The Golden Rule Workbook
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the Golden Rule Workbook
Published by GRO Copyright 1999 7450 W 52nd Ave #M241 Arvada, CO 80002 First Printing
Table of Contents 1 - Overview ................................................................................................................ 4 2 - The Golden Rule & Its Significance............................................................................ 6 3 - My experience with the Golden Rule ........................................................................ 10 4 - “Me First!” “No, Me First” ...................................................................................... 11 5 - Creating a New Golden Rule World ......................................................................... 15 6 - Negative/Positive Thinking and the Golden Rule ....................................................... 16 Part Two - Tools & Tips for Applying the Golden Rule 7 - Getting to Know You ............................................................................................. 23 8 - Changing Yourself ................................................................................................. 26 9 - Wanting & Taking Criticism - The Key to Applying the Golden Rule............................ 27 10 - You Can’t Always Get What You Want .................................................................. 29 11 - Communication, Communication, Communication.................................................. 30 12 - Seeing From Someone Else’s Point of View............................................................ 33 13 - Selfish Addictions, Deciding What You Want, Commitment & Determination............. 35 14 - Getting some Help from Your Sub-conscious Mind .................................................. 38 15 - Goals.................................................................................................................. 40 16 - Ideals................................................................................................................. 45 17 - Self Tolerance ..................................................................................................... 47 18 - Using “Corrective Affirmations” to Help You Practice what you Preach (or Believe In). 48 19 - Things To Do Today (Before I Physically Die).......................................................... 49 20 - Working with others of Like-Mind .......................................................................... 50 21 - Choosing Intentional Roommates .......................................................................... 54 22 - Intentional Roommate Meetings ............................................................................ 58 23 - Family/Spouse Issues ........................................................................................... 62 24 - Creating Your Individual Daily Golden Rule Program ............................................... 67 Personal Declaration Section........................................................................................ 69
Chapter One Overview The word “Love” has come to mean two very different things. In fact, the meanings are essentially opposite of each other. But most people don’t ever think of it, and continue to use the exact same word (love) for both things. The first kind of love could be called “Pure love”. Pure love is an outflowing, giving, caring kind of love - it could also be called “Unselfish Love”. Pure love is the kind of love that is related to things like: “Love thy neighbor”; Santa Claus; Caring love for your family and friends; Charity; Helping disaster victims; etc.. It is the kind of love that the selfish side of yourself gets nothing out of, but that the “good” side of yourself gets a “warm” feeling from. The next kind of love that is commonly referred to, is actually nothing like “Pure love”. It is really just a feeling of pleasure that comes with “getting” something you want or like (physically or emotionally). It doesn’t matter if it comes from someone else somehow giving you something you like, or it is from selfindulgence. It is all self-gratifying. So let’s call that kind of love “selfish love”. Here are just a FEW quotes that are examples of this: “I love ice cream”, “I love football”, “I love presents”, “I love chocolate”, “I love the islands”, “I love BMW’s”, “I love beer”, etc.. Such selfish “love” crosses over into our relationships also. “I love Sam” (or “I love Marsha”) for instance, can actually mean you just love the attention, energy, and pleasure they give you. Relationships can involve a mixture of selfish love, and Pure love, but many start with (and are actually based on) selfish love primarily or totally. And many relationships break up because of that. When a relationship is based on the self-gratifying pleasure you get from your partner, it results in a sort of “addiction” to one degree or another. You can then end up with addictive behavior - possessiveness, jealousy, rejection, and all the other selfishly spawned causes of pain and turmoil that come with such addiction. Pure love, being the opposite of selfish, creates no addiction. It craves nothing for itself. It thus heals rather than hurts. It cares rather than “blocks out” and ignores. It can improve your life, the lives of those around you, and ultimately, the whole world. Totally Pure love is not contaminated at all with selfishness, or selfish love. This is important, because like any contaminant, any selfishness can taint and ruin everything. It’s like putting drops of poison in an entire jug of pure water - it contaminates the whole jug. Or like e-coli bacteria in a batch of hamburger - the whole batch gets contaminated, and becomes unhealthy. The Golden Rule to the Rescue. We’ll define it more later, but basically, the “rule” part of the “Golden Rule” is to “love unselfishly” to focus on and give Pure love. Pure love encompasses all the spiritual virtues involved with simply being a “good” person. For example, caring, kindness, compassion, tolerance, sharing, giving, harmlessness, respecting the free will choices of others (if harmless), etc., are all results of loving unselfishly. Pure love isn’t unconditional love - you can be unselfishly loving and still “put your foot down”. In other words, one who applies the Golden Rule in life, is reasonably kind, reasonably giving, but not unconditionally kind, unconditionally giving, etc.. The Purpose of the Golden Rule Workbook This workbook gives examples of the benefits of living by the Golden Rule, and how to apply it more in your life, in many different circumstances. For instance, the techniques and methods included here, can help you have more caring interactions with everyone everyday, from cashiers or “bus boys”, to your spouse. But you can take it even further if you want to. In our opinion, working on applying the Golden Rule with others of like-mind can provide you the greatest opportunity for personal spiritual development. If you want to work with others, you can join or create anything from a weekly Golden Rule study group/club, to a Golden Rule fellowship or intentional living program. It all depends on how “in-depth” you want to get with it. Golden Rule Workgroups can be comprised of your spouse alone, your present friends, family, or members of your religion. If no one you know wants to do it with you, you can make new friends at an already existing Golden Rule study group, or a cooperating spiritual fellowship. 4
All “good” people are essentially just one big “family” within the human race. And all good people, relate to the Golden Rule. It’s a non-denominational universal concept that involves individual spirituality, rather than religion. Practicing the Golden Rule doesn’t require anyone to change religions, leave their religion, or join a religion if they don’t have one. If you belong to a church, synagogue, temple, ashram, etc., and you like the idea of the Golden Rule, you can talk to the appropriate congregation leaders about starting sanctioned Golden Rule “clubs” or “study groups”. If you don’t have a religion, but would like to participate in a Golden Rule oriented fellowship with like-minded individuals, we are building a referral database of both independent Golden Rule Study Groups/Clubs (not affiliated with any religion), and Golden Rule groups affiliated with known sympathetic churches/temples/etc.. A Benny for Your Thoughts Benjamin Franklin once set out to write a book very much like this one. He had developed specific techniques for perfecting oneself through the development of virtues. It was to be called “The Art of Virtue”, but was never finished. More importantly perhaps, Franklin also intended to create an organization and “secret society” based on that idea. He strongly believed that if even a few people committed their lives to developing the virtues of being a “good” person, and then secretly recruited friends and family, over time it would spread from one person to the next, and eventually create a new and better society. Part of his plan was for the program to be universal - not to be limited to any one religion, and to avoid alienating any religion. The need for secrecy was primarily due to the threat of being charged with heresy in those days. That particular threat is gone in this day and age, and we can openly pursue such a wonderful nondenominational program. It is our hope and belief that this book, and the creation of Golden Rule Organization (GRO), fulfills his goals and dreams. Read before Using If you intend to use this workbook to help you apply the Golden Rule in your life, please read it all the way through one time, and then re-read it again. This is necessary because many of the concepts presented here, cross-over with each other, and are subsequently scattered throughout the book. Thus, if you aren’t familiar with all the concepts, you may not fully understand everything until after you’ve read it through once, and read it again.
Chapter Two The Golden Rule and Its Significance Like the meaning of love, “The Golden Rule” can mean different things to different people. But before getting into intellectually defining the Golden Rule with words alone, I’ll tell you a couple of stories that define it through example. Long ago I had a simple little experience during a meal, that stayed with me as a vivid memory for the rest of my life. I was visiting a friend of mine who was a monk, at the monastery he lived in. Time flew by. Soon, afternoon began its transformation to evening, and I was invited to stay for dinner. At this particular monastery, they always ate dinner together at a large table. There was the usual clatter and commotion, but something very unusual happened. As I was just about to reach for a pitcher of milk, someone got to it first. But rather than pouring themselves a glass, they poured me a glass, and set the pitcher back down. I was a bit stunned. Now, keep in mind, I was accustomed to having waiters serve me at restaurants, or my mother at home, or a host/hostess at a dinner party. But this was very different. This was just another person who was eating at the table. There was no one playing the role of waiter or hostess. After the food was brought out to the table, it was just a bunch of people sitting down to a bunch of food, and partaking in it. In that situation, most people just “dig in” and grab whatever they want for themselves, and focus on their own eating. So when one of these strangers (who was also just having dinner as I was) performed this simple, natural act of getting and pouring milk for me rather than for himself, it was an odd experience. But it was even more striking because my need for the milk wasn’t expressed. My wanting milk was anticipated, rather than asked for. It was so striking in fact, that it seemed like “ESP” to me, or like the person was psychic. But he wasn’t. He probably saw me looking at the pitcher, and was just that sensitive, that caring about his guest, and acted on it. Or maybe he was a bit psychic. Doesn’t matter. The point is, it was a little example of the Golden Rule in action. While the above example shows how living by the Golden Rule can work in the little “day to day” aspects of daily life, it’s far more than just a “have a nice day” casual principle. It can also be so powerful as to change the world. Here’s a short, wonderful old parable, that does a pretty good job of giving an example of that: There was a man who died and was being taken to heaven by angels. The angels said to him, “We are going to take you to heaven, but first we will show you hell.” The angels then took him to a place where there was a great bowl, so great that it was as big as a lake. The bowl was filled with a nutritious stew. All the way around the sides of this bowl were people. Emaciated, starving, miserable people. These people had spoons to eat the stew with, and the spoons were long enough to reach the stew (about 12 feet). The trouble was, while they could scoop up the stew into the spoon, they could not get it into their mouths because the spoons were too long. So here were all these pathetic people, suffering and moaning in agony, constantly trying to eat the food that was abundantly in front of them - all in vain. Next, the angels took the man to heaven. To his surprise, he saw the same scene! There it was, a giant lake-like bowl of the same stew, surrounded by people with 12 foot long spoons. Yet something was different here - all these people were smiling, happy, and healthy looking! “Why? What is the difference here that these people are happy and well fed?”, the man said to the angels. They replied, “Have you not eyes to see?”. The man looked more carefully, and observed that one person would scoop up the stew, and bring it to the mouth of another. Then someone else would scoop up stew and feed it to the other. The angels smiled and said, “Here the people feed each other. Here are the people that learned the way of Love.” The above story uses a striking allegorical fantasy to clearly illustrate a fundamental difference between a world of people who are looking out for themselves first, and a world of people who make caring for others their first priority. That’s what the Golden Rule is all about. The story exemplifies living by the Golden Rule, or not living by it, in a nutshell. But it’s more than just a story. It truly represents the real difference that living by the Golden Rule could make in our world. It shows us how unselfishly loving others, 6
is not only Pure love, but pure, real spirituality. And even if you cannot change the world so profoundly, it still represents what kind of a spiritual world we can eventually live in if we live by the Golden Rule, and make ourselves deserving citizens of paradise. A Universal Concept One of the beauties of the Golden Rule is its total universality. It goes beyond being just nondenominational and omni-denominational. As you will note in the above story, the issue of religious persuasion or faith was irrelevant. Assuming the people in that story were of various persuasions, it was their Pure love or selfishness that ultimately made the difference in their circumstances. The division between the “happy” place and the “miserable” place, wasn’t between Christians with 12 foot spoons, or Buddhists with 12 foot spoons, or agnostics with 12 foot spoons - or even an issue of who had spoons or not. The thing that separated those people in the story (as it does in reality too), was whether or not they’d learned that living by having Pure love was more important than variations in their belief systems. And that’s what this is all about. The concept of the Golden Rule applies to all good, caring, giving people, regardless of religion, faith, or lack of faith. It is a universal principle that anyone anywhere can use to improve their life, the lives of those around them, and ultimately, the whole world. Isn’t that incredible, exciting, amazing and wonderful!? The Golden Rule has a variety of typical definitions, which essentially all have the same meaning. Sometimes it’s interpreted as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, or “Love thy Neighbor as thy self”. We would add “Do no harm to others” and “Think of others first” to that list. They are all good definitions in our opinion, and you can see how they are all reflected in the above parable. But all those definitions and sayings are really “by-products” of “Pure love/Unselfishly loving others”. Pure love covers them all, and is the mother of them all. So to clarify the definition used in this book, when we say living by “the Golden Rule”, we basically mean living by “unselfishly loving others”. While such “Golden Rule” principles are included in the beliefs of many spiritual traditions, in the Christian oriented parts of the world the Golden Rule is commonly attributed to a quote from Jesus. Here is how it reads in the Bible (From the Gospel of John, King James version, chapter 13): “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”. That quote seems to make it crystal-clear that Pure love, unselfishly loving others (as Jesus did) is the ultimate commandment Christians are supposed to live by. But the concept itself (Pure love or living by unselfishly loving others), is not exclusive to any religion. The same principle is also a belief of all basically “good” people, religious or not. It can include those of any faith, and those who have no faith. You may disagree, but it appears that based on Jesus’ own words, as long as someone obeys His commandment to love one another as He did, they are also “followers” of His - they are also Christians. But denominational labels and semantics aside, it is our opinion that those who indeed live by that beautiful Golden Rule, are behaving in a most spiritually responsible manner. The fact that they are also subsequently being a real Christian as directly defined by Jesus, is interesting though. But in any case, following the Golden Rule means being a caring spiritual person, regardless of “label” or “affiliation”. In that sense, as we said earlier, the Golden Rule is strikingly (and wonderfully) universal. If you really think about it, there are few things that are so cross-cultural and universal. Perhaps the most universal, is a smile. Music can often cross cultures too. But when it comes to cross-cultural spiritual or moral concepts, the Golden Rule has no rival. While people often disagree on religion & politics, most everyone can agree on the “goodness” and “right-ness” of living by the Golden Rule, regardless of culture or religious belief. Thus it’s an ideal in which all kind hearted people can join together towards the common goal of manifesting Pure love and its virtues (kindness, compassion, tolerance, peace, sharing, giving, etc..) in tangible ways, for the mutual betterment of themselves, and all creation. Why the Golden Rule is the “Big Key” to Solving All of Life’s Problems The great need for the Golden Rule is as simple as the Rule itself. Just take that parable about the people with the 12 foot spoons, and apply it in present-day, real-world situations. People are suffering all over the world. Even those who seem to be happy, often actually have a painful empty pit inside them that they attempt to ignore by constantly chasing after diversions and fun. Alcohol and drugs are used to try and cope with it sometimes too, even in the “best of families” and amongst the wealthy who have everything they want (materially). Then of course there are the various wars and oppressions. So what’s the problem? Why can’t people be happy, and live in peace and cooperation? If you objectively look around at the world, and at people’s lives, you can trace all problems to one thing - selfishness. That’s right, just that ONETHING. If you thought greed or hate were the big problems, you’re right, but think further. Greed is just one aspect of selfishness, one “branch”. So is hate, lust, theft, starting wars, killing, jealousy, 7
envy, etc., etc.. And all of those branches of selfishness have “sub-branches” too. For instance, the reason for some people losing their jobs, or things like the destruction of a rainforest, or over-fishing to extinction, is “greed”. But again, greed is just a branch of that ONETHING. You name the problem, its real source is selfishness. “A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonal value.” -Albert Einstein Unlike the common phrase “fight fire with fire”, you usually get better results fighting fire with water. So what better to fight selfishness with, than it’s opposite - unselfishness. Enter the Golden Rule. The answer, and the cure to all of life’s problems. Using a “Christ/Anti-Christ analogy, selfishness is like “the Anti-Christ” principle, and The Golden Rule is like “the Christ” principle. Once that is clearly understood, the only trick is implementing it in your life, and helping others do the same. Which brings us to the next prerequisite - understanding the source of selfishness. Selfishness is a result of separation. It’s an outgrowth, and outcome, of being separate. Separate from what? Everyone and everything “else”. Separate from others, separate from nature/the Universe/God. If you totally feel and believe that you are a separate being from everyone else, and everything else in the Universe, it’s naturally “you against the world”. Me first. Look out for number one. It all makes total sense from that separate perspective. But the truth is that we are all One creation - scientifically speaking, and spiritually speaking. Looking at it scientifically without a religious or spiritual viewpoint, scientists know we are all made of the same essential “stuff”, and the Universe is one thing, one energy, forming unimaginable numbers of parts of creation. Even if you take the stance that humans just “developed” self-awareness through evolution, that selfawareness is still what is behind humans seeing themselves as separate, and getting “out of harmony” with everything else in the Universe and nature. With that “self-consciousness” you have the separate self contemplating its “me against the world (or against the Universe)” scenario. Theologically, you can consider it like the story of Adam and Eve, or fallen angels (whether you wish to interpret that allegorically or factually). Rebelling against the One God, caused a separation or “cut off” from the One God, and again, suddenly, there was the separate self contemplating it’s “me against the world (or against the Universe/God)” scenario. So anyway you look at it, the result is the same. The “I, me, mine” thinking and behaving begins. And with that, greed, jealousy, fear, intolerance, hate, etc., etc., and all the problems that creates. But we all have both a selfish-side self (that contributes to those problems), and a “soul”, “spirit” or “good” side too. Other than humans who let their selfish-side control them (most humans), everything else in the Universe functions as one harmonious system. Disjointed, separate thinking and behavior, interferes with that harmony, and creates disruptive “ripples in the pond” that can cause pain and suffering. And when those ripples we create hit the edge of the pond, they bounce back in even more complex patterns. Again, selfishness, and it’s endless cycle of desire and fear, causes all the problems in our personal lives, as well as the world. It’s easy to see for those who don’t deliberately make themselves “blind” because of their selfishness and fear. Once you have identified the problem, you can find a solution. In this case, since the real problem behind everything is selfishness and separation from the Universe/God, the solution is unselfishness, transcending the illusion of separation, and returning to oneness and harmony with the Universe/God. Anything that can help that process (as long as it’s harmless), is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. The Golden Rule and its offspring virtues, are thus a “big key”, and perfect way to achieve the above goal. And even if living by the Golden Rule didn’t achieve that lofty goal, it’s still a “win - win” situation, because you become a better person, feel better, and help others. It just makes common sense. Ironically, while the Golden Rule is intellectually well known by almost everyone, it seems to be stuck in some mental file cabinet within the dusty archives of people’s brains. It’s amazing when you think about it. The Golden Rule is probably the most vital, positive, constructive principle in the world (in both a spiritual and practical sense) - and it’s always been just “sitting there” right before us, waiting for us to notice it, take it and use it. It’s likely we even heard about it from our mother or family when we were children. There in the recesses of our mind, is this incredible, powerful, yet simple, universal, common sense means of developing true spirituality, improving our lives and the lives of others. It’s so simple, so basic, so truly profound in a real sense - yet it’s often not even thought of by most of us as we search for “profound” spiritual knowledge, truths, and beliefs. And even if it is thought of, it’s often not thought of as being as significant as it really is. Or it’s just misunderstood, ignored, or given up on. But that is all changing. The Golden Rule seems to have been lying dormant within the hearts and minds of many good people like some kind of spiritual “time capsule” waiting to be opened. Benjamin Franklin said, “You will observe with concern how long a useful truth may be known and exist, before it is generally received and practiced on.” Well, 8
the “useful truth” of the Golden Rule has been around a very long time, yet it seems that only now is it really beginning to be generally received and practiced on by many people. Its time has finally come. The response we (the Golden Rule Organization [GRO]) have been getting to the idea of people implementing the Golden Rule in their lives, is remarkable. People everywhere are responding, and experiencing an “awakening” of the Golden Rule within themselves. And as they each start living by the Golden Rule, and discussing its simple beauty with acquaintances, friends, family, and neighbors, some of them respond to it also. In this time of so much change and turmoil in the world, the “common sense” of the Golden Rule, is creating a “common spirituality”, and spreading on a grass roots level. And as Franklin seemed to grasp, it is a movement that will eventually spread amongst those of likemind throughout the world. The time you spend on developing your own unselfish love, and on spreading it to others, is invaluable. Here’s a nice thought from Albert Schweitzer - “You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it’s a little thing, do something for others - something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.”
Chapter Three My experience with the Golden Rule When I was younger, the selfish way many people lived and treated each other, left me confused and miserable. I couldn’t relate to (or go along with) the “dog eat dog” ways of the world. I naturally wanted to end my suffering and confusion, and was desperate for answers about life and spirituality answers that made sense. Such answers were hard to come by. I went from being a “believer” in my family religion, to an atheist, to an agnostic, then back to a believer in God again (but unsure in what form or concept). I became an insatiable spiritual seeker, looking for that path of total truth and consistent answers that “put it all together”. I found “threads” and “bits & pieces” here and there, but never found something that totally, as a whole, “rang the inner bells of truth”. Then one day I did. Just as I was about to give up hope and commit suicide, I finally came upon these simple teachings that made sense of it all. And indeed, it was so simple, the revelation was shocking. Selfishness was the disease - the root of all problems. And unselfish love, the Golden Rule, the cure. I realized that was the big answer I had been unknowingly looking for my whole life. I also realized I was “homesick” in a way, for people who were living by the Golden Rule, or working on living by it. Subsequently, I entered a monastery. My goal was to become an unselfishly loving person, return to living in oneness and harmony with God/the Universe/Universal Spirit, and being an instrument of God’s will and love. All my studies and training applied to achieving that goal. I used traditional techniques of aceticism, meditation and prayer/affirmation to do everything I could to change. It was a long, hard, but fruitful process. This culminated with a near-death experience (NDE) that also changed me. I eventually achieved my goals, and now my life is dedicated to helping others achieve the same things, which is why I wrote this workbook. When I chose to become a monk, it wasn’t just to help end my own pain and improve my own life, but also because I was sensitive to the empty lives and suffering of others, and eventually wanted to help them too. And I knew I could only do that by example - so I had to “get it” and live by it first. So now I continue to pass on that heritage, offering it to others so they can make their own lives better, and can pass it on to others themselves. Tag, you’re it! Pass it on! Even though I have a background as a monk, I also have family. My life’s work has been counselling people, and teaching the principles and methods in this book, and others. I have decades of experience in dealing with many different kinds of interpersonal relationships and group situations. It is my hope that all my experience can be used to your benefit, through this book. Obviously, most people don’t want a monastic life, but do want a better and more spiritual life. Many people have asked for advice on how they can apply the Golden Rule in their lives, without joining a monastery. They want to know what they can do in their present life situations. And there is a lot you can do - but it’s kind of like being self-employed. A monastery is like being at work. When you work for someone else at a job, you know you can’t be a “slouch” or you’ll get fired. The entire environment is geared towards keeping you on track and functioning at maximum production potential. Being your own boss and working at home takes far more self-discipline - you have no supervisors other than you, no timeclock other than yours, lots of diversions and temptations to lead you off-track if you don’t stay on top of yourself. Thus, this book not only covers virtually all types of living scenarios in which you can work on your own spiritual development by applying the Golden Rule, it gives you all kinds of techniques, guidelines and daily check lists to help you stay on track and achieve your goals. It includes some ideas and methods for applying the Golden Rule while living alone, living with a spouse and/or family, doing “study groups”, “church-groups”, roommate situations, and even actually creating an intentional roommate situation as a “semi-mini-monastery”. But we must mention, that this kind of thing has never been done before in quite this way, and as such, is experimental. So while you can use the ideas set forth here, don’t hesitate to try and modify them to fit your exact situation, and please send us your ideas and experiences, so others may benefit from them too.
