My life, like so many others, has been directly and distinctly impacted by religion. Growing up Jewish I remember feeling the off-ness to so much that was presented to me, though more often than not it seemed a case of the wisdom being lost in translation. In studying other religions and looking for the patterns I have realized that there is a lot of beauty and sense to the core of what is usually trying to be conveyed. The transition from sense to control happens in the human practice rather than spiritual center.
In school we were taught a very popular story, which, having forgotten it for years, the details elude me. The basics are as follows…
A man goes to a highly regarded Rabbi (teacher) and says “Rabbi, tell the whole of the torah (bible) standing on one leg.”
This is actually quite funny because in this man’s bluntness he is pointing out a tendency to drone on and even be over analytical. It is, though, rather a good question. If the bible is essentially a guide to living a good life then what is its concentrated core?
The Rabbi complies and on one leg responds “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”.
It seems simple enough and at first glance appears to be good advice, though hearing this as a student in school I could not articulate why it bothered me. In the basic presentation of this life advice we are being told to do good deeds, to live a righteous life of caring for others as we care for ourselves. But how does this then take into account people who are in a place of pain?
None of us act out of perfect health all the time and have experienced, to some degree, self harm varying from self cutting and addictions to the occasional stress eating or binge drinking. If we are willing to hurt ourselves then by the logic of the advice above we are willing to hurt others.
And there, hidden in the glossed over pains of the human experience, is the seed of wisdom. The saying can be further understood as a precision laser pointing to our own personal power and hence responsibility for our own lives.
We live in an attraction based universe. We live lives of our own creation. We are therefore far more powerful than we have collectively and habitually realized. In this world of our creation it is easy to see that the external realm which we call reality is actually a reflection of what is occurring internally. I can easily speak cruelly to someone if I am extremely self deprecating in my own mental chatter. I can excuse the physical punishment of a child if privately I am practicing self flagellation for my sins. I can seek out the violence of fighting if I am trying to feel pain and escape constant emotional distress. If people can only move from their current states of understanding then in the above mindsets the advice to just do good is like telling a poor person to just be wealthy, it has no practical application.
How can one expand their current place of understanding to create more deliberately?
A potential answer is in using those around you as sounding boards. How you treat those around you is a clear mirror of what you believe about your self. The wisdom is not simply to do good deeds and never falter, but rather to remember that how you treat others is a reflection of the level of love you have for yourself.
In your treatment of others, and your external environment as a whole, is an easy measurable guide to see what you may want tweaking or tuning within. It is a plain and simple call back to your own power of creation. It is about your own internal set point and not others. It is, frankly, the biblical version of the modern saying you do you.
“Do unto other as YOU would have DOne unto YOU.”
You Do You- Watercolor / Digital Collage