Friday, 29 January 2021

The Distortion of the Golden Rule

I meant to write about this for a while (since 2014) and the photo I came across below inspired me to finish this blog.

The image lists The Golden Rule stated in different belief systems, yet I do not see them all as the True Golden Rule. Let me explain.

From the above image, we can see the statement of the Golden Rule in earlier teachings such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Judaism are consistent. They are all in the form of
If you do not want to be treated a certain way, do not treat others that way.

According to Wikipedia, ancient Egypt and ancient Greece has similar form of the Golden Rule, that is, the rule is about what not to do to others based on what you do not wish upon yourself. I will call this the original or true Golden Rule.

As you may notice above, in Christianity and Islam, the form of the Golden Rule has changed slightly, to the rule about what you should/could do to others based on what you would wish/allow others do to you. 

This slight change doesn't look significant, but I feel the subtle distortion enabled negative influences throughout the history and is at the root of many stumbling blocks for the progress towards positive orientation. 

Let's take a closer look. Firstly, logically, these two statements are not equivalent. 

Let A be "ways I treat others", and B "ways I allow others to treat me", the original Golden Rule is a logical statement of:
not B => not A
The logical equivalent of above expression is A => B. 
However, the distorted version of the Golden Rule is expressed as 
B => A, it is not the logical equivalent of the original Golden Rule.

The difference is very subtle. The logical equivalent of the original Golden Rule, which is A => B, indicates
ways I treat others => ways I allow others to treat me
while B => A states
ways I allow others to treat me => ways I treat others

Are they really that different? What's the big deal? Through the teaching of the Law of One and my own experience growing up in a communist country, I recognize that the distorted Golden Rule led to further erosion that allowed the violation of other's free will. Ra stated that "free will is paramount" at least 6 times in the Ra Material (36.1270.1172.773.1277.1784.22), and I see that in the current stage human development, the major road block is not the lack of STO intentions, but the disregard of others' free will while pursuing the STO path. In fact, I see the original statements of the Golden Rule in Ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Judaism in form of "not B => not A" to be of paramount importance in terms of respecting other's free will. Even the logical equivalent of "A => B" can be misused in polarizing in the STS direction. 

The distorted Golden Rule is easily further generalized to: what you allowed for yourself, you can allow/expect for others. For example, I see the celibacy requirement for Catholic priests to be a misguided application of the distorted Golden Rule. It is known in many teachings that celibacy is beneficial at certain stages of spiritual development. Imagine someone who found this practice helped them making great progress in spiritual development thus decided to require others in spiritual pursuit to do the same. By the distorted Golden Rule, it is the right thing to do. However, to respect the free will of others, the practice should only be suggested but never made a requirement. 

The distorted Golden Rule is in fact beneficial to the control structure of STS. Consider in the movie Godfather III, Michael Corlenoe was polarized negatively to the point that he's willing to have his own brother killed for the benefit of the organization (or is it just himself?).  Following the distorted Golden Rule, he probably expected his underlings to treat their family members the same. According to Wikipedia, the Golden Rule was expressed in writing this way in Ancient Rome: "treat your inferior as you would wish your superior to treat you."(Lucius Annaeus Seneca (1968). The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters of Seneca. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-00459-5.) Though I see how the author of this statement had good intentions, I can also see how this rule can be used to pass down the control through the pyramid control structure of the STS. 

Growing up in the Communist China, we were taught moralities not that different from the highly regarded Western/Christian values. We were encouraged to view serving others and serving for the greater good as a life long pursuit. We were told stories of highly positive individuals who sacrificed their processions, families, even their own lives for what they perceive as the greater good of others. By the logic of the distorted Golden Rule, if these people can do it, sure they can expect us to do the same. Therefore, we were encouraged to sacrifice self interest for the greater good, which seemed to be the interest of the Party at the time. It's promoted to such an extreme that the end result: people are led to believe that in order to express their kind nature of willing to help/serve others, they must become inhumane, lose their compassion, and become heartless in carrying out actions to serve the so called greater purpose.

Freedom, equality, helping others -- these are the qualities attracted to people of the positive orientation -- and since most of people in the world are of the positive orientation, the few who wants control know they cannot just ask people to do evil. Instead, they disguise the negative path through positive incentives and mislead many. "The positive polarity sees love in all things. The negative polarity is clever." (Ra 68.17). This is why Christianity and Communism are not evil in terms of ideals, yet in practice they are both used to carry out horrific acts against humanity. It is time for the positive polarity to be balanced with more wisdom.

As a side note, I was disappointed to see the mural done by Normal Rockwell, whom I respect highly, for the UN headquarters in New York also contains the distorted Golden Rule from the Bible. I like the painting none the less.