Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Golden Rule

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! So (therefore) whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:7-12).

Roman Catholic theologian and philosopher Hans Küng coined the phrase “Global Ethic” to refer to certain moral principles held in common by all religions. The essence of these principles, he concluded, is the Law of Reciprocity: “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” or, as it’s otherwise known, “The Golden Rule.” Put another way, it is the command to love your neighbor as yourself. Here are some examples

If your eyes be turned towards justice, choose for your neighbor that which you would choose for yourself. (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 64)

A state that is not pleasant or delightful to me must be so for him also; and a state which is not pleasant or delightful for me, how could I inflict that on another? (Samyutta Nikaya, V, 353.35-354.2)

Brahmanism: "This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you". Mahabharata, 5:1517 "

Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.
(Confucius, Analects, 15.24)

Ancient Egyptian:
Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do." (The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, circa 1800 BC)

This is the essence of morality: Do not do to others which if done to you would cause you pain. (Mahabharata, XIII.114.8, V, 1517g)

No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. (Imam Nawawi’s Collection of Forty Sayings of Muhammad, No. 13)

A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. (Sutrakritanga 1.11.33)

Do as you desire goodness for yourself, as you cannot expect tasty fruits if you sow thorny trees. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Slok 23, p. 1379)

Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. (Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien)

That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself.  (Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5”

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor – that is the basic law, all the rest is commentary. (Rabbi Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a)
"And what you hate, do not do to any one." (Tobit 4:15 4

Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:7-12)

It appears that God has placed The Law of Reciprocity into every human heart as a summation of the moral law (as expressed in written law). What then makes Jesus’ version exceptional?

The uniqueness of Jesus’ teaching lies in a conjunction: “Therefore.”  “Therefore” suggests a conclusion based on a premise, the premise being that we have a Father in heaven that wants to give, and give, and give.... “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Therefore...”

God's love and generosity is the motive behind all that we do: We have a loving, generous father who desires the best for us; who set aside his own self-interest to show the full measure of his love. We love because he first loved us. N.T. Wright has written this: “Jesus was neither the first nor the last great moral teacher to offer this so-called ‘Golden Rule’, and it sums up a good deal of his teaching. What distinguishes him from the many others who have said similar things is that underneath the moral lesson is the love of the heavenly father. What should distinguish his followers, but alas frequently doesn’t, is that, knowing this love, they should find themselves able to obey this rule, and the other rules that follow from it, gladly and freely. They should then discover that they are able to reflect God’s love and light into the world” (The New Testament for Everyone).

Furthermore, his love and generosity is the dynamic by which we do everything: God does not promise to give us everything we ask for (an S-Class Mercedes-Benz comes to mind), but he does promise that he will answer every plea for goodness. It will take time to bring our requests to fruition, but he has promised and he cannot lie.

So what do I need today to love my neighbor as myself? Patience? Mercy? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Lenience? I must call up my father and ask him for it. 


No comments:

Hunky-Dory? Life is not always "hunky-dory," as David Bowie and my father would say. Jesus agrees: "I did not come to br...