Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 09/02/2014

Not Taking What Is Not Given | Abhaya-cariya

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

The training rule to refrain from taking that which is not given can be understood simply as refraining from theft and stealing but, if we pay close attention to the wording of the precept, we see that there are other possible interpretations which require a much more careful approach.

In daily life I don’t believe most of us reading this blog engage in outright theft (although I could be completely wrong on that count) so the Second Precept (its position in the traditional enumeration of the Panca Sila) may not be something we give much thought to. But look a little more closely and you may be disturbed by what you find.

Take, for example, the following cases:

You’re at your in-laws’ house and you forge
t to bring toothpaste so you use theirs.

There is a bottle of creamer in the office kitchen that belongs to someone else and you use a little in your coffee.

You download a PDF of a book that is on sale elsewhere without paying for it.

So, are any of these instances of sullied if not broken precepts?  Clearly nothing was offered in these cases but to call it theft might feel like a stretch to some. I would suggest that, in my own limited wisdom and experience, we follow our conscience to the degree that it has been cultivated. I know that I will be working on just these types of scenarios in the coming weeks as I undertake a virtual Ango and prepare for Jukai at Treeleaf Zendo.

May we practice to  perfect our generosity, purify our sila, deepen our samadhi and develop true wisdom.


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