Refrain from Stealing


2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.

Starting from me, I abandon stealing

May the world also end all thievery. May there be sharing and care.

Above can be recited if we wish to uphold this precept

The precept against stealing advices us to respect the property of others.

If I asked myself seriously if I had ever stolen in my life, the answer would be a yes. I confess I used to steal sweets and toy as a kid. Not that I am proud of it.I remember that, even as a kid, I knew that it was wrong and there was fear of being caught. That fear became confused with excitement when I was not caught red handed for stealing. I was lucky that excitement did not became an obsession.

When there was a chance to live together with others in a community, I discovered that this precept help promote a sense of trust. The guideline taught to me is;

“When in doubt, ask for permission. It is never ridiculous to ask”

Thus, I do not pinch from the communal fridge, or help myself to the instant coffee pack left on the table by others. Not even toilet rolls left unattended (we had to buy our own toilet roll)

I tried and tested it. The result is a sense of respect that pervades the community. This even applies when you live with your partner (only two under a roof). No using of pimple cream, lotion etc unless you get permission to do so…

I guess this precepts trains one to be contented and respect another’s property. Personally, I extend this concept of non-stealing to work ethic. When working as an employee, I believe the employer paid for my time to work in office. Therefore I try to be as productive as possible.

Perhaps there will be no war if everyone respect another’s property? Do we ask the bees for permission before taking away their honey?

The point is there are various depth in which we can observe this precept. I think it is a good advice from the Buddha. Fundamentally, Buddhist precepts are not commandment that damn you to hell if you fail. They are advices from the Buddha for you to follow if you want to have good Karma.

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