Student: Why do grown-up people steal?
Krishnamurti: Don't you sometimes steal? Haven't you known of a little boy stealing something he wants from another boy? It is exactly the same throughout life, whether we are young or old, only the older people do it more cunningly, with a lot of fine-sounding words; they want wealth, power, position, and they connive, contrive, philosophize to get it. They steal, but it is not called stealing, it is called by some respectable word. And why do we steal? First of all, because, as society is now constituted, it deprives many people of the necessities of life; certain sections of the populace have insufficient food, clothing and shelter, therefore they do something about it. There are also those who steal, not because they have insufficient food, but because they are what is called antisocial. For them stealing has become a game, a form of excitement - which means that they have had no real education. Real education is understanding the significance of life, not just cramming to pass examinations. There is also stealing at a higher level the stealing of other people's ideas, the stealing of knowledge. When we are after the 'more' in any form, we are obviously stealing.
Why is it that we are always asking, begging, wanting, stealing? Because in ourselves there is nothing; inwardly, psychologically we are like an empty drum. Being empty, we try to fill ourselves not only by stealing things, but by imitating others. Imitation is a form of stealing: you are nothing but he is somebody, so you are going to get some of his glory by copying him. This corruption runs right through human life, and very few are free of it. So what is important is to find out whether the inward emptiness can ever be filled. As long as the mind is seeking to fill itself it will always be empty. When the mind is no longer concerned with filling its own emptiness, then only does that emptiness cease to be.
This Matter of Culture