For the past several years, I've been working with an interfaith organization in my home county. It spans Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Baha'is and others. (Sadly, when the organization decided several years back to admit a jewish temple, many of our so-called evangelical members left. Sigh!) My little, local organization is certainly not the only interfaith activity. Google interfaith and you'll find a host of organizations dedicated to the proposition that the world is better off working together across the boundaries of faith. My personal list contains more than fifty, ranging from local groups to international initiatives. Over this time I've come to the recognition that interfaith is my faith. Interfaith is for me not merely tolerating other faiths, not even merely respecting other faiths, not even promoting joint interaction. The true interfaith spirit is the recognition that all religious practices that promote love for everyone are essentially right, they are part of God's hope for humanity. (Not purpose! God's hope is that we freely choose a worthwhile purpose.) To put it another way, every local faith develops its strategy for defining and dealing with the divine. That strategy derives from the mythology, history, language, and culture within which the faith emerges. Or to put it another way (using the language of Western religion), God reveals Godself to a faith using the stories accessible to the culture. And God will use different stories to a different faith. The important thing, and history tells us it is the hard thing, is to recognize that the message behind our own stories is to be found in the stories told by others. Unfortunately, as the proverb goes, when the sage points at the moon, the fool watches his finger. People of one faith are so seduced by the wording of their own stories (they are the revealed truth) that they are offended by the different wording of the stories of other faiths (the superstitions of the devil). The thing is, there is a common message behind these stories, namely, the Golden Rule. I've appended a number of versions from many different cultures. Take your pick as your favorite, but the wording (the story) is the finger, not the moon. The message, in my favorite language is to love everyone, for who they are, not for whom you want them to be. The consequence of this message is that not only is each faith able to express its love with its own boundaries, it can express its love for those of other faiths without violation of its own message. From God's perspective, local faiths, which emerged out of the local circumstances of a people, merge into a spiritual ecosystem: Each individual faith provides its adherents with spiritual reinforcement through its common language, liturgy and lessons. Together these faiths not only reinforce the common message of love, they provide opportunities for growth in local faiths, especially in working out how to work together. Seeing interfaith as a faith is not yet seen as a faith, a religion, in and of itself. And it is certainly a universal religion, if by that is meant a common set of stories and practices. But it offers perhaps the most feasible route towards the peace on earth that all religions proclaim. Maybe it's time to give it a try. Golden Rules from Many Cultures and Faiths The Golden Rule takes many forms in many faiths and cultures. Here is a sampling of various forms. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Mark 12:33 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. Luke 10:27 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:10 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Galatians 5:14 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: James 2:8 Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do. Ancient Egyptian, The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant The original dates to 1970 to 1640 BCE and may be the earliest version ever written. One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts. African Traditional Religions, Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria) Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wise to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself. Baha’I, Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself. Baha’I, Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 30 Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Buddhism, Udana-Varga 5,36 Comparing oneself to others in such terms as "Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I," he should neither kill nor cause others to kill. Buddhism, Sutta Nipata 705 Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. Confucianism, Analects 12:2 The essence of all religions is love, compassion, and tolerance. Kindness is my true religion. The clear proof of a person’s love of God is if that person genuinely shows love to fellow human beings. Dalai Lama Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival. Dalai Lama, 1989 Nobel Peace Prize If we really want happiness, we must widen the sphere of love. Dalai Lama Tsekung 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 do to others what you do not want them to do to you." Confucianism, Analects 15.23 Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence. Confucianism, Mencius VII.A.4 The Sage...makes the self of the people his self. Daoism, Tao Te Ching, Ch 49 One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire. Hinduism, Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8 This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. Hinduism, Mahabharata 5,1517 Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity. Humanist Association of Canada Don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you. British Humanist Society Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself. Islam, The Prophet Muhammad, 13th of the 40 Hadiths of Nawawi One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated. Jainism, Sutrakritanga What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Judaism, Talmud, Shabbat 3id What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it. Hillel, Judaism, Talmud, Shabbath 31a We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive. Native Spirituality, Chief Dan George Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law. Philosophy, Immanuel Kant, Categorical Imperative Act so as to use humanity, whether in your own person or in others, always as an end, and never merely as a means. Philosophy, Immanuel Kant, Categorical Imperative Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others. Philosophy, Socrates I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all. Sikhism, Guru Granith Sahib, p. 1289 What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others. Stoicism, Epictetus Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. Taoism, Tai Shang Kan Yin P’ien We affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Unitarian Universalist First Principle We affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations. Unitarian Universalist Second Principle An' it harm none, do as ye will. The Wiccan Rede That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self. Zoroastrianism, Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5 Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others. Zoroastrianism, Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29 Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. American Proverb Live and let live. American Proverb If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it will always be yours. If it doesn't come back, it was never yours to begin with. American Proverb If you love it, let it grow. American Proverb If you know of other versions, please let me know.