Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Asteya

Earth’s Prayer by Snatam Kaur

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and there’s one Sanskrit word that comes to mind. For Sanskrit newbies, it’s the ancient Indian language of yoga. The yogi guidebook to life is called The Yoga Sutras, and it was written in Sanskrit about 2000 years ago by a sage named Patanjali. Sutra means thread, and the original version is a compilation of little chunks of info about how to live your life. There are many translations out there, but I really like this one by Sri Swami Satchidananda. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali writes about an eight-limbed path that gives us a list of practical guidelines to follow. (Here’s an easy-to-read outline of that path.) The first limb covers universal morality and there are five recommendations:

  1. Ahimsa: non-violence
  2. Satya: truthfulness
  3. Asteya: non-stealing
  4. Brahmacharya: continence
  5. Aparigraha: non-greed

Earth Day reminds me of Asteya because I think of all the ways we take things we don’t even need from Mother Nature. Believe me when I say I am just as guilty as the next person in overconsumption. Carolyn’s blog post talks about how in today’s society it is the norm to be wasteful and what a challenge we have to overcome the consumer mentality that is constantly barraged at us by the media. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve bought something that gets tossed into a closet or drawer unused. All these goods comes with a price: land space, factory pollution, oil to transport, packaging in landfills, etc.

Natural beauty

Sri Swami Satchidananda writes:

“If we are completely free from steeling and greed, contented with what we have, and if we keep serene minds, all wealth comes to us.”

According to yoga, it’s not stuff that makes us happy. So what can we do to combat overconsumption (and practice non-stealing)?

  • Alicia Silverstone has a great list with links on how to offset your carbon footprint, conserve water and encourage kids to go green
  • My friends and I love to shop for clothes. The last few times we’ve done a lap around Walnut Street in Philadelphia without buying anything. Then we go home and put together newly inspired outfits.
  • Check out TLC’s list for 15 ways to cut consumption
  • From the above list: swap almond milk for cow’s milk
  • Pack your lunch in a reusable container
  • Buy less stuff

What else are you doing? Have you made any easy changes?



Filed under Happiness, Yoga

6 responses to “Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Asteya

  1. I am still amazed at how liberally cashiers put items into plastic bags without giving it a second thought. A 64-ounce, 5-pound jug of detergant in a flimsy plastic bag? Just yesterday I picked up a prescription (which comes in its own little paper bag from the pharmacy), and the cashier went to put it in another plastic bag. I wish store managers could teach their employees to ask first before bagging, especially for items that simply just do not require more packaging!

    • It’s all about habits. The same exact thing happened to me today. I said no bag please. They forgot and grabbed a bag. I gently reminded them no bag please. Sometimes they put it in a bag anyway. I’ll take the item(s) out and put the bag on the counter, nicely letting them know I just don’t need it. Of course I’ve had just as many cashiers happily tell me that they’re glad I’m not using a bag.

  2. Pingback: Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Ahimsa | veggievinyasa

  3. Pingback: Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Bramacharya | veggievinyasa

  4. Pingback: Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Aparigraha | veggievinyasa

  5. Pingback: Earth Baby | veggievinyasa

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