Reciprocity – Philosophy in Time of Tribulation

Reciprocity – Philosophy in Time of Tribulation

For centuries mankind has been guided by the well-known “golden rule” that is part of the natural law or Logos:

Do not do to others what you do not want to have done to you.

The rule is also known as the principle of reciprocity. When Confucius was once asked by a disciple, “Master, is there one word that can sustain us throughout life?” he immediately replied: Shu. Loosely translated, that means: reciprocity! The Roman author Seneca translated this reciprocity into love:

Do you want to be loved? Then, love!

However, if you look at the ecological calamity that humanity has brought upon itself in recent decades, according to the Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder (1952), this universal golden rule can no longer only have a horizontal dimension; like it’s about an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. In the book We Are the World, he argues that the principle of reciprocity must necessarily be given a vertical dimension: treat the next generation as you would have liked to be treated by the previous generation.

It’s as simple as that. Love your neighbor as yourself. And, of course, that must include the next generation. It must absolutely include everyone who will live on this planet after us.

We have no right to pass on the earth in a worse condition than when we came to live there ourselves, Gaarder argues passionately. Less fish in the sea. Less drinking water. Less food. Less rainforest. Less clean air. Fewer coral reefs. Fewer plant and animal species. Less beauty! Less glory and joy! Many more people! That is why he proposes to draw up a global charter on the duties of man towards future generations. This is by analogy of the Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Undoubtedly a sensible idea, but such a globally formulated morality only really gains power when man realizes that he lives on earth to become a person animated by the spirit. In this way, he can also contribute to general spiritual awareness and renewal.
That won’t happen without a struggle. Man must take himself out of the centre of the cosmos and make himself subservient to planet earth. In the words of the booklet The Voice of Silence:

Help nature and cooperate with her, and nature will regard you as one of her creators and bow down to you. (…) Don’t covet anything. Do not oppose karma, nor the immutable laws of nature. But wrestle only with the personal, the transient, the fleeting and the ephemeral.

This inner ‘climate change’ can lead to a new level of consciousness that can be reached thanks to energy of unearthly origin. This energy enables such a person to reconcile lovingly with the earth again. Lao Zi refers to this restored harmony when he makes love a condition and sees it as a kind of passport for participation in this world:

The world should only be entrusted to those who love their own body as if it were the whole world.

Karl von Eckartshausen (in: The Mysterious Forces of Nature) elaborates on this. His hopeful, broad perspectives are exalted far above all disaster:

Man can penetrate the innermost being of nature; he can investigate her secret workshop in depth; He can use its principles to bring into being new creations.


Hermes (quoted from: Asclepius X):

If man takes full care for creation, then he is an ornament to the cosmos, and he also regards the cosmos as a jewel: then, on the basis of the harmony of its constituent parts, he is a world unto himself, a microcosm. He knows himself, he also knows the cosmos, with the understanding that he realizes what suits the role he plays, what he can use and what he has to submit to.

Karl von Eckartshausen: The Purifying Fire of Divine Alchemy

The first man, Adam, had received a beautiful garment of light, of concentrated light and elemental forces, at a time when the elements had not yet been torn apart into separate parts by the Paradise curse, but formed one force element. Due to the Fall, man lost this garment of light. The coarse, tangible has emerged. The being of light, however, has withdrawn into our interior like a small spark of light, a grain of seed, and this small spark of light hopes to one day possess the full garment of light again, when the reversal has been achieved through the purifying fire of divine alchemy.

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Date: January 29, 2024
Author: Dick van Niekerk (Netherlands)
Photo: Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash CCO

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