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Honesty, If we live life with honesty and integrity we not only benefit ourselves but society as a whole.

My assistant carried out a cent percent audit of a tiny little company. The managing director of the company was an honest man. At the conclusion of the audit, there weren’t any worthwhile audit queries or objections. As per protocol, we invited the managing director for finalisation of the accounts.

During discussion, my assistant nervously showed him a cash memo of Rs.500 relating to a gift article purchased but not entered as an expense in the books of account. The MD looked at the bill and smiled. Appreciating the assistant for his skill in salvaging the unaccounted cash memo, he explained softly, “This bill pertains to a gift I gave to my customer’s son on the occasion of his marriage. In my opinion, this is an expenditure of a personal nature. I incurred this expense because of my personal relationship with the bridegroom and his family. It has nothing to do with the company or my business.

My conscience did not allow me to book the expenditure in the company’s account. It is a personal expense incurred out of my personal funds. It is not company’s expenditure.” With my permission, he took the cash memo and put it in his pocket. This was a gesture of intense and supreme honesty. If he wanted to, the expenditure could have been passed off as legitimate business expenditure against the profits of the company. But the savvy entrepreneur refused to do so.

Here was a businessman who followed strict ethics in doing business. He believed that compensation for his efforts was justified but he had no right to grab more than he deserved from the company though it belonged to him. This was the most astounding gesture of uprightness I have ever come across. This also reminded me of the gifts he had distributed to my staff when his company turned around and made profits for the first time. Amazing business ethics! That sum too was not booked as company expenditure since it was done as a gesture of personal happiness!

This incident also reminded me of a true story narrated to me by my grandma. Her mission was to shape her children and grandchildren into good citizens of the country and mould them into good human beings too. The story she told us is told below:
The treasurer of a king was sitting in his chamber bent over the books of accounts, engrossed in bookkeeping. As it was nighttime, he lit a candle and worked under its light. A little later, two men entered his chamber for some personal work and advice. The treasurer requested the men to wait till he completed his task. After finishing his work, he put out the candle, drew another one from the drawer, lit it and turned his attention towards the duo. The two men were surprised and taken aback because the candle which the treasurer blew out was only half finished and the remaining half was left unused. Puzzled and startled, one man asked the royal treasurer why he had extinguished the unfinished candle and lit another one.

The upright man of numbers explained, “Till now, I was doing my official duty connected with my kingdom and hence used the candle that belonged to the province. Now we are sitting to discuss our personal matters. Therefore I have lit my personal candle. I have no right to use the properties of the state for personal purposes. If I do so, my state will consider me unfaithful and disloyal. That is why I lit another candle, which belonged to me. I will use the unused candle of the kingdom when I sit to work for the province.” The two men could only marvel at the nobility of this faithful and loyal servant of the State.

These two anecdotes, one relating to the present and another relating to the days of yore have identical similarities and personalities – both loyal to the Province. The common denominator is TRUTH. Such people preach nobility by speech. It is the way they conduct their lives that speaks volumes about their nobility. Their way of life, outlook and attitude are self-explanatory and expressive, like a dancer’s mudra. Their lifestyle spreads inspiration and they become role models for beholders and posterity to emulate. All said and done, the practice of truth and honesty in life gives peace of mind, and this is the path of spirituality.

The ‘bookkeeping’ done by the managing director and the royal treasurer was as per dictates of their conscience. Neither of them would be punished if they had done otherwise. But they preferred to drive on the highway of honesty rather than the lanes of lies. If one travels in the ‘Vehicle of Values’ fitted with the shock absorbers of ‘Truth and Honesty’, he can cross over all obstacles and speed breakers of life without a single jerk. Besides, honest bookkeeping of our lives will also survive the most critical and intense audit by the ‘Supreme Divine Auditor’.

Whether one is the owner or employee of a company, he should refrain from misusing the infrastructure of the enterprise for personal purposes. If all and sundry in the hierarchy try to abuse their position, it would weaken the health of their company and the weakness will boomerang on them, leaving them in the lurch. What applies to a company applies to a nation.

Termites can eat away a huge edifice slowly and silently. Leaking taps can empty a tank slowly and silently. A small short circuit can annihilate a massive structure. Pests and insects can destroy huge quantities of growing crops and do unlimited damage of epidemic proportions to huge farms and fields. So is the inherent danger to the society whose constituents exploit the resources and infrastructure that do not belong to them.

The society has to awaken its dormant conscience, and the books set right. Armed with a steely resolve, a company or society or nation can be made to be like steel. If the bookkeeping is right, nothing can go wrong.
If one travels in the ‘Vehicle of Values’ fitted with the shock absorbers of ‘Truth and Honesty’, he can cross over all obstacles and speed breakers of life without a single jerk.

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