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I recently posted on a couple of YouTube postings of pirated copies of the new film “Thrive”. As a practicing yogini I follow ALL the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga as best I can and not-stealing is part of the first limb (the other parts being non-harming, embodying Truth, moderation, and non-grasping or non-greed).

These pirates replied to me with incredulity – the producer is an heir to Procter & Gamble (and therefore, wealthy, and able to give away this work for free), many people who “need” to see this film are poor and can’t afford to buy a copy (or any of the other merchandise associated with the film), and am I for real?

While it certainly helps in film production (particularly with high quality productions) having the money to put up helps, but as with any business if there’s no return on investment there won’t be more films or whatever the business owner is producing. This affects all the other people who work in that business (the lighting guys, the camera guys, the marketing people, the distributors, the people who feed the crew, etc etc etc). So maybe this wealthy heir can afford to lose his investment once and then he’s not wealthy anymore but does making him lose his money give US any more?

We have a right to be angry at “Wall Street” for tanking the world economy and making huge profits in the process (they haven’t learned a thing and are still at it). We have a right to question the wisdom of giving huge tax breaks to those most able to afford paying taxes while cutting services to those least able to survive without those services.

But if we really want to change how the world works we must embody the changes we wish to see and continuing the zero sum practice of harming others while helping ourselves is counterproductive. We must think about win-win, fair trade, mutually beneficial, symbiotic, co-operative methods of advancing humanity (and other species).

This is why the Eight Limbs of Patanjali are so important, why the first Limb (Ahimsa/non-harming, Satya/Truth, Asteya/non-stealing, Brahmacharya/moderation, Aparigraha/non-greed) is the most important Limb, and why Ahimsa is the most important of the branches of the first Limb.

In harming others, we harm ourselves – by stealing from one we feel is “too rich” we may harm ourselves by causing otherwise compassionate people to turn away and hoard their riches. Those on Wall Street will learn their lesson soon enough – as their behavior continues to destroy a once vibrant world economy they will lose their money. Those of us who are building a new economy based on other principles will win self-reliance and self-respect.

The transition may not be pretty but it will happen. Will you be a part of the problem or part of the solution?

November 2011
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