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Seeds of Light Foundation

The Golden Rule and You!

When I was small, my grandmother told me there was only one main rule in life upon which all others rested. Then she looked me in the eye and with quiet conviction pronounced;

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

It is with delight that I discovered over the years that this basic spiritual law can be found at the heart of many religious and spiritual teachings. In the Bible, it reads "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Mathew 7:12) In the Talmud, we find "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary." (Shabbat 31).

For Hindus it reads: "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." (Mahabharata 5, 1517). For Buddhists: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udana Varga 5, 18) To Confucians: "Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have done unto you." (Analects 15, 23). Taoists: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." ( T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien ). Zoroastrians: "That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself." (Dadistan-I-dinik 94). Muslims: "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." (Sunnah).

This golden rule is truly a unifying global value. Go anywhere in the world, and you are likely to be in the company of people who at least try to live by it. It's a comforting thought! This value is perhaps that which makes humans "humane;" we have a concept of right and wrong, and struggle to figure out and do what is right not just for ourselves, but for others.

It is the very foundation of compassion.

So, is this universal Golden Rule the heart of what is "right?" Why should we do unto others as we'd have done to us? At some deep and true level, it may be that there is no "other." Perhaps what we do to others, we are in essence doing to ourselves.

As Albert Einstein wrote: "A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest &endash; a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." (Albert Einstein: Ideas and Opinions, 1954).

As we become increasingly aware of the unity underlying all life, and begin to consciously weigh and choose our thoughts and actions with compassion and appreciation for other living creatures, we eventually hit barriers of our own construction. This is where we have banished our own selves from the Garden of Eden, where we have judged ourselves less than perfect, less than divine. If we treat others as we treat ourselves, many of us may not act with the greatest love, compassion, patience or tenderness.

At the heart of spiritual seeking is a desire to connect with something greater; to uplift humanity, be of service to others, have a positive impact on this delicious and inexplicable world. I suggest that we can only lift another up to the level to which we ourselves have climbed. To the degree that we have come to accept who we truly are deep down, only to that degree will we be able to love and accept another for who they really are. To the degree that we are able to be kind and gentle with ourselves, to this degree will we be able to be kind and patient with others.

As we grow in love and understanding of our own hearts, we clear some of the brambles away from the path back to the Garden for all living creatures. The conscious spiritual path has at its heart both the goal and the need to recognize our own divinity, to honor our true feelings and beliefs, to love the essence of who we are now, that we may see the divinity in ALL, that we may deeply know love.

"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." - I Corinthians 13.


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