Recently, I led a class where, as a group, we discussed Asteya (the 3rd Yogic Yama of non-stealing). When leading classes on the Yamas, I like to consider the antidote to each…in this case, our own value and what we genuinely contribute to the world. The more firmly rooted we are in the knowing of our own value and what we have to offer means that we naturally have no orientation toward “stealing”. Our class conversation took shape around the concept that we’re born into Oneness, as infants we’re still harmonized with that from which we came. As babies, all our needs are met without question…we’re hungry then we’re fed, we’re tired then we nap, we need a bath and we’re bathed. Our whole world however small at that time, is oriented toward our own needs and we hold no concept of lack.
However, beginning very young, experiences start popping up, experiences that bring a subtle yet dawning awareness of an “other” and suddenly, we’re experiencing all that’s impermanent in life because we’ve become aware of material consciousness. This movement of Prakriti is perceived pretty early on in life…and it brings with it a new knowledge of that which is “changeable”, that which is an “other”. These experiences that bring us there are subtle, and perhaps not particularly memorable, but they build on one another; and I wonder, is this awareness of “other” meant to happen? So many people want to reach Moksha or Nirvana as though it would be an achievement, seemingly identifying at all with Prakriti as a bad thing, but the very want to reach Moksha is Prakriti itself. This movement of Prakriti is natural, and it is also seemingly necessary as it seeps in to our development by nature. Prakriti is what is necessary to draw us back to the Brahman, that Oneness we were born experiencing, they are two sides of the same coin. Are these experiences meant to be a way of leading us away from Oneness so that we can learn what Oneness is, and then exercise our free will back toward that.
The problem lies not in Prakriti itself, but in what we’ve done with Prakriti in our systematized modern culture. The system of society is structured in such a way that, it grabs this young, new awareness of “other” and runs with it. That open vulnerability of being in such a new awareness is immediately bombarded with media images and surrounds that tell us how much we need. And, being so young, experiencing the tenderness of a new awareness, we’re not emotionally or mentally developed enough to fend off the onslaught…we just keep up and grow up into a belief that we are Prakriti, and the result is that general inner sense of lack. If we could have reached a level of maturation mentally and emotionally in the quiet of traditional values first, learning the observance of Prakriti, we may not have had the vulnerability of being force-fed lack. Our group came to see how complex an issue Asteya really is in our world…it is so multi layered and multi faceted…in both tangible and intangible ways. As Asteya is so awareness oriented, it cannot stand on its own, the awareness needs to come from our work done with Satya, which helps us perceive Prakriti hopefully with some intelligence. And so, it seems, Asteya isn’t necessarily so action-oriented itself, but is instead the mindfulness of value and truth in hopes of bringing about right-action, depending on what we choose. Just food for thought.
--originally posted on Letters In Yoga
**image credit: By Khokarahman - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37528449
I was considering "hope" after having read an article that described “hope” as a false experience that we’re all being fooled by. Feeling more like a defiant Charlie Brown in my response (head tossed back, with all that's left to see is his blip of a nose and tears squirting out the sides of his face) than wanting to accept this, I asked the article in front of me: “What are you talking about? Sometimes I feel like hope is the only thing I’ve got!”. So I dropped this notion altogether.
But the next few days kept bringing it to mind and it led me to question whether “trust” or "faith" is a higher form of “hope”?
Jumping tracks before coming full circle, let's consider the hummingbird. They can migrate distances of up to 2000 miles, and I'm sure the weather isn't all clear through every mile. But they know, they know where they need to be and they know they'll get there. A hummingbird doesn't consider that it will need "trust" for its journey because it already IS trusting, it's already at one with trust, and it moves forward from there. A hummingbird is so united with trust that his skills of discernment are developed in the way that takes him there. Trust for the hummingbird isn't something to gain or acquire or learn, it just is. It's simple, like everything else that is Truth.
Hummingbirds don't complicate decisions with fears of whether making a slightly eastward or westward curve on its way south will be right or wrong. He doesn't pack it in then, becoming overwhelmed with indecision. He doesn't mount fears and doubts on top of his trust so as to confuse himself. He just trusts, leaving it for what it is, accepting it as it is in its simplicity, instead of making a convoluted mess of decisions.
So it's not trust that's the issue, it's the garbage heap of indecision we pile on top of it that's the issue...that's what separates us from trust...and that's what leaves us clinging to "hope". So things are more a matter of, how willing we are to release what separates us from trust, let go of grasping that wall, and question whether we're actually feeling entitled to keep holding that wall as a justification not to trust. It's not easy, so this is not flippant, but the choice is really ours. Are we able to quiet that questioning and uncertainty of the mind enough, to connect with trust...to choose trust more frequently over the indecision, as our way to connect with the trust that is already inside of us?
I drew a similarity from Santosha (which is Yoga's second Niyama of Contentment). When we come to experience Santosha, we understand and accept the difference between “happiness” and “contentment”. Happiness being a somewhat fleeting feeling because of its dependence on an outer experience; whereas contentment is an inner state of being that isn’t reliant on what is happening outside of us. Contentment is stable, it’s balanced, and it’s ours…whereas the highs and lows of happiness means it’s never really ours, we’re dependent on an outer source to fulfill it. Likewise with "hope", it can string us along a bit.
But do we prefer to hope? It's a little bit easier than trust, isn't it? We can shine it up and think that we're happy there. But when we hope, we’re not really trusting. The safety-net of hope is that it will still accommodate our personal sense of control (that "wall" I mentioned previously). And this really only puts us half-way there. Trust on the other hand, means we’re all-in: “I’m here and I’m ready” (harking back to that same active waiting I referred to in October’s newsletter). So if we don't rely quite so heavily on hope, and aim instead for trust, we naturally arrive at contentment. A big deal, right? We’re squeamish around trust simply because of that surrender of control it requires. But let's be like the hummingbirds; I'll meet you out on the brilliantly flowered field of Trust.
“Hope looks forward. Faith knows it has already received and acts accordingly.” — Florence Shinn
*originally posted on Letters In Yoga
* image credit: Ray Hennessy rayhennessy [CC0]