"Refusing to cause or prolong harm would already create the spiritual revolution that our world needs. Wars could not be waged. Children could not be deserted, starved or abused. Women and children could not be trafficked and enslaved. Nation-states could not torture and murder. Women and men could not 'solve' their problems through violence and corruption. Terror could not reign if that simple truth were to be engraved across our hearts and taken seriously.

"Choosing a more abundant and generous way of life, choosing empathy, kindness and forgiveness, we would begin to know what it means to honor life. We would begin to know what unconditionality amounts to. We would surely know what the sacred is. And only then would we live its meaning.

"There is no valid seeking of the sacred without thinking freshly and vigorously about what love asks of us as well as what it gives.

"There is no valid withdrawing from harm, or recognizing the devastations that 'harm' causes, without first remembering and desiring love.

"Certainly love gives us our best chance to live like the spiritual beings we are while in the human body. In Australian Aboriginal spirituality the belief is strong that the whole of life is a spiritual experience and that human beings are more spirit than matter, not at a time to come, but right now.

"From India, twentieth-century teacher Sri Aurobindo put it like this: 'The Spirit shall look out through Matter's gaze, and Matter shall reveal the Spirit's face . . . and all the earth shall become a single life.'

" 'All the earth' already is a single life. That's the miracle of inter-being. We cannot harm someone else without harming ourselves. We cannot relieve others' suffering without also benefiting.

"What Sri Aurobindo in his wisdom was pointing to is a question of perception. Ego gets in the way repeatedly. So do habits of insufficiency. How we use the mind to direct the mind is critical here, as it is everywhere. What are we allowing ourselves to see? What version of the world are we creating through our perceptions? What are we leaving out as well as identifying with? On what is our life centered?

"One of my favorite of all teachings on the power of perception comes from Quaker writer Thomas R. Kelly in his exceptionally fine book, A Testament of Devotion. Kelly writes: 'We Western peoples are apt to think our great problems are external, environmental. We are not skilled in the inner life where the real roots of our problems lie . . . We are trying to be several selves at once, without all our selves being organised by a single, mastering Life within us . . .

" 'Life is meant to be lived from a Centre, a divine Centre. Each one of us can live such a life of amazing power and peace and serenity, of integration and confidence and simplified multiplicity, on one condition — that is, if we really want to. There is a divine Abyss within us all, a holy Infinite Centre, a Heart, a Life who speaks in us and through us to the world.'

"And what would prevent us from living such a life? You will have your own answers. You will know your own hesitancies and reluctance all too well. Kelly sums it up like this: 'We have not counted this Holy Thing within us to be the most precious thing in the world. We have not surrendered all else, to attend to it alone. Let me repeat. Most of us, I fear, have not surrendered all else, in order to attend to the Holy Within.'

"Without surrendering to this sacred reality, the challenge of living lovingly, of living unconditionally lovingly — just as the Golden Rule asks of us — may make little sense. It may feel too naked. It may arouse fears of vulnerability. It may be confused with weakness. It may seem ridiculous or just feel too hard. How consoling then to discover that the Golden Rule offers another and perhaps more accessible way to live with greater social and spiritual awareness.

"And to do so in a way that is certainly not 'second best.' "