Three adjacent piles of coins forming a simple graph.

Value of Values

Compromise and moral order

If you can see the immensity of the loss with reference to compromises made to gain such things as money, power, etc., you are mature. You will not go for the bargain because you see it as a bad bargain. You should see that what you lose is more than what you gain—which has nothing to do with the moral majority.

If there is a universal structure—and there is—then what I lose must definitely be much more than what I gain. Therefore, the education needed for maturity is to know what I lose. Suppose I say, “You will go to hell” and you do not accept the idea of hell, then, that is the end of that. You will simply say, “You go to your hell, if there is one. I am not going; because I do not accept a hell.”

How do we know there is a hell other than where we are now? Hell is simply a belief. Suppose it is wrong? The threat of hell is certainly not a very convincing argument for telling the truth. Perhaps I do not believe in hell or do not care if there is a hell. If there is a hell, I will tackle it when I get there. It is not my problem right now. All that I want to do is get out of the hot water I am in right now. I will deal with the heat in hell later. This is a different thing. I am in hot water right here and now and five thousand dollars will make a difference.

However, if the person knows that he will be the loser by gaining this five thousand dollars he may not compromise for the sake of that money. If I were to ask him, “Why do you want this five thousand dollars?” and he would say, “Because I can then buy certain things.” Then I ask, “Why do you want those things?” and he replies, “So that I can be happier, more secure.” But if I were to show him that, in the process of getting this five thousand dollars, he becomes incapable of being happy and hence the bargain is a bad one, then he will not compromise. Now he understands the price he may have to pay for the compromise. This is how one understands the value of a value.

No one wants money for money's sake. If that were the case, a cashier's job would be good enough because, by just feeling money, you would be happy. You want money for your sake, so that you can be happy. Money is very interesting. Without it, certain things cannot happen, but there is a limit to what money can offer. It can buy a book, but it can never make you read unless the author offers you a thousand dollars to read it. Then, of course, you will read it overnight. But even then the money cannot make you understand what the book says. For that, you require something else, something other than money.

Money can buy music, but it can never make you understand music. You can hire the best musician to sing for you, but the money you pay to the musician cannot stop you from falling asleep during the performance—unless, again, you are offered money to stay awake! Thus, money can provide situations. That is all it can do. And money does do that, which nothing else can—a point to be remembered. But, then, the enjoyment is for the person. You are the one who is to enjoy the music. If I lose the enjoyer, in the process of acquiring the money that will provide the opportunities for me to enjoy, then it is a bad bargain.

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The Value of Values

Swami Dayananda's book is available from Arsha Vidya Research & Publication Trust.