This week we studied Asteya - "not stealing", seeing how we can put it into practice at both the material level and the psychological level. The paper focuses mainly on H.H.'s advice on Asteya but also includes a quotation from the Dalai Lama and a Sufi story.
People in the group held different views on how to practise Asteya. This was good, as it meant that every one of us had some of our fixed ideas and beliefs challenged. One person explained how whenever he had more money than he needed in his bank account he gave some of it away. Another felt that we tend to have too many possessions. How many shoes does one really need? A third explained that it is sometimes difficult to give away things that one doesn't need because people seem to want new things rather than second-hand. Also they don't want to feel patronised or in anyone's debt - so perhaps it is better to give things away anonymously. Some members of the group put forward a system of morality that was close to communism. But others felt that communism was not the answer - it was an individual matter and not a question of everyone having the same amount of money.
A question was asked "Aren't we allowed to enjoy what we have?" Some felt that we definitely should - and to do that requires being in the present. They felt that Asteya was mainly about the psychological level and concerned attachment to things one possesses and desire for things one doesn't yet possess. So practice of Asteya should be all about letting go of attachment and having fewer desires.
We had some discussion about H.H.'s advice concerning power and greed in relation to trying to hold onto one's job or position, and the way in which these lead to lies and deception. One person remarked that if politicians tried to avoid lies and deception they would soon be out of power. It's completely impossible in that job. Another felt that it applied to all of us in all our relationships with other people - at home, at work, in the Study Society and among our neighbours.
Meeting reports, papers and discussions from Cheltenham Group. All Society members are welcome to join in the discussion here.
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