Most religious traditions and many secular traditions encourage us to be kind to one another. Despite this encouragement, we are sometimes unkind to one another: perhaps we lack the rationale, conviction, or the faith to be kind. Therefore, this lecture series explores the ethical common ground between numerous traditions, and the numerous reasons for kindness.

As a concrete example of the injunction to be kind, consider the Golden Rule, which is promoted by numerous spiritual and secular traditions:

  • Judaism: “Love your neighbor as yourself“. The Torah, Leviticus 19:18
  • Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you“. The New Testament, Matthew 7:12
  • Scientology: “Try to treat others as you would want them to treat you“. The Way to Happiness, Precept 20
  • Taoism: “The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own“. Tao Te Ching, Chapter 49
  • Kantians: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law“, Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
  • Hinduism: “By self-control and by making dharma (right conduct) your main focus, treat others as you treat yourself.“, Mahābhārata Shānti-Parva 167:9
  • Buddhism: “Whatever is disagreeable to yourself, do not do unto others”, The Buddha, Udana-Varga 5.18
  • Socrates: “Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.
  • Latter-Day Saints: “And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me.”, Doctrine and Covenants 38:24
  • Native American: “All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.”, Black Elk
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143 leaders from all of the world’s major faiths participated in the creation of a “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic” at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993:

We must treat others as we wish others to treat us.

The primary question of this lecture series is to ask the further question, why? Why must we treat others as we wish to be treated? What are the golden reasons for the golden rule?

  • If the reason is “reciprocal altruism”, what if there is no opportunity for reciprocity?
  • If the reason is “divine command”, how do we recognize it as divine?
  • If the reason is “karmic reward or punishment”, why must we believe in karma?
  • If the reason is “we are all one”, why (or in what sense) are we all one?

The point of this lecture series to hear some of the diverse reasons as formulated by experts in the local community, and to explore any common ground.