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 religions born in India share a common symbol of salvation as
crossing the waters.  The waters represent the painful existence in the
world, plagued by ills, a continual passing from life to death in samsara.
Tossed about on the turbulent sea, the wayfarer finds rest only on the
other shore, the firm ground of Nirvana.  In the Judeo-Christian
scriptures, crossing the waters is also a symbol of salvation, drawn from
the historical tradition of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea under
divine protection and later crossing the Jordan River to reach the
promised land.

Carry us across, as by a boat
across the sea, for our good.
Shining bright, drive away our sin.

                        Hinduism.  Rig Veda 1.97.8

The body, they say, is a boat and the soul is the sailor.  Samsara is the
ocean which is crossed by the great sages.

                   Jainism.  Uttaradhyayana Sutra 23.73

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Rig Veda 1.97.8: Cf. Satapatha Brahmana, p. 871.  Uttaradhyayana
Sutra 23.73: See Uttaradhyayana Sutra 10.34, p. 746.
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Even if you were the most sinful of sinners, Arjuna, you could cross
beyond all sin by the raft of spiritual wisdom.

                      Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 4.36

Strive and cleave the stream.  Discard, O brahmin, sense-desires.  Knowing
the destruction of conditioned things, be a knower of the Unmade.

                        Buddhism.  Dhammapada 383

As they call the great ocean a boundless flood of water, difficult to
traverse with the arms alone, so should the learned one know and renounce
it [samsara]: that sage is called "Maker of the End."

                     Jainism.  Acarangasutra 2.16.10

Few are there among men who go across to the further shore; the rest of
mankind only run about on the bank.  But those who act rightly according
to the teaching, as has been well taught, will cross over to the other
shore, for the realm of passions is so difficult to cross.

                       Buddhism.  Dhammapada 85-86

Save me, O God!  For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.

                 Judaism and Christianity.  Psalm 69.1-2

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
       the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.
Yea, the world is established;
       it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old,
       You are from everlasting.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
       the floods have lifted up their voice,
       the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
       mightier than the waves of the sea,
       The Lord on high is mighty!

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Bhagavad Gita 4.36: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 12.5-7, p. 761; Mundaka Upanishad
2.2.6, p. 839; Narada Dharma Sutra 1.210, p. 159; Svetasvatara Upanishad
2.8, pp. 842f.  Dhammapada 383: Cf. Sutta Nipata 948, p. 531; Dhammapada
414, pp. 231f. Dhammapada 85-86: On desires as the stream, see Dhammapada
338-47, p. 418.  On the metaphor of the teaching as a raft for crossing to
the other shore, see Majjhima Nikaya i.134-135, p. 802.
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Your decrees are very sure;
       holiness befits your house,
       O Lord, for evermore.

                   Judaism and Christianity.  Psalm 93

Once Rabbi Phinehas was going to the house of study, and the river Ginai
which he had to pass was so swollen that he could not cross it.  He said,
"O river, why do you prevent me from getting to the house of study?"
Then it divided its waters, and he passed over.  And his disciples said,
"Can we too pass over?"  He said, "He who knows that he has never insulted
an Israelite can pass over unharmed."

                  Judaism.  Jerusalem Talmud, Demai 22a

       Suppose, monks, a man is carried along a river by a current which
looks delightful and charming.  Then a sharp-sighted man standing on the
bank sees him and calls out, "My friend! Though you are being carried
along in the river by a current which seems delightful and charming, yet
further down here is a pool with waves and whirlpools, with monsters and
demons.  My friend, when you get there you will come by your death or
mortal pain!"  Hearing the other's call, that man struggles against the
stream with hands and feet.

       This parable, monks, I use to explain my meaning.  The river
current is craving; 'looking delightful and charming' refers to one's own
sphere of perception.  The pool lower down is the five fetters belonging
to this lower world; its waves are the five pleasures of sense; monsters
and demons refer to women.  His going against the stream refers to
renunciation; struggle with hands and feet means to put forth energy.  The
sharp-sighted man standing on the bank is the Wayfarer, Arahant, a
Rightly-awakened One.

                       Buddhism.  Itivuttaka 114-15

Man's life is a poison-laden ship, tossed into the ocean;
The shore is not visible as it floats in the midst of the waters.
Neither is there oar in hand, nor is there a pilot
       in this terrible vast sea.
Friend! The world is caught in a mighty snare,
Only by Divine grace and meditating on the holy Name
May man remain afloat.
God is the ship; the holy Word the pilot.
Where there is God's Word, neither wind nor fire, nor waves,
Nor any frightful forms have power:
There the holy eternal Name alone abides,
Which carries man across the ocean of worldliness.
Those going over it, by divine grace reach the other shore.
Engrossed in devotion to the Eternal;
Their transmigration is ended;

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Demai 22a: Stories of sages crossing a physical body of water are common
to many traditions.  There are stories of the Buddha crossing a river to
his disciples; Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14.24-31, p. 759; a
Taoist sage walking through a cataract in Chuang Tzu 19; and Moses
crossing the Red Sea in Exodus 14, pp. 615f.  Itivuttaka 114-15: Cf.
Dhammapada 338-47, p. 418. 'Wayfarer,' etc. are titles of the Buddha.
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Their light is merged into the light of the infinite.

            Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Maru Ashtpadi, M.1, p. 1009

Awake, awake, put on strength,
       O arm of the Lord;
awake, as in days of old,
       the generations of long ago.
Was it not you that cut Rahab in pieces,
       that pierced the dragon?
Was it not you that dried up the sea,
       the waters of the great deep;
that made the depths of the sea a way
       for the redeemed to pass over?
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
       and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
       they shall obtain joy and gladness,
       and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Isaiah 51.9-11

When you go over the Jordan, and live in the land which the Lord your God
gives you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies
round about... you shall rejoice before the Lord your God.

          Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Deuteronomy 12.10-12

The rocky stream flows on: hold you all together,
       quit you like heroes, and cross over, my friends!
Leave here all those that are evil-minded,
       let us cross to powers who are undiseased.

Stand erect, and cross you over, my comrades!
       This rocky river flows on before us.
Abandon here all those that are malicious,
       let us cross to powers, benign and pleasant.

                    Hinduism.  Atharva Veda 12.2.26-27

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Maru Ashtpadi, M.1: Cf. Suhi Chhant, M.5, p. 898.  Isaiah 51.9-11: Isaiah
likens the new salvation of God to God's mighty acts in history.  At the
creation, He pierced the dragon of chaos (Rahab), which ancient cosmogony
identified with the waters of the deep (cf. note to Laws of Manu 1.5-16,
p. 131) and dried up the primeval waters to construct the world.  At the
Exodus God divided the Red Sea and opened a way for the Israelites to
cross dry-shod; cf. Exodus 14, pp. 615f.  Deuteronomy 12.10-12: In the
faith of Black Americans, crossing the Jordan River is a metaphor for
crossing from the troubles of this world to the peaceful abode of Heaven.
Atharva Veda 12.2.26-27: These verses are sung at funeral ceremonies.  On
a bridge to cross over the waters of hell, cf. Yasna 46.10-11, p. 349;
Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim, p. 349.
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