The Golden Rule – “Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.” The “Golden Rule” was given by Jesus of Nazareth, who used it to summarize the Torah: “Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NCV, see also Luke 6:31).
All Christians grow up with this wonderful rule to live by. But did you know that all of the major religions of the world and even ancient civilizations have a similar phrase to guide them?
Judaism – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I am the L-RD.
Buddhism – “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana -Varga 5:18
Islam – None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.
Hinduism – “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you” Mahabharata 5:1517
Native American – “All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.” Black Elk
Confucianism – “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
Ancient Egyptian – “Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do” The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109-110. Translated by R.B. Parkinson. The original dates to circa 1800 BC and may be the earliest version of the Epic ever written.
I’m guessing if all of these major religions and civilizations had variations of the exact same thought, it must be pretty darned important. I think sometimes God really wants us to get something, so he pounds us over the head with it. He gave this message to every human since the beginning of time. Be nice to each other and nice things will be done for you. I think this fits pretty nicely with creating happiness for yourself. I think that this philosophy is true no matter what language you are using, what religion, what words. You will reap what you sow. If you want to create happiness for yourself, you have to create happiness for other people. If you want peace for yourself, you have to create peace for other people. This is so simple. Why do we mess it up so terribly? We fight with our families, we fight with our neighbors (if we even know who they are), we fight with people who don’t look like us, we fight with people who don’t think like us, we fight with everybody who scares us. Why? Why can’t we just be nice. You don’t have to agree with what other people think. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone in the world. But you do have to be nice. End of story. Put down the pen and close the book. You have to be nice if you want other people to treat you nice. Little kids know this. Why don’t we? Where did we lose this little gem of knowledge? We think everyone has to agree with us and do what we do and think what we think. They don’t. We don’t always do what they want, do we? No. But we want them to be nice to us, so we need to be nice to them.
There is just a lot of craziness in our world today. People are disagreeing with each other just to disagree. Republicans don’t like what Democrats say – Democrats don’t like what republicans say; black people don’t like what white people say, white people don’t like what black people say. It’s crazy. It seems to me that most people today think they are open-minded and loving, but really they are only open-minded and loving if you think like they do and you do what they want you to do. If you stray from that, you are wrong. You are dangerous. Why? This even happens between people who are supposed to love each other. How many times in relationships do people say they “love” each other when what they really mean is “I love you as long as you are doing what I want you to do”. Why can’t we just love and respect each other? I’m not saying you have to agree with each other. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but if you want to be happy and at peace, you have to be nice. We won’t be truly happy until we do. We won’t truly find peace until we treat all people with peace. Including the people who are the complete opposite of us. The people that we shudder just thinking about. Those are the very people we need to treat with kindness, respect, and love. Jesus didn’t just go around hanging out with and talking with the people who thought like he did. He didn’t go around telling people who disagreed with him that they were wrong and then lecture them about how they need to change their ways. He spoke of compassion…. forgiveness….faith…. and love for ALL people. The sinner and saint alike. Heck even the tax collector. As I recall, he had dinner with the most hated man in town – the tax collector. They hung out like old friends. He didn’t start a protest outside the man’s house. He didn’t spend an hour telling him how stupid he was for thinking the way he did. He didn’t even tell him to change his ways. He ate supper with him and treated him nicely. And what did that tax collector do? He paid people back four times what he cheated them. He was nice to the people of Jericho because Jesus was nice to him. Do unto others…..
If we want to be happy, we have to be nice to the people we would really like to hate. I’m going to go one step further. We not only have to act nice on the outside, we have to feel compassion and love for them on the inside. We have to walk the walk and talk the talk people. Holy cow is this hard for me to do. I like nothing more than to gossip and to talk bad about people who I feel threatened by. But, I also want to be happy. So I have to conscientiously work to stop doing this. It’s not easy for me and it won’t be easy for you. But who said life was easy? Do you want to be happy or not? We can do this. Together. We can do this. We have to stop gossiping. We have to stop laughing at people. We have to stop thinking bad thoughts about people. Then the violence will stop. Then the wars will stop. It has to begin with us. If you do that, it will come back to you in ten-fold. You will reap the rewards. Trust me.
Now let’s flip this idea around. The idea is to treat other people the way you would like them to treat you – right? Well how about the idea that you should also treat yourself the way you treat other people? Think about that. Wrap your brain around it for a minute. How many times do we go out of our way for other people while ignoring our own needs? It’s not good for us and it will drain us, not fill us up. You have to learn to respect and love yourself if you want to be truly happy and at peace in your life. We all need to stop thinking that we should be something we aren’t. You are fine just the way you are. Changing who you are won’t make you happy. Accepting who you are will. Boy is that hard to do. I look at my hair and I wish it was different. I look at my body and I wish it was different. I look at my teeth and I wish they were different. Catching on here? I wish I was different. And because of that, I won’t be completely happy. I have to work on that. Do you?
Homework – for the next week, try your best to stop yourself whenever you have a bad thought about someone (or about yourself). If you are a religious person say “They are a truly beautiful child of God”. If you are not a religious person, say “I wish them much peace and love”. Just try it. See what happens. What can it hurt? As you get better at it, try doing this with someone you really dislike or someone who is completely different then you. Let’s see what happens. It can’t hurt. Right?
I also want you to take care of your own needs for the next week. Take time for yourself whether it’s a hot bath or reading your favorite book. Whatever it is, that brings a smile to your face, do it (as long as it’s legal). For one week, I want you to try to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful, inside and out. You may not believe it, but say it. You are a wonderful person, and you deserve much love. Including love from yourself.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know! I really want to hear from you.
Wishing you much peace,