The Golden Rule Explored

The Golden Rule.

In this one phrase we are supposed to get the basis for our moral treatment of each other. In fact, it is a basis for human rights. It’s a powerful message. But most Christians believe it is something said originally by Jesus. This is not the case. Every religion in the world has a similar rule, and we will take a look at some of them.

In the case of Jesus, he would have likely been borrowing from the Talmud, Shabbat 31a. : “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law.” Or perhaps from Leviticus 19:18 “thoushalt love thy neighbour as thyself”

I like the Leviticus version because it can be taken a couple of ways. It can mean to love your neighbour as you love yourself, which is how most people tell me they see it. Or it can simply mean what it says. Love your neighbour as yourself. Love is making another a part of you. If you include others into the circle of what you identify as self, then you empathise with them. To me that empathy is love. So I think the Leviticus version is giving us a mechanism by which to follow the ideal of the golden rule itself: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man.” Or the common Christian version: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You could confuse the two as the same thing but they aren’t. How do you not do what is hateful to you, to others? The answer is: By embracing your fellow man as part of “self”.

I like that idea though I’m not sure the writer of Leviticus had the above in mind.

Of course Christianity has several versions of it: Matthew 7:12 "Therefore 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."

Notice what Matthew says: “for this is the law.” Same words the Talmud, Shabbat 31a says.

Then there is: ." Luke 6:31 : "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."

And of course: The Gospel of Thomas. 6: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise, and don't do what you hate. “ Obviously a reference to the original Jewish version again.

As I said, the Golden rule was around long before Christianity, and long before Judaism. We have records of it in Babylonian. The Zoroastrians have a version. The ancient Egyptians had a golden rule from before 2000 BCE : "Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do." From: The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant.

This one may sound a bit self serving, it may be the translation, or it may be because of its placement in the context of this ancient story, but it has the same effect. It is saying: Do for others, who will in turn do for you. And that is what we expect from this rule. The idea is that if everyone does good toward others, they will in turn be treated with good intentions.

Hinduism and Brahmanism have this to say: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Hinduism is a little more explicit. Don’t do anything to cause pain to others. Judaism hinted at the same thing: Don’t do things to others you consider hateful if done to you.

Islam has this to say on the subject: "None of you truly believes, until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." From: - Forty Hadiths. By Imam Al-Nawawi's. What it is saying is that when you truly believe in god, this will happen to you. You will wish for your brother what you wish for yourself. It is almost the same as do unto others, but not as explicit. It does not say who to consider your brothers, so it could have a limiting interpretation or a broad one depending on the individual reading it. But in Islam, part of the law is belief, so this version is also a directive, as are others that refer to it being the law of god.

Then there are the far Eastern religions:

Jainismsays the same thing Leviticus says, but it is telling us to include all living things as part of self: "In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self." - Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara

The wording here is interesting. It is like a Western style marriage to all living things: (in sickness and in health.) In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we shall regard all creatures as we regard our own self. Very explicitly telling us to include all life in to our selves, not just other humans.

In Baha’i it is: "And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." From - Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.

This one is talking about justice. If you want to be just, want for your neighbour what you expect for yourself. It can be taken to be talking about the issue explicitly from a human rights perspective, but really all of these religions are talking about human rights in their own way. It is interesting though, to see where different cultures chose to put the emphasis of their message. And I’ll talk a little more about that after the last three religions I have examples for.

No list would be complete without these last three religions.

Buddhism says: “A state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?" From - Samyutta NIkaya v. 353

It seems to me that this Buddhist version, and I’m sure there are others, is coming from yet another direction. If it isn’t good for me, how can I justify it being good for another? How can I justify inflicting pain when I do not want it inflicted on me? Though stated in a completely different way, it can be interpreted as being the same message. Do unto others.

Confucianism tells us: "Tse-kung asked, 'Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?' Confucius replied, 'It is the word 'shu' -- reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" Doctrine of the Mean 13.3

Again we have another angle to the story: imposition. Do not impose on others what you do not want imposed on you. If there is one word that sums up the gold rule, it is definitely reciprocity.

Another quote from Confucianism is: "Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence." Mencius VII.A.4 Yet another reason for reciprocity. What do you do if you want to be a good person? Reciprocity.

Zen is one of my favourite religions, only partly because it is atheistic like Confucianism and some other forms of Buddhism and Taoism, in that that they worship no gods. But also because they have a great moral outlook even without gods.

