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 begins with passages on the pre-existence of the Word, Truth, Wisdom, or Principle before the creation of the universe, and its function in guiding the creative process. They are followed by passages on the pervading reality of Truth which operates through the specific laws of the cosmos. Sometimes this Truth may be grasped by ordinary reason as the impersonal laws which govern the cosmos. Other passages describe the essence of Truth as that which is comprehended only in Christ, or in Buddha, or in the mind of the sage. It does not partake of anything evil or immoral, according to Confucianism, and hence is only accessible to the moral person. Analogously for Christians, the Word is manifested completely only in Christ, the perfect man. Finally, this spiritual Word, according to Buddhism, is hidden from surface phenomena and may be understood only when the external world is not grasped or discriminated. It is 'Mind-only,' a theme that finds echoes in contemporary metaphysical movements such as Christian Science.

He has created the heavens and the earth with truth.

1. Islam. Qur'an 16.3

From the bosom of the sacred Word he brought forth the world. On high, below, he abides in his own laws.

2. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 4.1.3

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Qur'an 16.3: Cf. Shabbat 55, p. 1081. Atharva Veda 4.1.3: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.14, p. 1062.
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Righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before thee.

3. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 8914

God moves according to universal law. Universal law does not work for the sake of oneself, but for the public good. Universal law embodies the spirit of sacrifice and service towards others.

4. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79

By Truth is the earth sustained,
and by the sun are the heavens;
By Order (Rita) the gods stand
and Soma is set in the sky.

5. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.85.1

God ordained the measures of the creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth, while His throne was on the waters.

6. Islam. Hadith of Muslim

This, [in the beginning] was the only Lord of the Universe. His Word was with him. This Word was his second. He contemplated. He said, "I will deliver this Word so that she will produce and bring into being all this world."

7. Hinduism. Tandya Maha Brahmana 20.14.2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

8. Christianity. Bible, John 1.1-4

Universal Order and Truth
were born of blazing spiritual fire,
and thence night was born, and thence
the billowy ocean of space.

From the billowy ocean of space
was born Time--the year
ordaining days and nights,
the ruler of every moment.

In the beginning, as before,
the Creator made the sun,
the moon, the heaven and the earth,
the firmament and the realm of light.

9. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.190.1-3

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Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79: Cf. Galatians 6.2, p. 974; Shabbat 31a, p. 173. Rig Veda 10.85.1: Cf. Atharva Veda 10.8.31, p. 76, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.14, p. 1062. Tandya Maha Brahmana 20.14.2: 'This' signifies the impersonal Absolute; cf. Rig Veda 1.64.45, p. 806. John 1.1-4: In Greek philosophy, the Word is the logos or plan by which God created the universe. The Bible asserts that Christ is himself the Word, the model and plan for creation; cf. Colossians 1.15-17. The Buddhist doctrine of the Dharmakaya, by which the Buddha is one with the eternally abiding reality of the universe, is similar except that there is no creation; cf. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 5, p. 652; Samyutta Nikaya iii.120, p. 651.
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The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth.
Before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
When he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
When he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was beside him, like a master workman;
I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always;
rejoicing in his inhabited world,
and delighting in the sons of men.

10. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 8.22-31

"Then I was beside Him, as a nursling (amon); and I was daily all [His] delight" (Proverbs 8.30).... 'Amon' is a workman (uman). The Torah thus declares, "I was the working tool of the Holy One, blessed be He." In human practice, when a mortal king builds a palace, he builds it not with his own skill but with the skill of an architect. The architect moreover does not build it out of his head, but employs plans and diagrams to know how to arrange the chambers and the doors. Thus God consulted the Torah and created the world.

