The Universality of the Golden Rule in the World Religions
|Christianity||All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
|Confucianism||Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.
|Buddhism||Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
|Hinduism||This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.
|Islam||No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
|Judaism||What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.
Talmud, Shabbat 3id
|Taoism||Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien
|Zoroastrianism||That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself.
The Code of Hammurabi (1780 BC) dealt with the reciprocity of the Lex talionis in ways such as limiting retribution, as they did concepts of retribution (literally “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”).
The Golden Rule existed among all the major philosophical schools of Ancient China: Mohism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Examples of the concept include:
“Zi Gong asked, saying, “Is there one word that may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not reciprocity such a word?” – Confucius
“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” – Confucius
“If people regarded other people’s families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself.” – Mozi
“The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.” – Laozi
“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” – Laozi
An early example of the Golden Rule that reflects the Ancient Egyptian concept of Maat appears in the story of The Eloquent Peasant, which dates to the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BC): “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” An example from a Late Period (c. 664 BC – 323 BC) papyrus: “That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.”
The Golden Rule in its prohibitive form was a common principle in ancient Greek philosophy. Examples of the general concept include:
“Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him.” – Pittacus (c. 640 – 568 BC)
“Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.” – Thales (c. 624 BC – c. 546 BC)
“What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either. ” – Sextus the Pythagorean. The oldest extant reference to Sextus is by Origen in the third century of the common era.
“Do not do to others that which angers you when they do it to you.” – Isocrates(436–338 BC)
“What thou avoidest suffering thyself seek not to impose on others.” – Epictetus
“It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing ‘neither to harm nor be harmed’), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.” – Epicurus
“…it has been shown that to injure anyone is never just anywhere.” – Socrates, in Plato’s Republic. Plato is the first person known to have said this.
Seneca, maybe following Publilius Syrus, told “ab alio expectes alteri quod feceris” (“expect from others what you did to them”) and “non est quod credas quemquam fieri aliena infelicitate felicem” (“it is not so, as you might believe, that one is made happy through the unhappiness of others”).
In Mahābhārata, the ancient epic of India, comes a discourse where the wise minister Vidura advises the King Yuddhiśhṭhira thus, “Listening to wise scriptures, austerity, sacrifice, respectful faith, social welfare, forgiveness, purity of intent, compassion, truth and self-control – are the ten wealth of character (self). O king aim for these, may you be steadfast in these qualities. These are the basis of prosperity and rightful living. These are highest attainable things. All worlds are balanced on dharma, dharma encompasses ways to prosperity as well. O King, dharma is the best quality to have, wealth the medium and desire (kāma) the lowest. Hence, (keeping these in mind), by self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself.”
tasmād_dharma-pradhānéna bhavitavyam yatātmanā | tathā cha sarva-bhūtéṣhu vartitavyam yathātmani || (तस्माद्धर्मप्रधानेन भवितव्यं यतात्मना। तथा च सर्वभूतेषु वर्तितव्यं यथात्मनि॥ Mahābhārata Shānti-Parva 167:9)
In the Section on Virtue, and Chapter 32 of the Tirukkuṛaḷ (c. 200 BC – 500 AD), Tiruvaḷḷuvar says: Why does a man inflict upon other creatures those sufferings, which he has found by experience are sufferings to himself ? (K. 318) Let not a man consent to do those things to another which, he knows, will cause sorrow. (K. 316) He furthermore opined that it is the determination of the spotless (virtuous) not to do evil, even in return, to those who have cherished enmity and done them evil. (K. 312) The (proper) punishment to those who have done evil (to you), is to put them to shame by showing them kindness, in return and to forget both the evil and the good done on both sides. (K. 314)