Dharma (Ethics) of “Questionable” Work


I took on a project to help program part of a system for a website. However, this site is to help people to find female escorts. I was paid half of the project cost up front.

Since then, God has helped me to live more ethically, and now the type of service offered by this site is reprehensible to me.

Of course it is my duty to do this job if I was hired, but also I think of the karma of the people involved, especially the women whose "services" are offered.

Thank you for your help.


—Brandon, United States


Dear Friend,

There is a saying from India to the effect that, “Where there is dharma (right action), there is victory.” If you act according to your conscience and in harmony with universal truth teachings, the results will support your spiritual growth.

To display my ignorance of escort services, I assume that this term and this “service” is a euphemism, merely, and therefore the website you are working on is essentially marketing sexual services.

You’ve not indicated, further, what the consequences would be if you were to quit this job, but I suppose you might have to return some of the advance money?

There is no ethical principle fulfilled by completing the job on the basis of having agreed to it if you, in the meantime, have awakened to its unethical nature. That would be like saying a criminal who suddenly desires to stop his life of crime should feel a loyalty to his fellow gang members to continue helping them commit crimes. In fact, some gang members do face precisely this dilemma, and, more urgently, the potentially violent consequences to themselves for quitting!

But the principle of following through on your commitments is a lower principle than that of deciding to withdraw from activities that contribute to harming others.

Therefore, to cease your participation on the grounds of a change of heart or awakening of conscience is completely understandable. You must, however, accept the initial consequences financially, or in terms of employment or your reputation in your field. However, any disadvantages are distinctly short-term.

If you do the right thing now, all must work out for the best in time and with concerted effort, you will find a more ethical way to serve and to fulfill your income and other needs.

You haven’t indicated if you are angry or upset with your employer, nor whether the nature of the site was hidden from you at the beginning. Either way, it is important that you remain calm and centered in the Self as you explain or communicate your decision to your employer and others. If you express anger or judgment you will compound your own difficulties without changing anyone else’s behavior or attitudes.

Someone else will no doubt replace you and these activities will go on until the end of time. It seems from your note that your only involvement and only decision relates to your participation in the development of the web site. Simply resign, repay what you might owe, and give your reason (of conscience) and move on.

I hope you find this helpful and I wish you well in your journey towards Truth and Divine Love.

Nayaswami Hriman