You have probably heard many times that the Golden Rule is the one principle that all religions agree upon. We may universally agree upon it, but we also seem to universally take it for granted, even at times pretty much ignore it, so I thought we should pay attention to it today.
There are almost as many ways of stating it as there are world philosophies and religions, and here are some examples of the many versions of it:
1. Zoroaster, the Persian prophet, said very briefly: "Do as ye would be done by."
2. Confucius living in China about 500 b.c who was sometimes called the world's first great humanist, said, "What you do not want others to do to yourself, do not do to others."
3. Buddha, who taught enlightenment and an eight-fold path of attainment stated it this way: "One should seek for others the happiness one desires for himself."
4. Lao Tze, a special favorite of my son's, was the ancient Chinese philosopher who counseled Confucius in that wise man's youth and he reportedly said: "To those who are good to me, I am good, and to those who are not good to me, I am also good; thus, all together come to be good."
Lao Tze's statement speaks to the point that I wish to make today. I used to think of "Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you," as a rather pleasant, almost social kind of statement. The feeling I used to have about it was like, if we all behave nicely to each other, there won't be any arguments and we can have a happy time together-a sort of "let's all be good little children and play nicely."
I have come to believe, however, that the Golden Rule is actually an active law. I believe it makes things happen, makes people change. I believe that once you know its power, you can build your life upon it and that the circumstances of your life will constantly improve for you.
If you think someone is not going to treat you well, or that they have a grudge against you, stop that thought immediately, and replace it with a thought that casts the person in the role of a good friend and benefactor. Hold only his good in your heart and mind and I believe you will be surprised to find that the person holds only your good in his heart and mind, too. Bring your trust and your good will to every situation in life because we all want others to trust us and we want others to wish only what's the highest and best for us. Always bless every person-wish for him only his highest good. Treat him in your thoughts as you would have him treat you in his.
You may say, but how can I? I don't really like him or I don't think he likes me or "I don't believe as he believes," so wouldn't blessing him be dishonest or hypocritical, at best? If you think that, then remember Lao Tze's statement of the Golden Rule: "I am good to those who are good to me and also to those who are not good to me and thus all together come to be good." What you do is done for the greater good of all, not just the good of this one person. You're leavening the loaf, so to speak. Say inwardly, "I bless you, in fact, I send a shower of blessings to you, as much as you need and extra so that your cup is running over with all that you believe to be good for yourself."
I know that we build our lives--thought by thought and word by word and deed by deed--and that The Golden Rule is the best way to do that because I have been in situations where decisions were being made and I felt I had reason to believe that someone or ones opposed me or my ideas and so I simply sat inwardly blessing them all. Time after time, before that situation ended, I would see my (quote, unquote) "opponents" change their manner so that even the knottiest problems came to a resolution that was acceptable to all. Now since such things began to change for the better in my life after I began this practice, I became convinced that the improvement was a direct result of blessing one and all, just the good old Golden Rule in action.
And if you begin each day by making it a practice to bless everyone you work with and live with, I promise you that you will never again think of the Golden Rule as a polite, passive rule. Situations both at home and at work will straighten themselves out seemingly magically. The Golden Rule is a dynamic problem solver and when we begin to use it actively, our lives and the lives of those around us will change for the better.
So always remember Lao Tse's version of the Golden Rule: "I am good to those who are good to me and also to those who are not good to me and thus all come to be good together."