Where did January go?! Blink and you missed it, it feels like. And what a start to the year with Corona Virus viscerally demonstrating just how globally connected we all are. I feel for all my friends in China and thoughts are with them as they weather this time of stress and worry. I am hopeful it will be contained and pass in its natural cycle. If any country can rise to the challenge of this, it's China. Division also playing out as GB brexits. And everything else that is going on everywhere else. The ebb and flow of life and the world.
Asteya is our next Yama, or universal principle for living, and this introduces the idea of non-covetousness, non-stealing, or put simply being happy with your lot. Not in a deflated way, but in a truly grateful way. This idea is not unique to yoga, of course. Buddha, Lao Zhu, Jesus, and many others have said the same although all came after – but it gives credence to the idea that these are human values not specific to a time place or culture.
Admittedly it’s difficult to reconcile with our consumerist society, the culture of more, difficult, but not impossible. Asteya is not about not having things - and having what you need and even want is just fine by the way up to a point (more on that later) - it’s more about not taking what is not due to you or depriving other's of what is naturally theirs. This means things, of course, but extends beyond the material too to include thoughts, words and deeds. We all get to have what we need, no more or less, although what we seem to think we need has been somewhat skewed in our times it would seem.
Fundamentally, the practice of Asteya plays out as respecting other’s time, effort , energy and peace of mind, which by the way happens naturally through contentment with oneself and a realisation that all you really need is within – everything else is just a nice to have. This connection with the essentials of living is yoga - union and participation in the flow of life - because everything and everyone is connected and so to steal or covet is, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, harmful.
But, you might say, but even if I adhere to this what about him over there or her? They will take advantage of me and I will be the worse off for it. Well, if we all practice along these lines, that fear and worry evaporates, and I am certain it is possible for every man, woman and child to do it. Love is the key. Tolerance too and compassion. Human nature tends to these as much as to the opposite. It's a choice we all have.
Hope to see you soon on the mat. Love, peace, and stay well in the meantime.