Is there one maxim which ought to be acted upon throughout one’s whole life? Surely it is the maxim of loving kindness: Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you. Confucius, author of one of the earliest versions of the ‘Golden Rule’ over 2500 years ago

What is the 'golden rule'?

Although many detailed rules for living vary, most traditions have some version or other of the ‘Golden Rule’. It can be expressed both positively (‘Treat other people in a way you would like to be treated yourself’) and negatively (‘Do not treat others as you would not like to be treated yourself’). Some people think that the negative versions are more realistic because it is easier to agree on the things we would not like done to us: all of us can work out what would cause suffering to another person and we may then avoid doing it. The apparently universal nature of this rule is impressive. It is based on human nature and experience, using our need to be treated well by others and our aspiration to live harmoniously with others as its foundation.

 

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