If you see someone shoplifting...

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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby Thrasymachus » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:21 am

Your views just sound like those of the privileged caste in society. The end of the casual chain isn't shoplifting and it isn't a very significant part of the problem at all. It is as big a factor in daily expropriation as fish poop is in terms of waterway pollution.
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:35 am

Thrasymachus wrote:Your views just sound like..."

That's funny. So many assumptions.

The topic of this thread has to do with what is ethical to do if you see someone shoplifting.
It could be shoplifting from anyone.
The same question could be
"What would you do if you saw somebody stealing Thrasymachus's computer?"
Would you tell Thrasymachus,
or would you be happy that he wasn't consuming up energy,
perhaps natural resources,
in order to post things on a Buddhist forum?
:rolling:
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby Thrasymachus » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:56 am

It is actually known in the social sciences which you try to avoid that the more educated, professional types can only think in terms of "the thing in itself" or the system as a hermetic given which cannot be changed or questioned:
Jacques Ellul wrote:The person in charge of the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen was asked during the Auschwitz trial, the Nuremberg trials regarding Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen: "But didn't you find it horrible? All those corpses?" He replied: "What could I do? The capacity of the ovens was too small. I couldn't process all those corpses. It caused me many problems. I had no time to think about those people. I was too busy with that technical problem of my ovens." That was the classic example of an irresponsible person. He carries out his technical task and he's not interested in anything else.

From the Documentary:
The Betrayal by Technology

Of course how could a professional, being a professional question anything when the technical issue of the ovens commanded all his professional attention! There was no attention left in the actual man with emotions, ethics and feelings. Just how the technical issue in this thread is "shoplifing" as the thing-in-itself because the original poster said so! But ask the poor about shop-lifting and often it is their code of honor to not rat others out to the authorities and doing so is not only taboo but an avenue to ex-communication. They know and can actually imagine that the "thing in itself" or capitalism is the biggest theft and that the authorities who back it up like the police, and the army, don't "fight for our freedom"(American pro military propaganda catch-phrase) and "protect and serve"(American pro law enforcement propaganda). Everything else is like whining about the deers ruining the forests with their fecal matter.

You just come from a certain, demographic and socio-economic milieu that often wants to pretend the production process and the transgression of morality lies with the shop-lifter since it suits you to do so. But there is no independent arising and long before in the harvesting, gathering and manufacture of materials alot more theft, violence and expropriation probably happened. And often when violence ends, like for example the last of the American Indian wars, and there is peace that is the worst of all, because it means the people who once lived amongst the resources are no longer a factor in anything much besides alcoholism statistics on reservations.
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby lobster » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:19 am

There was one great master, a Buddhist master, Nagarjuna. A thief came to him. The
thief had fallen in love with the master because he had never seen such a beautiful person, such infinite grace. He asked Nagarjuna, "Is there some possibility of my growth also? But one thing I must make clear to you: I am a thief. And another thing: I cannot leave it, so please don't make it a condition. I will do whatsoever you say, but I cannot stop being a thief. That I have tried many times--it never works, so I have left the whole sport. I have accepted my destiny, that I am going to be a thief and remain a thief, so don't talk about it. From the very beginning let it be clear."
Nagarjuna said, "Why are you afraid? Who is going to talk about your being a thief?
The thief said, "But whenever I go to a monk, to a religious priest, or to a religious saint, they always say, 'First stop stealing.'"
Nagarjuna laughed and said, "Then you must have gone to thieves; otherwise, why? Why should they be concerned? I am not concerned!"
The thief was very happy. He said, "Then it is okay. It seems that now I can become a disciple. You are the right master."
Nagarjuna accepted him and said, "Now you can go and do whatsoever you like. Only one condition has to be followed: be aware! Go, break into houses, enter, take things, steal; do whatsoever you like, that is of no concern to me, I am not a thief--but do it with full awareness."
The thief couldn't understand that he was falling into the trap. He said, "Then everything is okay. I will try."
After three weeks he came back and said, "You are tricky--because if I become aware, I cannot steal. If I steal, awareness disappears. I am in a fix."
Nagarjuna said, "No more talk about your being a thief and stealing. I am not concerned; I am not a thief. Now, you decide! If you want awareness, then you decide. If you don't want it, then too you decide."
The man said, "But now it is difficult. I have tasted it a little, and it is so beautiful--I will leave anything, whatsoever you say. Just the other night for the first time I was able to enter the palace of the king. I opened the treasure. I could have become the richest man in the world--but you were following me and I had to be aware. When I became aware, diamonds looked just like stones, ordinary stones. When I lost awareness, the treasure was there. And I waited and did this many times. I would become aware and I became like a buddha, and I could not even touch it because the whole thing looked foolish, stupid--just stones, what am I doing? Losing myself over stones? But then I would lose awareness; they would become again beautiful, the whole illusion. But finally I decided that they were not worth it."
http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/tea ... chor_14538

