Me, Steal? (Part One)

“The yogi cannot allow himself to take anything which does not properly belong to him, not only in the way of money or goods but even such intangible and yet highly prized things as credit for things he has not done or privileges which do not properly belong to him.”             -I.K. Taimni

In an interesting turn of events, a court in Italy recently ruled on behalf of a homeless man who stole some cheese and sausage. The court, stating that the man was acting “in a state of need” ruled that “if you’re hungry, stealing food is not a crime”. Makes me wonder if that same court might accuse those of us who carelessly let food rot in our refrigerator or mindlessly discard excess in garbage cans might be held in contempt as the real culprits of stealing.

Week One: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can leave alone.” -Henry David Thoreau

Notice what you can’t leave alone. (clothes, praise, credit for something, fancy coffee drinks, privileges, workshops, social media, books…) In what way does your inability to “leave these things alone” relate to stealing? In what way does your inability to “leave these things alone” create disturbance in your mind and in the world? Notice why you can’t leave this thing alone – can you identify an ego weakness involved? Explore this weakness. What does it feel like in your body? Where do you feel it? What story does your mind make up about this inability?

Week Two. Waste: to squander, to fail or neglect to use, to employ uselessly -Webster

I am reminded of a trip I took several years ago to a small village in Tanzania where I lived for a week. One of the things I remember most about the experience was the total lack of waste and nonexistence of trashcans. Everything was precious. Everything was re-used or re-purposed. My return to the states was startling as I realized the amount of waste that I so carelessly generate through squander and neglect of use.

Statistics show that the United States alone throws away $35 million tons (70 billion pounds) of food annually and more than 11 million tons of textile waste, while much of the world, including much of the United States, lives in hunger and squalor.

This week focus your attention on your habits around waste. What does your trashcan, refrigerator, book shelf, clothes closet, computer storage, and daily use of time say about your waste habits? Notice especially how “normal” having and throwing away trash seems to you. How do your waste habits relate to stealing? How do they relate to disturbance in your mind and in the world?

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