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Wisdom Traditions

Universal Golden Rule of the Wisdom Traditions

A German philosopher, Karl Jaspers, coined the term "axial age" for the historical period from 900 to 200 BCE because it was pivotal to the spiritual history of humanity. During this period the major faith or wisdom traditions were birthed:

  • Confucianism and Taoism in China
  • Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainsm in India
  • Monotheism in Israel - which later developed into Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  • Rationalism in Greece

In studying these traditions which grew out of diverse cultures, tradtions, geography and governments, there is one basic unifying theme, which we know as "the Golden rule." It was first described by Confucius in 500 BCE, as a sense of compassion for all sentient beings which develops from our capacity to feel with others.

The "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic" from the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993 proclaimed the Golden Rule as the common principle for many religions.The Initial Declaration was signed by 143 leaders from different faith traditions and spiritual communities.

Universal Golden Rule expressed in the words of the Wisdom Traditions:

“Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill."
Dhammapada 10

"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."
Luke 6:31

“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself. ”
Confucius, Analects XV.24

“One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.”
Brihaspati, Mahabharata (Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII, Verse 8)

“Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”
Muhammad, The Farewell Sermon

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."
The Sage Hillel formulated the Silver rule in order to illustrate the underlying principles of Jewish moral law

“Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss.”
T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien

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