THE GOLDEN RULE IS IN EVERY RELIGION
By Stephen Knapp
The idea of practicing virtue to help and respect others is not absent from any part of the world. It is a basic law found everywhere. Therefore, no one has an excuse to not follow it. If we ever expect to have peace in the world, this is certainly where we can begin.
The importance of this was well stated by Mohandas Gandhi: "To injure a single human being is to injure those divine powers within us, and thus the harm reaches not only that one human being, but with him the whole world."
This makes it clear that whatever disrespect or harm we show to others (providing they have no criminal intent) is not isolated, but has its effects far and wide, and can do as much inner harm to us as we do to others. In other words, by following the Golden Rule we help ourselves as much as those we meet.
One of the earliest references to the Golden Rule is found in India in the Mahabharata (13th Parva), which states, "This is the sum of all true righteousness--Treat others as thou would’st thyself be treated. Do nothing to thy neighbor, which hereafter thou would’st not have thy neighbor do to thee. In causing pleasure or in giving pain, in doing good or injury to others, in granting or refusing a request, a man obtains a proper rule of action by looking on his neighbor as himself."
The Manu-samhita (2.161) also explains, "Wound not others, do no one injury by thought or deed, utter no word to pain thy fellow creatures."
From the Middle-East, in Judaism we find in the Talmud, "What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the Torah and the remainder is but commentary. Go learn it." Leviticus (19.17-18) explains, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart. . . Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge. . . but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Similar expressions are found amongst the Christians in Matthew (7.12) and Luke (6.31) which explain, "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."
I Thessalonians (5.15) states, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men." And Hebrews (13.1) says: "Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
The most important of all Christian principles is found in Matthew (22.37-40): "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Furthermore, the words of Jesus explain in John (13.34-5): "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
From the Orient, in the Analects (15.23) of Confucianism, it states, "Tzu Kung asked saying: Is there any one maxim which ought to be acted upon throughout one’s whole life? The Master replied: Surely the maxim of reciprocity is such: Do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you."
Also in the Analects (6.28) we find, "The man of moral virtue, wishing to stand firm himself, will lend firmness unto others; wishing himself to be enlightened, he will enlighten others. To be able to do to others as we would be done by--this is the true domain of moral virtue."
In the Jain religion we find more references to the Golden Rule. In the Yogashastra (2.20) it states, "In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, regard all creatures as you regard your own self, and do not injure others with that which would injure yourself." Also (2.37), "Viler than unbelievers are those cruel ones who make the law that teaches killing."
In Buddhism, the Udanavarya (5.18) simply states, "Hurt not others with that which pains yourself."
In the Masnavi of Islam it is said, "If every one saw his own faults first, how should he be neglectful of correcting himself. These people are thoughtless as to, and unacquainted with themselves; and consequently they speak of the faults of one another."
So in every part of the world and in every religion there are references relating the need to respect one another and treat others as you would like to be treated. Yet, from this we can see that most religions, or the people in them, cannot even practice what they preach. What a difference there would be in the world if everyone immediately began to practice what they preach from their own doctrine. All the wars around the world that are based on the desire to conquer and convert could end. What a pity that such is not likely to happen. All the more reason to study the above quotations.
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