Zen tells stories, and so you get very few small quotes to illustrate a point. But in this one story you will see that Zen too holds the Golden Rule dear. This is a story about a Zen Master named Ryokan. He lived in abject poverty as a hermit in Japan around, I think, 1000 AD.

“One evening a thief crawled through the window though the door, as always, was unlocked. But this was unbeknownst to the robber. When he got in he discovered that there was absolutely nothing to steal in the hut. At this point Ryokan returned from his walk and caught the thief searching the room.

He approached the thief and warmly shook his hand. The thief was surprised. Ryokan said: "You must have come a long way to visit me, and you shouldn't leave without being the better for it." He looked around the empty room, but he couldn't find anything to give him. So he took off his only robe and handed it to the theif. "Please, take this as a gift," Ryokan said.

The thief was too astonished to say anything. But he took the robe and ran away into the night, no doubt thinking, “What a fool.”

Ryokan sat naked and gazed at the full moon through the window. "Poor fellow," he thought, "I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon."

Of course what Ryokan meant was that he wished he could have given the robber his serenity of mind. Do unto others.

Like Tse-kung from our story about Confucius, we are looking for a one word or one phrase way to describe how to be moral human beings. Every culture has one and every culture seems to come to it from a slightly different perspective. There are difficulties with all of them being the ultimate Golden rule. Each has a piece of the puzzle but each has to be interpreted beyond the scope of their texts to get the full meaning.

As an example of the problems I am talking about: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is great, if you both want the same thing. If the other person doesn’t like how you would like to be treated, then you could be in trouble.

If you try to do to others what they would like you to do to them... well you can see that might not work out all the time either. Give someone a yard and they often want a mile. But still, The Dalai Lama gave us a golden rule in a rather different way. He said: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

Mahatma Gandhi said it this way: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

So we have many elements to this idea of the golden rule. We have it coming from the angle of love, benevolence, change, kindness, imposition, cruelty, justice, theft, and pain. All give us the “ethic of reciprocity.”

All of the elements in our list boil down to one category. Harm. If you do not want harm done to you, don’t harm others. As Gandhi said: “You must be the change.”

Albert Einstein said: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” It seems to me that one word answers are a little too simple.

Which brings me to the one Golden Rule that almost says it all in the simplest of terms: The Pagan version of the Golden Rule. It simply states: Do no harm. Pretty much the same as what doctors say when taking the Hippocratic Oath: What could be simpler and yet harder to follow? What could more exactly encompass all the golden rules from all over the word?

Yet... how can one ensure one does no harm? It is said: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” What we think is benevolent may turn out not to be for some unforeseen reason, But still, intent is all we have. Evil is an act of intent, not of accident. And it is intent that all of the Golden Rules of the world are all about.

So my only addition to the Pagan version of the Golden Rule is intent. Let it be hereby proposed that the universal Golden Rule for everyone, from all religions, and all beliefs or lack thereof be: Do no intentional harm.

The question is: Why does everyone have a golden rule? Some believe in god. Some believe in gods. Some have no gods giving them directives at all. Albert Einstein said: (even) “Without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.”

The reason from my perspective is simple. We are all people with the same needs and desires. We all want to love and to be loved. We all want to be included in the lives of others and include them in our life. We are all connected as the human race, and through evolution to all living creatures. Not to mention, through energy/matter to everything in the universe.

Evolution taught us safety in numbers. But philosophy and human observation taught us that including the feared strangers as friends, made them suddenly no longer feared and no longer strangers. Today the world is getting smaller as countries include more and more strangers and make them friends. There are cultural clashes, naturally. But as Sting said in one of his songs: “The Russians love their children too.” We are not different in our basic needs or our desires.

So why is it still so hard for all religions to follow this rule? The answer is a mixed bag of fear and greed. But fear not. 5000 years is a drop in the bucket for evolution, and mankind has only just moved out of the trees. Our golden rules have been an invaluable aid in bringing us this far. Gain optimism from the fact that all humans, be they theist or atheist will not allow that moral compass to pass from us. (or should it be a moral GPS now?) It’s part of what it is to be human.

As Einstein said:I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern, with no superhuman authority behind it.”

So as Pagans would say: Love each other. And above all, do no intentional harm.

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35 comments

Chasuk 5 years ago

Great hub, Slarty. Thank you.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you.


qwark profile image

qwark 5 years ago

G'mornin'Slarty:

Contemporary man is a paradox.

He is capable of incontestably high degrees of both progress and destruction.