Chapter Four “Me First!” “No, Me First!” Naturally inherent within the Golden Rule and unselfish love, is the premise of focusing on loving others before ourselves. That was the whole point of the parable about the long spoons (Those who only thought of themselves first, got nothing and were miserable. Those who thought of others first, got fed and were happy). It may be paradoxical, but the fact is, when you are truly being unselfish, you have Pure love for everyone, including your own self. Such “real” love makes for a situation in which loving others and loving yourself occurs simultaneously - but it has to start with giving. That’s because Pure love is something that “flows outwards”. It is directional. Picture water flowing through a hose. It flows in one direction, not backwards, nor back and forth (give and take) - only outwards (giving). So to have Pure love, to experience it, to have it residing within yourself, all you need to do is give it. If you don’t, you end up with no love period - no love for others, no love for yourself, and no others who love you. One of the easiest ways to grasp the concept of Pure love, is to observe a mother with a baby. You can even see it with animals. Unselfishly loving others is much like the self-sacrificing love of a “normal” mother for her children. Her love for the child, puts the child’s needs and interests first. The child doesn’t need to reciprocate - love fills the mother as she gives love to the child. So what about the idea that you must love your self first, in order to love others? Well, everyone is welcome to their own opinion and following their own ideas, of course. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t love yourself. You should. I’m only saying that I, and many others, have observed that having Pure love for your self (as opposed to selfish love) only occurs as a result of loving others first. If you disagree, please objectively consider the examples below, regarding the effects of the two different approaches to loving yourself. There are many who are “self-loving”, but have never gone on to really care for anyone else - they just continue to further their own self interests and selfishness (see the example of “the neighbors” on page 14). And because of that, they continue to be selfish contributors to a world full of selfishly based problems, harm, and subsequent suffering. On the other hand, not one person who ever embraced the principle of caring for others first, lacked loving themselves also. Think about it - if you unselfishly love others first, it is impossible to not feel good about yourself, and love yourself. Loving others gives you self-esteem. Also, you love yourself too - simultaneously. There is no way anyone who unselfishly loves others could not love themselves “automatically” and feel great about themselves. When you feel and give Pure love it is good for everyone, including yourself. In fact, loving others is the only way you can unselfishly love your self. And unselfish love is truly the only “real” kind of love (as opposed to the “romantic love” or the “I love French food” concepts of love). “I find life an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others.” -Helen Keller. Pure love is “self-fulfilling”. It has its own rewards and good feelings “built-in”. Here’s another analogy that can help people understand it: Imagine we are like “faucets” connected to a water supply. A faucet is essentially a “valve” or “on/off switch” that allows the water to flow or not flow. Now imagine that Pure love is the water. We need/want water (Love). But if we try to keep it all to ourselves by keeping the faucet off, we aren’t getting any water flowing into us either. However, when we open ourselves to let the water flow freely, freely giving it out, the water is also flowing into us and through us. So we are getting the water ourselves also. But if we try to selfishly have water just for our selves, to “possess” our water by shutting off our valves and not giving it freely, not letting the water flow on through us, what happens? We shut off our own supply, for it is no longer in us! So giving love to others first, is truly loving your self - not first - not second - it is simultaneous - just by giving it, doing it - you get it. “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”- James Barrie Unselfish Love vs. Unconditional Love Unselfish Love is a type of unconditional love. But if you interpret the words ‘unconditional love’ literally, it means giving to, or being supportive of someone, regardless of their actions, no matter what. If we use that as the definition of unconditional love, then what we call Unselfish Love is different in an important way. Unselfish Love does not mean giving the loved one anything they want, or supporting any and all actions. Unconditional love like that, could be harmful to the one you love. Unselfishly Loving 11
someone does mean that you will always care for them, always still care about what is best for them, regardless of what the loved one may do or choose. But there can be conditions set on interaction or support. What conditions? It’s not a matter of a fixed rule. Everyone is different. Everyone has different needs. There are some things that are the same, but each individual does have different things that should be allowed, or not allowed. Loving someone unselfishly, automatically makes you give to the loved one what their ‘whole being’ needs. But it does not just feed their wants and desires. In fact, Unselfish Love may actually require denying a loved one’s desire. But whatever is required for the person, whether giving, and/or denying, both are done REGARDLESS of its consequences on you. Even if it means the person will hate you, or fight you, you must do what is best for them. For example, consider the raising of children. Let’s look at the application of Unselfish Love vs. unconditional love and “normal” (selfish) love, in that scenario. There are times when you should not give a child what it wants, because it’s not in their best interest. They may want something that could harm themselves, or harm someone or something else. But when Unselfish Love is not present, a child is likely to be ‘given in to’ when they persist, or through an ego tantrum. But if you give in, even if there is no physical harm that results, it can make them what is commonly called ‘spoiled’. The term ‘spoiled’ is merely a euphemism for a person’s selfishness being so consistently ‘given in to’ and ‘well fed’, that the selfish self grows in power and wants more, and expects more. In the case of children, they become what people call ‘little monsters’, and in the case of adults, they become what’s called selfish ‘jerks’ or ‘bitches’. Child or adult, a person who’s selfishness is overindulged becomes quite difficult to deal with, and they lack civility, and love for others. You may have seen people who are often mean to their children, sometimes they get very abusive. But that isn’t what we mean by not ‘giving in’ to them. Quite the opposite. There is a common flip side to the coin of indulging someone’s self. Since it is being done because the person ‘giving in’ is actually selfish, the other aspects of their selfishness also come out. Sometimes rather than ‘giving in’ to a child, the same parent (who is not Unselfishly Loving), will instead treat the child with anger or even violence, which also further creates bad programming, bad behavior, and a ‘monster’. How many times have you seen a parent tell a child not to do something, and the child ignores them? The child ignores them because they KNOW they can get away with it. Then the parent says “no” again. Still no results. Eventually the parent gets angry, and either yells or strikes the child. What does that teach the child? Two things - one, it may be worth the gamble to see how far it can get away with something, because they know the parent doesn’t really mean what they say, or back up their threats very often. And two, when the parent finally ‘loses it’, all the child knows is they are being attacked, hated, and that bigger and stronger is better, and might makes right. All very bad lessons. On the other hand, an Unselfishly Loving parent will give loving instructions one time, and then demonstrate that with absolute regularity, that if they are not listened to, a loving discipline will occur. Sure, it takes more work, and iron clad consistency, and you must sometimes do things that are unpleasant, both for yourself and for the child such as taking away something the child likes, or ‘grounding’ them, or isolating them like sending them to their room - but always with Love and kindness. Only such true Loving action yields good results. And it yields remarkable results. The child will eventually not ‘test’ its limits, and ends up a happier, more loving being itself. This applies to relationships also. If you tolerate harmful or unpleasant behavior in a mate or a friend, either because of ‘unconditional love’ or because your relationship is based on selfish motives, then you have a mess. And when you finally ‘lose it’, and get negative and angry, it will create even more of a mess. But if you Love Unselfishly, you may even be able to help someone overcome their problems, by both not tolerating bad behavior, and giving loving, positive direction at the same time. “I Want to Know what Love is - I Need You to Show me” Some parents may have “tasted” a bit of the joy of Unselfish Love, by anonymously giving to their children under the guise of gifts from Santa Claus. But even that “taste” was virtually nothing compared to the full experience of being totally Unselfishly Loving, and the mix of peace of mind, sadness, and bliss that accompany it. Nor does it give us a taste of what it’s like to be totally Unselfishly Loved. Most people have never experienced pure Unselfish Love, either giving it or receiving it. How would you describe colors to a person born blind, or born color blind? And how could you describe colors to someone else, if you were born blind yourself, and have never experienced color yourself? That would be even be more difficult. And Unselfish Love is something that you can give those who are “blind” because of selfishness, that will describe it to them - even more, it will show it to them, even though they have never experienced it themselves... It will always be a blessing for them, even though they may not know it, or know what’s going on. It will be more powerful than your words, (even though it will be in harmony with 12
both your words and your actions). Because the experience of being Unselfishly Loved involves feeling something from someone, something subtle possibly, but something that you’ve never felt before. It also involves an Inner spiritual kindling, a knowing, and actually seeing an example of the way someone lives and acts. Most people can’t Love Unselfishly, until they experience being Loved Unselfishly first. You will be meeting people like that all the time. People who are ready to change. People who have prayed or desperately hoped for some kind of answers or guidance for their lives. Experiencing being Loved can spark the flame of Unselfish Love within the “loved one” (if they are open to change and to begin giving themselves). Unselfish Love can spread this way. Unselfish Love makes your life a Living Prayer/Meditation “Only through love can we attain communion with God.”- Albert Schweitzer. Of what good is any belief or ‘growth’ method if it doesn’t make life better, more kind, more beautiful? If your life doesn’t radiate these things then your life is but that of a Sun that doesn’t shine. The opportunity to grow, to give, and to Unselfishly Love is here every moment. It is the prayer you make with your life. It is the eternal meditation. The Phantom Attacks by Night In the years after I left the monastery, I traveled a great deal, working towards helping people reach towards mutual respect, compassion, and understand the universal spirituality we all have in common. During that time I visited monasteries, ashrams, etc., of many different religions and paths. One that I visited for a few weeks, had created a unique way for its members to experience Unselfish Love, via giving to other members. They called it “The Phantom”, and here’s how it works: let’s say someone makes a cake, or a coat, or whatever, to give to someone else in the community. Rather than giving it to them outright, or wrapped with a little card letting them know who the gift is from, they leave it sneakily, in the middle of the night, with a note saying it is from the Phantom. Their method insures the anonymity of the giver, thus, the only personal gain the giver gets, is the joy of doing something nice for someone else, the joy of giving, the joy of Unselfishly Loving. This insures that the giving is being done for the right reasons, unselfishly, and is thus not feeding the selfish-side. You might want to try some “Phantom” giving yourself it’s not only good for you, it’s fun. Unselfish Love and Abuse There are many people who have suffered abuse, or are still in abusive relationships right now. We want to make certain that the Golden Rule principle of unselfish love, doesn’t get twisted, “abused”, and used as an excuse for abuse, or tolerating abuse. Living by the Golden Rule doesn’t mean you should allow others to be abusive. People who have been abused, develop “abuse syndrome”. They tend to let the abuse done to them “slide”, be “OK”, and even blame themselves for it sometimes. So let’s get that straight right away. If you are in an abusive situation, please go get professional help immediately - NOW. Sometimes friends and family don’t help, but there are usually abuse shelters and programs in a city near you. If it’s physical, call the police. Unselfish love doesn’t mean letting someone emotionally or physically harm you, because you are supposed to be “loving” towards them. As we mentioned earlier, unselfish love is conditional, and often requires different responses to different situations. It involves caring about others, and doing what is best for others, yes. But being an emotional or physical “punching bag” is not “best” for anyone. Allowing abuse is not being unselfishly loving, nor truly caring. Living by the Golden Rule doesn’t preclude getting away from an emotionally abusive person or calling the authorities to deal with a physically abusive person. In fact, that would be the unselfishly loving thing to do in such a case. Sometimes people need a harsh “wake up call” to give them an opportunity to change. If you want to help the abuser get therapy, do so SECOND, only after you get help and treatment (otherwise you can get “sucked” back into the abusive situation again). Ironically, if you have been abused, applying the Golden Rule in your life may be the best hope for a cure. The field of psychology is split on this at the moment, and seems to be dividing into two opposing camps - one that believes that focusing on caring about others is a mental illness in and of itself, and another that believes focusing on caring about others is the best way to prevent or heal trauma. Obviously, we are sympathetic to the latter way of thinking. We believe that unselfishly loving others, is self-healing.
“The most solid comfort one can fall back upon is the thought that the business of one’s life is to help in some way to reduce the sum of ignorance, degradation and misery on the face of this beautiful earth.” - George Eliot
Chapter Five Creating A New Golden Rule World Some of you agree with the idea expressed in the “spoon” parable, and would like to live that way, yet you find yourself questioning the practicality of really thinking of others first. In normal circumstances, you’ll often be taken advantage of if you do (which is why it’s good to find others of like-mind who will do it with you at the same time). So it may seem too idealistic or impractical to you right now to stop thinking selfishly. In a way, you may be right - it is a bad idea to change yourself into a being who gives and lives for others without discretion. Giving indiscriminately to selfish people can often do the people you’re giving to, more harm than good. But don’t let that stop you from working on applying the Golden Rule and transcending selfishness. It can be done without getting taken advantage of. You simply must use discretion as to who to give to, and how. See if someone responds to your giving with selfishness, or it stimulates their own Pure love, then deal with it accordingly. That’s why unselfish love is “conditional”. There are ways to deal with this discretion issue in a number of ways. That is one reason for this book. You can apply the Golden Rule in your dealings with selfish strangers to an extent, and to a greater extent with others who care as much about you, as you care about them - and who demonstrate it with their actions. A “Great Experiment” The purpose of this book is not to create a new religion, but rather, to renew and support spirituality in “any and all” frameworks. It is for those who believe the Golden Rule is perhaps the most important principle to live by, and most important belief, that ever existed. It is also for those who believe the Golden Rule is not just a spiritual ideal, but a practical principle. This book was created as a guide to help those who want to really work on applying the Golden Rule in their lives - in various ways, and to various degrees - each according to their individual needs, desires, and free will choices. It is our hope that it will help people achieve spiritual growth via the “Golden Rule”, at their own speed, whatever their circumstances, wherever they are in the world, with minimal outside help. While that may not be as “optimal” a situation for spiritual growth as a monastic type of situation, it is our hope that The Golden Rule Workbook will help any individual who wants such growth, to achieve it. In order to accommodate everyone, regardless of their situation or to what extent they want to grow or develop unselfish love, The Golden Rule Workbook outlines a number of optional programs. It takes a multi-tiered and “networking” approach to help anyone who wants to, apply the principle of the Golden Rule in their life. This includes: general ways to apply it in your life with everyone and to change yourself; and ways to apply it with those of like-mind who also want to apply it, and “do the work” with you. Both methods can apply to old friends/family or new friends (met through networking or other means of acquaintance).
Chapter Six Negative/Positive Thinking and The Golden Rule
A Few Examples of the Real Power of Thought (Positive or Negative) When scientists conduct studies, they arrange them to allow for something called the “placebo effect”. That’s because when someone believes something is real, their mind can affect their body in very real ways. Here’s an example of a sort of “negative placebo effect”. When a patient is in surgery, and unconscious, what the surgeons say can affect them. If the surgeons express doubts about their unconscious patient’s ability to recover, or talk about how bad their condition is, it can adversely affect their recovery. Why? Because the patient’s subconscious mind hears the whole conversation, and accepts it as a belief. Conversely, positive thoughts, beliefs, and visualizations, can have striking healing benefits. There is a great deal of scientific evidence now about how positive visualization, and stress management can contribute greatly towards healing, and prevention of illness. There are Tibetan monks who sit in the snow, and have wet blankets wrapped around them (which quickly freeze). They measure their abilities based on how big a circle they can melt around themselves, and how many frozen blankets they can thaw. Biofeedback training also allows people to manipulate their body temperature, and blood flow. This is even done as a treatment for those who have severe migraine headaches. They learn to alleviate headaches by redirecting blood flow to their hands - just by thinking it so. I saw my first striking demonstration of how powerful the mind is, in college. Hypnotized students were touched on the hands with a cool object that they believed was a burning cigar. Burn blisters formed. Not everyone is such a good hypnotic subject, but everyone has the same power of mind. The power of belief is astounding, has many good uses, but does have its limits, and can even be misused. Some of the books listed in the ordering section can help if you want to learn more about the subject. Fear, Desires and Denial Denial isn’t a River in Egypt Unfortunately, most people don’t really understand the true powers of the mind, nor it’s limitations. They intuitively know there is “something to it”, then get ideas about it from friends, or books they’ve read, or programs they’ve been involved with. But as the old saying goes, “A little knowledge can be dangerous.”. A lack of thorough information and training about the mind, combined with a lack of unselfish love, can lead to some very skewed ways of perceiving reality and misunderstood ideas about the powers of thought. It is especially not a good combination with “ego” or self-centeredness. It opens the doors to taking the idea of “the power of thought” to an extreme, and using it as a means of selfish, self-centered denial. When that happens, the Golden Rule, and its offspring of compassion, all go out the window. So let’s look at some of those misconceptions, and the realities, more closely. Fear as a Lightning Rod for Trouble One of the first common misunderstandings is about fear. What it is, what it does, and how to deal with it. Living by the Golden Rule involves caring about others, being concerned about others, and having compassion for others. That subsequently involves facing reality, facing the real problems that you and others have. And that subsequently involves facing your own fears. Facing fear instead of living in fear or denial, is the only way to do something positive and constructive about your problems, or the problems of others. Denying that problems exist, only allows them to continue, or grow. But there is a big difference between acknowledging, facing and dealing with problems, and mentally nurturing or developing them. The fact is, fear can attract what you are afraid of. There is also something to the old saying that “animals can ‘smell’ fear”. And it applies to humans too. But people need to clearly understand the difference between irrational fear (and its related thoughts and feelings), and rational concern (and its related thoughts and feelings). The trouble is, many people who think they understand fear, the power of the mind, the power of positive and negative thought, really don’t. 16
When I was young, I experienced the negative effects of fear personally in many ways. I was a very sensitive child that was always picked on and beaten up. After getting good at martial arts, and losing my fear of getting beaten up, I never again had a problem, and never had to use the martial arts training. I’ve also seen those who fought out of fear or hate, usually make many mistakes. A fearless, rational fighter may use “emotional content” rather than hate or anger, to enhance their ability. But still, even without the fear, if I were so extreme with the idea that I was in denial, and thought I couldn’t get hurt, and placed myself in dangerous situations because of my delusion, I could have gotten seriously hurt. I also have a son who once had a terrible fear of dogs. And sure enough, they were always chasing and attacking him. As soon as he lost the fear, most dogs weren’t interested any longer. Afraid of being broke? A professional card dealer who once dealt cards in Las Vegas told me they had a saying that relates to that too - “scared money loses”. They’ve seen that people who are desperate to win, or really afraid of losing, almost always lose beyond the odds. It can actually be measured statistically. Fear as a “wake up call” We’ve just covered how fear can actually help create problems. But certain aspects of it, used in a different way, can also help prevent problems. Positively using part of the source of fear as a mere guidance and alarm device, can be beneficial. People need warning mechanisms in life. Listening to your intuitive “warning sensors” can keep you from doing stupid things that can get you into trouble. You might have a bad feeling about going into the park for a good reason. Or feeling like you need to slow down your car on the upcoming curve that may be icy. Or using that payphone with those men hanging around it. There are countless incidences in which someone hasn’t been harmed, because they listened to their warning mechanisms, whether intuition based, or “fear source” based. Ignoring real potential problems under the banner of “not giving in to fear”, or “not creating anything bad” is just plain unprovable “wishful thinking”. You can create a delusion of “safety through positive thought” that can get you and others hurt if you buy into it. You can say “I won’t give any energy to the negative thoughts of possibly being harmed”, put a blindfold on, then drive the car across town in rush hour traffic. But you’d almost certainly have an accident. That can be proven, and no one can prove that you can ignore traffic and get away with it, no matter how “perfectly positive” your thoughts are. Again, you need “warning sensors” to alert you to possible danger or problems, and you need to be aware of potential problems, and act on them, to keep you and others from harm. So how does that work with the idea that fear can attract problems and cause harm. It doesn’t, BECAUSE WHAT WE HAVE JUST TALKED ABOUT ISN’T FEAR. It is what the source of fear basically is. This is where so many people “miss the boat” and just don’t get it. They don’t really understand the difference between acknowledging a potential problem, and creating it with their mind. They’ve just jumped on the bandwagon that ANY thought which isn’t “Everything is perfect, nothing is wrong, nothing can go wrong.”, is fear based, and creating a problem. But mentally acknowledging a problem/threat, thinking about how to deal with it, and then taking action, isn’t fear, and isn’t the problem. Fear may be involved with that process for many people, and needs to be isolated. But it’s the “selfish-self’s” reaction to our “warning mechanism” that creates “fear” as we know it, and the associated problems. Fear associated problems can come from a couple of different ways of negatively dealing with fear. Selfish-self’s reaction type #1 is “freaking out” (to various degrees which can include aversion), with its associated obsession and negative thought projection. We’ll call this “negative thinking”. Selfish-self’s reaction type #2 is pretending nothing is wrong, or nothing can go wrong. We’ll call this “denial thinking”. Denial thinking is really the result of someone being SO very, very afraid, that they don’t even want to face the possibility of the existence of what they fear. This type of thinking usually involves transferring their own fear to others - thinking it’s other people who are afraid, not them. They say others are “fearful” or “projecting fear”, if they even mention the harsh realities of life, and possible problems or threats. We’ll discuss denial thinking more later, because it is growing in popularity, and part of a big social problem. Obviously both types of selfish-self reactions cause their own types of problems (which we’ll also discuss more later). But what about a Golden Rule way of “reading the warning sensors”? With the transcension of selfishness that can come with applying unselfish love in your life, fear can change to merely being rational concern and a means of alerting you to assess possible problems or threats, so you can act on them rationally to bring about the most positive conclusion. Developing unselfish love changes the way you think and deal with everything. Instead of self-centered reactions, you can have “beyond your self” reactions in which you have more awareness of the big picture, are more calm, and have more clarity of thought. To understand that a little better, you can use a car as analogy. You are the car in this analogy. You’ve got warning lights and gauges on the dashboard of your car. 17
