nirvana, reincarnation--are their big attractions, not their demanding
guidelines for being good. Yet, being reminded of what is good,
hopefully will nudge us in the right direction.
"The golden rule," so called because it is the highest rule of life,
is an important part of most religions. It is expressed in slightly
General wording: "Do unto others as you would have them do
Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount: "Therefore all things
whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so
Judaism: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Leviticus
Islam: "No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother
what he loves for himself."
Note: Traditions interpret the Golden Rule in different ways, however. The above
statements say DO SOMETHING! About 1000 to 3000 years before Jesus and
Muhammad, there were both positive and negative (DON'T DO) versions of the golden rule:
Confucianism: "What you do not want done to yourself, do not
do to others." (Analects 15:23)
Buddhism: "Hurt not others with that which pains yourself."
Hinduism: "Good people proceed while considering that what is
best for others is best for themselves." (Hitopadesa)
Note: Somewhat related values are expressed by secular groups:
Humanists: "Every person has dignity and worth, and,
therefore, should command the respect of every other person."
(This is in contrast to medieval scholars who taught that life on
earth was to be despised and that humans were sinful
creatures who should be devoting their lives to getting into
Communist motto: "From each according to his ability, to each
according to his needs."
Indian saying: "Don't judge others until you have walked in
Understanding Why We Need Meaning in Our Lives:
What's Religion's Role?
Baumeister (1991), in an impressive psychological and historical
analysis, says that four basic needs push us to find meaning in our
lives. If all four are satisfied, we feel life is meaningful; otherwise, we