Cheat or Kill?

So I wrote my last post on why you should pay your taxes, and to be honest, I was hoping for objections. Paul was kind enough to write in and oblige me, thanks Paul!

Whenever I tell people they should pay there taxes, there’s an automatic response; I shouldn’t pay my taxes because:

A. My government is corrupt
B. My government is war-mongering
C. If it’s for public works, I could send my money directly to someone who could use it better

So these are all good objections, except for one thing: they are classic diamond deals.

So, for those who don’t already know, what is a diamond deal? In the diamond business, they train salesman to offer customers two flawed diamonds; for example, one with a black spot and one that’s slightly off-color (yellowish, for example). When you say you don’t want the diamond with the black spot, they offer you the yellow diamond. And if you say you don’t want the yellow diamond they offer you the one with the black spot. The idea is to confuse you, so that’ you’ll go ahead and buy one of them—they don’t really care which one. Why? Because you didn’t really want either of them.

What’s that got to do with paying my taxes? Well, I say you should pay your taxes, because you don’t want to plant the seed for cheating someone out of money (the only result you will get will be that at some point in the future you won’t have something you need) and you say “But then I’m supporting a war/corruption/a beacracy!” In other words, should I cheat or support people killing and stealing from each other?

But this is a diamond deal: cheat or kill is like saying black-spot or yellow? I don’t want either; don’t cheat, because you don’t want the seeds for that. Don’t support war or corruption or waste either—figure out what the seed is, for you, that is causing that. Because if you see a government that is war-mongering, or corrupt, or wastefully beaucratic, where is that coming from? Is the black stick a pen or a chew-toy? It must be coming from us.

So don’t diamond deal me; I don’t want to cheat, and I also don’t want to support war. So I’ll pay my taxes, gladly, and rejoice—and sent with it a letter telling them I don’t want my money going to support the war. I’ll send that letter as well to my congressperson, and maybe also to the White House. And post my opinions and views on Facebook, and support candidates that vote for ending war and violence.

And then I’ll work on stopping the anger in my own heart, which is the root cause of it all.

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13 Responses to Cheat or Kill?

  1. iggy says:

    Taxation w/o representation is a shakedown. When Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Thoreau in jail (for failing to pay HIS taxes (earmarked to fight the Mexican-American War-a war Lincoln voted against in Congress, btw,) Ralph asked David; “What are you doing in here?” Thoreau responded; “What are you doing out there?” It was taxation issues that precipitated the American Revolution, and the subsequent experiment of a democratically-elected republican form of government-a new system of governance that provided the world a better example of government by consent, instead of the “Divine Right of Kings”, and other forms of political tyranny. Imperfect? Sure. Feudal Tibet was probably worse, though. And as far as the root-cause, why, would you say Jesus Christ must’ve been a “liar” and a “hypocrite” because Roman-occupied Palestine was awash in corruption by ‘good ol’ boy’ pharisees and their creepy brand of thought/mind-control? Even Lord Manjushri exhorted Guru Je to err on the side of appearances-as this is the dominant realm for those caught-up in cyclic existence; hence my view on the subject. If you wanna practice an impeccable w-v that doesn’t perceive the evil in this world, you may want to consider a hermitage, or go it solo like Milarepa did. BTW, I’ve paid taxes every year since I’ve been working here in Cochise County…

    • ericbrinkman says:

      Heya Michael, glad to see you found the blog. 🙂

      I agree, you’re missing the point. I’m not saying let the suffering continue, I’m saying “how’s the best way to get it to stop?” Killing people might look like the answer, but long-term, and at least from the perspective of seeds, it’s not. Sure, the American revolution looks successful. But how many others have not been? (I’m thinking of the Irish uprising in 1798 in particular.) And how many non-violent uprising have been successful? (Gandhi, MLK, hey, Thoreau! : ) …proves there’s no relationship between violent uprising and changes in taxation.

      Deceptively, he most effective form of government is a dictatorship; that’s why the Romans initiated them in times of crisis. The problem comes when dictators don’t take into account the betterment of the people they are supposed to help. So neither dictatorships nor representative democracies are best practice. Why? Because either can work for or against you. So the trick is you have to plant the seeds for what you want. If I plant the right seed in my mind, it doesn’t matter if I’m ruled by a dictatorship, monarchy, oligarchy, divine King, or religious tyrant, or non-representative bureaucracy. Why? Because the seed will bring me the result I want.