Having self-centered reaction type 1 might be like looking at your gauges so much you get into an accident, or seeing the water temperature go into the boiling range, and “freaking out” as if you were getting burned. Such a reaction might include such irrationality as saying to yourself “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” while you continue driving until the car totally breaks down. Or you might crash because of the “freaking out” reaction (you could swerve, slam on the brakes, not see another car because your awareness is down, etc.). If you are “coming from” a thought process that is unselfishly based, you can positively observe the problems and take positive action. If the car is getting too hot, you can pull off and get water before there is serious damage. In fact, the more you know, the more you are prepared, the less trouble you’re likely to have. But if you are “coming from” a thought process of self-centered reaction #2 (denial) and you ignore your warning lights, you are increasing your odds of a problem, rather than decreasing them. If you ignore the radiator boiling over, your engine will die, regardless of what you “think”. Can you imagine ignoring your gas gauge because “you don’t want to give energy to running out of gas”? The Link between Compassion/Caring, Pain, and Fear Living by the Golden Rule means caring about others. Caring is a major source of positive change (examples forthcoming). But it hurts to care. Period. Having real compassion, also means being willing to feel the emotional pain that is part of REALLY caring. To my knowledge, there is no way to have an open heart, and care about others, without feeling the personal emotional pain that comes when you have real compassion for the pain, suffering and hardships of others. They are inseparably linked together. If you aren’t willing to experience some heartache in order to care, then you won’t be willing to live by the Golden Rule. Fear, Pain, and Denial Thinking Having awareness of your self and the world around you, and having an open mind is very similar to having an open, but aching, heart. Having real courage, means being willing to feel the pain involved with your fears, face your fears, and deal with them positively. Some people are at least honest about being selfish and not caring about others. And honest about being afraid to face reality. But others have found ways to avoid facing themselves, their fear, or facing the pain and fear of world conditions. One of the most unfortunate ways, is by “pretending” to be spiritual and full of “love and light”. They have actually convinced themselves that their delusion is real, while really still being just plain old selfish and uncaring (in a nice “love and light” package). Let’s compare Golden Rule behavior to “pseudo-spiritual” behavior. Let’s say you live in the country, and you have a few neighbors who are also friends. “Friend number one” is a seemingly stern, down to earth farmer. But he “gets” the idea of the Golden Rule, and tries to live by it. “Friend number two” is someone who always seems to be such a “sweetness and light” person. This person has read many spiritual books, is into all kinds of “spiritual things”, goes to various kinds of spiritual seminars, etc., etc.. “Friend number three” considers himself a “religious person”. You’ve all been “friends” and neighbors for years. One day, your house burns down. Your three friends all come over to see you. The “non-spiritual” Golden Rule oriented friend begins to organize help to rebuild your house, get you food, clothing, and offers to let you stay at his house in the mean time. Neighbor number two sighs, shakes his head, tells you how you must have “attracted it to yourself” with negative thought projections. Then he drives off leaving you and your burned house in the dust as they head off to attend a weekend of cosmic dance and sacred geometry building seminars. Friend number three expresses his concern and sympathy verbally, but does nothing to help. Which friend would you rather have? Which friend is really more spiritual? Which kind of friends do you want to cultivate and deserve? As in the example above, some people claim to believe that if you don’t “give energy to” (think about) problems, you are preventing problems, or at least minimizing them. But like we said earlier, such denial thinking is often really the result of their extreme fear. But it’s also from selfishness. They’re afraid to lose what they desire and what they are attached to. Sure, there is no doubt that negative thinking and fear can create or worsen problems, as I gave examples of above. But when that is misunderstood by someone who is not making unselfish love their priority, it is often used as an excuse for selfishness, and a way to avoid fear rather than facing the harsh realities of life with courage. Problems and “threats” should not be expected to go away by ignoring them like an ostrich hiding its head in a hole (thinking a predator won’t see it or get it if it can’t see the predator). Denying that there even is a problem, doesn’t make it so there aren’t any problems, or make it so you don’t create problems. If fact, if anything, it makes things worse and lets problems grow and spread. How “Golden Rule thinking” Creates Positive Change 18
We’ve already given some examples of the benefits of Golden Rule positive thinking over fear based negative or denial thinking. But this is such an important concept that I thought I should give more examples that can provide you with deeper and fuller understanding. I had cancer once. I got it because of accidental extreme radiation exposure. I know some denial thinkers out there are thinking to themselves that their thoughts could prevent getting cancer in such circumstances. All I can do is repeat myself, and say you misunderstand the power of thought. I would ask you to “get real” about it and try to come up with ANY legitimate proof to support your belief - there just isn’t any. Again, you have to understand the true abilities and limits of the mind and thinking. I know better than most what those are. I have also known of many people who have recovered from cancer while using positive imagery. But you need to separate reality from fantasy, and know the limits and true uses of positive thinking if you really want to improve your life and those of others. Back to my cancer story - I was given 6 weeks to live (This, by the way, is a bad thing for a doctor to do - a truly negative thought projection. That statement could have contributed to an early death had I accepted it in any way, even subconsciously. Had I not understood the powers of the mind, or not had control over my own mind, it probably would have). I was barely alive, but before I could start my road to recovery, I had to first recognize and acknowledge the fact that I was dying and wasting away - if I hadn’t, I would have just died one day “by surprise”. After recognizing the problem, I had to define the problem (that it was cancer, and what type of cancer), then I came up with a constructive plan for healing. I used many types of physical and spiritual therapies in combination. The first step towards finding a solution to any problem, is to identify and clearly define the problem. Then you can find an answer, a solution, a healing. Thus if a person wants to improve their life, the lives of others, and the world, they must first be aware of any problems or potential problems that exist. After that, they need to respond with constructive thoughts and actions. What comes out in the wash? Comparing Brand “A”, with Brand “X” Just look at the results of following both ways of thinking and dealing with life (Golden Rule vs. “denial thinking”). There is quantitative proof of the benefits of living by the Golden Rule, and the fallacy of living by denial thinking. All it takes is looking at the facts with an open, objective mind, and the truth is crystal clear. No one can give facts proving that apathy or denial ever helped anyone or anything. On the other hand, we can point to thousands of provable instances where positively recognizing and facing the reality of a problem, then dealing with it accordingly, helped make things better. I already gave you a few. Some “denial thinkers” point to “pseudo-evidence” of how denial thinking works. They’ll point to things like leaving their doors unlocked, and not having their car stolen or house burglarized, as evidence of how not giving such things “negative energy” work. But consider the facts objectively. Check the statistics. Most people are concerned about crooks, and do lock their doors, and yet they still don’t get burglarized. Your house may never be targeted for burglary, and if it’s not, no crook will even try the doorknob to see if it’s unlocked. You could go your whole life with no problem, or you could end up one of the burglary statistics - locked or not, concerned about theft or not. So that’s not evidence of “denial thinking” being beneficial, or working in the least. And if it really worked, why not drive through red lights and not give energy to getting a ticket, or having an accident? We can give you proof of the benefits of facing reality (including not driving through red lights). To start with, there are many instances of how someone’s burglar alarm frightened off burglars. In the same instance of a targeted house, the denial thinker without an alarm would have had an intruder (they probably would have denied being robbed though, so as not to look foolish). Car theft statistics are similar. You may never have your car stolen, locked or not, car keys left in it or not. But in fact, statistically, you increase the odds of having your car stolen, if you leave your keys in the car, “unconcerned” that someone will steal it. And fewer cars (car for car) with alarm systems are stolen, than those without. That’s why some insurance companies give discounts for people who have house, business, and auto alarm systems. It’s their business to know those facts. So statistically, the evidence in these areas prove that denial thinking doesn’t work, and “giving energy to”/being realistically concerned about problems and potential threats, actually pays off when you take constructive positive action. And there are far more areas of example. Denial thinking is also often taken to the extreme regarding health issues. They say you won’t get sick if you don’t think you will, or believe you will. This is sometimes really taken to the point of not seeking medical treatment for very serious problems (neither alternative nor traditional medical treatment). But all bodies age, get ill sometimes, and eventually die. There is not a shred of factual evidence or truth to the contrary. In fact, all things in nature, and the entire universe go through cycles, age, and die. It’s all just 19
part of the continuation of life. It’s natural. It actually has a purpose to it. If you believe otherwise, you’re just in denial because you’re afraid of aging and dying. Ironically, many of the people who practice denial thinking are also involved with alternative healing methods. Why be involved in healing therapies, if acknowledging the need for it is actually “giving energy to” an illness, or only reinforcing negative thought by even acknowledging an illness (you can’t have healing without something to heal). The fact is, in order to heal something, you first must acknowledge that there is a health problem, then you have to define and diagnose it, and only then can you work on a cure. Please Lord, Won’t you Buy me a Mercedes-Benz Here’s an amusing example of misunderstanding the powers of thought projection and prayer. I once stopped to help some women broken down on a highway. They were chanting. I asked if I could call someone for them, drop them at the next exit, or send someone from a garage back to help them. They said something to the effect of, “No. We’re chanting for help, and it should come soon.” - that was denial thinking at one of its wackiest moments. Negative Projecting Babies Under My Sink! If you really agreed with the premise of denial thinking, it would be ok to leave poisonous items accessible to an unsupervised baby. If their claim about “only getting sick if you believe you can, are, or have ‘projected it’” were true, it would be ok. If their claim that nothing bad will happen if you don’t think it, or think it can, thereby giving energy to it, it would also be ok. If any of that were true, then a baby could get under the kitchen sink without your knowledge, eat some poison, and not get sick, right? After all, the baby doesn’t have any pre-conceived negative ideas or negative thoughts about it. And if you don’t find the baby doing that, and don’t put your own negative thoughts onto it, it should be fine, right? Wrong. The fact is, if baby eats poison, baby gets sick, whether it knows it or not, or you know it or not. And a baby couldn’t be “attracting it” to itself because it has no pre-knowledge of such things. Please don’t get me wrong, I am actually a proponent of just how amazingly powerful the mind is, and how much it can help heal, and keep you healthy. It just must be kept in perspective, and reality, and not be used as an excuse for being selfish, uncaring, and supporting denial. Even the greatest powers of the mind, all have their limitations here on the planet Earth. When you return to a spiritual state of being rather than a physical body - then it’s a different story. But we’re talking about the physical world, living in physical bodies, and how to make that be the best it can be - for real. Public Awareness with Positive Golden Rule Thinking “Tell me how much you know of the sufferings of your fellow men and I will tell how much you have loved them.”- Helmut Thielickes Below are a few other related examples of positive Golden Rule thinking, some on a grander scale than what we’ve been talking about so far. Remember the whale used for the movie “Free Willy”? If everyone had the attitude of “I stay away from ‘bad’ news”, they would have remained unconcerned and in denial of the whale’s dilemma, and nothing would have ever been done about it. But thanks to people who do care, who are willing to hear about “bad” things happening in the world, the whale was saved. Even people who normally would’ve ignored news about it, may have gotten exposed to the information, and been moved to feel and do something. Through the movie, awareness of the problem was brought to people’s minds, and concern to their hearts. People felt hurt, felt pain for that whale. A sentiment was created which led to a movement to set the whale free. And eventually that freedom came to pass. If people took the denial thinking approach, the whale would still be captive, living in a swimming pool. Dolphins are another example. If no one was aware of or “gave energy to” the predicament of dolphins, or if no one cared about them, they would be in a far worse situation than they are now. It’s still bad, but at least there are more “free dolphin encounters” and less captive slave dolphin situations. And efforts to save dolphins from the killing that takes place during certain types of tuna fishing, are paying off to an extent. Now you can buy “dolphin safe tuna”. On the human front, while the world has very serious problems, people still come to the aid of others in need all around the world - IF they are aware of their plight. Help will never come if everyone is in denial and refusing to recognize the problems. But even with the awareness, help can’t come, if people don’t feel for others. Hardcore denial thinkers don’t want to be aware of problems, or feel anything about it. They just want to ignore “bad” things, ignore information about the “negative” problems of others in the world, and just think nice thoughts of “everything is just dandy”. Some denial thinkers rationalize it by saying people 20
are in their bad situations because they are choosing to suffer to learn something. Even so, if they are suffering, they are suffering, and how can you not feel for them if you are a caring person? And they may really need someone who cares and feels compassionate pain about their dilemma. Feeling pain over others’ suffering has a real and positive purpose. In all the examples I gave of people coming to the aid of others, or creatures (like whales), feeling some of their pain through compassion was a component. All that “real life” improvement didn’t happen through ignoring a problem and not giving it energy. Just the opposite. But even awareness, concern and caring without feeling pain, can still create positive changes. Take Organic food for instance. Whether you think it matters or not, I don’t think anyone is “against” organic food. And if nothing else, it does seem to be a more renewable “nature-friendly” form of farming. Cost seems to be the only real objection. But look at how things developed with it. First, public awareness of possible health risks and soil erosion were brought to the public’s attention. Then there was concern, then there was action - now organic food is widely sold even in supermarket chains. Food health risks are another example. If there is an outbreak of salmonella in eggs or e-coli in meat, is it better to not hear about it, ignore it, not give it energy? Why? People won’t get sick then? You won’t get sick??? Prove it. You can’t. But it has been proven that if people are made aware of a health risk, they can avoid it. And if they have been contaminated, the sooner they know about it, action can be taken. Use of the mind, certain supplements, and scientifically proven “laying on of hands” techniques can be used to improve the health of someone thusly contaminated. But the sooner we know about the contamination, the better the chances of recovery, and the milder the symptoms - because you can start taking action sooner. Remain unaware, or deliberately ignorant, and the results are far worse. That’s a fact. We could go on and on with examples of how recognizing and feeling for the hurt and problems of others is the only way to make things better. But we’re running out of time and paper. In all the above incidences, the concern of many people as a whole (in other words, all of us who recognized the problems, felt compassion for others, felt hurt about it, and cared about it), contributed towards effecting a positive change. What a wonderful thing. Even though we may not have all personally, directly, done anything for the whale, the dolphins, the flood victims, the food, whatever - our caring created a force, and support for all those involved in the changes. Those who “didn’t want to hear the news about it.”, and “didn’t want to give ‘the negative’ any energy”, not only didn’t help, but they were part of the problem in the first place, and keep contributing towards the continuation of such problems. Using “Golden Rule Positive Thinking”. So how can we use our thoughts best? I already gave some good examples above. But as an overview, if your goal is to live by the Golden Rule (be unselfishly loving towards others) use your positive thoughts, energy and actions to become that. Your thoughts build who and what you are, and your entire life. Please take that very seriously. It’s not just a concept or cute phrase, it is very real. Everything about your life, your lifestyle, your work, your house, your family, etc., all came about after first being nothing but a thought. Then a succession of many thoughts, with a certain “direction” of thinking, brought them about as realities in your life. The consistency of such thoughts is a vital key to consciously changing your life. You can use your thoughts to decide what you want; to think about solutions and improvements; to discipline your mind; to create prayers/affirmations to help change consciously and subconsciously; and to care about and help others. You can also use them in group work to help others help you change to become unselfishly loving. Help others help you change? We’ll talk about it more later, but yes, YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU. One more thing while we’re on this subject of using your thoughts. A very, very important thing. We should always try to “insure” that our efforts for helping others, will be properly directed. I believe that what we wish for should succeed or fail according to the needs of the Universal Spirit/God, not our own desires or what we think is best. If you are Christian, you might know the story of Jesus in the Garden. The night before being arrested, he prayed to not have to go through the torture and crucifixion he was facing. He prayed, “take this cup from me”, but even in His anguish, He still had the wisdom to finish with, “But Your will be done, not mine.”. He knew the vital importance of this. If you want to take it as seriously, the best insurance is always use this (or a similar) prayer/affirmation, “But God’s Will Be Donenot mine”. Say or think that, sincerely, whenever you hope, pray, wish for something, or try to help another. We need such safeguards because we can’t fully understand the ramifications of everything from our limited points of view. For instance, what if you were a person who saved a mass murderer from being hit by a car when he was a child. Then they went on to start a war and killed millions of innocent people. Good, or bad? It gets very complicated when you think about all the possible ramifications of our actions. 21
But one of the aspects of becoming unselfishly loving, is that your guidance and actions will come more and more from the Universal Spirit, via your spiritual-side self rather than your selfish-side self. If you still don’t understand why you should use “insurance affirmations”, refer to the story of the Monkey’s Paw. It shows how things can go terribly wrong when you get what you ask for, even when you have the best intentions.
Part Two Tools and Tips for Applying the Golden Rule
Chapter Seven Getting to Know You What you Want, Who You Are, and Who You Are Becoming The Golden Rule Workbook Personal Declarations Section “Put it in writing” is the common adage for anyone who is serious about making a commitment. People do it all the time when they make a commitment for a car, an apartment, a job, and many other things in life. Are your personal commitments to yourself less important, or even more important? The back of this book is designed for you to put the things that are important to your personal or spiritual goals in writing. It’s like your personal Declaration of Independence and Constitution. It has forms you can fill out to make your own written declarations and contracts about your ideals, goals, and commitments to yourself and others. Label it with your name. Sign it. Give it your John Hancock. It will become your “representative” and a “symbol” of you and what you believe in and want. You will refer to it often to remind yourself of what you want, what you need to work on, and to reaffirm your commitments to those things. If you work with others of like-mind who are also trying to apply the Golden Rule in their lives, you will also sometimes exchange workbooks to show them your ideals and commitments - not just with “lip service”, but with your very tangible and “grounded” personal declarations. Your personal declarations section, along with keeping written journals of your daily experiences (both waking and dreaming) are effective “tools” you can use for personal development and growth through “knowing yourself”, and clearly stating your intentions and commitments. If your book didn’t already come with one, get a book divider tab (available at any office supply) and attach it to the beginning (page 60) of your Personal Declarations section.
Journals You’ll want to keep two journals, one to record your dreams, and another to record your daily activities, like a diary. Both journals will help you apply the Golden Rule in your life. Making and using a Dream Journal During sleep, dreams can tell us many things. Sometimes they mean nothing, but they often reflect issues that are ongoing in our lives, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Dreams can also be used for problem solving, and playing out optional decisions. The trick is to learn to take advantage of this state, and the information it provides. Many dreams are a “preview” of experiences to be dealt with, or of presently existing circumstances that should be seen as lessons and a means of growth. These dreams are important, and should be dealt with accordingly. However, not all dreams are of that type. Physical illness or disturbances, or mental disturbances in either the conscious or sub-conscious realms, can affect or even create and dominate dream experiences. These are the only dreams that should be ignored. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of their dream experiences. And even if they were, they wouldn’t know where to begin to interpret them. Thus the great benefits from dreams are lost. We can turn this around however, and use our dreams to help us. How? Getting full benefits from dreams can be facilitated in several ways: 23
1- Extending the waking consciousness into the dream. This is accomplished through becoming aware that you are active and functional in a dream while dreaming. You may use a key symbol to trigger recognition of awareness within a dream. For example, if you can remember to look at your hands in a dream, it can trigger conscious dreaming. A light could also be used as a “trigger symbol”. Being in a conscious dream state allows you to control the dream. This allows you to create “simulated” reality situations in which you can work through problems, try various solutions, and develop and create most anything you can think of. Just think of the possibilities! If you’re really having trouble getting the hang of conscious dreaming, and you can afford the technology, in the back of the book you’ll find a special hi-tech sleep mask that actually senses when you start dreaming, and then briefly flashes a light to key you into a conscious (lucid) dream state. Pretty nifty. 2- Extending a dream into waking consciousness. This method (which also aids in the development of the first method) is done by recording your dreams every morning. Keep a pen and notebook near your bed, and as soon as you begin to leave your dream state and enter the “waking” state, write down whatever you can remember of the dream, even if it is only a fragment, a word, or a feeling. Don’t wait until you’re awake - do it when you first notice you are leaving the dream state. The more you do this, the easier it will become to remember your dreams, and remember them fully. Before you know it you will be filling pages at a time. If you think you don’t dream, think again. Everyone dreams. Some people just don’t remember it. If you have that problem, or any difficulty remembering your dreams, it could be from shifting from the dream state to the waking state too quickly. Try to linger in sleep, rather than rapidly becoming conscious and active. A “jarring” alarm or other way of waking up, can be the problem sometimes. There is a special clock that uses a single mild chime to initially “rouse” the sleeper, and allows for the gradual transition from dream to being awake. Don’t worry, it won’t let you miss work - if you don’t respond to the chime, it does it again, and over time, eventually it will do it every few seconds if you haven’t turned it off. Such clocks are wonderful and powerful tools for growth via dreamwork. See the back of the book for sources of where to get “non-jarring” “dream-friendly” alarm clocks that can help you remember your dreams, or linger in a lucid state. 3- Daily reviewing of your dreams. The old testament has a story about Joseph, and how his remarkable ability to interpret dreams, saved his family and people. But few people have the capability to accurately and fully interpret the dreams of others. One reason is because dream symbology varies among individuals. People need to discover their own symbology, and interpret their own dreams. The best way to understand the meaning of your dreams is to take in the whole picture intuitively. Don’t rack your mind trying to figure out details and such. The meaning of your dreams will become more clear to you as you study them. With time, experience, and openness, what you need to know will be revealed to you. 4- The following affirmation aids all the previously mentioned methods; “I remember my dreams and am conscious of them while dreaming.” This can be used by repeating it silently to yourself as you are going to sleep. Remember to keep in mind all the different causes that can manifest in a dream so you won’t be trying to read-in something profound when it is nothing but an upset stomach predominating the experience! Making and Using a Personal Journal Every night, write down what your day’s activities were (if you haven’t already been doing it throughout the day. After you’re done, close your eyes, go back and “review” the experiences you had during the day. Do you find any negative experiences? Did you apply the Golden Rule? Did you become negative, upset, about something? Make any mistakes? Were you unselfishly loving? Go back again to the beginning of the day and re-experience it with your imagination, but this time change it around. Visualize negative experiences as occurring positively. See things you negatively reacted to as lessons, and visualize yourself reacting in a positive, constructive, unselfishly loving manner instead. Where you made mistakes, visualize yourself making the proper decisions. Follow your new positive experiences and decisions through to their imaginary positive results. Doing this exercise will help you break out of negative patterns and create new positive patterns. After a month has passed, begin comparing your past activities and experiences with your current ones. Get out the paper you wrote your ideal on (covered later) and compare it with these to see how you 24
are doing with living up to your ideal. Also look at your dream journal, and see if there is any relationship to your past dreams, and your present life.
Chapter Eight Changing Yourself You’ll notice the headline doesn’t say “Changing others”, “Changing your husband/wife”, or such. It says “Changing Yourself”. There is a very good reason for that. The first thing you need to realize and remember is that you can only change yourself. That concept is very important for you to “get”. So we’ll say it again and again throughout the book. YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOURSELF. No one else. Because most everyone has selfishness, everyone has the tendency to think they are right all the time, which naturally means other people are usually wrong all the time. Be honest with yourself now - you probably feel that way too. So when problems come up, rather than looking for our own responsibility and what we can change about ourselves, we usually automatically point the finger of fault at others, expecting them to change, or expecting them to be different. That is often used as a diversion and rationalization to not see and deal with one’s own issues when an argument arises, and someone points out a valid issue about the other person’s behavior. The selfish-side of one’s self, doesn’t want to take responsibility, and when it knows no one else is perfect either, it has the ultimate “scape-goat” - just point the finger, turn the tables, and blame others. “It’s Not My Fault” (Famous quote from San Andreas) There is an old saying, “There are two sides to every story”. While indeed others may be to blame, in most cases, both parties in a dispute are each partly to blame. There is an old book, which (I think) was titled “I’m OK, you’re OK”. But the selfish-side self always wants it to be “I’m OK, you’re Not”. Regardless of who is to blame for what, when you get into a disagreement or argument that “pushes your buttons”, who can you change? The other person? Who can they change - you? YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOURSELF. By changing yourself, you will become an example for others. Becoming a positive example, and thus behaving differently, will have an affect on others, and you will be giving them an opportunity to change. But that’s the most you can really do. Again, YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOURSELF. In the Personal Declarations section, on page 73, you’ll find written in huge letters, your first declaration “I CAN ONLY CHANGE MYSELF”. It’s in that section so you can remind yourself of it frequently. Go to that page now, and if you understand it and agree with it, sign it at the bottom. Then go get a few full-sized sheets of paper (you’ll use them later), and on one of them write the same statement in very large letters. It would be a good idea to put it somewhere that you’ll see it frequently.
