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Theftology: The morality of Thief

Updated on August 27, 2012

Theft is the taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent. Theft is now a criminal activity and illegal. But from the perspective of human history, we can say theft is the origin of human civilization, the contribution and its suffer of thieves has made it possible for the benefit of human race.

We all know civilizations couldn't begin without fire, but we also knows that the first fire was stolen from Zeus by Prometheus and given to immortals. In Greek mythology, the titan Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals. Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day.

We can't deny that Prometheus was a great thief, and his suffer was huge and never end. And we can quite safely say, there are no theft goes away without punishment. In Chinese myths, Yi was a great archer, he got some elixir from the Queen of the West, but his wife Chang E stole it and flew away with it to the moon. Thereafter she lived on the moon in the form of a toad, and was called the Moon Spirit and suffered great loneliness there. This kind of theft happened between a couple, a husband and a wife.

In Bible, human race suffered from great flood, we all know Noa built his Ark to save his family and the world's animals. This great flood also happened in Chinese myths, and again involved theft. Legend has it that there came a flood in the Middle Kingdom, in order to stop the flood Gun stole some of the growing earth (or growing soil) possessed by the Heavenly Emperor without asking for permission. For this the Gun was executed near Yushan Mountain. Although Gun failed to stopped the flood, but his son continued his job, and had the flood under control and remove the menace to the people.

If you argue that these are just some stories in myths, fire actually not stolen from Zeus, and Chang E might have never flown to the moon. But, in Lie Tzu, who is one of the great Taoist, has a wonderful comment about human civilization and stealing:

"We all know that Heaven has its seasons, and that earth has its riches. Well, the things that I steal are the riches of Heaven and earth, each in their season--the fertilizing rain-water from the clouds, and the natural products of mountain and meadow-land. Thus I grow my grain and ripen my crops, build my walls and construct my tenements. From the dry land I steal winged and four-footed game, from the rivers I steal fish and turtles. There is nothing that I do not steal. For corn and grain, clay and wood, birds and beasts, fishes and turtles are all products of Nature. How can I claim them as mine? 'Yet, stealing in this way from Nature, I bring on myself no retribution. "

Evolution theory has it that human are evolved from apes, we started hunting and gathering, according to Lie Tzu, we actually STEAL the wealth and riches from heaven and earth.

So, isn't it quite obvious that thief has its own morality? Chuang Tzu is another great Taoist, in his book, chapter 10, Opening Trunks, he put his thought into the dialogue between an apprentice and his master the Robber Dao Zhi, argued that everything and anything has Tao:

"An apprentice to Robber Che (Dao Zhi) asked him saying "Is there then Tao in thieving?"

"Pray tell me of something in which there is not Tao, "Che replied. "There is the wisdom by which booty is located. The courage to go in first, and the heroism of coming out last. There is the shrewdness of calculating success, and justice in the equal division of the spoil. There has never yet been a great robber who was not possessed of these."


I am just a petty thief, but regularly attending Theftology classes to become a rober or the CHIEF THIEF OF WALL STREET...


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