Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Golden Rule

Almost every religious tradition has some version of the “Golden Rule”—treat other people the way you would like them to treat you. As universal and unanimously accepted this sentiment has become, it may be almost even more universally ignored and disregarded. Capitalism has become the modern world’s religion and preaches the ethics of selfishness and me-first materialism. This perception easily gives rise to a cynical disdain; but, the issue may not be as clear cut as at first seems. Issues related to idiot compassion easily arise. One of Confucius’ students once asked him about this Golden Rule and returning love for hate, good for evil. Confucius replied, “With what then would you reward kindness? Instead, return good for good, and for evil, justice.”

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Quotes (81)

“Having already reached the sunset of my life (being almost on the verge of departure from the world on account of old age), I wanted, before being overtaken by death, to compose a fine anthem to celebrate the fullness of happiness and so to help now those who are well-constituted. It is right to help also generations to come (for they too belong to us, though they are still unborn)”

Diogenes of Oenoanda Διογένης ὁ Οἰνοανδεύς 77 – 142 CE via Hicks
Great Preserver of Epicureanism

“Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.”

Vyasa व्यास 1
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“demonstrate justice within the land, destroy evil and wickedness, stop the mighty from exploiting the weak”

Hammurabi 1
Father to his people and example of good government to us all

“All strangers and beggars are from Zeus, and a gift, though small, is precious.”

Homer 1
Primogenitor of Western culture

“A man who works evil against another works it really against himself, he's only harming himself who's bent upon harming another”

Hesiod 846 – 777 BCE
“History’s first economist”
from Works and Days

Themes: Golden Rule

“That nature alone is good which shall not do unto another whatever is not not good unto itself.”

Zarathushtra زرتشت‎‎ 628 – 551 BCE via Dawson
(Zoroaster)

from Avesta

Themes: Golden Rule

“Repay wrongs with the Power of Goodness; requite injuries with good deeds.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao, chapter 63
(Lǎozǐ)
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Golden Rule
“Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss.

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Paul Carus
(Lǎozǐ)
from T'ai-Shang Kan-Ying P'ien

Themes: Golden Rule

“Don’t treat others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”

Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth

Themes: Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“When a student asked Confucius about returning good for evil, he replied: 'With what then will you recompense kindness? Return good for good, and for evil, justice.'”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE via Brian Brown
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

“Do not do to others what you don’t want done to yourself.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.”

Sun Tzu 孙武 544 – 496 BCE
(Sun Zi)
HIstory's supreme strategist
from Art of War 孙子兵法

Themes: Golden Rule

“Do unto others as you would like to be done by. Injury or violence done by you to any life in any form, animal or human, is as harmful as it would e if caused to your own self.”

Mahavira 540 – 468 BCE
(Vardhamāna)
"the great hero”

Themes: Golden Rule

“the truly superior man of the world regards his friend the same as himself, and his friend's father the same as his own.”

Mozi 墨子 470 – 391 BCE via Burton Watson
(Mòzǐ)
Chinese personification of Newton, da Vinci, and Jesus
from Universal Love

Themes: Golden Rule

“One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him.”

Socrates 469 – 399 BCE
One of the most powerful influences on Western Civilization

79. No Demands

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

Ananda 阿難 1
"Guardian of the Dharma"
from Udanavarga

Themes: Golden Rule

“Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.”

Isocrates Ἰσοκράτης 436 – 338 BCE
from Advice to Nicocles

“You must always remember that all men are your brothers, down to the vilest and most debased; they are your family and your friends, your fellow-citizens as well. You must be kind therefore, endlessly kind”

Zeno Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς 334 – 262 BCE via Edith Hamilton
(of Citium)

“The best person is the one who benefits all human beings.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’… in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Saint Matthew
from New Testament Διαθήκη

“On Golden Rule:
Repay wrongs with the Power of Goodness;
Love your brother and sister as your soul;
protect them as you do the pupils of your eyes.”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Didymos Judas Thomas
from Gospel According to Thomas

63. Easy as Hard

“Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Saint Luke
from New Testament Διαθήκη

“What is hateful to you, don’t do to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.”

