CYNICS may ask, why don’t people follow the advice found in the numerous proverbs and maxims of forethought available for centuries? Instead, 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 6th century Sanskrit poet Bharavi, the author of the classical Sanskrit epics classified as a mahakavya (“great poem”). He wrote:
“Some who wish their friends well try to please them with words which are not true.”
It sounds very similar to what the great wise King Solomon wrote,
“Some people try to cover their dislike with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you. They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of evil thoughts. While they may conceal contempt with trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed publicly. If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead. A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin.” (Proverbs 26:24-28)