The Golden Rule and Svetaketu

Picture of Rabbi Hillel

Rabbi Hillel was on his way home when he was confronted by an insolent gentile. “Explain to me the whole Torah, in the time I can stand on my one foot!”

Rabbi Hillel was surprised by being so challenged. However he recovered quickly. He looked at the gentile, and said in a soft voice, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow! This is the whole Torah! The rest is commentary.” He then patted the gentile on his shoulder and continued, “Now go and learn!”

Less than a few decades later Jesus would utter the same thing when he said, “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

This maxim is now known as the “Golden rule.” If we dig deeper we find that the Golden rule is at the heart of every religion:

Now the question arises: What is the basis of the Golden rule? How is it that this rule is at the heart of every major faith?

If we study the message in the story of Svetaketu we realize that this story and the story of Rabbi Hillel are just two sides of the same coin. The story of Svetaketu tells us that it makes no sense for the right hand to fight with the left hand, as they both are part of the same being. The Golden Rule tells us the same thing. While the story of Svetaketu is abstract and deals with deeper metaphysical concepts, the Golden Rule is down to earth. It takes the abstract and the mystical and translates it into an action program for our daily life.

Both the Golden Rule and the story of Svetaketu have the same message for us: It is great to do yoga on the mat, but it should eventually translate to a broader yoga off the mat. The yoga off the mat can take many forms: Helping distressed animals, working with outreach sections of our society, or those with special needs, or any other. It really does not matter what form our yoga off the mat takes, but if we do it sincerely and daily then it will lead to an inner transformation that will bring alive the message of Svetaketu’s story into our lives.

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4 Responses to The Golden Rule and Svetaketu

  1. MARGO says:

    Yoga has always been more than just an exercise routine. I began it with a belief in Buddhism and found that the yoga was a perfect way to help me empty my mind and feel a connection to the universe. The two have helped lead me to the person I want to be. Sounds corny, but it feels great.

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