Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Confucius: The Almost Golden Rule.

"Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire." - Analects, XII.2

The Golden Rule of the Bible is almost identical, but posed as a 'do' rather than a 'do not':

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." - Luke 6:31

C.S. Lewis mentioned this, I believe in Mere Christianity. A 'do' puts more of a moral obligation on someone than a 'do not'. Context is also fun to look at now that I have both passages side by side. The next thing Confucius says is this:

"In this way you will be free from ill will whether in a state or in a noble family."

The context of the Luke passage is enemies:

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ..."

It is an exercise for the reader to prove that the two contexts are the same. Again, however, there is a difference. Confucius promises that those who follow his rule will be "free from ill will". The Bible contains no such promise. Instead, it is guaranteed that some will hate us on account of the good:

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." - 1 John 3:13

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