He who seeketh, findeth

November 3, 2007

Accounting for Heaven and Earth

Sometimes I have “insights” that are not fully formed, but I just want to write them down so that I don’t forget the ‘idea’. This is one of those times. I am just saying that what I am about to say may not make sense, not just because the reader has a different point of view, but because I have not clearly communicated my thoughts and impressions. Caveat lector!

I rarely think of my work as being related to spirituality. However, the past couple of days, several things have happened that have made me review or revisit how I look at Accounting. For example, there are times when a report or statement is one Cent off, and I cannot go forward without finding where that one Cent belongs. It is easy to “fix” things, but it cannot and should not be done, because: first, it is wrong, second, it just doesn’t work at times. For example, if you are paying $3 million and the report you printed out says you are paying $2,999,999.99, one may think that you can just give one of the payees 1 Cent. No, not really? If you overpay one of the people, they will come back and ask (may be), but surely if you underpay somebody, you might as well not do it in the first place. What if you narrow it down to a particular person? You see to whom the 1 cent needs to go, do you just throw it in there, on her account? Not really, it may belong to a particular invoice, or period (month, quarter, or year)… Things like this make accounting hell sometimes. You cannot check off something as okay (it foots) when it does not. You can bet on it that it will come back to bite you; well, most of the time. Most of the “checks and balances” that you find in life, have their source in Accounting. For example, if you make $1 million during the year, and you make this money from work, gifts, and businesses, you are expected to report that you made $1m to the tax authority. You may wonder, how would they know if you told them that you made only $0.9m? Well, for starters, your employer tells them how much they paid you. Second, the gift giver is supposed to report how much he has disposed of in gifts. Third, the people that made payments to you need to have backup for the claimed expenses, so there will be receipts with your tax id on it showing money flowing to you. Fourth, if you deposited any money in an interest-earning account, the bank has to report the interest that they paid you, and of course, the money you deposited will show. Last but not least, you cannot spend what you don’t have. By looking at your statements, the tax man can have a good idea of how much income you made. Of course, my list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of how, given time, the tax man can figure out how much you made (or spent).

Accounting has another basic side to it, which may or may not be looked at as “checks and balances”, the double-entry system. For every transaction, there is a debit and credit to it. A simple example would be if you bought a one dollar pen for your business. This is an expense. Your cash would go down $1 (credit your books), your supplies (expense) would go up $1 (debit your books). At the end of the day, your debits and expenses should match.

One last point that I need to bring up, is budgets. It is hard to imagine a functioning business that does not have an accounting budget. This just shows you what you expect to make or spend for the year. The fun is in the details. But as the year goes, you periodically look at items in the budget and see if you are where you thought you would be at a certain point in time. If something is so below/over-budget, you investigate it before the year ends (well, usually).

Well, enough accounting. So I thought about that and I wondered if the principles of accounting are applicable to other non-monetary issues. For example, if somebody hurt my feelings, what would be the equivalent in accounting? If I sinned, what happens in Heaven that is similar to accounting? So here is what I thought of as a possibility.

Assume that we are dealing with Cash, and the normal (or good) balance is a debit. Let’s also assume that good acts are debits. Then if you help somebody out and you feel good and the other person is appreciative of your actions, and Heaven is also rejoicing, then:

Debits: your good account in your heart; the recipient’s view of you; your good accts book in Heaven.

Credits: effort needed to do the good act; the recipient “pay it forward” account; your sin book in Heaven(?).

Similarly, if you hurt somebody’s feelings intentionally for no good reason, you can make the necessary entries.

At the end of the day, how you feel, the financial health of the organization, you and your fellow men, will depend on how accurate and how good your books are. Just like in accounting for businesses, the accounting for both Heaven and Earth, doesn’t lie.

The closest I could come to relating the accounting budget to life in Heaven and on Earth, had to do with expectations and potential. I think that’s what an accounting budget does, it sets expectations for performance with the conviction or commitment that the organization has potential to live up to those expectations, whether it is to cut costs or increase revenues or both. So what are our expectations and potential. On the expectations side: we are expected to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, we are expected to work as if we are doing it unto the Lord, we are expected to discover what we are good at and devote it to the betterment of ourselves and of the human race, we are expected to discover our potential… It is not an exhaustive list. I presume that God and our fellow men, from their exposure and intimate knowledge of us, have a good idea of what we can do/be. That being the case, I do not think it is outrageous to think that each one of us has a budget of good works that we are expected to perform.

What if, in God’s budget, He saw that for the world to be a good place to live, I would have to help one person every day or every week. I would also have to give 20% of my income to my church, etc. If I help twice that number, and give less to the church, I am sure it may throw off the budget, but I cannot say by how much. It is not for me to know what the budget is. All I can do is my best. Just like at a company, the presidential team may have the budget, which the man in the warehouse does not know of. The man in the warehouse just has to do his best; make the best nuts and bolts for himself and the company.

