Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Golden Rule

This is the Golden Rule from various traditions. We will be using this liturgy tonight at the United Religions Initiative Thanksgiving Dinner. We are diverse, yet at our core are one.

From everywhere on Earth
In all languages and faiths,
We hear wisdom.

Hinduism:
This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.[i]

Baha’i:
Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.[ii]

Islam:
Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.[iii]

Buddhism:
Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.[iv]

Judaism:
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary.[v]

Jainism:
One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.[vi]

Zoroastrianism:
Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.[vii]

Unitarianism:
We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.[viii]

Christianity:
In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.[ix]

Sikhism:
I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.[x]

Taoism:
Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.[xi]

Confucianism:
One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct…lovingkindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.[xii]

Native Spirituality:
We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.[xiii]

We have heard the wisdom of the Golden Rule.
May we do as we have heard.



[i] Mahabharata 5:1517
[ii] Baha’u’llah, Gleanings
[iii] The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith
[iv] Udana-Varga 5.18
[v] Hillel, Talmud
[vi] Mahavina, Sutrakritanga
[vii] Shayast-ni-Shayast 13.29
[viii] Unitarian Principle
[ix] Jesus, Matthew 7:12
[x] Guru Granth Sahib, pg. 1299
[xi] T’ai Shang Kan Ning P’ien, 213-218
[xii] Confucius, Analects 15.23
[xiii] Chief Dan George

21 comments:

  1. Amazing how the truly spiritual have so much in common.

    The Right Wing freely hands out accusation and judgment. Must mean that it's ok to to treat them the same since they're such a faithful lot. Surely they believe in the Golden Rule?

    Perhaps in their view all but them are required to adhere to this universally fundamental aspect of God's law.
    How convenient it must be to be exempt from the rules.

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  2. Great post. Thanks for the reminder that all religons have a golden rule.

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  3. The "Golden Rule" is an action, DO unto others what you would have them DO unto you". Not "wish for", not "do not do.."

    The specific and correct Golden Rule is from the mouth of Christ alone, and does, as He said, sum up the Law and the Prophets.

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  4. I have always liked the story behind the Jewish version of the Golden Rule that you cited. In the story, Hillel was allegedly asked to teach the entire Torah while the learner is standing on one foot.

    This version of the Golden Rule is also found in Tobit 4:15.

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  5. Beautiful!

    (Jim: No, they're not all exactly the same. That doesn't mean that only one can be correct.)

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  6. Heather
    Only one of them demands action. That is quite a difference.

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  7. Jim:

    Do you understand how boring your semantics are?

    Jesus spoke those words in Aramaic and you have no clue how it was orated.

    The principal is the same. Stop being a fundi and open you eyes.

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  8. Green man giving the finger,

    Do you understand how boring your semantics are?

    Are you discounting my observation based on it being "boring"? Well, I guess there's a first time for everything!

    It seems we have only this translation: "DO unto others what you would have them DO unto you." That is neither negative nor general. It is not a platitude as the others are.

    Let's compare Jainism: What is hateful to you, DO NOT do to your neighbor.

    Mucho wiggle room here. A lady pulled up to the gas pump next to mine the other day. She tells me she needs money for gas as she is running out. Her car is run down and there is reason to believe she is telling the truth. She promised to pay me back this coming week, which is unlikely. By her own story, she was headed out of town.

    Now, do I help her? Is it hateful to say no? I am not making much money right now. Anything would be a significant sacrifice. I really don't have any money to give. Based on Jainism, I am not required to help, only to NOT DO HARM. But, no, I am a Christian. I gave her $10 for gas and paid my gas with a credit card because I came up short. Why did I help when I couldn't afford it?

    Because I am to DO to others as I would have them DO unto me. If I was in the same situation as the woman, I would want someone to pay for my gas. You see that? Zero wiggle room. Similar does not mean that they are the same.

    Please try to find a more appropriate ID picture.

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  9. Is it just me, or is this debate over the golden rule, somehow, ironic?

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Only Our Jim could take a beautiful reflection on how the Golden Rule manifests itself in different faith traditions around the world that touch billions of people and turn it into "MY RELIGION IS BETTER THAN YOUR RELIGION."

    BTW, Jim, one of my closest friends in high school is Jain, and I don't doubt that he would have helped the woman in question. I rejoice that MOST people of faith, Jain, Jewish, Christian or otherwise, don't look at their faiths with an eye toward "wiggle room".

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  12. To not act is also to act. There is no such thing as not acting. To ignore someone who is in need is an active choice, and if it is hateful for you to be ignored by others when you are in need, then surely you should not do that which is hateful to others by ignoring someone else in need.

    On that basis, it seems to me that one could make a case that the inverse versions of the Golden Rule are simply two ways of saying the same thing.

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  13. Mystical said On that basis, it seems to me that one could make a case that the inverse versions of the Golden Rule are simply two ways of saying the same thing.

    How? One rule tells us to serve, the other tells us to do no harm. Granted, some folks who subscribe to one of these "Silver Rules" could practice it in a Golden manner, but it is still different.

    Fly said Only Our Jim could take a beautiful reflection on how the Golden Rule manifests itself in different faith traditions around the world that touch billions of people and turn it into "MY RELIGION IS BETTER THAN YOUR RELIGION."


    1) I don't have a "religion" per se. I have a relationship with God and I don't deny that access to anyone, as if I could.

    2) The real Golden Rule demands action because talk is cheap.

    Regards, Your Jim

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  14. **To not act is also to act. There is no such thing as not acting. **

    This is true. It goes with the saying of how all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

    Jim,

    You have previously argued that there is wiggle room in the Golden Rule, though. Such as the example of an attractive woman walking down the street, and a man just madly kissing her, because that's what he'd want done. That's violating the rule itself all over the place, because he made the rule a self-focused thing. Every rule on that list is meant to make someone think outside themself, as a way of getting people to act.

