The Golden Rule: A list of two dozen versions

by Todd Hebert on October 6, 2012

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World religions differ greatly in their individual beliefs, practices and traditions. But the one thing that they all share is the Ethic of Reciprocity, or the Golden rule as it is commonly known. Here is a list of several religious traditions’ version of the universal rule.

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 were widely accepted among early Christians, but which
      never made it into the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).
  • Confucianism:
    • "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to
      you"
      Analects 15:23
    • "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
    • "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
  • 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 1970 to 1640
      BCE and may be the earliest version ever
      written.
  • Hinduism
    • This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain
      if done to you. Mahabharata 5:1517
  • Humanism:
    • "(5) Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for
      mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity.
      "
    • "(11) Humanists affirm that individual and social problems can
      only be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort,
      critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for
      all living beings.
      "
    • "Don’t do things you wouldn’t want to have done to you,
      British Humanist Society.
  • 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
    ."
  • 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
  • Judaism
    • "…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.",
      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
  • 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: "The law imprinted on the hearts of all
    men is to love the members of society as themselves
    ."
  • Shinto
    • "The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there
      your own form
      "
    • "Be charitable to all beings, love is the representative of God."
      Ko-ji-ki Hachiman Kasuga
  • Sikhism
    • Compassion-mercy and religion are the support of the entire
      world".
      Japji Sahib
    • "Don’t create enmity with anyone as God is within
      everyone."
      Guru Arjan Devji 259
    • "No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my
      friend
      ." Guru Arjan Dev : AG 1299
  • Sufism: "The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts
    and feelings of others. If you haven’t the will to gladden someone’s heart, then at least
    beware lest you hurt someone’s heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this.
    "

    Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.

  • Taoism:
    • "Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your
      neighbor’s loss as your own loss."
      T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien.
    • "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.
      " Tao Teh
      Ching, Chapter 49
  • Unitarian:

"The inherent worth and dignity of every person;"
"Justice, equity and compassion in human relations…. "
"The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
;"

"We affirm and promote respect for the
interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
." Unitarian
principles.

  • Wicca: "An it harm no one, do what thou wilt" (i.e. do what
    ever you will, as long as it harms nobody, including yourself). One’s will is to
    be carefully thought out in advance of action. This is called the
    Wiccan Rede
  • Yoruba: (Nigeria): "One going to take a pointed stick to pinch
    a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts
    ."
  • Zoroastrianism
    • "That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto
      another whatsoever is not good for itself".
      Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5
    • "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.
      Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29

Some philosophers’ statements are:

  • Epictetus: "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek
    not to impose on others
    ." (circa 100 CE)
  • Kant: "Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy
    will a universal law of nature.
    "
  • Plato: "May I do to others as I would that they should do
    unto me
    ." (Greece; 4th century BCE)
  • Socrates: "Do not do to others that which would anger you
    if others did it to you.
    " (Greece; 5th century
    BCE)
  • Seneca: "Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by
    your superiors,
    " Epistle 47:11 (Rome; 1st century

    CE)


Examples from moral/ethical systems are:

  • Humanism: "…critical intelligence, infused by a sense of
    human caring, is the best method that humanity has for resolving problems.
    Reason should be balanced with compassion and empathy and the whole person
    fulfilled.
    " Humanist Manifesto II; Ethics section.
  • Scientology: "20: Try to treat others as you would want
    them to treat you.
    " This is one of the 21 moral precepts that form
    the moral code explained in L. Ron Hubbard’s booklet "The Way to
    Happiness
    ."

Chief source for this list is from Religious Tolerance.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

t-angel October 23, 2012 at 5:48 am

Am so much inspired by all these “sayings”.
How I wish the World will go by this “Golden Rule”.
Well, I pray that we’ll come to recognise it.

Reply

greg northrup November 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I have no comment.

Reply

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