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“The Precepts in Everyday Life: Precept No. 2 – Not Stealing” by Lorna Simons

I was raised by people who set a very high value on honesty. I remember that when I was about five years old, I stole a candy bar from a local store. When asked where I’d gotten it (I had no money, of course), I ‘fessed up, and my father took me by the hand and made me go back to the store and tell them what I’d done and pay them for the candy. VERY humiliating to my pride, and an object lesson. So on the sort of grosser, obvious levels, stealing isn’t a big issue for me.

But there is one area where my intention to be honest collides with my compulsions. I live in a house where my food supply is separate from the family’s, and as far as they are concerned I am free to take food from their supply if I need to (I replace it later). But when I am in the grip of my food compulsion, there are certain foods that I snitch secretly and guiltily consume in private and don’t care if I use them up. The feeling around that is furtiveness, shame, and a certain urgency. (All words taken from the Dharma Rain Precept Talks in 2013.) So one action item could be to do my best NOT to do that!

Next I’m reflecting on a couple of other phrases. From the Kyojukaimon: “Holding no thought of gain is the precept of not stealing.” And the idea that you can steal time or attention, invade others’ space and make demands beyond what they can reasonably give or it’s appropriate for me to ask for. Also the strand of misusing authority to get privilege or power.

This may not be directly related, but like many people I have a tendency to spend a fair amount of time thinking of things I’d like to have and using a lot of thought energy planning for it or wishing for it or feeling bad that I don’t have whatever it is. So a second action item could be to become more aware of when I’m doing that and try to let go of it.

This one doesn’t seem quite as straightforward to me as “Not Killing” did, for some reason. So I’ll be interested to work on it.