The Ethical Bazaar2 min read

A businessman who practised yoga in a group, went to a senior for advice. “There is an opportunity for me to do quite a bit of good to some people in need, but it would mean tricking another man. I know that he is quite a rogue, so I feel tempted. The good would outweigh the bad, and he would get no more than he deserves, what he has himself done to others. I can’t find this sort of case covered in the traditional books.”

“No,” agreed the senior, “the general principles are sometimes difficult to apply, but let me ask you about something in my own experience. When I was young, my brother was starting up a life assurance business. To help him to make a start, I took out a savings policy, at a monthly premium which I could just about afford, and kept this up for a few years. But then there were some unexpected calls on me, and I found that I could not meet the policy instalment without going into overdraft. I told my brother that now I was having to borrow in order to save. He laughed and said: “Don’t do that. The interest on the overdraft will be far more than what you will save with the policy. Surrender the policy and I will make up the value to what you have paid in. I am going well now, and I am grateful for the help you gave at the beginning.

“Now you’re a businessman. Would it apply to all loans?”

The businessman considered. “Yes, I think the interest on a loan would always be quite a bit more. You can’t borrow to save.”

“Well, try applying this experience to your present case. You can do some good, which will go to your credit, but some harm which will go to the debit side. In the ethical bazaar, harm done will always be more potent than any good that may come from it. Internally too, it will begin to erode your sense of right and wrong.

“Meditate, and some other way will suggest itself to you so that you can do the good without using harm as your instrument.”