Chapter III to VI is response of the sage Ashtavakra to points mentioned by King Janaka in chapter II. Response spread over four chapters are inter-related.
The sage realizes that King Janaka is on the threshold of realization but not yet there, and guides him by cautioning against mix-up. He cautions that the very question is indicative of the mix-up.
Craze of acquiring wealth comes from a feeling of insecurity and dissatisfaction deep within. It based out of notion that acquisition of wealth will give comfort and security. Unbridled lust in based out of a feeling of dissatisfaction (and other negative feelings), seeking relief albeit temporarily. Both comes from a position of weakness, rather than strength, contrary to popular perception.
When you truly know yourself as truly indestructible pure consciousness, you are unlikely to be interested in these trivia. Conversely, interest in these very questions indicate that the realization is not set. It indicates that shades of ignorance still remains, albeit on the wane, and could work against achieving true realization.
In true realization, you would be clear about what is permanent and what is not. It would be obvious to you that events and objects of desire give neither pain or pleasure by itself . Pain and pleasure are subjective perceptions of your own making. When that subjectivity is removed, you would see yourself as if it were of someone else’s. Therefore, you will not be affected by praise or blame, and you will be neither pleased nor disappointed on acquisition or loss of anything.
Having explained mix-up in the current state of mind, the sage goes on to explain the state in actual realization in Chapter IV – VI.
I have seen similar arguments being misused and misinterpreted by many to justify lethargy and inaction. Novices tend to get influenced by these, just as I myself was in early stages of my career.
These are not arguments which should be used as an excuse to shun responsibilities but rather to perform these in in high spirit, and right spirit.
Note that discussion is between two individuals who have almost all needs met, considering relative difference in needs between a king and a hermit. Sage is beyond self actualization stage and King is seeking sage’s guidance to reach beyond self actualization.
Then, does this not apply to every one of us? To understand that, consider for a moment, why does a mother give birth to a child despite all the pains? Why does parents take the troubles to bring up the child? Is it in expectation of something in return? Are great discoveries of science motivated by rewards and awards? Are all disaster rescue efforts undertaken in lieu of any benefit?
I think, it is much deeper. These represent human effort which are motivated by our inner voice, our true self. These are done irrespective of getting or not getting any rewards, and even in face of discouragements, problems and failures.
These make our lives better. These makes our lives better lived.