In my previous blog, I considered some possible difficulties that various people have with the way the Golden Rule is typically stated. Hopefully, this has helped some readers become more comfortable in understanding the essence of the Rule and contemplating how to apply it in life.
The second part of the blog specifically focused on Felipe's "problem" regarding the dichotomy between each of us being individuals – self and other – while also, together, being all one. We can view ourselves in individuation from one perspective and in unity from another perspective. According to the way our minds naturally work, this sort of challenge requires a shift of perspective, because our minds tend to become uncomfortable and confused when faced with two things that may each seem true, yet also contradictory or mutually exclusive. So, we jump back and forth and wonder how to reconcile any conundrum or paradox we encounter.
Our hearts, however, don't see such things as challenges that require any sort of gymnastics to jump between seemingly incompatible perspectives. Instead, heart vision is all-encompassing and fully able to embrace all truths regardless of any perceived difficulties that the mind might trip over. Mystics often speak of seeing "with the eyes of the heart" and hearing "with the ears of the heart."
So, how much more can our hearts embrace in regard to applying the Golden Rule? How broadly can we manage to embrace treating all that is not-self with respect?
Some years ago, I came up with this statement:
All beings are intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent.
In this statement, "all beings" is not limited to human beings. It embraces all ways of being in the Universe. So, besides human beings, it also includes all other animals, which means our pets are included. And our livestock, all domesticated animals. It further includes all wild animals, the four-legged, the two-legged, the crawling, slithering, swimming, and flying ones. It includes all plants, bacteria, and viruses. All entities that we typically view as "living beings" are fully embraced.
Also embraced, though, are all things that we typically view as not being alive: the rock beings; the water beings; the air beings; the light beings; the fire beings; the spirit beings; the being of Mother Earth. Any and all ways of being in the Universe are intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent. All things we know of, or can know of, have a "life," even if such lives might not fit our arbitrary scientific definition or understanding of life and what qualifies as being alive.
All things that ever exist come into existence in this material realm (are born), they exist in a particular form for some period of time (live their life), then they cease to exist in that form (die). During their existences (their lives) each of these entities exists in relationship with all other things that exist with them.
All of these ways of being in the Universe are included in "all beings" as cohabiting entities (beings) that each of us can strive to embrace and treat with respect. Remember, though, that you can dislike or disapprove of the behaviors of any particular way of being, while still respecting the essential nature, the sacredness of that way of being.
This all-encompassing view does, of course, raise endless questions. What does it mean to treat a cow or pig with respect? Or a deer or mouse? How about a wolf, a shark, a mosquito, or a tick? What about a carrot, an onion, a head of cabbage, or a potato? Or a tree, a mushroom, a rock, a lake or river, the water we drink, the air we breathe? The ground we walk upon or drive over? The fire that warms us or cooks our food or burns the forests and perhaps even our homes? How can we possibly treat everything with respect?
Such considerations are typically debated and expounded upon by philosophers, yet they are very much in the realm of practical things we each deal with in life. One way to deal with them is to simply ignore them, perhaps because they seem unanswerable, unknowable, or simply not worthwhile, not practical. Yet, we act in life according to the decisions we make about such things, whether we do it consciously or unconsciously. Although we may not be able to come up with satisfactory answers to some of these challenging questions, it can be both interesting and helpful to simply be aware of them rather than dismissing them. Somewhere within each of us are our answers, and even if we are unaware of them, we constantly act according to them. They are part of our operative philosophy of life, even if it is unconscious.
There are endless things for us to wonder about and consider, and endless questions for us to answer. Another saying I came up with decades ago is: Question everything, including the questions.
In connection with this, I have found that every answer inspires new questions. Life is an endless learning opportunity.
To consider all such questions in the practical context of the Charter for Compassion and the Golden Rule, you can contemplate things such as:
"Where are my limits for treating others with respect?"
"Where are the edges of my compassion?"
"How deep and broad and open is my awareness of self and of others?"
"What do I truly value in self and in others?"
One reality in considering such things, with an open mind and an open heart, is that as you reach deeper and clearer understandings, you will find that there will always be opportunities to go even further. Whatever your current vision and highest ideals might be at any particular moment on your journey, the potential for your personal evolution will always call you to go deeper, higher, further.
And while you are going, always remember to be respectful and compassionate with yourself.