Chapter Nine Wanting & Taking Criticism The Golden Key to Applying the Golden Rule While the Golden Rule is the “Big Key” to all of Life’s Problems, wanting criticism, and how you take criticism, are the “Big Keys” to personal growth and applying the Golden Rule in your life. The amount of progress you make, is in direct proportion to your amount of humility, and your desire to use criticism to improve yourself. Defensiveness Everyone is familiar with a person getting “defensive” when something is brought up to them that they don’t want to deal with. It’s usually something that threatens the selfish-side self, relating to a desire or fear. Bringing up any issue that creates pressure to release either a “block” (fear side), or an “addiction” (desire side), usually results in defensiveness. The most common “trigger” for defensiveness, is criticism. Defensiveness is a deeply ingrained automatic reaction within everyone, yes, even you. Why? If you want to understand it better, start by asking yourself what is actually being defended? What’s really being defended is sometimes called “ego”. But essentially, it’s the selfish-side self. And it’s protecting (defending) its “turf” and control. It isn’t so obvious though, because usually, side-issues are being defended. But nonetheless, those side issues tie directly into the entire selfish-side self. The issues represent the selfishside. If you understand that, and if you are wanting to grow and apply the Golden Rule in your life, then what is there to defend really? If selfishness and ego are your enemy, do you want to defend the very thing you are working against? Obviously not. But again, this is a DEEPLY INGRAINED AUTOMATIC REACTION, and it takes constant vigilance and very hard work to counteract that. When you have mastered control over this reaction, you will be able to take advantage of tremendous opportunities for growth. How can we change this reaction? There are several ways. First, the opposite of being defensive, is being humble, honest and receptive to input involving your ego or selfish-side self. When you are sincerely desirous of learning about your flaws and changing, you will want the criticism of others to help you change. And it shouldn’t matter to you whether that criticism is given in the spirit of being helpful, or spiteful. If you have the right attitude, all criticism can be “constructive criticism”. It there’s truth in someone’s criticism, you can use it, if there isn’t, you can toss it. If you want to grow, if you really want to apply the Golden Rule in your life, you will be receptive to all criticism. In fact, you will be more than receptive, you will be “thirsty” for it. That thirst is a must. That humility is a boon. A person with a lot of humility learns and grows many times faster than a person with little humility. And if you completely lack humility, you aren’t going anywhere, or should I say, you are “growing nowhere”. Even if you are thirsty for critical input, it can still be challenging when it actually occurs. As you read this, you may be thinking, “Yes, that sounds great, I do want to change and I’m open to input and criticism.” That’s a good start. But then you need to get down to work, and remember your desire to change when you begin to hear things that you don’t like hearing about yourself, things that are “less than flattering” to say the least. I.e., things that “bug your ego”. If that happens, you aren’t likely to feel “peaceful and happy”. It will happen. Plan on it, and be ready for it. With love and humility (that burning desire to face your flaws and change), you can deal with it. The important part is how you handle it when it does occur. When you’re hearing something that you don’t want to deal with, or your self instantly throws up, “Nuh Uh, that’s not true!”, or some other defensive response, here’s what you can do. Stop yourself, take a breath and call to mind your ideal/goal (covered later). This is really important, because it is your dedication to your ideal that will help motivate you to rise up above that automatic defensive response. Then read your Personal Declaration section, and ask yourself, “What do I really want?”, “What am I doing here?” Hopefully, your answer is, “I want to see all of my flaws and the truth so I can grow as a person.” Then, examine the criticism/input you are receiving in an objective, detached way. And with a priority desire for the truth, examine what they are telling you. Be truthful. Be honest. It’s OK - you can face it and change it. Acknowledging a flaw/mistake doesn’t doom you or damn you. It’s the first step in transcending it.
Sometimes it helps to imagine that they are bringing it up to some other person and you are just an observer. Looking at it as just an uninvolved third party observer, is there truth to what is being said? If you know there is truth to it, acknowledge it. Then think about what the opposite trait would be. If someone is saying you are driving recklessly (and it’s true, or maybe only true that you are not driving as carefully as you should), then the opposite trait would be driving carefully. So to change that and strengthen the positive, do the following: 1 - Change the way you are driving immediately. 2 - Thank the person who brought it up to you. They’ve done you a favor. 3 - Apologize if appropriate. 4 - Say an “affirmation” (see other chapter) like, “I always drive carefully”. Also, take a moment as you visualize yourself having the positive trait involved, and feel grateful for the opportunity for growth. Unfortunately, it’s a rare thing for someone to really be grateful when someone criticizes them or points a flaw out. But it really is a blessing in disguise, so - feel blessed! To be forewarned is to be forearmed, so being aware of some standard defensive “scripts” that the selfish-side uses, can be very helpful. Here are some of the top rated “oldies” that I’ve heard down through the years: 1 - “You’re just being “negative”, and that’s the real reason why you’re saying this about me.” 2 - “Well, you do that too, so you don’t have the right to say anything to me about it.” 3 - “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.” 4 - “Why do you always have to nit-pick?” If you hear any of these running through your mind, or any variations on them, take a step back and really look for the truth. Also notice how you are feeling. Are you feeling uptight? Or angry? Are you unhappy? If you are feeling disharmonious emotions, you have a problem regardless of the validity of what is being brought up to you. The person who is speaking to you may actually be feeling negative, or making a big deal out of something, or doing the very thing they are confronting you with, but still, the PRIMARY AND PRIORITY issue at hand is- is there something you can learn from what they are saying to you about yourself? Focusing on the problems of the other person is a standard selfish-side maneuver to avoid addressing what’s being said about you. It’s about you first of all. You are the person you are responsible for changing - no one else. YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU. Never let yourself avoid dealing with something by turning the tables on your critic (that can be dealt with later). Save yourself and your friend the hassle of going through all that and just be humble enough to look for and recognize the truth, whatever it may be. It just isn’t a valid argument to say, “You’re not perfect yourself, so I don’t want to hear any criticism from you.”. If a drunk warns you about the dangers of drinking too much, is his advice bad because he’s sick and addicted to alcohol himself, or is his advice still good advice?” So start by dealing with your self. Then, after having dealt with your issue positively, if there is a problem with the other person, you can help them with that. But only after you have honestly dealt with your own issue. Note how I said “help” them with it. Too often, it is seen as busting someone, getting on their case, getting back at them, etc. But if you love them, and want to help them grow, and you have an agreement to point things out, then you are helping them on their road to oneness. That is the spirit that you should always say things with. “He has the right to criticize, who has the heart to help.”- Abe Lincoln In your Personal Declarations section, you’ll find several more declarations in large letters. On page 70, you’ll find, I WANT MY “EGO BUSTED” AND I WANT CRITICISM. On page 69 you’ll find, WHAT AM I DOING HERE? And on page 68, you’ll find, I WANT TO SEE ALL MY FLAWS AND THE TRUTH SO I CAN GROW AS A PERSON. Go to those pages now, and if you understand and agree with them, sign at the bottom. Then if you want to put it on a wall, write the same statement in very large letters on one of the blank pieces of paper you got out earlier.
Chapter Ten You Can’t Always Get What You Want People ruin so many things, and spend so much time feeling badly, just because they do things begrudgingly rather than positively. Here’s just one example: If you have a job that you’re unhappy with, and you want to make a positive change, you have two options - one is to quit. But if you can’t or won’t quit and do something else, then change your attitude and make the best of it. Apply the Golden Rule at work. It will make things so much nicer for you, those you work with, and improve your job performance. You’re doing what you want anyway, so why not “really want” to do it? The same process applies to so many things. Including doing something nice for others, that you don’t “really want” to do. For instance, if you are going out to dinner with someone, and you end up going to the restaurant they want to go to instead of the one you want to go to, you can either be “bummed out” the whole time, or “happy” the whole time. All depending on your attitude, you can make a potentially nice evening horrible, or wonderful. Let’s face it, people generally just do what they want anyway. It might not be what they say they want, or seem to want, but they are almost always really doing what they want. Even if you are doing something you don’t want to do, unless someone is actually forcing you to do it under threat, you have made the decision to do it - so in essence, you want to do it. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be doing it. But you may not FEEL like you want to do it. And if your heart’s not in it, it won’t go as well as if it was. If fact, you can create all kinds of problems. That’s what we mean by “really wanting” to do something having your heart in it, desiring to do it, feeling like you want to do it. So a good trait to develop, is being able to make those things you NEED to do, into something you actually feel like you WANT to do. It’s all in the attitude you take. I learned this long ago through doing dishes in the monastery. It was the job that was assigned to me, but I didn’t want to do it. As a result, dishes came out dirty, were broken, and got so backed up that breakfast dishes were often not ready for lunch. And I was miserable the whole time on top of it. One day, I changed my attitude. I decided that since I wanted the growth afforded by the monastery, and doing dishes was part of what it took and what I must do, I may as well make the best of it. I turned it into an enjoyable time of meditation. As soon as I did, I was no longer miserable, and dishes were clean, unbroken, and finished long before the next meal. In your Personal Declarations section, on page 67, you’ll find another declaration in large letters. I WANT TO DO ANYTHING I NEED TO DO. Go to that page now, and if you understand it and agree with it, sign it at the bottom. Then if you want to put it on a wall, write the same statement in very large letters on one of the blank pieces of paper you got out earlier.
Chapter Eleven Communication, Communication, Communication! Just in case the headline didn’t get the idea across, communication is vital, vital, vital. If you want good interactions with others, you must communicate well, and thoroughly. You can’t relate to people properly if you don’t communicate properly. If you want to apply the Golden Rule in your life, then you must maximize your communication abilities. Lack of communication is also a big destroyer of relationships and personal growth. Lacking in vocabulary and linguistic skills, doesn’t prevent good communication. The major culprits in poor communication are selfishness, self-consciousness and negative programming. From early childhood we’re “conditioned” or “programmed” in many ways. Because we’re all different, and we have different experiences, we get bad communication training to various extents. But most all of us are taught to keep our feelings to ourselves, to “not make waves”, to not trust one another with our feelings, to “tune out”, etc.. By the time we’re adults, we have all developed an “automatic mode” of expressing ourselves and listening. And it’s usually quite lacking to one degree or another. Our communication skills are set, for better or worse. Usually worse. But we can change it, and it’s up to us to improve our ability to communicate. The Two Sides of Communication Essentially, communicating well involves both receiving incoming information well, and presenting your ideas well. It is a “two way street” or “give and take” sort of thing. On the “give” side of communication is expressing. Expressing can take the form of speaking, writing, images, music, body language, etc.. On the “take” side of communication, is receiving. Receiving can take the form of listening, reading, seeing, and observing (including body language and other non-verbal messages). Both require a variety of abilities and traits to do well, including being caring, open, sensitive, assertive, accurate, and thorough. We can put an end to being lost in our own separateness, not listening to others, not being comfortable saying something we’d like to say, saying something poorly/incorrectly, or misinterpreting what we are being told. It’s just a matter of re-focusing our attention on others. Aspects of the Expression Side of Communicating IMMEDIATE POSITIVE EXPRESSION We are not usually trained to positively and constructively assert ourselves or express needs and ideas to each other - quite the opposite. Often, we only express ourselves after a build up of negativity or anger. So start with working on communicating your feelings positively, and as soon as an issue arises. CRYSTAL CLARITY Make sure what you are trying to convey to someone is extremely clear to them. You may know what you mean by something, but that doesn’t mean they do. So make it clear in terms they will understand. Pay attention, see if they are “getting it” and adjust your communication as necessary. Not doing that is a common source of problems - sometimes serious problems. When you are thinking or feeling something that you need to share with someone, it’s great to develop the habit of being very mindful and aware of the words you are going to use, and the feeling that you are attaching to those words. Are you really saying what you are thinking and feeling? Are you communicating the entire concept? Are you assuming nothing? Are you being really accurate? When watching others attempt to communicate with each other, I have been amazed at how often they say only a part of what they are thinking and feeling, and omit so much of it that the other person misunderstands. LOVE IS A COMMUNICATION BRIDGE The more love and caring you have, the better you’ll be able to communicate, regardless of your skill level. So if you want to communicate well, always frequently check yourself to be sure that you’re feeling as much caring and positivity as possible. I’ve seen tremendous communication gaps bridged with a good supply of humility and affection for the other person. In fact, taking it to an extreme, I learned a lot about crossing communication gaps while living in foreign countries where I didn’t speak the language. If you care about others, it makes all the difference in the world. It can not only bridge language barriers, but also cultural barriers, prejudices, religious and class barriers, etc.. Love makes a huge difference in reaching
people, getting them to open up and communicate with you, and getting your meaning, intent and message across. MATCHING STYLES Are the words you are using the best choice for the person that you are speaking to? If you watch for it, you’ll notice that each person has their own style of speaking. Mannerisms, intensity, brashness, and more, all vary between people and local cultures. Even vocabularies and slang vary. For instance, having a waiter say “sit down” in an abrupt manner and tone, might be considered rude compared to someone nicely saying “please have a seat”. And it might be rude or insulting depending on the situation. But if you were dealing with person who’s cultural norm is to speak that way, it’s not rude. In fact, if you were “nicer” than their cultural norm, it could lead them to distrust you, or in some situations, to consider you weak and someone to be taken advantage of. So one good skill to develop is being able to speak with the style and feeling or “type of language” of the person you want to communicate with. The more similarly you can structure your thoughts and words to their style, the better the odds are that they will get the meaning of your message correctly, and you’ll get theirs. Be aware of whether or not the other person actually understood what you meant to say. There are many verbal AND non-verbal “signals” that “tell” you what someone means to say, and that give clues as to whether or not the other person gets what you are saying. Just get “out of your self” and pay attention - you’ll see the signs. If your attention is more on yourself, you’ll miss them. SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT POINTS ON EXPRESSION 1. Don’t let things build up before you say something. 2. Be crystal clear and accurate about what you are saying. 3. Communicate with Love. 4. Shape your style of language to your audience. 5. Focus on the other person and whether or not they understood you. Aspects of the Receptive Side of Communicating HEARING BUT NOT LISTENING On the other side of the coin, most of us were never trained to really listen. In fact, school training often creates a syndrome in which we “glaze over” and block out things that are being said (again, to various degrees). This is the result of both boring presentations, and attempts at being forced to learn. The problem is further worsened by selfishness/self-centeredness. We don’t pay much attention to others when our attention is focused on our selves. In fact, because of our self-oriented focus, it has never even occurred to most of us that we lack the ability to listen, comprehend, and absorb what someone else has to say. It’s not considered as important as telling other people what you want them to hear. You’ve probably heard of sales courses, speaking courses, assertiveness courses, etc., but how often to you hear of classes on being a better listener? The problem reminds me of the story about a man who’s girlfriend tells him she is leaving him because he doesn’t listen to her. When another friend asked about why she left, the man says, “I’m not sure, something about not listening, but I wasn’t really paying attention...”. The fact is, many of us don’t really care what someone else has to say. Which is where the Golden Rule comes in - if we care, that can all change. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS BEING SAID, INSTEAD OF WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY If you want to really listen, watch out for paying too much attention to your own reactions and desires. Many people don’t “hear” because they are too busy thinking about what they want to say next. Like the old saying goes, “Stop. Look. Listen.” BECOME A FAIR WITNESS OBSERVER You can learn much by becoming an “observer” - always paying attention to how others communicate. Listen for the feeling and both the surface meaning and the deeper meanings of what people are saying. You can learn a lot about communicating by doing this. STILL THE MIND Meditating can help make you a better listener. As you meditate, your ability to still your mind is enhanced, which helps you listen because the chatter of your own mind is reduced. Who can really hear what’s going on “out there” when there’s such a deafening din going on in your own mind? It reminds me of the old saying that we are created with two eyes, two ears and just one mouth. That’s a four to one ratio. Maybe someone was trying to tell us something! REALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY 31
Caring about what someone has to say makes you a better listener, and makes others more receptive to you. It also makes you more interesting to them. They will feel your genuine interest in what they think and feel (which sadly, is rare) and they in turn will be more likely to be open hearted with you too, and listen to what you have to say.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF LISTENING. 1. Pay attention to what is being said, not what you want to say. 2. Be sensitive to the feelings behind the words you are hearing. 3. Still your mind as you listen. 4. Really care about what they are feeling and thinking. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT Communication is obviously also vital in spousal relationships, but we’ll cover that in the section about applying the Golden Rule in family/spousal relationships. In your Personal Declarations section, on page 66, you’ll find another declaration in large letters. COMMUNICATE! ARE YOU CLEARLY EXPRESSING YOURSELF? ARE YOU REALLY LISTENING? Go to that page now, and if you understand it and agree with it, sign it at the bottom. Then if you want to put it on a wall, write the same statement in very large letters on one of the blank pieces of paper you got out earlier.
Chapter Twelve Seeing From Someone Else’s Point of View We’ve all heard phrases like, ‘From where I sit ....’, or ‘Walk a mile in my shoes...’, etc.. These are all common references to the significance of having separate and different points of view. Understanding the limits of your own point of view, and really understanding someone else’s point of view, is necessary for applying the Golden Rule and communicating well. A person’s ‘point of view’ can mean two things: 1) It can mean what it literally says - the ‘point’ from which a person ‘sees’ things. 2) It can mean a person’s opinion. A person’s opinion is based on a combination of #1, and the person’s programmed beliefs. Let’s first look closer at #1, the ‘point’ aspect. Most individuals have a limited point of view dictated by the very fact that they are separate individuals. They are each seeing things from a different place, a different point, literally. And they see only from their separate individual ‘place’. There are as many ‘places’ that a person will see from as there are persons. And the trouble is, seeing from only one ‘place’ doesn’t allow seeing a ‘whole picture’, or a ‘big picture’. The Metaphorical Woman Here’s an allegory that will help illustrate the point. Let’s say you and a friend are in a supermarket together, but shopping separately. You are coming out of isle 1, your friend out of isle 3. At the same time, there is a woman walking out of isle 2, right between the two of you. Later, you both discuss her. “Did you see that woman coming out of isle 2?” “Yes, the poor thing.” “What do you mean ‘the poor thing’? She is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. I’ll bet she is a model.” “What are you talking about??? She was terribly scarred. She must have been in a fire.” This unbelievable misconception and miscommunication is due to just one simple thing - different “points of view”. The fact is that the woman was simply scarred on one side of her face. One person’s point of view is from the scarred side, and the other person’s is from the side without scarring. As a result, they each made a judgment, and formed ‘clear’, solid beliefs about the woman’s appearance. Because of their limited viewpoints, they are each left with totally different beliefs about her. And each person’s belief opposes and contradicts the other’s. One believes she looks like a model on both sides of her face, and the other believes she is totally scarred on both sides of her face. They are both right, from their limited point of view. Yet if they could see the woman from the front (getting a broader point of view) they would see that they are both wrong. Actually, they are both totally right and both totally wrong. How can they both be right, when each viewpoint would seem to make the other wrong, or impossible to be true? And how can they both be wrong, when they are obviously both right from their point of view? The fact is that when you simultaneously grasp the two contradictory, yet true, beliefs, you actually have the greater truth. This predicament of having two truths, each of which seem to make it impossible for the other to be true, is a crude sort of paradox. And a paradox is the closest thing you can get to real truth, or whole truth. This example shows us how we can see the whole truth if we get above and beyond each individual’s point of view. Only then can we see the ‘whole’ picture.” Without that bigger picture, there can be further ramifications based on the inaccuracy of the limited viewpoints. For instance, one person might give the woman a card for a good model agent they know, while the other might give her a number for a good plastic surgeon they know. From a broader point of view, we can see that perhaps the woman could still be a model, but would require plastic surgery. Sometimes the ramifications of judging things based on a limited point of view can be far more serious though. Note: I dislike using the above example in the sense that I think appearances are not important what counts is whether someone is a good person or not. Appearance especially shouldn’t have such importance placed on it to where people would even be inclined to discuss it (as in the above example). But I use it anyway because it is easy to understand, and gets the point about “points of view” across very well. GREATER POINTS OF VIEW 33
The above allegory demonstrates in a small way, how having a point of view that is as broad as possible allows us to better perceive reality, and to see more truth. A broad point of view can help us better understand others, better understand the world, and ultimately the entire Universe around us. If our point of view is broad enough, it lets us better understand other points of view - then we can more easily communicate or interact with others, and they can more easily communicate with us. For instance, the point of view of each individual reading any book, is going to be different, thus they will perceive it many different ways, thus it will be perceived differently than it really is, and differently than it was intended to be perceived. The broader the reader’s point of view, the more they will perceive what is really written (within limits). Practicing the Golden Rule, and developing unselfish love will expand your point of view. But it also works the other way around. The more you develop a broad point of view, the more you’ll be applying the Golden Rule. And the more open you are to understanding someone else’s point of view, the more you’re going to be bridging the gaps that separate us. In your Personal Declarations section, on page 65, you’ll find another declaration in large letters. I WANT TO SEE THE POINT OF VIEW OF OTHERS. I WANT TO SEE THE BIG PICTURE. Go to that page now, and if you understand it and agree with it, sign it at the bottom. Then if you want to put it on a wall, write the same statement in very large letters on one of the blank pieces of paper you got out earlier.
