From production to saving to investment in moral prosperity.
He who produces virtue has something precious and unearthly. Earthly goods, while able to be stored and saved, are subject to corruption and even conquest. Earthly goods, in addition, are subject to loss when invested. This does not mean it is not worth storing securely earthly goods. But it does mean what the sage has often said, earthly goods should not be craved (Buddha), or they should not become the treasure of the heart (Jesus). Can one store and increase security of storage without craving or making heart treasure? Surely. This is what the Puritanical Libertarian aims for…being in but not of the world.
Being in the world demands secure storage. Not being of the world demands not craving secure storage. Back to moral savings and investment.
The way that the moral good of patience is saved is through use. This sounds paradoxical! But it is true. It is best preserved through use. Ah the difference compared to earthly goods. If patience is hidden away and put under lock and key it degrades. If patience is continually put to use it preserves. The same for prudence, justice, temperance, courage and the rest.
In the above sense virtue is like muscle. And indeed, virtue is a power. The power is preserved through use. What this allows, nay requires, is the following: virtue is best saved when invested! Indeed! That which is best saved when invested never returns void. There is guaranteed profit. He who practices patience, produces patience. He who invests into his activity the exercise of his produced patience both preserves and increases his patience. The five loaves become five hundred!
A final bonus. And it is a bonus in the sense of being a benefit of secondary status. Patience should never be pursued for its effects but only for itself. In this sense patience is like dharma, tao, shamayin or logos. One immediately ruins the pursuit of deep reality by pursuing it for something else. But that does not mean that there are not secondary effects. The virtuous man makes the part of the world better in which his virtuous activity is an ingredient. This does not mean that he will be noticed and increase social status, that his gold hoard will increase, or that he will feel one way or another. These are all probabilistically related in good times, but their probability diminishes in bad times.
So, he who produces, saves and invests in moral prosperity does so for its own sake, without insecurity about loss, and without expectation of any earthly verification that his unearthly good has earthly value. He moves through the world in a kind of concealment.
Listen to Lao Tzu and then think about how he leaves the Western gate and is no more traceable in this world. Then, think of Jesus and Socrates. Both executed in earthly dishonor–one between criminals; the other with a small band of devotees. With each one would have thought such an ending would not amount to much. Had one been Lao Tzu handing over his meditations to the guard at the gate or Jesus or Socrates neither of whom wrote anything, one could justifiably have had the following thought:
The first-person thought of the sage: “It has been enough to live virtuously no matter the smallness of the effect that it is probable from this view.”
The third-person thought of the on-loooker: “The most valuable wisdom is being lost forever and it is a proper time for mourning the loss.”
The sage understands the moment. It is not about effects. It is not about impact. Leave impact to the fates. You aim for virtue and righteousness. Let the rest go.
The Puritanical Libertarian is thankful now for another day in which to produce, save and invest what little virtue he has accumulated thus far. He is astounded that the sun rises again, that he is still here, that the door of opportunity for the production of what is best lies open before him.
We’ll see if he can keep that attitude throughout the day.