Monday, July 21, 2008

Ethic of Reciprocity - The Golden Rule

"Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people's suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal." The Dalai Lama

The various religious, spiritual and philosophical groups differ widely in their beliefs, practices and concepts of diety. Given this diversity, it is interesting that these groups are nearly unanimious in their belief that each of us should treat others in a fair and decent manner. We find in the holy texts and/or in the writings of the leaders of almost all of these groups passages which promote what is frequently called the Ethic of Reciprocity. In North America it is most commonly know as the Golden Rule and is most often expressed as "Do unto others as you would wish them do unto you."

For many in the Common Tables family the high points of their experience are found in the discovery of the common grounds, the shared beliefs that are held by those at their Table. While we will return to a discussion of the Ethic of Reciprocity a number of times over the next few months, we simply close this week's entry with a couple of examples:

Brahmanism: "This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you". Mahabharata, 5:1517

Confucianism: "Tse-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

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