The next two steps toward happiness are not-stealing (asteya) and non-possessiveness (aparigraha). Both stealing (steya) and grabbing onto and retaining things (parigraha) are regular practices of human beings that make us not only unhappy but pull us away from our True Self, “atman,” as it is called in the Yoga world. But when we are practicing “a-steya” (not-stealing) and “a-parigraha” (non-possessiveness), we become happy because we know our “atman” (True Self).
We are in essence (I may have mentioned this before) pure DIPs. We are divine, infinite, and perfect beings, according to the Yoga Tradition. We never die! We have all we need. Many Christian preachers talk about this when they say, “God will provide.” Or “God never gives us more than we can handle.”
Lately, the people of my hometown of Burlington, Wisconsin, had to be reminded of this because of the flooding of the Fox and White rivers. Many lost all their physical possessions and evening some of their homes. They survived and will be forced to learn the harsh truth about possessiveness and wanting what others have.
All the things we have and all the things we want may not be what we need to be happy. Maybe just being alive and cared for by neighbors and friends is all we need. We have enough and will be supplied with enough. Our True Self knows that.
But when we take something that belongs to another, we are denying that God will always provide. We forget that we have all that we need for we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27). These practices of asteya and aparigraha help us remember that what is another’s may not be what we need.
Accumulating many things, like sports memorabilia, is for museums or public galleries, not necessarily for everyone who wants to keep the reminders for themselves. Sometimes we collect so much stuff that it begins to stifle the light that comes into our house. We begin to set up alarm systems to protect these “treasures” from others who also may think they need them to be happy. The painful thing is this “hoarding” makes us more suspicious of others. “They may take it and deplete my value” might be one’s thinking.
Collecting books has been my aparigraha struggle. I often say to myself, “I may need that information someday.” Then, Mary says to me (Mary is the person I have lived with for almost 48 years. We are married, too.), “Michael you can get that in the library, or online. All you really need to know is inside of you. Remember you are a DIP.” I smile and am taught again how our samskaras (our patterns of behavior) are so strong and hard to change.
It has taken me many years of meditation to begin to really not want a lot of things that others have. The meditation has helped me realize that all I need is within me and I don’t need to keep all the books, or I don’t need the wealth that I see others having either.
Again, just like the first two “yamas” – “ahimsa” (non-violence) and “satya” (truthfulness), these next two yamas – “asteya” and “aparigraha” – are practices that will bring me happiness. Meditation has helped me know that I don’t need to possess all those books or things in my life and that I truly can find happiness within myself.
I encourage you to consider learning how to find your DIP through the practice of meditation. It’s a wonderful journey towards realizing that what we have is enough!