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Blog Posts 2023

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Blog Posts 2023

Extended Contemplations on The Golden Rule: “The One Problem” ... Resolved? - Part 1

Charter for Compassion Blog

On April 1, 2023, Felipe posted a blog about The One Problem of the Golden Rule in which he did not actually reveal his perceived problem, but rather invited anyone interested to email him to inquire further, as an opening to further discussion.

In response, I simply emailed him some of my standard thoughts about what most people tend to object to about the Golden Rule. This is what I shared with him (with some very minor editing for this blog):


Dear Felipe,

I'm not sure what you think is "the one problem" with the Golden Rule or the Law of Reciprocity, but I do have a good suspicion.

I am writing to assure you that there is no problem with the Golden Rule; there is only a problem with understanding it. There is no need to create a new rule, a Platinum Rule, as so many advocate; there is only a need to look deeper. None of the selected statements of the Golden Rule from various traditions really capture the complete truth of the rule, they each only hint at some aspect of the rule, and the specific focus of each statement tends to distract one from consideration of what is behind them, which hinders many from arriving at a deeper understanding.

Behind all of the statements from different traditions that, each in their own way, are thought of as representing the Golden Rule, there is the essence of right thought, feeling and action in our relationship with others, yet none of them actually state this essence. Yet, it is in the essence of the rule where we can find clear guidance for all of our actions, actions towards our own selves and actions towards others.

This essence, the essential teaching, is that we should treat everyone with respect. And "everyone" includes self as well as others. Even in the face of actions on the part of another, or one's own self, that one might disapprove of, it is not only possible, but necessary to always respect the inherent essential nature of the being of the other. As the Dalai Lama has said: "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." Kindness is a manifestation of respect, a manifestation of Love. It is also an application of the Golden Rule.

Although behaviors may be disapproved of, it is always possible to respect and love the essence of any person, because we are all, in essence, divine beings, manifestations of Life, manifestations of Spirit, who are worthy of respect. It is also at this essential level of being where we truly are all one, even while we each are individual in the great diversity of our acquired aspects of being: the body, the heart/emotions, the mind.

To treat anyone with respect requires some degree of empathy. It requires being able to efface, to some extent, one's ego, one's personality, one's small self – the acquired, superficial aspects of one's being – and thereby becoming able to open one's heart and mind to the being of another. This means opening one's own self to the essence of one's own being in order to enable a connection with the essence of another. It is not, however, contingent upon the other also being able to efface their ego and to connect with their essential self. In other words, this requires some degree of connection from one's own essential Self towards the essential Self of another, whether or not this is reciprocated. Only through such an approach might one be able to clearly discern the needs of another and to consider how best to provide, in whatever way one can in the moment, for the need of the other or for one's own self. It is vital to understand that treating another with respect never involves doing something to another, but rather always doing something for another. In other words, one should never impose upon another.

You wrote:

"I can't help thinking about the connection between the Golden Rule and Karma as well. The more I give, the more I receive. The kinder I am, the more kindness I receive. The best I give, I receive. It all comes back to us—what goes around comes around!"

While such reciprocity does happen through giving and receiving, and it does not in any way hurt to be aware of this, it becomes a hindrance to think of treating another with respect while also hoping, expecting, or anticipating that one will receive respect in return. Acting in full accordance with the Golden Rule requires simply giving. This is an act of unconditional Love. No strings attached. As soon as hope, expectation or anticipation for any return enters the flow of action, it all deteriorates into a business deal: "I will give you this in exchange for that" – even if there is no overt statement to this effect.

When a gift is given unconditionally, one lets go of it completely. There is no expectation of a return of respect in any way. The other may refuse to accept the gift, ignore the gift, forget or refuse to offer thanks or appreciation, throw the gift away or destroy it, sell the gift or give it to someone else. If any such things happen, the one who gave the gift may feel disappointed, hurt, betrayed, angry – all such feelings are the result of attachment to some expectation of reciprocation connected to the giving of the gift. Any such attachment to reciprocity is an indication that the gift was not given unconditionally and therefore was not given with true respect for the other.

This suggests that the Golden Rule is not really identical to the Law of Reciprocity. In reality, if an action is taken in accord with the Golden Rule, if it is a truly respectful action, an act of unconditional Love, there inevitably will be reciprocity because of that action. In other words, if the Golden Rule is applied, Reciprocity will happen. This is simply the result of Natural Law. The more purely the Golden Rule is applied, the more Reciprocity will happen.

So the question will always be: "What might I be able to give the other that the other needs?" There are countless ways to give another something they need. Richard Moss has said: "The greatest gift we can give another is the purity of our attention." There are countless ways to give another "the purity of our attention. "But what does "purity" mean here? It means giving as an act of unconditional love, untainted by any attachments that might arise in the ego of the giver. It means respectful giving from the essence of one's own Self to the essence of the Self of another. So, this is the high ideal of applying the Golden Rule in one's life. It ain't easy, but no one ever said it would be.

As for your personal consideration of how you would like to be treated, I hope this will help smooth your way towards resolving the complexities that the mind creates and, you will be able to arrive at clarity through realization that you, as your essential Self, simply desire, need and deserve to be treated with respect, as does every other being. No one else need become the center of your universe, you only need to love and respect the other as purely as you are able to do this. May you always be the center of your universe and, if you can stay centered in your essential Self, all of your thoughts, feelings, and actions will arise from this very core of your being as manifestations of Love.


So, that is what I sent off to Felipe, hoping he would find some value in what I had shared. Because he's a busy guy and also wanted to spend some time digesting what I had said, it took a little while before I heard back from him. Consequently, this seems like a good place for you to also take a break. I'll be back next week with the rest of the story. Thank you for reading.

To be continued….

With Love,

Carl Karasti


P.S. Questions and comments are welcome and encouraged, and I will be happy to try to respond, possibly as simple answers or perhaps in the form of a whole blog. 

About Carl: Born, raised, living in far Northern Minnesota, USA. Scientist. Spiritual being, stardust as clay of Earth, imbued with the Great Mystery of Life, but not religious. Immersed in a material experience, on a life-long path of discovery, learning, understanding through both mind and heart. Interested in human behavior, politics, relationships, interconnectons and interdependence, personal evolution, Truth, Love. Spiritual name: Siraj-al-Haqq (Lamp of Truth). Leader of Dances of Universal Peace (Sufi Dancing).