“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”
~ Matthew 7:12
“Be excellent to each other.”
~ Bill S. Preston, Esq.
We all know the Golden Rule, or at least a variation of it. Even those of you raised Pagan have heard it, perhaps as the Wiccan Rede or in one of its other forms. The Golden Rule crosses time and religions and is turning out to be another one of those touchstones in my search for a spiritual path.
This past month I’ve been working my way through a couple of books. First, I devoured the Tao Te Ching. And, I admit, by reading it so quickly I didn’t get as much from it as I could have. But, I really couldn’t help myself; it seemed like each page held a new truth that I needed to read right now!! Not surprisingly, I found our friend the Golden Rule lurking in its pages. In chapter 13, Lao-Tzu writes “Love the world as yourself; then you can care for all things.”
Along with Taoism, I’ve also been reading about Buddhism. It is a very gentle faith; some say it is a philosophy and others say it is a religion, and who am I to disagree with either camp? Versions of the Golden Rule turn up several times in the teachings attributed to the Buddha. In the Udanavarga (5:18), he says “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” All of Buddhism, in some respects, is the Golden Rule. We are all one, it teaches, when we lose the egos that separate us, so it makes sense to treat each other as we would want to be treated.
I know that the Golden Rule will be something that I continue to come across as I explore more religions. It can be found in Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and just about any other religion you can think of. It seems that humanity needs to be reminded that we are all in this together, and one of the ways to make the best of it is to just treat other people well. Some versions of the Golden Rule are harsher than others, like the Wiccan Rede’s injunction to do no harm, while others come across as more understanding and loving, like Sikhism’s “Whom should I despise, since the one Lord made us all.” But all versions provide wise guidance for any spiritual seeker.