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
- 1 -

View previous page View next page

The search for happiness is basic to human life, and to the purpose of religion as well. This first section brings together passages dealing with the religious experience of transcendental joy through union with Ultimate Reality or the realization of one's true mind. This state may be characterized as bliss (Skt. ananda) or Nirvana; it is a reality beyond any suffering. Scriptures of all religions depict and extol the ultimate goal of the religious journey as a state of intoxicating joy.

The section opens with passages which extol the bliss which is the final goal of the spiritual life. A second group of passages assert how heavenly joys are in every way superior to mundane pleasures, and then various degrees of happiness are discerned, depending upon the level of one's spiritual awareness. The highest level is attained only with the complete cessation of self-centered desires and denial of self in relation to the Absolute. The last group of passages recommend that one live in a state of contentment, joy, and praise, even as one pursues the path to ultimate bliss; a heart filled with bliss is itself a prerequisite for realizing higher, more refined states of divine happiness.

Thou dost show me the path of life; in Thy presence there is fulness of joy, in Thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 16.11

No person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden for them--as a reward for their good deeds.

2. Islam. Qur'an 32.17

No eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love Him.

3. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 2.9

I created you human beings because I desired to see you lead a joyous life.

4. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki 14.25

Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God: for without doubt, in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction.

For those who believe and work righteousness, is blessedness, and a beautiful place of return.

5. Islam. Qur'an 13.28-29

The soul which is free from the defect of karma gets to the highest point of the universe, knows all and perceives all, and obtains the transcendental bliss everlasting.

6. Jainism. Kundakunda, Pancastikaya 170

And may the sovereign Good be ours!
According as one desires bliss may one receive bliss
Through Thy most far-seeing Spirit, O Lord,
The wonders of the Good Mind which Thou wilt give as righteousness,
With the joy of long life all the days!

7. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 43.2

Lao Tan said, "I was letting my mind wander in the beginning of things."

"What does this mean?" asked Confucius.

Lao Tan said, "It means to attain Perfect Beauty and wander in Perfect Happiness. He who attains Perfect Beauty and wanders in Perfect Happiness may be called the Perfect Man."

8. Taoism Chuang Tzu 21

At any one moment, Nirvana has neither the phenomenon of becoming, nor that of cessation, nor even the ceasing of operation of becoming and cessation. It is the manifestation of perfect rest and cessation of changes, but at the time of manifestation there is not even a concept of manifestation; so it is called the Everlasting Joy which has neither enjoyer nor non-enjoyer.

9. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 7

There is no limit to joy. Happiness has no end. When you are standing in the love of God, every cell in your body jumps for joy. You breathe in and out with the entire universe. In this state, your life is fulfilled. This is how God means us to live, intoxicated in love and joy. And through our joy, God receives His joy. The joy of man is the joy of God; and the joy of God is the joy of man.

10. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Ofudesaki 14.25: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 6-20-82, p. 146. Qur'an 13.28-29: 'Blessedness' means the state of internal satisfaction and inward joy. Pancastikaya 170: Cf. Acarangasutra 2.173, p. 74; Ratnakarandasravakacara 131, p. 136. Chuang Tzu 21: Cf. Chuang Tzu 13, p. 311. Sutra of Hui Neng 7: Cf. Anguttara Nikaya v.322, p. 136.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

In spontaneous joy is rising the mystic melody;
In the holy Word my heart feels joy and perpetually disports.
In the cave of spontaneous realization is it in trance,
Stationed on a splendid high cushion.

After wandering to my home [true self] have I returned,
And all of my desires have obtained.
Devotees of God! completely fulfilled is my self,
As the Master has granted a vision of the Supreme Being,
realized by mystic illumination.

Himself is He King, Himself the multitude;
Himself the supremely liberated, Himself of joys the Relisher;
With Him seated on the throne of eternal justice,
ended is all wailing and crying.
As I have seen, such vision of Him have I conveyed--
Only those who are initiated into this mystery have its joy.
As light is merged into Divine Light, has joy come:
Nanak, servant of God, has beheld the sole, all-pervading Supreme Being.

11. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Majh, M.5, p. 97

The kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

12. Christianity. Bible, Romans 14.17

You should devote yourselves to find joy in pleasures of the Dharma, and should take no pleasure in desires.

13. Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 4

The Infinite is the source of joy. There is no joy in the finite. Only in the Infinite is there joy. Ask to know the Infinite.

14. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23

- - - - - - - - - - -
Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77, p. 586; Sun Myung Moon, 4-25-81, p. 240; Divine Principle I.1.3.1, p. 205. On the intoxication of divine bliss, see Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8, p. 761. Majh, M.5: Cf. Japuji 37, p. 354. Romans 14.17: Cf. Galatians 5.19-23, p. 465; Analects 4.8, p. 558. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 4: Vimalakirti goes on to elucidate the 'pleasures of the Dharma.' They are to: (1) have faith in the Buddha; (2) listen to the Dharma; (3) make offerings to the Sangha; (4) leave the five inherent desires; (5) regard the five skandhas as enemies; (6) regard the four basic elements which constitute the body as poisonous snakes; (7) keep the determination to achieve Buddhahood in one's mind; (8) respect one's teachers; (9) accumulate merits, etc. Cf. Dhammapada 290, Katha Upanishad 1.2.1-2, p. 675. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2, p. 530; Srimad Bhagavatam 11.8, p. 761.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

When totally free from outer contacts
a man finds happiness in himself,
He is fully trained in God's discipline
and reaches unending bliss.
The experiences we owe to our sense of touch
are only sources of unpleasantness.
They have a beginning and an end.
A wise man takes no pleasure in them.
That man is disciplined and happy
who can prevail over the turmoil
That springs from desire and anger,
here on earth, before he leaves his body.

15. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 5.21-23

Diseases have hunger as their worst. Sufferings have dispositions as their worst. Knowing this in proper perspective, freedom (Nibb-ana) is the ultimate happiness.

Of all gains, good health is the greatest. Of all wealth, contentment is the greatest. Among kinsmen, the trusty is the greatest. Freedom (Nibb-ana) is the ultimate happiness.

Having imbibed the essence of solitude and the essence of tranquillity, and imbibing the joyous essence of righteousness, one becomes free from anguish and free from evil.

16. Buddhism. Dhammapada 203-05

The bliss of lusts and heaven-world equal not One sixteenth of the bliss of craving's ending.

17. Buddhism. Udana 11

The felicity that results from the gratification of desire, or that other purer felicity which one enjoys in heaven, does not come to even a sixteenth part of that which arises upon the abandonment of all kinds of thirst!

18. Hinduism. Mahabharata, Shantiparva 177

God has promised to believers... beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of God: that is the supreme felicity.

19. Islam. Qur'an 9.72

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Bhagavad Gita 5.21-23: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 6.20-22, pp. 843f.; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.6-7, p. 927; Dhammapada 89, p. 225. Dhammapada 203-05: The joy of right concentration is also mentioned as the final stage in the Noble Eightfold Path in Majjhima Nikaya iii.251-52, p. 170. This is ecstasy, which, as the word literally indicates, means to turn from the old center--whether selfishness or a dependence on the illusory or temporal--to a new and ultimate center. Cf. Anguttara Nikaya iii.34, p. 531; Sutra 21, p. 205. Udana 11: Cf. Udana 19-20, p. 776. Qur'an 9.72: Cf. Qur'an 56.10-27, p. 354.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

From Joy there is some bliss, from Perfect Joy yet more, from the Joy of cessation comes a passionless state, and the Joy of the Innate is finality. The first comes by desire for contact, the second by desire for bliss, the third from the passing of passion, and by this means the fourth is realized.

20. Buddhism. Hevajra Tantra 8.32-33

The Self-existent is the essence of all felicity... Who could live, who could breathe, if that blissful Self dwelt not within the lotus of the heart? He it is that gives joy.