Chapter Thirteen Selfish Addictions Deciding what You Want Commitment and Determination “The simplest and shortest ethical precept is to be served by others as little as possible, and to serve others as much as possible.”- Leo Tolstoy The Worst Addiction Problem in the World Many substance abusers are trying to avoid aspects of their life that they find unpleasant. It can just be a diversion away from being miserable, bored or that emptiness inside that comes from living a fruitless selfish life, rather than a fruitful giving one. Also, people have often turned to drinking or other drugs, after losing someone in their life, losing a job, a business, etc.. But there is a “root” addiction behind all of that which is far worse than you can imagine - and everyone has it. Earlier we mentioned how selfishness is the real source of all negative traits, such as greed. Selfishness is also the real source and cause of all addictions. But I’m not just talking about the addictions that usually come to mind when you use the word - like drugs, gambling, sex, etc.. What Addictions? What is the selfish-side of yourself addicted to? Many things. It varies from person to person, but it often includes getting attention, pleasure, possessions (including people), certain diversions and “fun” that it likes, cars, homes, money, etc.. But those are all just branches again, branches of getting its way (which amounts to getting its drug “fix”). It basically wants everything it wants, and it wants everything its way. It’s addicted to THAT. You can define it further of course. It is specifically addicted not only to things you desire and want to possess, but it involves the “flip side” of that (those things you fear, don’t want to face, don’t want to let go of, or deal with). Everything you want, or want to avoid, are all aspects of the same “selfish-side addiction”. Whatever the selfish-side wants, it wants, whatever it doesn’t want, it doesn’t want. You should always keep in mind that there is a primary purpose behind all of the selfish-side self’s addictions - staying in control of you, and maintaining the illusion of being a separate entity. So to the selfish self, maintaining its addictions means nothing less than “staying alive”, even though it is just an insane confused illusion. But to it, it is fighting for its life, and if you are trying to put your “spiritual-side self” in control, you need to be aware of how serious a battle this is. Realizing that Your “selfish-side self” is an Addict Are you ready for the staggering truth? Selfishness is, in and of itself, the biggest single “addiction” in the world. And as shocking as it may be, everyone has that addiction, including you. Anytime you get the least bit unhappy, irritated, negative, etc., just because you don’t get what you want or you must face/do something you don’t want to deal with, it is the result of that selfishness addiction. And this addiction isn’t just an “escape” into a drug stupor. Selfish-side addiction can cause anything from the destruction of a relationship, to a war! It’s easiest to observe the manifestations of selfish addiction in children, because they are less complex and not yet sophisticated in the ways of cloaking their addiction. How many times have you seen a child get upset because of not getting what they want, or having to do something they don’t want to do. Have you ever seen them get so angry over this, that they will deliberately break a toy, ruin a good time, or try to hurt someone else in some way? This doesn’t go away with maturity, it merely gets more complicated and disguised with a myriad of games - and the actions get far more serious. Let it Be? Why not just pacify the selfish-side? Let it be an “addict”? Why not let it continue to have what it wants, and avoid what it doesn’t want to deal with? There are a number of reasons not to do that, and reasons why it doesn’t work. Have you ever seen the results of pacifying the negative behavior of a child. It reinforces the bad behavior, makes it worse, and it comes back with a vengeance. Selfish-side addiction is never satisfied. It will never be happy just giving it what it wants. It always wants more. Again, if you’ve had children, you can see it easily in their behavior. So you will never be happy as long as it is in control of your life.
Next, selfishness is the source of negativity. It’s “anti” Golden Rule. For instance, when things don’t go the way someone wants them to, and they get “upset and negative” what happens? Unselfish love flies out the window, and negative selfish traits fly in. They start behaving in ways that are unkind, unloving, and can be mean, greedy, harmful, etc.. They end up miserable, and those they deal with are hurt too. Not a good bargain as I see it. To give another subtle example of this sort of thing, imagine that someone is tapping a pencil on a table. You find it annoying. Inside, you get perturbed, and that negative emotion replaces feelings of caring for or about that person. Put it into perspective - what is the most important issue in that scenario, that the person is doing something annoying, or that you are losing your unselfish love to some degree? That is an example of a subtle, minor incident, which there are many of. But there are bigger ones too. Like your son denting your car. Or a robbery. Or... But if you think about it all the way through, is there any reason good enough to stop unselfishly loving? Not in our opinion. Why? In all circumstances, regardless of how atrocious something is, losing your unselfish love only makes things worse. It never makes it better. Whereas, maintaining your unselfish love at least affords opportunities for things to go better. You can still take disciplinary action and be unselfishly loving. But if you take action while feeling or thinking negatively, it will have some measure of destructive consequences. Working on living by the Golden Rule requires taking up that challenge of breaking the “selfishness addiction”. A person can’t be unselfishly loving, and selfish at the same time. Therapy - Treating Yourself for Selfish Addictions I don’t know how many of you are familiar with that old children’s story of “The Little Train that Could”, but it’s a great example of determination and commitment. The train would say “I think I can I think I can” as it labored up an incredibly difficult hill. And it finally made it. The point is, YOUCAN CHANGE yourself. All it primarily takes is REALLY WANTING to. Most people don’t really “get” that, (even though they may think they do). Once you decide what it is you want in life, and how you want to be, you can start taking the measures to change yourself, step-by-step - and no one can stop you but you. And therein lies the first key, DECIDING. DECIDING WHAT YOU REALLY WANT. Deciding What You Really Want Start by thinking about and defining what kind of world you want to live in. Then think about how you want to be. Those two things are inseparable. How you are, will eventually determine the kind of world you live in. Once you ponder all that, you must make a firm decision, and commitment to making it happen, or you’ll just be living like a jellyfish in the tides. Behaving like a Recovering Addict Recovering drug addicts, and other kinds of addicts, understand how valuable deciding what they really want to be like is, and how it can determine what kind of personal world they end up living in. They also know the value of determination and commitment. It can be very hard to break free from an addiction. But those who are “on the wagon” have learned that first wanting to break the addiction, then making an absolute decision to do it, and then having absolute determination and commitment to change, are the big keys in accomplishing a change. In fact, how hard it is to break the addiction, is tied to the real desire and “wanting” to change. I’ve seen many people “try” to quit smoking, who didn’t really want to. They usually fail. But people who really decide inside themselves, that they want to quit, usually quit. Seeing the Selfish-Side Self as an Addict Seeing the selfish-side of your self as an addict, can actually help you deal with it. Just treat your own selfish self like it was a drug addict. You can even learn things about this from various “12 step programs”. You first have to see and admit that you have a problem. Then you have to want to break the addiction and change, and really decide to change. Next, define the problem, and come up with a strategy to take control and beat it. The strategy can include being open and honest with others about your problem, getting a support group, and asking for help if you feel yourself slipping. But you must above all, make an absolute commitment to change, that you are determined not to break. Make a Workbook List of Your Addiction Issues So our next workbook task is to make a list of our selfish-side “addict” desire & fear issues. You’ll find the forms for this on pages 63 & 64. After reading this paragraph, you can fill them out right away. Really give it some thought though. What kinds of things impede you from living by the Golden Rule all the time? What kinds of things can cause you to lose your feelings of compassion, caring, giving, sharing - in other words, what can negatively impact your unselfish love? Not everything does. You can have money, attachments, etc., and not have it affect your love. But what if they do? You can also do things you don’t like to do, and not have it affect your love. But what if they do? If losing anything, or having to deal with 36
anything, does cause you to lose your love, you have an addiction problem that negatively controls you. Those are the things you need to be aware of, and will need to deal with if you want to really live by the Golden Rule all the time. This list will just help you identify potential problems, so you can be aware of what you may need or want to work on (make extra copies of those pages if there isn’t enough room to cover all your issues).
Chapter Fourteen Getting some Help from Your Subconscious Mind Our subconscious minds have tremendous impact on our lives. Some studies show that as much as 98 percent of everything we think and do, is initiated from the subconscious. That’s pretty powerful control over our behavior and life. The subconscious mind is like a computer. And just as with all computers, it operates according to it’s “programming”. That programming can be good, and helpful, or it can be bad and full of “bugs”. If you have programming that is negative or hinders your life in some way (which most people do), it can counteract and ruin all the conscious constructive efforts we make. Getting the Conscious and Subconscious in Sync In order for any goal achievement program to really be effective, the conscious and subconscious minds must work together. Many times a person makes major conscious mind decisions, but the programming of the subconscious mind is in conflict with those, and keeps working at counter-purposes to the conscious goal. Since so much of what we think and do comes from the subconscious, this can totally nullify your conscious desires, and in fact, make things happen that are opposite to what you want. For instance, a person may have decided they want a successful career, and they do all the right conscious things to make it happen. They get training, apply for work, etc.. But if the subconscious is programmed for failure, the person will do things that counteract, and defeat the conscious goal. They may be stupid little things, like the slip of a word at the wrong time, or being late for an appointment, or even little physical “screw-ups” that cause some problem with the work you are doing. It can defeat you in many ways. This also applies to personal growth or spiritual goals. For example, if you’re trying to be positive, and the subconscious keeps spitting out negative thoughts and reactions, it’s effectively “short circuiting” your goal. Why Do I Seem to Keep Shooting Myself in the Foot? Primarily (as we mentioned earlier), the selfish-side uses negative programming in and of itself, to keep separate, keep control, and keep “alive”. And it doesn’t want the “status quo” tampered with. But for the moment, let’s take a look at why subconscious programming by itself, can be so self-destructive. The problem is, that most people never chose their own programming. Sometimes our subconscious programming was haphazardly developed from our environment or experiences. Other times it was deliberately programmed into us, by other people and our culture as a whole. It started from the time we were born (and perhaps even in the womb) and has continued into the present. So our programmers have been our society, parents, peers, schools, tv, things we’ve read, movies, etc., etc., (and our experiences with them all). Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of their programming, and wouldn’t know how to change it even if they were. If you really want to improve yourself, you should do a self-examination of your programming, and decide if any of it is self-destructive, or working contrary to your ideals or goals (if the GR is the principle you want to live your life by, you can bet some of the programming is contrary to that). Failure and reasons for failure, are often programmed in. Few people have had good consistent childhood programming that was supportive of being able to accomplish what they want in life, let alone supportive of the benefits of being unselfishly loving. Obviously, you won’t be able to examine all your programming at one time (at least under normal circumstances), but you can contemplate some of it. And look at it as issues come up in your life from time to time. Next, you need to contemplate what kind of programming you want to have, and would be good for you. Once you have done both of those things, you can use various methods we will discuss later, to replace or change much or all of your programming, and get your subconscious mind working for you instead of against you. Fighting the Good Fight Fighting negative programming, thoughts or feelings isn’t really effective. The best way to truly defeat the negative, is to make progress in the good. And we’ll cover ways to do that. The first thing is to set goals and ideals, then get them into your subconscious mind by using affirmations/prayer/self-hypnosis or whatever else can help accomplish that. Again, the subconscious mind is very powerful, and always working in the background. It can always be working FOR your conscious goals and ideals, or AGAINST them. So taking measures to program your subconscious with your conscious desires, will get your subconscious working for you rather than against you. It makes a HUGE difference to have your subconscious mind in harmony with, and working together with, your conscious 38
mind desires and goals. [“The Subconscious Affirmations” Recordings mentioned in the back of the book use a mix of scientifically proven techniques to help TREMENDOUSLY with getting your subconscious mind to work for you towards achieving your goals.]
Chapter Fifteen Goals The effects of defining and setting a goal in life, can be seen in many ways. The reason behind someone being materially successful or destitute in most cases, is not just a matter of “the breaks” they got. It’s more a matter of whether or not they have created a goal, made a real decision to “go for it”, and applied themselves to it with consistency and discipline. Then regardless of whether they have “breaks” or “obstacles”, they “keep on keeping on” no matter how difficult it may get, until they reach their goal. Winning athletes and coaches also know the invaluable asset of shooting for a goal with unshakable determination and commitment. The same things apply to personal or spiritual growth, but it’s a bit more complex. Rather than just having a goal for career success, you can apply goal setting to personal qualities, virtues, and personality traits. And when you change yourself in that way, everything else outside yourself eventually changes too. Who and how you are, determines who your friends are, the kind of jobs you get, the kind of relationships you have - it simply is the root of everything in your life. For instance, if you are a drug addict, you generally have drug addict friends, there may be job problems, a lower standard of living/housing, etc.. But changing just that one thing, and putting drugs behind you, eventually creates a change in friends, work, and living environment. Changing other traits like laziness, possessiveness, greed, procrastination, etc., into their positive counterparts, also changes your life. Changing into someone who is working on applying the Golden Rule, involves many positive trait changes, and thus has a great impact on your life. Using Affirmations to Achieve Your Personal Growth Goals Affirmations are statements for “giving directions” to yourself. They reinforce your consciously chosen desires and direction in life, and help bring about changes in sub-conscious programming/behavior patterns to whatever you will them to be. The use of affirmations is a great “tool” - a technique to develop virtues and qualities within yourself that help you attain your goals, your ideal, and also to help correct “slip ups” or negative behavior. Virtues and qualities you may want to develop could include things like temperance, assertiveness, humility, gentleness, sensitivity, kindness, compassion, awareness, alertness, punctuality, vitality, concentration, self-discipline, listening, accuracy, communicating well, perseverance, emotional stability, responsibility, dependability, etc... These are traits that you will work on by using your own personal affirmations, as described later in this section. Using an affirmation is like planting a seed in the fertile soil of your sub-conscious mind, and like a seed it needs daily tending or it may die. For this reason, affirmations are tools that are used daily, and frequently, by those who wish to change. “Corrective” Affirmations If you really desire to change as quickly as possible, a positive corrective affirmation should be done instantly, every time someone brings up to you an improvement you could make about your self, or points out a fault. This should be done instantly, and sincerely, with thought, right when it is brought up to you. In order for affirmations to be effective, they must always be stated as a positive result, rather than trying to ‘negate’ a negative. For instance, if you became unjustly angry, the affirmation you use should not be, ‘I am not negative. I do not get angry,’ or such. It needs to be phrased in the positive way - something like ‘I am positive, humble, and Unselfishly Loving.’ In other words, you always say the good thing that you want to achieve, and never use a ‘double negative’, never give energy to the negative trait that you wish to change. Instead, give energy to the positive trait that will supercede the negative. Also, remember that the subconscious mind is something like a mindless robot - it only obeys and understands things literally, it doesn’t “figure things out”, “interpret” or “know what you mean”. Thus, affirmations should always be stated as an already accomplished fact, such as ‘I am such and such’, rather than stating them as unaccomplished possible future events like ‘I will be....’, ‘I am going to be....’, or ‘I would like to be more....”. Wording affirmations in those ways either just won’t make sense to the subconscious, or it tells the subconscious mind that this is a change that will take place in the future. And since the future is always in the future, it actually prevents the changes from ever taking place - because we are always in the ‘now’. For instance, let’s say you were a robot who was holding a spoon, and I wanted you to drop your spoon. I would need to figure out exactly what to say to you to make you drop the spoon. If I know that you only take my words literally, just as the subconscious mind does, then I need to phrase my 40
words to you properly, or you won’t understand that I want you to drop the spoon, and you won’t do it. So if I said to you, ‘you will be dropping the spoon’, that literally means to you that you WILL be dropping the spoon, not that you should drop it NOW. So what happens? You hold on to it, waiting for that time in the future when you WILL BE dropping it. But if I say ‘drop the spoon’, or ‘you are dropping the spoon’, you would drop it. Some Fundamental Positive Affirmations These are some standard affirmations you can use: Morning affirmation: First, bring to mind your ideal (the person that best represents your concept of a great or spiritual person you want to emulate). When you are thinking of your ideal though, make sure you are not thinking of the person’s self/personality, but rather, their example. Now, while you are holding your ideal in mind, say to yourself, silently, or out loud in private, and with full meaning, feeling it, not as just a repetition of words, ‘Your will be done God (whatever name for God you choose), not mine, in me and through me; show me what I must do this day, and let me be a channel of your blessings to all.’ If you just want a great “catch all” for living by the Golden Rule, you can simply make your affirmation, “I am an unselfishly loving person”. Another particularly nice one is along the lines of the prayer of St. Francis, “God’s will be done, in me and through me”. As with all the affirmations you do, repeat it for five minutes. If you are living with others who are working with you on applying the Golden Rule, also start the day by asking them a favor - ASK them for their input and criticism, to help you become the most unselfishly loving person you can be. Evening affirmations: Do your personal affirmations for your present goal, and for the virtue/quality you are specifically working on developing. And then you should do the dream affirmation (below). Pre-sleep affirmation: This is often the most effective affirmation because you repeat it as you are going to sleep; this carries it deeper into the sub-conscious. For this reason your highest priority affirmation should be done as you go to sleep. If you want to be able to remember your dreams in the morning, or you want to be conscious of your dreams while you are having them, use the following statement as the pre-sleep affirmation until the difficulty is resolved: ‘I remember my dreams and I am conscious while dreaming.’” How to Phrase Personalized Affirmations If it is not possible for you to get your affirmations from someone who is an expert, you could ask for guidance (for affirmations) during prayer or meditation, or just think about negative/selfish traits you have, that you know you need to change, or positive traits you would like to acquire. In fact, part of the Golden Rule program is for you to make a list. Take some time out to do that now. On page 61 you’ll find a Personalized Goal and Affirmations List to help you identify and ground out what you want to change. Take a good look inside your heart, and being very honest with yourself, make your list of everything that you want to change about yourself. Think of things that may be blocking or standing in the way of you creating your spiritual ideal. Then commit to doing the opposite - and make a list next to that list, only state everything in it’s “positive” affirmation form. In other words, if you are lazy, write that you are working on becoming hard working, and energetic. You can refer to the affirmations list below for other ideas, and help with finding “opposite” positive affirmations for various traits. After you are done with your list, you will begin working on changing them one at a time. Choose just ONE of those things you want to change (the most important first), and then read how to apply your Personalized Affirmation below. [Tip: While the subconscious mind is like a computer, and takes things you say to it literally, the conscious mind works like a filter, and does take interpretations into consideration. I.e., let’s say you are watching a comedian whom you find extremely funny, and you use slang to express that, such as, “He kills me!”. That doesn’t mean you are programming yourself so that “he kills you” in any way. But when you are doing things to directly address the subconscious, or you are in an altered state that accesses the subconscious, you don’t have that leeway, and you need to be very literal].
Here are some typical negative personal traits and their “opposite” positive affirmations that can help you change: To Change the Following Negative Traits: Late - “I’m always punctual.” Lazy - “I am efficient, energetic and hard working. “I always do the tasks I need to do.” Irresponsible - “I always think and act responsibly.” “I want to do things positively and properly in order to help others.” “Everything I do is done well, positively, and right.” Nagging - “I only point things out to someone when necessary.” “Whenever I point something out to someone I do it lovingly and concisely.” Procrastination - “I always do the tasks I need to do promptly and thoroughly.” “I am thorough, efficient and speedy in doing my tasks.” Stingy - “I am unselfishly giving when it’s within God’s will and this unselfish giving makes me feel good and fills me with a deep inner peace and security.” “When it’s within God’s will, I generously give and share what I have with others.” Defensiveness - “I want people to bring things up to me so I can become more positive, selflessly loving and effective.” “I welcome people bringing things up to me that I can improve about myself or do better next time.” Greed - “I’m always unselfishly loving.” “When it’s in God’s will, I give freely and generously.” Harsh - “I am unselfishly loving and kind.” “When it’s within God’s will, I’m gentle in my demeanor and in my dealings with others.” Introverted - “I express my thoughts and feelings”. “I’m always outflowing.” “I am dynamic.” “I am magnetic and unselfishly loving.” Pushy and overbearing - “I’m always aware and sensitive to the feelings and needs of others”. “I am unselfishly loving.” Impatient - “When it’s within the will of God I can wait with calm, peace of mind and patience.” “I’m always patient and unselfishly loving when it’s within the will of God.” Hate - “I’m always kind and considerate and unselfishly loving.” Irrational Anger - “I always express my feelings with unselfish love.” Harmful Violence - “I’m always gentle, kind and unselfishly loving, in my demeanor towards others.” Harmful Deceit - “I’m always open and honest about my thoughts and feelings when it’s in God’s will.” “I share my feelings openly and honestly with those that I love and care about when it’s in God’s will.” Prejudice - “I am open minded and unselfishly loving.” Impulsiveness - “I’m always thoughtful and responsible in all of my actions.” Obsession - “I am flowing, calm, reasonable, adaptable, flexible and rational.” Possessiveness - “I happily let the people I love be free.” “I let go of the things I love.” “I am unselfishly loving.” Jealousy - “I’m always giving, sharing, unselfishly loving.” “I feel secure in my relationships.” “I am unselfishly loving.” Envy - “When I see others who have what I don’t I am happy for them.” “I am unselfishly loving.” Overeating - “I only consume food in amounts necessary for the health of my body.” “I only have a desire to ingest things that are healthy.” “I only ingest things that are healthy.” “I want and desire only the foods and products that are healthy for me.” Alcohol/Drugs - “I only have a desire to ingest things that are healthy.” “I only ingest things that are healthy.” Smoking - “I only have a desire to ingest things that are healthy. I only ingest things that are healthy.” And the mother of them all Selfishness - “I am unselfishly loving.” To Develop the Following Positive Traits and Virtues: Temperance - “I am moderate in all things.” Assertiveness - “I am dynamic and assertive in an unselfishly loving manner.” Tolerance - “I’m always patient and tolerant of the behavior and shortcomings of others if it’s within God’s will.” Humility - “I’m always humble, and selflessly loving.” Flexibility - “I’m always flexible and flowing if need be and if it’s within the will of God.” 42
Gentleness - “When it’s in God’s will, I’m always gentle and flowing in my demeanor with others.” Sensitivity - “I’m always aware and sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.” Kindness - “I’m always kind, considerate and thoughtful.” “I care about everyone who comes into contact me, and I am kind when it’s within God’s will.” Compassion - “I’m always compassionate and caring.” “I am caring and compassionate for all beings everywhere.” Awareness - “I’m always conscious and aware of my environment and what’s going on around me.” “Even when I am concentrating and focusing on something, I am still aware of what is going on around me.” Alertness - “I’m always aware and alert.” Punctuality - “I’m always punctual and on time.” Vitality - “I’m energetic, healthy and vital.” “My vitality is renewed and strengthened as Unselfish Love washes over me and through me.” Concentration - “I have excellent concentration.” “I can easily hold my attention on anything I need or want to.” “My mind is clear and focused.” “My concentration is perfect.” Self-discipline - “Every day I am more and more self-disciplined.” “I am self-disciplined.” “Self-discipline comes easily for me.” Listening - “I carefully listen to what others have to say.” “I comprehend and understand the meaning of things other people are trying to communicate to me.” Accuracy - “I’m always accurate, conscious and careful about everything I think, feel, say and do.” Communicating well - “I communicate with others accurately, succinctly, and fully.” “I am aware of whether or not others have understood my communication.” “I’m always conscious and careful about everything I think, feel, say and do.” Intensity/Aggression - “When necessary I am aggressive and intense if it’s in God’s will.” When necessary I am an invincible fighter.” Perseverance - “I consistently strive to achieve my goals and surmount obstacles to achieving them.” Emotional stability - “I feel secure.” “I am emotionally calm, stable and centered.” “I am always rational.” Responsibility - “I am always responsible, dependable and unselfishly loving.” Dependability - “I’m always dependable and can be counted upon to do the tasks I am given thoroughly and promptly.” Courage/ Inner Strength - “The positive force of unselfish love is so powerful within me that I easily overcome any hurdle, and obstacles become stepping stones.” “I have tremendous courage and will power.” Health - “My immune system is super strong and can fight and kill any invaders.” “My body produces and utilizes whatever substances are necessary for optimum spiritual, emotional and physical health.”
