Home » Features » Are You Stealing Something Without Knowing?

Beyond just not
taking what is not given,
giving what is not asked for,
this is generosity.

– Stonepeace | Books

There is a course I’m currently teaching on Buddhist perspectives of moral conduct called ‘Project Precepts’, where we discuss more than a hundred practical and sometimes controversial scenarios, on whether they break the precepts or not. We were focusing on what would fall within the wide scope of breaking the second precept of abstaining from stealing, when a class participant who was a school teacher raised her hand. She shared on how a student in her class once also raised his hand, to tell her that the classmate seated next to him was stealing his attention by continually distracting him with various antics, which made it difficult for him to focus properly on the lesson going on.

Incidentally, a few days later, I was presenting the Dharma with a group of young students in a Buddhist club when I noticed one of them talking to another, which means both of them were not being attentive to the Dharma being shared. Walking over to them while still addressing everyone, I related the case above, wanting to avoid chiding, while using the opportunity to urge reflecting, to remind everyone on the deeper meanings of the Five Precepts that were customarily recited before the beginnng of today’s Dharma session. Different from the first case, this is a Dharma class. Able to guide us towards True Happiness, the Dharma is extra precious and invaluable, which means stealing attention from it creates extra negative karma!

Since the Dharma missed is difficult to recapture and its value difficult to measure, the results of missing and causing another to miss the Dharma are just as difficult to gauge. Usually, it is one who is first unaware of the worth of the Dharma, who is first distracted, who then distracts another. The opportunity to learn the Dharma is first ‘stolen’ from onself, before it is stolen from another. But when the second person remains distracted by choice, this person ‘self-steals’ the Dharma from oneself too. Beware! Beyond physical objects, without mindfulness, attention, like many other intangibles, such as trust, freedom and time can easily be stolen and hard to return, to others, and even oneself!

Although not
taking what is not given,
never giving what is needed,
this is miserliness.

Stonepeace | Books

One Response to “Are You Stealing Something Without Knowing?”

  1. Giving credit, to the wrong person, can be theft of a kind.

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