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!

  • I marked this topic as a duplicate, because I think you'll find there are several answers to this question already, on the linked page.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 13:28
  • What matters is one's intention. This is just one of the reasons why it's very important to practice mindfulness as much as possible so that one can know better what ones intentions are.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 14:18

1 Answer 1


Good to get aware of serious issues! Sadhu!

Don't take what is not given without string binding to the world and as for wordily matters, always stick to a fair deal and pay (material or in mental ways) the demanded price.

The backwards of debts, even if willing to deny their existence, are much more burdensome then to do not gain the desired things. At least knowledge is very fleeting and will be gone latest with break up of the body, while kamma and certain gained virtures, real wealth, will follow even on.

It should be clear of how heavy such taking what is not given functions even in relation of Dhamma.

In regard of debts generally, one is required to gain them also if given, but the point, aside of simply misconduct, is to whom one falls into debt and where this might pull one to.

The todays moral, especially here in this internet realm is very very low and there are only less who will aside of less remorse, sooner our later, not face really burdensome results out of greed and misconduct. Ohh... there will be many poor who will need to pay, pay and pay, not to speak to be stolen on and on.

Stealing leads in the best cases just to poorness, not to speak of low states of existing.

Start to give, teach others, be generous... why do you think that people are so bound to places like this and other crowd working communities, concentration and working camps, no way to leave?

No one, if not penetration the step of virture, will ever escape from carring out debts on and on with no way to find peace at mind.

Stop now! And refrain and things will work out much better, even it will be hard for the first time. And if in lack approach those tending torward liberation, the Sangha and Noble Ones.

Some thoughts might be useful in regard of "Depts, but to whom?"

My person would even not encourage someone not secure in regard of virtue, to listen to much to a talk, in some regards useful, like: Think Like a Thief and many, sadly incl. Bhante Thanissaro, take the issue of "mental propery" and trade with knowledge incl. the misconducts with it much, much to light and this will be for the suffering of many, many, many, no need to argue: it is already the biggest source of crime and contless misconduct is accumulated within this section of copyright and imaterial ownership. The Sangha, ignoring that issue and often advice wrong, is already very, very poor in regard of this and hopless depending on others far outside and with heavy strings.

At least, able to forward given, you may always feel given to make proper use of what is shared here and here. And it would be a ly to say this and Dhamma is without strings, but those are pulling torward liberation if given and if stolen and misused upwards for a long, long time.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]

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