Personalized Affirmation: Go to page 62 of the Personal Declarations section. It says “My daily affirmation is:”. Under that, write what you want your affirmation to be. If you have more than one affirmation you want to make, it’s better to work on them one at a time. You can rotate affirmations, and do one during one week or month, then do the next affirmation the next week/month, etc.. Again, you might want to copy this and post your written affirmation someplace - and look at it, don’t just let it get buried or lost. Read your affirmation to yourself out loud or silently every day. Something we highly suggest using is a wonderful little device called a MotivAider. It’s like a little vibrating pager you keep with you. You set it to whatever time intervals you want to be reminded of something (anywhere from every 15 seconds to every 24 hours). The MotiVator can be used to bring your present personal affirmation to mind throughout the day. Once set, it will silently vibrate every (whatever you set) minutes, to remind you to think of your present affirmation, say it silently to yourself, and think about how and if you are applying it. Another highly recommended way to plant affirmations deeply and instantly into the “garden” of your subconscious, is to use the “Subconscious Affirmations” CD’s/Tapes (see back of book). There are many different volumes with specific affirmations already recorded. These psychologist approved recordings use a combination of traditional and proven scientific methods to help you access your subconscious mind, and make the changes you want. And all you have to do is put it on and listen to it once a day! The “Subconscious Affirmation” Recordings (incorporate a “full-spectrum” of established effective techniques, combining: Progressive relaxation; Guided imagery; Visualization; Affirmations; Brainwave entrainment; and 43
Heartbeat Sounds. The result is a recording that relaxes you, and takes you into the deeply restful states of enhanced awareness that generally are only accessible to master meditators after years of hard training. Special volumes are available with affirmations for stress management, spiritual development, healing visualizations, and more. They have been used by Doctors and Psychiatrists with excellent results, and are the fastest and most powerful way to utilize the power of positive affirmations. However, they should not be used as a substitute for the above mentioned daily affirmation work, because they are not as specific. (“The Subconscious Affirmations” recordings use no “subliminal” messages. All instructions and affirmations are clearly audible.)
Chapter Sixteen Ideals “Goal setting” involves defining and targeting anything you want to accomplish. “Ideal setting” is similar. The difference is, it has to do with how you want to be personally, as opposed to what you want to accomplish. For “ideal setting”, it can help to use the examples of the great saints or sages you admire as an ideal to shoot for. For instance, if you are Christian, Jesus makes a great “ideal” and role model (or you could use a saint). If you are Buddhist, Buddha or the Dalai Lama might be your ideal. If you’re a politician, Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan could be your ideal (that’s a joke folks). If you feel that those examples seem too high to reach for right away, just choose someone you personally know and really admire. Then set about emulating them as your first ideal/goal. Close your eyes, contemplate it. Feel, and completely visualize being like your ideal, as if it were indeed real. One reason for choosing someone admirable as an ideal to model yourself after, is that their lives set an example for you. Also, if a situation comes up in which you are confused about how you should behave, you can fall back on your “personalized” ideal, and think about how they would act or speak in that situation. THIS CAN BE VERY HELPFUL. For instance, have you ever seen these little lapel pins that have the initials “WWJD” on them? It stands for What Would Jesus Do. If Jesus were your ideal, and you aren’t sure how to behave or what to say in a certain situation, you can ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”. That same concept can apply to whomever you hold as your ideal. For instance, some people might want to idealize a great humanitarian who had compassion and love for others, like Albert Schweitzer or the like. Speaking of which, here is a wonderful quote from Schweitzer that relates to this, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: The ones among you who will be really happy, are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Your ideal is the encapsulation of the end result of all your goals, of everything you ultimately want to be, and most importantly, a way of being, all wrapped up in one symbolic concept. We have already discussed how what you think and do, radically changes everything in your life. When you establish an ideal, and keep it in your conscious mind, it can have a powerful affect on your life. But this is only as strong as your application of the ideal in your life. Programming Your Ideal To get your ideal programmed into the sub-conscious, use the tools of affirmation, “corrective visualization” after writing your daily activities in your Journal, and using a “Subconscious Affirmations” CD or tape. The MotivAider can also help with keeping your ideal in your conscious mind frequently, AND help correct your subconscious programming to be what you want it to be. Once set, it will vibrate every (whatever you set) minutes, to remind you to bring your ideal to mind. Once an ideal is fully programmed into the subconscious, the sub-conscious will work towards achieving it. This doesn’t mean that you can sit back and let the sub-conscious do all the work for you. You must still consciously apply your ideal in all situations - concentration and self-discipline comes into play here. Every evening get out your Journal and review your daily activities to see how well you are doing with living up to your ideal. Once you DECIDE what you really want, make an iron-clad written commitment to changing yourself. On page 71, you’ll find a Personal Ideal, Goal, and Commitment Contract. It is a detailed form to help you “set your course”. Putting it in writing helps ground it out and make it more real and serious. You may want to change your goals or ideal from time to time, so just in case, you may want to fill out the form with pencil, or make a photocopy of the blank form first. When filling this out, make sure you take the time to really think about what you desire to create for yourself spiritually. And don’t be afraid to reach for your highest ideal, and really elaborate upon it. When you’re done filling it out, sign it. Don’t be afraid to modify it if you wish. On the same day once a week, every week, (every Sunday for instance, or whenever you have a study group meeting), read your Personal Ideal, Goal, and Commitment Contract, and mentally or verbally re-affirm your commitment. Modify it if your goals/ideal changes. Ideals Summary Whatever your ideal is, self-discipline, consistency, and perseverance are determining factors in whether the manifestation of your ideal is great, has little effect, or fails to manifest altogether. Look at those who have excelled in their chosen directions. How do they do it? They have very definite targets and they work at it consistently. One of my old teachers at the monastery had a couple of favorite quotes about 45
this sort of thing, “Perseverance furthers” and “If someone else can do it, so can you”. Or as a friend recently put it, “Keep your eyes on the prize.”
Chapter Seventeen Self-Tolerance Here’s a bit of a paradox, but we must deal with the reality of it. It takes absolute determination and commitment towards a focused goal and ideal to succeed in changing. You don’t even want to allow yourself the mental possibility of not achieving your goals or ideals. But what if you do slip? For instance, a successful athlete must be “psyched up”, have the mental drive, the determination, the commitment to win at any cost. But sometimes they don’t win, or they slip up. What then? That’s where tolerance comes in. If you start thinking negatively, and developing a negative thought habit pattern of “losing” or “being a loser/being a screw-up”, you will be giving in to the selfish side. That’s just what it wants to keep you down, and keep you under its control. I learned how to deal with this when I was studying meditation techniques that involved concentration. If you “slip up” when you are training, your mind starts wandering and drifting off to all kinds of other thoughts. Once you finally notice that your mind has drifted off, and you lost your concentration, you can do one of two things. You can take the negative, destructive route (Get frustrated and reinforce the failure, perhaps even give up). Or you can take the positive, constructive route (Simply immediately bring your mind back to what you were supposed to be concentrating on, without a moment of “self-chastisement). Which do you think yields the most positive results? You can take the same approach with any failure or set-back in your life. If you are trying to live by the Golden Rule and be unselfishly loving all the time, and you slip up, what should you do? First, be honest and open about “having been wrong” or “making a mistake”. If you need to apologize to another person, do so. Being defensive gets you nowhere. Well, actually it does get you somewhere - it reinforces selfishness, and is counter-productive to changing to become a more unselfishly loving person. Being humble, honest, tolerant, and saying a “positive affirmation” that declares and reinforces your commitment and goals, is the positive and constructive way to deal with “slip ups”. We’ll discuss it more later, but for now, we’ll just give a very brief example of a slip up, and taking a Golden Rule approach to getting back on track. Let’s say you were unjustly angry and said something cruel or hurtful to someone else. Once your state of mind is more rational and caring again, you would want to start with apologizing. After that, you might want want to do a positive corrective affirmation along the lines of, “I am calm, just, and caring.”, or even “I am humble and unselfishly loving.” would cover it. Then discuss the issues positively.
Chapter Eighteen Using “Corrective Affirmations” to Help You Practice what you Preach (or Believe in) If you are sincere about living by the Golden Rule, you will be affecting others with your words, but most importantly, with your behavior. And what is really behind both words and behavior, is your spirituality, who you really are, how you really feel. No matter what you present, how you try to convince anyone of anything, it’s whether or not you Unselfishly love them, that they can feel internally, and can affect outcomes in various ways (a very positive response if they are a good caring person inside, but possibly a negative response if they are hardened in being cold hearted and uncaring). If you are unselfishly loving, you act out of wanting the best for others. And discipline, disagreements, and such, are all part of the package. That applies to how you deal with your own “self” too. So the important thing is that your actions, your words and thoughts, are not coming from a selfish, unloving place. And unless you are perfect, selfishness will crop up all the time. It’s whether or not you deal with it when it happens that counts. The selfish-side self would prefer you throw up your hands in selfpity and give up your struggle to change your self. But that isn’t constructive. So if you really want to grow, it’s a matter of how to positively deal with yourself when you catch yourself being selfish or “negative” (or someone else points it out to you). That’s where corrective affirmations come in. Corrective affirmations are very much like the goal/virtue affirmations discussed previously, but they are used specifically to gently re-direct yourself, and re-affirm what you really want, when you have fallen short. If you are “normal” you will probably need to do them daily. Corrective affirmations are not an apology. While they are good to say out loud (in situations where that’s feasible) so others can hear you, they should not be used to replace, or assumed to be, an apology. Affirmations are statements you are making to yourself to modify your own behavior. The primary reason it is good to say them out loud, is because it takes humility, honesty and openness to do so. It’s similar to the “12 step” addiction programs in that way. But if you aren’t in a situation where that would be appropriate (like in public or at work, etc.) you can do it silently to yourself. Here are a couple of examples of where you might do a silent corrective affirmation. You’re in a store and you accidentally bump into a lady and knock a package out of her hand, because you weren’t being aware enough to see her. Other than apologizing, you might silently say to yourself, “I am always conscious, aware, and careful”. Next time, that situation may not repeat itself. Or maybe it will take a lot more use of the affirmation before you get more aware in that way. But one thing for sure, if you are at all defensive about your action, there’s no point in even doing an affirmation, because you don’t have the right attitude, and your attitude will defeat the effect of the affirmation. Another incident could be - while taking a bus, you realize you left your wallet at home. You could just stew about it. Curse about it. Get angry. Or you could be rational and say something like “I always remember my wallet”, or a broader one like “My memory is becoming perfect”, or at a more advanced stage, “My memory is perfect”. Another incident that more directly applies to the Golden Rule, could be - while checking out in the express line at the market, you notice that someone in front of you has many more than the 10 item limit. You could stew in anger. Express hostility. Or you could silently say “I am always unselfishly loving” ANDMEAN IT. FEELIT. Now doing that, and changing your attitude to a positive one, DOES NOT preclude being able to tell the person that they shouldn’t be in that line. Or even arguing about it. IT IS YOUR ATTITUDE INSIDE THAT COUNTS. And that attitude will affect you at the least, and may have a positive affect on the other person. At least it gives a good opportunity for it. It’s always best to say a corrective affirmation immediately after an incident occurs if possible. But if that isn’t possible, then you can do it later. Using corrective affirmations with others you’re working with on applying the Golden Rule, will be discussed in later chapters.
Chapter Nineteen Things to Do Today (Before I Physically Die) Having a Near Death Experience (NDE) can profoundly change and improve a person’s life. There are many cases where a disaster actually became the best thing that ever happened to someone - because of their NDE. Part of the reason for this is personally experiencing a positive “life after death” (for most people). But another reason is that after having an NDE, people re-assess their life, make positive changes, and appreciate every moment. Short of having an NDE, there are special “death awareness” techniques that can have a profoundly beneficial affect on your life - even before you have a death experience. Everyone should CONSTANTLY be reminding themselves that they could physically die at any time. Remember, you are in fact going to die someday. One of these days you will be just a few minutes from death. Seriously think about that. Contemplate it for awhile. And in thinking about it, think about how you are leaving things, and how you are using your life right now. Here are some examples: 1) If you were going to die in five minutes, is the way you have left things with the people in your life, how you want to leave them? 2) Are the last things you said, what you want to have left said? 3) Have you left anything unsaid that you would have wanted to say before you’re gone for good? 4) With the perspective of knowing that you are going to die at any minute, how important to you is that issue of _______ that really irritated you (about living with so and so, or what so and so does, or the things you don’t like about how or where you must live, etc., etc.,). 5) Is the terrible argument you had about_________really important? 6) Have you done what you wanted to, or needed to do, with your life? 7) What is the legacy you are leaving? Are your last actions the actions you would want to be your last? “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”- Indian proverb. Walking With Death by Your Side Here’s a method you can use to remind yourself of death. Personalize it, and keep it with you. Live your life consciously aware that death is always standing by your side, only an arm’s length away. Then you will live accordingly. You won’t live in fear - quite the opposite. It frees you to live life fully. I highly recommend everyone contemplate their death - and it shouldn’t just be something you remind yourself of daily, it should be constant, or at least as frequent as you can make it. It really helps keep things in perspective, and changes the way you live. When you are always aware that you might be dead any second, you can really live your life to the fullest and in the most positive and constructive manner. Awareness of death, begets real life. “You have to count on living every single day in a way you believe will make you feel good about your lifeso that if it were over tomorrow, you’d be content with yourself.”- Seymour
Chapter Twenty Working with others of like-mind Many of the ideas we’ve covered so far both apply to dealing with changing yourself, and applying the Golden Rule to your interactions with other people, regardless of whether or not those people are trying to live by the Golden Rule themselves. But now we’re going to be getting into methods of interacting with others of like-mind. Working with others gives you more opportunity to see your true self. Let’s assume you want to see things about yourself that are impediments to being unselfishly loving (so you can change yourself). Since the selfish side of you doesn’t want to be “exposed” in the light of truth, it “tricks” you into avoiding seeing your own problems. But others can often see the problems/blocks you have, that you can’t (or try not to) see. So you can ask them to bring things up to you that they see about you, and give you feedback/criticism. That gives you far more opportunity to change. Working with others whom you’ve asked to help you change (and who have asked you to help them change), is like standing in a room full of mirrors naked (in the mental/emotional/spiritual sense). Of course, when other people are not purely unselfishly loving, they are going to be “reflecting” you back to yourself inaccurately to varying degrees, because their own selfishly based problems “distort” their perception. It can also taint their motives. This is where it gets tricky. A reflection of you and your behavior is still there, but you have to discern the true reflection from the “distortion”. Also, your selfish side is going to want to ignore the true reflection in what they are bringing up to you. And if you aren’t careful, you can end up ignoring true constructive criticism, by “rationalizing” that it is distorted information coming from someone’s own bias or agenda. To help you with that problem, this workbook contains specific methods to help clarify the process, and maximize your growth potential. Shared Ideals & Goals Working closely with others who share the same ideals and goals as you, provides far greater opportunity for developing your unselfish love. If you really want to make faster, more profound progress, doing it with the help of others is much better than doing it alone. That also applies to accomplishing things as a group. For example, if you have a car with a wheel stuck in a ditch, 7 people trying to lift it out of the ditch separately, one at at time, won’t get anywhere. But 7 people focusing their energy on the same thing, at the same time (like all 7 lifting one end of the car at the same time), can lift the car’s wheel right out of the ditch (or they can push the car out together). It works the same way with other goals. If you get excited about what the Golden Rule can mean in your life, and to others, you’ll naturally want others to discover the beauty of the Golden Rule too, especially your loved ones. You can use the Golden Rule interpersonal development methods outlined in this book with anyone who shares your goals and ideals. But because it requires cooperation, whomever you hope to work with needs to feel the same way you do about spirituality. For instance, if you believe that living by the Golden Rule is a priority, and they don’t, then they won’t really want to change. Even if someone agrees to “go along” with you, if they don’t really have the heart-felt commitment, it won’t work out. In that case, all you can do is work on yourself by yourself, or find others of like-mind to work within Golden Rule study groups, or church groups. If your friends and family don’t feel the same way as you, keep in mind that a good example is far more effective than “preaching” to them. Also remember... YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU. And if you do change and become more unselfishly loving, and consistently apply that in your life, you will be setting an example that will affect those around you, and give them a positive opportunity to change. That’s the best anyone can do. And some people may accept that and appreciate it, and others may reject it. It just depends on what kind of person they are inside. Study Groups/Clubs vs. Living Together There are actually two different basic ways to work with other people towards applying the Golden Rule. One way is the study group/club type of situation, in which people just get together to meet and have group activities periodically. The other way, is working with people you actually live with. Working with those you live with is more of an “intensive” situation and thus affords more opportunity for growth, more rapid growth, and can be more fulfilling. 50
Living with people who are dedicated to applying the Golden Rule can include a spouse/family type situation, a roommate arrangement (where a number of like-minded individuals split/share housing), or both. We’ll call both living with a spouse/family that has the same ideals/goals as you (applying the Golden Rule), or living with unrelated people who have the same shared ideals/goals, “Intentional Roommating”. Since spousal relationships are a bit more complex, there’s a special section of the workbook about that, after the “Intentional Roomating” section below. Intentional Roommating There’s nothing as beneficial as living and working together with others who are also working on applying the Golden Rule in their lives too. It affords the greatest opportunity for forging yourself into an unselfishly loving person (YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU). If you are only able to work together with one other person, that’s great. But if you can work with more than one person, that’s even better because it affords more feedback, more variables, and thus more opportunities for you to grow and develop your unselfish love. Regardless of how many other people you’re working with, all your ideals, your intentions, your true degree of humility and unselfish love, get put to the test in such situations. As we said earlier, giving to those who would selfishly take can actually be detrimental (because you might be making things worse for them). For instance, doing something apparently good like being charitable and giving money to some homeless person isn’t really helping them if that person is going to use it to buy drugs (in fact, you’d be contributing to harming them). So you need “safe ground” to practice your giving. If you have a spouse, family, friend(s), group or club who are all agreeing to live by the same standards, you have the potential for “safe ground” to an extent. You can create a controlled situation, in which you are each agreeing to fully apply the Golden Rule, with each other. You can then freely give, receive, and express feelings and thoughts with each other. Being “Used”, or Utilizing Yourself Once you decide your purpose is to give, to care, to help others, and you have found a situation in which you can do so - consider giving all you can. Consider doing all you can. The greatest people who have ever lived on this planet, dedicated whatever skills, energy, abilities, effort, talents, assets, sweat, time and toil they were capable of giving - all to help others. Self-sacrifice was their gift of unselfish love. I have heard people talk about being “used”, or being “taken advantage of”. Certainly, if someone is using you just for their own selfish gain, and it is actually detrimental to lend your self and your energies to them, don’t do so. But if your spouse, family, or friends, are of like-mind, and dedicated to working on developing and applying unselfish love themselves, then you should look at what you can contribute to the whole as the wonderful opportunity it is. Personally, I am always being “used” by others. I want to give of my abilities, energy and time, in the service of God. I am happy to give all I can to help others find God and Inner Peace themselves - by helping them become more loving. It is often hard and thankless work, but what am I here for? Am I here to get, or to give? To accumulate wealth or material possessions just for myself, or to be better able to help others. Am I here to be loved, or to love? For me and mine, I say, I want to be “used”. I will utilize all I have in that service. It is my constant desire to be an instrument of God’s will. But that’s just me, and my choice. You must make your own. But it wouldn’t hurt to ask yourself the same questions. From St. Francis of Assisi “Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow Love Where there is injury, let me sow pardon Where there is doubt, let me sow faith Where there is despair, let me sow hope Where there is darkness, let me sow light Where there is sadness, let me sow joy Oh divine Master Grant that I seek not so much to be consoled, as to console. To be understood as to understand To be loved as to Love For it is giving that we receive It is in pardoning that we are pardoned And it is in dying that we are born unto Eternal Life.” Roses or Thorns 51
If they get along well enough, unrelated intentional roommates can even become like a sort of extended family, because of their shared ideals and caring for each other. Such a situation may sound wonderful at first consideration, and it certainly can be, but it takes work, dedication, and commitment. It’s not just a “hearts & roses” affair. More like a path of roses flowers, thorns, flowers, thorns, flowers. Like any challenge, it can sometimes get difficult. Depending on “where you’re at” within yourself, you can experience such interaction as wonderful, or horrible. The reason for this is simple. The “spiritual side” of people really likes the support, nurturing and empowerment of such interactions with others. But the “selfish side” hates the giving, the constructive criticism (because it “exposes” its tricks and games), and the loss of its control over you. This is where things like absolute commitment become invaluable. But your attitude is perhaps even more important, because that affects what kind of thoughts get generated. Attitude affects everything, including the way you approach your tasks and growth, and what you accomplish. I have a friend who takes dips in frozen ponds in the middle of winter. He loves it! But he only loves it because he has that attitude towards it. To someone else, that would be a hellish experience. And if they were told they had to do it, or should do it, but had a negative attitude towards it, it would be a nightmare. Change the attitude, and you change your experience, and thus your life. So when dealing with other people, having a humble attitude towards being criticized, and a tolerant attitude towards them (rather than being prideful, inflexible, or arrogant), makes a huge difference. As does caring more about the trials and needs of others, rather than focusing on your own (remember the 12 foot spoons!). In fact, when you are thinking about others, or caring for the needs of others, your mind isn’t on yourself. You only experience your own misery, issues and problems when you are thinking about yourself. In fact, recent studies show that when there is a disaster of some kind, the disaster victims who focus on helping others, suffer far less traumatic psychological damage. “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”- John Watson Interpersonal Relationships When people get together, interpersonal problems almost always arise. The closer they live together and the more they interrelate with each other, the more problems can arise. That’s one of the reasons the divorce rate is so high. Hitch two average selfish people closely together (especially if they don’t have the same ideals), and you have a good potential for future relationship problems. The same with friends or roommates. You may get along if you don’t see each other too often, or place demands on each other, but if you “cross certain lines”, sparks can fly. Normally, when people rent a room and become roommates, they set all kinds of spoken and unspoken “boundaries” to prevent/minimize interpersonal problems arising. But in a shared ideal Golden Rule intentional roommate situation (whether that means a spouse, or unrelated friends), the point is to develop and try to practice Pure love. Thus GR intentional roommates actually want to deliberately cross boundaries and offer constructive criticism for the purposes of “routing out” selfishness and developing unselfish love. That can get intense. All kinds of emotions can arise - anger, resentments, envy, jealousy, etc.. Buried emotional issues and scars from past relationships, even child abuse, might emerge from repression and need to be dealt with. But that’s all part of changing and healing. As strange as it seems, attempting to really apply the Golden Rule, can at first be even more chaotic and tumultuous. It can even get a bit like being in the trenches of a war zone. If you aren’t perfect, and they aren’t perfect, what can you expect? Even if you are working on becoming unselfishly loving (and so are others you’re working with), what can you expect? The fact that you’re working on being unselfishly loving, means you aren’t yet. But here’s the thing: The greatest amount of true spiritual growth comes from getting down “in the trenches” with others - that means getting criticism, giving criticism (and dealing with backlash & defensiveness), having conflicts with others arise that challenge your unselfish love, and dealing with these issues correctly and lovingly. You might want to read that again, because it is about the essence of real spirituality, and where the bulk of spiritual work and growth take place. Later, we talk more about positive ways to help you interact and accomplish that, but let’s start with written interpersonal commitment statements. Interpersonal Commitment Statements These are similar to the personal commitment ideal and goals statements we covered earlier, but they’re for defining and “grounding out” your goals and commitments for working with others of like-mind. 52
I suppose you could compare them to oaths or marriage vows in a way, but they are frequently referred to and used as part of the overall Golden Rule interpersonal groupwork program. On page 72 of your Personal Declarations section, you will find the GR Interpersonal Commitment Statement. Fill it out, and sign it.
