Origin The Challenge to the Global Community of Religions
"In this new ecological age of developing global community and interfaith dialogue, the world religions face what is perhaps the greatest challenge that they have ever encountered. Each is inspired by a unique vision of the divine and has a distinct cultural identity. At the same time, each perceives the divine as the source of unity and peace. The challenge is to preserve their religious and cultural uniqueness without letting it operate as a cause of narrow and divisive sectarianism that contradicts the vision of unity and peace. It is a question of whether the healing light of religious vision will overcome the social and ideological issues that underline much of the conflict between religions." ~ Dr. Steven C. Rockefeller, Middlebury College, Spirit and Nature, p. 169
CONTENTS | INVOCATION | INTRODUCTION | PROLOGUE | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21


Title Page
This Archive
Advisors and Contributors
Foreword by Ninian Smart
How to obtain a printed (hardbound/paperback) version


The Truth in Many Paths
Tolerance and Respect for All Believers

The Purpose of World Scripture
The Organization of World Scripture
The World's Religions and Their Scriptures

World Scripture and Education for Peace

Ultimate Reality and the Purpose of Human Existence

CHAPTER 1: Ultimate Reality
Traces of God's Existence
The One
Formless, Emptiness, Mystery
Transcendent, All-Pervasive Reality
Sovereign and Omnipotent
Immanent and Near at Hand
Eternal -- in a World of Transience
The Creator
Goodness and Love
Divine Father and Mother

CHAPTER 2: Divine Law, Truth, and Cosmic Principle
Eternal Truth
Moral Law
The Decalogue
The Golden Rule
Polarity, Relationality, and Interdependence
Cosmic Justice

CHAPTER 3: The Purpose of Life for the Individual
Joy and Happiness
For God's Good Pleasure
Image of God and Temple of God
Inborn Goodness and Conscience
Original Mind, No Mind
True Love

CHAPTER 4: The Purpose of Life in the Family and in Society
The Family
Parents and Children
Husband and Wife
Unity and Community
The People of God
The Ideal Society

CHAPTER 5: The Purpose of Life in the Natural World
The Sanctity of Nature
Reverence for Life
The Microcosm
The Lord of Spirits
Creation Rejoices

CHAPTER 6: Life Beyond Death and the Spiritual World
The Spiritual World: Mystery, Multiplicity, Analogy, Harmony
The Immortal Soul
Prepare Now for Eternity
Passage Beyond
Spiritual Benefactors
Spiritual Error and the Occult

Evil, Sin, and the Human Fall

CHAPTER 7: The Human Condition
The War Within
Pride and Egotism
Selfish Desire, Lust, and Greed

CHAPTER 8: Fall and Deviation
The Human Fall
Demonic Powers
Degraded Human Nature
God's Grief

CHAPTER 9: The Major Sins
Good and Evil
Lying and Deceit
Slander, Gossip and Foul Speech

Salvation and the Savior

CHAPTER 10: Salvation-Liberation-Enlightenment
Universal Salvation
Atonement and Forgiveness of Sins
Crossing the Waters
Reversal and Restoration
Help and Deliverance
The Refining Fire
Born Anew
Eternal Life
The Unitive State

CHAPTER 11: The Founder
Call and Awakening
Rejected by the World
The Victor
He Who Subjugates Satan
The Revealer of Truth
The Man for Others
The Living Presence
The Person and Character of the Founder: Divine Person
Human Person
The Succession of Founders and Messengers

The Religious Life

CHAPTER 12: Responsibility and Predestination
Individual Responsibility
Karma and Inherited Sin

CHAPTER 13: Self-cultivation and Spiritual Growth
Spiritual Growth
Cultivate the Good
Preparing the Start
Perseverance and Patience

CHAPTER 14: Faith
Devotion and Praise
Fear, Submission, and Obedience
Argument with God

CHAPTER 15: Wisdom
The Search for Knowledge
Scripture and Tradition
Poverty of Conceptual Learning
Scripture Teaches in Parables
Learning and Practice
Teacher and Disciple
New Wine and Old Wineskins

