Several years ago while reading The Mindful Woman, a thoughtful book written by Sue Patton Thoele, I came across a meditation on the Golden Rule that both struck and stayed with me. The following is an excerpt from that book.
Doing unto Others
Because it expresses ageless wisdom regarding living a good life, the Golden Rule is taught across the world’s religions. Here are some examples:
Christianity: In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you. (Jesus)
Buddhism: Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (Buddha)
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it. (Hillel)
Hinduism: Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you. (Mahábhárata)
Islam: Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself. (The Prophet Muhammad)
Sufism: The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If you haven’t the will to gladden someone’s heart, then at least beware lest you hurt someone’s heart, for that is our path. (Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh)
Native American Spirituality: All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. (Black Elk)
Living the Golden Rule philosophy is easier when you are present to other beings, the earth, yourself, and the moment. Conscious, aware presence to anything deepens our understanding of it. Understanding opens our hearts. Acting from the center of our hearts promotes both personal and global peace. Practiced faithfully, the Golden Rule is the only guideline we need for leading a compassionately mindful life.
Stop for a moment and just imagine the impact it would have if every single one of us throughout the world took the spirit of these guidelines to heart and put them into practice in our day-to-day lives.
Apart from the obvious changes it could bring to our encounters with others in our immediate circles, think of how governments might be influenced to make different policy decisions… how church members’ responses to people outside their walls, both physical and ideological, might be transformed… how peace might be brought to relationships between warring countries.
I know it all sounds rather simplistic, and maybe even a bit preachy… but couldn’t we just give it a try?
What do you think?
(Updated from original post in November, 2009.)