#34 — Shun what belongs to others (Αλλοτριων απεχου)

This is one of those Maxims that is straightforward on its surface. It can be paraphrased as “Leave other people’s things alone” – a sentiment that many of us struggle to impart to our toddlers who curiously examine the entire world around them. But, like so many of the other Maxims this one has multiple layers of meaning.
Firstly, it is a warning against greed, against coveting what those around us have, and tells us that we are to not want what other people own. It does not say we cannot want things like what they own (such as a particular model of car), but it does say that what is theirs is theirs and not ours.
This also applies to us on a spiritual level with the temptation to mix disparate spiritual traditions into a single path. Forced syncretism does not honor either part of the mix and ultimately leads to a sterile religious system. One cannot practice Hellenic Polytheism and Traditional Christianity at the same time (to use one example) just as the Japanese Gods are not the same as the Norse – even if there is some degree of overlap in their duties. NOR SHOULD WE WANT TO. I will not say that those who practice Traditional Wicca are incorrect in their path. I will not say that Christians are incorrect in their path. The same goes for Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists, and Jews. Each path is correct unto itself. It is when we force them together that problems begin to show.
What is ours is ours and another Maxim enjoins us to cling to it. This Maxim is the flip side of the coin, reminding us that not everything is ours. We need to pay attention to both.

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