He has been giving "lip-service" to loving each other and doing no harm for many millenia yet his history is rife with the death and destruction of his own kind.

His ability to survive and become sovereign over all life on earth is proof that he is an infinitely crafty creature able to use guile to insure his continuing existence and he is ignorantly fearful of only 2 things i.e. his mortality and his own kind!

He has no "natural" enemies but himself and he is busy, every moment of his existence, researching and producing more efficient methods to kill his own kind with little or no compunction.

To visualize "modern man" being able to sublimate his predatory programming to becoming a more social, civil and "loving" creature, in the near future, is idealism at it's zenith.

You did an excellent job of presenting your thoughts in this "hub."

The problem with it, as I see it, is that the intent: "cant' we all just get along," is impossible.

Qwark


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

"He has been giving "lip-service" to loving each other and doing no harm for many millenia yet his history is rife with the death and destruction of his own kind."

Perhaps what I failed to add to the hub was the the fact that the golden rule is not so much for the individual. Yes, it is individuals who have to accept and carry it out, but it is for the species.

It doesn't so much matter that individuals do not follow this rule. That it exists provides a balance or safety valve.

There will probably always be people who act immorally. But there are always far more people who don't, and it has become less and less of a cultural norm throughout the ages.

I understand when someone says that the church has had 2000 years to get people to act in a moral way, but it's own priests can't. They failed.

But that's the point. We as a society see it as wrong, and that's what is different from 5000 years ago. Back then they had slaves and in battle often killed every man woman and child so no one would grow up to, or be left to seek revenge.

We find genocide repugnant now. We find slavery repugnant. We are actually more moral in theory socially than we ever were. We have more civil rights. We have codes of human rights that are internationally recognized now.

So we are more moral than the Christian god ever asked us to be or was itself. Not as individuals, but as a whole.

Now that doesn't mean society is moral. There are a hell of a lot of things tragically wrong with it. But it is progressing. As we progress we find new moral challenges to sift through and discuss that we never knew existed.

But as long as we try to get our kids and ourselves to live by a moral code, we have a chance to progress much farther over time.

So it doesn't mater to me that individuals don't measure up. The society through the majority tries to. That's what's important. And it's the same all over the world. Not identical, of course. But the same pattern. We don't all have to get along as long as the majority of us can, regardless of origin, beliefs, or lack of beliefs that majority is made up of. All of us benefit from a personal moral code.

What I am saying is it can be as simple as do no intentional harm. Little else is required. And that's why we have laws against violence to other people. No one likes having violence done to them.

It's a social contract, really. I promise not to hurt you if you promise not to hurt me. If either of us break the contract, the whole social structure gets involved to remedy the issue. Sometimes with success and sometimes after the fact. But the point is that there is a mechanism there in place.

But the bottom line is as I said earlier. It's all about survival of the species not the specific individual.


qwark profile image

qwark 5 years ago

Slarty:

The MAJORITY of we human creatures live from hand to mouth.

The Corrupt and egomaniacal MINORITY RULES the MAJORITY.

To think that our species has advanced to this level of dominance on this planet by wanting to be nice and loving is pure inanity.

We are here because we are the most dangerous form of life this planet has produced to date.

I agree with you that what you desire of the masses i.e. "love and do no harm," is what would secure our survival, BUT, that is contrary to our 4+ million yrs of genetic programming. We ARE, INHERENTLY, "natural-born-killers."

Along with that FACT is the FACT that we are as ignorant as babes in the crib. Ignorance is the precursor of fear.

Fear can only be overcome by knowledge.

Universal education is an impossibility.

Man has has been killing man long before his history began to be recorded.

If man could overcome his fear of himself and come together in concert as human brothers, his success as a species would be insured. But that too is an impossibility.

Religion is a result of fear caused by ignorance.

The biblical god thing of the bible flies into psychotic rages and demands the murder of innocent men, women, children, the unborn, their pets and flocks!

This god thing does not provide an example, to believers in it, of "love. peace and do no harm!"

We give "lip service" to genocide being "repugnant," yet have been involved in the practice far beyond recorded evidence.

The god thing of the bible, alledgedly, created we humans and then got pissed because of the sinfullness of man and killed just about everything.

This is an example of 'love, peace and do no harm?" c'mon!

We "humans" are irrefutably mean!

As we exist, there is no possibility that man will change his ways before he creates a catastrophe that will reduce his numbers and regress him to the stone age.

