• megna paula

Greed/ belonging/ Asteya

We can arrive at greed along one of two paths.

One is to live in times of abundance and act as if resources are scarce. The other is the opposite, to presume abundance though resources are truly scarce. Both are paths of confusion that bring us to the same place, though with different perspectives.

If humans were rational (and we are not), we would always be in balance, constantly calibrating, adapting to our ever shifting environment. But we are driven by feelings, desires, and fears of what may or may not happen. We want to protect, we want to own, and because we want belongings, we also want to belong.

Even when surrounded by abundance, we can live in fear of not-enough. Hoarding, possessiveness, holding onto what no longer serves us— these are faces of greed.

What are we really greedy for?

What do we want?

Everything, and its opposite, all at once.

The more paradoxical our desires, the greater our confusion, the deeper our greed. So much energy is lost in desire of duality: to be successful/ to not work. To not work/ to be fit. To fit everything we buy into a fashionably minimalist home.

In our confusion, we expend resources that are not ours to spend, creating debt on a global scale: over fishing oceans, over mining the earth, deforesting the amazon, etc. That confusion begins within: we believe that what we want is outside of ourselves, and that we can go out and take what will make us happier, healthier.

Then we devalue what we do have: time, space, energy.

Presuming we are immortal, steal pleasure from time when we indulge in escapist thoughts or draining feelings of self-doubt, worries, and guilts. We crowd our bodies/minds/homes with so much of what we like that we struggle to see what we need, and we forget about energy, the invisible.

Ashtanga yoga teaches asteya, not-stealing, the opposite of greed— freely enjoying all you work to receive. Rationally, counter intuitively, we can step away from the paths of confusion and see the reality that less is enough is more: fewer possessions/desires/feelings allows us the inner space to act on the real ambitions we have in life.

Of course, stealing is wrong, don’t do it, it will make you feel guilty, which will drain your good vibes and boost your bad karma so that you’re bound to the cycles of making things right again. But more interestingly:

What would a world of no-stealing be like? There would be no boundaries; everything would be open between one another, a kind of exposure that we call “vulnerability” today only because people so commonly take from one another. With asteya, there is no need to protect ourselves from each other. We can be naturally porous, sensitive to the easy exchange ideas and feelings. There is no need to hold on or hold back. It is freedom from possession.

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