Right now, in Mumbai, there is a child working in the streets to sell umbrellas or ink pens. This child had every chance of life that any other baby did at the time of birth. This child’s parents stole their innocence. Us, as potential customers, steal that child’s chance of getting out of that vicious cycle. Rarely are we the catalyst for changing that child’s life. We enable a system that we say is horrible to watch. Not all of these stories turn out bad and some kids find their way out and become functional members of society.
While this may be an extreme example of how we steal when looking into the Yama, Asteya, we are all thieves to someone just as we are saints. Do we not steal protection from insects when we trim our lawns? Perhaps, to the birds, we become saints for uncovering their feast. Everything has a pay off and a cost just as every situation has give and take.
Even in the very class that we are learning mindfulness, we can never start on time. I have been late for circumstances beyond my control and robbed my classmates of time since we only have a short 4 hours a day in the classroom. I often observe people robbing themselves of the opportunity to try something new or shine. We give so much credit to the negative feelings and doubts that we rob ourselves of true presence and joy.
We do this because of ego, negative emotions and pride. Sometimes, we get more attention if we act like the shy, bashful person. While acting in a group setting you rob everyone in that group of knowing the true you and celebrating a victory of overcoming fears and doubts. This also robs people of time to perform their tasks and learning something new.
Robbing people of your presence is sometimes necessary to recharge and regroup especially if the emotions are too high and you need room to think. But, still, the robber within us all exists regardless of how much you clean your Yamas and Niyamas. The point is not to be perfect but to be mindful and with intent. The robber is not always a criminal but a person that doesn’t understand their importance in this world.