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The "Golden Rule" (a.k.a. Ethics of Reciprocity)

Part 1: Passages in religious texts in 14
faiths from the Bahá'í Faith to Satanism

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"Ethic of Reciprocity" passages from various religions: Bahá'í Faith to Taoism: 

  • Bahá'í Faith
    • "Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not." "Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." Baha'u'llah

    • "And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. 1

  • Brahmanism:
    • "This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you". Mahabharata, 5:1517 "

  • Buddhism
    • "...a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?" Samyutta NIkaya v. 353

    • Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5:18

    • "All men tremble at the rod, all men fear death:
      Putting oneself in the place of others, kill not nor cause to kill.
      All men tremble at the rod, unto all men life is dear;
      Doing as one would be done by, kill not nor cause to kill."

    • "One should seek for others the happiness one desires for oneself."

  • Christianity
    • "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12, King James Version.

    • "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." Luke 6:31, King James Version.

    • "...and don't do what you hate...", Gospel of Thomas 6. The Gospel of Thomas is one of about 40 gospels that circulated among the early Christian movement, but which never made it into the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).

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    • Confucianism:
      • He appears to have been the first person to record the Golden Rule in its negative form. This is sometimes referred to as the "Silver Rule."
        • Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" Doctrine of the Mean

        • “What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do to men." Analects 15:23

        • What a man dislikes in those who are over him, let him not display toward those who are under him; what he dislikes in those who are under him, let him not display toward those who are over him! This is called the standard, by which, as a measuring square, to regulate one’s conduct. 6

        • "Tse-kung asked, 'Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?' Confucius replied, 'It is the word 'shu' -- reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" Doctrine of the Mean 13.3

      • He also expressed the Golden Rule in its positive form:
        • "Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence." Mencius VII.A.4

      • "There are four things in the moral life of man, not one of which I have been able to carry out in my life. To serve my father as I would
        expect my son to serve me: that I have not been able to do. To serve my sovereign as I would expect a minister under me to serve me:
        that I have not been able to do. To act towards my elder brother, as I would expect my younger brother to act towards me: that I have
        not been able to do. To be the first to behave toward friends as I would expect them to behave towards me: that I have not been able
        to do. 6

    • Ancient Egyptian:
      • "Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do." The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109 - 110 Translated by R.B. Parkinson. The original dates to circa 1800 BCE and may be the earliest version of the Epic of Reciprocity ever written. 2

    • Hinduism
      • "This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you." Mahabharata 5:1517

    • The religion of the Incas:
      • "Do not to another what you would not yourself experience." Manco Capoc, founder of the empire of Peru. 6

    • Islam:
      • "None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." Number 13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths." 3

    • Jainism:
      • "Therefore, neither does he [a sage] cause violence to others nor does he make others do so." Acarangasutra 5.101-2.

      • "In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self." Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara

      • A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. "Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

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    • Judaism
      • "...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.", Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament) Leviticus 19:18

      • "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31a.

      • "And what you hate, do not do to any one." Tobit 4:15 4

    • Native American Spirituality:
      • "Respect for all life is the foundation." The Great Law of Peace.

      • "All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One." Black Elk

      • "Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself." Pima proverb.

    • Roman Pagan Religion: Religio Romana is a modern-day Neo-pagan religion based on the religion of ancient Rome:

      • "The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves."

    • Satanism: Unlike the names of other religions, the term "Satanism" has many meanings. Some refer to groups that are non-existent. The Satanic Temple has elements of the Golden Rule divided among three of its Seven Tenets:
      • #1. "Strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason."

      • #4. "The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own."

      • #7. "Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word." 5

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    This list continues in the next essay with expressions of the
    Golden Rule from eight other religions, and from other sources.

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    References used:

    The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

    1. NationMaster.com has an encyclopedia reference that lists many Golden Rules, sorted chronologically at: http://www.nationmaster.com/
    2. Paul Halsall "Ancient History Sourcebook: The Tale of The Eloquent Peasant, c. 1800 BCE," Internet Ancient History Sourcebook at: http://www.fordham.edu
    3. This is Number 13 of a collection of 43 sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that was compiled by the great Islamic scholar Yahya bin Sharaf Ul-Deen An-Nawawi. It is is now known as "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths" See: http://www.dartmouth.edu/
    4. The Book of Tobit is deuterocanonical, i.e. contained not in the Canon of Palestine but in that of Alexandria. It was accepted by some Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions as part of the official canon but not by others.
    5. Michael Stone, "Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets Are Morally Superior To Ten Commandments," Patheos, 2016-JAN-22, at: http://www.patheos.com/

    6. book cover Harry Gensler, Earl W. Spurgin, James Swindal: "Ethics: Contemporary Readings," Routledge, (2003), Page 159 to 162. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store Available online at: http://books.google.ca/
    7. "The Golden Rule Project," at: http://goldenruleproject.org/

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    Copyright © 1995 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
    Latest update: 2016-JAN-30
    Author: B.A. Robinson
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