Rabbinic Sages 20 – 200 CE via Shabbat
from Talmud

Themes: Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”

Rabbinic Sages 20 – 200 CE via Leviticus 19:18
from Hebrew Bible, The Tanakh

Themes: Golden Rule

“Those who are remorseful sympathize with their opponents. They try not to gain an advantage but to avoid injury. Hence, they always win.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE

Themes: Golden Rule

69. No Enemy

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”

Muhammad محمد‎; محمد‎; 570 – 632 CE
from Sunnah

Themes: Golden Rule

“None of you have faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.”

Muhammad محمد‎; محمد‎; 570 – 632 CE
from Koran

Themes: Golden Rule

“If we repay wrongs with kindness, we put an end to revenge. If we repay wrongs with wrongs, revenge never ends.”

Cao Daochong 道寵 1
(​Daochong or Ts’ao Tao-Ch’ung)
from Lao-tzu-chu, Red Pine Translation

63. Easy as Hard

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. But better not expect others to do unto you what you would do unto them.”

Chén Jìrú 陳繼儒 1558 – 1639 CE via Lin Yutang

Themes: Golden Rule

“Justice, equity, modesty, mercy—doing to others as we would be done to—are contrary to our natural passions that carry us to partiality, pride, revenge, and the like.”

Thomas Hobbes 1588 – 1679 CE
from Leviathan

Themes: Golden Rule

“Those who are governed by reason desire nothing for themselves which they do not also desire for the rest of mankind.”

Baruch Spinoza 1632 – 1677 CE

“Teach me to feel another's woe, to hide the fault I see, that mercy I to others show, that mercy show to me.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer

Themes: Golden Rule

“He does not join any of the sects which all contradict one another. His religion is most ancient and the most widespread... to do good is his worship... he succors the indigent and defends the oppressed.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE
from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Golden Rule

“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809 CE

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

“Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE

63. Easy as Hard

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE

67. Three Treasures

“What is success? To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

“I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

Themes: Golden Rule

“Who shall be fairest? - who shall be rarest? Who shall be first in the songs that we sing? She who is kindest when fortune is blindest, Bearing through winter the blooms of the spring.”

Charles Mackay 1814 – 1889 CE

63. Easy as Hard

“Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you.”

Bahá'u'lláh بهاء الله‎‎, 1817 – 1892 CE
("Glory of God")

Themes: Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

Themes: Golden Rule

“I should like to make life beautiful—I mean everybody's life... It spoils my enjoyment of anything when I am made to think that most people are shut out from it.”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

from Middlemarch

“Love to throw yourself on the earth and kiss it with an unceasing, consuming love. Love all men, love everything. Water the earth with the tears of your joy and love those tears. This is a great gift of God not given to many. Prize it.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE via Constance Garnett, Shan Dao
from Brothers Karamatzov

Themes: Love Golden Rule

“Wisdom and Truth are synonymous terms, and—well-known by representatives of the Church of England—the Sermon of the Mount would, in its practical application, mean utter ruin for their country in less than three weeks”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy
from The Key to Theosophy (1889)

Themes: Golden Rule

“Man is a Religious Animal, the only Religious Animal... He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author
from The Damned Human Race

“Should not the giver be thankful that the receiver received? Is not giving a need? Is not receiving, mercy?”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

“'Love of the neighbor' is always something secondary, partly convential and arbitrary-illusion in relation to fear of the neighbor.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

Themes: Golden Rule

“The golden rule is that there is no golden rule.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from Maxims for Revolutionists

Themes: Golden Rule

“To command us to love our neighbors as ourselves... is impossible to fulfill; such an enormous inflation of love can only lower its value and not remedy the evil. Civilization pays no heed to this.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE
from Civilization and its Discontents, 1930

Themes: Golden Rule

“Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE via Maxims for Revolutionists
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from Man and Superman (1903)

Themes: Golden Rule

“Real unselfishness consists in sharing the interests of others.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet

Themes: Golden Rule

“An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.”

Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 CE

Themes: Golden Rule

“Genius consists in the power to reflect and not in the intrinsic value of the thing reflected, from the faculty of transforming or transposing. Those who produce works of genius are those who—ceasing to live for themselves—have the ability to make a mirror of their personality.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Justin O'Brien, Shan Dao
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from In Search of Lost Time

Themes: Golden Rule

“It's all very well to tell us to forgive our enemies; our enemies can never hurt us very much. But oh, what about forgiving our friends?”

Willa Cather 1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”

G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“Everything terrible is something that needs our love.”

