Asteya: Never Miss An Opportunity to Give

Sep 14, 2013 | blog, Featured | 0 comments

by Nischala Joy Devi.
September 14, 2013.

Asteya: Abiding in generosity and honesty, material and spiritual prosperity is bestowed.
-The Yoga Sutras

This wonderful teaching from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Asteya, is one of the ethical teachings of yoga. Asteya encompasses not only generosity with money and giving of things, but also generosity with time and giving from our hearts.

As we start to bring Asteya into our lives, we can see ways in which we are less than generous or  subtle ways that we “steal” by not being considerate. For instance: When you set a time for an appointment, make it a priority to be there on time. Otherwise, you are taking energy from the person you are scheduled to meet. Your intentions may be honorable as you set your departure time, but there are always one or two quick things you could do before leaving. “Ah well, I might be slightly late, but that’s okay,” you think to yourself. That kind of thinking leads us away from an openhearted exchange. When we do meet, the beginning of the interaction is likely to be very uncomfortable. You will feel the need to apologize or explain. The person you are meeting will have arranged her schedule to fit this allotted time, perhaps making sacrifices so she could be on time. When she waits for you, you become a thief, stealing her time. If this becomes a frequent occurrence, even longtime friendships can be strained. Much of the spiritual energy that you are accruing will dissipate.

Ever have the experience of reading an interesting e-mail on the computer when you are interrupted by a phone call from a distressed friend? Are you able to draw your mind from the e-mail and generously give him your full heart and mind? Or do you let him talk as you continue to be involved with reading the message? Generosity gives great gifts in many small ways.

In the face of great tragedy, people are known to open their hearts to those considered strangers just minutes before. Others needing an outlet for their pain and frustration may intentionally snatch any remnants of calm they feel from others.

After the catastrophic events of September 11, 2001, the devastation continued as many sought to blame and punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime. In lieu of a healthy outlet, their frustrations continued to be fueled by the inability to locate the agitators. Feelings of helplessness stoked the rage as it burst out, scorching an innocent population. The wave of hatred overtook and stole what little safety was left in many ethnic communities guilty of nothing more than having (or thought to have) the same religious background or national origin as the terrorists.

Watch the Helpers

For most parents, the original disaster was difficult enough to explain to their children. They were now grasping for whatever goodness they could gather to protect the innocence of their children and to calm the colossal fear. Humbly, they sought the sage advice of one of the icons of kindheartedness in the world of children. Mr. Rogers, a longtime TV host and minister, encouraged and empowered countless children to live with kindness and love. His advice whispers the secret of generosity from time immemorial:

“Tell the children to watch the helpers. Their generosity of heart and time is an inspiration to us all. It can help soothe our pain as it encourages our hearts to open.”

The vibration of Asteya magnifies our own experience of prosperity, smoothing the way for us to give generously to others. At times when our hearts are open, generosity cascades unencumbered. At other times, we must recall when we were bathed in our own generosity or that of another and how blessed we felt.

In our lives we have many occasions to give. At the simplest level, Asteya teaches you not to steal in any way.  As it expands your heart, it says give. For maximum benefit, do not even wait for someone to ask. Be alert and never miss an opportunity to give, give, give.


Learn More about the Yoga Sutras: The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi

Article: Yoga’s Secret Power by Nischala Joy Devi

Workshop in San Francisco: Upcoming events with Nischala Joy Devi

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