Do Unto Others...
The Golden Rule:
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
An Altar in the World (Barbara Brown Taylor):
The Practice of Paying Attention ... According to the classical philosopher Paul Woodruff, reverence is the virtue that keeps people from trying to act like gods. "To forget that you are only humans," he says, "to think you can act like a god--this is the opposite of reverence." (1) While most of us live in a culture that revers money, reveres power, reveres education and religion, Woodruff argues that true reverence cannot be for anything that humans make or manage by ourselves.
... An irreverent soul who is unable to feel awe in the presence of things higher than the self is also unable to feel respect in the presence of things it sees as lower than the self, Woodruff says. This raises real questions about leaders, especially religious leaders, who cite reverence for what is good as their warrant for proclaiming whole populations of people evil.
... Reverence may take all kinds of forms, depending on what it is that awakens awe in you by reminding you of your true size. As I learned on that night of falling stars in Ohio, nature is a good place to start. Nature is full of things bigger and more powerful than human beings, including but not limited to night skies, oceans, thunderstorms, deserts, grizzly bears, earthquakes, and rain-swollen rivers. But size is not everything. Properly attended to, even a saltmarch mosquito is capable of evoking reverence. See those white and black striped stockings on legs thinner than a needle? Where in those legs is there room for knees? And yet see how they bend, as the bug lowers herself to your flesh. Soon you and she will be blood kin. Your itch is the price of her life. Swat her if you must, but not without telling her she is beautiful first.
The easiest practice of reverence I know is simply to sit down somewhere outside, preferably near a body of water, and pay attention for at least twenty minutes. It is not necessary to take on the whole world at first. Just take the three square feet of earth on which you are sitting, paying close attention to everything that lives within that small estate, including the saltmarsh mosquito that lands on your arm. Just blow her away and ask her to please go find someone else to eat.
With any luck, you will soon begin to see the souls in pebbles, ants, small mounds of moss, and the acorn on its way to becoming an oak tree. You may feel some tenderness for the struggling mayfly the ants are carrying away. If you can see the water, you may take time to wonder where it comes from and where it is going. You may even feel the beating of your own heart, that miracle of ingenuity that does its work with no thought or instruction from you. You did not make your heart, any more than you made a tree. You are a guest here. You have been given a free pass to this modest domain and everything in it.
Thanks to Sue Searles for selecting the quotations from An Altar to the World.