CYNICS may ask, how many have profited by the innumerable proverbs and maxims of prudence that have been current in the world for centuries? They will say their only used to repeat after some unhappy right has “gone wrong.” When, for instance, a person gambles and loses all they have, including their house, that leads to remembering the old Scottish proverb which declares that “willful waste leads to woeful want.” But did not the gambler know this well-worn saying from early years on down to the present? But, what good, then, did it do? Are the maxims of morality useless, then, because people disregard them?
Here’s one that comes to mind in an Indian text in the Sanskrit language called Hitopadesa, consisting of fables with animal and human characters. The authorship of the Hitopadesa has been contested.
“KNOWLEDGE is destroyed by associating with the dishonorable; equality is gained with equals and distinction with the distinguished.”
This truth is an echo of King David’s insightful words: “Great blessings belong to those who don’t listen to bad advice, who don’t live like lawbreakers, and who don’t hang around with those who make fun of religion. Instead, they love the Lord’s teachings and think about them day and night. So, they grow strong, like a tree planted by a stream – a tree that produces fruit when it should and has leaves that never fall. Everything they do is successful.” (Psalm 1:1-3)