Sunday, January 22, 2012

Treat Others, Treat Myself

Treat others as you would treat yourself.  A simple thought.  Treat others in the way you would want them to treat you.  A powerful thought.  How we treat others is the mirror image of the treatment that will come back to us.  (“What goes around comes around.”)  A highly difficult practice.

There are few of us who desire to be treated poorly, without understanding or compassion.  Unless we are in a period of time or state of mind when we are caught up in our own drama, our own self-abuse.  In these difficult times, we can put ourselves into a trap of negativity which feeds on itself and feeds upon our hopelessness, drawing in all that we futilely protest that we do not want.  So in its own deceptive way, we still choose to treat others in such a way that they will give back to us the negativity that we in fact are wanting in that moment.

But that kind of negativity is not how we are to live our lives.  It is not the environment in which we can emotionally thrive, mature, create, and reach peace and fulfillment.  But as with all things, we have to create the environment for ourselves that we truly desire.  If everything moves in a circle – which it does – we need to send out that which we wish to receive back.  The headlights coming toward us are the other end of the taillights we sent out ahead of us.

It is simply the Golden Rule.  It applies to our close individuals, the casual acquaintances we encounter, the societies and nations which need to coexist.  One presidential candidate proposed the Golden Rule as a new basis of U.S. foreign policy:  “treat other nations as we would like them to treat us.”  It inexplicably brought boos from a debate audience filled with people who would otherwise no doubt describe themselves as “a religious person.”

In virtually all religions the Golden Rule shows up in one form or another.  In his book Toward a True Kinship of Faiths, the Dalai Lama tells of receiving a printed card at an interfaith gathering, on which was written:
·       Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.” (Mahabharata 5:1517)
·       Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman.  This is the entire law; all the rest is commentary.”  (Hillel, in the Talmud for the Sabbath 31a)
·       Zoroastrianism: “That nature alone is good which refrains from doing to another whatsoever is not good for itself.”   (Dadisten-I-dinik 94:5)
·       Buddhism: “Since others too care for their own selves, those who care for themselves should not hurt others.”   (Udanavarga 5:20)
·       Jainism: “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.”   (Sutrakritanga 1.11:33)
·       Daoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”   (Tai-shang kan-ying P’ien)
·       Confucianism: “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself.  Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.”   (Analects 12:2)
·       Christianity: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”   (Matthew 7:12)
·       Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”   (Hadith of al-Nawawi 13)

The Jewish Torah/Old Testament gives us Ten Commandments for ethical and spiritual living.  Similarly, it would worthwhile for each of us to identify the ten specific ways we would like others to treat us.  It is not necessarily an easy list to write.  But our ten ways also tell us ten specific ways we should treat others.  Ten criteria to reflect on before we make decisions or take actions involving others.  I have my list.  What items are on yours?