Five hundred years before the birth of Christ, Confucius was asked for a rule of practice for one’s life. He answered, “One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct…loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”Confucianism
This basic principle of treating others as you would like to be treated is often called the Golden Rule and it is found in every dominant religion and philosophy. What if we considered it a sacred obligation to honor the inherent dignity of all beings, even when they do not treat us kindly? We all desire to receive mercy when we most need it and we begin by extending this mercy to others.
A Course in Miracles states it this way: When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.
The demands and challenges of daily living can feel like a gravitational pull into unenlightened habits. Let’s not get down on ourselves for missteps. Instead, let’s use our awareness of those missteps as an opportunity to be ever more vigilant in our commitment to extend kindness and compassion to others, beginning with ourselves.
Spiritual teacher, Ram Dass suggested we treat everyone we meet like God in costume. I find life is far less serious business when I adopt this change in perception. And in truth, everyone we meet is God in disguise, for each of us is an individuated expression of our Creator. I pray that love will be the inspiration for my every response to whatever is before me. Experiences come and experiences go. May we all have the peace and serenity of accepting it all and loving what is, trusting the spark of the Divine that expresses through us.
Would you be willing to experiment with Ram Dass’s suggestion to treat everyone you meet like God in costume? How often are you able to extend mercy to strangers? Is it easier to extend mercy to those closest to you or to strangers? How merciful are you toward yourself?