Chapter Twenty-One Choosing Intentional Roommates People who want to create a controlled environment to work even more intensely on the Golden Rule at home, can do so. All it takes is like-minded individuals, friends, or family who room together. People room together all the time of course, but it’s usually only done for its financial benefits. But it can be for spiritual benefits too. People who room together always set up “house rules”. The rules may involve sharing chores, smoking, food arrangements, noise during certain hours, etc.. Golden Rule oriented roommates can make house rules that create an environment conducive to living by the Golden Rule and developing unselfish love and caring. Maybe everyone would like a special room designated for prayers/meditations. Or maybe honoring a “do not disturb” sign on a bedroom door, and/or sensitivity to peace and quiet in the house, would suffice. Do you want a generally quiet living environment? Or periods of quiet? Do people want to play music, at what hours, and what kind of music? One person’s masterpiece is pure disharmonious noise to another person. What about TV? You can have TV, no TV, TV only at certain times, or movies only. The options for everything are endless. What about cleanliness? How do you handle the laundry or dirty clothes? Kitchen rules? What about meat if some people are vegetarian? Communicable diseases? In Hawaii, some households keep to the tradition of taking shoes off before entering - other households don’t. In Japan, they practice that too. I lived there, and it definitely keeps the house cleaner, and more sanitary. What about things you breathe that might irritate someone’s lungs, like cigarette smoke, nail polish and incense? There are many decisions to make about many things. All it takes is some thought and collaboration, and it’s all up to you and your roommates. You can even create a nearly monastic environment if you and your roommates want to. After all, there really isn’t that much to it. What makes a monastery? Well, it varies of course, but one thing for sure - it’s not the decor and ambiance. It’s basically all about making house rules that allow a life that’s focused on spiritual living practices. Some monks practice silence, or periods of silence, but many don’t. If having your own room isn’t an issue to you and your fellow roommates, sharing rooms can save money and create more interaction and opportunities to see self-side addictive behavior and apply the Golden Rule. If you want to room with more people or in closer quarters, bunk beds are a traditional way people have “doubled up” for a long time. They’ve been used to increase occupancy for children at home, “sleeping cars” on trains, “tour buses” for entertainers and bands, monasteries, military barracks, “dorms”, and summer camps. Everything is all up to you and your intentional roommates, because you collectively make the rules! Roommate Contracts Once all roommates have decided on house rules, it should be put in writing in the form of contracts. All roommates who agree, can commit to it in writing. This isn’t a legal issue, it’s a commitment issue. It can be referred to later if necessary, to remind people of what they mutually agreed to. So lay it out in detail, with all points covered, in advance. Also, it gives you something for future potential roommates to look at, so they can decide if they want the same rules. If they don’t, and you want to accommodate them, you can also always make changes to the rules if you think it’s worth it. You may want to have contract clauses that specify the means of removing a roommate whom other roommates find undesirable (for instance, a majority vote, or whatever). Golden Rule Fellowship Meetings As we mentioned earlier, there can be two kinds of groups that get together for purposes of helping each other apply the Golden Rule in their lives. One is more casual, loosely structured and less intense. The other is “intentionally living together” situations - which include couples, families, and intentional roommates. Thus, there are different kinds of meetings and interaction methods that apply to each situation. There are two categories: Golden Rule Study Group/Club/Fellowship Meetings; and Intentional Roommate Meetings. Spouse relationships have special issues that must be considered, so those will be addressed separately. Spouse/family meetings will be the same as intentional roommate meetings however, with the exception of those issues, so you should use the intentional roommate meeting section as a general 54
guide. Everyone should read about both kinds of meetings though, because certain concepts definitely cross-over. Golden Rule Study Group/Club/Fellowship Meetings [To find a nearby study group/club, or form one, you are welcome to contact the Golden Rule Organization (GRO) headquarters.] The following guidelines are step-by-step instructions for conducting a Golden Rule meeting. Because of the format, just reading those guidelines might make it seem that a Golden Rule meeting is a stiff, uptight affair. But it shouldn’t be in the least. If you are doing it right, it should be a very comfortable, casual, relaxed, loving, and enjoyable atmosphere (except for times of emotional release or interpersonal disagreements, which can naturally get a little intense sometimes). And feel free to modify anything, including the order of things, to improve the function and results of meetings. First Meeting Decisions 1) Where? - Golden Rule meetings can be held at the facilities of a cooperative house of worship, or at members’ homes. If you choose to do it at members’ homes, you can rotate between members if you like. 2) Finances - Do you want to charge membership fees to cover expenses, food/beverages, etc., or if rotating homes, just let each member cover that during their turn? Do you want to “pass a basket” to accept donations from members to help support your local projects, and/or the work of the Golden Rule Organization, or not? 3) Meeting days, times, and lengths - The first matter to discuss will be agreeing upon how often to get together. This will obviously be determined by what everyone’s schedule will permit. If at all possible, daily meetings are preferable. They help keep your life direction focused on your priority ideals and goals, help keep you from getting “lost and entangled” with day to day problems, and can help keep you inspired. But it may not be possible to meet that frequently for those who don’t live together. Once a week would still be good if that’s all everyone can commit to. Next discuss and set the best time for the meeting. Then discuss an agreeable length of time for meetings. 4) Leader Election - Elect a group leader by secret ballot or open show of vote. This leadership position should be open to challenge and a new vote called for at any time during meetings. If you all know one another, or pretty much so, it’s obviously best to choose someone who is respected for their fairness and/or compassion. The group leader will call the meeting to order, dismiss it, and intervene in certain situations that call for a defining third party decision. Conducting Study Group/Club Meetings 1) Moment of Silence - Once everyone is assembled, and the meeting called to order, everyone can join hands and spend a few minutes in silent thought, silent prayer, or meditation. If everyone is agreeable to a specific thing to do during the period, that would be great. But if your group is non-denominational and not affiliated with any specific religion, you should vote on any deviation from a period of silence. Unless it is a group that is affiliated with a specific religion, and all members are of that religion, there shouldn’t be pressure on anyone to conform to specific religious practices - that would be missing the point of what the Golden Rule is about. If everyone in the group believes in the possibility of “God” in one way or another, it’s likely everyone would agree to ending the period of silence with a “God’s Will Be Done” affirmation. 2) Positive Experience Stories - Start the meeting with creating a positive mood and direction. There are a couple of things you can do to get things moving the right way. Pointing out the good things that someone did, or that you did, in the last week is a great thing to start the meetings with. Mention to one of your friends that you noticed they did this or that, or were thoughtful, or whatever bright spot you have to pass along. “If someone does something good, applaud! You will make two people happy.”- Samuel Goldwyn 3) Spiritually Uplifting Reading, Movie, or Music - You may want to do some group reading from the workbook, or other inspirational books that everyone truly agrees upon with no peer pressure. Again, if you’re doing a non-denominational study group, or want to keep to the universal value of the Golden Rule, don’t choose books or passages that contribute to social or religious separation, prejudice, divisiveness, or judgementalism. Whatever you choose for your reading, encourage members to make comments, or ask questions about the subject matter. An occasional alternative to reading (or in addition to reading), might be watching a spiritually inspiring movie or listening to inspiring music. If you are affiliated with a religion, they can probably provide you with a list of their approved movies. 55
It has been said that music is the closest thing to the language of God. If you have time, put on a little inspiring music, and let it lift everyone’s spirit. GRO has a special workbook supplements for spiritually inspiring movies and music, which include GRO’s non-denominational recommendations. It also includes comments on the movies, and things to watch for and discuss when being viewed by a GR study group. See the GRO website, or the back of the book to order. 4) Reviewing Personal Declarations - Everyone should bring their journals, and GR Workbooks to the meetings. After the uplifting reading/entertainment, they should open their Workbooks to their Personal Declarations section, and review the entire contents to remind themselves of what they are doing, and their commitments. This will obviously take a few minutes. As each person finishes reviewing the section, they should close their books so the group leader will know when everyone is done. Then everyone should briefly state aloud: A) Why they are there. B) What their ideal and goal is. (Speak from your heart about what you want to do, the changes you want to make for your spiritual growth and how you feel about this.) C) Ask everyone else for their input and let them know that you welcome criticism because you want to hear about yourself, and anything that anyone might notice that you are doing or saying etc., that could be brought up for you to work on and change. D) State their commitment. 5) GR Discussion Period - Next, if anyone wants to bring up issues from their journals, they can. Remember, communication is vital - COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE! Anything should be able to be discussed. They can give examples of good things that may have happened, experiences with their methods of spiritual growth, insights, or problems they may have had. Then group members can make comments. COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE! If someone had a negative interaction with someone outside the group, that they feel went unresolved, or want to resolve positively, they can solicit input about it from other members. Another way to deal with such a situation is to do a reenactment of the negative interaction, having other group members play the roles. For instance, let’s say Susan had an argument with a fellow employee at her office, and doesn’t feel it went well. One group member could play the role of Susan, while another member plays the role of Susan’s co-worker. These members, who are emotionally uninvolved in the situation, could then offer a variety of perspectives and show when and where potential positive resolutions could have occurred, and more importantly, where Susan may have been “out of line” and was behaving negatively. Once that is pointed out, Susan can say a corrective affirmation to help change whatever quality may have negatively affected the interaction. Then Susan can step into the role playing as herself, and act it out positively. If Susan doesn’t “get” the points that are brought up, or agree with criticisms about her behavior, she should open her Workbook and read the contents in the Personal Declarations section to remind herself of why she is there, what her objectives are, commitment is, and really think about WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT, being right or wrong, or being unselfishly loving? [In fact, a page with that slogan should be prominently posted somewhere in the meeting room (page 74).] If that doesn’t do it, she can hand her Workbook to the group leader, who can read her Personal Declarations, talk to her about it, and again ask her, what is more important, being right or wrong, or being unselfishly loving. Then hopefully the defensiveness will be dropped, and the truth accepted. But, as the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” All these “procedures” for helping you, aren’t going to be effective if you don’t have the right attitude and commitment to change. Nor if you don’t COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE! [Note: If there are unresolved disagreements between two or more members of the group, see the next chapter “Intentional Roommate Meetings” for ideas on how to best deal with that.] 6) Open Forum, Announcements - Next, have an open forum where people can say what’s on their minds, and get support and comments from other members. After that, the group leader can make any necessary announcements. This would also be a good time to discuss ideas for promoting the Golden Rule, and any progress that has been made in that area. Spread the word! This can be done with events, flea-markets, bake sales, flyers, doing talks at local lodges, clubs, churches, etc.. Members could also promote it with things like wearing promotional T-shirts (“Think Golden Rule”, “Golden Rule to the Rescue”, or whatever), lapel pins, cups, posters, plaques, etc.. (We’re trying to carry some things like that for members). 56
The group leader should also make announcements about networking with other members locally (and internationally through GRO). For instance, if Susan does commercial bookkeeping, and Andy runs a gardening supply, they may want that announced so other members can support their businesses if they wish. This would also be a good time for “passing a collection plate” if you’re going to accept donations, or need to collect for meeting expenses. 7) Socializing - Finally, allow some time for people to speak to each other independently, and socialize. 8) Till We Meet Again - End the meeting with another period of holding hands, and silence, silent prayer, or meditation. Then a big group hug!
Chapter Twenty-Two Intentional Roommate Meetings As we mentioned earlier, getting “down in the trenches” with others of like-mind affords great opportunity for change in a number of ways. And that sometimes results in disagreements and conflict. Positively dealing with things that are brought up about your selfish-side, is the goal. And if that isn’t done immediately when an “issue” is brought up, or a disagreement/conflict occurs (for any reason), then the best tool to positively deal such problems is having a group meeting to discuss things and work them out.
Choosing a “Head Roommate” Can you imagine your arms and legs all trying to act independently and “do their own thing” without coordination from your brain/mind? Every body needs a head. That applies to everything where more than one person is involved in functioning as a whole, from married couples and business partners, to football teams, corporations and even nations. Objective analysis clearly shows that group efforts work better with someone acting as a “head”. This applies to partners and couples just as much as larger groups. Many business partnerships have broken up over “stalemate” disagreements in which no one has final say so. That’s why many modern business partnership contracts have “buyout clauses” that require one partner to sell their share to the other if it comes down to it. It is far more complicated with spousal relationships of course, but still, such relationships have broken up over a lack of one or the other partner being the “head” decision maker in the family. And other times they break up because of power struggles related to it. Having a dominant head or leader can have its downside for sure. But unfortunately, until such time that everyone is solely coordinated by a universal/spiritual source of some kind, there will still be a need for leaders/heads. And that applies to coordinated group efforts too. It seems to be the best “stop gap” solution. The trick is, making sure that “heads” are as “good” as possible. A beneficent “king” or “queen” can be the greatest form of leadership, asset and blessing for a country, whereas a selfish one can be its worst nightmare. But leaders of any kind, elected or not, can be a blessing or a curse. The election process is a safety valve for this, but it shouldn’t be abused by trying to get rid of someone when they are just doing their job. In the case of a Golden Rule workgroup, be wary of wanting to get rid of a group leader, just because they have supported valid criticism of you, or “sided” with someone else against you. Your selfish side being threatened is not a good reason to get rid of a group leader, but it is a good reason to keep them. The Head Intentional Roommate We already discussed choosing a leader in a study group/club scenario, but this is even more of a critical and important role in an intentional roommate scenario. You will need to elect someone who will have the final say so in a stalemate situation, argument, or discussion where two or more people are in disagreement. This person should be able to mediate in a positive, loving and objective way even in the midst of a heated ego battle. They will need to adhere to the contract of rules and agreements that have been set forth by the group in dealing with any issue/stalemate that might come up. This should be the criteria on which someone should be chosen and if these guidelines are not followed by the mediator/leader, then you as a group will need to elect someone else. Its very important that you agree upon this and that you feel good about who you have chosen for this role because when you are in the middle of dealing with issues, things can get pretty heated and intense, and that’s the time when people who have selfish reasons to resent or want the leader removed, will look for any excuse to “attack”/find fault with the person who has been chosen to lead/mediate. “Condemn the fault and not the actor of it.”- William Shakespeare Calling a Meeting Intentional roommates can choose to have meetings that are regularly scheduled, regardless of if there are any issues to bring up or not, or only when someone recognizes a need for it. Since they are living together, it is easier to have frequent scheduled meetings (even daily, or twice daily). Other than scheduled meetings, one could be called because someone has an announcement to make, a criticism, a 58
complaint about negative behavior, a concern about a potential problem, or they need a dispute resolved. Meetings don’t need to just be about negative behavior or conflicts. It could be regarding a member’s personal internal conflicts, struggles, doubts or difficulties. It’s the perfect forum to “get something off your chest” and receive support, nurturing, or guidance. Meetings should also be used to discuss appreciation of a positive change, or good deed. When a meeting is called, it is best to start by going to the group leader, and explaining your reason for calling the meeting, and ASKING them to help. Unlike what most power hungry people think, being a good leader is often a thankless and very difficult job. They are doing you a favor out of the goodness of their heart, and it should be treated as such. If a group leader is one of the parties involved in a dispute however, they need to defer to another person who will function as a temporary group leader. When having a meeting, members should bring their journals and Workbooks just as mentioned in the study group meeting instructions given earlier. In fact, all the same things that apply to study groups, including the meetings, apply to intentional roommates also. However, since intentional roommates are more likely to have interpersonal conflicts, we need to discuss the special methods for dealing with that in a meeting. Creating Resolutions 1) Personal Declarations - If an unresolved conflict between two members is brought up at a meeting, the two should read their own Personal Declaration sections, then hand them to each other to read - before discussing it. 2) Verbalize Commitment - Then they should look at each other and verbally re-affirm that they want to reach mutual truth, rather than just defend their own position on the matter. They should verbally affirm that the truth is more important to them than being right or wrong, and that unselfishly loving each other is more important than being right or wrong. 3) Take turns telling each side of story - Next, they should each tell their side of the story. Reasonable interruption for clarification of facts should be allowed, but it shouldn’t turn into constant arguments. Everyone should let the other person say their piece. Then they can say theirs. 4) (a) Members remind disputees about (1) loss of objectivity and (2) applying the Golden Rule. (b) Isolate the primary issue, from secondary issues. (c) Then members question disputees, discuss, and give more objective input. Now in almost every case, both people will be partly right, and both partly wrong. The other members (who have no “selfish-side” involvement, and who’s emotions and egos are uninvolved) should reflect on the matter. They can then offer the conflicting parties the truth as they see it, and the ways it should be dealt with, in the light of unselfish love. It is far easier for us to see the truth and solutions regarding other people’s arguments and problems, than it is to see our own. That is why each one of us needs to rely on the objectivity and clarity of other members, when we ourselves get “caught up” in selfishness, defensiveness, negativity, or obstinacy. It is up to the nonconflicting members to point out the aspects of who is right about what, and wrong about what, and more importantly, how it should be seen and dealt with using the Golden Rule. Members should start by reminding the conflicting parties that they must UNDERSTAND and KEEP IN MIND during the meeting, that they have probably lost their objectivity. That they each probably think only THEY are right, and the other is WRONG. They need to admit to themselves first, and then to the members at the meeting, that there is a very good chance they are at least partly wrong, if not entirely. They need to really WANT to see THEIR OWN fault, and change it, rather than focusing on the part of the fault that lies with the other person. Otherwise, nothing will get accomplished, nothing will get resolved, no growth will take place, and unselfish love will be replaced by a “grudge” or various negative emotions and walls. But if this process is done correctly, and applying the Golden Rule is made the priority to anger, envy, jealousy, etc., then unselfish love will become stronger. In many cases, what will happen is the original problem, gets confused with, and mixed in with, a secondary problem. Consider the following fictitious example. Let’s say John reminded Mary that it was her turn to do the dishes, and pointed out that she had been avoiding it every time it was her turn. Mary reacted negatively, became irritated, and disagreed, arguing she hadn’t been avoiding it every time it was her turn, and that John was just “being negative”. And the fact is, John WAS “being negative” - because he waited to bring it up to Mary until the issue had “bugged him” for a while. So rather than bringing it up “matter-of-factly”, positively, the first time he noticed it, he only did so when he reached a “negativity threshold” and “snapped”. John didn’t bring it up until his “irritation” over the issue “built up” over time, making it a bigger problem than it really was in his thoughts and feelings. By then, he was quite perturbed, so he brought up the issue to her with a negative, mildly hostile “charge” behind it. 59
Let’s say this issue between John and Mary never got resolved positively, and it gets brought up at a meeting. What should happen? First, they need to separate “attitude” issues, from factual issues. In other words, people should NEVER use the “tone”/attitude of the person who brings an issue up to them, as an excuse to ignore what is being brought up. This is a common “scape goat” the selfish-side tries to use all the time. So we have found that when doing meetings, the first thing to do is isolate the two issues. That doesn’t mean that John’s negative attitude should be ignored, because if he isn’t being unselfishly loving, and he wants to be, he needs help with that. But it does mean that John’s attitude should only be dealt with AFTER the primary issue is totally resolved and over with. Otherwise such “back and forth” issues would never end and never get resolved. So first, Mary needs to deal with what John brought up, regardless of whether John was a screaming jerk, or sweet as pie about it. The other members need to get involved with their perceptions. What is the truth about being lazy regarding the dishes every time it was Mary’s turn? In conflict situations, things often get exaggerated by the “accuser” and often get “under rated” by the accused. So likely, Mary does have a tendency to ignore her chores, but doesn’t do it EVERY TIME. There’s that partly right, partly wrong thing again. Secondly, at the time John originally brought that up to Mary, she should have admitted that she did have that tendency (if true), thanked John for bringing it to her attention, said a positive affirmation like “I am always positive, responsible and unselfishly loving” and got going on it. The members must try and help Mary see that, realize it, and deal with it. 5) Resolving the Primary issue - If Mary eventually accepts the members’ input, and realizes she was wrong, she can apologize and do an affirmation. After that is a “done deal”, then, and only then, the issue of John’s negative attitude can be brought up and dealt with. But before we get into that example, let’s deal with what would happen if Mary didn’t accept the truth from the other members. First, Mary should be reminded of what she is doing there, and what she has expressed as her goal. She should be asked if she wants to get to the truth, or just “be right”. She should be asked if she is feeling unselfish love towards John. Does she want to become a more loving person, and develop her Golden Rule virtues, or just “be right”? If that still gets nowhere, the uninvolved members could try role playing, one taking Mary’s role, and one taking John’s. They can play out the bad behavior first, to see if Mary“gets it”, and then play out what should have occurred if Mary was being positive. 6) Resolving the Secondary Issue - Now after the issue of Mary’s behavior has been absolutely resolved (meaning she really “got it”, saw the error of her behavior and apologized to John, and said a positive affirmation to herself), then we can deal with John’s attitude issue. First, John should have it pointed out that he should communicate better, and bring things up sooner, rather than letting things build up and get negative. Secondarily, he should be reminded that there is never a good enough reason to get negative. He should be reminded that he should care about others, be unselfishly loving, and bring things up to others with the desire to help. He should be reminded that if you criticize positively, with love in your heart, you will often get a better response. Depending on his attitude and response, the same steps used above to help Mary, could be used to help John. Another thing that often happens, is people retaliate. For instance, let’s say Mary is holding a conscious or subconscious grudge about John bringing up the dishes thing. So she looks for an opportunity to bring something up about him. Not to help him grow. Not because she loves him. Not because it’s best. Not because she is trying to help him change by giving him constructive criticism, but because she just wants to get back at him. Obviously, that’s not good. So what to do? Well, a grudge criticism is virtually the same as the above dishes issue in which John was negative when he brought up the dishes to Mary. So it should be treated in the same way. In other words, it does not matter if the reason someone is bringing something up to you is out of retaliation or not. Truth is truth. It’s either true or not. You need to deal with the issue. Then, only after the initial issue is totally done being dealt with, you should deal with the grudge problem, and help them get back on track with criticizing out of love and a desire to help, rather than a desire to hurt or retaliate. 7) Unresolved disputes being deferred to the group leader for a decision - If all else fails, disputees’ Workbooks should be handed to the group leader to moderate. They can remind the parties involved of their ideals, goals, and commitments, and make a final determination of the matter to resolve it. To accept the group leader’s decision, if it is one you don’t like, takes humility. If you have a problem with that, ask yourself, is the leader’s decision one that harms you or anyone else? If not, what can you lose? Even if they are wrong, ask yourself what you are losing, other than pride? If someone can’t resolve a dispute themself, or with the help of members, or be willing to take the group leader’s decision with a truly good positive attitude, then they’ve decided to make defending their ego more important than growing and applying the Golden Rule, and they shouldn’t even be pretending to “try”. There may be struggle, but ultimately there is only doing, or not doing. Choosing to be humble and loving, or defensive and selfish. 60
8) End with holding hands, whatever prayer/meditation/affirmation you choose, and hugs. Leave things on a positive uplifting note.
