Saturday, April 06, 2013

Wisdom Vs. Wealth

A dialogue from the Mahosadha Jataka (542), trans. by Cowell, et al. Mahosadha is the Bodhisatta, Senaka is the wanderer Saccaka, and the king is Lāḷudāyī

King: "Endowed with wisdom and bereft of wealth, or wealthy and without wisdom — I ask you this question, Senaka: Which of these two do clever men call the better?"

Senaka: "Verily, O king, wise men and fools, men educated or uneducated, do service to the wealthy, although they be high-born and he be base-born. Beholding this I say: The wise is mean, and the wealthy is better."

K: "Thee also I ask, lofty in wisdom, Mahosadha, who knowest all the Law: A fool with wealth or a wise man with small store, which of the two do clever men call the better?"

Mahosadha: "The fool commits sinful acts, thinking "In this world I am the better"; he looks at this world and not at the next, and gets the worst of it in both. Beholding this I say: The wise is better than the wealthy fool."

S: "Science does not give riches, nor does family or personal beauty. Look at that idiot Gorimanda greatly prospering, because Luck favours the wretch. Beholding this I say: The wise is mean, the wealthy is better."

M: "He that is small of wit, when he gets wealth, is intoxicated: struck by misfortune he becomes stupefied: struck by ill luck or good luck as chance may come, he writhes like a fish in the hot sun. Beholding this I say: The wise is better than the wealthy fool."

S: "As in the forest, the birds gather from all quarters to the tree which has sweet fruit, so to the rich man who has treasure and wealth crowds flock together for their profit. Beholding this I say: The wise is mean, the wealthy is the better."

M:"The powerful fool does not well to win treasure by violence; roar loud as he will, they drag the simpleton off to hell. Beholding this I say: The wise is better than the wealthy fool."

S: "Whatsoever streams pour themselves into the Ganges, all these lose name and kind. The Ganges falling into the sea, is no longer to be distinguished. So the world is devoted to wealth. Beholding this I say: The wise is mean, the rich is better."

M: "This mighty ocean of which he spoke, whereinto always flow rivers innumerable, this sea beating incessantly on the shore can never pass over it, mighty ocean though it be. So it is with the chatterings of the fool: his prosperity cannot overpass the wise. Beholding this I say: The wise is better than the prosperous fool."

S: "A wealthy man in high position may lack all self-control, but if he says anything to others, his word has weight in the midst of his kinsfolk; but wisdom has not that effect for the man without wealth. Beholding this I say: The wise is mean, the rich is better."

M: "For another's sake or his own the fool and small of wit speaks falsely; he is put to shame in the midst of company, and hereafter he goeth to misery. Beholding this I say: The wise is better than the wealthy fool."

S: "Even if one be of great wisdom, but without rice or grain, and needy, should he say anything, his word has no weight in the midst of his kinsfolk, and prosperity does not come to a man for his knowledge. Beholding this I say: The wise is mean, the rich is better."

M: "Not for his own sake nor another's does the man of great wisdom speak a lie; he is honoured in the midst of the assembly, and hereafter he goes to happiness. Beholding this I say: The wise is better than the wealthy fool."

S: "Elephants, kine, horses, jewelled earrings, women, are found in rich families; these all are for the enjoyment of the rich man without supernatural power. Beholding this I say: The wise is mean, the rich is better."

M: "The fool, who does thoughtless acts and speaks foolish words, the unwise, is cast off by Fortune as a snake casts the old skin. Beholding this I say: The wise is better than the wealthy fool."

S: "We are five wise men, venerable sir, all waiting upon you with gestures of respect; and you are our lord and master, like Sakka, lord of all creatures, king of the gods. Beholding this I say: The wise is mean, the rich is better."

M: "The wealthy fool is but the slave of a wise man, when questions of this kind arise; when the sage solves it cleverly, then the fool falls into confusion. Beholding this I say: The wise is better than the wealthy fool."

S:

M: "Verily wisdom is esteemed of the good; wealth is beloved because men are devoted to enjoyment. The knowledge of the Buddhas is incomparable, and wealth never surpasses wisdom."