CYNICS may ask, how many people actually follow the advice found in the numerous proverbs and maxims of forethought available for centuries? They conclude that they are only used after some hopeful venture has gone “horribly wrong.” When, for instance, a person gambles and loses all they have, including their house, they should have remembered the old Scottish proverb which declares that “willful waste leads to woeful want.” But didn’t the gambler know this well-worn saying from earlier years? But, what good, then, did it do? Are the maxims of morality useless because people disregard them? For Christians and Jews, the Book of Proverbs is a great example. But what about other religions?
Here is one to consider by Salmān al-Fārisī, (flourished 7th century, born near Esfahān, Iran), popular figure in Muslim legend and a national hero of Iran:
“I asked an experienced elder who had profited by his knowledge of the world, ‘What course should I pursue to obtain prosperity?’ He replied, ‘Contentment – if you are able, practice contentment.’”
This sounds very much like one of King Solomon’s proverbs, in which he says, “A content heart leads to a healthy body; envy is like cancer in the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)