Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Only Religion

One word that sums up the basis of all good conduct . . . loving kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself. ~Confucius 

Rex was insistent we read his book at circle time. It was entitled "The Golden Rule." It probably had a subtitle and an author, although I took no notice. What compelled me was his insistence. There was something here that he really wanted to share with all of us.

We've all been there, of course, full of epiphany, overfull, giddy to share something that has moved us mind, heart, and soul.  

The Golden Rule is really the only religion. This is the great truth found at the heart of all spiritual life when it comes to our relationships with the other people. And as far as I can tell, relationships are the only reason we're here.

Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. ~The Buddah

I asked, "Rex, is this your show-and-tell item?"

"No, it's a book. Read it."

In his class we usually vote on which book we're going to read each day. Sometimes you don't get to read the book you want. I said, "I have some other books too. We can vote on it."

"No, we have to read it."

In everything do to others as you would have them do to you. ~Jesus

We have a list of rules on our wall at school, dozens of them, all of which we, as a democracy of children, have agreed to by affirming that none of us want these things done to us. "Does anyone want to be hit?" I ask. When no one speaks up in favor of being hit, I say, "Then we agree. That's a rule."

"I can tell you really want to share this book with everyone, Rex. We'll read it at circle time."

Rex was satisfied with that.

What is hateful to you, do not do unto your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. ~Hillel

Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Baha'i Faith, Zoroastrianism, and every other religion you can name: the simple message of the Golden Rule stands at its core. 

When children break one of our rules, after reminding them of the agreement they've made with their friends, once some of the emotion of the moment has faded and we've found a better solution, I more often than not calmly ask, usually smiling with an acknowledgement that I'm asking a question to which we all know the answer, "Is it okay for people to hit you?" "Do you like it when people take your things?" And when they reply "No," usually smiling themselves at the ridiculousness one finds in answering such obvious questions, I state the simple fact, "No body does." Then we sit there nodding for a moment, silently understanding that we're all in this together.

Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself. ~The Prophet Mohammed

Rex was an evangelist for a day, a proper prophet, bringing us the good word. We read his book together and discussed what it meant. He kept watching the faces of his classmates as I read, watching, I suppose for them to show signs of their own enlightenment. What a gift he brought to us.

Then, when the book was done, we sat there nodding silently in the ancient wisdom: the simple, sweet, perfect heart of humanity.

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Chris said...

I find it interesting to contrast the moral imperative towards sacrifice of the Christian and Islamic versions of the Golden Rule with the negative rights of the Confucian, Buddhist and Jewish version of the Golden Rule.

Maybe that is why we don't hear history of crusade type holy wars from the latter?

I like your blog Tom. Keep up the good work!

Cheers, Chris

Steph R said...

Hi Teacher Tom,
I am a big fan. Loved this post! My girls both attend a play-based co-op preschool in Victoria (and I am on the exec). I hope I will hit on a way one of these days to bring you here, across the water, to talk to our preschool or a wider audience :). In the meantime, I am always glad to share your posts with the other parents here :)

Steph R said...

Hi Teacher Tom,
I loved this post, and it moved me to hear how a child responds in his heart to the Golden Rule.
I have been a fan for a while now. Both of my girls attend a play-based co-op preschool. I'm hoping to hit on a way, one of these days, to bring you across the water to Victoria to speak to our preschool or a wider audience here :)
Keep doing what you are doing!

Growing Seeds said...

What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing!

Bethany said...

I've just ordered the book from the library to share with my 3 & 4 year old daughters. Thanks!