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 may regard the family as having two axes: a vertical axis running through the generations from grandparents to parents to children, and a horizontal axis including members of the same generation: husband and wife, brothers and sisters. Furthermore, the ultimate vertical axis is the relation between the family and Ultimate Reality, recognizing God as the Ultimate Parent. Happiness and harmony in the family are thus directly related to the good character, truthfulness, and God-directedness of the individual: of the parents first and also of other family members. Good family relations, in turn, are productive of good citizens who are able to apply the lessons of family relations to relations with their elders and superiors, co-workers, and subordinates, in school, business, government, and other community affairs. The passages in this section deal with the various relations in the family all together. The following two sections gather passages on the vertical axis of parents and children and the horizontal axis of husband and wife, respectively.

Supporting one's father and mother, cherishing wife and children and a peaceful occupation; this is the greatest blessing.

1. Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 262

Lord, give us joy in our wives and children, and make us models for the God-fearing.

2. Islam. Qur'an 25.74

May in this family discipline overcome indiscipline, peace discord,
charity miserliness, devotion arrogance, the truth-spoken word the false
spoken word which destroys the holy order.

3. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 60.5

There are five relations of utmost importance under Heaven...
between prince and minister; between father and son; between husband and wife;
between elder and younger brothers; and between friends.

4. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 20.8

What are "the things which men consider right"? Kindness on the part of
the father, and filial duty on that of the son; gentleness on the part
of the elder brother, and obedience on that of the younger;
righteousness on the part of the husband, and submission on that of the
wife; kindness on the part of elders, and deference on that of juniors;
with benevolence on the part of the ruler, and loyalty on that of the
minister;--these ten are the things which men consider to be right.

5. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 7.2.19

Natural mildness should be there in the family. Observance of the vows leads to mildness.... Right belief should there be amongst family members. Crookedness and deception cause unhappiness in the family. Straightforwardness and honesty in one's body, speech, and mental activities lead the family to an auspicious path. Purity, reverence, ceaseless pursuit of knowledge, charity, removal of obstacles that threaten equanimity, service to others -- these make the family happy.

6. Jainism. Tattvarthasutra 6.18-24

The moral life of man may be likened to traveling to a distant place: one must start from the nearest stage. It may also be likened to ascending a height [of public responsibility]: one must begin from the lowest step [one's family]. The Book of Songs says,

When wives and children and their sires are one,
'Tis like the harp and lute in unison.
When brothers live in concord and at peace
The strain of harmony shall never cease.
The lamp of happy union lights the home,
And bright days follow when the children come.

Confucius, commenting on the above, remarked, "In such a state of things what more satisfaction can parents have?"

7. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 15.2-3

Thus I have heard, the Buddha was once staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Wood at the Squirrels' Feeding Ground. Now at this time young Sigala, a householder's son, rising betimes, went forth from Rajagaha, and with wet hair and wet garments and clasped hands uplifted, paid worship to the several quarters of the earth and sky: to the east, south, west, and north, to the nadir and the zenith.

And the Exalted One early that morning dressed himself, took bowl and robe and entered Rajagaha seeking alms. Now he saw young Sigala worshipping and spoke to him thus,

"Why, young householder, do you worship the several quarters of earth and sky?"

"Sir, my father, when he was dying, said to me: 'Dear son, you should worship the quarters of the earth and sky.' So I, sir, honoring my father's word, rise and worship in this way."

"But in the religion of an educated man, the six quarters should not be worshipped thus."

"How then, sir, in the religion of an educated man, should the six quarters be worshipped? It would be an excellent thing if the Exalted One would so teach me the correct way..."

"How, O young householder, does the educated man serve the six quarters? The following should be looked upon as the six quarters: parents as the east, teachers as the south, wife and children as the west, friends and companions as the north, servants as the nadir, and religious leaders as the zenith.

"In five ways should a child minister to his parents as the eastern quarter: 'Once supported by them, I will now be their support; I will perform duties incumbent on them; I will keep up the lineage and tradition of my family; I will make myself worthy of my heritage.'

"In five ways parents thus ministered to, as the eastern quarter, by their child, show their love for him: They restrain him from vice, they exhort him to virtue, they train him to a profession, they contract a suitable marriage for him, and in due time they hand over to him his inheritance.

"Thus is the eastern quarter protected by him and made safe and secure.

"In five ways should pupils minister to their teachers as the southern quarter: by respectfully greeting them, by waiting upon them, by eagerness to learn, by personal service, and by attentiveness to their teaching.

"In five ways do teachers, thus ministered to as the southern quarter by their pupils, love their pupil: They train him in what they have been trained; they make him hold fast to moral precepts; they thoroughly instruct him in the lore of every subject; they speak well of him among his friends and companions; they counsel him for his safety and benefit.

"Thus is the southern quarter protected by him and made safe and secure.

"In five ways should a wife as western quarter be ministered to by her husband: by respect, by courtesy, by faithfulness, by handing over authority to her, by providing her with adornment.

"In five ways does the wife, ministered to by her husband as the western quarter, love him: Her duties are well performed, she is hospitable to their relatives, she is faithful, she watches over the wages and goods which he brings home, she discharges all her business with skill and industry.

"Thus is the western quarter protected by him and made safe and secure.

"In five ways should one minister to his friends and companions as the northern quarter: by generosity, courtesy, and benevolence, by treating them as he treats himself, and by being as good as his word.

"In five ways do his friends and familiars, thus ministered to as the northern quarter, love him: They protect him when he is off his guard, and on occasions guard his property; they become a refuge in danger; they do not forsake him in his troubles; and they show consideration for his family.

"Thus is the northern quarter protected by him and made safe and secure.

"In five ways does a noble master minister to his servants and employees as the nadir: by assigning them work according to their strength, by supplying them with food and wages, by tending them in sickness, by sharing with them unusual delicacies, by granting them leave at times.

"In five ways, thus ministered to by their master, do servants and employees love him: They rise before him, they lie down to rest after him, they are content with their wages, they do their work well, and they carry about his praise and good fame.

"Thus is the nadir by him protected and made safe and secure.

"In five ways should the layman minister to saints, priests, and religious leaders as the zenith: by affection in act and speech and mind, by keeping open house to them, and by supplying their temporal needs.

"Ministered to as the zenith, monks, priests, and religious leaders show their love for the layman in six ways: They restrain him from evil, they exhort him to good, they love him with kindly thoughts, they teach him what he has not heard, they correct and purify what he has heard, they reveal to him the way of heaven.

"Thus by him is the zenith protected and made safe and secure."

8. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.185-91, Sigalovada Sutta

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Doctrine of the Mean 20.8: These are the Confucian Five Relations. They are further explicated in the following passage. Book of Ritual 7.2.19: Cf. I Ching 37, p. 260. Tattvarthasutra 6.18.24: Cf. Acarangasutra 1.35-37, p. 739; Tattvarthasutra 9.6, p. 169.
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