“In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”- Matthew 7:12
“Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.”-
The Prophet Mohammad- Hadith
“Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”- Confucius Analects 15:23
The fundamental responsibility of a human being is to treat others as well as or even better than we treat ourselves. The greatest barrier to truly doing this is the way we actually treat ourselves and the way we truly think about ourselves.
Monastics have a duty to set an example that will inspire others to live as fully sacred human beings. This responsibility includes embodying and understanding the qualities of a spiritually mature individual. These qualities are: Heart Ethics; Self-Awareness; Ash-E-Tah Wisdom; Discernment; Adaptability; Empathy; Self-Sacrifice; Serenity; and a Resilient Spirit. We acquire these qualities through a series of trials and errors. This means we learn from our mistakes, come to an acceptance that life is unpredictable and there is no way to “do it right” or “be safe.” And no matter how clever we are at planning for the future something erratic or chaotic can and probably will happen.
Rather than becoming depressed, cynical, and materialistic the mature soul discovers a freedom, an openness of heart that is impossible for someone hoping to maneuver safely through life and arrive triumphantly at death singing, “I did it my way.” The Great Being, on the other hand, has discovered, that the ability to manifest possessions, power, and position through visualizations, rituals, and ceremonies is only little self in disguise; the province of a frightened ego attempting to prove their own spirituality in world mind terms.
Responsibility implies an emphasis on duty and purpose in order to become a person of selfless service. Monastics or spiritual teachers can only hope to encourage others to follow a path of selfless-service if we ourselves have made a genuine demonstration of that work within our chosen path. Gandhi did not ask others to perform actions he himself was not been willing to perform. Therefore, he did the work of untouchables, willingly went to jail for demonstrating against unjust laws, and even spun the cloth for the loincloths he wore. Consequently, he had the moral authority to ask others to follow him.
Becoming dedicated to spiritual maturity requires a commitment of learning, growing, and the practice of compassionate witnessing. It means finding that others are just as important as ourselves and often even more important because their ability to support and find inner comfort may be more limited than our own. Remember the spiritual path is one of Service. Sometimes that service is to withdraw from the world in order to sustain humanities link with sacred truth and divine mystical transcendence through prayer and disciplined sacrifice. Sometimes the path asks us to focus on providing care for the sick, orphaned, or aged populations. Perhaps the call is to be a repository of knowledge and applied teachings of the holy truths. Whatever the calling the Path demands spiritual maturity and requires total commitment.
There once was a monk training a group of spiritual practitioners; one day he posed this question. “What is the difference between an egg salad sandwich and a ham sandwich?” After much discussion, guesses, and debate the students finally acknowledged that they didn’t know. “Well,” said the old monk, “with an egg salad sandwich the chicken makes a major contribution, but with the ham sandwich the pig has made a total commitment.”