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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       For people soiled by sin and hence unworthy to enter the presence
of God, or corrupted by evil deeds and hence unable to realize their true
inner nature, an essential prerequisite for salvation is the forgiveness
of sins. The experience of divine forgiveness and pardon is universal,
reaching to supplicants in all the world's religions.

       The opening passages express God's forgiving nature; it is ever
God's desire to forgive.  The next few passages treat the idea of
atonement; some expiation must be made for sin, either by a Savior, or by
a priest, or by the supplicant's own acts of penance and devotion.
Several texts discuss the cleansing of sin.  We conclude with passages
which emphasize the magnitude of divine forgiveness, which can encompass
even the most gargantuan evils.  Some passages suggest that God even
desired sin or favors sinners in order that He may demonstrate His
gracious and forgiving nature.

I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will
not remember your sins.

              Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Isaiah 43.25

All evil effects of deeds are destroyed, when He who is both personal and
impersonal is realized.

                    Hinduism.  Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.9

Say, "If you love God, follow me, and God will love you, and forgive you
all your sins; God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate."

                           Islam.  Qur'an 3.31

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our
trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon

                  Christianity.  Bible, Ephesians 1.7-8

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Isaiah 43.25: Cf. Isaiah 1.16-20, p. 729.  Ephesians 1.7-8: This passage
speaks of the blood of Christ, shed on the cross for the forgiveness of
sins. Cf. Romans 3.23-25, p. 506, Hebrews 9.11-14, below; John 1.29, p.
636; 1 Corinthians 11.23-25, p. 851.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

Say, "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls!  Despair
not of the mercy of God: for God forgives all sins: for He is
Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."

                           Islam.  Qur'an 39.53

Let every person ask pardon of the Great Light Asis,
The Molder of us all.

        African Traditional Religions.  Kipsigis Tradition (Kenya)

If we have sinned against the man who loves us,
have wronged a brother, a dear friend, or a comrade,
the neighbor of long standing or a stranger,
remove from us this stain, O King Varuna.

                        Hinduism.  Rig Veda 5.85.7

Though a man be soiled with the sins of a lifetime, let him but love me,
rightly resolved, in utter devotion.  I see no sinner, that man is holy.
Holiness soon shall refashion his nature to peace eternal.  O son of
Kunti, of this be certain: the man who loves me shall not perish.

                     Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 9.30-31

Anyone that is fallen into the grip of lust, wrath, or attachment,
Attached to stingy greed, Guilty of the four cardinal sins and evils, And
demonic sins like murder; Who never has attended to scriptures, holy
music, or sacred verse-- By contemplation of the Supreme Being, With a
moment's remembrance of God shall he be saved.

                Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Sri Raga, M.5, p. 70

Hide thy face from my sins,
       and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
       and put a new and right spirit within me.

             Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalms 51.9-10

Shining brightly, Agni, drive away
       our sin, and shine wealth on us.
Shining bright, drive away our sin.

For good fields, for good homes, for wealth,
       we made our offerings to Thee.
Shining bright, drive away our sin....

So that Agni's conquering beams
       may spread out on every side,
Shining bright, drive away our sin.

Thy face is turned on every side,
       Thou pervadest everywhere.
Shining bright, drive away our sin.

                       Hinduism.  Rig Veda 1.97.1-6

Of the sin against the gods Thou art atonement;
Of the sin against men Thou art atonement;
Of the sin against myself Thou art atonement;
Of every kind of sin Thou art atonement.
The sin that I have committed knowingly,
    and that I have committed unawares,
Of all sins Thou art atonement.

                        Hinduism.  Yajur Veda 8.13

Let him utter the name, Buddha Amitayus.  Let him do so serenely with his
voice uninterrupted; let him be continually thinking of Buddha until he
has completed ten times the thought, repeating, "Adoration to Buddha
Amitayus." On the strength of [his merit of] uttering the Buddha's name he
will, during every repetition, expiate the sins which involve him in
births and deaths during eighty million kalpas.

              Buddhism.  Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 3.30

Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make
atonement for himself and for his house.  Then he shall take the two
goats, and set them before the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting;
and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the
other lot for Azazel.  And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot
fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin offering; but the goat on which
the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make
atonement over it....  He shall kill the goat of the sin offering which is
for the people, and bring its blood within the veil, and sprinkle it upon
the mercy seat and before the mercy seat; thus he shall make atonement for
the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel....
And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and
confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their
transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the
goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in
readiness.  The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a
solitary land....  And it shall be a statute to you for ever that in the
seventh month, on the tenth day of the month... on this day shall
atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be
clean before the Lord.

                    Judaism.  Bible, Leviticus 16.6-30

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Qur'an 39.53: Cf. Qur'an 26.77-82, p. 137; 40.55, p. 743.  Kipsigis
Tradition: Cf. p. 906.  Rig Veda 5.85.7: Cf. Rig Veda 7.86.2-5, p. 904 and
note. Bhagavad Gita 9.30-31: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 18.66, p. 770; Srimad
Bhagavatam 6.1, p. 909.  Sri Raga, M.5: On the four cardinal sins, cf.
Chandogya Upanishad 5.10.9, p. 463.  Cf. Slok Vadhik, M.3, p. 904. Rig
Veda 1.97: This is a litany for the fire ritual.  Agni, deity embodied in
fire, symbolically burns away sin and mental pollution through the ritual
fire.  Rig Veda 1.97.1-6: Cf. Rig Veda 10.9.8-9, p. 854.  Meditation on
Buddha Amitayus: In Pure Land Buddhism, compassion reaches to the
nethermost hells! The grace of Buddha Amitayus, the Buddha of Infinite
Life, or Buddha Amitabha (Jap. Amida), the Buddha of Infinite Light (who
are one in the same), is sufficient to save even the most reprobate
sinner.  In the Amida Buddha's original vow, he pledged to save all
sentient beings who would repeat his name ten times; see Larger
Sukhavativyuha Sutra 8.18, p. 639.  Leviticus 16.6-30: This is the ancient
ritual for the Day of Atonement.  The Bible prescribes that the high
priest (Aaron) purify the altar and holy place with blood from the bull
and goat which are sacrificed, and that the sins of the congregation be
placed upon the head of a remaining goat (the 'scapegoat') who is led into
the wilderness.  In modern Judaism the Day of Atonement is observed with
solemn fasting and the "sacrifice of prayer" which replace this archaic
ritual.  Cf. Menahot 110a, pp. 864f.  Hebrews 9.11-14: This passage
compares the sacrifice of Christ, who shed his blood on the cross for the
forgiveness of sins, with the above ritual of the Day of Atonement.  It
emphasizes that Christ's sacrifice was 'once and for all,' 'securing an
eternal redemption,' while the atoning rites of the Old Testament were
only temporary and had to be repeated every year.  Since Hebrews was
written after the Temple had been destroyed (in 70