The Yoga of Asteya – Honesty, Non-Stealing

Yoga Illumined, Yogafly, Asteya, Kristina Lanuza, Sumukhi, Zoe Mantarakis

Yoga Illumined 2013, Castle Hill Yoga

This weekend, in Yoga Illumined 2013 Teacher Training at Castle Hill Yoga, we focus on Yoga and Money, alignment and sequencing a full Vinyasa flow class. But we bring it all back to Yoga and Money: two hot topics in our modern spiritual Yoga world. My dear Yoga Illumined co-leader, Zoe Mantarakis reminded me to teach Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Chapter 2, Sutra 37.

We use Guruji’s (Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D.) translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. At Ananda Ashram in Monroe, NY, founded by Guruji, we learn to chant scripture directly in Sanskrit. We then meditate upon the vibration of the Sutra and after, we translate.

Chapter 2, Sutra 37
Asteya-Pratisthayam Sarva Ratnopasthaanam.
“When the Yogi is firmly established in asteya, honesty, the gems of inner riches present themselves.”

What a fabulous way to understand wealth. I stopped at the Farmer’s market during our lunch break and parked my car in the $5 parking lot. The attendant had one of those umbrella hats on that protected him from the hot August Texas sun. Any work outdoors in the summer in Texas means natural Sweaty Hot, Pulsating, Anger-Inducing Yoga (ha-ha) – and you get PAID! So here’s this guy working the heat. And one could think, well, I should really be able to park my car for free, but you know as more and more people get in cars and drive around, well, infrastructure costs us (oh what a life). I parked and he came over and I said, “I don’t have any cash.” And he told me, “Oh well, you must go get cash from the ATM to shop at the market, right? So you go and you’ll pay me after you shop.”

And I did just this. And he acted surprised when I came back after shopping and handed him a 5 dollar bill. And said, “wow, you’re honest.” Which made me think about all the people who probably gave him a hard time – especially at night, you know with all the ridiculous drunkenness of the bar scenes in downtown Austin.

“Asteya” – which Guruji and pals translate in English to “Honesty and Non-stealing” is a remarkable little Yama (Yamas are the first limb of Yoga according to Patajali’s 8-limb Yoga system. They are Ahimsa (Loving-kindess, non-harming), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya, Brahmacharya (Abidance in God) and Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness, non-grasping). There is something about being incredibly Honest to one’s self about one’s own motivations, intentions, actions that keeps one from being a total, outright Thief in this world.

On the cosmic level, of course, we own nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. There is nothing we can really ever have, on the material plane totally, absolutely and completely. We borrow the 5 elements in order to have a physical body. We borrow Oxygen from Trees and the rainforests so that we may breathe. We need oceans, rivers, lakes and rainfall to give us water so that we may drink fabulous, clean refreshing Water. And after we utilize all these gifts, we give everything back, ultimately. But on the immaterial, spiritual plane, we are everything, totally and completely. I-AM that I-Am that I-am. Money can’t buy me love. Love is eternal, ever-lasting, immanent and transcendent of the car we park in the $5 parking lot to shop at the Farmer’s Market to feed our Anamayakoshas (food or material body).

Zoe Mantarakis, Yoga Illumined, Yogafly, Sumukhi, Asteya
Therefore, in Yoga we receive the gems of inner riches, first and foremost. And become incredible money and time-managers in order to understand how to work with the energy of money. Money is an illusion, yes, ultimately. But Honesty and Non-stealing are not. Our actions, choices resound and echo all around us in a big karmic soup of cause and effect. Ultimately, we learn to play in the illusion of money and become good and honest at managing it so that it doesn’t manage us through ignorance, helplessness and greed.

I laughed when the parking lot attendant was shocked at my honesty. I thought about all the other times I paid $60 to park in New York City for a few hours. Or the 5 parking tickets I once got on my parked car on the Upper West Side that added up to a whopping $350. Oh Manhattan and money. Or the fact that I seem to have been caught on camera running a red light in Austin, Texas in July. I actually saw the photos, yet still have no recollection of running said red light. But it happened in the morning at a time that would have me heading in the direction towards work. So oops, I ran a red light. So many fines! So much money.

And then there was the time when I opened up a cab door onto a gleaming white shining Range Rover in New York City…and I paid for that too. So that my cab driver, fresh off the Boat from another country and terrified, would not have to pay the $500 in damages. Even more money. But you know, such is life. And such is Asteya. If I didn’t want to deal with any of it, I’d probably simply try to walk everywhere. Hmmm, now there’s a meditation.

Om shantih om,

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