Of what is the nature of joy?

Consider the lot of a young man, noble, well-read, intelligent, strong, healthy, with all the wealth of the world at his command. Assume that he is happy, and measure his joy as one unit.

One hundred times that joy is one unit of the gandharvas; but no less joy than gandharvas has the seer to whom the Self has been revealed, and who is without craving.

One hundred times the joy of the gandharvas is one unit of the joy of celestial gandharvas [angels]; but no less joy than the celestial gandharvas has the sage to whom the Self has been revealed, and who is without craving.

One hundred times the joy of the celestial gandharvas is one unit of the joy of the pitris in their paradise... joy of the devas... joy of the devas born out of sacrifice... joy of the ruling devas... joy of Indra... joy of Brihaspati... joy of Prajapati... joy of Brahma, but no less joy than Brahma has the seer to whom the Self has been revealed, and who is without craving.

It is written: He who knows the joy of Brahman, which words cannot express and the mind cannot reach, is free from fear. He is not distressed by the thought, "Why did I not do what is right? Why did I do what is wrong?" He who knows the joy of Brahman, knowing both good and evil, transcends them both.

21. Hinduism. Taittiriya Upanishad 2.7-9

Life is art.
The whole life of man is Self-Expression.
The individual is an expression of God.
We suffer if we do not express ourselves.

22. Perfect Liberty Kyodan. Precepts 1-4

The Holy Spirit rests on him only who has a joyous heart.

23. Judaism. Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkot 5.1

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Taittiriya Upanishad 2.7-9: On the joys of heaven, see Rig Veda 9.113.8-11, p. 357. On the multiple levels of spiritual realities, cf. 1 Corinthians 15.40-41, pp. 322f.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

Rabbi Baruqa of Huza often went to the marketplace at Lapet. One day, the prophet Elijah appeared to him there, and Rabbi Baruqa asked him, "Is there anyone among all these people who will have a share in the World to Come?" Elijah answered, "There is none." Later, two men came to the marketplace, and Elijah said to Rabbi Baruqa, "Those two will have a share in the World to Come!" Rabbi Baruqa asked the newcomers, "What is your occupation?" They replied, "We are clowns. When we see someone who is sad, we cheer him up. When we see two people quarreling, we try to make peace between them."

24. Judaism. Talmud, Ta'anit 22a

To seek gladness through righteous persistence is the way to accord with heaven and to respond to men.

25. Confucianism. I Ching 58: Joy

When one obtains happiness then one proceeds to act [perform sacrifice]. No one acts without first obtaining happiness.
Only by obtaining happiness does one act.

26. Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 7.22

Mother mine! Bliss have I attained in union with the Divine Master:
Spontaneously has union with the Divine Master come about--
In my mind resounds joyous music.
Fairies of the family of jewel harmony have descended to sing holy songs;
Sing all ye the Lord's song, who have lodged it in heart!
Says Nanak, Bliss have I attained on union with the Divine Master.

27. Sikhism. Ramkali, Anandu, M.3, p. 917

Let us live happily, without hate amongst those who hate. Let us dwell unhating amidst hateful men.

Let us live happily, in good health amongst those who are sick. Let us dwell in good health amidst ailing men.

Let us live happily, without yearning for sensual pleasures amongst those who yearn for them. Let us dwell without yearning amidst those who yearn.

Let us live happily, we who have no impediments. We shall subsist on joy even as the radiant gods.

28. Buddhism. Dhammapada 197-200

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Ta'anit 22a: Cf. Matthew 5.9, p. 555. Chandogya Upanishad 7.22: The proper frame of mind for engaging in worship is one of tranquillity and joy. Cf. Chuang Tzu 23, p. 735; Berakot 5.1, p. 735; Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.3, p. 866; 2 Corinthians 9.7, p. 866; Sutta Nipata 506, p. 866. Ramkali, Anandu M.3: Cf. Japuji 37, p. 354; Bilaval Chhant 2.1-2, p. 763.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God!
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

29. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 100