CHAPTER 16: Worship
The Name of God
Beyond Ritual

CHAPTER 17: Offering and Sacrifice
Persecution and Martyrdom

CHAPTER 18: Self-Denial and Renunciation
Self-denial and No-self
Repentance, Confession, and Restitution
Restraint and Moderation
Control Anger
Subdue Desires and Passions
Detachment from the Senses
Renunciation of Wealth
Asceticism and Monasticism
Separation from Family
Separation from the World

CHAPTER 19: Live for Others
Serving Others
Sacrificial Love
Giving and Receiving
Charity and Hospitality
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Judge Not
Love Your Enemy
Turn the Other Cheek
Good Deeds
Labor and Industry
Honesty and Expediency

Providence, Society, and the Kingdom of Heaven

CHAPTER 20: Good Government and the Welfare of Society
The Pillars of Society
The Prophet and Reformer
War Against Evil
Respect for Legitimate Governments
Government by Divine Law
Consideration for the People
Leadership by Example and Honest Government
Judgments and Punishments
Providence and the Mandate of Heaven

CHAPTER 21: Eschatology and Messianic Hope
The Last Judgment
The Messiah
The Kingdom of Heaven

Interspirit Network for global illumination
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       The pacifist ethic to bear insults without complaint and to turn
the other cheek is related to the ethic to love one's enemy.  Here the
emphasis is as much on the individual's internal attitude as it is upon
the other's welfare.  If a person responds to evil in anger or self-defense, he
becomes attached to the evil and it can dominate him.  The
anger and hatred of his attacker is transmuted into his own anger and
resentment at being a victim, and he loses his balance and spiritual
strength.  But by bearing and accepting insults and abuse without diminution
of his own goodwill and mental concentration, he can stay above the
hatred and preserve a foundation of spiritual independence and self-possession.
Ultimately, it is only by preserving his spiritual subjectivity in
the midst of the insults that a person can have the strength to love his
enemy and win him over.  We include several striking examples: from the
Lotus Sutra of a monk who is victorious through never disparaging his
abusers, and the prophet Isaiah's servant of the Lord.

The concluding passages also deal with the justice of turning the other cheek. They assume an inexorable principle of Divine Justice, pp. 183-91, which will set things right and even vindicate the victim's passivity. Paul argues that worldly retribution would mitigate the punishment of God, hence, by not acting, the believer will heap burning coals upon the head of his adversary. The Sutra of Forty-two Sections likewise speaks to the demerit which will come to the evildoer when his insult is accepted without responding. The victim, on the other hand, gains merit through enduring persecution and building the virtue of patience.

Let there be no injury and no requital.

1.Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 32

One should choose to be among the persecuted, rather than the persecutors.

2.Judaism. Talmud, Baba Kamma 93a

Victory breeds hatred, for the defeated live in pain. Happily live the peaceful, giving up victory and defeat.

3.Buddhism. Dhammapada 201

For behold, they had rather sacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they have buried their weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren.

4.Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Book of Mormon, Alma 26.32

In wars to gain land, the dead fill the plains; in wars to gain cities, the dead fill the cities. This is known as showing the land the way to devour human flesh. Death is too light a punishment for such men who wage war. Hence those skilled in war should suffer the most severe punishments.

5.Confucianism. Mencius IV.A.14

Those who beat you with fists,
Do not pay them in the same coin,
But go to their house and kiss their feet.

6.Sikhism. Adi Granth, Shalok, Farid, p. 1378

You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

7.Christianity. Matthew 5.38-41

Those who are insulted but do not insult others in revenge, who hear themselves reproached without replying, who perform good work out of the love of the Lord and rejoice in their sufferings... are "as the sun when he goeth forth in his might."

8.Judaism. Talmud, Yoma 23a

Chi K'ang-tzu asked Confucius about government, saying, "Suppose I were to slay those who have not the Way in order to help those who have the Way, what would you think of it?" Confucius replied saying, "You are there to rule, not to slay. If you desire what is good, the people will at once be good."

9.Confucianism. Analects 12.19

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Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 32: On Muhammad's long-suffering and generosity, see Hadith, p. 569. Baba Kamma 93a: Cf. Pesahim 25b, p. 415. Dhammapada 201: Cf. Yogacara Bhumi Sutra 4, p. 482. Mencius IV.A.14: Cf. Tao Te Ching 31, p. 889.
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Then they came up and laid hands upon Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."

