Asetya: Non-stealing….


Continuing with reading from “The Secret of the Yamas: A Spiritual Guide to Yoga” by John McAfee.  Click on the link above to hear about Asetya/non-stealing.  There are so many levels of asetya and we feel it when someone has in a very sneaky competitive manner copies our ideas/activities- claiming them as their own and never acknowledging us for the kernel of the idea.  The acknowledgement would be just the thing to make it sit right between the parties but our society gives sanctions blindly for stealing on all levels.  It happens so often, everyday, that we most times let it roll off our backs but I really get this passage from McAfee’s writings: ” This grievance may reveal itself in subtle or overt ways; at the least our mistrust and suspicion  have stolen the harmony of the relationship.”  This is the damning thing that left unsaid ruins so much between folks.  When we advocate for our boundaries to be respected often then we are viewed as arrogant, a hard-line to choose.  In the beginning and end I choose to try my best not to engage in asetya on all levels.  I try to give credit and express gratitude and also try to realize that everyone doesn’t have the grace to be considerate.  Measuring out compassion for self and others seems really important with this Yama.  Thanks for listening and do leave your comments here. Namaste

(n.b…..and yes I did get permission from the artists to photograph their exquisite Kolams/Rangoli.  These are from the area of Pondy near the sea, north of Anna Salai Blvd.  I spent many mornings walking around and talking with the Ladies who rise early to grace their homes with these awesome designs.  I first offered my respect and admiration and only if given permission I would snap the picture.  Almost all did give permission, only those I was able to capture.  After finishing these awesome ladies go onto their everyday chores and work.  People pass by  all day walking over the kolams.   Scooters, motorcycles, auto- rickshaws and cars drive over them, goats, monkeys, dogs and cats scatter around them….and the next morning these artists awaken, wash off the sacred ground before their doorways and start another ornament.  What a way to start the day and to keep blessings flowing in the doorway by way of admiration/respect/gratitude.  OM)


177 responses »

  1. Jealousy comes out of the duality of ourselves in relation to society or the others around us. It is an escape from the reality of our own lack of self-fulfillment. I often find myself envious of those more intelligent than me or more socially adept. Just as I determine my own self worth from the reactions of others, I compare my own actions and identity to that of others and only see the things that they have that I don’t. I forget my own strengths and only compare my weaknesses. On the contrary, I only view the strengths of others that I respect and deify them in a way that makes their intelligence seem so much more unattainable. I can’t seem to imaging that there was ever a time when they didn’t appear to know everything. I like to tell myself that I were born with something that I simply don’t have and can’t achieve, but deep down I know that I only tell myself this because I cant bear the fact that I was given the same opportunities to achieve what they have, and yet have failed to do so. It is easy to make excuses for why someone has something that you dont, whether material or not. Because it allows you to ignore the fact that you have the same ability as them to achieve what you want. The bitter irony of jealousy is that it is indeed the biggest distraction from obtaining what we are actually jealous of.

