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)


193 responses »

  1. Non stealing is a term that assumes a different meaning than I would expect. In this yama, non stealing can also refer to a preservation of positivity rather than a greedy accumulation of it. The “sophisticated structures of comparison that we use to measure our own worth against others” is something that creates negativity through accumulation. We envy those qualities that can be used as tools to improve our quality of life. There is a hierarchy in qualities and characteristics and we want more of those on the upper end of this hierarchy. Through greed and accumulation, we nurture self hatred. We create theft and steal from our process of enlightenment through this process. I have been able to practice non theft through my creation of photographs. I have exercised my creative energies in a way that allows for a space in which experiences and emotions can enter and exit my consciousness. I let go of a lot through making pictures and release a lot of the tension that would otherwise be held within my body.


  2. I loved this reading. If we want what others have we steal, feeling upset that we are not possessing the qualities of another produces anger and lets out negativity into the world. This is essential to life! What was written feels doable as a means of making a change in our life. It is not to rid ourselves completely of all jealousy and envy, but to attempt to do so! This is such an important idea. The willpower in ourselves, the yama as a form of constraint is essential to creating balance in the self and confidence within the self as well. Partners, children, occupations and lives of others may seem more or less desirable, of course. This is human nature but to be aware that you are yourself and that is enough is incredibly important to ones self evolution.

    The reading said that by comparing yourself to others through these divisions of the world we are isolating ourselves and decreasing our confidence in our own selves. This is a key concept. There are these mentally and societally constructed divisions of the world between rich and poor black and white, etc. However, how we navigate or restructure these divisions is up to us. Understanding that we are all human beings and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side is so important. We must fill the longing and jealousy for what others have with our own confidence in our lives. Then this will bring us balance and freedom from anger and envy!

    Raechel Teitelbaum

  3. Initially when I saw the title of this section, I thought it could be directly about the literal process of not stealing. Early in the section, McAfee’s book mentions how jealousy and theft can be connected. A presence of jealousy and a lack of theft could lead to a larger scale of resentfulness anger, and indignation. I do believe that somebody with issues like anger and jealousy could need to strive to find new ways to express their emotions. Negative emotions build up over time, and without proper ways to express oneself, one can result to unhealthy activities to relieve the stress.

    Envy, jealousy, and anger are natural human emotions. As humans, we strive to compare ourselves to others, in attempt to make ourselves feel more complete. I don’t believe anybody can truly compare themselves to another person. Everybody has had a different upbringing, different ways of being raised, and different means in life. No-one should seek to better themselves by bringing another down, or holding themselves above another. People should strive to be happy with themselves, regardless of the means that they need to do it. It is much more healthy and easier to be happy with oneself, than it is to be miserable and envious of those around us.

    -Matthew Harris

  4. In this video, you speak about the Yama, Asetya. Directly translating to “non-violence”, Asetya is much more than that. Asetya is the practice of abstaining from behaviors evoked by jealousy or envy. It is not enough to simply stifle an individual feeling of envy or jealousy, but rather to embody an ideal of self satisfaction. The root of jealousy is a disappointment we have in ourselves, bred by a society who tells you that you are never truly good enough, and that you have flaws that in actuality are unique attributes, all for the sole purpose of economic gain. One cannot purge themselves of jealousy until they find satisfaction from within, until they learn to love themselves, until they learn to be grateful that their fellow man is doing well, rather than cursing his name for having something you do not. Our society’s need for over indulgence in obtaining meaningless inanimate objects, in the hopes it will give us some sense of fulfillment, is a major cause of this jealousy. We must learn to be happy with what we have, and grateful that we have anything at all.

  5. This excerpt resonated with my quite a bit. In my life i have seen and experienced first hand the ways in which envy can create something of a ‘never ending cycle of lacking fulfillment’ There will always be something more to chase, something others have that you don’t. If you live your life based around comparing yourself to others than you will never be truly happy, and it will be your own fault. I see this as a sort of willful self sabotage. I think that in moderation envy can give you the extra drive to push yourself towards getting what you want out of life, but it is admittedly a bit of a slippery slope. Once you spend enough of your time going after one thing It becomes sort of a ‘force of habit’ to my on to the next thing without ever having more than a moments satisfaction in achieving your goal.

  6. To me, the root of the ideas of jealous and comparison lie in our mode of thinking. Sometimes, I feel like we can try to make ideas, people, and even ourselves as understandable as possible. This, in itself, does not all any of the above the full complexity they deserve as existing things in our world. As we compare ourselves to others, we belittle and reduce ourselves to what we perceive ourselves to be, and we end up doing the same to the other person. Envy is a human trait, as Asetya helps claim. and we can not do away with it from our psyche, nor can we pretend to control it in any way. To me, the most we can do is be mindful of the way we perceive and understand ourselves, other people, and other ideas at every waking moment of our lives. Only through a constant motion upward can we start to grapple with our troubling modes of thinking and understanding. Through this, perhaps there is some hope.

