The Golden Rule

As much as we want to feel unconditional love in ourselves, we also want others to feel that love towards us. None of us want to feel criticized, rejected, ignored or manipulated. We want to feel appreciated, honored, and respected. This is true not only in our intimate relationships with our partners and family, but also in our relationships with those we work with, people we meet socially, and even strangers we may encounter on the street or in an airplane . In all our relationships we want to feel cared for.

If love is what we all want, then love is what we should be giving each other. But that is not always easy. Too often we are so busy trying to get love for ourselves, or holding on to the love we have, we forget that other people want exactly the same. Before long we get caught in a vicious circle that denies us the very love we seek.

If we feel hurt over something someone says or does–whether they intend to hurt us, or whether it is all our own creation–our normal response is to defend ourselves by attacking back in kind. It’s not the most noble or wisest response, nevertheless if we believe that our happiness depends on how others behave this how we tend to react. If the other person is also trapped in this mindset they are likely to respond in a similar fashion, and do or say something hurtful in return.

So the vicious circle gets set up. On the surface it may seem that a relationship is going well; both people appear friendly, there’s no open hostility. But underneath a subtle game is going on. Each person, in their attempts to get the other person to be more loving, is trying to make the other feel hurt rather than loved. Its a tragic lose-lose game, which, if sustained, can ruin the best of relationships.

As easily as the circle is set up, it can be undone. The key is simple: give love rather than withhold it. What this means in practice is that whatever we say, and however we say it, we want the other person to feel loved and cared for rather than attacked and hurt.

If you can conduct yourself in a way that is not detrimental to others or that does not impinge on their freedom, then you are behaving according to dharma.
- Sai Baba

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