Most everyone has heard of “The Golden Rule” and can easily quote its essence. In its simplest and most often quoted form, it says: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
All the holy prophets gave some version of this universal law. The oldest recorded version comes from the Hindu faith: “One should always treat others as they wish to be treated” (Hitopadehsa, from before 2000 BCE). Many people trace the Golden Rule back to Leviticus (19:18): “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” which was probably first written down during the second millennium BCE. Around 500 BCE, Confucius wrote “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
Jesus taught this idea to his disciples and others when he gave his Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the Holy Bible in Matthew (7:12): “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Jesus explained that all the things that were recorded in the Jewish law and that the prophets had taught concerning morality, were summed up in this one rule.
So the Golden Rule can be seen as the great summary of how to treat one another. Perhaps it is golden because of the great value in having this kind of respect and caring attitude for one another. Herein lies the secret to living in peace and harmony with our neighbors and ourselves.
Here is this Universal Law — the Golden Rule — according to many of the great religious and spiritual traditions (a short selection in alphabetical order):
Baha’i Faith: “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself. Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.”
Buddhism: “Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”
Christianity: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”)
Confucianism: “One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct ... loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”
Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you.”
Islam: “No one of you is truly a believer until he wishes for others that which he wishes for himself.”
Jainism: “One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.”
Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.”
Native American Pima Proverb: “Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself.”
Sikhism: “As thou deemest thyself, so deem others.”
Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”
Zoroastrianism: “Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.”
Wrapped in the essence of this simple principle is fairness, justice, compassion, equality and empathy. It is our choice to apply the Golden Rule to our daily lives. If everyone mirrored this universal law freely, we would become rich indeed.
Imagine our world shining brightly with the Golden Rule. If we each illumine our lives with this teaching, we won’t have to imagine — the world becomes transformed.