Steal with awareness, report with awareness, ignore with awareness, jabber on a forum with awareness :rolling:
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby monktastic » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:20 am

Thrasymachus wrote:All just because the homeless lacked this fancy pictorial representation known as money...


I'm not going to respond to the rest of your post, but this is just not what money is.

Suppose you and I make a deal: I'll mow your lawn today and you cut my hair next month. Since "money" hasn't been invented yet, I mow your lawn and you hand me a green piece of paper saying "IOU." If I come back in a month to claim my haircut, and you mock my "fancy pictorial representation," things don't work out so well.

Now if you instead said "all just because the homeless hadn't been given enough love or chances or privilege ..." you might find more sympathy for your cause, whatever it is. :smile:
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:22 am

lobster wrote:There was one great master, a Buddhist master, Nagarjuna. A thief came to him. The
thief had fallen in love with the master because he had never seen such a beautiful person, such infinite grace. He asked Nagarjuna, "Is there some possibility of my growth also? But one thing I must make clear to you: I am a thief. And another thing: I cannot leave it, so please don't make it a condition. I will do whatsoever you say, but I cannot stop being a thief. That I have tried many times--it never works, so I have left the whole sport. I have accepted my destiny, that I am going to be a thief and remain a thief, so don't talk about it. From the very beginning let it be clear."
Nagarjuna said, "Why are you afraid? Who is going to talk about your being a thief?
The thief said, "But whenever I go to a monk, to a religious priest, or to a religious saint, they always say, 'First stop stealing.'"
Nagarjuna laughed and said, "Then you must have gone to thieves; otherwise, why? Why should they be concerned? I am not concerned!"
The thief was very happy. He said, "Then it is okay. It seems that now I can become a disciple. You are the right master."
Nagarjuna accepted him and said, "Now you can go and do whatsoever you like. Only one condition has to be followed: be aware! Go, break into houses, enter, take things, steal; do whatsoever you like, that is of no concern to me, I am not a thief--but do it with full awareness."
The thief couldn't understand that he was falling into the trap. He said, "Then everything is okay. I will try."
After three weeks he came back and said, "You are tricky--because if I become aware, I cannot steal. If I steal, awareness disappears. I am in a fix."
Nagarjuna said, "No more talk about your being a thief and stealing. I am not concerned; I am not a thief. Now, you decide! If you want awareness, then you decide. If you don't want it, then too you decide."
The man said, "But now it is difficult. I have tasted it a little, and it is so beautiful--I will leave anything, whatsoever you say. Just the other night for the first time I was able to enter the palace of the king. I opened the treasure. I could have become the richest man in the world--but you were following me and I had to be aware. When I became aware, diamonds looked just like stones, ordinary stones. When I lost awareness, the treasure was there. And I waited and did this many times. I would become aware and I became like a buddha, and I could not even touch it because the whole thing looked foolish, stupid--just stones, what am I doing? Losing myself over stones? But then I would lose awareness; they would become again beautiful, the whole illusion. But finally I decided that they were not worth it."
http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/tea ... chor_14538

Steal with awareness, report with awareness, ignore with awareness, jabber on a forum with awareness :rolling:

This is a very nice depiction. Thank you for posting this.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:39 pm

greentara wrote:I wouldn't report the person; unemployment or under employment is rife in the west. Furthermore you may bring about great suffering if you do.

