We’re in the midpoint of our Yamas Discussion Series and it’s so full of delightful juiciness and stories. We’re exploring nonStealing. It’s a sneaky and stealthy one, if we’re not paying attention. Like, when we rush and realize we didn’t pay for that coffee. Or we’re frazzled and we take off with that pen. Or that bag of dirt we forgot was underneath the shopping cart. Small things, but let’s take a momentary break as we reach the midpoint of the Yamas to remember:
Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t be mean.
Generosity. Truth. Kindness.
In yoga (and Ayurveda) philosophy, Cause (always) equals Effect. Whatever we do or say or think. In fact, our actions are the outward expression of our thought vibrations (vrittis for the yogins) and intentions. That’s big stuff to consider. What we think…matters!
Sometimes the small stuff doesn’t seem like a big deal. Borrowing that close parking spot just for a moment. Grabbing an extra free sample. Fudging those taxes just a little bit because everybody does it. Taking that bonus/freebee you didn’t really earn because if you don’t take it someone else will and they probably don’t deserve it any more than you do. I’ll just grab this, Sally has three of them and she won’t mind or notice.
Many of our lawsuits or revenge/discipline cycles become a form of stealing. We often feel we “deserve” something, or someone else deserves to be punished, because someone else made a mistake (often a mistake we too have made in the past–maybe with a different and luckier outcome). Emotional responses don’t help us to see clearly or make the best decisions and people tend to feed the fears and angers of our stories. Keep Good Company. Still the mind. Set intentions for who you want to be. Thoughts become Actions. Ripples.
The other fun thing to explore is that the opposite of what you know to be stealing is also stealing (thanks, Timber).
Taxes. If you don’t pay your taxes, that’s stealing. Thoreau: but if I PAY my taxes, I’m being stolen from (Civil Disobedience). Salt. If you make your own salt, that’s stealing according to the British Government. Gandhi: but if we don’t make our own salt, the Indian people are being stolen from (nonViolent Protest). In a similar vein: the tea of the Boston Tea Party. Rose Parks, according to the law, stole a seat on the bus.
There’s some good sticky stuff to percolate. Dig deep, notice where you are stealing without even noticing. Not just in the “big” ways of stealing we talked about, but in the small stuff. It starts with the small stuff and if we don’t even see the small stuff, it’s impossible to work on the big stuff.
Where do you…borrow, fudge, and accidentally steal from yourself and others? I’ll leave you this this last thing to ponder to remind us that there is so much grey area:
I have a wise friend who says that if you see someone shoplifting, you simply turn and walk away. You don’t get angry or indignant (except maybe to your close, dear Good Company as you churn through your emotional responses to better understand yourself and others). You certainly don’t turn them in.
When we judge someone else’s actions, we just might be stealing in return. We may steal the dignity of a desperate person. Perhaps worse, what are the ripples of a hungry and desperate mother being arrested? By judging the kid as “bad” or “damaged” or “needing discipline”, we are making big judgements from a small piece of a bigger life story. We possibly steal a good future of a person. They get stuck with a label of “bad kid” and what’s the ripple effect of that? We’re going to say they need to learn from their actions, but do we need to be the ones to turn them in with a nugget of a story? Probably not and more often, given time, love, and a chance…people learn without us stepping into a story we don’t know and don’t understand.
We often, with the best of intentions, do more harm than good. We just might be “stealing” in bigger ways. What do we know? And if you must respond, donate some money to the store (no need to tell them why) let karma sort herself out and de-entangle yourself (that’s your karma). Donate to a charity that supports struggling mothers, homelessness, struggling teens, or addiction. See the homeless man on the street and offer them money or food or work. Volunteer your time. There are so many more wonderful choices besides the quick one.
To Be Clear: my wise friend and I not saying that shoplifting is right. We’re asking us to think deeply about the consequences of OUR actions. We’re asking us to think about our immediate judgements. We’re asking us to question our own work on a much deeper level than assuming the story is black and white with no grey areas.
Every Yama is bigger than you think it is.
2 thoughts on “Halfway: nonStealing”
Absolutely wonderful and insightful information.
So encouraging, everyone needs to explore this grey area. Thank you.
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Thank you so much for your comment. I’m very happy you enjoyed the Percolations of Generosity. Sending you love and Courage.