This Yoga Sutra illustrates that practicing Asteya, refraining from stealing or coveting what belongs to others, naturally attracts abundance and prosperity into your life. But why do people feel compelled to steal in the first place?
The root cause of Asteya : “I’m not good enough.”
The impulse to steal often stems from a sense of lack within ourselves. When we feel incomplete, desires and greed arise, leading us to believe others possess what we are lacking. Yet, the essence of Yoga, meaning ‘union’ or becoming ‘whole,’ guides us to realize that we are already enough.
Material possessions can’t fill the void within us. Buying more than we need perpetuates a cycle of craving, as we attempt to satisfy deeper emotional needs with material goods, subconsciously looking to ‘fill a gap’ that we feel. Gandhi’s insight : “Mankind’s greed and craving for artificial needs is also stealing”, reminds us to reassess our consumption habits. Time and time again we temporarily satisfy ourselves by buying yet more ‘stuff’ we don’t need. And yet the more material things we have around us, often the more material things we feel we need. Obviously these material possessions can’t replace whatever it is our soul really needs.
In each moment, we have the opportunity to experience a range of emotions and sensations – yet we tend to cling only to those which seem pleasant and enjoyable. This clinging tightly to pleasurable experiences is known as ‘raga’, and although the experience itself may be one of joy or happiness, the action of trying to hold onto it out of desire ultimately creates more suffering or ‘dukkha’. The opposite of this is ‘dvesa’, which translates as ‘aversion’, often to pain or suffering – basically that feeling we get when we try really hard not to feel a painful physical or emotional feeling when it arises. Continually running around in circles after experiences which bring us only pleasure keeps us locked in a cycle of wanting and desiring, which – if we think about it – never really ends. Even when we feel content, there’s always that small part of us that worries about what might happen if we lose this feeling / person / possession / experience. By attempting to feel only the ‘good’, we ignore the other half of life completely. By going into the dark places we fear of treading the most, the lighter experiences shine even brighter, and we’re made whole by allowing ourselves to experience every emotion there is to offer. There doesn’t have to be ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in every situation, there simply just ‘is’, and if we allow ourselves to step into the parts we fear a little, we give ourselves the opportunity to fully experience life in that very moment. By embracing the entirety of the human experience, including discomfort, we find wholeness and freedom from craving.