SKEPTICS may ask, why don’t people follow the advice of numerous proverbs and maxims of forethought available for centuries? Instead, they conclude that these apply only after some rightful venture has gone “horribly wrong.” When, for instance, a person gambles and loses all they have, including their house, why did they not remember the old Scottish proverb which declares “willful waste leads to woeful want?” But didn’t the gambler know this well-worn saying from earlier years? However, 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. Yet, what about other religions and philosophers?
Here is one to consider by 6th century Sanskrit Indian poet Bhāravi, the author of the classical Sanskrit epics classified as a mahakavya (“great poem”)
“Being friends with the godless is like lounging in the shade of a crumbling overhanging cliff, which falls and buries those who stand beneath.”
This idea of not associating with those with godless attitudes and lifestyles has long been prominent in the Holy Scriptures. No doubt it influenced Bhāravi’s thinking. For instance:
King David stated clearly, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil the advice of skeptics, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God.” (Psalm 1:1)
Then David’s son King Solomon added his wisdom, “Be friends with those who are wise, and you will become wise. Choose fools to be your friends, and you will be guilty of foolishness.” (Proverbs 13:20)
And the Apostle Paul advised, “Don’t let yourself be misled. If you listen to fools, you will start acting like a fool.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)