Buddhism 101: Do not do unto others…

img_1773If you grew up in the USA, then I’m sure at some point you came across the Confucian ‘inversion’ of the Golden Rule in which we are enjoined to: ‘NOT do unto others as you would NOT want them to do to you’, or something like that, chuckle chuckle, snicker snicker, at those crazy Asians who just can’t get it right, gotta’ twist everything around, maybe one day they’ll get it straight…

Well, fast-forward a few decades and those crazy rich Asians just may have had it right all along. I mean, it may seem like a minor detail, but on closer inspection it just may speak volumes and provide a valuable clue to species survival, our species. But first things first: the Confucian version is not the inversion, if anything just the opposite, as both versions are scattered throughout the ethical traditions of the world, and the negative prohibitive version just may have come first, though that is hard to say, but likely the more numerous…

And the positive ‘call-to-action’ version that comes down to us in English as ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ seems definitely to be the favorite among the Western Christian-democratic-capitalist clique, but not exclusively, Greeks being some of the earliest to favor the opposite formulation, but not exclusively. So what’s wrong with the Euro version, you ask? I’ll let a modern Western text say it for me, not to save time nor effort, but to add the strength of authority:

How does one know how others want to be treated? The obvious way is to ask them, but this cannot be done if one assumes they have not reached a particular and relevant understanding.”-Wikipedia

And there you have it: any call to action could result in an indeterminate effort leading to an unintended result, and may only reflect the bias of the actor, more than the needs of the recipient. So many a half-hearted politician could claim that he’s acting in the best interests of everyone, as best as he can, when in fact he’s only serving his own interests and doing nothing would yield a much better outcome…

Welcome to the modern world, in which we have acted acted acted out our fantasies to the point that our planet is full to bursting, and we can conceive of nothing other than but to continue that action ad infinitum rather than consider the possibilities of how less doing less having less consuming might actually create—no, allow—a better world for ourselves, simply by doing little, or nothing…

‘Don’t just stand there, do something!’ we’ve all heard over and over, but maybe now it’s time to ‘Don’t just stand there! Sit down—and do nothing—quickly!’ Before it’s too late, before there’s nothing left to enjoy, nothing left to appreciate. Yes, I’m talking about global warming, as a result of our consumptive habits, and yes, I’m talking about meditation as a path forward…

For we have to achieve new means of satisfaction, without consumption, without possessions, maybe without even children as the be-all and end-all of existence. After all, you can always borrow a few if you need them, and the less you consume the more there will be to consume, if and when you need it, not consumption for consumption’s sake, but according to our necessities, with our pleasures coming from elsewhere, inside…

Primum non nocere

…is the medical dictate, of course, ‘first do no harm’, more important than actually taking the risk in effecting some change in an already fragile situation, except to allow it to get better, by the path of least resistance, enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath, though too often buried under modern hypocritical boast, too-wealthy patients impatient with their God-given benefits, so anxious to undergo multiple surgeries to make them look more like Kim K or Ivanka T, that scratching sound coming from anxious corpses of the ancients tossing and turning in their graves…

But there you have it and here we are, probably the first species to ever commit mass suicide by global warming, all because we’re too attached to our air conditioners to know the difference, or even care. Plus the prospect of a life without automobiles is just to unthinkable to even consider, and that is truly sad. A world without limits must be a terrible place indeed…

The freest people know that, already, while the most captive dream of that world without limits, theoretically, in the abstract, having no idea what it’s really like, the horror of indecision, the terror of inexactitude, and the disaster of bad choices multiplied exponential. And that is where we are today. But from a doctrinal standpoint the beauty of that negated prohibitive ‘Silver rule’ to not do unto others is that it provides certainty, and that is what religion and philosophy are for…

I’m not one of those who believe that Science and religion cannot cooperate, so I leave to Science what belongs to it, and that is the uncertainty of experimentation, and tentative theories of physical existence. Religion and philosophy are about ethics, morality, and life choices, so those are choices that we can make, with some degree of certainty…

I have no choice about which flavor quarks in which directional spin will coalesce in providing me apparent solidity with reasonable prospects of survival. I only acquiesce in the choice to know the results of such experimentation, as soon as possible, for the infinite divisibility of matter and the infinite extent of the universe are the only scientific concepts that apply to religion or philosophy, and that’s the way it should be. Everything else is tentative and provisional and best handled by journeymen. Gotta’ give the butcher his share…