For inspiration this week, I went looking for articles that address the ethical issues around taking money for doing good deeds. The best one I found is linked here. Go take a look and then, if you would, come back and comment on it.
Me, I was inspired by reading Linda’s and Meg’s questions about the book’s ending. I intend to give some of my own thoughts about it in my wrap-up reflection on Sunday. Meanwhile, I hope others who have read the book will comment.
What do you think of how the book ends? Is the author suggesting it was wrong for Tommy to have not returned the money? Did his illness return because he kept the money?
On a side note, from where do you think the “gift” of healing came? Why did it come?
Andy – I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Meg
I’m fascinated by the way in which our culture has empowered money. It is at the end of the day just another form of energy, yet, our culture has raised money to some god-like status because it has the ability to simplify the acquisition of material goods. It is just an energy.
Good deeds are relative, what constitutes a good deed in our culture may not be considered a good deed in another one. so “good” is a relative value judgement. We work and, for most of us, we get paid with money. We offer the energy of our labour for the energy of money. Whether the work is “good”, “bad”, “legal” or “illegal” I feel is secondary to the point that we have entered into an energy exchange and that simply is what we are doing, this energy for that energy!
So my question is do we ever do something without an energy exchange taking place? I feel that the answer is no we do not, we always enter into some form of energy exchange irrespective of wjhat those energies look like or are called. So the “good deed” is in itself an agreement to enter into an energy exchange, it might not be so sobvious what the energies are that are being exchanged in this case as when we get paid for doing a job.
Which brings me to the point that we always “get paid” for whatever we do and that this “payment” is related to the deed we engage in.
Very interesting comments, Geoffrey.
I can see that we could say the character Mirian ‘got paid’ for what SHE did. At the end of the book, the author has Eve reflect that “Miriam was usually angry, or resentful, or bitter or full of complaint, and she was not to blame for it though she had made her own choice. But how do we know how our choices will turn out for us, thought Eve. The luck falls one way or it falls the other.”
Reasonably, one could extrapolate that the author believes some have good luck while others do not, through no fault of their own. There is no fate, or God rewarding the individual on the basis of their behavior. It is up to them to do the right thing. If so, surely Eve and Tommy’s daughter would not have died so young, and once Tommy made his recovery, he would not have lost it. His primary goal in using the money was to secure Eve’s comfort. He was not selfishly using the money for himself.
When Miriam marries someone who is disappointed with his life and makes her life miserable, do we blame Miriam? Was it her fault or John Bullard’s? Or was it just the hand that luck dealt them, and in their society, that they were somehow bound to play out? One might say they were rewarded, consistent with their behavior.
I think the author’s story of the Doctor reflects a similar perspective. In his first encounter with Tommy and Eve, the Doctor is generous, compassionate, and… “shocked himself. He was a doctor. He tried to cure and comfort his patients and to treat them kindly, but he had never become close to any one of them, never been touched deep in his own heart as he was touched now.”
Yet after Tommy gets his power and begins to draw his patients away, the doctor confronts him as a fraud and says Tommy was wrong to treat those who turned to him. He thinks Tommy “ought to pay for that wrong, or suffer for it.”
I ask what happened to that man who was so touched; that kind and caring person? Does it come down to money… or loss of earning power? He observes that despite his caring for Tommy, the doctor “could not tolerate a man such as he was, taking the sick people of the town to himself.” Which is the real doctor? One is wonderful; the other is a pretty normal human being, not wanting to accept that his position in the community is jeopardized. His luck had changed and he adjusted in a way that no longer made him admirable to the reader.
What lesson does the author want us to take away from the book? I assume it is that we should be kind, loving, and compassionate despite what hand is dealt to you.
Thanks for the come back Linda. there is so much in what you say, so much of how we have been “taught” to “see” the world and understand how it works. But is it that way? Isn’t “luck” a relative term dependant on some comparison and a value judgement? The world is in constant change, and as the world constantly changes we are presented with a constant array of choices, each leading to different or similar places. How we view the outcomes of the choices we have made is a complex thing, but a lot has to do with what we have been “taught” in our life journey. maybe all outcomes are good, we just need the eyes to be able to see the value, the treasure in the outcome we have arrived at.