Nice chatting with ya Slarty. :-)

Qwark


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Well I agree with you. We are the most dangerous creature on the planet We are mean and that's how to where we are. But as I said, we have been evolving. And part of that evolution is toward a greater individual good through a greater social good. And lip service or not is irrelevant. The idea of morality is out there in society. You can't put Pandora back in the box. Once a seed is planted it grows. And cause and effect demand morality. You said so yourself: "As we exist, there is no possibility that man will change his ways before he creates a catastrophe that will reduce his numbers and regress him to the stone age."

It's cause and effect that will force change or kill us if we don't. Cause and effect is no different than the Christian god. It's a task master and if you don't play by the rules it slaps you down.

Morality is not just an ideal fuzzy concept of humanity, it is demanded by nature. We have been evolving and since the Greeks we have been trying to be better than we are.

That too is our nature.

Good to talk to you too. ;)


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Well I agree with you. We are the most dangerous creature on the planet We are mean and that's how we got to where we are. But as I said, we have been evolving. And part of that evolution is toward a greater individual good through a greater social good. And lip service or not is irrelevant. The idea of morality is out there in society. You can't put Pandora back in the box. Once a seed is planted it grows. And cause and effect demands morality. You said so yourself: "As we exist, there is no possibility that man will change his ways before he creates a catastrophe that will reduce his numbers and regress him to the stone age."

It's cause and effect that will force change or kill us if we don't. Cause and effect is no different than the Christian god. That god was modeled after it. It's a task master and if you don't play by the rules it slaps you down.

Morality is not just an ideal fuzzy concept of humanity, it is demanded by nature. We have been evolving, and since the Greeks we have been trying to be better than we are.

That too is our nature.

Good to talk to you too. ;)


qwark profile image

qwark 5 years ago

Hi Slarty:

Morality is cultural.

The morality "Gaia" demands, is simply "balance."

The "advanced" facet of humanity has divorced itself from the "natural."

I, respectfully, disagreee with you that man has been trying to become a more "moral" creature. He has become more fearful, deadly and greed oriented.

IF "morality" is creating more efficient ways to eliminate himself, then he is involved in morality to the extreme and that "morality," aligned with ignorance, fear and burgeoning population growth, can only result in one conclusion: the self fulfilling concept of armageddon.

As we exist Slarty, I can predict no outcome but massive tragedy.

Maybe in our lifetime.

I could get much deeper into your comment and challenge your thought: "... trying to be better than we are.," but I'll leave that for another time.

Qwark


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

Hi,

Great hub and very unusal in that it appeals to believers and non-believers alike. Fascinating.


Sarah Anderson profile image

Sarah Anderson 5 years ago from Wallingford, CT

The only instance in which "Do unto others as you would like done unto you" is if the cultural or personal differences don't mesh, such as greetings, expressions, or displays of affection. In those cases, which is correct?


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

Great hub with a great message. A man after my own heart!

Thank you.


slock62 profile image

slock62 5 years ago from Florida

You are looking at this from basically one perspective. As I see it you are discussing how we are to treat each other.

What is necessary to look at and in my opinion the crux of the problem is one of, in following the golden rule as it is usually taken we are doing exactly as it requires. We are treating other as we believe we deserve to be treated.

It is impossible to do otherwise. If one possesses a basic dislike for themself and believe that they somehow deserve to be treated badly, how can one possibly see anyone else as deserving better threatment.

We cannot do other than treat others as we feel we deserve to be treated.

This is innate in our oneness as a species. We all feel somehow undeserving and cause life to be suffering. It is that suffering that we share because we cannot at that moment do otherwise.

The only chance we have of doing otherwise is to become conscious of ourselves and our weaknesses without placing judgement. This when accepted eliminates the need for suffering and we therefore act lovingly toward ourselves and in turn toward others.


lyndapringle profile image

lyndapringle 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

This is such a hard one to follow at times. It's easy enough to do no harm and to follow the golden rule when people treat you with kindness and love but not so easy when those same people then betray or abuse you. It takes a lot of mental discipline to not want payback or revenge when feeling aggrieved. However, just the need for payback means that the abuser has managed what he wanted - to get a reaction, to give himself self-importance. How much better it would be to maintain mental serenity and just ease those people out of one's lives without doing harm. Ultimately, those people would not be worth wasting two seconds of one's time; nor would they be worth the anger.

