The Universal Essence of the Golden Rule


The Golden Rule is a fundamental ethical principle that has been universally embraced across diverse cultures and religions throughout history. Its essence is simple yet profound: treat others as you would like to be treated. This principle serves as a moral compass, guiding human interactions and fostering empathy, compassion, and mutual respect.

The Golden Rule in Various Belief Systems


Atheism: “Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.”

  • The 10 Non-Commandments

Paganism: “Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.”

  • Thales

Islam: “Pay, O Children of Adam, as you would love to be paid, and be just as you would love to have justice!”

  • Qur’an 83:1-6

Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”

  • Tai Shang Kan Yin

First Nations: “All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.”

  • Black Elk

Buddhism: “This is the sum of Dharma — duty: Do nothing unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”

  • Mahabharata 5:1517

Wicca: “I command thee, O Children of the Earth, that that which ye deem harmful unto thyself, the very same shall ye be forbidden from doing to another. For violence and hatred give rise to the same.”

  • The Book of Ways

Hinduism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”

  • Udana-Varga 5:18

Shinto: “The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.”

  • Shinto saying

Confucianism: “Tsze-kung asked, ‘Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?’ Confucius replied, ‘It is the word shu — reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'”

  • Doctrine of the Mean 13.3

Sikhism: “Precious like jewels are the minds of all. To hurt them is not good. If you desire your Beloved, then hurt thou not anyone’s heart.”

  • Guru Arjan Dev Ji 259

Humanism: “Before performing an action which might harm another person, try to imagine yourself in their position, and consider whether you would want to be the recipient of that action. If you would not want to be in such a position, then the other person probably would not either, and so you should not do it.”

  • Adam Lee

Zoroastrianism: “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.”

  • Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29

Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

  • Babylonian Talmud

Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  • Matthew 7:12

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

  • 7th Principle

Jainism: “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.”

  • Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

Baha’i Faith: “And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself.”


The Unifying Principle

Despite the diversity in wording and context, the Golden Rule across these traditions emphasizes a shared human value: empathy. By putting ourselves in others’ shoes, we acknowledge their humanity and inherent worth. This simple yet profound principle encourages a society built on mutual respect and understanding, transcending cultural, religious, and philosophical boundaries.



The Golden Rule is a testament to the universal human quest for ethical living. It serves as a common thread that weaves together the fabric of human society, promoting a culture of empathy, kindness, and justice. In a world often divided by differences, the Golden Rule reminds us of our shared humanity and the moral obligation we have towards one another. By embracing this timeless principle, we can foster a more compassionate and harmonious world.