A Simple Common Morality Across All Religions


Though religion is sometimes attacked for its potential to incite violence, the truth is that all religions, on the contrary, teach nonviolence and peace above all else. Those who commit violence in the name of religion—whichever religion that might be—are not being faithful to the teachings of their tradition. They may draw upon and distort particular scriptural passages or precepts, but in so doing they lose sight of the bigger picture which is always peace. Religious individuals and institution surely err from time to time, but peace is the goal behind all religions.

Additional Quotes

Mahatma Gandhi
Acknowledged by Indians as Father of the Nation

“After a study of those religions to the extent that it was possible for me, I have come to the conclusion that, if it is proper and necessary to discover an underlying unity among all religions, a master-key is needed. That master-key is that of truth and non-violence. When I unlock the chest of a religion with this master-key, I do not find it difficult to discover its likeness with other religions”

Eva Wong
Chinese translator

“Finally, Yang-chu has some very insightful ideas on making the world better, or ‘saving the world.’ He thinks if people were not so eager to play hero or savior and would leave things alone, the world might be better off. Some people think this kind of noninvolvement is selfish and uncaring. However, many atrocities have been committed in the name of ‘making things better.’ If we ask, ‘Who is making things better for whom?’ and ‘By whose standards?’ we will begin to understand Yangchu’s point of view. Native cultures have been destroyed because some people thought things would be better for indigenous peoples if they became ‘civilized.’Genocides have been committed because someone thought the world would be a better place if certain ethnic groups were exterminated. When we look at the many things that have happened in the name of making the world a better place, Yang-chu’s assertion that he would not sacrifice a strand of hair for the benefit of the world is probably not the selfish and uncaring attitude it is made out to be.”

Baha'i leader

“So let us try, as an experiment, peace, and if the results of peace are bad, then we can choose if it would be better to go back to the old state of war! Let us in any case make the experiment. If we see that unity brings Light we shall continue it. For six thousand years we have been walking on the left-hand path; let us walk on the right-hand path now. We have passed many centuries in darkness, let us advance towards the light.”

Hindu Tale

“The holy man said, ‘Listen, dear friend, how about promising me that you won’t bite anyone from now on?’ The snake bowed and nodded assent. The holy man went his way, and the snake began its life of innocence and nonviolence[…]Fortunately [after some time], the holy man happened to come by to see his latest disciple and was touched by the bruised and battered condition of the snake. When he asked it what had happened, the snake said feebly, ‘O swami, you said I should not bite anyone. But people are so merciless!’ The holy man said, ‘I asked you not to bite anyone. But I didn’t ask you not to hiss!’”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV
Tibetan Buddhist leader and activist

“Genuine Ahimsa, or non-violence, will only come after the inner disarmament of our mind. Lots of problems in this world are created out of ignorance and greed and it is impossible to achieve nonviolence if our minds are full of fear and hatred. We need to use our human intelligence in challenging and overcoming negative emotions with positive emotions.”

The Analects
Confucian Text

“Chi K'ang Tzu asked Confucius about
government, saying, ‘What would you
think if, in order to move closer to
those who possess the Way, I were to kill
those who do not follow the Way?'
Confucius answered, ‘In administering your
government, what need is there for you to
kill? Just desire the good yourself and the
common people will be good.”

Yuki Miyamoto
Ethicist and scholar of religion
Art & Literature

“Following the 1994 renovation, a section dedicated to Sasaki Sadako was added to the Peace Memorial Museum. Sadako experienced the bombing at the age of two. Before dying of radiation-related leukemia at the age of fourteen, while in the hospital Sadako began folding origami cranes, a signal of hope for recovery. After her death, she became an icon of hope for peace, particularly for children. Today children and adults from all over the world send folded paper cranes to Peace Memorial Park in a gesture of hope that no such violence will befall innocent children.”

Pascal Boyer
Cognitive anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“We should not be too surprised that moral principles in all cultures seem highly commendable in their formulation (‘peace is most precious,’ ‘a guest is sacred’) and less so in their application (‘let us raid the next village,’ ‘let us rob this rich traveler’). This is not a symptom of unredeemed hypocrisy but simply a consequence of the constraints imposed by commitment and cooperation. In such situations one has to consider the trade-off between offering cooperation (at the risk of being swindled) and denying it (at the risk of missing out on mutual advantage). So peace is genuinely valued in general but this has to be weighed against the perceived threat of inaction against dangerous neighbors[…]So, against the wisdom of many moralists, the milk of human kindness is not in short supply; but it is apportioned in a principled manner.”

Robert Wright
American journalist

“In short, Ashoka combined the best of the Abrahamic tradition’s two imperial religions. And then he did them one better. Whereas Christianity and Islam were both enlisted in imperial holy war, Ashoka renounced conquest, horrified by the event that had preceded and triggered his conversion to Buddhism—his own bloody conquest of a neighboring region. ‘The most important conquest,’he announced, is  ‘moral conquest.’”

Jill Bolte Taylor
Harvard neuroscientist
Science, Psychology, & Philosophy

“The two halves of my brain don’t just perceive and think in different ways at a neurological level, but they demonstrate very different values based upon the types of information they perceive, and thus exhibit very different personalities. My stroke of insight is that at the core of my right hemisphere consciousness is a character that is directly connected to my feeling of deep inner peace. It is completely committed to the expression of peace, love, joy, and compassion in the world.”

Universal House of Justice
Baha'i governing body

“Permanent peace among nations is an essential stage, but not, Bahá’u’lláh asserts, the ultimate goal of the social development of humanity. Beyond the initial armistice forced upon the world by the fear of nuclear holocaust, beyond the political peace reluctantly entered into by suspicious rival nations, beyond pragmatic arrangements for security and coexistence, beyond even the many experiments in co-operation which these steps will make possible lies the crowning goal: the unification of all the peoples of the world in one universal family.”

The Hebrew Bible
Jewish scripture

“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace.”

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture

“But if the enemy inclines toward peace, do thou also incline towards peace – and trust in God, for He hears and knows all things.”

The New Testament
Christian scripture

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture

“Those who have been attacked are permitted to take up arms because they have been wronged– God has the power to help them—those who have been driven unjustly from their homes only for saying, ‘Our Lord is God.’ If God did not repel some people by means of others, many monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, where God’s name is much invoked, would have been destroyed.”

The Hebrew Bible
Jewish scripture

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture

“If you raise your hand to kill me, I will not raise mine to kill you. I fear God, the Lord of all worlds.”

Daoist Text

“The best are like water
Bringing help to all
Without competing
[…] governing with peace
Working with skill
And moving with time
And because they don’t compete
They aren’t maligned”  (Ch. 8)