    As Mystical says, not doing something can be just as much of an action, in the sense of restraining oneself, or making an active choice to not help. Harming people comes in a variety of forms. To not help the woman at the gas station can be regarded as harmful, because who knows how much she needs to get where she's going. Perhaps she was in a foul mood, and you helping her brightened her day, so she in turn helped someone else, and so forth.

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  15. How? One rule tells us to serve, the other tells us to do no harm.

    I already explained how. Reread what I said.

    The rule doesn't say to "do no harm". It says not to do that which is hateful to you. Not the same thing. As I explained already, to choose not to help another is just as much an active choice as to choose to help others is.

    For that matter, Jesus's version doesn't say "to serve". Taking Jesus's rule literally, someone who is filled with self-loathing, or someone with masochistic tendencies, is hardly called to "serve" based on the Jesus's version of the Golden Rule, since what what they would have others do unto them is hardly an act of positive servitude.

    But that would be as pointless an interpretation of Jesus's version of the rule as the negative spin that you are putting on the inverse version of that rule. I really think you're missing the forest for the trees. Both versions are simply different expressions of compassion and love for others.

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  16. Now Jim isn't a Christian. This gets more fascinating by the minute.

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  17. OSS
    You have previously argued that there is wiggle room in the Golden Rule, though. Such as the example of an attractive woman walking down the street, and a man just madly kissing her, because that's what he'd want done.

    I recall that was a comedic spin on the Golden Rule in response to someone else's post. If it isn't already self-evident, I say it's out of context.

    Mystical hit the nail on the head when he wrote "Taking Jesus's rule literally". It's Jesus' rule, not ours, although as Christians we are called to live by it. Jesus is the one who is pleased by us practicing the Golden Rule. It is our goal to please Him.

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  18. Jim, when Jesus mentions "The Golden Rule" explicitly in Matthew 7.12, he says "in everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets."

    Whenever Jesus uses that phrase, it is intended to refer to the two parts of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah ("the Law") and the Nevim ("the Prophets"). Indeed, the Rule is a restatement of the moral code set out in Leviticus 19.11-18 and 34, just as the Greatest Commandments are conscious restatements of Deut 6.4 and Lev 19.18. Indeed, Rabbi Hillel, in the century before Jesus' birth, said famously to the man who demanded he be taught the whole Torah while standing on one foot, "what is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah, while the rest is commentary thereof; go and learn it." (this is recorded in the Talmud, Shabbat 31a)

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  19. It's Jesus' rule, not ours, although as Christians we are called to live by it. Jesus is the one who is pleased by us practicing the Golden Rule.

    Fortunately, there are so many different and beautiful ways that the rule has been expressed, not just the way Jesus expressed it. One of the cool things about Jesus is that he wasn't a pedantic twit about such rules. He understand that all rules have to be understood in the spirit in which in they were made.

    The point I made earlier was, of course, that we can just as easily misapply Jesus's formulation of the rule as we can misapply other formulations of it. One Small Step gave a better example than I did of how this can happen with Jesus's formulation. The important point is that they are all just different ways of saying the same essential thing.

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  20. Jim,

    **I recall that was a comedic spin on the Golden Rule in response to someone else's post. If it isn't already self-evident, I say it's out of context.**

    I'm presuming you mean I am taking your statement out of context. To me, I do think you were saying there was wiggle room, because it would become a selfish statement if one was not taking the rule itself as a theistic statement (which we disagreed on -- in the sense that the Golden Rule had to be theistic). I was not saying that you would use the Golden Rule as justification for any selfish actions on your part, only that without the proper focus, there can be wiggle room in the Golden Rule.

    The point with this is that any rule can have wiggle room, if someone is determined to find it. The Golden Rule can be misapplied, by your previous example on another blog. Or by how Mystical explained it, if someone is filled with self-loathing. The whole point of any of these rules is to put others first. If one starts finding wiggle room in any of them, then it can be argued that the person isn't serious about their faith in the first place. For the Judaism one, it would make the person stop and ask, "Is ignoring this person hateful? Is not responding to this person's need hateful?" Since the answer is yes, then the person would then act.

    It just seems that you are looking at all the other rules in the broadest sense possible and saying "Look at all the ways in which they fall short", while making Jesus' statement narrow, and saying that there is no way in which the Golden Rule to be negatively applied. Whereas if we asked the followers of those other religions, I think they would say that their rules heavily emphasize action.

    **Jesus is the one who is pleased by us practicing the Golden Rule. It is our goal to please Him.**

    The difficulty here is that it can make the rule self-serving, then. If it is said that "I follow the Golden Rule to please Jesus/God," then what's the focus in that statement? The person following the rule, when the rule itself is meant to take the focus off the person, and put it 100% on everyone else. Otherwise, it becomes a "rewards" system.

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  21. If it is said that "I follow the Golden Rule to please Jesus/God," then what's the focus in that statement? The person following the rule, when the rule itself is meant to take the focus off the person, and put it 100% on everyone else. Otherwise, it becomes a "rewards" system.

    Brilliantly put. I'd add (and forgive me, I don't have my copy of Calvin's Institutes, Barth's Dogmatics or (the best read of the bunch) Guthrie's Christian Doctrine handy at the moment) that the Reformed perspective on this is that we do good as a grateful response to the grace freely given us by God in Christ. We don't do good to earn God's favor or even simply to make Jesus "pleased" with us. We do good because it is the natural reaction to having such supreme goodness done for us.

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