SSE Week 04: Asteya
Introduction to Asteya
Asteya, like so many Sanskrit words and yogic concepts, has several layers. In addition to refraining from stealing physical property or goods, asteya asks us to be mindful of how we manage time, the way we move in the world, and even what and how we receive from ourselves and others.
Asteya is more than just not taking other people’s stuff. Nicolai Bachman defines it as “not taking from others and accepting only what is earned or freely given.” He says the multi-dementional definition of asteya must include “honesty, trust, generosity, and receptivity.” In this way, we can understand very clearly the connection each yama has with the next: Ahimsa, partnering with satya, and bolstered by asteya, supported, as we’ll see in the coming weeks, by brahmacharya and aparigraha; all existing in concert with one another to form the harmonious melody of a yogic life.
On the subject of giving, which is just as important in asteya as not stealing, Bachman states, “Offering a true gift means there is no expectation of receiving anything in return. The act of giving alone contains within it the priceless gift of making another feel loved.” He goes on to clarify that, “the value of a gift lies in the act of giving itself “ but that “it is very important that giving and receiving are in energetic balance.” He also maintains that, “Receiving is giving as well [;] by receiving the offering we are honoring the giver’s wish.”
Home Exercise: Asteya
Here are some journal prompts to help you expand on the concept of Asteya:
- Are you a giver or a receiver? This is a tough question, so be kind, compassionate, and patient with yourself as you think and answer.
- Expand: Is it hard for you to receive? Is it hard for you to give? How do these answers support or deny the answer to the first question?
“The value of a [person] resides in what [they give] and not in what [they are] capable of receiving.”
– Albert Einstein