A side comment on satya (sutrua II.36) which elaborates on truth or satya, and has a deep personal meaning to me. When I started my yoga teacher training with Ana Forrest in 2006, she talked a lot of be “speaking the truth”. At that time I embarked on telling the truth, no matter how inconvenient, to my children. I realized that for years, I was telling what I considered to be “white lies” to get them to do what I wanted them to do. For example, “Get in the car, that TV show is over now” when in fact it was not. As my kids got older they observed this behavior, and believed it was alright to lie. (As a side note, I began to recall my mother doing the same thing to me, and me realizing that she was lying, and then thinking it was OK to do that. The cycle had to broken).
I started telling them the truth. “That show is not over but we have to go now.” I got into a lot more conflicts. It was difficult. Sometimes I went backwards in my vow but I always returned to truth telling.
When I started Iyengar training, this yama became my most important because I realized all the damage I had done. My now teenage kids were lying to me about where they were among other things. They often accused me of lying. With each time I did not lie to them, they became a bit more trusting that I didn’t lie. This process took years. I am still amazed at the damage I caused by “white lies”.
However onto stealing or asteya: I was aware of this sutra growing up Catholic, not as a sutra, but as one of the 10 commandments: Thou shall not steal.
Would a criminal believe that precious jewels will come if they do not steal? The jewels this sutra discusses are not the worldly jewels of course.
Iyengar: When abstention from stealing is firmly established, precious jewels come.
Iyengar says that if the sadhaka is without desire (the root of stealing), then he “effortlessly attracts what is precious, materially and figuratively, including the gem of all jewels, virtue.” I recently had a discussion about my son about cheating in his high school, which he says is rampant. He says he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Besides being dishonest, it is also a form of stealing I told him, from others who actually did not cheat. Stealing of their time they studied and perhaps given them a worse grade on the bell curve. As we have further talked about it over several occasions, he told me of a time he had the opportunity to cheat, he didn’t study for a test, and decided to tell the teacher he was not prepared. The teacher made him take the test and he failed. But I told him I was proud of him because he told the truth and didn’t steal a grade. I sensed he felt the integrity he gained from doing so, despite the pain of a bad grade.
Bryant: When one is established in refrainment from stealing, all jewels manifest.
Bryant says some commentators offer a view where we see “jewels suddenly flying through the air toward the accomplished yogi.” One commentator things the jewels are noble hearted people as well as useful things.
Taimni: On being firmly established in honesty all kinds of gems present themselves.
Taimni points out that jewels means that the yogi becomes aware of “all kinds of precious treasures in his vicinity” and this can also represent some kind of clairvoyance or intuition. He also points out that stealing is part of nature. He also says that these desires are binding and cause us misery, which is related to the klesha called raga: reaching for things we desire.
Carerra: To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.
Carerra talks about incessant craving and says this sutra is about being content with what we are given and eventually about generosity. “The more selflessly we give, the more we receive. It’s the law of karma and good business too.” We see this sentiment in the Bible as well. Carerra says “Our wealth is defined not by our material possessions but our relationship to them.”