The Golden Rule occurs in nearly every culture at some point. I only accidentally stumbled upon this historical reality, but it was an eye opener for me. The Golden Rule is the social rendering of the Law of reciprocity. Realizing that all the major philosophers are teaching a fundamental social law so simple in its structure, but powerful in its reach and clarity, I could relax in my knowledge that there might be a “guiding hand” leading us along our path toward harmony and prosperity. Like the laws of gravity, motion, and energy, we have a Law of Reciprocity too. It guides many aspects of our existence, including our social well-being. This is quite intuitive for me because we are part and parcel of a universe created with clear, precise systems for physical things – including us (humans).
The “Law of Reciprocity,” rendered as the Golden Rule, was “created” with the Big Bang (the birth of the universe) along with all of the rest of the physical laws. As with all physical laws these reciprocal aspects of our social norms and standards would be considered “objective truths” which apply universally to us. Our Golden Rule phrase meets all of the intuitive guiding principles. We have evidence of its existence with our earliest writing. It is universal and neutral. The Golden Rule is not ambiguous, misleading or confusing. A perfect guiding principle, a simple little rule, that I have come to consider the fundamental guiding principle for humanity.
Whether you accept that from an evolutionary perspective–or–a creation, spiritual perspective doesn’t matter much. Our social norms and standards, through time, teach us cooperation is the best practice. It is really an extraordinary occurrence!
The Golden Rule principle maintains that we help others, with the belief that they will return the favor. Without this mindset we will not succeed for long. When our species was young this altruism reigned supreme in our fundamental survival. In our early history we had to help one another just to see the next sunrise. We have moved beyond that now, and grown up as a species. For most of us, now, it is not just about survival. Now it is about how we advance. More sophisticated – more dangerous.
The Golden Rule principle appears among all of the ancient philosophical teachers as previously mentioned. It appears in the Old Testament scriptures, early law codes like those of Moses and Hammurabi. In the reciprocal law codes developed all over the Eastern Hemisphere that generally state that justice is to be equally distributed among all people fairly. When we find a way to apply these law codes we, as a people, are more successful and prosperous. Which means life is better, generally, for everyone. A rising tide raises all boats!
Clearly, we are not equal to one another, physically or mentally for that matter. Some individuals will be more driven than others because their motivations are different. This is exactly the point of our historical teachings. Hammurabi’s law code clearly disapproves of the wealthy taking advantage of the poor. Moses’ code is similar in its requirements that judges be just and not give advantages unfairly. These codes are steeped in reciprocity principles.
Why does that matter today?
How is that important to you or me?
People are not equal in their physical or mental abilities and this will not change. We are the product of our genetics, up-bringing, education and life experiences. And that will not change either. But when it comes to our connection to universal consciousness, we are identical! The Golden Rule principle is part of that perfect consciousness. Therefore, a statement that boils down to us as “Do to others as you would have them do to you” is the perfect proclamation of an immutable, unchangeable universe that deals with a living, physical, dynamic creature.
We vary physically in every possible way—height, weight, skin color, eye color, hair color, male and female, as well as in our ability to reason from just being alive to pure genius. Except for identical twins, no two of us are the same. Yet, a simple statement such as the Golden Rule applies to all of us equally.
The Golden Rule principle is bi-directional. What goes one way must also reciprocate and go the other. Newton’s third law of motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If we speak generally about things like lying, cheating, stealing, or murder, we understand how to apply the Golden Rule. “Right action” becomes quite clear. The Golden Rule also makes it clear that we cannot use another as the means to our selfish end. For instance, we would not be happy about being used as the means to another’s end, so let’s not do this to anyone else.
The “means-to-end” rule all by itself sets the Golden Rule above most standards. Using others as a means to our end doesn’t work for so many reasons. Eventually we run out of unwitting participants to use. Remember, we are attempting to cooperate; that is our purpose. We are communal creatures, in the extreme, and the word gets out even more rapidly now than in the past. Also, as with our story above cooperation creates much greater success for the individual than attempting to use and take advantage of others. This is all very intuitive. We usually learn this at a fairly young age.