The golden rule is why I am conflicted as to the death penalty. It is abhorrent that the state has the power to murder its citizens although those who are executed are truly monstruous. However, I do not feel comfortable living in a society that would do such harm, even to the most evil of its citizens. However, the death penalty does bring solace to the victims' families so, not having ever had a close friend or family member murdered, I will step out of forming a definite opinion on the matter other than to say that it definitely does not follow the golden rule.


Rafini profile image

Rafini 5 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

Interesting hub. I just finished writing a Philosophy paper on the Golden Rule (Utilitarianism, really) and come to this conclusion: The Golden Rule encourages mutual respect. Nice to see the Golden Rule exists in so many cultures - wonder why it's so difficult for many to achieve....


skye2day profile image

skye2day 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Starty Have you ever read the word of God? You are way off of base with your evolution and creation. I am shocked that you wrote this based on what truth? Whos truth? Just curios.

There is one GOD. You are right about one thing there is no way man can change his own selfish self seeking sinful ways. That is why Jesus Christ came to save the world from sin. He died on the Cross at Calvary so we could be forgiven and cleansed from sin by His Blood shed for us. When we know Jesus we desire to be more holy. He is the potter we are the clay.

I you do not believe in Jesus Christ He too will deny those eternal life in the light. There is no stone age at the end of times. You return to where you came from The Father God. He is the final judge. There is heaven or hell.

Many Blessings. I do not know where you got your facts, sorry. Best of Luck on your journey. Hope you live out the golden rule. Love your brother as yourself. The creator God is, was and always He is the creator. He is Love, He is the way truth and Life. Jesus Christ went to the Cross for His creation.It is a choice to be a Child of God or not.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Seeker7

Thank you.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Sarah Anderson

That's the problem, which why a: Do no intentional harm, is a better over all rule.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Spirit Whisperer

Thank you.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

slock62

I agree with you. We can't do anything else, which is counter intuitive. Good going.

Your post illustrates why as a golden rule, do unto others doesn't always do what it intends. Or in fact why people think others are not following it. If you do not find yourself worthy of love or respect, you often don't treat others as if they are. You are doing unto others as you expect them to do to you, but it misses the intent. Again, that's why I think: do no intentional harm, is better as the golden rule of morality.


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago

Fascinating. Interesting comparison.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

lyndapringle

I am of two minds on the death penalty as well. I can see both sides. The victims and society have a right to see that a person who has murdered never gets a chance to do it again. It's just natural law.

However, I think the death penalty is used way too often and it is not a deterrent. It is often used to save money on long term incarceration, and as you say, as revenge. I'm not sure the government getting revenge for some one else is exactly the kind of society we want.

If it is revenge we want then we should allow the victims to claim it. That sounds like it could be brutal at times but an eye for eye is a brutal philosophy.

If a government is going to apply rule of law, revenge should not enter in to it. They are there to remove threats from society. There is no reason, however, that a life sentence can't mean life in certain cases where an offender has repeated a crime like murder, or is found to be a serial killer, child killer, contract killer, etc.

If you commit those kinds of crimes as opposed to a crime of passion or in the heat of the moment, you should expect to have forfeited, for ever, your right to walk the streets a free person.

I see from your hubs you live in Texas. I don't have to think about this too much living in Canada. We have no death penalty here. But we do have a few people who will never again see the light of day from outside a prison.

I'll tell you where I think I stand on this issue. I am all for self defense or on the spot revenge killing of someone who is threatening your or your loved one's life.

But I am not in favor of revenge killings performed by the state on behalf of it's people. If murder is wrong between individuals, then it is wrong for the state as well. Two wrongs do not make a right.

But in a strange way, if you are a real threat to society in the manner we have been speaking of, then you have done to others what you expect them to do to you if you are caught. If the state then obliges you, it proves you right. If not, it sets a better example for all.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Rafini

I think it does foster respect. But it also encourages empathy. Empathy takes a lot of conscious effort for some and if we have to have it for everyone it becomes an impossible daunting task.

This is why we choose people to universally pour out empathy to. Princes Diana, for instance, was a focal point for the world's outpouring of empathy. Why doesn't everyone feel the same way anyone else dies? Why pick celebrity to mourn for? Not because they have done anything earth shattering, but because they are figures a mass audience relates to even though they don't really know these people at all.

Yet people feel they know them due to their celebrity, and so can mourn and empathize. If a person is a complete stranger, it is much harder to empathize with them for obvious reasons. And again were we to try to have that same empathy for everyone it would overwhelm us with grief every day of our lives. The fact that we don't do that is a safety mechanism. We have to be somewhat desensitized to stay sane.

