Asteya – How to Truly Become Rich

by Moritz Ulrich |
May, 2023
अस्तेयप्रतिष्ठायां सर्वरत्नोपस्थानम्

asteya-pratiṣṭhāyāṃ sarva-ratnopasthānam

When the Yogi is established in asteya, nonstealing, all prosperity is realized.

When one stops stealing from others, prosperity (material, mental, and spiritual) appears.  

– Sharon Gannon

PYS 2.37

As one of the five Yamas, Patanjali presents the practice of non-stealing as a way to be able to see the preciousness in everything. The word ratna, which means jewel, indicates prosperity. It appears when we stop taking things that do not belong to us away from others. It is one of the five suggested restraints of our behavior towards others, if we want Yoga, the state of missing nothing, as Brahamananda Sarasvati describes it.

One of the most straightforward ways of including asteya into our daily lives is through a vegan lifestyle. It is one of the easiest ways because you can do it multiple times a day without any additional effort. In a store you can go to the shelf with plant-based alternatives instead of going to the one that has milk that was meant for baby cows. Instead of eating eggs, which were actually meant to protect the baby chickens while coming to life and not for falling down through metal cages in which the mother hens are often imprisoned in, choose from the vast possibilities available to gain your necessary protein, such as chickpeas, lentils, or quinoa. You can read more about how veganism is a way to Yoga in Sharon Gannons book “Yoga and Veganism”.

Making references to the work of others, such as books they wrote, ideas they shared or words they said, is another wonderful opportunity for asteya to be more present in your life. Every so often, we really love what we have learned from another being. Perhaps we are inspired by it so much that we want the whole world to know. We create workshops and even trainings that spread these ideas. We might fall into the trap of believing that we were the ones who came up with them and stop referencing or quoting our dear teachers at some point. We imply that we are the great creator of something and are therefore committing intellectual theft. According to Patanjali, this small self-absorbed way of behaving will not bring about any true wealth. Be grateful for your teachers and their teachings. Recognize them as the source of the tools and ideas you are sharing with others, and richness on different levels will appear, eventually but inevitably. This does not mean that you only need to regurgitate and copy words, but that you yourself are at all times filled with appreciation for the source of the material you are presenting, so its essential light can be passed on to your listeners and students.

Realizing the true light, the purusha, that which is ever present in everyone and everything will lead to the state of missing nothing. It is all here right now and there is nothing else that you need. You are it. Any feeling of not having enough or of lacking something subsides and true, eternal wealth on all levels will be revealed.

Teaching Tips

1. With no exception, chant the sutra mentioned above in every single class. In this way, the power of repetition will give you and the students deeper insights. 2. Talk about a topic, which is essential to Jivamukti Yoga (veganism, animal rights, union with the divine etc.) and might be challenging for you to talk about. In this way you yourself and your students will get  the opportunity to hear and learn about these topics, and it is not taken away from you or them. Reflect if you have thoughts like „They are not ready for this.“, „They are not interested in this topic“, „They might not come back to class if I talk about it“.3. In the portion of the class in which you call out and count the breath, make sure the inhale and exhale are even. Often times we leave a much shorter pause after the word „inhale“ than after „exhale“ and therefore we take away the full length of the breath from the students. Practice this on your own using a metronome first, to getter a better feel for it. 4. Reflect if you are always able to fulfill the minimum times found in the 14 points (especially the 5 minutes for meditation, inversions, shoulderstand, the 10 minutes for shavasana or the 10 breaths for matsyasana) and make an effort to include them. A good way is to set yourself a timer for different parts of the class, to get a better internal feeling for time. 5. Make sure you end on time, or rather aim to end 2 minutes early. Running over can happen and be aware that you are stealing time from your students, which might have other things planned after class. If this happens often, they will start checking the time and might feel stressed and rushed in shavasana, or they might even have to skip this important part of the class. 6. Make yourself a list with 4 key ideas taken from the essay. For each week you can then explore this topic in more detail during your classes. 7. Find ways to reference your teachers during class or at least spend some time for gratitude. You could also chant the „Guru Mantra“.