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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CHAPTER 2: Divine Law, Truth, and Cosmic Principle

All religions recognize a transcendent Law, Truth, or Principle which governs the universe and human affairs.

Sometimes this Principle is identified with Ultimate Reality itself, but it is more often consequent upon and subordinate to it.

We have placed side by side passages on the Word (Greek: logos) or Wisdom (Hebrew: kochma) of Christianity, Torah of Judaism, Dharma and order (Rita) of Hinduism; and Tao and Principle (li) of Chinese Religion. In Buddhism we have passages on several related concepts: Wisdom (prajna), Absolute Truth (dharmadhatu), and Teaching (dhamma). In placing passages on these concepts together, their variety should illuminate the subtle differences between them.

In some religious doctrines, truth or lawfulness is a property inherent in Ultimate Reality. The laws of the universe are the basis of the Absolute -- e.g., the Tao of Chinese religion which is the creative principle itself, or the Absolute Truth which is realized by the Buddha.

In other traditions -- Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and theistic Hinduism -- God conceives of Law and then sets it up as the standard or measure for his work of creation. This leads to a question which has engaged theologians: is God bound by his own laws, or is he free to contravene them to perform miracles, etc.?

Hindu mythology has no trouble with deities performing all manner of miracles, but in Christianity the tendency has been to assert the consistency of rational principles, and even to seek explanations for the miraculous within the normal functioning of natural law. In Christianity, the Word finds its chief manifestation in Christ, the Word made flesh, the Truth incarnate. This is echoed in Confucian and Buddhist scriptures where the Tao or the Dharma is only completely realized by a perfectly enlightened being.

In some traditions, the law is a property of samsaric existence which must ultimately be transcended -- e.g., the Hindu and Jain law of karma and the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination. Similarly in Christianity Paul critiques the law as a form of slavery, unable to save. These are some of the diverse colors which one finds in these passages depicting the Truth or Law or Principle which is at the heart of the cosmos.

Regardless of these differences, all these religious viewpoints share a respect for the Law which human beings violate at their peril.

The universe is fundamentally moral, an expression of the workings of a divine Principle or natural law in both the realms of nature and of human affairs. Hence human morality is not relative, not explicable as the result of social and cultural conditioning alone. Morality and ethics are rooted in the way things are (ontology); they are as enduring as the laws of physics.

This chapter treats the topic of divine Law under six heads.

  1. The first section deals with the origins and foundations of law as the eternal, pre-existent and all-pervasive ground of existing reality.

  2. The second section discusses divine law as the ground for human ethics and the basis for the path to liberation.

    The remaining sections treat four general expressions of law.

  3. First we have lists of divine commandments. The chief example is the Ten Commandments or Decalogue of Christianity and Judaism, but there are many parallels in other scriptures, for example the Buddhist Eightfold Path.

  4. Next is the Golden Rule, or the principle of reciprocity, which is found universally in the scriptures of all religions. This concise principle is often regarded as a summary statement of all ethics.

  5. Then in the fifth section we move to a more philosophical plane and treat interdependence and mutuality as a principle at work throughout nature. We include passages on the polarities of yang and yin, Shiva and Shakti, Purusha and prakriti, and passages on the relativity and interchangeability of all phenomena.

  6. The final section treats the law of cause and effect, karma, and the principle of divine justice through which each person reaps what he or she has sown.