It's best to act spontaniously, if you talk too much about it you've lost the natural flow. My instinct says leave well alone.


Thanks. That's why I was leaning towards "who am I to judge why the person is doing what s/he is doing?" I think my duty is towards the compassion and understanding of the person.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby Jainarayan » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:43 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
lobster wrote:There was one great master, a Buddhist master, Nagarjuna. A thief came to him. The
thief had fallen in love with the master because he had never seen such a beautiful person, such infinite grace. He asked Nagarjuna, "Is there some possibility of my growth also? But one thing I must make clear to you: I am a thief. And another thing: I cannot leave it, so please don't make it a condition. I will do whatsoever you say, but I cannot stop being a thief. That I have tried many times--it never works, so I have left the whole sport. I have accepted my destiny, that I am going to be a thief and remain a thief, so don't talk about it. From the very beginning let it be clear."
Nagarjuna said, "Why are you afraid? Who is going to talk about your being a thief?
The thief said, "But whenever I go to a monk, to a religious priest, or to a religious saint, they always say, 'First stop stealing.'"
Nagarjuna laughed and said, "Then you must have gone to thieves; otherwise, why? Why should they be concerned? I am not concerned!"
The thief was very happy. He said, "Then it is okay. It seems that now I can become a disciple. You are the right master."
Nagarjuna accepted him and said, "Now you can go and do whatsoever you like. Only one condition has to be followed: be aware! Go, break into houses, enter, take things, steal; do whatsoever you like, that is of no concern to me, I am not a thief--but do it with full awareness."
The thief couldn't understand that he was falling into the trap. He said, "Then everything is okay. I will try."
After three weeks he came back and said, "You are tricky--because if I become aware, I cannot steal. If I steal, awareness disappears. I am in a fix."
Nagarjuna said, "No more talk about your being a thief and stealing. I am not concerned; I am not a thief. Now, you decide! If you want awareness, then you decide. If you don't want it, then too you decide."
The man said, "But now it is difficult. I have tasted it a little, and it is so beautiful--I will leave anything, whatsoever you say. Just the other night for the first time I was able to enter the palace of the king. I opened the treasure. I could have become the richest man in the world--but you were following me and I had to be aware. When I became aware, diamonds looked just like stones, ordinary stones. When I lost awareness, the treasure was there. And I waited and did this many times. I would become aware and I became like a buddha, and I could not even touch it because the whole thing looked foolish, stupid--just stones, what am I doing? Losing myself over stones? But then I would lose awareness; they would become again beautiful, the whole illusion. But finally I decided that they were not worth it."
http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/tea ... chor_14538

Steal with awareness, report with awareness, ignore with awareness, jabber on a forum with awareness :rolling:

This is a very nice depiction. Thank you for posting this.


Agreed. :smile:
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby uan » Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:09 pm

Thrasymachus wrote:It is actually known in the social sciences which you try to avoid that the more educated, professional types can only think in terms of "the thing in itself" or the system as a hermetic given which cannot be changed or questioned:


I don't think this is true (that "it is known in the social sciences"), though I'd say social science tends to think of "the think in itself" or that people use information/data gleamed from the social sciences in that way. Your position on this thread seems to be impacted by this thinking - looking at "educated, professional types" as a hermetic given which cannot be changed, as well as viewing "homeless" or those who shoplift in a similar manner.

The very nature of samsara, and what every single person needs to struggle against, is looking at everything through the prism of "the thing in itself". The fact that this question was brought up on the forum, what to do if you see someone shoplift, is a reflection of people trying to see beyond "the thing in itself". I don't have a link to the source, but I know I've heard the Dalai Lama (and other lamas) talk about how someone financially poor can be very rich, and someone who is very wealthy in terms of material things, can be very poor (or unhappy, etc.).

We also need to look at each person who shoplifts as an individual. They may be homeless. They may be rich or famous (for instance Winona Ryder was caught for shoplifting). Each person is an individual, especially from a Buddhist perspective. They each have causes and conditions and karma that brought them to their current circumstances. Their current actions will impact their future circumstances as well.

