When it is not mine, how can it be yours?" Most commentators of the Ishavasya Upanishad offer this explanation: "It is a sin to desire another's wealth, so don't entertain such a desire." But the first part of the Ishavasya Sutra says that wealth belongs to nobody; it is existence's.
Its true meaning is this - that you should not wish for another's wealth because the wealth which is not mine is also not yours. The scope for desire exists only when, since it can be yours, it can be mine also; otherwise the desire has no grounds to stand on. Ethical people have explained it that even to think of another's wealth is sinful; but since it cannot be mine, how can it be another's?
No expert of ethics can get the real meaning of this sutra. It is subtle and deep. The moralist is anxious to see that no one steals another's property; no one should consider as his own what belongs to another. But his emphasis on another's property is just the converse side of his emphasis on what is his own.
Hoarding is impossible The person who says, "This is yours," is not free from the notion, "This is mine," because these two are different sides of the same coin. As long as the feeling persists, "The building is mine," its counterpart, "The building is yours," will continue: and when the feeling of 'my' building disappears, how can the corresponding feeling of 'your' building remain? Not to desire another's wealth or property does not mean that the property belongs to another person, so to desire it is a sin; its real meaning is that property and wealth belong to none - wealth belongs to existence alone: it is because of this that desiring is a sin. Consider nothing as mine or yours, don't regard yourself as an owner, and don't try to steal from another - for that is to regard something as his. We can neither steal nor keep anything. It is owned by existence, and we can neither obtain nor hoard what is owned by existence.
Ownership is hilarious How hilarious this idea of ownership is! I put up a sign on a piece of land claiming it as mine. That piece of land was already there before I was even born. Looking at my action, that piece of land must be laughing heartily, because many people before me have also put up such signs claiming it as 'mine' - and the piece of land buried them all! They were buried where you are now sitting. There are at least 10 graves under the spot where each of us is sitting. There is hardly an inch of ground on this earth which might not contain the graves of 10 people. So many people have been born and have died in the world that there might be at least 10 people buried under each inch of ground. That piece of land knows full well that other claimants also erected such signs on it. But nothing stops man; as he is, he will still go on putting up his sign boards, and he does not want to see that he is adding his name to an old board, painted and polished over. He does not want to see that someone else will have to take the same trouble tomorrow. In fact, all this ado is about nothing. That piece of land must be laughing!
It belongs to no one So don't wish for another's property, because it belongs to no one.
I don't mean simply that it is sinful to seize another's property with a view to making it your own. It is a sin in the first place to consider it either his or yours. It is a sin to look upon it as anybody's. It is certainly a sin to pretend that ownership is anyone's but existence's. If you can comprehend this interpretation, then and only then will you be able to grasp the deep and subtle meaning of the Ishavasya. Otherwise the apparent meaning of these sutras is that each should securely possess his own property, and to protect his own interests, should propagate on all sides that no one should wish for another's property.
Heartbeat of the Absolute (Ishavasya Upanishad), courtesy Osho International Foundation, www.osho.com