All paths/choices are equal none is better than any other. some may be more painful than others, but they all hold a treasure from which we can grow to become better souls, better able to understand the suffering of ourself and others and so find the way to be compassion, something the doctor fails to find.
Each choice is a spark that becomes a fire that lights the way and as we light our way we can breathe easy, relax as there is no goal but this (paraphrased from Osho).
Geoffrey, I love your explanations, but I am unschooled in anything other than what might be called “the school of hard knocks.” I feel I have learned the hard way what I need to be happy and of course money is one of them. I also need self respect more than I need the respect of others, but it is necessary that I feel that others admire and respect me aslo. I need to be in the company of like minded people whose values are not completely opposite mine, and who have enough wherewithall to be able to go beyond just beyond their daily existence.
One thing I have been grappling with in th last few years is why of the four of us born to the same parents, with the same start and advantages, was I the only one to go to college and why did I end up on the upper end of society? Why of my siblings was I not only the most successful financially of course, but by partner choice, by leading a life of exercise which resulted in the best health and by curiosity was led to do so many fascinating and interesting things, so much so that my mind is constantly stimulated without “dumbed down” televsion or “one-sided” newspapers.
I would not really try to describe my two sisters’ lives but one is an alcoholic and the other has seriously jeopardized her health. My brother barely maintained a working life and was also an alcoholic who recovered about ten years ago — a miracle as far as I could tell, prompted by his partner’s health issues.
So perhaps that is why I found Miriam’s plight to be so interesting. Having too many kids, having an unkind husband, or having too low an income can make a woman desparate enough to give away her kids. Was it more than Eve’s choice of a life partner than made her life so good compared to her sisters? From my seat, my life looks so good, but then from my sister’s seats they may be saying, “she is driven, bossy, never just relaxes but needs to be in charge of eveything….” Obviously, we cannot really know exactly what people think of us, unless they tell us.
I know that I am on a journey which feels so good to me that I will continue. I have been sampling alternative ways of looking at life, but have never really approached any “religions” because of my childhood experiences. At this time I know I am looking for a support system that makes my life seem calmer, better in terms of self awareness and inner fulfillment. I hope people like you and Megan, who are obviously very open and willing to be in a dialogue, continue in these classes which have been so important to me. That implies of course that I am very dependent on Andy for offering them. Thank you Andy, for all your classes have allowed me to explore and experience.
Thank you Linda for your willingness to show your vulnerability, it is where our real strength lies… If you are interested in loving/respecting yourself more try and check out The work by Byron Katie over at http://www.thework.com.
The respect of other, hummmm, I was shown a long time ago two things. Firstly, that you can only see in somebody or something else that which you already have within you. Secondly, What ever is happening to or around you is a reflection of what you are putting out into the world. I’ve been working with those two statements for over 20 years now, they have helped me to transform my life and understand that happiness/respect comes in many strange, unusual and unexpected packages and they are found in the most unlikely of places. All situations are a result of choices made by ourselves and those around us. Our choices are by necessity different one from another and absolutely unique. Given this it is no surprise how siblings vary so widely one from another and how their life paths differ so much.
Are you really bossy and a control freak?
Thank you for your responses, they make me think more profoundly about who, what and where I am in this life walk. Please stay open to the wonders of your choices and the gifts that they bring you.
I wish a book for you “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coellho.
That you so much for both resources, Geofrey. I will consult them. I am on a roll of change and yet understanding is not at all clear sometimes. Last year I read Coelho’s Brida which was very interesting. I must admit that I did not really know what to make of it. I hope to keep in touch with both you and Megan either through this class or privately. Yours for continuing peace and growth.
I really hope to keep in touch too Linda :-). This classes are such a wonderful opportunity to learn and to grow. Thanks Andy for offering them – I will continue doing them for as long as you continue to give them 🙂