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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As creatures, human beings are created with a purpose that is determined not by themselves but by their Creator. This understanding is particularly well understood in the monotheistic religions, which recognize that God's purpose for creating human beings is to find those creatures who would recognize, serve, glorify, and love Him. Therefore, human beings can find fulfillment in the service of God.

In the Jewish tradition and in some new religions, the loving God Himself rejoices when He is glorified and adored by human beings reflecting His image; thus we can speak of the purpose of life as fulfilled in returning joy to God. God's love for humankind blossoms into divine ecstasy as that love is multiplied and happiness spreads throughout the human race. (On the other side of divine passion, namely God's sorrow over the evil plight of mankind, see God's Grief, pp. 457-62.) Analogously, in Mahayana Buddhist texts the Buddha rejoices as sentient beings are enlightened by the Dharma. In Hinduism the embodied Self within stands as the Enjoyer of all phenomena. The joy of God may be recognized as the divine counterpart to the quest for human happiness described in the previous section.

On the other hand, in religious conceptions which lack a personal God, or which stress God's absolute sovereignty, Ultimate Reality is already perfect, beyond desiring, impassible, and without need of anything. In Islam, God is often conceived of as the Sovereign Lord, high above the world and unilaterally enforcing His will on mankind. In Hindu Vedanta, God's apparent motivation for activity in the world and among human beings is nothing but lila, divine play. Several passages teaching the divine impassibility are given at the conclusion of this section.

I have created the jinn and humankind only that they might serve Me.

1. Islam. Qur'an 51.56

How then to become true to the Creator?
How to demolish the wall of illusion?
Through obedience to His Ordinance and Will.

2. Sikhism. Japuji 1, M.1, p. 1

Do not try to develop what is natural to man; develop what is natural to Heaven. He who develops Heaven benefits life; he who develops man injures life.

3. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 19

If it be your wish, O people, to know God and to discover the greatness of His might, look, then, upon Me with My own eyes, and not with the eyes of anyone besides Me. You will, otherwise, be never capable of recognizing Me, though you ponder My Cause as long as My Kingdom endures.

4. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 127

There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.

5. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 8.6

All that God created in His world He created only for His glory, as it is said, "All that is called by my name, for my glory I created and fashioned and made it" (Isaiah 43.7).

6. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 6.11

O Lord of all, hail unto Thee!
The Soul of all, causing all acts,
Enjoying all, all life art Thou!
Lord of all pleasure and delight!

7. Hinduism. Maitri Upanishad 5.1

I was a secret treasure, and I created the creatures in order that I might be known.

8. Islam. Hadith

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Qur'an 51.56: Cf. Qur'an 9.72, p. 200. Japuji 1, M.1: Cf. Yasna 34.12, p. 771. Chuang Tzu 19: On how developing man injures life, see Chuang Tzu 17, p. 294. 1 Corinthians 8.6: Cf. John 6.38, p. 770. Hadith: Cf. Qur'an 89.27-30, p. 552.
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God's purpose in creating the universe was to feel happiness when He saw the purpose of goodness fulfilled in the Heavenly Kingdom, which the whole creation, including man, could have established.... The purpose of the universe's existence centered on man is to return joy to God, the Creator.

9. Unification Church. Divine Principle I.1.3.1

O Son of Man! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image, and revealed to thee My beauty.

10. Baha'i Faith. Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 3

Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.

11. Christian Science. Science and Health, 57

God longs to hear the prayer of the righteous.

12. Judaism. Talmud, Yebamot 64a

When all human beings have accomplished the purification of their minds and come to lead a life full of joy, I, Tsukihi (God), will become cheered up. And when I become cheered up, so will all human beings. When the minds of all the world become cheered up, God and human beings will become altogether cheered up in one accord.

13. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki VII.109-111

Those who can hold to this scripture
Shall cause me and the emanations of my body,
As well as the Buddha Many Jewels, now passed into extinction,
All without exception to rejoice.
The Buddhas of the present in all ten quarters,
As well as those of past and future,
They shall both see and shower with offerings,
Enabling them, too, to gain joy.

14. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 21

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Divine Principle I.1.3.1: Cf. Sun Myung Moon 2-12-61, p. 117; 6-20-82, p. 146; 10-20-73, p. 197. Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 3: Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 27, p. 311. Science and Health, 57: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.17 and 1.4.3, p. 252. Yebamot 64a: Cf. Hosea 11.1-9, pp. 460f.; Matthew 23.37, p. 458. Ofudesaki VII.109-11: Cf. Ofudesaki XVII.64-70, p. 460. Lotus Sutra 21: The 'Buddha Many Jewels' is the Buddha called Prabhutaratna, who symbolically represents the Dharma. The Buddha and his emanations will enjoy ecstasy, which is an element of the latter stages in the Noble Eightfold Path--cf. Majjhima Nikaya iii.251-52, p. 170.
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You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

15. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 62.4-5

Ever is He in bliss, ever fulfilled.

16. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 3, M.1, p. 2

O mankind! It is you that have need of God: but God is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise.

17. Islam. Qur'an 35.15

Brahma's creative activity is not undertaken by way of any need on his part, but simply by way of sport.

18. Hinduism. Brahma Sutra 2.1.32-33

We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them in play. If We had wished to find a pastime, We could have found it in Our presence--if We ever did. Nay, but We hurl the true against the false, and it prevails over it, and lo! [the false] vanishes... To Him belongs whosoever is in the heavens and the earth. And those who dwell in His presence are not too proud to worship Him, nor do they weary.

19. Islam. Qur'an 21.16-19

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Isaiah 62.4-5: Cf. Revelation 21.1-7, pp. 1118f. Japuji 3: Cf. Majh, M.5, p. 198. Brahma Sutra 2.1.32-33: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23-25, p. 95.
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