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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       The spiritual freedom experienced by those who are released from
the fetters of desires and attachments to worldly things is called
Liberation, (Skt. moksha).  It is an inner experience of freedom that can
be present regardless of the person's external circumstances: the saint is
free even in prison, while people with all worldly opportunities and
unlimited wealth may be caught in dire bondage.  The Christian scriptures
speak of a comparable experience of Christian liberty that gives the
believer an unlimited sense of freedom to live according to the spirit of
Christ independent of external custom or constraint.  Naturally, people
should have the opportunity to realize the fruits of their spiritual
liberation in a free society; inner freedom engenders and is completed
through external freedom.  Salvation as liberation from external
oppression will be discussed under Help and Deliverance, pp. 557-68.

       Passages in this section first assert that liberation is found only
in the presence of God.  Next come passages which describe the nature of
liberation: release from bondage to desire, peace of mind, freedom to
travel throughout the universe of spirit, freedom from the fetters of
karma.  Several concluding passages assert that the truth, natural law, or
divine law is necessary and conducive to liberation.  Law is the way to
freedom--just as, in driving, rules of the road are required in order to
provide one the freedom to travel to any destination in safety.  Thus
freedom should not be interpreted as freedom to disregard spiritual law;
to do so would return one to a state of bondage.

Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.

            Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Leviticus 25.10

Liberation is the best thing, as the moon is best among the stars.

                     Jainism.  Sutrakritanga 1.11.22

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is

                 Christianity.  Bible, 2 Corinthians 3.17

The fetters of the heart are broken, all doubts are resolved, and all
works cease to bear fruit, when He is beheld who is both high and low.

                    Hinduism.  Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.8

The Self, indeed, is below.  It is above.  It is behind.  It is before.
It is to the south.  It is to the north.  The Self, indeed, is all this.
Verily, he who sees this, reflects on this, and understands this delights
in the Self, sports with the Self, rejoices in the Self, revels in the
Self.  Even while living in the body he becomes a self-ruler.  He wields
unlimited freedom in all the worlds.  But those who think differently from
this have others for their rulers; they live in perishable worlds.  They
have no freedom at all in the worlds.

                  Hinduism.  Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2

       And [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he
went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day.  And he
stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet
Isaiah.  He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

       The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
       because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
       and recovering of sight to the blind.
       to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
       to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down;
and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And he began to
say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

                    Christianity.  Bible, Luke 4.16-21

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Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.8: Cf. Maitri Upanishad 3.2, p. 412; Svetasvatara
Upanishad 2.15, p. 843.  Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2: Cf. Acarangasutra
2.173, p. 74.  Luke 4.16-21: Jesus is reading from the Old Testament,
Isaiah 61.1-2. Historically, Isaiah was proclaiming to a community of
impoverished exiles liberation from oppression, captivity, and
indebtedness, and the dawn of a new time when God will once again favor
Israel with abundance.  But for Jesus, it is a proclamation of
all-encompassing liberation: release to those captive to sin and
enlightenment to the spiritually blind as well as liberty to those
suffering external oppression.  With liberation comes the fulfillment of
all creation, the 'acceptable year of the Lord.'
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Desire is a chain, shackled to the world, and it is a difficult one to
break. But once that is done, there is no more grief and no more longing;
the stream has been cut off and there are no more chains.

                       Buddhism.  Sutta Nipata 948

The quest of pleasure brings nothing but torment abounding;
Man thus makes of his evil desires only a shackle about the neck.
Thou seeker of false delights, liberation comes only through the love of God.

            Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Gauri Ashtpadi, M.1, p. 222

If there is a man who can dominate Satan, the liberation of the spiritual
and physical worlds will take place.

               Unification Church.  Sun Myung Moon, 2-22-87

Yea, happily he lives, the brahmin set free,
Whom lusts defile not, who is cooled and loosed from bonds,
Who has all barriers burst, restraining his heart's pain.
Happy the calm one lives who wins peace of mind.

                    Buddhism.  Anguttara Nikaya i.137

As the path of the birds in the air or of fishes in the water is
invisible, even so is the path of the possessors of wisdom.

                      Hinduism.  Mahabharata 12.6763

He whose corruptions are destroyed, he who is not attached to food, he who
has Deliverance, which is void and signless, as his object--his path, like
that of birds in the air, cannot be traced.