    Noah Schmitz

  2. I remember reading Khaled Hosseini’s book “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and how the protagonist’s father relates to him that stealing is the worse sin that a person can commit, as it manifests in many different ways: “There is only one sin. and that is theft… when you tell a lie, you steal someones right to the truth.” (Source: “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, 2007, Riverhead Books). He also goes on to say that murder is a form of stealing someone of a life. I think this actually relates back to the previous “Secret Of The Yamas” post that discussed violence; like violence, stealing is not always inherently physical and literal, and therefore the jealousy described in the discussion about “Asetya” can also be analyzed as another form of self-violence. If we are speaking in relation to Hosseini’s story, we could say that jealousy is theft in that it steals someone of peace and contentment.
    While it is true that people defend jealousy as often being a strong motivator to succeed, we have to remember that this type of jealousy does not fully manifest in a way that is self-destructive; in fact, having jealousy as a motivational catalyst should really be in the neighborhood of self-reflection because it takes more attention away from the person from which you covet, and projects the motivation onto thyself. I would refer to this as a competitive spirit rather than outright jealousy. I think that in this case, the distinction from more powerful jealousy is evident because the motivation is derived from “I should be at their level by now, I need to work harder”, rather than something such as “I can’t stand that this person has what I don’t, and I won’t stop thinking about it.” Therefore, the action manifests in a motion for self-improvement (hopefully, unless you somehow envy someone who is engaging in something harmful and dangerous), instead of outward destruction. The other end to which jealousy harms the self would manifest in physical self-harm over guilt and low self-esteem, rather than physical, sabotaging action towards someone else, or a push to try harder at something.
    This post is also true in the way it describes how bad jealousy isolates us; we internalize the negativity to the point of either never trying to succeed, as we cannot visualize ourselves in the successive light of the person we envy, or we make a physical, external act to tear the other person down so that there is no “unfair” comparison in our now-corrupted eyes. To be fair this may explain why narcissism is such a toxic personality trait to the person who possesses it, not just the people around them. Yes, the self-absorbed individual harbors a desire to promote themselves as superior and important, but the subtle undertone of their actions is incased in the fear of realizing that they are just as ordinary as everyone else. Therefore, the jealousy manifests as outward action but is still toxic in that the individual internalizes the mindset and allows it to eat away at them. Bottom line, there is no issue with being humbled, but the difference with humility and jealousy is that humility only seeks to better our emotional stability, and jealousy serves to benefit no one at all.

  3. I thought this reading was very insightful in discussing our understanding of the feelings of jealously. I often find myself comparing myself and my abilities to others however, I usually don’t consciously think about these feeling and this reading made me realize that I should be more aware of how jealously effects our thoughts about ourselves and others. I was particularly interested in the idea of stealing intangible things such as beliefs from others and as I thought about it I realized that this is worse than stealing an actual object from another person because a person’s views and beliefs are a part of who they are. We steal becuase we are envious and tend to compare ourselves to others although I believe that we can help ourselves lessen feelings of envy by being consciously aware of our own value and worth.

  4. I really identified with the line, “We envy because we compare”. Time and time again I find myself envying what others have because I compare what they have to what I have. If I perceive that what they have is better than what I have, I feel bitter and spiteful towards them. If what I have is better than what they have, I feel proud and may be cocky. I wish I could rid myself of this jealousy and learn to be happy for others. I am always wanting more. Jealousy brings isolation, and depression follows. The recording says that probing beneath your lack of fulfilment is important in the process of letting go of comparisons. What causes my lack of fulfilment? I hope that my meditations will allow me to find this answer. Maybe instead of finding the answer I will instead find fulfilment.

    • Good questions, I think when we strive to be our best selves in order to be of service to others we become most fulfilled. I hope you continue to ponder on these thoughts, OM

  5. For me, I have certainly struggled with jealousy from time to time in my life. Often i will convince myself that someone, or some people, have it way better than i do, and if so then what is the point of trying to enjoy myself and focus on what I have to do if i have to watch these people live better than me. What ends up happening is that i create all this negative energy for myself, all the while finding out that those same people who i looked up to with jealousy actually had it far worse than i did. Rather than focus on the positive aspects and experiences of my life, i was preoccupied with something i thought i didn’t have.

    This reading caused me to do a lot of self-evaluation. I still suffer from bouts of jealousy in my professional life. Because I have a career that involves competitive sports, there are many instances of people being hired or fired based on performance. I will typically feel very jealous of someone who gets promoted over me, and at times this can even lead to resentment. I am currently working on this.

  6. I think part of achieving what these Yamas teach us is acknowledging our complicity in these matters. We may think we have never committed an act of theft because we have never stolen something physical from someone. However, similar to the non-violence Yama, we cane easily commit acts of internal theft. This can be applicable to stealing the ideas or thoughts of someone else for your own benefit, but can also be applicable to something as simple as jealousy. These thoughts of jealousy and envy could easily manifest themselves into situations in which theft would occur, unless they are quelled. This means we have to find different means of fulfillment, with less of an emphasis on material things. When those material things fade or break, so is our fulfillment, so we should work on achieving fulfillment from within ourselves.

