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Sustainability, Spirit & Community

Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is an ethical statement which is found in many religions and philosophies. It is also called the ethic of reciprocity.


Here is a short list of statements of the golden rule, in chronological order:

* ~700 BCE "That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self." - Dadistan-i-Dinik 94:5, Zoroastrianism.
* ? BCE "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." - Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29, Zoroastrianism.
* ~550 BCE "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself." - Bible, The New International Version, Leviticus 19:18, Judaism.
* ~500 BCE "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." - Udana-Varga 5:18, Buddhism.
* ~500 BCE "The Sage...makes the self of the people his self." Tao Te Ching Ch 49, tr. Ch'u Ta-Kao Unwin Paperbacks, 1976.
* ~500 BCE "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." Analects of Confucius 15:24, Confucianism, tr. James Legge.
* ~500 BCE "Now the man of perfect virtue, wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others. To be able to judge of others by what is nigh in ourselves;? this may be called the art of virtue." Analects of Confucius 6:30, Confucianism, tr. James Legge.
* ~500 BCE "one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life is reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire." - Doctrine of the Mean 13.3, Confucianism.
* ~500 BCE "Therefore, neither does he, a sage, cause violence to others nor does he make others do so." - Acarangasutra 5.101-2, Jainism.
* ~400 BCE "Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others." - Socrates.
* ~150 BCE "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." - Mahabharata 5:1517, Brahmanism and Hinduism.
* ~100 CE "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." - Talmud, Shabbat 31a, Judaism.
* ~100 CE "Do to others as you would have them do to you." - Bible, The New International Version, Gospel of Luke 6:31, Christianity.
* ~100 CE "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." - Epictetus.
* ~800 CE "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." - Hadith ?, Islam.
* ? CE "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, 30, Bahá'í.
* ~1870 CE "He should not wish for others what he does not wish for himself." - Baha'u'llah, Bahá'í.
* 1999 CE "don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you." - British Humanist society, Humanism.
* A common modern variant of this rule is the phrase What goes around comes around. This is very similar to the Wiccan or Neopagan rule of threefold return: what one does is returned to one threefold.

Note that the positive Confucianist, Christian, Muslim, and Bahá'í versions differ from the negative/passive version of the rule, in that they call for interactions rather than leaving others alone. This distinction is described in the moral fantasy The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby by Charles Kingsley as the difference between the lovely Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by and her fearsome sister Mrs Be-done-by-as-you-did. One can see that the positive form has severe shortcomings, for example it would allow a sado-masochist to inflict pain on someone who would not want to be hurt.

A somewhat similar basis for ethic behaviour is often found also in other ethical systems as, for instance, in Immanuel Kant's Critique of Practical Reason: "The rule of the judgement according to laws of pure practical reason is this: ask yourself whether, if the action you propose were to take place by a law of the system of nature of which you were yourself a part, you could regard it as possible by your own will. (...) If the maxim of the action is not such as to stand the test of the form of a universal law of nature, then it is morally impossible" (trans. T.K. Abbott). This is known as the categorical imperative.

The idea of reciprocal ethics is often confused with Karma, a concept of Buddhism.nike air max 1 crimson