As for taking what is not given, if one knows it is a thing belonging to another, if one brings forth a thought intent on stealing, if one takes the thing away from its original location, and if the thing is then considered to be mine, this constitutes what is meant by stealing. If one does not do this then this constitutes not stealing. The other associated factors from planning the act up to and including grasping it with the hand when it has not yet left the ground,-- these constitute dharmas auxiliary to stealing.
Valuable objects are of two types: those which belong to someone else and those which do not belong to someone else. If one takes a thing which belongs to someone else, this constitutes the offense of stealing.
Things which belong to someone else are also of two kinds: those which are within the boundaries of a village and those which are on vacant land. If one's taking of things from either of these places is accompanied by a mind intent on stealing, then one incurs the offense of stealing. If the object is on vacant land, then one should consider critically and come to an understanding as to whose kingdom this object might be in close proximity to and as to whether or not it has an owner and thus should not be taken. When one is in accord with the Vinaya discussions of the different situations wherein an action does not constitute stealing, then this is the mark of not stealing.
Copyright © 2001. Bhikshu Dharmamitra. All rights reserved.