A clever sage once learned everything there was to know about religion, philosophy and ethics. He said, “I've found one thing that these faiths and systems of thought have in common.”

A traveller who was passing stopped and answered, “That's amazing. You mean you've distilled the wisdom of the ages into a single truth that you can spread among all the nations?”

“Yep,” nodded the sage.

“What is that truth, O guru?” asked the traveller.

“It's called the Golden Rule and it's quite simple really. Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

“Is that all there is to it?” gasped the traveller.

“Indeedy,” confirmed the sage.

“Are you absolutely certain about this?” persisted the traveller.

“I am,” said the sage confidently.

“So if I do unto others as I would have done unto me I'll be the holiest sort of man? Is that really true?”

“Sure. And a blessing on your effort,” said the sage.

The traveller went to a shop and bought a long whip. Then he started lashing everybody on the buttocks. Soon they were all howling, bleeding and jumping into ponds to cool down.

“What are you doing?” screeched the sage.

“I'm merely doing unto others what I would have done unto me,” came the reply. “I'm a masochist, you see…”

¶ That shut the sage up, the smug git.