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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This section brings together passages on God's immanence. God is described in the Qur'an as "nearer than the jugular vein," knowing all a person's thoughts and desires, and abiding within the human heart. In the Bible, God's immanence is expressed in the revelation to Elijah, where instead of a grand manifestation in earthquake or thunder, God's self-revelation is as 'a still small voice.' They may speak of God coming near or dwelling in the heart only when there is receptivity, humility, and faith. In the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions, while God is near at hand, He is rarely identified with the soul itself; that could be seen as tantamount to idolatry.

Other traditions teach more thoroughgoing notions of divine immanence. Sufis interpret the Qur'anic parable of the Lamp as expressing the presence of God in the human heart as a light, illuminating the lamp of the body. In Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism the divine immanence is described ontologically: Ultimate Reality is the Self (Atman). In Buddhism the divine immanence is described psychologically: Essence of Mind or Suchness (Tathata) is realized by a mind dwelling in Perfect Wisdom and expressing a mind of enlightenment (bodhi), Dhamma nature or Buddha nature. But there is no ontological self which could be immanent. These various doctrines of divine immanence avoid a simple identification of God with the individual soul. The ordinary individual soul (jiva) is beclouded and deluded by an egoistic sense of self; in contrast, the divine Self within, or Suchness, can only be realized through enlightenment.

The complete realization of the God within is a potential and a goal; passages which describe it as a state of existence are often referring to the ideal realized by an attained person. This ideal will be treated more fully in Chapter 3. Yet as many of these selections point out, even the ordinary beclouded mind is intrinsically pure and contains the germ of divinity.

We indeed created man; and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than the jugular vein.

1. Islam. Qur'an 50.16

Ever is He present with you--think not He is far:
By the Master's teaching recognize Him within yourself.

2. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Majh Ashtpadi, M.3, p. 116

[God] is not far from each one of us, for "In him we live and move and have our being."

3. Christianity. Bible, Acts 17.27-28

The Master said, "Is Goodness indeed so far away? If we really wanted Goodness, we should find that it was at our very side."

4. Confucianism. Analects 7.29

Brahman shines forth, vast, self-luminous, inconceivable, subtler than the subtle. He is far beyond what is far, and yet here very near at hand. Verily, He is seen here, dwelling in the cave of the heart of conscious beings.

5. Hinduism, Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.7

For thus says the high and lofty One
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy,
"I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite."

6. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 57.15

"If I [God] am there, all are there, and if I am not there, who is there?" Hillel also used to say, "To the place where I wish to be, there do my feet bring me. If you come to my house, I will come to your house; if you do not come to my house, I will not come to your house." As it says, "In all places where I cause my Name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you." (Exodus 20.24)

7. Judaism. Talmud, Sukkah 53a

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Qur'an 50.16: Cf. Qur'an 2.186, p. 826. Majh Ashtpadi, M.3: Cf. Gaund, M.5, p. 212; also Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, p. 208. Acts 17.27-28: Cf. Psalm 145.18, p. 826. Analects 7.29: Cf. Luke 17.21, p. 218; Bhagavad Gita 7.21-23, Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 1, p. 725; Tao Te Ching 23, p. 685. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.7: Cf. Katha Upanishad 1.2.20-22, Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.1-2, p. 212; Isha Upanishad 15-16, p. 74. Isaiah 57.15: Cf. Psalm 51.17, p. 902. Sukkah 53a: Compare Hadith, p. 686.
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Great Deng is near, and some say far, O Divinity!
The Creator is near, and some say he has not reached us!
Do you not hear, O Divinity?
The black bull of the rain has been released from the moon's byre,
Do you not hear, O Divinity?

8. African Traditional Religions. Dinka Song (Sudan)

Why do you go to the forest in search of God?
He lives in all and is yet ever distinct;
He abides with you, too,
As a fragrance dwells in a flower,
And reflection in a mirror;
So does God dwell inside everything;
Seek Him, therefore, in your heart.

9. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Dhanasri, M.9, p. 684

The supreme Self is without a beginning, undifferentiated, deathless. Though it dwells in the body, Arjuna, it neither acts nor is touched by action. As radiation pervades the cosmos but remains unstained, the Self can never be tainted though it dwells in every creature.

10. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 13.32

Within our Essence of Mind the Trikaya (Three Bodies) of Buddha are to be found, and they are common to everybody. Because the mind labors under delusions, he knows not his own inner nature; and the result is that he ignores the Trikaya within himself, erroneously believing that they are to be sought from without. Within yourself you will find the Trikaya which, being the manifestation of the Essence of Mind, are not to be sought from without.

11. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 6

As the holy one I recognized thee, O Wise Lord,
When he came to me as Good Mind;
The Silent Thought taught me the greatest good
so that I might proclaim it.

12. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 45.15

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Dinka Song: The intention of the song in suggesting that 'some say far' is to urge Divinity to come near and help. Dhanasri, M.9: Cf. Suhi, M.5, p. 399. Sutra of Hui Neng 6: 'Essence of Mind' as Hui Neng uses the term denotes the original mind which is intrinsically the same as Buddha nature; cf. other passages from this sutra on pp. 217-19. But 'Essence of Mind' is tathata, which can also be translated Essence of all things. These indeed are not different, as the essence of things can be grasped only by mind; cf. Lankavatara Sutra 61-64, p. 155. For more on the Mahayana doctrine of the Trikaya, the Buddha's three bodies: cf. p. 650; Lotus Sutra 16, p. 121; Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 17, p. 646; Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 5, p. 652.
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God said to Elijah... "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

13. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, 1 Kings 19.11-12

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
The parable of His Light
is as if there were a Niche,
and within it a Lamp;
the Lamp enclosed in Glass:
The glass as it were a brilliant star:
Lit from a blessed Tree,
An Olive neither of the East nor of the West,
Whose oil is well-nigh luminous,
though fire scarce touched it.
Light upon Light!
God guides whom He will to His Light:
God sets forth parables for men, and God knows all things.