There is also fear greed and stupidity, of course. There is never one factor in these situations. There are always a set of variables to be considered for each case in point.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

skye2day

I assume you understand we will have to agree to disagree? ;) But thanks for you comments.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Ingenira

Thank you.


chrisand profile image

chrisand 5 years ago

I really enjoyed this essay on the golden rule and the perspective you gave each viewpoint. It's certainly food for thought


Sarah Anderson profile image

Sarah Anderson 5 years ago from Wallingford, CT

You're right about that, of course, Slarty. Unfortunately, in my experience it's unintentional harm that's done the most damage to interpersonal relationships.


ART 5 years ago

Slarty, that was an interesting read. I commend you for tackling such a controversial topic, religion. I am a fairly religous person and somewhat spiritual, so I really enjoyed reading this. Take care and much love, harmony and peace vibes thought your way. Good job on this one. Thank you for hubbing it. Artin2010


Rafini profile image

Rafini 5 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

You have an interesting view, slarty.

I think the most important aspect is for everyone to realize that what works for one may not work for another. What you call empathy I may call over-emotional. What I call empathy you may see as indifference. Can both be right while neither are wrong?


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

Wonderful hub. This world would be such a better place if more people lived by the "golden rule". All we can do is take of our little part of it. Voted up!


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Sarah Anderson

I can understand that. The idea is to try to be conscious of the consequences of our actions. But we can't know all the consequences because there is no crystal ball for us to use. Therefore it's all about aiming for the best we can do. Very often people sense that what they are about to do may not be the best thing, but do it anyway, for what ever reasons. Often there are conflicting circumstance and a "better of two evils" scenario to work out.

Like I said, intent is all that really counts. It's all we really have,


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

ART

Thanks for the kind comments. I wish you well too.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Rafini

I agree with you. There are degrees of empathy and everyone has different conditioning and genetic predispositions. It isn't even a question of right or wrong. We have the tools we have and work with them. Some find overt emotion a sign of weakness. Some find it a strength. It is what it is relative to the individual.

Just as we see in all the various versions of the golden rule, every culture comes at it from a different perspective. But they all agree on one thing. What ever you think would be wrong or harmful if done to you, don't do it to others.

Now, I want to point out that I do not see different perspectives as different realities. There is one reality and everyone has different perspectives on it. Are all of those perspectives equal? No. Most are full of bias we don't even know we have, as well as misinformation, misinterpretation, etc.

So the idea is not that there is a universal perspective we all have to come to. I don't think that's possible. Therefore, I have to come back to the idea of honest intent being the best we can do. Do no intentional harm, as that applies to you and your predispositions and conditioning.


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Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

Sinea Pies

Thank you. Yes it would be nice if everyone at least put in a good effort, wouldn't it?


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Some beautiful observations about this most universal of ideas. Thank you, Slarty!

I think the idea of reciprocity sums up the understanding of most on these ideals, but there seems to be more.

The Zen Master, Ryokan, may have wished for the "poor fellow" his own serenity, but there seems to have been more. He may also have wished to give the literal moon, for that is the depth of his own spirit of generosity--an infinite fountain of generosity. Just as Buddha apparently did in one of the myths, when he laid himself down in a prior life so the starving tiger cubs would have something to eat.

Perhaps what is behind this Golden Rule in all its "incarnations" is the idea of humility, for in that ultimate giving is a brand of heroism and selflessness which sheds the source of all evil--ego.

Albert Einstein was wiser than most people realize, but also possessed more humility than many have yet appreciated. We are all connected, yes, but not just because we possess Homo sapiens bodies. We all possess star stuff in our bones and blood. But there seems to be more.

The continuity of physical reality comes with mixed blessings. It gives us the fabric of reality and allows us to have memory, to investigate, to move and to gather resources. Logic is built on such continuity and serves us well for building civilization. But being tied to continuity and logic also has a down side. The action-reaction "reciprocity" of revenge is also a potent force in our reality. The Golden Rule ameliorates this force. This rule leads to a more powerful force--forgiveness.

There is a side to the Golden Rule which steps beyond continuity. Things like forgiveness break with continuity so that we can be kind to one another and forget the past, perceived injustices. This kind of discontinuity rises above our baser selves--our egos--and allows us to become more than cogs in the machine of physical reality.


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Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

lone77star

You made some great observations here. Thanks for commenting. I think in principal I agree with all of them. I may explain it in slightly different terms but we are definitely in agreement.

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