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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Beyond the circle of the family, a person seeks friends who will be honest, faithful, and true. The scriptures uphold the ideal of the true friend, while admonishing people to choose their friends carefully, lest they be misled or find themselves abandoned in adversity.

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

1. Christianity. Bible, John 15.13

And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and pay the poor-due, and they obey God and His messenger.

2. Islam. Qur'an 9.71

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was wonderful,
passing the love of women.

3. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, 2 Samuel 1.26

Only two virtues are enough;
Why should the good stand in need of many?
Anger lived like a lightning flash
And friendship enduring like a line inscribed on a rock.

4. Jainism. Vajjalagam 42

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John 15.13: Cf. Galatians 6:2, p. 974, and related passages. Qur'an 9.71: Cf. Qur'an 49.10, p. 270, and Hadith of Bukhari, p. 974. 2 Samuel 1.26: The story of David and Jonathan is a tale of an exemplary friendship. Jonathan, the son of King Saul (and heir apparent), risked his life to help David flee his father's wrath. David sings this verse in an eulogy for his friend, on hearing of his death in battle.
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Men bound in fellowship first weep and lament, But afterward they laugh. (Hexagram 13: Fellowship with Men)

The Master said,
"Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids."

5. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.8.6

There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

6. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 18.24

He who entreats aid for his comrade, though he himself is in need, is answered first.

7. Judaism. Talmud, Baba Kamma 92a

The dog says, "If you fall down, and I fall down, the play will be enjoyable."

8. African Traditional Religions. Nupe Proverb (Nigeria)

Offend me and I will question you--this is the medicine for friendship.

9. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

Only few people act in our interest in our absence,
When we are not around.
But in our presence, every Dick and Harry, slaves and freeborn,
Display their love for us.

10. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Verse (Nigeria)

Confucius said, "There are three sorts of friend that are profitable, and three sorts that are harmful. Friendship with the upright, with the true-to-death, and with those who have heard much is profitable. Friendship with the obsequious, friendship with those who are good at accommodating their principles, friendship with those who are clever at talk is harmful."

11. Confucianism. Analects 16.4

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I Ching, Great Commentary 1.8.6: Cf. Book of Songs, Ode 64, p. 986. Nupe Proverb: Good friends should share each other's feelings. Yoruba Verse: Cf. Yoruba Song, pp. 953f.; Analects 1.3, p. 1019.
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It is by dealing with a man that his virtue is to be known, and that too after a long time; not by one who gives it a passing thought or no thought at all; by a wise man, not by a fool. It is by association that a man's integrity is to be known... It is in times of trouble that his fortitude is to be known... It is by conversing with him, that a man's wisdom is to be known, and that too after a long time; not by one who gives it a passing thought or no thought at all; by a wise man, not by a fool.

12. Buddhism. Udana 65-66

When you gain a friend, gain him through testing,
and do not trust him hastily.
For there is a friend who is such at his own convenience,
but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
And there is a friend who changes into an enemy,
and will disclose a quarrel to your disgrace.
And there is a friend who is a table companion,
but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
In your prosperity he will make himself your equal,
and be bold with your servants;
but if you are brought low he will turn against you,
and will hide himself from your presence.

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter:
he that has found one has found a treasure.
There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend,
and no scales can measure his excellence.
A faithful friend is an elixir of life;
and those who fear the Lord will find him.
Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright,
for as he is, so is his neighbor also.

13. Christianity. Bible, Sirach 6.7-17

The friend who always seeks his benefit,
The friend whose words are other than his deeds,
The friend who flatters just to make you pleased,
The friend who keeps you company in wrong,
These four the wise regard as enemies:
Shun them from afar as paths of danger.

The friend who is a helper all the time,
The friend in happiness and sorrow both,
The friend who gives advice that's always good,
The friend who has full sympathy with you,
These four the wise see as good-hearted friends
And with devotion cherish such as these
As does a mother cherish her own child.

14. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.187, Sigalovada Sutta

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Udana 65-66: Cf. Majjhima Nikaya iii.21, p. 469. Sirach 6.7-17: Cf. Micah 7:5-7, p. 953; Analects 13.25, p. 468.
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  • What is attached to the defiled will be defiled; and what is attached to the pure will be pure.

    15. Judaism. Mishnah, Kelim 12.2

    Those that are good, seek for friends; that will help you to practice virtue with body and soul. Those that are wicked, keep at a distance; it will prevent evil from approaching you.

    16. Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way

    Friend! listen to the benefits of holy company:
    Thereby is cast off impurity, vanished are millions of sins,
    And purified is the mind.

    17. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Bilaval, M.5, p. 809

    Sit in the assembly of the honest; join with those that are good and virtuous; nay, seek out a noble enemy where enmity cannot be helped and have nothing to do with the wicked and the unrighteous. Even in bondage you should live with the virtuous, the erudite, and the truthful; but not for a kingdom should you stay with the wicked and the malicious.

    18. Hinduism. Garuda Purana 112

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    Bilaval, M.5: Cf. Kanara, M.5, p. 285. Garuda Purana 112: Cf. 1 Corinthians 5.9-13, p. 963.
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    As the man one makes his friend,
    As the one he follows,
    Such does he himself become;
    he is like unto his mate.
    Follower and following,
    Toucher and touched alike,
    As a shaft with poison is smeared
    Poisons all the bunch unsmeared,
    Both are fouled. A man inspired
    In the fear of being soiled
    Should not company with rogues.

    If a man string putrid flesh
    On a blade of kusa grass,
    That same grass will smell putrid.
    So with him who follows fools.
    If a man wrap frankincense
    In a leaf, that leaf smells sweet.
    So with those who follow sages.
    Mindful of that leaf-basket,
    Knowing what will him befall,
    The prudent man should company
    With the good, not with the bad.
    Bad men lead to purgatory;
    The good bring to the happy bourn.

    19. Buddhism. Itivuttaka 68-69