Asteya is the third yama in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Asteya is the sanskrit word for non-stealing. While this might sound simple enough, just like the other yamas, you can take a deeper dive to find more meaning and depth to Asteya. So that’s what I’m going to do here. Let’s dive right in.
Throughout Ghandi’s life, he saw the importance of non-stealing and considered it one of his 11 vows. Ghandi expanded on this to say, “Non-stealing does not mean merely not to steal. To keep or take anything which one does not is also stealing. And of course, stealing is fraught with violence.” – Bapu-ke-Aashirvad, November 24, 1944.
Ghandi also said, “We are not always aware of our real needs, and most of us improperly multiply our wants and thus , unconsciously, make thieves of ourselves. One who follows the observance of Non-stealing will bring about a progressive reduction of his own wants. Much of the distressing poverty in this world has risen out of the breaches of the principle of Non-stealing.” – From Yeravda Mandir, p. 20.
If you go off of what Ghandi said in order to follow asteya you should live a life free from greed. You should live a giving life.
Shrii Shrri Anandamurti says in his book Guide to Human Conduct that not only should we refrain from actual theft, but that we should also from the mental form of stealing. What is the mental form of stealing?
Plotting to steal is one form of mental stealing of course. But you can also mentally steal from someone if you think about not paying them for a service they offered you. For example, say you are at a restaurant and you don’t like the food you were served. If you think about not paying your bill even if you actually end up paying in the end, you are mentally stealing.
According to Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, the easiest way of practicing Asteya is through auto-suggestion. To think means to speak within. Be the ideal person you want to be by thinking the ideal thoughts. If you think the ideal thoughts, you conscience will lead you in that direction.