Happiness: Precept 9

Reference: The Happiness Rundown


“Illegal acts” are those which are prohibited by official rules or law. 

They are the product of rulers, legislative bodies and judges. They are usually written down in law codes. In a well-ordered society, these are published and made known generally. In a cloudy—and often crime-ridden society—one has to consult an attorney or be specially trained to know them all; such a society will tell one that “ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.” 

Any member of society, however, has a responsibility, whether young or old, for knowing what that society considers to be an “illegal act.” People can be asked, libraries exist where they can be looked up. 

An “illegal act” is not disobedience to some casual order like “go to bed.” It is an action, which if done, can result in punishment by the courts and state: being pilloried by the state propaganda machine, being fined and even by being imprisoned. 

When one does something illegal, small or large, one is laid open to an attack by the state. It does not matter whether one is caught or not, when one does an illegal act, one has weakened one’s defenses. 

Almost any worthwhile thing one is trying to accomplish often can be done in perfectly legal ways. The “illegal” route is a dangerous and time-wasting shortcut. Imagined “advantages” in committing illegal acts usually turn out not to be worth it. 

The state and government tends to be a rather unthinking machine. It exists and works on laws and codes of laws. It is geared to strike down through its channels at illegality. As such it can be an implacable enemy; adamant on the subject of “illegal acts.” The rightness and wrongness of things do not count in the face of laws and codes of laws. Only the laws count. 

When you realize or discover that those about you are committing “illegal acts,” you should do what you can to discourage it. You yourself, not even a party to it, can yet suffer because of it. The firm’s accountant falsifies the books: in any resulting commotion, the firm could fail and you could lose your job. Such instances can grossly affect one’s own survival. 

As a member of any group subject to laws, encourage the clear-cut publication of those laws so they can be known. Support any legal, political effort to reduce, clarify and codify the laws that apply to that group. Adhere to the principle that all men are equal under law: a principle which, in its own time and place—the tyrannical days of aristocracy—was one of the greatest social advances in human history and should not be lost sight of. 

See that children and people become informed of what is “legal” and what is “illegal” and make it known, if by as little as a frown, that you do not approve of “illegal acts.” 

Those who commit them, even when they “get away with them,” are yet weakened before the might of the state. 

The way to happiness does not include the fear of being found out.



0. Make sure you have completed the exercise section at Happiness: Precept 8. Study the precept above.

1. Check the responses to the following questions for false data (see false data steps at Happiness: Prologue).

(a) “Have you been told or taught to do illegal things?”
(b) “Do you have any rules or ideas contrary to not doing anything illegal?”
(c) “Have you been led to believe that you should do something that is illegal?”
(d) “Do you know of anything that conflicts with not doing anything illegal?”
(e) “Do you have any false data about doing illegal things?”


2. Go over each of the following questions repetitively, until there are no more answers: 

(a) “How have others transgressed against the precept: ‘Don’t do anything illegal’?”
(b) “How have you transgressed against the precept: ‘Don’t do anything illegal’?”

Do a quick review to see if you did not miss any answers on this step. You should be feeling good about this step.


3. See if the following question definitely brings up some name you know of:

“Is there any specific person in your past who really transgressed against the precept: ‘Don’t do anything illegal’?”

If no name comes up then go to step 4. if a name has come up, then continue with step 3 as follows:

“Can you recall an exact moment when you observed ___(name)___ transgressing this precept?”

If there is a realization, go to step 4. Otherwise, continue contemplating as follows, until there is some realization.

“Is there any time when you wanted to be like ___(name)___ ?” 
“Is there any time when you decided that doing something illegal was a good thing?”
“Did you ever do anything bad to ___(name)___ ? 
(Get all possible answers)
“Are there any differences between ___(name)___ and yourself?”
“Are there any similarities between ___(name)___  and yourself?”


4. Handle any anomalies that come up on the following question by looking at the anomaly more closely. 

”Do you have any reservations about not doing anything illegal?”

If the anomaly does not resolve then review the precept as well as all the exercise steps above to see if anything was missed. Then do step 4 again. When there is no anomaly go to step 5.


5. Contemplate on the following question.

“Do you have any reservations about getting someone else not to do anything illegal?” 

If any reservation comes up, then consider the following: 

“How would that be a problem?” 

Get answers to this question until there are no reservations.


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