Here are a few examples.
- The great Saint Valmiki was previously a dacoit. Daaku Ratnakar was his name, and he lived under the false impression that all his nefarious activities were supported by his family members. The same family when questioned though, told him that they would take none of his bad karma from said activities. “You are the father, it is your duty to provide for us, and if you loot or plunder to feed us, that is your headache.” Moved immensely by this, he went into deep meditation and transformed into a saint and the author of the Indian epic Ramayana.
- Alfred Nobel, the creator of the Nobel prize, was originally the creator of dynamite. He also owned several hundred factories that manufactured explosives and munitions for use in warfare. He had over 300 patents to his name including for designs for nitro-glycerine detonators, blasting caps and a smokeless gunpowder called ballistite. In 1888, Nobel’s brother Ludvig Nobel died from a heart attack. One French newspaper mistakenly believed that it was Alfred Nobel who had perished, and it wrote a scathing obituary, branding him a “merchant of death” who had grown rich by developing new ways to “mutilate and kill.” Alfred was so jarred by this unexpectedly early posthumous review, that he had to make amends, resulting in large donations to charity and the institution of the now famous Nobel prizes.
- In the world of investing, a new focus is ESG – Environment, Social and Governance – with an attempt to be conscious of the impact of one’s financial decisions. Interestingly, some of the torchbearers in this field are precisely those that made their corpus from exactly the opposite – plundering the earth’s resources, benefiting from child labour and other malpractices.
True change can indeed happen. The catalyst can be outside us, or inside – in the mind. It is up to us to decide what we want, and how badly we want it.