Rainer Maria Rilke 1875 – 1926 CE
Profound singer of universal music
from Duino Elegies

Themes: Golden Rule

22. Heaven's Door

“If one does not take the verses of the New Testament as being commandments, but as expressions of an extraordinary awareness of the secrets of our soul, then the wisest word ever spoken is: 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.’”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

63. Easy as Hard

“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

67. Three Treasures

“decorate the dungeon with flowers… As we are a doomed race, chained to a sinking ship, as the whole thing is a bad joke, let us, at any rate do our part; mitigate the suffering of our fellow-prisoners”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Mrs. Dalloway

“At home we have preached, and will continue to preach, the gospel of the good neighbor. I hope from the bottom of my heart that as the years go on, in every continent and in every clime, Nation will follow Nation in proving by deed as well as by word their adherence to the ideal of the Americas — I am a good neighbor.”

Franklin Roosevelt 1882 – 1945 CE
(FDR)
Champion and creator of a more just and equitable society

“As in love, so in hospitality, surely he who gives is happier than he who receives.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

Themes: Golden Rule

“the sole way to save oneself is to save others. Or to struggle to save others—even that is sufficient.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

Themes: Golden Rule

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”

Eleanor Roosevelt 1884 – 1962 CE

24. Unnecessary Baggage

“I should like every religious institution to preach morality rather than theology, and welcome into its fellowship every person who accepts the Golden Rule”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Golden Rule

“Somewhere, sometime, in the name of humanity, we must challenge a thousand evil precedents , and dare to apply the Golden Rule to nations as the Buddhist King Ashoka did in 262 BCE”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Lessons of History

Themes: Golden Rule

“We seek victory—not over any nation or people—but over ignorance, poverty, disease, and human degradation wherever they may be found.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890 – 1969 CE
from State of the Union (1959)

“Love thine enemies because they are the instruments of your destiny.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

“There can be no more wars of faith. The only way to overcome our enemy is by loving him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 – 1945 CE

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

30. No War

“Our custom has almost always been to look outside ourselves for ethical standards instead of feeling free to base our principles simply upon what we would like to do and have done to us.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE via Shan Dao
from Psychotherapy East and West

Themes: Golden Rule

“The extremity of the situation itself,[ the suffering] generates compassion because the most intense darkness is itself the seed of light, and all explicit warfare is implicit love.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of each of your arms.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

63. Easy as Hard

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?’”

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE
Leading world influence for equality, peace, non-violence, and poverty alleviation

Themes: Golden Rule

“'Love thy neighbor as thyself' surely does not mean that as we are, with all that is in us of fear and hate, we can transmit the divine power of love to our fellowman.”

Jacob Needleman 1934 CE –
American religious scholar, historian, philosopher, and author
from American Soul

Themes: Golden Rule

“I defeat my enemies when I make them my friends.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

Themes: Enemy Golden Rule

63. Easy as Hard

“The most important point is that when you take, you take the worst; and when you give, you give the best… So don’t take any credit – unless you have been blamed.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Lojong III

Themes: Golden Rule

77. Stringing a Bow

“Commenting on Chuang Tzu’s story about the Marquis of Lu trying to help a seabird, Stephen Mitchell writes, 'The marquis…by acting out the Golden Rule, became the golden fool… Love your neighbor as yourself: leave him alone.'”

Stephen Mitchell 1943 CE –
from Second Book of Tao

63. Easy as Hard

“Being altruistic not only helps us to benefit others, but it is also the most satisfying way to live.”

Matthieu Ricard माथ्यु रिका 1946 CE –
"The happiest person in the world”

Themes: Golden Rule

“Best self-interest lies in achieving universal well-being… When the goal of self-=interest is seen to be perfectly isomorphic with universal well-being, bad people will do what it takes to get universal well-being.”

Kim Stanley Robinson 1952 CE –
from 2312

30. No War

“Brotherly love in the literal sense comes at the expense of brotherly love in the biblical sense; the more precisely we bestow unconditional kindness on relatives, the less of it is left over for others.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Moral Animal — Why we are the Way we Are

Themes: Golden Rule

“Separateness is an illusion, what we do to another, we do to ourselves.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Utopia Avenue

“A finite-minded leader uses the company's performance to demonstrate the value of their own career. An infinite-minded leader uses their career to enhance the long-term value of the company”

Simon Sinek 1973 CE –
from Infinite Game

Themes: Golden Rule

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