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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Individuals and families function within the context of a community, which in turn functions within a larger society, nation, and world. The individual's and family's well-being is bound up with the community's well-being, and likewise its well-being is inseparable from the peace and prosperity of the society, the nation, and ultimately, the world. Religious precepts undergird community by teaching the virtues of cooperation, friendship, justice, and public-mindedness. These create the spirit of unity by which community can thrive and prosper.

This section deals specifically with the theme of unity. The opening texts indicate that unity is first of all a gift of grace--a manifestation of the oneness of Ultimate Reality--reconciling those who would otherwise be enemies. The passages that follow call for unity among all members of the community--even to the unity of all humanity--and condemn divisions. The section concludes with passages which use the metaphors of a building and of the human body to depict the varieties of tasks and social roles which should mutually support each other to build a united community.

Israel's reconciliation with God can be achieved only when they are all one brotherhood.

1. Judaism. Talmud, Menahot 27a

The believers indeed are brothers; so set things right between your two brothers, and fear God; haply so you will find mercy.

2. Islam. Qur'an 49.10

3. Happy is the unity of the Sangha.
Happy is the discipline of the united ones.

3. Buddhism. Dhammapada 194

4. I do not pray for these [my disciples] only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

4. Christianity. Bible, John 17.20-21

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

5. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 18.19-20

If two sit together and the words between them are of Torah, then the Shechinah is in their midst.

6. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 3.2

And when a company meets together in one of the houses of God to pore over the Book of God and to study it together among themselves, the Shechinah comes down to them and mercy overshadows them, the angels surround them, and God remembers them among them that are His.

7. Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 36

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
running down upon the beard,
upon the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life for evermore.

8. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 133

Hold fast, all together, to God's rope, and be not divided among yourselves. Remember with gratitude God's favor on you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His grace you became brethren. You were on the brink of the fiery Pit, and He saved you from it. Thus does God make His signs clear to you, that you may be guided.

Let there arise out of you one community, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: those will be prosperous. Be not be like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear signs: for them is a dreadful penalty.

9. Islam. Qur'an 3.103-5

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John 17.20-21: This is Jesus' prayer for the church to be united, as a testimony to the world of God's presence in him. Cf. 1 John 4.12-13, p. 237; Pesikta Rab Kahana, p. 286. Matthew 18.19-20: Compare Qur'an 58.7, p. 110, where the same image is used to describe God's omniscience, a third party to every secret consultation. Psalm 133: Cf. Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7.18, p. 287.
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It is because one antelope will blow the dust from the other's eye that two antelopes walk together.

10. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)

Meet together, speak together,
let your minds be of one accord,
as the Gods of old, being of one mind,
accepted their share of the sacrifice.

May your counsel be common, your assembly common,
common the mind, and the thoughts of these united.
A common purpose do I lay before you,
and worship with your common oblation.

Let your aims be common,
and your hearts of one accord,
and all of you be of one mind,
so you may live well together.

11. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.191.2-4

Abruptly he [King Hsiang] asked me, "Through what can the Empire be settled?"
"Through unity," I said.
"Who can unite it?"
"One who is not fond of killing can unite it," I said.

13. Confucianism. Mencius I.A.6

Let us have concord with our own people,
and concord with people who are strangers to us;
The Divine Twins create between us and the strangers
a unity of hearts.

May we unite in our minds, unite in our purposes,
and not fight against the divine spirit within us.
Let not the battle-cry arise amidst many slain,
nor the arrows of the War-god fall with the break of day.

14. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 7.52.1-2

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Qur'an 3.103-05: God is one unity, and humankind should similarly be united; this reconciliation comes through submission to God. The unity of God, the unity of spirit and body within the individual, the unity of society, and the ideal unity of all reality (cf. Qur'an 2.115, p. 109), are encompassed in the Islamic concept of tawhid. Akan Proverb: Doing good to each other is the basis of societal unity. Rig Veda 10.191.2-4: Cf. Atharva Veda 3.30, pp. 255f.
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My children, war, fear, and disunity have brought you from your villages to this sacred council fire. Facing a common danger, and fearing for the lives of your families, you have yet drifted apart, each tribe thinking and acting only for itself. Remember how I took you from one small band and nursed you into many nations. You must reunite now and act as one. No tribe alone can withstand our savage enemies, who care nothing about the eternal law, who sweep upon us like the storms of winter, spreading death and destruction everywhere.