10.Christianity. Matthew 26.51-52

Brethren, if outsiders should speak against me, or against the Doctrine, or against the Order, you should not on that account either bear malice, or suffer resentment, or feel ill will. If you, on that account, should feel angry and hurt, that would stand in the way of your own self- conquest.

11.Buddhism. Digha Nikaya i.3

Kuan Chung... could seize the fief of P'ien with its three hundred villages from its owner, the head of the Po family; yet Po, though he lived on coarse food to the end of his days, never uttered a single word of resentment. The Master said, "To be poor and not resent it is far harder than to be rich, yet not presumptuous."

12.Confucianism. Analects 14.11

Monks, even as low-down thieves might be carving you limb from limb with a two-handled saw, even then whoever sets his mind at enmity is not a doer of my teaching. Monks, you should train yourselves thus, "Our minds shall not be perverted, we will not utter evil words, we shall abide cherishing thoughts of good, with minds full of goodwill and with no hatred in our heart. Beginning with that thief, we shall abide suffusing the whole world with thoughts of goodwill that are extensive, exalted, and immeasurable, without hostility and malevolence."

If you, monks, were to attend repeatedly to this exhortation on the parable of the saw, would you see any form of ridicule, subtle or gross, that you could not endure?

13.Buddhism. Majjhima Nikaya i.129

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Matthew 26.51-52: But see also Matthew 10.34, p. 886, and John 2.13-16, p. 891. Digha Nikaya i.3: Cf. Vachana 248, p. 793. Analects 14.11: Kuan Chung had such prestige that no one called him 'presumptuous' when he injured others; it was much harder for the head of the Po family to avoid resentment than it was for Kuan Chung to keep up the air of probity. Cf. Nahjul Balagha, Saying 201, p. 850; I Ching 40, p. 849.
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For what reason was he named Never Despise? Because he paid respect to and commended everybody he saw, monks, nuns, men and women disciples; speaking thus, "I deeply revere you. Wherefore? Because you are walking in the bodhisattva way and are to become Buddhas." That monk did not devote himself to reading and reciting the sutras, but only to paying respect, so that when he saw afar off a member of the four classes of disciples he would specially go and pay respect to them, saying, "I dare not slight you, because you are all to become Buddhas." Amongst the four classes, there were those who, irritated and angry and low-minded, reviled and abused him, saying, "Where does this ignorant monk come from, who takes it on himself to say, 'I do not slight you,' and who predicts us as destined to become Buddhas? We need no such false predictions." Thus he passed many years, constantly reviled but never irritated or angry, always saying, "You are to become Buddhas." Whenever he spoke thus, they beat him with clubs, sticks, potsherds, or stones. But, while escaping to a distance, he stilled cried aloud, "I dare not slight you. You are all to become Buddhas." And because he always spoke thus, the haughty monks, nuns, and their disciples dubbed him Never Despise.

14.Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 20

The Lord God has given me
the tongue of a disciple,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him that is weary.
Morning by morning he wakens,
he wakens my ear to hear as a disciple.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I turned not backward.
I gave my back to the smiters,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I hid not my face
from shame and spitting.
For the Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been confounded;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
he who vindicates me is near.

15.Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 50.4-8

If an evil man, on hearing of what is good, comes and creates a disturbance, you should hold your peace. You must not angrily upbraid him; then he who has come to curse you will merely harm himself.

16.Buddhism. Sutra of Forty-two Sections 7

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head."

17.Christianity. Romans 12.19-20

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Lotus Sutra 20: This is recognizably a story about a preacher of Mahayana doctrine being abused and beaten by Hinayana monks, but it could apply to any of the many sectarian struggles in the history of Buddhism. The sutra goes on to say that by thus exercising forbearance upon being beaten and reviled, his accumulated sins are washed away and he ultimately attains the highest goal. Romans 12.19-20: In Qur'an 5.27-32, p. 417, Abel refused to strike back when Cain sought to kill him for fear of God and divine punishment; and he recognized that Cain would ultimately be the loser for killing him.
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