  7. Within the content of this given listening, I feel the idea discussed such as envy, jealousy, and other forms of greed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the trait of envy or greed is characteristic that comes normal individuals such as ourselves. Humans have always had personal traits such as love, hate anger and greed, and I believe that these readings do a extraordinary job at explaining the balances between these personal characteristics and how to maintain tem. Speaking of greed within this selected topic, jealousy and other similar traits are something that we come across almost too frequently. I am one who falls victim to such things, it’s common on hereditary through the forms of nature. But the influence of the Yamas and our Asinas is spiritually relieving when it comes to all of expressed above.

    The essence of non-stealing is important not only to the person, but to world that surrounds us. We shouldn’t become fascinated and torn over what others have better or sometimes even worse than us. We shouldn’t become caught up in ideals that taint our minds and bodies, restricting us from achieving our inner goals. “Mistrust and suspicion have stolen harmony of relationships.”I feel this quote is true. Trust is important to the body,especially the cleansing of our minds. To live with values that we know we as decent people shouldn’t uphold can be mind bending not only for us, but others who concern for our wellbeing. Through the Yamas we can learn important life roles that shed the outer layer pulling us back from achieving union.

  8. Jealousy is part of human nature. It is natural to want and strive for things we do not have. One of the Yamas which deals with this is Asetya or non-stealing. The urge of theft can be quite powerful when handling inner emotions such as anger and jealousy. I know I struggle with these urges all the time, even the littlest things. Its also normal to be envious of people who were born with things you want or desire. As the book stated, comparisons are made all the time between every aspect of life. For example, wealthy and not wealthy, better or worse. We as humans are dividing the world into many pieces in which we think about and compare frequently. We also take this as a measure of self-worth within a society as big as ours.

    Additionally, being envious of individuals who are more knowledgeable is a natural feeling. People that know more receive more in our minds. I know I am envious of people who are more knowledgeable than me and people that have the capacity/resources to learn more. As humans, we attempt to escape our emptiness which surrounds us in everything we do. And thinking of ways to change our lives using jealousy and envy will only make us weaker. I believe we must practice this Yama in order to achieve overall self-worth and happiness. Namaste

  9. This reading brought up envy in a way I’ve never thought of it before. I generally thought envy was when I compared myself to people I thought were better than me. Now, however, I realize that comparing myself to people I’m better than feeds into my envy and satisfies it and that is just as damaging. If i compare my self to ‘lesser’ people that only fixes envy for a short amount of time. In order to really solve the problem I’d have to completely rewire my way of thinking. I would cease all comparisons that are competitive and unhelpful. I would instead categorize. That girl is smart and I am smart. Doesn’t matter who is better we are both smart and perhaps in different ways. I also think this plays into the emotional mind video from earlier. If I compare my emotional mind will most likely win and then I will be upset and envious that someone is better than me which is extremely negative. However if I just categorize into groups with out superiors and inferiors then the rational mind is winning and I will be generally happier.

  10. I find that in the world we live in, jealousy, anger and greed often take control of people and lead to many of the problems we face. It can be anything as global as wars or even just the small things like being jealous of someone’s new purse. I see it every day and am not ashamed to admit that I am guilty of it myself. I also realize that it causes tension in interpersonal relationships. The quote “our mistrust and suspicion have stolen the harmony of the relationship” rings particularly true in my life as I have had a few friendships become strained over misunderstandings caused by envy or greed of both parties.

    That is one of the many reasons one practices yoga and incorporates the beliefs into their lives. I am hoping for self-betterment by learning the teachings of yoga so that I might not be the one tempted by greed as well as learn to be genuinely happy for people and no longer jealous.

