"I'll be nice to you if you're nice to me first." "How I treat you depends on how you treat me." "I'm not supposed to like you, so I don't have to be nice to you." There's a lot of deep rooted beliefs in those mental statements.
If those sentiments ring familiar, then it's possible that the principle teaching of the Great Master known as Jesus is not grasped, understood, let alone utilized. That principle, known as the Golden Rule, is simply to treat others in the same manner which you would wish to be treated. Those who get it, get it. Those who don't, can't.
One of the profound effects of that teaching is that it is not about other people. It is a formula for personal happiness. The Golden Rule is all about you. Everyone wants to be happy, to feel better in the moment. Some succeed, many don't. Those that don't likely think to themselves "I'll be nice to you IF you are nice to me first." The key point of the teaching is missed. The "action" or energy element is placed on the other person. You "react" to what this other person does, or does not do. And if the other person isn't "nice" to you, then you cannot be "nice" to him. This creates antagonism and a struggle results. Listen to others and note how people describe their daily experience as a struggle. It's not fate, or the gods, or capricious forces causing their struggle, but a deep seated belief that drives their thinking.
The Golden Rule is neutral. It is the Law of Attraction applied to personal happiness. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Works great, unless you think that you are a worthless, no good, S.O. B., who has sinned, and deserves to be punished. It you harbor a belief that you should suffer, then you will attract those who will help you fulfill your belief. That's how it works. Until the belief changes, nothing else can. And, that's why there was (and remains) so much resistance to the Master's teaching. Changing a belief can be very difficult. My favorite quote is from John Maynard Keynes: "When someone convinces me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" If thinking differently (which is what changing belief is) is terrifying, then cognitive dissonance occurs - that miserable state of being when undeniable "facts" challenge entrenched beliefs. Something has to give - either re-write the facts or change belief. Changing facts is a time consuming theatre. Changing one's thinking is often scary (venturing into the unknown, so to speak.) How do you feel? That's a good indicator of how effectively the Golden Rule formula is being practiced. Is there a sense of relief when an attitude is changed?
For the Golden Rule to be effectively applied, the fundamental question must be answered: Who am I and why am I alive? (There are many variations of the question, but you get the gist.) It's important because you cannot treat anyone else better than you treat yourself. If you believe that you are created free and with a desire to be happy, then you convey that state of freedom and pursuit of happiness to others. In return, you attract people and situations that affirm your freedom and happiness. The Golden Rule in action. Yet if the answer is oppressed "I was created to serve the tribe (hive, etc.)" then that is the manner you convey to others - who are fellow servants, suppressing individualism. It takes a lot of effort to suppress innate identity. History recounts the massive efforts to do that by institutions, ruling class, religions, and so forth. Simply, if you can't believe that you deserve or should be happy, then there's no way you can. The Golden Rule will make no sense. You will treat others in the manner you perceive them treating you. Reaction rather than action.
One of the reasons the teaching was so revolutionary is that it presented a way to create a happier life experience as opposed to merely avoiding more suffering and misery. Same coin, two sides. The more dominant "philosophy" of that era was do not do to others what you don't want them to do to you. In effect, don't steal unless you want be stolen from, and so forth. Frankly, not a bad governing approach for a society. There is an enormous shift in consciousness with the "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." One is to reduce/avoid pain and misery. The other is to create more happiness by deliberate thinking. A lot of folks at the time "got it." People still do, to this day.
The "problem" with Jesus' teaching, was that it had no need for any institution or external force, to bring about a better life for the individual. A lot of investment had gone into religion, priesthood, social expectations, family obligations and so forth - a powerful shared belief that a "good" life was possible only by following the rules of others. Ignore and suppress intuition and yield to the herd.
How entrenched is the momentum of the belief that it takes an intercession from someone or something in order for a person to earn, or be worthy, of a good life? Martin Luther had some thoughts on the matter - long after the time of Jesus - when the Church became the only way to salvation or a better life. The whole Protest was for direct personal access to God, via the Bible. No institution or priesthood was necessary. The mass media of the day, the printing press, allowed courageous individuals to get the Bible translated into common language, printed, and made available to the "common man."
It can be hard to imagine, now, what a huge deal that was. So, we can get an idea of the level of angst resulting from the Golden Rule at the time.
What is "wrong" with individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness that so threatens many? Nothing is wrong with it. So, practice the Golden Rule. Use the Magic Word, Ashali, it's a good tool for directing thinking to what is truly desired. You'll feel better. And, isn't that what it's all about?
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