The Truth about Gains and Losses

A gain or loss that is momentary is not real

In life we discriminate between two things: the real and the false. We think more of the real and less of the false. We discriminate between imitation gold and real gold; we pay more for the real gold because it is more lasting. The two samples of gold may be equally bright; hence it is evident that the value we attach to things is in proportion to their lasting power. Similarly, if we could see what things in life are lasting or passing, we should discriminate between real loss and false loss, real gain and false gain. The gain or loss which is momentary is not real. So, too, joy or sorrow is a momentary state; the joy over a gain today may tomorrow prove to be a sorrow. If we knew the realities, we should never grieve over the loss of things which experience shows to be only of a transient character. ... For every gain, however, there is a need for sacrifice. To gain anything we have to sacrifice something; to pursue two gains is to lose both. Therefore it is necessary to decide once and for all what is false, and then to follow the real and leave the false.

If there is such a thing as saintly renunciation, it is renouncing small gains for better gains; not for no gains, but seeing with open eyes what is better and what is inferior. Even if the choice has to lie between two momentary gains, one of these would always be found to be more real and lasting; that is the one that should be followed for the time. When we take the torch of wisdom to show us our path through life, we will end by realizing what is really profitable in life and what is not.


We live our lives seeking gains and avoiding losses.  Most often we do not give more than a second's thought to the value of that which we call a "gain" or a "loss".  Yet if we do think about the value of what we cherish we realise that some rewards are inherently transient or illusionary and are not worthy goals of our lives, nor worthy of joy in gaining, or worth our sorrow in loss.

What is most valuable is lasting and cannot be taken away.  Consequently what can be taken away - what is "momentary" - cannot be most valuable.  So seek the true and long lasting, and avoid the seductive illusions of momentary gains.