At the risk of committing an intellectual mugging (This is when, say at a cocktail party, you happen to mention you were re-reading Kierkegaard (has anyone read it even once?)) I agree with Epictetus when he said, “All religions must be tolerated for every man must get to heaven in his own way.” Being a navy chaplain has given me the opportunity to learn about other faiths. While I have found there are many profound differences, I am heartened at the extent of common ground. Almost universal is what we know as the Golden Rule.
Below is a sample of how the Golden Rule is expressed by just a handful out of dozens of faiths and ethical systems.
“You will not take revenge and you will not bear a grudge against the members of your people, and you will love your fellow as yourself: I am G-d.” Levitcus 19:18, circa 1300 B.C.E.
“Zi gong (a disciple of Confucius) asked: ‘Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?’ The Master replied: ‘How about 'shu' [reciprocity]: Do not do to others as you would not wish done to yourself?’” Confucius, Analects XV.24, circa the 5th century B.C.E.
“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Buddha , Udanavarga 5:18, circa the 5th century B.C.E.
“That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another.” A papyrus from the Late Period of Ancient Egypt, circa the 4th or 5th century B.C.E.
“Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others.” Isocrates, the 4th century B.C.E.
“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Hillel, Talmud Shabbos 31a, the 1st century B.C.E.
“Therefore all things whatsoever would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Jesus, Matthew 7:12, the 1st century B.C.E.
“The most righteous person is the one who consents for other people what he consents for himself, and who dislikes for them what he dislikes for himself.” Muhammad, the 6th century C.E.
As we strive to improve our mental fitness, it is worth meditating on the idea that the foundation exists for appreciating every human being. We need not burden our minds dwelling on unpleasant thoughts about others since surely we do not want others to harbor such notions about us.
Question – Does the universality of the Golden Rule render religion obsolete?
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