Zen & Dharma

Not stealing

put_your_hands_in_the_air_by_ksbansal-d3izk8qThe opposite of stealing (or taking what is not given), is to give, unconditionally.

Not stealing means not stealing time, but taking it and giving it back. It means giving as much time as is necessary to the task. It means not trying to cheat time by half-hearted multitasking, or by whiling time away with addictions. Not stealing time means not taking free license to drift off in fantasy when there is work to be done – whether on the cushion or in the presence of a person who needs you. Stealing time is not being fully present. To kill time is to steal from life. Not stealing time means not spending your entire life stashing away for a tomorrow that might never come. It means knowing when it is time to stay and when it is time to leave.

Not stealing means not depleting. It means not hoarding. It means living within our means. It means wanting little and being happy with less. It means being willing to pay a fair price for what we need.

Not stealing means not short-changing our passions, but giving them their due. It means fully apprehending the awesome power of anger, the tsunami of grief. It means taking glory in the moment in spite of the sure knowledge that it will pass. Not stealing means living the full gamut of our lives, as Joan Halifax says: the whole catastrophe.

Not stealing means being generous. It means giving when you have little, and giving when you have lots. Not stealing means not deriving your egoic needs from someone else’s position, not stepping on their head to climb up. It means not talking down another, or taking another down.

To not steal means to GIVE IT UP, as in, to PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!

Not stealing means kicking the ass of the first grand adversary: greed. Not stealing means not craving. Not stealing means being content.

<with gassho to Robert Aitken, “The Mind of Clover”>

3 Comments on “Not stealing

  1. I wanna know what are some of the ways where you’ve found you were stealing or cheating time, and how you found a way out of it. I like the ideas, just wanted something more personal. Personal = Universal. I like it when you get personal. I missed it.
    Sounds to me like “not stealing” in my life is about being fully present to what is going on RIGHT NOW, paying attention to what REALLY needs paying attention to, not doing more than one thing at a time. Really just wash the dishes. Really just look out the window. Really just have that phone conversation. Turn off the ever-present screens.

  2. Thank you for this. This post and all your other posts have sustained and continue to sustain me in my own practice.

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