                         Buddhism.  Dhammapada 93

The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do
not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who
is born of the Spirit.

                      Christianity.  Bible, John 3.8

Open yourself, create free space;
release the bound one from his bonds!
Like a newborn child, freed from the womb,
be free to move on every path!

                     Hinduism.  Atharva Veda 6.121.4

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Sutta Nipata 948: Cf. Digha Nikaya ii.276, p. 390; Dhammapada 345-46, p.
418; Milarepa, p. 455.  Gauri Ashtpadi, M.1: Cf. Sorath, M.1, p. 454.
Anguttara Nikaya i.137: Buddha uses the term 'brahmin' not in the sense of
a member of the brahmin caste, but as a title for one who is truly
liberated.  See Dhammapada 393, 396, p. 279.  Mahabharata 12.6763 and
Dhammapada 93: The invisible path refers to the fact that the liberated do
not leave a trail of karma.  This is because whatever he does is done with
detachment, without a sense of "I," without any desire for reward.  Cf.
Bhagavad Gita 4.19-21, p. 775.  John 3.8: Cf. Romans 8.26-27, p. 648.
Atharva Veda 6.121.4: Cf. Tao Te Ching 55, p. 231.
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Immediately after attaining release from all karmas, the soul goes up to
the end of the universe.   Previously driven [by karmas], the soul is free
from the bonds of attachment, the chains have been snapped, and it is its
nature to dart upwards.  The liberated self, in the absence of the karmas
which had led it to wander in different directions in different states of
existence, darts upwards as its nature is to go up.

                   Jainism.  Ratnakarandasravakacara 10

He has no branches, how then leaves?  Whose root is not in the ground. Who
is worthy to praise that man inspired, from bondage free?

                           Buddhism.  Udana 77

When a man is free from all sense pleasures and depends on nothingness he
is free in the supreme freedom from perception.  He will stay there and
not return again.

It is like a flame struck by a sudden gust of wind.  In a flash it has
gone out and nothing more can be known about it.  It is the same with a
wise man freed from mental existence: in a flash he has gone out and
nothing more can be known about him.

When a person has gone out, then there is nothing by which you can measure
him.  That by which he can be talked about is no longer there for him; you
cannot say that he does not exist.  When all ways of being, all phenomena
are removed, then all ways of description have also been removed.

                     Buddhism.  Sutta Nipata 1072-76

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

                     Christianity.  Bible, John 8.32

No man is free, but he who labors in the Torah.

                       Judaism.  Mishnah, Abot 6.2

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Ratnakarandasravakacara 10: This is the state of Nirvana; cf. Ratnakaranda
sravakacara 131, p. 136.  Liberation is also enlightenment; cf.
Tattvarthasutra 10.1-2, p. 537.  Udana 77: This is the tree of karma of
Indian thought, discussed in Bhagavad Gita 15.1-3, pp. 382f.  Cf.
Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.9, p. 582; Anguttara Nikaya ii.37-39, p. 654.
Sutta Nipata 1072-76: This is a good expression of the freedom that comes
from absence of self.  Cf. Mumonkan 8, p. 586; Samyutta Nikaya xxii.59,
pp. 899f.; Anguttara Nikaya ii.37-39, p. 654; Seng Ts'an, pp. 221f.;
Bhagavad Gita 4.19-21, p. 775. John 8.32: Cf. James 1.25, p. 159.  Abot
6.2: Cf. Abot 3.6, p. 770; Baba Metzia 10a, p. 670.
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That disciplined man
       with joy and light within,
Becomes one with God
       and reaches the freedom that is God's.

                      Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 5.24

Subhuti, if you should conceive the idea that anyone in whom dawns the
Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment declares that all manifest
standards are ended and extinguished, do not countenance such thoughts.

                       Buddhism.  Diamond Sutra 27

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not
submit again to a yoke of slavery... For you were called to freedom,
brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love be servants of one another.

                     Christianity.  Galatians 5.1, 13

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Bhagavad Gita 5.24: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 3.31-32, p. 162; Katha Upanishad
2.6.11, p. 840.  Galatians 5.1,13: Christian freedom means that the
believer is not justified according to how well he or she obeys religious
laws.  One is justified by faith.  Yet in faith, the believer lives by the
divine laws because they are helpful in maintaining his or her
relationship with Christ. A Christian can still fall into the slavery of
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