Monday, July 29, 2013

What Happened to the Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule is called the golden rule because it has its origin in many different cultures and is the basis of one of the oldest and most powerful formulations of moral duty.  This moral maxim which is also called the ‘Law of Reciprocity” is based on the idea of mutual interest and has its roots and builds a common thread through all of the major religions, and especially the Abrahamic teachings of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Now, I am asking myself, can’t we just put away all of politics and bring together the children of God under their one True Parents?

I watched a short video on TED by Karen Armstrong  who defends the Golden Rule for various reasons.  She asks some very simple questions: will dogmas divide us? Or will it unite us for the common good?  She reviews the catalysts that can drive the world's faiths to rediscover the Golden Rule.   She is a religious historian and has done extensive research in all religions.  Here is her video:

“People want to be right instead compassioned.”
~ Karen Armstrong

I believe that the Golden Rule is a deep source of morality.  It takes us beyond our own self-centeredness and challenges us to be compassioned, be aware of other’s needs and by applying it, helps us to integrate with people who are different from us.  It is the foundation of all existence: Give and Take (Receive).  Nothing can occur without that exchange, in fact, all of creation happens on that circular swap.  From the very give-and-take within the atom to the very complex orbits of the planets, the whole universe maintains its balance of energy that way.  It is one of those natural laws we could not live without.  Therefore, even if we don’t belief in it or try to deny the principle, it is challenging us to our very core. 

In the Western World we refer to it because of the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
~Matthew 7:12

But the golden rule has been mentioned long before Jesus in other cultures, here are some quotes from other religions and cultures in alphabetical order:

“Even looking at contemporary morals and social ethics, a certain principle applies. It is the standard that we live for the sake of others and not insist that others live for us."
 ~ Sun Myung Moon (71:125, April 29, 1974)

According to the universal law, a subject partner should care for its object partner as parents care for their children or teachers for their students. However, people in the fallen world instead try to use others in self-centered ways. That is why they perish. Through their good example, religious people should educate others in Heaven’s principle that we should place the happiness of others before our own happiness.
~ Sun Myung Moon  (271:72, August 21, 1995)

The Golden Rule imposes on each of us an independent, enduring moral obligation to help and be kind to others even if they ignore their similar obligations to us.

I believe that even some businesses are applying the golden rule.  It is certainly good customer service.  I listened to Chade-MengTan, a Google engineer, as he testified to the everyday compassion practices of Google.

The Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance have identified 18 religions, which all share a version of what Americans commonly refer to as "The Golden Rule." The consultants define it as "The Ethic of Reciprocity -- often called the Golden Rule in Christianity -- simply states that you are to treat other people as you would wish to be treated yourself." This concept exists throughout hundreds of cultures and therefore intersects with business and workplace behavior.

An extreme example of lack of integrity and accountability can be seen in today's political landscape. No matter where they land on the spectrum, politicians are consistently promising to do the right things if elected. Lower taxes, save the environment, stimulate the economy - every election season the American public is inundated with promises.

To be fair, these politicians might actually think they can follow through on their vows, but the lack of results from any single one of them or any party as a whole has become an epidemic in and of itself.  It also proves that politics without being based spiritual values cannot survive. That's where accountability comes in - you must do what you say.


Here is a beautiful video, showing us the applications of the Golden Rule:


If you have never heard of the Golden Rule or the Law of Reciprocity I hope you can do your own research.

-"It's impossible," said pride. "It's risky," said experience. "It's pointless," said reason. "Give it a try," whispered the heart.
– Unknown

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Alpha and the Omega

Today is the time when we must fulfill this fundamental relationship between God and man.  The subject and object must be one just as cause and effect are one.  Therefore, the Bible says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev.22:13 ) Within God, two are one. He is the beginning and we are the end.  He is the first and we are the last.  And the relationship between God and man is a circuit because beginning and end come together in oneness.

Peace, happiness and joy are the fruits of harmony in love. Therefore, in God's ideal of creation, He planned the relationship between God and man to be lived with harmony in love, with harmony in life, and with harmony in ideal.

Thus we know that God is subject and we are the objects.  We also know that the object is just as important as the subject.  We now want to know precisely what man's position as God's object means.