My children, listen well. Remember that you are brothers, that the downfall of one means the downfall of all. You must have one fire, one pipe, one war club.

15. Native American Religions. Hiawatha (Iroquois)

Separate not yourself from the community.

16. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 2.4

Maintain religion, and do not stir up any divisions within it.

17. Islam. Qur'an 42.13

Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.

18. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 12.25

One thing, when it comes to pass, does so to the loss, to the unhappiness of many folk... to the misery of the gods and humankind. What is that one thing? Schism in the order of monks. When the order is broken there are mutual quarrels, mutual abuse, mutual exclusiveness, and mutual betrayals. Thereupon those who are at variance are not reconciled, and between some of those who were at one there arises some difference.

19. Buddhism. Itivuttaka 11

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Atharva Veda 7.52.1-2: The Asvins, or divine Twins, symbolize perfect unity of two. Cf. Rig Veda 2.39. Hiawatha: Hiawatha (Tekanawita, c. 1450), the legendary chief of the Onondaga tribe, unified the Five Nations of the Iroquois. The Iroquois League became the most prosperous and powerful of the Native American nations in what is now the eastern United States. Qur'an 42.13: Cf. Qur'an 30.31-32, p. 448. Matthew 12.25: Hence for the sake of unity, members who are immoral and rebellious may be expelled; see 1 Corinthians 5.9-13, p. 963. Itivuttaka 11: See Udana 55, p. 964, and Vinaya Pitaka 2.184-98, pp. 448f., the story of the schismatic Devadatta. To make a schism in the sangha is regarded as one of the Five Deadly Sins--see p. 185n.
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Let all mankind be thy sect.

20. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 28, M.1, p. 6

Consider the family of humankind one.

21. Jainism. Jinasena, Adipurana

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

22. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 56.7

All ye under the heaven! Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all things as your brothers and sisters.

23. Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

24. Christianity. Bible, Galatians 3.28

O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention among you. Then will the effulgence of the world's great Luminary envelop the whole earth, and its inhabitants become the citizens of one city, and the occupants of one and the same throne.

25. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 111

To accomplish the gigantic historical task [of unification], you must discover the extraordinary power of love, love that does not become the circumstantial victim of society. Supreme love transcends every national, racial, and cultural barrier. People have always talked about love, but human love alone will never accomplish the task of universal unification. Therefore, we rally around one love--the love and heart of God.... The East and West are meeting here today, not merely because we want to see each other for personal reasons, but because the heart of God is linking us into one.

26. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77

The pebbles are the strength of the wall.

27. African Traditional Religions. Buji Proverb (Nigeria)

Abu Musa reported the Prophet as saying, "Believers are to one another like a building whose parts support one another." He then interlaced his fingers.

28. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim

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Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta: This notion that people are tied together with the kami and things of nature in one universal family builds a sense of community and respect for nature. Atsuta is a shrine in Nayoya. Galatians 3.28: Cf. Ephesians 2.14, p. 555. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 111: Cf. Gleanings 115, p. 515. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 145; Wadhans, M.1, p. 239; Ephesians 2:14, p. 555.
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Beware lest the desires of the flesh and of a corrupt inclination provoke divisions among you. Be ye as the fingers of one hand, the members of one body. Thus counsels you the Pen of Revelation, if ye be of them that believe.

29. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 72

When one finger is sore you do not cut it off.

30. African Traditional Religions. Njak Proverb (Nigeria)

When they divided the Supreme Being,
how many portions did they make?
What did they call his mouth? What his arms?
and what his thighs and his feet?

The Brahmin was his mouth, and
his arms were made the Kshatriya,
his thighs became the Vaisya, and
from his feet was the Sudra born.

31. Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.90.11-12

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Njak Proverb: Dependent, unsuccessful relatives and friends are still part of the community to be protected. Cf. Mencius IV.B.7, p. 979; Romans 15.1-3, p. 979. Rig Veda 10.90.11-12: This famous passage is the chief Vedic foundation for the caste system. It sanctions the distinctions between castes as having originated with the creation itself. Hence a person's caste, being defined by birth, is immutable. Some contemporary Hindu thinkers would prefer to interpret this passage to establish only a functional differentiation of social roles (as in 1 Corinthians 12, below). In that case, the various roles could be filled by people regardless of their birth or parentage. More of this hymn is found on pp. 868f.
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Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. They eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which are more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

32. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 12.12-27

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1 Corinthians 12.12-27: Cf. Ephesians 2.19-22, p. 286.
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