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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Continuing with passages on God's sovereignty over human affairs, this section contains teachings on God's total knowledge of human thoughts and actions. Nothing is hidden from God. There is no place to hide from Him. Hence the believer should be sincere in his thoughts, and he can have confidence in the truthfulness of God's justice. We do not deal here with the question of divine foreknowledge: see Predestination, pp. 689-93. In Buddhism, Jainism, and many schools of Hinduism, the functions of omniscience and omnipotence to judge human affairs are not fulfilled through God's agency, but rather through the omnipresent workings of karma: see Divine Justice, pp. 183-91.

Our Lord! Lo! You know that which we hide and that which we proclaim. Nothing in the earth or in heaven is hidden from God.

1. Islam. Qur'an 14.38

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and You are acquainted with all my ways.

2. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 139.2-3

Mark well three things and you will not fall into the clutches of sin: know what is above you--an eye that sees, an ear that hears, and all your actions recorded in the book.

3. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 2.1

To God belong the East and the West;
whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God;
God is All-embracing, All-knowing.

4. Islam. Qur'an 2.115

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Qur'an 14.38: Cf. Qur'an 2.284, p. 189; 26.220, p. 752. On angels as God's watchers, see Qur'an 13.10-11, p. 190. Abot 2.1: Cf. Abot 3.20, p. 187. Qur'an 2.115: This has been interpreted by Muslims to mean that God appears to people of every culture and religion, east and west. God, who is one Unity (tawhid), embraces every one of his creatures. Cf. Amos 9.2-4, p. 187.
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For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

5. Christianity. Bible, Hebrews 4.12-13

Surely God--He has knowledge of the Hour;
He sends down the rain; He knows what is in the wombs.
No soul knows what it shall earn tomorrow, and
no soul knows in what land it shall die.
Surely God is All-knowing, All-aware.

6. Islam. Qur'an 31.34

The eyes are not prevented [from seeing] by a hedge; God has nothing hid from him.

7. African Traditional Religions. Ovambo Proverb (Angola)

You who dive down as if under water to steal,
Though no earthly king may have seen you,
The King of heaven sees.

8. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

In the Book of Songs it is said,

In your secret chamber even you are judged;
See you do nothing to blush for,
Though but the ceiling looks down upon you.

Therefore the moral man, even when he is not doing anything, is serious; and, even when he does not speak, is truthful.

9. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 33

See you not that God knows all that is in the heavens and on earth? There is not a secret consultation between three unless He is their fourth, nor between five unless He is their sixth, nor between fewer or more unless He is in their midst, wheresoever they be.

10. Islam. Qur'an 58.7

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Hebrews 4.12-13: For a similar passage in the Hebrew Bible, see 1 Samuel 16.7; cf. Jeremiah 17.10, p. 189. Doctrine of the Mean 33: Cf. Great Learning 6.1-4, p. 724. Qur'an 58.7: Cf. Matthew 18.20, p. 271, where a similar image is used to make a different point.
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The great Ruler of all these worlds,
beholds as if from near at hand
the man who thinks he acts by stealth:
the Gods know all this of him.
When one stands or walks or moves in secret,
or goes to his lying down or uprising,
when two sitting together take secret counsel,
King Varuna knows, being there the Third.

This earth belongs to Varuna, the King,
and the heavens, whose ends are far apart.
Both the oceans are the loins of Varuna,
and He is merged within the small water drop.

If one will go away beyond the heavens,
still he cannot escape King Varuna;
his envoys move about here from the heavens,
and, thousand-eyed, they look upon the earth.

King Varuna observes all that which lies
between heaven and earth and beyond them;
the twinklings of men's eyes have been counted by him;
as a dicer the dice, he measures everything.

These fatal snares of thine, O Varuna,
that stand stretched seven by seven-and-threefold,
let all these catch up the man who tells a lie,
but pass by one who speaks the truth.

With a hundred nooses bind him, Varuna,
let him not who lies escape thee, Looker on men!
Let the mean fellow sit stretching his belly
like a cask of which the bands have been cut.

Varuna is that which is the warp,
Varuna is that which is the woof,
Varuna is of our own land, he is of foreign lands.
Varuna is transcendent, he is immanent.

11. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 4.16.1-8

The sun shines and sends its burning rays down upon us,
The moon rises in its glory.
Rain will come and again the sun will shine,
And over it all passes the eyes of God.
Nothing is hidden from Him.
Whether you be in your home, whether you be on the water,
Whether you rest in the shade of a tree in the open,
Here is your Master.

Did you think because you were more powerful than some poor orphan,
You could covet his wealth and deceive him,
Saying to yourself, "I cannot be seen"?
So then remember that you are always in the presence of God.

Not today, not today, not today!
But some day He will give you your just reward
For thinking in your heart
That you have but cheated a slave, an orphan.

12. African Traditional Religion. Yoruba Song (Nigeria)

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Atharva Veda 4.16: Varuna is the Vedic god who represents the divine attribute of justice, weighing sins and also forgiving them. Etymologically, he is related to Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda. Cf. Amos 9.2-4, p. 187. Yoruba Song: On the theme of delayed recompense, see Qur'an 3.176-78, Ecclesiastes 8.10-12, p. 186.
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