The greatest achievement of human civilization today is the work for money. Everything in the system is oriented to the idea that you are contributing to society and your family through your work. From a young age, the mindset of children is molded into a mold of work for money, profit, benefit, interest. The most important question is where and what you will do and how much money you will make in that exchange. Having a good paying job is an essential life issue and a guarantee of happiness, peace and comfort. Getting a regular monthly salary is the ultimate blessing and privilege. Those who cannot find work travel to the other side of the country/globe in search of it. They pray, they join parties, they pay a bribe to get a job.
Naronda: One day as the seven and the Master were returning from the Aerie to the Ark they saw Shamadam at the gate waving a piece of paper at a man prostrated at his feet, and heard him saying in an angry voice: ‘Your delinquency exhausts my patience. I can be lenient no longer. Pay now, or rot in prison.’ The man we recognized as Rustodion, one of the many tenants of the Ark who was indebted to the Ark for a certain sum of money. He was bent as much with rags as with years; and he pleaded with the Senior for a time to pay the interest, saying that he had recently lost his only son and his only cow in the same week, and that his old wife, as a consequence , was struck with palsy. But Shamadam’s heart would not soften. The Master walked towards Rustodion and, taking him gently by the arm, he said,
MIRDAD: Arise, my Rustodion. You , too , are an image of God, and God’s image must not be made to bow before any shadow. ( Then turning to Shamadam ) Show me the bill of indebtness. Naronda: Shamadam , so furious but a moment before, became to the amazement of all more docile than a lamb, and meekly handed to the Master the paper in his hand, which paper the Master took and scrutinized for long with Shamadam bluntly looking on and saying nothing, as if in a spell.
MIRDAD: No moneylender was the founder of the Ark. Did he bequeath you money to lend out with usury? Did he bequeath you chattels to trade in, or lands to rent and hoard the fat thereof? Did he bequeath you your brother’s sweat and blood and then bequeath you prisons for the ones whose sweat you have drained to the end, and whose blood you have sucked to a drop? An Ark, and an altar, and a light did he bequeath you – nothing more. An Ark which is his living body. An altar which is his dauntless heart. A light, which is his burning faith. And these he commanded you to keep intact and pure amid a world dancing to pipes of Death and wallowing in quagmires of iniquity, because of faithlessness. And that the cares of the body may not distract your spirit, you were allowed to live upon the charity of the faithful. And never since the Ark was launched was there a dearth of charity. But, lo! This charity have you now turned into a curse, both for yourselves and for the charitable. For with their gifts you subjugate the givers. You scourge them with the very thread they spin for you. You strip them naked with the very cloth they weave for you. You starve them with the very bread they bake for you. You build them prisons with the very stones they cut and dress for you. You fashion yokes and coffins for them out of the very wood they provide you for your warmth. Their very sweat and blood you loan them back with usury. For that were money but the sweat and blood of men coined by the crafty into mites and shekels wherewith to shackle men? And what were riches but the sweat and blood of men garnered by those who sweat and bleed the least to grind therewith the backs of those who sweat and bleed the most? Woe and woe again onto them who burn away their minds and hearts and slay their nights and days in storing riches! For they know not what they store. The sweat of harlots, murderers and thieves; the sweat of the consumptive, the leaper and the palsied; the sweat of the blind, and the halt, and the maimed with that of the ploughman and his ox, and of the shepherd and his sheep, and of the reaper and the gleaner – all these and many more do the storers of riches store. The blood of the orphan and the rogue; of the despot and the martyr; of the wicked and the just; of the robber and the robbed; the blood of executioners and those they execute; the blood of leeches and cheats and those they suck and cheat – all these and many more do the storers of riches store. Aye, woe and woe again to those whose riches and shoes stock in trade is the sweat and blood of man! For sweat and blood will in the end exact their price. And terrible shall be the price, and fearful the exacting. To lend, and lend with interest! That is indeed ingratitude too brazen to condone. For what have you to lend? Is not your very life a gift? Were God to charge you interest for the least of His gifts unto you, wherewith would you pay? Is not this world a common treasury wherein each man, each thing, deposit all they have for the maintenance of all? Does the lark lend you its song, and the spring its sparkling water? Does the oak loan its shade, and the palm its honeyed dates? Does the sheep give you his wool, and the cow here milk for interest? Do the clouds sell you their rain, and the Sun his warmth and light? What would be your life without these things and myriad other things? And who of you can tell which man, which thing, have deposited the most, and which, the least in the treasury of the world? Can you, Shamadam , calculate Rustidion’s contributions to the treasury of the Ark ? yet would you lend him back his very contributions – perhaps but a trifling part thereof – and charge him interest to boot. Yet would you send him to prison and leave him there to rot?
What interest do you demand of Rustidion? Can you not see how profitable your loan has been to him? what better payment do you wish than a dead son, a dead cow and a palsied wife? What greater interest can you exact than these so mouldy rags upon so bent a back? Ah, rub your eyes, Shamadam. Be awake before you, too, are asked to pay your debts with interest, and failing that ,be dragged into prison and there be left to rot. The same I say to all of you, companions. Rub your eyes, and be awake. Give when you can, and all you can. But never lend, lest all you have, even your life, become a loan and the loan fall due at once, and you be found insolvent and cast into prison. Naronda: The Master then looked again at the paper in his hand and deliberately tore it to shreds, which shreds he scattered to the wind. Then turning to Himbal, who was the keeper of the treasury, he said to him. MIRDAD: Give Rustidion wherewith to buy to cows and care for his wife and himself to the end of their days. And you, Rustidion, go in peace . you are acquitted of your debt. Take care that you never become a creditor. For the debt of him who lends is greater and heavier by far than the debt of him who borrows.