “non-stealing. This yama urges not to take what isn’t our or what hasn’t been freely offered to us. Interestingly, it refers not only to possessions, but to things like time, speech, energy and ideas. It opens our eyes to different ways in which we might be stealing without even knowing it. One of my teachers gave the example of stealing time from others being a student who consistently comes late to class and conversely, a teacher who doesn’t start or end the practice on time. Both are stealing time from others. An interesting way of thinking about stealing, don’t you think?
As followers of Christ we are familiar with the commandment “thou shall not steal.” We also are told not to covet those things that do not belong to us. We know God to be the provider of all good things and the we are not to store up earthly treasures. And we are encouraged to share what we have with others. So we can see much evidence of the concept of asteya in our own scriptures. I find it to be very comforting so that so much of the traditional yoga teachings sit well within our own spirituality.
You shall not steal. Exodus 20:15
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matt.5:42
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Eph.4:28
Come practice with us this week as we reflect on the wisdom found in these sacred texts.