      • iggy says:

        There’s an anecdote in LITPOYH where this former bandit-turned-dharma practitioner says; “Now that I’ve embraced the dharma and do nothing but my practice, even my former enemies leave me alone!” So, yeah, there’s no fundamental disagreement with you. Nvrthlss, before and after the Path of Seeing, ‘a spade is a spade’!

      • ericbrinkman says:

        In the angulamala story, the guy that collected 99 fingers becomes an arhat… but he also gets beat up first. 🙂

  2. Patrick McGinn says:

    I like the idea to pay taxes and rejoice. Feels so much better than buying into the complain game. Thanks for the wake up poke.

  3. ericbrinkman says:

    Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. Why should we pay taxes to corrupt governments and expect that they change, it is us who are fueling the machinery, how is that going to change? It would be like giving more guns to criminals and expect them to change, if someone believes truly that it is not a bad thing to fuel a killing machine, they would not be planting any bad seeds in their mindstream, because the whole idea of planting a seed for your government to change does not come from paying them taxes but from changing your morality. This does not imply cheating because that is another seed, the seed of lying.
    The same logic can be applied to voting, why vote? if the mere idea of voting is fueling a false democracy.

  5. Paul says:

    Great discussion Eric! I really appreciate you taking the time to address my comments in the previous post 🙂

    Rejoicing is certainly good practice. But I ask you, is it so different of me to rejoice in NOT paying taxes, as it is in paying them?

    I offer no diamond deal, but rather, instead of writing letters and begging officials to stop using my money to kill, I refuse to fund that killing. There is no cheating involved – as cheating implies that I owe something to a violent gang. I need not lie, I only refuse to pay someone that does not have my consent. Cheating involves fudging numbers, and claiming something that is not true. How about a simple letter of refusal, stating that I will not pay taxes because I refuse to fund violence? Neither am I funding violence, nor am I cheating. A letter of disagreement is but merely words – taking action by refusing to pay taxes appears to be a much stronger seed. I rejoice in the act of supporting voluntary action!

    I take the anger in my own heart to be the very root of taxation and government organization. It is that anger that others do not behave as I do think they ought, that is at the very root of government force. When this anger is gone, there is no need for government, as I accept others as they are. Without anger and force, all interactions are voluntary. My acceptance of government institution appears to be a reflection of my anger towards the voluntary behavior of others. The notion that not paying taxes is ‘cheating’ seems to me a reflection of the notion that people are obliged, by force, to act according to my government’s wishes. The fact that this violence is perpetrated by a 3rd party, does not absolve me from responsibility. Government, as an idea, is anger/violence/jealousy itself. Why should I accept the legitimacy of a violent agency? I rejoice the notion of peace and voluntary association.

    • ericbrinkman says:

      Dear Paul,

      No, i agree that is not a diamond deal: if you refuse to pay taxes, and tell them that you are not going to pay taxes, that is not cheating, that’s a protest.

      But i would say most people aren’t ready for that kind of action; not many of us are as willing to go to jail as Thoreau was. 🙂 So our idea is that you don’t have to go to jail, change the seeds so that you see something different.

      There’s a seed that we see our gov’t forcing us to do things we don’t like; in fact there’s a vow against it–forcing others to do things for you. So if i feel forced by someone, it has to be because i have forced others. So i should try to get rid of that seed. Then i might see a gov’t that isn’t forcing me to do things i don’t like.

      And not have to go to prison. 🙂

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  7. People always get emotional about taxes here in Bulgaria as well. It looks like a planetary problem where people are unhappy with the authorities no matter how prosperous their country is. I’ll use this blog post as a hint when trying to help them overcome this.
    I’m also thinking… may be the cause to see people around us discontent with the authorities or disregarding the knowledge they can apply is also coming from us. What would you suggest it is?

    • ericbrinkman says:

      Dear Georgi,

      Yes, you are exactly right. What do you think? I would say that discontent with those in power/authority problems comes from us misusing the authority and/or power available to us–in small ways, because remember seeds grow: an acorn grows into a tree that weighs thousands of tons. So if, for example, I pressure my friends/partner/children into doing what I want…

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