Take What You Need

There must be something to it. Waste Not. Want Not. To parents saying, don’t waste your vegetables, there are children in this world who don’t get any food at all. Two years ago, I watched a documentary on BBC on the food crisis around the world and I thought the biggest crime of modern life, is lifestyle. The fallacious belief that you should live according to what you can afford, and not according to what you need. Cut your coat according to your cloth and not actually check if you need the coat in the first place. Asteya and Aparigraha. Non stealing, and absence of greed. These Yamas (Precepts of social discipline set out in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras) have a different edge to them in a capitalist, fast paced world. Stealing isn’t only about taking something without paying for it, or taking it from someone else. Greed isn’t only about amassing stuff. Its about understanding your needs, and working within them.

Clearly, one’s needs can be argued out, as one man’s need is another ones luxury. But the greatest understanding the concept of wastage has given me is that everything first belongs to the earth, then to those for whom the satisfaction of that need is basic to their survival, then to me. If the crop of rice has failed in India, I resist the temptation of running out to buy many kilos of rice from the Indian groceries just to stock up, which would make the shortage worse, and the price higher. I make sure I’ll be on time and if I tell you I’ll do something I’ll do it, so I’m not wasting your time. I use as little electricity as I can, take short showers, turn the tap off whilst brushing, so that whoever you are, for whom these things are luxuries……..I’m trying to make space for you. I know you exist and even though I don’t actively become a part of your life often, I’m trying not to take your stuff, just because I got there first. I have to say though, I have found this much easier than ‘sharing my time’ or giving up my time for someone else, simply because they need it more. My husband does much more charitable activities than I do. And although I find it easy to give up money or material things, I find it really hard to give up my time, simply because someone else needs it more, and I have it. ……..Still, I am many steps away from making living more important than lifestyle.