Thursday, September 15, 2011

How do you practice non-stealing (asteya)?

We have been chanting OM HRIM SHRI LAKSHMI BHYO NAMAHA this month.  This video from you tube is a beautiful recording of it and inpsired me to use this chant.  I was looking for a chant with Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance since we are contemplating asteya this month.  Asteya is the third yama from Patanjali's eight limbs of yoga from the Yoga Sutras.  It is translated to mean non-stealing or generosity.  We invoke the energy of Lakshmi to recognize the abundance we have in our life that we may transform our habits of stealing our own happiness with our negative self-talk, stealing others peace with our unskillful reactions to our own anger, frustration, and irritability, and lessening our impact on the earth / living more in harmony with the earth by increasing our mindful consumption.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

When we create new habits of recognizing our talents and how amazing we are, we stop second guessing ourselves and criticizing others.  We stop internalizing other people's negativity as though it means something about us.  We give others the space to be themselves and deal with their own "stuff" while honoring our own boundaries.  We try to notice the blessings of each person we encounter, especially those with whom we have difficulties.  This can potentially lessen our suffering.

The more we get in touch with our truth (satya) through the lense of compassion (ahimsa) the more we are able to skillfully communicate our difficulties with others or decide it doesn't serve either party well to confront the matter.  This is not to say we will never communicate displeasure or confront someone.  (See previous post for excerpt on satya-truth)  Perhaps there are some occasions where not speaking up for oneself is in fact stealing our sense of our right to be here.  As in any endeavor we seek the middle path.

And, finally, how can we practice non-stealing with the earth?  Nothing will be a perfect practice in this human form.  Even if we are vegetarian to lessen the killing in the world, we still inadvertently harm insects when walking on the ground.  So we do the best we can with what we can in our lives to make an impact.  Perhaps we drive our cars less, eat less meat, recycle more, start composting, buy local produce, eat what is in season, etc.  

There are many things we can do and likely already do.  Let us acknowledge our efforts and continue to practice for the good of all beings.  Keeping in mind, we need to "put on our own oxygen mask first."  And, finally, I need to share again this wonderful sentiment of interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh:

We are not better than the other.
We are not less than the other.
We are not even the same as the other.
We are the other.

PS  Please feel free to share your insights on non-stealing, abundance, generosity.  We learn and benefit so much from each others practice.

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