When God created man He gave him wisdom and ambition.  Wisdom gives us the power to compare, and ambition gives us the power to strive for the best.  If there are two choices before us, A and B, we will automatically compare them to determine which is better.  Our human desire leads us to choose, and our ambition does not let us rest until we have obtained ultimate fulfillment.

Let me take another analogy.  Let's say there is a most handsome man. He is not only handsome, but all-powerful and all-wise.  You would be anxious to have some kind of personal relationship with this great man.  What would you want it to be?  Would you like to be just his servant?  No, in your heart you know there is a position better than that of servant.  Would you like to be only his friend?  No, you would still not be happy.  Would you like to be only his adopted son? Will this position bring you complete happiness?  No, I don't think so.  You would still crave some closer position.  There is one relationship beyond which there is nothing more intimate.  That is to become a true son or daughter of this man.  With this relationship you will have reached the ultimate fulfillment, and you cannot desire anything more.

Why, then, do we want to become true sons and daughters? -- Because that is the position in which to receive the man's love most fully.  There is no closer or deeper relationship in human society than that between the father and son.  Once you have your father's love, you possess everything he has.  Every joy of the father, all the power of the father all skill and wisdom and ambition and desire of the father, all will then be yours. In receiving the love of a father, there is no procedure, neither paperwork nor ceremony, necessary to grant those things to a son.  The father and son are automatically one.  This principle applies among mankind, and it applies between man and God.

Excerpted from: God's Will and the World -- Rev. Sun Myung Moon -- God's Hope for Man, October 20, 1973, Washington, D.C.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Do we have a Conscience?

First, let us look at the dictionary to understand what a conscience is.  My Webster’s from 1982 states: conscience is a moral sense or a knowledge of right and wrong.  When one is conscious-stricken we feel guilty or remorseful because of having done something wrong.

I looked at the word conscience which can be divided into: con and science.  Con comes from contra which is Latin for against.  Could it mean also against science or against knowledge (intellect)?  To follow one’s conscience is a very heartistic (coming from the heart) matter, often it doesn’t make any sense.  I believe that we all have a conscience but it has to be nurtured.  It takes discipline to keep a clear conscience, to keep out lies, false opinions, going with the flow of the majority, etc.  Here are some tips to strengthen your conscience, 10 steps to get a conscience.

“Conscience is not an infallible guide to behavior because it works according to the standards we have adopted.”
~ Alan S.L. Wong

In the tradition of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) conscience is a
God-given faculty.   Sigmund Freud, (1856-1939) the Austrian neurologist, thought that the conscience is part of the Superego which is the sum of things learned early in life about right and wrong.

In any case it depends on a standard of right and wrong.  When we consider the universal, natural laws, we might find an absolute, otherwise it depends on which society, tribe, organization one identifies with.

I read Susan Cain’s book “Quiet.”  She accounts for a historical view on how as a society we changed from a “culture of character focus” to a society being fascinated by extrovert personalities  and charisma.  In a loud world where the focus is on competition, success, and impressing one-an-other the quiet, withdrawn person is all too often overlooked.  That doesn't mean that the introvert has always a clear conscience.  I only observe that it takes quietness to nurture one's conscience.

Where does that leave the conscience?  I believe as a society we lost conscience.  When I look at our society today, I see people who are confused about right and wrong.  A standard of right and wrong has to be reinforced, not just with laws which are important if they apply for everybody in the same way.  We used to adhere to the “Golden Rule.”  As we have turned away from a “Nation Under God,”  (America is not the greatest country anymore) we find ourselves more and more drifting and people start to take the law in their own hands.

"The media must be free and must be self-governing. And self-governing media must also be a moral media. A moral media use their freedom to project, preserve and promote God-given human rights and dignity….A moral media must lead the fight against drug abuse, pornography, and the many other destructive vices of society. Thus, the media must become the conscience of society.”
~ Rev. Sun Myung Moon

A standard of integrity and honesty can only be followed when both mind and body work together focused on principle and ideals (like the constitution).

Part of an effective conscience is that we may feel guilty when we have done something wrong.

