The word profit is defined as “the pecuniary gain in any transaction; the amount by which value acquired exceeds value expended”—so you get more than you give. That seems to me to be selfish. It is not fair. It is not sharing. It should be that what we get is equal to what we give.
For example, in my own practice I am given money for what I do, but so many times I ask myself, Am I giving to them in return for what they are giving me? Are they giving to me in return for what I am giving them? I want it to be equal.
I am giving them, I hope, healing; and they are giving me finances, money, which enables me to continue to help other people. I do not see it as making a profit; I see it as being an equal sharing. It is more like a barter system. In some parts of the world, the health care system is being destroyed by the need to make a profit, the need to profit from people’s illness.
The whole motive of profit, which drives our present economic system, is that one person will gain and the other must lose. The system should be designed, however, so that it is mutually equitable, as it should be in any other relationship—for example, in a marriage. No relationship should be devised so that one gains at the expense of another. It should always be fair, mutually equal. It should always be motivated by concern for the other, not for the self.
Rather than seeing what we do as being for financial gain, we should listen to the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, that every action should be a sacrifice to God (however we define God), and that we should not care about the fruits of our labor. Perhaps everything I could say is summed up by the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius: “What is the point in mentioning the word ‘profit’? All that matters is that there should be benevolence and rightness.” Benevolence and humanity, as Confucius would say.
Indeed, what is the point in mentioning profit? One gives because in one’s heart one wants to give, and the other gives back in gratitude for what he has received. It should always be the two things. Not profit, but altruistically giving to the other who accepts gratefully, and then the other altruistically giving and the first giver receiving.
The giving and the receiving are equal, that is how it should always be. Not for profit, but for shared altruism and shared gratitude. Each altruistic, each grateful. This mutual reciprocating circle—altruism, gratitude, altruism, gratitude; back and forth, back and forth.
 The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), Vol. 12, p. 579.
 D. C. Lau (trans.), Mencius: A Bilingual Edition, revised ed. (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2003), p. 3.
Excerpted from Freedom From Fear: Transcending Economic Crisis.