If men can plan things with extraordinary precision, be it accountants, rocket scientists or Chess players, why would God do any less? Why wouldn’t God have a plan or budget for enough food or medication for everybody? Why wouldn’t God have enough leaders and doctors and followers and … for the world to function properly? I believe God has it all properly budgeted. It is just that we don’t take time to figure out what’s important and how best to allocate and manage the resources that we are. We are self-managing resources in God’s budget.

Spirituality in cleaning a burned pot

Filed under: Happiness,Health,Meditation — Steve (Chessiq) @ 6:52 am

A couple of days ago, I think it was Tuesday night, I decided to cook for the week. I filled one of my biggest pots with meat and put it on the stove and turned on the gas as low as I could… I didn’t want to use the crockpot, so I thought I could just cook the meat for a couple of hours at low, and then the next day, when I had more time and energy to cook, I would finish off the cooking. (Browning, making soup, and freezing whatever I needed for the future.)

After 2 hours, I decided to raise the heat to medium so that it would cook quickly. I did this as I was getting on the phone, so I reasoned that I would attend to the stove right before I went to bed. That was probably around 9pm. It was a little cold, so I decided to get in bed to keep warm as I talked on the phone. The next time I got up, it was a little before 2am. I turned, but I could hear a “hissing” sound, and there was a very strong smell. The sound was drops of vapor that were falling from the top of the lid of the scorched pot, onto the bottom of the waterless hellishly hot bottom of the pot!

I turned on the lights to find that my place was filled with smoke and for some reason, the smoke detector didn’t go off, even though it was flashing (meaning that the battery was okay and it was “working”?). I turned off the stove, removed the plate from the stove, sprinkled a paper towel with a generous amount of lemon juice and covered the meant with the towel and covered the pot again. I had read somewhere that paper towels, and newspapers are good at absorbing smells, and lemon juice is also a good odor killer. Came back to bed, and I couldn’t just stand the smell of burnt food all over the house. I thought I felt dizzy at one point. I opened all the windows and the living room curtains. I came back to bed and I couldn’t sleep, so I spent the next 3 hours or so, listening to inspiring teachings from a retreat that I had found online. The windows were open for the next two days and the smell almost vanished. Oh, lighting candles overnight helped the other day.

Anyway, I had to come home for lunch on Wednesday to throw away all the meat – I was seething! I debated whether to throw away the burnt pot with the burnt meant or try to savage what I could from the pot. It was the worst burning I had every seen. 4 hours of medium gas heat is not a joke. I think the burning happened in the last 30 minutes to an hour before I got up, but still. I decided to try cleaning the pot. So after removing the black and dark brown meat, I filled the pot with water. I added a generous amount of soap, lemon amonia(?), Comet powder (with bleach), and left it alone for about 7 hours. When I cleaned the dishes at night, I decided to give the pot a shot and I was nicely surprised when I threw away the black water, that the pot was as clean as new! It was so unbelievable! I look forward to cooking in it again for many more times.

I wondered what could have happened if I had thrown it away. I could have lost a “good” pot. The fact is, it was not a good pot, but the truth is, it was a good pot. Zengani explained to me the difference between facts and truths years back.

If I had thrown away the pot, I would never have known that it would have been so easy to clean. Not that the knowledge matters much for its own sake, but it changed the fate of my future pots, should they burn.

How is this related to spirituality?

Well, when we sin or do something wrong, we become scorched one way or the other, in the eyes of some of our fellow men, and possibly in the eyes of God. It may be easier for men and God to write us off than give us another chance. It may be even harder for ourselves to give ourselves another chance, to say that something good may become of us, only if we could find a way to clean the burned pot that we have become. How does the cleaning happen? Well, it may start off by us recognizing that something bad has happened and we need to take some corrective action. May be ask for forgiveness, may be commit to not committing the mistake or sin again. May be we need to change our mindset and look at the possibility of things being better instead of throwing the soul away together with the man/body which would have happened if I had thrown away the meat with the pot.

That was my small moment of spirituality as I meditated on the significance of the burnt meat, pot, and how I was able to give the pot a new life.

Of course, later on I realized that I could have died from the smoke inhalation. I could have become sick at the least. But none of that happened. Why am I still alive? It is a question that I try to answer each day when I make it home safe, when I consider the many times I could have died on the road, etc. A fire could have started from the burning of the pot – I don’t know how, but it seems possible that it could have happened. It didn’t. So much grace, so much to be thankful for. So many reasons to try to live a better life each day. So many reasons to embrace life and appreciate what I have.

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