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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We continue the theme of the original human nature with passages on the essential goodness of human beings. Confucianism, for example, regards the original heart of man as inherently good and characterized by benevolence (jen); this is illustrated by the well-known passage from Mencius about people's spontaneous reactions to a child falling into a well. Islam likewise regards human nature as inherently upright, and St. Paul wrote of the human conscience, which allows even those unacquainted with religion or moral teachings to distinguish right from wrong. We begin, however, with a group of passages on the ideal of the little child, whose innocence and purity allows him or her to easily and naturally grasp the truth. On the converse, the innate sinfulness of man, see Ill, pp. 379-85.

Every child is born of the nature of purity and submission to God.

1. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari

God needs no pointing out to a child.

2. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)

Mencius said, "The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart."

3. Confucianism. Mencius IV.B.12

Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, man became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.

4. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 93.38

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Mencius IV.B.12: Cf. Tao Te Ching 55, p. 231; 20, p. 608. Doctrine and Covenants 93.38: This is an argument against the need for infant baptism. Christ has already redeemed mankind from the original sin, and hence all people start out innocent at birth.
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At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

5. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 18.1-3

Gentleness and goodness are the roots of humanity.

6. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 38.18

Religion is basically virtue, which is grounded ultimately in the spiritual nature of man.

7. Jainism. Kundakunda, Pravacanasara 7

So set your purpose for religion as a man by nature upright--the nature [framed] of God, in which He has created man. There is no altering the laws of God's creation. That is the right religion.

8. Islam. Qur'an 30.30

You may not see yourself growing up, but you definitely know it when you are sinning.

9. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)

Wabisah ibn Ma`bad said, "I went to see the Messenger of God and he said to me, 'You want to question me on the subject of virtue?' 'Yes,' I replied, and he went on, 'Question your heart. Virtue is that by which the soul enjoys repose and the heart tranquillity. Sin is what introduces trouble into the soul and tumult into man's bosom--and this despite the religious advice which men may give you.'"

10. Islam. 40 Hadith of an-Nawawi 27

When Gentiles who have not the Law do by nature what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the Law. They show that what the Law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

11. Christianity. Bible, Romans 2.14-16

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Matthew 18.1-3: Christians do not take this text to mean that the original nature of man is innocent. Rather, the child exemplifies an attitude of simplicity and innocence by which one can easily accept the gospel; cf. Luke 18.16-17, p. 912. Book of Ritual 38.18: But the initial goodness is ordinarily corrupted; see Book of Songs, Ode 255, p. 385. Pravacanasara 7: Cf. Gottamasara, p. 453. Qur'an 30.30: See also Qur'an 12.53, p. 383. Romans 2.14-16: The conscience is that universal attribute of man that allows everyone to recognize the truth. Yet at the same time, everyone is afflicted by sin; see Romans 3.9-12, p. 383; 1 John 1.8, p. 383.
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We are the pitiful prisoners of sin, totally ignorant of the most precious and intimate being and master whom we would never trade for everything in heaven and earth. That master is one's own conscience. How often has this conscience given us advice, and while we were immersed in sinful thinking day and night it tirelessly helped us to cross the river to safety.

12. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 3-30-90

Mencius said, "All men have this heart that, when they see another man suffer, they suffer, too. The ancient kings had this heart: when they saw men suffer, they suffered, too. Therefore the former kings ran a government that, when it saw men suffer, it suffered, too. With a heart such as that... they could rule the empire as if it were something they turned in the palm of their hand.

"What do I mean, 'All men have this heart, that when they see another man suffer, they suffer too?' Well, take an example: a man looks out; a child is about to fall into a well. No matter who the man is, his heart will flip, flop, and he will feel the child's predicament; and not because he expects to get something out of it from the child's parents, or because he wants praise from his neighbors, associates, or friends, or because he is afraid of a bad name, or anything like that.

"From this we can see that it is not human not to have a heart that sympathizes with pain. Likewise not to have a heart that is repelled by vice: that is not human, either. Not to have a heart that is willing to defer: that's not human. And not to have a heart that discriminates between true and false is not human, either.

"What is the foundation of natural human feeling for others (jen)? The heart that sympathizes with pain. What is the foundation of a commitment to the common good (i)? The heart that is repelled by vice. What is the foundation of respect for social and religious forms (li)? The heart that is willing to defer. And what is the foundation for a liberal education (chih)? The heart that can tell true from false.

"People have these four foundations like they have four limbs. A man who says he cannot practice them is calling himself a criminal. A man who says the ruler cannot practice that is calling the ruler a criminal.

"Everybody has these four foundations in himself. If these four foundations can be filled in on a broad scale, it will be like a fire starting up, it will be like a spring bursting through. If they can be filled in, it will be enough to create and preserve the world order. Leave them unfilled, it will be impossible for a man to take care of his father and mother."

13. Confucianism. Mencius II.A.6

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Sun Myung Moon, 3-30-90: Cf. Romans 7.15-24, p. 391; Chandogya Upanishad 8.12.1, p. 387. Mencius II.A.6: Mencius lists the four Confucian virtues: benevolence (jen), dutifulness or concern for the public good (i), observance of proper social and religious forms (li), and education (chih). They are all founded upon germs which lie in the heart of every person.
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