Chapter Twenty-Three Family/Spouse Issues We all know that living with a spouse can be a wonderful thing, or it can be a nightmare. In fact the vast majority of murders are based on domestic arguments. But if you have shared ideals, and work together, your spouse can be the closest and most valuable “team” member you have for accomplishing your goals. If not, it can be the greatest detriment to your accomplishing your goals. What spouses make of their relationship, is all up to them. Do you want to keep your spouse down, or support their spiritual growth? If you and your spouse want to work with each other on applying the Golden Rule in your lives, you are essentially Golden Rule “intentional roommates” and can use that program. But spousal relationships have more complex issues, so let’s look at some of those. Some say problems between men and women occur because they have inherently different natures. There’s no question that they have different natures, ways of thinking and behaving (“operating systems”) but that’s not the true reason why they have relationship problems. The different natures can actually be a wonderful and complimentary thing, when in balance through applying unselfish love. Regardless of the nature of your “operating systems”, each human being is a mixture of both male and female elements also. It is really quite complicated, but quite simple if you apply the Golden Rule. Besides having different natures (which are often not understood), men and women have different programming that creates more differences and separation than those that are naturally inherent. Both the natural differences, and the programmed differences, need to be examined, and dealt with. The real root of any relationship problem, not just male/female ones, has nothing to do with your sex. It has to do with the same thing we’ve been talking about throughout this book. The real root of the problem is still just selfishness, and the cure (as opposed to a band-aid temporary fix) is still unselfish love. First, let’s look at programming. We all have cultural programming that handicaps us and broadens the gap between the sexes. The following may be oversimplified, and is full of generalities, but it’s basically true. Keep in mind that while cultural programming creates its own beliefs and behaviors, it also combines with the inherent male and female natures to make all kinds of new deviations. Both men and women get a lot of negative programming, but when it comes to relationship skills, men probably get the worst of it. Men are overtly and covertly programmed to repress their feelings. They are “not allowed” to even have feelings, let alone share them with someone. “Big boys don’t cry” is often verbally or silently conveyed in some way, to male toddlers. “Be a man”, is heard or intimated consistently. But what does it mean to be a man? To be tough (insensitive), and repress your feelings? To be a womanizer? To have dirty fingernails? Play and watch competitive sports? Drink and drive? At the very least, most men are made to feel ashamed to be truly sensitive or express their feelings, so they swallow them, lock them away, and try to be “numb”. Is it any wonder that when they come home from work they don’t want to “talk” with their spouse? On top of that most men don’t understand a woman’s feeling-based thinking or their need to talk. Between that and negative programming, they don’t relate to women as friends (in the same way they relate to men). The gap is so great that often, men end up believing women are just something they must “learn to live with”, to get what they need or want from them. Besides being natural emotionally based thinkers, women are often programmed to think and behave in irrationally emotional, “helpless”, and “lazy brained” manners. They also don’t relate to a man’s way of thinking, and generally don’t relate to men as friends (in the same way they do with other women). Other than having their own bad experiences with selfish (and badly programmed) men, they also often receive programming that men are insensitive selfish pigs, to be tolerated in exchange for their needs or wants. Even if we never actually hear such things being said, we all pick up on it as children anyway. We see it in the behaviors of those around us, and pick up on the non-verbal messages and clues. The Real Culprit Regardless of the various reasons that men and women are so different, the one thing that all people definitely have in common, regardless of sex, race, age or background, is selfishness separateness. When a person becomes unselfishly loving, the lack of understanding and connection between the sexes, and between spouses, “miraculously” disappears. 62
Jealousy is one of the most insidious “branches” of selfishness. A high percentage of the murder and domestic violence rate we mentioned above, stems from jealousy. People sometimes want their spouse to be a bit jealous. They think it means they love them. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. When someone is jealous, they can’t be simultaneously loving. The two things can’t co-exist. Rather than loving, a jealous person is being selfish, possessive, and uncaring. Yes, they are exhibiting that they “care” whether or not they lose you as their possession, but they aren’t showing that they “care” about YOU. They are not exhibiting their love, they are exhibiting a terrible addiction. Possessing, having control of, getting attention and energy from another human, is probably the strongest, most destructive addiction humans face. Possessiveness is what you get when you are “hooked on that “drug”. And when anything threatens this powerful addiction, threatens the addict’s “drug”, the addict’s “fix”, the reaction is negative and destructive - that’s jealousy. It can be relatively mild, sure. But it can quickly become severe. And even the mild reactions are a poison to real love in a relationship, and only serves to further separation between spouses. To “toy” with having that in a relationship, is to toy with insanity, and like a drug addict thinking they’re using a harmless drug, how many steps is it from the beginning of that insanity, to emotional violence, physical violence, and murder. So before toying with it, or thinking it’s “cute” or a sign of love, you should think long and hard about all the horrific abuse that jealousy has caused. And it isn’t just violence that it causes. It is one of the major destroyers of relationships. There are many other “relationship diseases” too, of course, but they have one common cure - Pure love. Unfortunately, mimicking having Pure love is sometimes taken as being a solution for having a “good relationship”. Men and women are sometimes taught to pretend to be understanding, considerate, and caring. They may learn to just “go through the motions” and “say the right things”. People learn to just fake caring and understanding by performing particular behaviors that will “win” the approval of their spouse. But does it matter if you don’t really feel it? Should you fake it for the sake of the relationship, to get something you want for yourself, or to avoid having an argument? Should you just go through the motions because you might just get rewarded or get what you want? Doesn’t it matter whether or not you really are caring and FEEL caring? It depends on what you want. If you want a fake outcome, use fake caring methods and go through the motions. If you want “the real thing” in a relationship, then do the real thing, think the real thing, be the real thing. Applying the Golden Rule might lose you a fake or shallow relationship, and gain you a true one. It’s your choice. Let’s look at an example of this. A man and a woman both come home from work. He plunks himself down in front of the TV in the den. He doesn’t want to talk to or listen to his wife, he just wants to watch TV and have a beer. The wife wants to spend time talking and maybe share a little affection. The “quick fake relationship fix” might be for him to “go through the motions” of asking her how her day went and to see what he can do for her, he might even give her a hug and offer to take out the trash. But if he only does this because he wants to keep things peaceful, get something, or to avoid the relationship hassles of not doing it, what do you have? Two robots cohabitating? Two zombies going through the motions of being alive? That reduces the relationship to basically nothing more than some kind of mutually selfish deal (unfortunately, many are). “I’ll do this for you IF you do this for me”. The fake fix for the wife might be to “let him have his space”. But inside, if she isn’t doing that because she had Pure love for him, she will be seething. And that buildup of negativity will come out someway, someday. Even if you take the fake approach to fixing your relationship, and get it to work for a while, it can’t last. Because the nature of the selfish-side self will always ruin it. Either one person won’t give enough, or give when the other wants it, or the other will get too demanding, or whatever. One person will get negative with the other, then the other person will retaliate - and then it will “snowball”. How long would a man like that keep up a “good” behavior if he didn’t get what he was wanting in return from his partner? And vice-versa. Not too long. [The reverse roles apply also]. The Golden Rule can fix things if both parties really want to apply it. A little real Pure love, unselfishness and caring go a long way. If a spouse will just be tolerant, understanding, and caring about their partner’s nature and programming, and help them work through it, it can all change- on either side of the fence. Again, an important thing to remember is that you can’t change the other person. YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU. Trying to influence them by “talking them into something”, or with some form of spousal “bribery”, “nagging”, or “force”, might get you some kind of temporary results, but certainly not a fix. Once you have changed yourself to be more unselfishly loving, then you will be automatically offering a true opportunity for your spouse to change. And maybe they’ll change, or maybe you’ll find out your spouse only wants to remain selfish. Either way, it affords the opportunity for a positive change away from living like selfish loveless zombies. 63
The bottom line is that if you are doing certain things in order to get something, you are still just functioning in the “me” zone - and that can only lead to problems eventually. Truly loving one another and really caring is the only way to resolve and heal difficulties that come up between spouses. Tempered Tolerance What is needed is a blend of tolerance to the human weaknesses and flaws of our partner(s), combined with a sincere desire to be a benefit to that other person spiritually. You must be careful not to start thinking tolerance means supporting negative behavior. Co-dependent relationships aren’t good for anyone. What do I mean by that? Most all relationships are based on both individual, and mutually selfish objectives. Unfortunately, the Golden Rule is usually absent, and they often lack caring for the other person and their growth as a human being. Hence such relationships become great stagnation pools and vehicles for strengthening the selfish and weak side of a person, and both partners can stay together for the wrong reasons, and continue to foster negative behavior. Picture a woman who feels like her mate cares so little about her that he would rather watch TV than spend quality time communicating with her or sharing some romance together or whatever. She learns to tolerate what he wants to do because she knows that she can’t change him (even though she would like to) and she learns to just put up with his behavior. This is an exchange. A bad exchange. She gives up that intimacy and communication to an extent, in order to get other things out of the relationship. This goes both ways. He doesn’t like her as a person, doesn’t understand her, they have no interests in common, nothing to really talk about, but she takes care of him. He tolerates her to an extent, in order to get other things out of the relationship. This can be a very miserable situation for both people. The fact that you’re reading this workbook means that you are inclined to be giving and considerate already. At least you value those traits. Given that fact, you may be more likely to put up with bad/unhealthy behaviors from your spouse, imagining that you are being a good person. Good Bad Example I know a lady who lived with a man who was an abusive alcoholic for many many years. She “stuck with him” to supposedly try and help him, and maintain a better economic lifestyle for the children. She had two children, and by sticking with him, she also forced them to be subjected to his abuse. The children of course, have the associated scars now. She played the part of the brave, caring, supportive wife and mother, working and trying to hold things together, paying the bills when he was not able to work because of the alcoholism. She thought she was the “good guy”. Years later, she would say that she did it because she felt it was the caring and “evolved” thing to do. She didn’t want to “hurt” him by leaving him. By staying with him, she facilitated his problems. She actually hurt him, herself and her children directly. And the ripple effect magnifies the mistake from there. Here are some good questions to ask yourself: 1) Does your relationship serve your weaknesses or your spouse’s negative side? 2) Why are you together? 3) Why do you tolerate/allow the things that you allow? Selfish reasons? Is it because of fear of being alone, attachment, possessiveness, monetary gain, insecurity, etc? (Those factors almost always figure into the formula.) 4) Would you continue to function in your relationship in the same way that you do currently if your only concern was helping that person grow/become a better person? 5) Would certain things that you allow currently, become unacceptable, if your own attachments and self interests were no longer tipping the scales? 6) Would you be encouraging/promoting certain things in the relationship that you are not currently encouraging, if your own attachments and self interest were no longer tipping the scales? 7) Is your mate your friend? Those are all great questions to ask yourself periodically. And if you answer honestly and objectively, then look at the answers honestly and objectively also, they can give you a good picture of your motives, and what your relationship is based on. The motives could be all selfish or all caring, but for many people, they’re a blend of the two. If your answers to the questions are things like, “The sex is great.”, “I need to have someone in my life.”, or, “There’s a lot that I’d do differently if I were primarily concerned about my partner’s well being and my own well being,” etc., you need to take a sober look at what you are doing, why you are doing it and if you need to make some changes. No one else can give you “true happiness”, or “make you happy” in any real and lasting manner. Sure- someone can do something that will lift your spirits or please you temporarily - but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about an overall consistent personal demeanor. If you’re a “down” person, it’s a 64
condition of yours, not the fault of someone else. If you want to be happy, you must make yourself a happy person first, not hinge it on someone else. Likewise, you can’t make anyone else really happy. If fact, a common co-dependent/abusive relationship argument that’s used to keep a partner from leaving, is, “But if you leave I’ll just go to pieces.”, or “If you leave I won’t be able to stop drinking.”, etc.. Going back to studies of addictive behavior again, and programs to help an addict, we know such arguments don’t hold water. There comes a time when people can only help themselves, and if you support someone’s negative behavior in anyway because of your own selfish needs/desires, you are hurting them. Ideally, people should be partners for the sake of mutual reinforcement of their dreams and ideals, to nourish and support each other in positive constructive ways - to strengthen each other’s good side. That starts with each partner taking personal responsibility for making positive changes THEN getting the support of another. You may say, “Well, my spouse is not interested in being a better person.” That can be quite a dilemma. At that point, perhaps you should go over the list of questions above again. Then if you still feel that you should be in the relationship for some good reason, decide what are acceptable and non acceptable behaviors based on whether or not such behaviors are good for that person and the people around them - including you. Then you could have a meeting, or see a professional counselor if you want to. If a particular behavior is not productive or constructive, one needs to lovingly say something about it and if necessary, take loving action to help create a change. If you use that formula, you can avoid the trap of simply becoming a “complainer” or “nag”. The big problem with just complaining and nagging alone, is that it isn’t coupled with action. You see that problem in parent-child relationships, too. Let’s say a child is doing something that they shouldn’t do. If the parent keeps saying, “No, no, no....”, and the child is accustomed to being told “no” repeatedly before action is taken, or that no real action will be taken, you don’t get positive results. If “no” is consistently followed by loving disciplinary action, then it gets somewhere. Dealing with a spouse by just complaining or nagging has proven to be ineffective also. It might work in some instances, in a temporary or superficial way. But the greater effect is opposite of what is desired, because it “numbs” the person to listening, and also pushes them further away. So it’s best to sit down and communicate clearly to each other about things and then if something is deemed serious enough to require action, you need to positively, lovingly act. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Don’t do “posturing”, or play games. After words have done their job, let actions speak for you. This is sort of a paradox I suppose, but if you are working on applying the Golden Rule, you can take advantage of someone nagging you. Living with a nag can offer you some great chances for growth and self examination. You are likely to be receiving a steady flow of criticism and input. That’s better than living with someone who never makes a peep, even when you’re being out of line. All of that information they give you can be very useful if you aren’t defensive and can sift out the good criticism from the bad. If you can honestly take a look at it and use the pearls you find amongst the manure, you can really make some good headway. Your partner will probably notice your openness and the changes you are making and most likely acquire a new respect for you. Who knows, maybe it will even catch on and they’ll start making improvements too! “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of Wisdom.”- Thomas Jefferson Use of Communication in Relationships (It’s so Funny How We Don’t Talk Anymore) Most of us have observed a relationship “headed for the rocks”. The worse things get in a relationship, the worse communication gets. But it works the other way too - the worse communication gets in a relationship, the worse the relationship gets. When communication shuts down completely, it is either a death blow for the relationship, or it means the relationship is dead. It starts with people withdrawing into themselves, withholding what they’re internally feeling and thinking. Often each person feels that the other doesn’t care about their feelings, thoughts or needs (which may be true). Attempts to communicate may frequently end in frustration or argument. Walls go up, brick by brick. Separation grows and it isn’t long before the gulf between them has grown unpassable. I’ve seen married couples who never talk about anything at all. No small talk, no communication about what happened to them that day, and no serious “deeper” conversations either. They can’t even talk about the simplest of things, let alone complicated interpersonal issues. What they need is caring communication. Sitting down and talking about what’s on their minds, and listening, really listening, to each other. Unfortunately, it’s often too late for that.
If people agree that they want to grow, and grow closer, they must eliminate the separations between them. And one of the ways to accomplish that is through communication. But if it doesn’t start with the Golden Rule, with caring about the other person, not even communication will help. If you feel like withdrawing into yourself and shutting off your spouse or others, or you see/feel someone else doing it, call a meeting immediately. Communicate. Get things out in the open and remember that any problem can be solved with enough unselfish love and honesty. Also keep in mind that more often than not, problems involve both sides or all sides. It’s not about blaming someone, it’s about resolving issues that have come between us and each other, between us and our own love. With this approach we can bring the openness and love back into relationships and help each other rather than hurt. Spouse Summary If you want to get things on a positive footing, start by having a meeting with your spouse. Find out if they are on the same “wavelength” as you, and if they want to work on applying the Golden Rule in their life, both with your relationship, and with others. If so, do the same things laid out in the “Intentional Roommating” program. Decide the parameters of both the “house rules”, and your “relationship rules”.
Chapter Twenty-four Creating Your Individual Daily Golden Rule Program The suggestions below are things that you may choose to do as a part of your program of improvement. Daily GR Program Schedule (suggestions only). For those living and working with others of likemind. (for your convenience we’ve created a daily checklist you can copy. (See page 76) 1. Wake up & write down dreams (pg.19) 2. Do morning affirmations and read them where you have posted them (pg.33) 3. If you are living with other people who want to help you with your GR program, have a brief morning meeting, and ask them to help you by pointing things out to you. (pg.22) 4. Sometime during lunchtime, do your personal affirmation(s), OR: At __minute intervals throughout the day, stop whatever you are doing and thinking, and mentally check yourself to see if you are directing your thoughts to achieving your goal of the week and living up to your ideal. After that, silently say to yourself, your chosen affirmation of the day/week. Use a portable alarm clock, or the MotivAider (special silent vibrating timer) to help with this. (pg.57) 5. (Afternoon or after work?) Meditation/Prayer/Affirmation Recording. 6. (Evening?) Have a meeting with other GRO people if possible. 7. If you have time, read enlightening literature, listen to inspiring music or watch an uplifting movie, etc. 8. Log the day in your Journal. How did you do at living up to your ideal? What good did you do? What could have been done better? Did you handle a situation or stress positively or more positively than previously? Were you feeling love all day? Re-live the day in your mind, correcting anything that went wrong. 9. (Going to sleep) Pre-sleep affirmations (pg. 33)
SUMMARY OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS OF THE BOOK 1. Selfishness is the root of all our problems, hence un-selfishness is the solution. 2. You can only change yourself. 3. Ask yourself, “What would So and So do?” (Someone you consider to be a great spiritual leader- Jesus, Buddha, etc.) 4. Communication is of paramount importance. 5. Tolerance is good. 6. Nobody’s perfect. 7. Continually reminding yourself of what is really important to you in life will help you live your life more constructively and fully. 8. Live and conduct yourself as if this is your last day of life. Doing all these things to help you apply the Golden Rule in your life, will take some time. If that is a problem, you just need to ask yourself a couple of questions. What’s it worth to you? What are you doing with the rest of your time? Many people complain that they can’t possibly spend that much time doing it. They say they have jobs, and/or families, and they have to make a living and survive in the world, unlike having the luxury of being in a monastery. So let’s look at the realities of that. If you truly absolutely don’t have the time to do the full schedule as presented here, that’s OK. But if you have a constructive, positive attitude towards it, then you can create an alternative schedule. ANYthing is better than nothing. And maybe there are ways to make extra time that you haven’t thought about yet. We’ll get back to that in a moment, but first, I should dispel some misconceptions about “the luxury” of being in a monastery. I can’t speak for all monasteries, but I don’t know of any “free ride” or “easy living” ones that just let you sit on your butt all day. In ours, I worked the equivalent of two full-time “outside world”, “real world”, “real life” type of jobs, PLUS did 8 hours of spiritual work. I got very little sleep, and at that, it wasn’t daily sleep. But that’s how important it was to me. Now if it’s not as much of a priority in your life, or you really can’t make the time, that’s fine. Just be honest about it, and don’t be angry or envious of others for having or making the time. 67
Most people just don’t prioritize and realize how much they can do if they really, really want to, and what they can skip in their normal routines. So let’s look at and consider a few ideas. First and most obvious is, do you really need as much sleep as you take? We aren’t suggesting you go without what you need by any means. Just think about whether or not you take more than you need. Next, think about other fruitless time you might be spending that might be able to go. The average person could do the entire schedule just by cutting out TV alone. If you really put your mind to it, you’ll come up with your own ideas for how to re-arrange what you spend your time on, and how to save time on what you must do. Here is a list of just a few areas you might be able to streamline or eliminate to make time for higher priorities (obviously they don’t apply to everyone): TV Movies Eating Out Sports “Hanging out”/or “shooting the breeze” on the phone or email. Meals - can they be more simple for less cooking/cleaning time? Can someone else prepare your meals so you have more time? Could you do more “crock pot” meals of soups/rice, or make large bags of pre-made salads, etc.? Parties Reading - do you read books/magazines that don’t help improve your life or are otherwise unnecessary? Shopping - like carpools, shopping can sometimes be shared/turns taken. Many cities even have on-line internet shopping and delivery available now. Entertainment Then if that isn’t enough, just customize a schedule, and do what you can. Remember, this is all up to you, we aren’t trying to influence you to change the above things in your life, just giving ideas for those who actually WANT to make working on the Golden Rule a higher priority. But once you decide what you can do, and make a schedule, remember that commitment to your own plan, and consistency, are vital.
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My daily affirmation is:
Desire Addictions Awareness List 1
Blocks/Dislikes/Fears Addictions Awareness List 1
I WANT TO SEE THE POINT OF VIEW OF OTHERS. I WANT TO SEE THE
COMMUNICATE! AM I CLEARLY EXPRESSING MYSELF? AM I REALLY LISTENING?
I WANT TO DO ANYTHING I NEED TO DO
I WANT TO SEE ALL MY FLAWS AND THE TRUTH SO I CAN GROW AS A PERSON.
WHAT AM I DOING HERE?
I WANT MY “EGO BUSTED” AND I WANT CRITICISM
Personal Ideal, Goal, and Commitment Contract 1) The kind of world I would like to live in, would be like:
2) In order to fit into the kind of world I would like to live in, I need to be:
3) The person I consider a good example for my personal ideal is:
4) In order to become like my ideal, I am becoming (list the qualities and traits you idealize):
5) My goals are:
6) In order to accomplish the above ideals and goals, I am (in this area, write down what you are going to do, like prayer/meditation [and how much or how many times a day], doing affirmations, yoga, asking others to point out your faults so you can improve yourself, etc..):
7) I have decided to change my life in this way, and hereby make an absolute commitment to work on the above ideals and goals as hard as I can, and to change myself accordingly. Signed_________________________ Date:__________________ 79
Golden Rule Interpersonal Commitment Statement For (name):___________________
My goal for working with others of like-mind is to:
I am participating in this Golden Rule workgroup because:
I give my solemn promise: To be open, honest with myself; To want, and accept criticism positively; To look at criticism objectively and honestly; To only give criticism for the purpose of helping others, not hurting them; I agree that mutually finding the truth, is more important than me being right or wrong about any issue; I agree that me being unselfishly loving, is more important than any issue, or me being right or wrong about any issue.
Signed__________________________ Date:__________________ 80
I Can Only Change My Self
WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT, being right or wrong or being unselfishly loving? 82
Am I Feeling Unselfishly Loving? 83