MAMMON: The sustaining relationship between a man and his work. (Q1.9).
Work is a Virtue
Men earn their daily bread through the sweat of their labor. We call this the sustaining relationship because the HIM must feed himself and his family. Work also sustains and benefits the Community, as we are all created to perform some function for the betterment of those with whom we live in Proximity. The skill of the candlestick maker empowers him to light the darkness for both himself and his neighbor the baker, who in turn feeds him with wholesome nourishment. In this way, Mammon and Community are inseparable.
Work is also essential to a man’s personal well-being, not just in the material sense but in his pursuit of proper personal alignment. Idleness is not good for a man. It is a state of non-Movement that can keep his boat permanently capsized. Even a man who has retired after 40 years of hard work finds himself looking for “something to do” with his free time other than just playing golf. Play is not enough. A man needs work. We are hard-wired to produce, and not doing so knocks us out of proper alignment.
Work is a relationship, not a pursuit
It might seem odd to call Mammon a relationship between a man and his work. After all, isn’t work something we do rather than a person with whom we relate? Maybe Mammon does not even belong on the Concentrica.
While superficially logical, this premise is flawed for two reasons. First, it is dependent upon the narrow view that only people can be related, when in fact the definition of a relationship is much broader. It is “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected”. Thus, the essence of relationship is connection, that some two things are connected—just what is connected is less important, and in fact could be virtually anything.
Second, the power of man’s connection with his work is so great that categorizing it as anything other than a relationship leads to underestimating its tendency to swallow his other relationships. Unless a man Prepares for it, Mammon will move inexorably to the center of his Concentrica and cause him to commit relationship malpractice.
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Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
- “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” –Confucius
- “The reward of a thing well done is having done it.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” –Edith Wharton
- “Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen.” –Socrates
Daily Storytelling Time
There once lived a rich businessman who had a lazy and fun loving son. The businessman wanted his son to be hard-working and responsible. He wanted him to realize the value of labor. One day he summoned his son and said: “Today, I want you to go out and earn something, failing which you won’t have your meals tonight.”
The boy was callous and not used to any kind of work. This demand by his father scared him and he went crying straight to his mother. Her heart melted at the sight of tears in her son’s eyes. She grew restless. In a bid to help him she gave him a gold coin. In the evening when the father asked his son what he had earned, the son promptly presented him the gold coin. The father then asked him to throw it into a well. The son did as he was told.
The father was a man of wisdom and experience and guessed that the source of the gold coin was the boy’s mother. The next day he sent his wife to her parent’s town and asked his son to go and earn something with the threat of being denied the night meals if he failed. This time he went crying to his sister who sympathized with him and gave him a rupee coin out of her own savings. When his father asked him what he had earned the boy tossed the rupee coin at him. The father again asked him to throw it in a well. The son did it quite readily. Again the father’s wisdom told him that the rupee coin was not earned by his son. He then sent his daughter to her in-laws’ house. He again asked his son to go out and earn with the threat that he shall not have anything for dinner that night.
This time since there was no one to help him out; the son was forced to go to the market in search of work. One of the shopkeepers there told him that he would pay him two rupees if he carried his trunk to his house. The rich man’s son could not refuse and was drenched in sweat by the time he finished the job. His feet were trembling and his neck and back were aching. There were rashes on his back. As he returned home and produced the two rupee note before his father and was asked to throw it into the well, the horrified son almost cried out. He could not imagine throwing his hard-earned money like this. He said amid sobbing: “Father! My entire body is aching. My back has rashes and you are asking me to throw the money into the well.”
At this the businessman smiled. He told him that one feels the pain only when the fruits of hard labor are wasted. On earlier two occasions he was helped by his mother and sister and therefore had no pain in throwing the coins into the well. The son had now realized the value of hard work. He vowed never to be lazy and safe keep the father’s wealth. The father handed over the keys of his shop to the son and promised to guide him through the rest of the life.
Moral of the Story: Some of the life’s best lessons come from the hardest situations.