How to get rid of guilt?

Guilt is an emotion that occurs when a person believes that they have violated a moral standard that they themselves believe in.  Contrary to shame which is believed that: I am bad, guilt comes from behavior.  Guilt is both a cognitive and an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes that he or she has violated a moral standard and is responsible for that violation. A guilty conscience results from thoughts that we have not lived up to our ideal self.

The benefit of feeling guilty is that it can be removed through remorse, rightful actions and forgiveness.  In the Christian tradition we talk about grace which comes from God to anyone who shows regret and removes himself from the wrongdoing.   Regret thinks, "What can I do now to repair past damage and prevent future harm?" Since we only can change things in the present, regret focuses on the present. 

Regret acknowledges the goodness of oneself in the present, rather than identifying with negative images of oneself from the past and the future.  Regret is self-affirming rather than self-hating and feeling responsible for any offense.

“The root of conscience can only be in God.”
~ Rev. Suyn Myung Moon

We are humans having a spiritual experience in this physical body.  On our journey here on
earth we are bound to make mistakes.  I believe that we are not responsible for what happens to us only how we respond to it.  If we act in good conscience we can achieve a level of peace and mental freedom which we all desire.

“Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.”
~ Charles R. Swindoll

Monday, July 8, 2013

How to Empty Your Cup

When I was thinking about emptying my cup, I remembered a story I had heard about.  Apparently, it happened in the Orient, since it involved a Zen master and a student.  The student came for advice from the master.  As it is tradition in the Orient, the master prepared tea and served it to the student.  When he was pouring tea into the pupil’s cup he continued pouring even after the cup was full to the brim.  At first the scholar didn’t say anything, but after a while he couldn’t be quiet any longer.  He mentioned to the master that the cup was overflowing.  Then, the master said: “You are like the cup.  I cannot give you any advice if you don’t empty your cup.”


I even found a short video depicting this teaching:


“Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.”
~ Bruce Lee


Remembering this story made me think of my experience of the last couple of months.  As I am looking into my past, I became aware of how much my cup was already full.  Obviously, our cup is filled with everyday experiences and memories.  But our mind is also occupied with ideas and thoughts which are dragging us down.  And our heart if crammed with emotions like regret, resentment and fear which don’t allow us to move forward.


 “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
~Matthew 9:17

What are we to do to empty our cup?

è Empty Your Mind Daily

Repentance and letting go is like emptying a waste basket.  Life is a struggle and we experience it every day, especially in our own mind.  We play and repeat movies, conversations and other incidences over and over in our mind.  It takes great discipline to stay in the present moment and stop all that chatter. 

Repentance is an old religious practice but it is very effective.  When we empty ourselves before God, we don’t have to worry about things anymore.  When we surrender to God, we can be free.

Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.” ~ Matthew 4:17

è Discharge negative emotions

There are many different therapies and techniques to release negative emotions.  I like using the Emotion Code which has helped me to let go of old baggage.

è Listen, really listen

To listen is to hear with once heart and mind.  It also is to listen to the small voice inside of ourselves.  This voice is connected directly to our creator, the source of our existence.  It also connects us deeply to another person.  In fact, to really listen one has to be empty of once own ideas.  “If you want to learn, you have to shut up, and LISTEN for a change."

I am exploring continuously how to empty my cup.  I am watching my little granddaughter who is 13 months old.  She has no concepts, no worries; she is without any prejudice; she may fall down one moment, and the next she is happy and running again.  She may cry in one instant, but she forgets quickly. No wonder, Jesus said, “Be ye like the little children” (Matthew 18:3).  

Live is a struggle because we have forgotten who we are.  When we continuously empty our cup we have a chance to fill it with the authenticity of our true self.

Let’s empty our cups often to receive all there is to receive.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Marriage as Spiritual Discipline

On July 1, 1982, my husband Paul and I were married, together with 2074 other couples.  Throughout the years we have encountered many challenges and many blessings.  Since we didn’t have an individual wedding ceremony we often celebrated our anniversary with other local members of our blessing ceremony.  One year we participated in a boat trip, other times we just went out to dinner to a special restaurant.

