Do unto others as you would have them do to you.Matthew 7:12
We behave ourselves into conscious existence. Our thoughts weave out from our actions. We engage ourselves in thought and we engage the world with what he do. Another viewpoint is that maybe our thoughts swirl around our behaviors and both participate in a kind of “life dance” that shapes our character. Either way, what needs to be done in this precious moment? Maybe it’s reading this essay. Or, maybe it’s attending to someone who needs you, who is calling out for your love, for your attention. In doing what needs to be done, we are stepping into the larger world, the seemingly objective world. The world of others, both known and unknown.
This calls for some key questions. Have there been times when your actions in the world were at a distance from those around you? I’m sure there have been. To exist is to be scathe and be scathed. Can you recall a time when you did something to someone that — even though your intentions might have been good — ended up hurting that other person? This could have been a word taken too far or a deliberate act of self-centered retribution. Taking back what mistakes we made is a significant step in the right direction.
Changing our behavior in the right way is even more powerful. In this sense, carefully heeding Christ’s words as he says, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you,” will expand and enrich your consciousness to envelop your thoughts and behavior in a Christ-centered way that could preclude a number of faults that might have happened had you operated from your more selfish perspective.
Do Unto Others: The Morning in Reflection
Morning clouds glisten soft memories on barely awake eyes. Stilling eyes. The night shroud clears to the daylight. You prepare your breakfast. Do you serve yourself first? Do you consider those others around you who might be waiting on your service? If you have children, feed them first. Attend to their needs. Children are the best kind of lesson-makers. They often think from their own limited perspective of self-centered need gratification, though are filled with the abundant love of Christ. They oscillate between self and world, between the larger cosmos of the Eternal Now and the inward desires that rail against them and overpower their behavior. Children teach us how to love better, how to lead better, and how to live better.
Do unto others is a timeless wisdom, a balm for our spiritual wounds. It is a way out of the maelstrom of our selfish indulgences. Sink into the stillness.
Consider the Others Around You
Consider your partner. Does he or she serve you in ways that you have failed to repay? Is there a debt in how they continually provide you with food or clean clothes? How can you be a rock for them to rest upon? Ask yourself how you can embody Christ’s words to “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” This other-centric way of perceiving the world asks that you take the world into account. It asks that you take others into account. And as the Dali Lama said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If you want others to treat you more kindly, do so by treating others more kindly. But do not expect others to follow suit so quickly. Don’t undertake a Christ-centered way of performing life just so you can show (with pride) how filled with grace you are. Please don’t do this.
Instead, take a more humble approach and focus on your own thoughts, your own behavior. Be in the world as you wish others would be in the world. As you turn away from your self-centered desires, you will find yourself wanting to serve more. And if that doesn’t come, don’t worry. Focus on the inner movements of Christ and his grace, a grace that flows through the lesson of doing unto others as you would have them do to you. You will find that the world will bend back to your kindness, to your attention to a more careful way of living. Your shift away from self just might make an impact on a certain stranger that you encounter or on a loved one who suddenly finds that you are behaving differently, thinking differently by how your attitude softens or becomes wiser.
What Needs to be Done? Do Unto Others
I wash the dishes. My children have finished their breakfast. I wipe their mouths, their hands, and let them play. My wife is upstairs. She is preparing herself for the day. Her days are days of service and love. While I will leave soon to undertake a day at the office, she will live to care for our littlest one, and for our two larger children. I listen to the freedom of my children and how they bounce from topic to topic. They engage me in a question. I answer. I become water in how I choose to deal with them in this moment. The disciplinarian in me bends to engage in creative discussions, in mirroring their joy. And their joy echoes off my smile. They feel the slightest difference, are wonders to behold, are treasures to learn from. To love. My rigidity of spirit softens. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. This truth soars around me. I let it dwell. I write this devotional to give back to a life of creativity. To a life of learning.
If you are reading this, please know that I hope that these words bring you a sense of peace in Christ. I hope that these words allow you to consider your own sense of being in the world and allow you to contemplate a greater wisdom, a more profound sense of happiness, and a deep peace that passes all understanding.