Skip to main content

'The Golden Rule'/ 'The Ethic of Reciprocity'

'The Golden Rule' or 'The Ethic of Reciprocity' is a term used with reference to the moral maxim that advocates treating others as we want to be treated. It advocates treating other people impartially irrespective of their color, religion, ethnicity, race or geographical location.

Most religious implementations of the golden rule, use it as a virtue toward greater compassion and respect for one's neighbor. Without compassion, law can not attain justice. Without justice there is hardly peace.
When compassion guides our policies, our rules become golden.

The ethic of reciprocity is the moral foundations of world's major religions. It should not be confused with the law of retaliation, harm principle, retributive justice, consequential rule and liberty principle. 

The maxim may appear in directive form or prohibitive form or responsive form, in many religions and cultures:
• Directive form: "Treat others as you would like others to treat you."
 Prohibitive form: "Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated."
• Responsive form: "What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself."

ca. 3000 BC:  "A person should never do that to others, which he does not like to be done to him by others;
Whatever wishes one cherishes about his own self, one should certainly cherish regarding another."
-Bhishm, Shanti Parva, The Mahabharata xii.259.5-25(Hinduism; Origin: India)

" self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself."  
-Vidur, Shānti-Parva .The Mahabharata 167:9 (Hinduism; Origin: India)

ca. 1850 BC: "Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you."
concept of Maat in 'The Tale of Eloquent Peasant: 109-110'; Origin: Ancient Egypt

ca. 1280 BC: "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God." - Leviticus 19:34, Hebrew Bible (Judaism; Origin: Israel)

ca. 700 BC"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; Origin: Ancient Persia)

ca. 550 BC: "In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, regard all creatures as you would regard your own self." - Sutrakritanga, 1.11.33 (Jainism; Origin: India)

ca. 500 BC: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." - Buddha Udanavarga 5:18 (Buddhism; Origin: India)

ca. 500 BC: "Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing." - Thales , one of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece; Origin: Ancient Greece

ca. 500 BC: "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." - Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29, (Zoroastrianism; Origin: Ancient Persia)

ca. 500 BC: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." Lao Tzu T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien 213-218 (Taoism; Origin: China)

ca. 480 BC: "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself" - Confucius Analects 15:24 (Confucianism; Origin: China)

ca. 480 BC: "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 near in ourselves; this may be called the art of virtue." Confucius Analects 6:30 (Confucianism; Origin: China)

ca. 420 BC: “If people regarded other people’s families in the same way that they regard their own, who then would incite their own family to attack that of another? For one would do for others as one would do for oneself.” - Mozi (Mohism; Origin: China)

ca. 400 BC: "One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire."
Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8 (Hinduism; Origin: India)

ca. 350 BC: "That which you hate to be done to you, do not do it to other" -Brooklyn Papyrus col 5/ 7-8; Origin: Ancient Egypt

ca. 200 BC“Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence.” -Mencius VII.A.4. (Confucianism; Origin: China)

ca. 200 BC: “Do to no one what you yourself dislike." Book of Tobit 4:15 (Catholic Christianity; Origin: Ancient Rome)

ca. 100 BC“The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.” (Shintoism; Origin: Japan)

ca. 50 BC"What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn." Rabbi Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a (Judaism; Origin: Israel)

ca. 90 AD: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." - Gospel of Luke 6:31 (Christianity; Origin: Ancient Rome)

ca. 90 AD: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Jesus, Sermon on The Mount, Gospel of Matthew 7:12 (Christianity; Origin: Ancient Rome)

ca. 100 AD: "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." - Epictetus (Stoicism; Origin: Ancient Rome)

ca. 100 AD: "Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors." - Seneca, Epistle 47:11 (Stoicism; Origin: Ancient Rome)

ca. 350 AD “Let not a man consent to do those things to another which, he knows, will cause sorrow.” Kural-316, Tiruvalluvar (Hinduism; Origin: India)

ca. 400 AD: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation..."- Babylonian Talmud Shabbath 31:a (Judaism; Origin: Israel)

ca. 500 AD: “Be charitable to all beings, love is the representation of God” - Ko-ji-ki Hachiman Kasuga (Shintoism; Origin: Japan)
ca. 700 AD: “...and you should forgive and overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.” The Qur’an, Surah 24:22, (Islam; Origin: Saudi Arabia)

ca. 750 AD: "Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourself." Kitab al-Kafi Hadith, vol. 2, p. 146 (Islam; Origin: Saudi Arabia)

ca. 1400 AD: "If the entire Dharma can be said in a few words, then it is — that which is unfavorable to us, do not do that to others." Padmapuraana 19/357–358 (Hinduism; Origin: India)

ca. 1500 AD: “I am a stranger to no one, and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all” Guru Granth Sahib, religious scripture of Sikhism, p. 1299 (Sikhism; Origin: India)

ca. 1500 AD: "Respect for all life is the foundation" -The Great Law of Peace (Native American Confederacy; Origin: America)

ca. 1800 AD: "Do not kill or injure your neighbor, for it is not him you injure but yourself. But love him, for Moneto loves him as he loves you." Tenskwatawa, The Shawnee Prophet; Origin: North America

ca. 1800 AD: One who is going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts. (Yoruba Religion; Origin: Africa)

ca. 1870 AD"And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself." Baha'ullah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 30 (Baha'i Faith; Origin: Ancient Persia)

1938 AD“Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself, that you may be a believer.” Sukhanan-i-Muhammad (Islam; Origin: Saudi Arabia)

1974 AD: “Just as pain is not agreeable to you, it is so with others. Knowing this principle of equality treat others with respect and compassion.” Saman Suttam (Jainism; Origin: India)

Marcus George Singer a critique to 'The Golden Rule', analysed that there are two importantly different ways of looking at the golden rule: 
(1) that you perform specific actions that you want others to do to you or 
(2) that you guide your behavior in the same general ways that you want others to.
Counter-examples to the golden rule typically are more forceful against the first than the second.

George Bernard Shaw in a critical analysis to 'The Golden Rule' wrote, "Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same."
Suggesting that if your values are not shared with others, the way you want to be treated will not be the way they want to be treated.

Walter Terence Stace, in The Concept of Morals, expressed views on Mr Bernard Shaw's remark by stating that it seems to overlook the fact that "doing as you would be done by" includes taking into account your neighbor's tastes as you would that he should take yours into account.  So the "golden rule" might still express the essence of a universal morality even if no two men in the world had any needs or tastes in common.

Greg M. Epstein, a Humanist chaplain at Harvard University & MIT said, " 'do unto others' ... is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely. But not a single one of these versions of the golden rule requires a God" 


  1. How to deposit money to a new player at the Casino? - DrmCD
    Online gambling isn't new, 강원도 출장마사지 and it is still growing rapidly. We 부산광역 출장샵 have over 통영 출장마사지 3,000 통영 출장샵 exciting casino games online and 밀양 출장안마 our newest casino games.


Post a Comment