One of the five precepts is "Abstain from taking that which is not given". I am confused by this right now. Since this does talk about maintaining your sila. I believe that all knowledge should be free of cost , and charging for knowledge is what is leading to all the inequality in our society. The Brahmins in India have for centuries exploited women and lower-caste people by maintaining their strong hold on all spiritual knowledge and only sharing it with fellow Brahmins. Women and lower caste people were forbidden from learning the scriptures. This is the kind of exploitation that Buddha spoke strongly against. Today's society in the developed and developing world is no different. Students are paying enormous sums of money to gain knowledge and many leading miserable lives due to student debt. Textbooks are ridiculously priced. I hate the commercialization of knowledge because it is exclusive and not inclusive. That is the reason why a part of me does not believe that reading pirated books is morally wrong. All knowledge should be free .Every person must get the opportunity to improve themselves through education. I do not support the commercialization of education. This especially for Dhamma teachers , who sell Dhamma books. I absolutely do not support this. And by pirating books I am taking a stand ( I feel ) , and not allowing people to profit commercially by selling dhamma and spirituality. One only needs to look at the spiritual market place in India.
However when I analyse what the Buddha said :
"Taking that which is not given"-- I am doing that "The person to whom the copyright belong will not be happy knowing that I am taking their books via piracy" "The king a.k.a government will definitely punish me"
Considering these , I am very sure I am breaking the stealing precept.
Is my mind just making up excuses because it is "expecting to gain without giving " or ? I am so confused with these two opposing thoughts ! Please help me!