By Steve Clayton
Perhaps the Beatles knew more than they were letting on when they came out with this song in the early 60s. In at least one earlier news letter I talked about how there are two motivating forces at work in our lives; love and fear. Fear is merely the absence of love and is not real. Yes, it can feel very real to our egos but a lot of things seem real to our egos that are not so. I was reminded of this not too long ago when my wife and I were approached on the street by a very zealous young man concerned about the fate of our souls. Not receiving the reply he expected (he obviously had a script in his mind on how he was to save us) he began quoting scripture like a bingo caller on a slow night; he had said these words so often that somewhere they had lost their meaning for him; if they had ever had any for him. Not in the mood for an argument my wife told him her beliefs and moved on. I, for some reason, felt compelled to talk a bit longer. I told him I believed love was the main force in the universe. He told me I was a little too simple minded, quoting scripture the whole time. I briefly thought of allowing our dog, Tuxedo, whom I had on a leash, to bite the guy but I refrained; processed meat is not good for anyone. Instead I told him fear was clouding his mind as it had been doing to countless people over the ages. He reiterated my state of mind still quoting scripture. I told him I was impressed by the scripture he had memorized but he should concentrate on meaning, not on rote. He then told me only a select few were going to Heaven when they die. I told him I was glad the final choice did not come down to him and moved on.
I do not know if I had any effect on him at all but he did get me thinking. Why was someone who was desperate to save my soul be so adverse to the notion of love as being all powerful, and why was this person so quick to pass judgment on anyone who might think differently from himself? Growing up, how many times did I hear “God is Love” and “Judge not lest ye be judged”? I guess these did not suit the young man at this particular time. If you look at human, history full of strife, war and judgments, it is easy to write off love and focus on the negative fear-based side of humanity. I think it was Hobbes who said “Life is nasty short brutish and hard”, and in many ways it is hard to disagree with him. As history is full of examples of the negative elements found in humanity all over the world, every culture or society having its share of war and discrimination, I began to wonder if there were positive commonalities shared by all these different societies and cultures. Was there an element working behind the scenes that spoke of a higher side of humanity? As fate would have it, didn’t I read an article on the downfall of the Golden Rule and how it was never as golden as we had once been taught? Here was a douse of fear based sophism if I ever saw one. “Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself”. Pretty simple and straight forward, yet we often want to complicate things to somehow increase their importance or validity.
Christianity has The Golden Rule and with a little research I discovered versions of the Golden Rule lurking behind the scenes in many cultures and belief systems. For the sake of expediency I will list a few:
Buddhism: Treat not others in ways that you yourself hurtful.
Islam: Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.
Taoism: Regard your neighbour’s gain as you own gain and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss.
Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain to you.
Sikhism: I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am friend to all.
Confucianism: Do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself.
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary.
Here we have eight versions, eight very positive variations, of the same theme. One could probably find more if he or she was so inclined, but for our purposes I think this is enough. The common thread in all these is treating others with respect and love and, as stated in the last example above, all the rest is commentary. (One could write books on those five words alone.) It is this commentary which often leads us astray of the mark. Our ego’s need to be right muddies the waters. Philosophical, religious or linguistic debates are fine. They can be stimulating. They can expand the mind and one’s perceptions of life or they can just be a good mental exercise. All of these things are good until they prevent you from seeing the forest for the trees, or allow you to throw out the baby with the bath water. What these examples boil down to is love. Love for one’s self and love for others; all else is just commentary. Bring more love into your life for yourself, for others and for the world on whole and you will notice a very positive change in the life you are leading. This may seem like a small simple step but any journey no matter how long begins with one small simple step. Why not begin the journey with a step filled with love rather than fear? Who knows just how far such a journey could take us; who could say? And to start such a journey all you need is love.