  11. After listening to this podcast/recording, we experience and/or carry out self-indulgent actions and emotions that stem from greed, such as jealousy, envy, stealing, etc. when we lose sight of the things we practice and believe. This is human nature, but it is also us forgetting or losing touch with the restraint we learn while practicing yoga or following the tenements of the eight fold path. It is human nature to fall into these emotions or actions, however things like spirituality and religion teach us how to rise above these ways and how deviating from such things actually improves our lives. By following things like the eight-fold path, we remind ourselves about what is actually important in the grand scheme of the universe. When we succumb to greedy actions and emotions, we are making ourselves near-sighted and focusing our energy on problems or situations that aren’t that important in the long run.

    I can say that for me, having now practiced the isha kriya over the course of a month now, I definitely think this practice helps me keep sight of things that are actually important. The chant “I am not this body, I am not even this mind” is a constant reminder that the things that we are and the things that we are around aren’t what they appear to be and aren’t as important as they seem. The chant (and repetition of it) remind us and instill in us this understanding that we are not what we are on the surface level actually. We are much more than what meets our own eyes and the eyes of others.

  12. I find it interesting when talking about jealousy because some might brush over its importance. Jealousy can be shown in several forms and it is even now more prominent with technology. For example: why do we feel the need to follow so many celebrities on social media? We envy to a certain degree of what they have, what we want often varies. They talk about imitating and comparing one another on several levels. It is very important to show this because many do not know this is a problem.

    The reasons vary and whom we compare and contrast ourselves to is damaging. There is a strong sense of ignorance and unhealthiness when we do this. Usually, there is always a form of emptiness that is centered around this problem. I love that there is an emphasis on not creating but unraveling why these roots are here. That is the only way we can find peace with this. I think a major population does not recognize these things as a problem because it has become so profound throughout our culture.

  13. Jealousy and envy are such toxic emotions. They can destroy and strain relationships, as well as embolden to an unhealthy degree. Within jealousy is a process of ranking, a hierarchy of sorts. Humans have always gravitated towards categorization in order to make sense of the world around them, but also to achieve a sense of fulfillment and purpose. By creating a power structure in which they are in charge, one is basically trying to cover up their own insecurities with control over others.

    This lack of fulfillment that results in people to harbor toxic emotions is an unfortunate reality in the way human beings interact. That is the beauty of the Yamas, though. They provide strong paths for people to follow to become more aware and kind not just to themselves, but to those around them. Identifying harmful emotions is the first step is getting rid of them. Forgoing jealousy and asetya is key to becoming a more accepting, understanding person.

  14. It is completely normal to feel jealous or envious or someone or something, we are human after all. I think was is really important is how we are taught to handle those feelings and how to act in regards to them. We have a tendency to jealousy and envy as negative emotions and while they can cause us to feel upset, they can also have a positive impact depending on how you view the situation. For some feeling jealous of someone else’s achievements or something they own can be the push to work harder. It can the push to work and obtain whatever that person has, but it can also be a personal goal. If one chooses to focus on the bad aspects of jealousy, it creates a negative environment that can stop personal growth.

    • To lengthen your essays you may employ a review of the subject matter in the post as well find other resources, texts or books from other studies as well media, also include your own experiences, OM

  15. I have never personally had problems with jealousy or envy as i try not to focus on others lives that much. I put it in my mind that i must do what what i need for myself self and eventually my time will come where i can reap the benefits. Though i don’t experience jealousy and envy i most certainly have been a victim and focus of one’s jealous rage. I often witness it even among “friends” in all forms, it can even be as small as backhanded compliments. It just brings negative energy, that i want no parts of. Jealousy can morph into hate as those feelings of admiration and longing are paired with self doubt and regret. This is mainly why i try not to focus on physical possessions or meaningless relationships, as they are simply distractions to sidetrack you from your goals.

