Nothing has divided mankind over the years like religious differences. And yet all the world’s faiths come down to one common belief, according to Karen Armstrong, a British author known for her books on comparative religion.
The common thread? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, Armstrong explained on a recent appearance on “Super Soul Sunday,” a TV show hosted by Oprah Winfrey.
Armstrong, a former Catholic nun, has written many books on religion, most recently, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.
“ Confucious was the first person to formulate the Golden Rule as far as we know, 500 years before Christ,” Armstrong told Winfrey. “His disciples said, master, which of your teachings can we put into practice all day and every day? And he said, never treat others as you would not like to be treated yourself.”
“I think that all the faiths have come to tell us this: that this is what works,” Armstrong said. “People have found that if, all day and every day, as the Golden Rules says, you look into your own heart, discover what gives you pain and then refuse under any circumstances whatsoever to inflict that pain on anybody else, then somehow you achieve new capacities of mind and heart.”
The Golden Rule, Armstrong said, is what works.
“Every single one of the world faiths has developed this ethos of the Golden Rule separately from one another, independently,” Armstrong said. “They did it because it worked.”
Religion is meant not just to get us to heaven, Armstrong added, but it is meant to propel us towards others with charity and compassion.
Armstrong explains the role of the Golden Rule in religion in this brief video:
— Bonnie Gross