This year we made plans just for ourselves to have some personal and romantic time together.  That gave me the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of marriage in general.

Just recently I came across a book by Gary Thomas, called “Sacred Marriage.”   Mr. Thomas is a pastor and a counselor, even though this book is not to give marriage advise.  Rather, it looks at marriage as a path of spiritual discipline for two people together to get to know God better, to trust him more fully, and love him more deeply.  He looks at marriage as a sacred covenant between husband and wife.

“But what if God's primary intent for your marriage isn't to make you happy. . . but holy? And what if your relationship isn't as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God?”
~ Gary Thomas
The reason these words resonated with me was that they reminded me so much of the advice and guidance Rev. Sun Myung Moon gave us before our blessing ceremony. He said, that if were really committed to each other, God could help us to make any relationship work.  I believe that there are three aspects of marriage which are unique in the relationship between a man and a woman.

1)    Marriage grows our Character.

Before I got married I had often thought about life in a monastery/convent.  It wasn’t because I sought the religious life; it was rather that I couldn’t figure out human relationships.  I also didn’t have much hope for future generations, and therefore, didn’t want children.

When I met the Unification Church and heard their teachings on human relationship and how men and women are created equal in value but with different purpose, I could find a new understanding in growing myself.

 As Gary Thomas writes: Because whether it is delightful or difficult, your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God, and to a spiritual integrity that, like salt, seasons the world around you with the savor of Christ.

While marriage may not be the only tool that can help people draw closer to God, it is a powerful one. It reveals our character--who we really are--and trains us to become who we want to be. The marital relationship offers a context for lasting and significant spiritual growth; it provides fertile ground for cultivating humility, perseverance, charity, forgiveness, confession, prayer, non-judgmentalism, and more. Sacred Marriage is not about marriage-transformation, or spouse-transformation, but about self-transformation. It is not about loving one's mate better, although that will be an inevitable outcome. Rather, this book is written to help the reader love God more and reflect the character of his Son at an ever-deepening level--not because any marriage is ever perfect, but because it helps husbands and wives discover and revel in their relationship with God.

I like the aspect of sacred marriage being for self-transformation.  In order to learn to love the other we have to also learn to love ourselves.  That takes an enormous leap of emotional cleansing and letting go of our old self.  But with the love and support of a spouse this process is not impossible.

2)    Marriage brings out the best and the worst in relationship.

In marriage we become each other’s mirrors.  We often wish to change the other person while what we don’t like in the other, is what we have to change ourselves.

Practicing the spiritual discipline of marriage means that I put my relationship with God first.  Our marriage can be a testimony to the rest of society.

Marriage is the only place where we can face our own immorality such as selfishness, anger, control-mongering, impatience and even hatred because it takes an intimate relationship to face up to these challenges.
He (Jesus) answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
~ Matthew 19:4-6

3)    Marriage’s intimacy creates the best environment to raise children.
Man and woman complement each other, not only in the physical aspects, but also on the spiritual, mental and emotional levels.  The differences in our make-ups create a dynamic which is found nowhere else.  These challenges also give us the greatest opportunity for growth and to resemble the Almighty who is both male and female.  It has been proven that the quality of marriage affects our country’s economy, moral development, benefits of health, and our overall happiness.  

“Why then do we get married? Very simply, we marry in order to resemble God. God exists as a being of dual characteristics. In God, the dual characteristics are completely harmonized as One. When God's dual characteristics manifest in our world, they do so as man and woman. Accordingly, at the proper time, a man and a woman are like a seed. They unite to become one. Thus, husband and wife return to God. Together, we are a reflection of His original nature.”
~ Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon – wife of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon (from Blessed Marriage and Eternal Life -4/-16-1996

As I mentioned before, this year, my husband and I went on a romantic trip for our anniversary.  I found this special couple getaway in the mountains of South-Eastern Ohio called Big Rock Cabins.  We spend two unique days there, surrounded by nature and complete quietness.  Having our meals out on the deck, watching the birds; soaking in the hot tub and just sharing some deep thoughts and feelings brought us closer together.  It also reminded me that our lives together are not just "til death do us part,” but rather for eternity.  That’s something we have to work on continuously.