As we review the yamas of yoga philosophy, we discover that there are many opportunities for discussion and considerations for how they apply to our daily lives. The yama Asteya, Non-Stealing, is no exception.
Of course our basic understanding of stealing - the work of bank robbers, shoplifters, pickpockets - is clear cut and gets little argument as being wrong. Most of us likely have a clear conscience in this regard. In a deeper yogic understanding of non-stealing, or avoidance of stealing, we apply the concept not only to material things, but also to ideas, time and energy. So with material things, consider the idea of taking and/or using only what you truly need. Might our taking more than we need be stealing from another who needs the item as well?
What happens when we think about non-stealing in terms of time and energy? Do you respect the time of people you have meetings with, take classes from or interact with in other ways? Are you punctual? Are you prepared? We have all likely witnessed, and perhaps been guilty of, distracting tangents that are self-serving rather than productive in meetings or classes. How often do you steal your own time and energy with non-productive habits and activities? (With the very clear understanding that "non-productive" time is valid, useful and necessary at times!)
And where does the impulse for stealing come from? Perhaps from a feeling of lack or scarcity, that we are in need somehow. Perhaps from a feeling of envy, that we come up short in comparison to someone or something else. These are feelings that may speak of an aspect of ourselves that could use some attention. As we practice yoga and study yoga philosophy, we come to know ourselves more deeply. Our comparisons and our fears fade. Our lives become more compassionate, honest and fulfilling. Namaste.