We sat still awhile, this time I was completely focused on the harbor seals lying motionless sunbathing on the rocks, these marine creatures being very hard to distinguish from the stone they lay upon.
DISCIPLE: “Thou shall not steal” is the next commandment. It seems simple enough. Anything to add?
YAMA: Why would anyone steal?
DISCIPLE: Because they want something bad enough to take the risk of being caught, but fear they lack the means of purchasing it; or perhaps for the thrill of the adventure; or maybe even revenge and they feel justified? Perhaps survival?
YAMA: Delusion. One steals because they feel they lack something they need and that there is another to steal from. If they would come to the truth of their nature they would know that there is no need and that there is no other. Each person is but a member of the body of humanity, and the body of humanity is but a member of the body of the world where other species serve as other members. To steal from another is the same as the right hand taking from the left. However, due to the fear of being a little separated thing among so many other things one steals.
DISCIPLE: What about a mother taking fruit from a vendor to feed her hungry child, is that wrong?
YAMA: This is nothing about right and wrong. It is all a matter of attitude. No one owns anything after all. It is all God’s. Does not the Creator have the rights to His creations?
DISCIPLE: Of course.
YAMA: There are some cultures that have no sense of personal property. They use whatever they might need for the time needed and then let it go for someone else to use. The idea of stealing to such people makes as much sense as feeling guilty when plucking an apple from a tree they happen upon. To such a people who have no sense of ownership there exists an inherent trust that the world will provide their simple needs.
DISCIPLE: So it’s ok to take whatever one wants since nothing belongs to anyone anyway?
YAMA: Careful, the mind can argue from any direction and never touch the truth. Any teaching, any words, can be used to lead one deeper into illusion and misery.
Any fearful action will create fearful events. Cause and effect. If one acts in the state of peace then that is what one creates. To find God, who is always waiting and watching, one must develop trust. To take what has not been given generally implies lack of trust. Acting out of desperation to preserve the body is falling into the illusion of being a body, instead of being the Eternal Spirit that has no needs.
|Traveler 1, Janaka Stagnaro|
To eat your food, or to don your clothes, or to take your child to school without giving thanks to the Creator is stealing. Remember, there is nothing that you own. Give up the sense of ownership and surrender to the One who owns it all. In this way your mind will not steal away from the awareness that everything is God’s and is God. Gratitude, instead of self-righteous pride of earning what one has acquired, will be fostered, and the Giver can then be remembered and is invited to be recognized with every action.
Then everything becomes a gift. When one sees everything as a gift then one acts accordingly.
DISCIPLE: How does one know when one has stolen the moment?
YAMA: Generally, when one becomes angry. Anger is a sign of not being united with the present circumstance and feeling thwarted from acquiring what one wants or expects. Anger cannot be present when gratitude prevails.
DISCIPLE: I guess when you really get down to the essential there is no difference between the last two commandments because they are both about being in love with the moment.
I bowed to Yama and left him on the bench. I walked home, smiling. Whatever I gazed upon I saw with gratitude: whatever shape of a body, flowers, weeds, cigarette butts, clouds, it did not matter. And with each breath I gave thanks. When I reached home I touched my wife’s hair and lifted my giggling child into my arms, and I thanked God for this moment of Eternity God had gifted me.
-- excerpt from The Teachings of Yama: A Conversation with Death, Addendum I