All over the world and within all cultures and religions, a profound tenet exists that supports a common connection among all peoples. In one phrasing or another, the spiritual principle known as the Golden Rule has been taught for centuries: ?Do unto others as you would have them do to you.? In The Simple Little Rule: The Golden Rule Rediscovered, author Mike Ellerkamp shares his spiritual, philosophical, and historical journey as he brings to life once again this simple yet profound rule. Not only showing how the Golden rule became the centerpiece of philosophical teaching throughout the world in a specific historical moment in time, Ellerkamp expands on the Golden Rule with five supporting principles that enhance and enrich our lives as professed through the ages?principles of Wisdom, Justice, Moderation, Courage, and Discipline. In today?s world climate, it is more important now than ever for us to rediscover this simple little rule. And because embracing the Golden Rule can change our present perceptions and motivate us to work to change our own futures, it makes the Golden Rule a simple little rule so powerful it could even change the world.
Treat other people how you want to be treated. This basic ethical principle, known as the Golden Rule, has been expressed by spiritual teachers from Confucius to Buddha,
Jesus and others. For Mike Ellerkamp, it’s “the simple little rule,” the rediscovery of
which has the potential to connect us to the Divine.
Ellerkamp first presents a brief spiritual memoir, describing his journey through various philosophies. He then speaks of his revelation that the Golden Rule is a universal principle grounded in both the imperatives of biological evolution and the promptings of a Supreme Consciousness. All of us have the potential to connect with this universal Truth, he posits.
The author then describes an ethic based on a set of ancient virtues he calls
“principles”—including wisdom, justice, moderation, courage and discipline—and
delivers a series of meditations on each, peppering his presentation with personal
anecdotes often derived from the author’s military experience. He also includes
questions for personal reflection. The book’s final sections address how to apply these
virtues, and the Golden Rule they embody, in everyday life.
The narrative is written in a conversational tone and reads like a kindly sermon by a nondenominational minister. Its broad mindedness and equanimity are attractive, but the author often trades in platitudes or vague generalities. For example, in the chapter “Finding a Higher Purpose,” he writes that “Somehow, we must, through personal search and acquisition of these truths, let go of greed, fear, hatred, prejudice, and all the other dysfunctional traits that impede our progress.” But how are we to discard these “dysfunctional traits”? Unfortunately, the “how to” is missing.
The book presents age-old advice, but without offering a more compelling or convincing synthesis of this material than past teachers. As such, it’s unlikely to convince the unconverted, or excite believers.
Still the author’s delivery is sincere and accessible, and the book may well serve as a
useful reminder to many of the continued relevance of this “simple little rule.”
BLUE INK REVIEWS (2017)
The Simple Little Rule: The Golden Rule Rediscovered by Mike Ellerkamp crosses boundaries of faith and culture. The Golden Rule is an aphorism that few people would disagree with, even across vastly different ideologies. So why isn‘t it the prevailing way people live? That question is the heart of Ellerkamp’s work, leading him to ponder how a person can truly live by the Golden Rule.
The book explores the Golden Rule throughout history. The author’s deepening understanding breaks down the five supporting principles that make the Golden Rule philosophically complete as well as intensely practical: wisdom, justice, moderation, courage, and discipline. Ellerkamp draws from a wide range of spiritual and practical wisdom, from Plato to Aristotle, from Lao Tzu to Confucius, from Jesus to Buddha.
Ellerkamp’s investigation stems from his personal thirst for spirituality and his unease with the way morality is simplistically and ineffectively applied, but this is more than a personal story. lt’s also much more than dry information, even though it‘s packed with research. This balance of personal and intellectual is fitting because the Golden Rule is innately personal, but it also has deep cultural and ideological roots, and its implications affect the way people interact from the intrapersonal level all the way to whole societies.
The book harnesses an open, boundaryless perspective that welcomes humanism and the divine. It balances the simplicity and complexity of the Golden Rule and shows how the practical—what we do—comes from the theoretical—what we think. Ellerkamp’s voice is intelligent, calm, and warm. His book is full of clear reasoning but without a persuasive edge; he allows ideas to speak for themselves, and people to determine their response.