Here's a nice little story that shows it's not always so black and white, and that people can relate to other people as people:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/25/homeless-man-returns-engagement-ring/1947491/
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby greentara » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:13 pm

Shoplifting can be compulsive. I agree you need not be poor to grab what you don't need.
I wonder if all this stems from ancient impulses. In some cases you may get a rush from the adrenal glands (instant gratification). The ancient amygdala in our brains has more sway then we realise.
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby shel » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:57 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Blame is also a type of theft, but it's mental theft.

You mean like blame for stealing intellectual property? or something more abstract and goofy like stealing peace of mind?
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby shel » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:02 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:"What would you do if you saw somebody stealing Thrasymachus's computer?"


I'd give the thief my computer, but not in a 'hey, I just sprouted angels wings!' kind of way, more like... :techproblem: BAM!
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby shaunc » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:56 am

monktastic wrote:
Thrasymachus wrote:All just because the homeless lacked this fancy pictorial representation known as money...


I'm not going to respond to the rest of your post, but this is just not what money is.

Suppose you and I make a deal: I'll mow your lawn today and you cut my hair next month. Since "money" hasn't been invented yet, I mow your lawn and you hand me a green piece of paper saying "IOU." If I come back in a month to claim my haircut, and you mock my "fancy pictorial representation," things don't work out so well.

Now if you instead said "all just because the homeless hadn't been given enough love or chances or privilege ..." you might find more sympathy for your cause, whatever it is. :smile:


This system is called the barter system. I'm led to believe that the main reason money was invented was because the barter system doesn't work too well. The capitalist/fiscal system is not perfect but it's probably the best we've got at the moment.
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby Karma Dorje » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:31 am

shel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Blame is also a type of theft, but it's mental theft.

You mean like blame for stealing intellectual property? or something more abstract and goofy like stealing peace of mind?


What can be more abstract and goofy than "intellectual property"?! It's the notion that you can own a thought like it was a thing.
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby uan » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:37 am

Karma Dorje wrote:
shel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Blame is also a type of theft, but it's mental theft.

You mean like blame for stealing intellectual property? or something more abstract and goofy like stealing peace of mind?


What can be more abstract and goofy than "intellectual property"?! It's the notion that you can own a thought like it was a thing.


I imagine it's a pretty abstract and goofy notion to think you can actually own a "thing" ... Unless of course you're a tulku and get to come back and get all your monasteries and stuff back. :rolling:

If you noticed, Padma was talking about blame and "mental" theft, not intellectual property. There's a much deeper violation going on than stealing a thing or a thought.
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby monktastic » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:57 am

shaunc wrote:This system is called the barter system. I'm led to believe that the main reason money was invented was because the barter system doesn't work too well. The capitalist/fiscal system is not perfect but it's probably the best we've got at the moment.


Yes, the point was that money is not merely a "fancy pictorial representation" whose lack is the cause of indigence.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby Jainarayan » Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:24 pm

greentara wrote:I wonder if all this stems from ancient impulses.


We were hunter-gatherers, after all. I wonder if that is what contributes to humans' predilection for collecting?

The ancient amygdala in our brains has more sway then we realise.


Indeed it does. It controls our emotions (or lack of control when it's "hijacked"). Maybe New Age-y, but the amygdala is a primitive center of the brain.

Agian, not knowing the reason for it is why I would be reluctant to "drop a dime" on a shoplifter. I'm glad to know others feel the same way, for prety much the same reasons. I feel sorry for people who do that; no one should be a prisoner to that sort of behavior.
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:12 pm

uan wrote:If you noticed, Padma was talking about blame and "mental" theft, not intellectual property. There's a much deeper violation going on than stealing a thing or a thought.

I was talking about a kind of mental theft, although intellectual property is not any more goofy or abstract than any other property.
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.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: If you see someone shoplifting...

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:23 pm

shel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Blame is also a type of theft, but it's mental theft.

You mean like blame for stealing intellectual property? or something more abstract and goofy like stealing peace of mind?

Oh, definitely something more abstract and goofy, like stealing peace of mind.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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