    We constantly compare ourselves to others, on a variety of aspects. “We envy because we compare”, which is certainly true. I am naturally competitive, but to a certain extent. I don’t let it drive me into jealousy, i would rather find ways to better myself so i can obtain or surpass what others have. All within my own means of course. It is all about evaluating what’s wrong in your life, and what you need to do to be the best you possible. You’re stealing from yourself if you constantly put yourself down for what you don’t have or can’t do. Non-theft is important in this instance, as you try to work torward self fulfillment.

  16. Asetya or non-steeling is a classic moral code that dates back to the oldest era’s of human kind. Jealousy, greed, and envy are just another sin of humanity that have jeopardized its survival throughout time. Just like all the Yamas and moral codes in the world, they all originated from a time when humanity was fully vulnerable to the reality’s and chaos of the real world. Morals where evident and necessary for basic survival. Unlike modern times the immoral back in those days would just simply die do to their immoral actions. If you where going on a hunt and stole a spear in the tribe that belonged to the cook, and said cook gets attacked without his spear, then you don’t eat making survival that much harder.

    Now in modern times humans are not as vulnerable to the extent of reality’s chaos and it is interesting to see how our morals have changed because of this. We now get to observe these morals in a more psychological light such as John Mcafee’s explanation of how this Yama effect our own self worth and expectations. Greed and envy are often now psychological viewed as the root problem being an over valuated view of comparison. When one starts to compare themselves, they may start building expectations in their mind. These expectations are often not met leading to a build up of resentment and anger. Health competition and the ability to learn to lose is important in modern times to work out the Asetya muscle and begin building a resistance to lifes inevitability

  17. Wow. This yama goes beyond so much of what I interpreted as non stealing. And, it isn’t like I don’t view certain things as stealing other’s thoughts, or yearning for something another person has as potentially detrimental, I just never thought of them in this particular sense. I think this idea is important for not only the self but the collective. If you could only imagine the wars and the global conflict that could be solved if we didn’t covet what others had, or weren’t so unsatisfied with what we are given. It is important to work towards goals and work to achieve different things, but that has to be through self determination, and want to be a better version of you. When you being to do things to beat someone else, or to “top” another human, it becomes a problem and break in this Yama.

    Sorry for the delay in this blog post. My IK is coming along. I’ve been falling into the every other day routine of doing it. It seems that when I have more on my plate I default to this. But, I’m still happy I do it at all. It is truly something that has brought so much inner peace to my being. If I find myself in any sort of stressful situation that I can quickly recognize, I breathe deep, and mentally repeat “I am not this body, I am not even this mind”. It really helps. I’ve also began to use the finger healing that e learned about last class. I had a presentation to give the other night in class and instead of letting anxiety run over me, I took a few deep breaths, held the base of my thumb, and got through it.
    It is amazing what we can train our minds/bodies in and out of. I never cease to be amazed at what we can do. Namaste

  18. This excerpt was definitely reminiscent me a lot of different works I have connected with throughout out my life. It reminded my of the quote “comparison will kill you” as well as the River Phoenix quote “We are taught to consume. And that’s what we do. But if we realized that there really is no reason to consume, that it’s just a mind set, that it’s just an addiction, then we wouldn’t be out there stepping on people’s hands climbing the corporate ladder of success.” The different ways that Asetya/non stealing can manifest it what particularly reminded me of these quotes. Jealousy can present itself in many different ways, resentfulness, anger, and indignation. From my own experience I feel that people of colour or communities of colour fall victim to this many times, to what people have coined as “the struggle olympics”. We are constantly comparing ourselves even to when we are so similar from each other as if we must. And I think this comes from the captalist and colonialist structure that has forever been embedded into society. Like River Phoneix says we are taught to consume and that is what we do but it just a mind set.”We perpetually compare ourselves” and this will not go away by turning our backs on it but addressing why we feel that way and trying to improve our own behaviours and habits. I think we can think of “Asetya” not only in a literally sense but also as a figurative or emotional process. How we view others, ourselves and being conscious of how we feel towards not just each other but to ourselves. I think it is also about acknowledging our own self worth and understanding that is not about what we have or don’t have but what we can give to ourselves and to others.

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