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Do All Religions Share a Common Principle?

Updated on June 7, 2020
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella is interested in philosophical, social and religious concepts and has written several articles on this subject

'The Golden Rule'


A Golden Rule For All

The basis of the saying: "do unto others" is at the heart of all of the world’s religions and philosophies; often known as "the golden rule," it is a sound principle to live by which incorporates just about everything else. Sadly, it will never reach its full potential unless the people around you abide by it too. Many give up being respectful to others if no one else bothers and in the modern world when everyone is in such a rush, even common courtesy and politeness often get forgotten.

Being altruistic by nature and expecting people to treat you well in return will unfortunately not safeguard you against mistreatment by others. True altruists with a heart of gold will thus suffer repeated disappointments throughout their lives. This despair at the misdeeds of their fellow man will cause them to become thoroughly disillusioned with humanity sooner or later. Whether or not altruists will get a reward in heaven for their long suffering is anybody's guess but as for the "here and now" they can only strive to influence the people they know to do good rather than bad.

The principle of "the golden rule" is intrinsic to all good sets of moral values and should be applied to all relationships for them to be successful. It is all about empathy and mutual respect. Those familiar with The Bible will recognise the golden rule from Christ's Sermon on the Mount. "Do to others as you would have them do to you" is based on Christ's teachings in Matthew 7.12: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."

This teaching, however, was established long before Christ and is ubiquitous in many other religious doctrines and ideologies worldwide. The ancient Jain religion of India goes one step further than the rest and suggests that the golden rule should be applied to all living things as well as fellow humans. "The Acaranga Sutra" states:

"Nothing which breathes, which exists, which lives, or which has essence or potential of life, should be destroyed or ruled over, or subjugated, or harmed, or denied of its essence or potential."

— The Acaranga Sutra

Help Spread the Golden Rule at the Heart of all Religions

Golden hearts
Golden hearts | Source

The above all-encompassing quote pre-dates Christ by several centuries and is one of the oldest known occurrences of the concept of: "do unto others." Any close examination of ancient sacred texts will show that other early civilisations had all arrived at the same conclusion and adopted "the golden rule" into their belief structures.

The principle of "the golden rule" is thus steeped in all cultures, traditions and beliefs, the world over. It is clear that people figured out millennia ago the best way to behave towards each other but still constantly fail to "practice what they preach" because "the golden rule" is also the rule that is so frequently broken.

Wherever you live in the world, whatever your situation in life and whatever religion you adhere to if any, try to have some respect for the needs of others and treat them how you would like to be treated. You could try to start a chain reaction of goodness and hope that your heart of gold may cause others to act in the same way but you must also be prepared to accept the situation if they decide not to reciprocate the feeling.

'The Golden Rule' as Written in Ancient Asian Texts is Still Meaningful Today


After reading this article, would you adhere to the principle of 'the golden rule'?

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The World's Children Talk About 'the Golden Rule'

© 2014 Stella Kaye


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