14. Islam. Qur'an 24.35

In the golden city of the heart dwells
The Lord of Love, without parts, without stain.
Know him as the radiant light of lights.

There shines not the sun, neither moon nor star,
Nor flash of lightning, nor fire lit on earth.
The Lord is the light reflected by all.
He shining, everything shines after him.

15. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.10-11

Daibai asked Baso, "What is Buddha?" Baso answered, "This very mind is the Buddha."

16. Buddhism. Mumonkan 30

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1 Kings 19.11-12: God is manifest in His Word, communicated to the heart. He is not in the storm or the earthquake or other manifestations of power in nature. This is a radical critique of nature-religion as it was practiced by the Canaanites. Qur'an 24.35: Islamic mystics since Ghazali have interpreted these verses as expressing God's inner illumination of the human soul. The Niche, Glass, Lamp, Tree, and Oil correspond to the five faculties of the soul, namely: (1) the sensory faculty; (2) the imagination; (3) the discriminative intellect; (4) the faculty of ratiocination capable of abstract knowledge, and (5) the transcendent prophetic spirit that may apprehend divine truth. The human soul is thus a graded succession of lights, 'Light upon light,' whose source is God. Cf. Katha Upanishad 2.3.7-8, p. 93. Mumonkan 30: Compare "That art thou," Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, p. 208. But Mumonkan 33, p. 899, asserts the seeming opposite !
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That mind which gives life
To all the people
in the world
Such is the very mind
which nourishes me!

17. Shinto. Moritake Arakida, One Hundred Poems about the World

God is the subject of heart. He has feelings of boundless sorrow and joy.

18. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 2-12-61

I am the nucleus of every creature, Arjuna; for without Me nothing can exist, neither animate nor inanimate.... Wherever you find strength, or beauty, or spiritual power, you may be sure that these have sprung from a spark of My essence.

19. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 10.39, 41

At whose behest does the mind think? Who bids the body live? Who makes the tongue speak? Who is that effulgent Being that directs the eye to form and color and the ear to sound?

The Self (Atman) is ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of speech. He is also breath of the breath, and eye of the eye. Having given up the false identification of the Self with the senses and the mind, and knowing the Self to be Brahman, the wise, on departing this life, become immortal.

20. Hinduism. Kena Upanishad 1.1-2

Lord, the Tathagatagarbha is not born, does not die, does not pass away to become reborn. The Tathagatagarbha excludes the realm with the characteristic of the constructed. The Tathagatagarbha is permanent, steadfast, eternal. Therefore the Tathagatagarbha is the support, the holder, the base of constructed [Buddha natures] that are nondiscrete, not dissociated, and knowing as liberated from the stores of defilement; and furthermore is the support, the holder, the base of external constructed natures that are discrete, dissociated, and knowing as not liberated.

Lord, if there were no Tathagatagarbha, there would be neither aversion towards suffering nor longing, eagerness, and aspiration towards Nirvana. What is the reason? Whatever be these six perceptions [i.e., the five senses plus the mind], and whatever be this other perception [perhaps intellectual cognition?], these seven natures are unfixed, momentary, and lack experience of suffering; hence these natures are unfit for aversion towards suffering or for longing, eagerness, and aspiration towards Nirvana. Lord, the Tathagatagarbha has ultimate existence without beginning or end, has an unborn and undying nature, and experiences suffering; hence it is worthy of the Tathagatagarbha to have aversion towards suffering as well as longing, eagerness, and aspiration towards Nirvana. Lord, the Tathagatagarbha is neither self nor sentient being, nor soul, nor personality.... Lord, this Tathagatagarbha is the embryo of the illustrious Dharmadhatu, the embryo of the Dharmakaya, the embryo of the supramundane Doctrine, the embryo of the intrinsically pure Doctrine.

21. Buddhism. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 13

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One Hundred Poems about the World: See note on p. 497. Sun Myung Moon, 2-12-61: 'Heart' is the irrepressible impulse to love others, which is the inner motivation for all God's actions. In humans, heart lies at the root of the mind, motivating intellect, emotion, and will. In prayer one can touch the heart of God and feel its affective aspect: joy when His beloved children respond to Him and deep sorrow for those who are lost in sin. Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 146; 6-20-82, p. 146. Bhagavad Gita 10.39-41: Cf. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7, p. 132. Kena Upanishad 1.1-2: Cf. Atharva Veda 10.8.43-44, p. 582; Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, p. 208; Mandukya Upanishad, p. 834; Katha Upanishad 3.13, p. 840; Black Elk, p. 536; Luke 11.34-36, p. 535. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 13: In Mahayana scriptures the Tathagatagarbha, or Embryo of the Tathagata, is the intrinsically pure consciousness pervading all sentient beings which is capable of maturing into Buddhahood.
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