The Golden Rule is a timely principle in today's world of unrest and activism, but unlike many voices in today’s culture, Ellerkamp presents a refreshingly optimistic view. He shuns the cynicism and despair that sometimes feel so rampant. This quality of believing the best of people, both as individuals and as a whole, is a gift to all who read his book; it's an inspiring example of following the Golden Rule.
Ellerkamp’s insights and study transcend particular faiths or belief systems. This approach might make people committed to specific religions uncomfortable, but it will be hard for anyone to disagree with his conclusions, and in fact, his broad insights may enrich their personal beliefs.
The Simple Little Rule delves beyond behavior modification to a deeper view of practical morality.
MELISSA WUSKE (September 14, 2017)
A debut self-improvement book urges readers to practice kindness, regardless of faith.
Ellerkamp gives logical reasons why the golden rule—“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”—is beneficial for everyone. Describing himself as “in love with the Word” of the Bible during the 1970s and early ’80s, the author left organized religion after a pastor made an evil comment in favor of apartheid. In the years since, he studied other faiths and Eastern philosophers and now writes that many religions teach a version of the golden rule. Sprinkling in anecdotes from his days as a Ranger instructor at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base, Ellerkamp discusses five guiding principles—Wisdom, Justice, Moderation, Courage, and Discipline—for following the golden rule. Knowing it’s not always easy to walk in others’ shoes, the author adds some chapter questions and exercises for practical application, such as asking readers to think of behaviors a wise person has taught them. In concluding chapters, the author discusses how people can benefit by rediscovering the golden rule, or “law of reciprocity,” in today’s world. Though he uses Christianity as a springboard in his earnest guide, Ellerkamp’s biblical allusions are sometimes-flawed. For example, in Christianity, the golden rule is not about receiving reciprocity or gaining something here on Earth by doing good deeds. He also tweaks Scripture and adds New Age ideas. For example, when examining Jesus’ call to “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” Ellerkamp writes: “There is an important observation to be made in that sentence; notice that we must first love the self.” Meandering through broad topics—Creation versus evolution; free will; and fairness—several dictionary definitions are given, and the prose becomes a bit eye-glazing. At one point, the author even seems to be aware of tiring the reader: “For this story, I’ll not go too far into detail. If I note major markers, I will make my point. So hang on—here goes. It’s fascinating, I promise.” But his colorful anecdotes can be memorable, like the time a huge, poisonous snake fell into his boat—and his students jumped into the water.
A rambling but heartfelt treatise for sowing and reaping happiness.
KIRKUS REVIEWS (2017)
“The Golden Rule” is something we’ve all heard at one point in our lives. For most, the rule has been long forgotten and for others, it takes a spiritual awakening to realize what it really means. Readers will learn more about the latter in “The Simple Little Rule: The Golden Rule Rediscovered,” by Houston-based author Mike Ellerkamp. The book follows Ellerkamp on his philosophical and spiritual journey to rediscovering a rule in life we’ve all been taught, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
In addition to following Ellerkamp’s journey readers are also introduced to five supporting principles developed by Ellerkamp: Wisdom, Justice, Moderation, Courage and Discipline. By reading his story and learning more about the five supporting principles Ellerkamp hopes people will soon realize why the rule is important and begin implementing it into their daily lives.
“In my book, I share my spiritual, philosophical and historical journey as I bring to life once again this simple yet profound rule,” the author said. “As a society, we need to return to a discussion about Golden Rule concepts and methods to follow through executing the Rule consistently on a daily basis.”
‘Rule’ consists of 12 chapters, each touching base not only on Ellerkamp’s journey but also each of the supporting principles Ellerkamp has developed. From rediscovering the rule to letting readers know how they can find a greater purpose in life, Ellerkamp hopes readers will find congruence between their personal and social existence.
Chronicling one man’s journey to rediscovering a rule he thought he lost, “The Simple Little Rule” is an inspirational story that is sure to touch the hearts of many.
“The Simple Little Rule: The Golden Rule Rediscovered”
By Mike Ellerkamp
ISBN: 978-1-5043-8149-9 (softcover); 978-1-5043-8151-2 (hardcover); 978-1-5043-8150-5 (electronic)
Available at the Balboa Press Online Bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble