:“Petty thieves go to prison, great thieves become nobility.” – Zhuangzi
This quote from Zhuangzi sounds like something that might have been used by the Occupy Movement in protest against the 1%. While great disparity in wealth existed during the times of Zhuangzi, this statement is not about economic disparity, but rather about the disparity of being out of tune with the Tao.
Petty thieves go to prison for breaking petty laws. Meditation practice is prime real estate for developing petty laws. We legislate ‘laws’ about what it should look like, or what it should not look like. As a result, we go to a prison of our own making for violating a petty law of our own making, as the result of the prosecution and judgement carried out by ourselves.
Great thieves steal it all leaving nothing behind. They have no idea what meditation looks like or what awakening looks like. Those ideas have been stolen from them as their very selves have been stolen too. In the Tao te Ching it says, “The faster laws and decrees are issued the more bandits and thieves appear.” The more ideas we have about what meditation looks like, the more we sentence ourselves as petty thieves.
It also says in the Tao te Ching, “If you give up ingenuity and abandon profit, bandits and thieves will roam no more.” It is in the pursuit of profit in our meditation practice that we resort to ingenuity rather than wholeheartedness. The pursuit of the intimacy that a meditation practice offers, through the legislation and enforcement of petty rules and regulations is like looking for a fish by climbing a tree.