    This week, I tried Isha Kriya 4 times, as an attempt to work towards doing it every morning of my week. I tried it thursday, friday, saturday, and sunday and find the more I do it, the more routine it becomes, and the more i get out of it. Until it becomes as naturual as drinking a cup of coffee, it will still feel somewhat forced and sometimes I’ll feel in a bit of a rush because I may have to get ready for school or work if its a weekday, but I try to give myself the space and time to simply be, and when I reach that place the rest of my morning feels much more clear and positive.

    -sean sirota

    • Your honesty about your IK practice is so very important and valid. The important thing is that you try your best and that is bringing you the benefits, Namaste

  7. I think this is an incredibly powerful idea. I feel like jealousy, while it seems important in the moment, is always regretted in the long run. Certain types of people would probably say that jealousy is a good thing, that it breeds success. They feel as though if you want what someone else has you’ll be more eager to get (or steal) it. I think this is very unhealthy. While ambition driven by competition can for a time be good, over time it leaves people bitter and unfulfilled as there will always be some with more (whatever that means to you) than you have.
    As far as my Isha Kriya practice is concerned, if I recall correctly I’ve done it every day for the past two weeks. I’m really enjoying it. I think it’s allowing me to think clearer and not as anxiously. I’m yet to try it without the video support, I’m going to try soon though. I’m worried I’ll lose track of time and either do one of the sections for too long or not long enough. I think I’ll like doing it without it, I’ll be able to make it my own.

  8. I definitely agree that, while Asetya seems like a simple concept, completely ridding yourself of jealousy is incredibly difficult. It is so easy to see another person’s appearance, characteristics, possessions, and/or wealth and feel a sense of jealousy if you feel inferior in any of those ways. And simply trying to convince yourself that you are not jealous does not affect the route of what causes that jealousy, and is also nearly impossible to do. The passage about being completely introspective and examining what about us makes us feel jealousy towards another person was very powerful, and I feel like this is most likely the only way to embody Asetya. It is not the object we desire or the person we are jealous of that causes jealousy, but our insecurities and perceived inferiority that are the real routes of jealousy. If we focus on ourselves and work to be the best version of ourselves, then there is no need to see how we measure up to another person. This is obviously very difficult, and I cannot say that I am currently capable of eliminating the sources of my own jealousy. But with enough practice, I feel that I can make a lot of progress in this regard, which will inevitably bring many benefits.

    This reading ties into the Isha Kriya nicely, because the idea of looking at ourselves and focusing on what we have and can improve upon parallels the focus on your breath and the phrases while practicing the Isha Kriya. When we are completely engaged with what we are presently doing and leaving other worries and thoughts for when they are relevant, we prime ourselves for the level of introspection that is necessary to embody Asetya. If we focus solely on the present moment, and look at why we feel certain emotions and how we can reach the real source of those emotions, the outside thoughts and concerns that limit our potential to thrive no longer bog us down. With a clearer head, the task of examining our insecurities becomes less difficult. I have been able to practice my Isha Kriya almost every morning before work, and continue to feel the benefits on days that I practice. I have been trying to practice earlier, so that I have more time for the silent reflection after the phrases and Oms. I feel like that time is probably best for being as introspective as possible and thinking about why I feel certain ways and how I can improve my emotional well-being. Jumping right into getting ready or working after practicing seems to negate many of the benefits the Isha Kriya brings, so I feel like committing that time to being as honest with myself as I can be is a much more effective way to spend that time.

    • Soon you will be with the early morning Yogis and Yoginis who share the solitude and amazing qualities that are available only at this time…you will be amazed at how your day will go when you start it with the practice early in the mornings…..welcome to the special club…OM

  9. Through time and experience, it becomes obvious that suppressing violent and hurtful urges are just as bad as acting on them. This however does not imply that you should act on these urges but just let them fade in time and concentrate on what is important in life. We often envy others because we ourselves feel the need to constantly compare ourselves to those around us. It is better to ask the question of “why does something have to be greater or less than who we are?”. I agree with the statement that the yamas encourage us to engage in the act of sharing. Theses are things that we should remember when repressing urges does little to actually help us.

  10. Non-stealing, or absence of jealousy and envy needs to be applied to everyday life. We envy because we compare, dividing and classifying our world, this breaks the unity that is natural within us. Recently I had some type of epiphany when i realized that countries don’t really exist. Countries are a concept created by someone to divide us, cutting the world literally into pieces. It makes you think about all of the other lies society tries to teach people, rather than love. We are all brothers and sisters. Compassion and unity are what we crave deep down. Probing beneath the the lack of fulfillment inside of us will open our minds to the duality between oneself and the universe.

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