11. Judaism. Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 1.1

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Rig Veda 10.190.1-3: Tapas, the 'spiritual fire' harnessed and concentrated through meditation, is regarded as the source of all creative energy; cf. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.8, p. 132; Prasna Upanishad 1.4-5, p. 176. Truth and Order were the first productions of tapas. In the third stanza, the words 'as before' indicates recurrent creation. Proverbs 8.22-31: Wisdom is personified here and in Proverbs 8.1-11, pp. 788f. For Christians wisdom is the preexistent Word that is incarnate in Christ; for Jews wisdom is Torah, as in the following passage, which is a midrash (rabbinic interpretation) on this one. On the pre-existence of wisdom, cf. 1 Corinthians 2.6-7, p. 538. Regarding the term 'master workman,' the Hebrew word 'amon' is rare, and some translate it 'little child,' which seems better to fit the context. See the next passage. Genesis Rabbah 1.1: See previous note.
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I pay homage to the Perfection of Wisdom! She is worthy of homage. She is unstained, the entire world cannot stain her. She is a source of light, and from everyone in the triple world she removes darkness, and she leads away from the blinding darkness caused by the defilements and by wrong views. In her we can find shelter. Most excellent are her works. She makes us seek the safety of the wings of Enlightenment. She brings light to the blind, she brings light so that all fear and distress may be forsaken.... She is the mother of the Bodhisattvas, on account of the emptiness of her own marks. As the donor of the jewel of all the Buddha-dharmas she brings about the ten powers [of a Buddha]. She cannot be crushed. She protects the unprotected, with the help of the four grounds of self-confidence. She is the antidote to birth-and-death. She has a clear knowledge of the own-being of all dharmas, for she does not stray away from it. The Perfection of Wisdom of the Buddhas, the Lords, sets in motion the Wheel of the Law.

12. Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 7.1

The Tao has its reality and its signs but is without action or form. You can hand it down but you cannot receive it; you can get it but you cannot see it. It is its own source, its own root. Before heaven and earth existed it was there, firm from ancient times. It gave spirituality to the spirits and to God; it gave birth to heaven and to earth. It exists beyond the highest point, and yet you cannot call it lofty; it exists beneath the limit of the six directions, and yet you cannot call it deep. It was born before heaven and earth, and yet you cannot say it has been there for long; it is earlier than the earliest time, and yet you cannot call it old.

13. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 6

By Divine Law are all forms manifested;
Inexpressible is the Law.
By Divine Law are beings created;
By Law are some exalted.
By Divine Law are beings marked with nobility or ignominy;
By the Law are they visited with bliss or bale.
On some by His Law falls grace;
Others by His Law are whirled around in cycles of births and deaths.
All by the Law are governed,
None is exempt.
Says Nanak, Should man realize the power of the Law,
He would certainly disclaim his ego.

14. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 2, M.1, p. 1

The moral law is to be found everywhere, and yet it is a secret.

The simple intelligence of ordinary men and women of the people may understand something of the moral law; but in its utmost reaches there is something which even the wisest and holiest men cannot understand. The ignoble natures of ordinary men and women of the people may be able to carry out the moral law; but in its utmost reaches even the wisest and holiest of men cannot live up to it.

Great as the Universe is, man is yet not always satisfied with it. For there is nothing so great but the mind of the moral man can conceive of something still greater which nothing in the world can hold. There is nothing so small but the mind of the moral man can conceive of something still smaller which nothing in the world can split.

The Book of Songs says,

The hawk soars to the heavens above
Fishes dive to the depths below.

That is to say, there is no place in the highest heavens above nor in the deepest waters below where the moral law is not to be found. The moral man finds the moral law beginning in the relation between man and woman; but ending in the vast reaches of the universe.

15. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 12

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Chuang Tzu 6: Cf. Chuang Tzu 31, p. 120, I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.i-iv, pp. 323f. Japuji 2: Cf. Japuji 3, p. 94.
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There is no changing the words of God; that is the mighty triumph.

16. Islam. Qur'an 10.64

Falsehood shall be destroyed; truth in the end shall prevail.

17. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Ramkali Ki Var, M.1, p. 953

Truth is victorious, never untruth.
Truth is the way; truth is the goal of life,
Reached by sages who are free from self-will.

18. Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6

The question as to when the union of soul with karma occurred for the first time cannot arise, since this is a beginningless relation like gold and stone.

19. Jainism. Pancadhyayi 2.35-36

The ten thousand things all come from the same seed, and with their different forms they give place to one another. Beginning and end are part of a single ring and no one can comprehend its principle. This is called Heaven the Equalizer.

20. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 27

The world exists because of causal actions, all things are produced by causal actions and all beings are governed and bound by causal actions. They are fixed like the rolling wheel of a cart, fixed by the pin of its axle shaft.

21. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 654

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Pancadhyayi 2.35-36: The principles governing the influx and stopping of karma determine both the laws of cause and effect and the laws of liberation.
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What, brethren, is causal happening?
"Conditioned by rebirth is decay and death."
Whether, brethren, there be an arising of Tathagatas or whether there be no
such arising, this nature of things just stands, this causal status, this
causal orderliness, the relatedness of this to that.

22. Buddhism. Samyutta Nikaya ii.25

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."

23. Christianity. Bible, John 14.6

Concerning the prime, rare, hard-to-understand dharmas, only a Buddha and a Buddha can exhaust their reality, namely, the suchness of the dharmas, the suchness of their marks, the suchness of their nature, the suchness of their substance, the suchness of their powers, the suchness of their functions, the suchness of their causes, the suchness of their conditions, the suchness of their effects, the suchness of their retributions, and the absolute identity of their beginning and end.

24. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 2

In the Book of Songs it is said,

The ordinance of God,
How inscrutable it is and goes on for ever.

That is to say, this is the essence of God. It is again said,

How excellent it is,
The moral perfection of King Wen.

That is to say, this is the essence of the noble character of the Emperor Wen. Moral perfection also never dies.

25. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 26.10

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Sutta Nipata 654: This also refers to the laws of karma; cf. Maitri Upanishad 4.2, p. 696; Dhammapada 127, p. 187, Surangama Sutra, p. 387. John 14.6: Jesus reveals the eternal truth by his own personal example and way of life--the manifestation of God's love and truth. This and the following passages describe the truth as that which is comprehended by the mind of a saint. Lotus Sutra 2: There is one ultimate reality which embraces everything--'suchness.' This is also expressed through the universality of the Buddha nature and the all-encompassing Dharmakaya which is the Buddha's body. There is nothing real apart from Reality itself. Doctrine of the Mean 26.10: In other words, the truth of Heaven and the moral perfection of the sage are alike; both continue for ever.
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"What is meant by an eternally-abiding reality? The ancient road of reality, Mahamati, has been here all the time, like gold, silver, or pearl preserved in the mine. The Dharmadhatu (Absolute Truth) abides forever, whether the Tathagata appears in the world or not. As the Tathagata eternally abides so does the Reason of all things. Reality forever abides, reality keeps its order, like the roads in an ancient city.

For instance, a man who is walking in a forest and discovering an ancient city with its orderly streets may enter into the city, and having entered into it, he may have a rest, conduct himself like a citizen, and enjoy all the pleasures accruing therefrom. What do you think, Mahamati? Did this man make the road along which he enters into the city, and the various things in the city?"

"No, Blessed One."

"Just so, what has been realized by myself and the other Tathagatas is this Reality, this eternally-abiding reality, the self-regulating reality, the Suchness of things, the Realness of things, the truth itself.

The world of the ignorant is observed as the continuation of birth and death, whereby dualisms are nourished, and because of the perversion [the truth] is not perceived.

There is just one truth, which is Nirvana--it has nothing to do with intellection. The world seen as subject to discrimination resembles a plantain tree, a dream, a mirage.

The Mind as norm is the abode of self-nature which has nothing to do with the realm of causation; of this norm, which is perfect existence and the highest Absolute, I speak.

Of neither existence nor non-existence do I speak, but of Mind-only which has nothing to do with existence and non-existence, and which is thus free from intellection.

Suchness, emptiness, Absolute Truth... these I call Mind-only.

26. Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 61, 63, 64

The universe, like man, is to be interpreted by Science from its divine Principle, God, and then it can be understood; but when explained on the basis of physical sense and represented as subject to growth, maturity, and decay, the universe, like man, is, and must continue to be, an enigma.

Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind. They belong to divine Principle, and support the equipoise of that thought-force, which launched the earth in its orbit and said to the proud wave, "Thus far and no farther."

Spirit is the life, substance and continuity of all things. We tread on forces. Withdraw them, and creation must collapse. Human knowledge calls them forces of matter; but divine Science declares that they belong wholly to divine Mind, are inherent in this Mind, and so restores them to their rightful home and classification.

27. Christian Science. Science and Health, 124

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Lankavatara Sutra: See Surangama Sutra, p. 387. The 'highest Absolute' means the reality cleansed of all impure dualistic discriminations. The parable of the ancient city is also found in the Theravada scriptures: see Samyutta Nikaya ii.106, pp. 547f. On the difference between truth and intellection, see Garland Sutra 10, p. 799, and related passages.
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