“Even though a speech be a thousand (of words), but made up of senseless words, one word of sense is better, which if a man hears, he becomes quiet. …
“Though a man recite a hundred Gathas made up of senseless words, one word of the law is better, which if a man hears, he becomes quiet.
“If a man conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men, and if another conquer himself, he is the greatest of conquerors. …
“And he who lives a hundred years, ignorant and unrestrained, a life of one day is better if a man is wise and reflecting.” ~The Dhammapada
Try this simple experiment. Offer a toddler a choice between a dime or five pennies. In most cases he will take the five pennies because of the greater quantity because he doesn’t understand that the dime has more value. Then try offering him the choice of a dime or a nickle. Many will choose the nickle because it is bigger. The toddler doesn’t know that the size of the coin does not equate to value. Sadly, many adults behave the same as the toddler without realizing it.
There is a famous legend about the creation of chess that may or may not be true. When a man invented the chess game with 64 squares, a variation of an old Greek game said to have been invented by Hermes, the king was thrilled with the game and told the inventor to choose anything of value I his kingdom as a reward: gold, gems, even one of his daughters. The man asked for the king for one grain of wheat for the first of the squares on the board, two for the second, and for the king to keep doubling the amount on each subsequent square. The king thought the man a fool, but when his servants started to count out the grains, they soon realized there was not enough wheat in the kingdom to satisfy the request. Now this may seem the opposite of what is the point of the quote, but I include it because the story tells us that we often foolishly miscalculate the value of things.
When it comes to speeches, we tend to like people who can talk a lot, and invoke emotional response, but we seldom seem to consider the value of what they say, or whether or not it is actually true. Likewise, we tend to think that a man who has defeated many enemies in a battle is a great hero, but we are told here that the man who conquers himself is the greater hero. Why? Because the man who conquers his lower self, his material self, his ego, can become a spiritually enlightened person like Buddha or Jesus. Did Jesus not tell his apostles they could do everything he did and more? Yet most Christians ignore that.
But when we talk of choosing quality over quantity, this does not mean choosing the alpaca sweater over the polyester one, it means choosing the spiritual over the material. Why? Because your spirit is eternal, your physical body, and therefore your material life, is not. And our life in matter will never become eternal despite the lies of scientist who think they can one day achieve it. All material things come to an end, even the planet, the sun and the stars, so how can your physical body ever possibly be made eternal? Even if material lives were extended to a thousand years, that is nothing compared to the eternity of spiritual life. So to choose to ignore the development of your spirit in favor of the physical body is very much like that infant choosing the five pennies over the dime, worse it’s like choosing one penny over five hundred billion dollars! So don’t give into the temptations of the ego and pursue the valueless baubles and bling of matter. Choose instead to awaken and develop your spiritual faculties and choose the treasure that can never be equaled by anything material.