The rules are simple. All across all the world in all types of civilization, they can be boiled down to this:
“I ought never to act in except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim (demand) should become Universal Law.” (Kant) In other words, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you or, if what I think should be the rule, was required of me, do I still think it should be the rule?”
This is called Universal Law. You don’t need to teach someone Universal Law, it’s seared on every person’s conscious.
“Don’t do to others what you don’t want to be done to you. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
It’s not my job to make you feel guilty or pound the law into your head, you already know it.
We like to slather on peanut butter and jelly when the reality of existence is bread. It’s pretty straightforward. Even if we expand Universal Law to the Ten Commandments which most people would accept as the Basic rules. It’s still pretty dang simply.
If it’s not on that list, I have no right to tell you that what you are doing or not doing is the “correct” way of doing them. Some Christiany people will say that this is “abusing grace,” and that doing whatever you want to do doesn’t work.
No, doing whatever you want to do doesn’t work. You can’t just follow your intuition and gut and expect to get the results you want. Neither can you ignore your feelings. As for the abusing grace bit? I’m not sure how that works.
How can grace be abused?
If we put limits and boundaries on the behavior of others how are we any different than they? What makes us believe we have the upper hand in deciding someone’s life for them. Is God not big enough? Even if they don’t believe in the same God, is your God big enough to be God? A lot of times, I’d rather be God than letting God be God. I’m so uptight about what I think others should do with their lives, worrying about where they are going and what they are doing and what for?
To avoid dealing with myself.
It’s much easier to “fix” someone else than it is to fix yourself. It’s much easier to focus on what’s wrong in your life than on what’s wrong with my life. What makes this even peachier is if there is a formula I can hold up to your life (or mine); a window through which to frame what we do and who we are. If I have this formula I can say things like, “if I do what is right, I will be blessed,” or “if I don’t sleep around I won’t get STD’s,” or “if I’m a good person, life will not be painful.”
They are all lies and an attempt to bring power back to ourselves – to once again be God. The reality of life is that people who do good – suffer. If you don’t sleep around, you may still get a disease that claims your life. If you love your children, they may still become alcoholics or abusers or users. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
That’s life here
I used to think that A+B=C. If I followed the law, I would see good results and while that is somewhat true – it doesn’t account for the victims of the Holocaust, the many tortured, those who were sliced in two, drawn and quartered, imprisoned for simply being monks. This is not how the world works. It’s not how God works. Unfortunately, I see more of this behavior with people that claim to know God than I do with people that are ambiguous about God. If I make up a world in my head where everything functions like an equation – what do I do when the equation stops working?
If only it were so simple. If only.
Yes, we do good, we choose what is right. We let go of the rest because to hold onto those wisps of magic formula destroy us. They destroy us by giving us the illusion that we are in control, when in fact, we are powerless.
We use these rules to put people into boxes and line them up like ducks. We use them to abuse ourselves. Where is the need for Grace in that? Where is any need for a Higher Power that grants pardon and doesn’t hold our mistakes against us? It eliminates the need for any, and really that’s what we want – to be in control.
Life is a wild wind, it’s a hurricane
If someone tells you they are not in pain or that you can avoid pain by following a secret formula. They are lying. Here’s what works.
Surrendering to the fact that life is what it is. That people die, bad things happen to good people, that there are no guarantees that if you save today tomorrow there will be security or that if you do what is right you will be spared. These are false realities. By surrendering to life as it is by admitting that I am powerless over most of this universe, I ironically gain power. The energy I spent trying to organize life into a box I can spend doing what does matter:
I do not have to prove this, sooner or later, life teaches it to all of us.