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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       In times of distress, danger, and oppression, believers in every
tradition look to God for support and help.  In times of crisis, in
combat, and when confronting death, even non-believers will turn to God
for help.  And time and again, they find deliverance in ample measure.
Conversely, the scriptures warn against reliance on one's own power,
allies, or wealth to prevail in the fight when the true source of power is
available through faith.

       The passages include expressions of confidence in divine
deliverance, supplications for help, and texts which describe God's grace
as an unassailable refuge.  There are several accounts of God's saving
deeds in history: from the Bible, Moses at the Red Sea; from the Qur'an,
the battle of Badr; and from the Mahabharata, a counsel on the inevitable
victory of Krishna in the battle between the Kurus and the Pandavas.  The
section closes with two hymns, one to the Hindu Goddess Durga, to whom is
attributed a great victory in the primeval war between the gods and the
demons, and the other praising Kuan Yin, in Chinese Buddhism the
Bodhisattva of divine compassion who is said to be ready and able to save
anyone in distress.  Related passages, exhorting people to do battle in
the name of faith or justice with the confidence that God or Right is on
their side, may be found under War Against Evil, pp. 1047-57.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

                    Christianity.   Bible, Romans 8.31

United with me, you shall overcome all difficulties by my grace.

                      Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 18.58

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Zechariah 4.6

O you who believe! If you help God's cause, He will help you and will make
your foothold firm.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 47.7

God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like hind's feet,
he makes me tread upon high places.

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Habakkuk 3.19

To those who have conformed themselves to the Way, the Way readily lends
its power.  To those who have conformed themselves to the power, the power
readily lends more power.

                         Taoism.  Tao Te Ching 23

Men of little ability, too,
By depending upon the great, may prosper;
A drop of water is a little thing,
But when will it dry away if united to a lake?

                      Buddhism.  Elegant Sayings 173

Up dost Thou raise me, O Lord,
       through devotion dost Thou grant me endurance,
Through the Most Holy Spirit,
       O Wise One, good award of prayer,
Through Right powerful vigor,
       And through Good Thought leadership!

                   Zoroastrianism.  Avesta, Yasna 33.12

Should the lord bestow His might on the tiny ant,
Hordes million-strong it may destroy.
Whomsoever He Himself sends not to death,
He guards by the strength of His arm.
Despite all his efforts,
All man's endeavors turn fruitless.
None other is savior or destroyer:
He Himself is guardian of all beings.
Thou man! why all this anxiety?
Says Nanak, Contemplate Him who is beyond thy understanding,
Who is so wonderful.

         Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 17, M.5, p. 285-86

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Tao Te Ching 23: 'Power' (te) means the latent power or virtue inherent in
nature and in Ultimate Reality.  Elegant Sayings 173: Cf. Tao Te Ching 4,
p. 525.  Gauri Sukhmani 17, M.5: Cf. Devgandhari, M.4, p. 758; Gaund
Kabir, p. 881.
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Have you not known?
       Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God
       the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not grow weary, he does not tire,
       his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives strength to the weary,
       and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Youths may faint and be weary,
       and young men may fall, exhausted;
       but they who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
       they shall run and not be weary,
       they shall walk and not grow faint.

            Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Isaiah 40.28-31

God does not leave his child tied up overnight.

          African Traditional Religions.  Tiv Proverb (Nigeria)

Whosoever keeps his duty to God, God will appoint a way out for him, and
will provide for him in a way that he cannot foresee.  And whosoever puts
his trust in God, He will suffice him.  Lo! God brings His command to
pass.  God has set a measure for all things.

                          Islam.  Qur'an 65.2-3

Leave your fight to Olodumare and look on, for he is defender of the

        African Traditional Religions.  Yoruba Proverb  (Nigeria)

God is our refuge and strength,
       a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,
       though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
       though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

              Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Psalm 46.1-3

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Isaiah 40.28-31: Cf. 1 Samuel 2.4-9, pp. 545f.; 17, pp. 1056f.  Tiv
Proverb: This is said when help arrives unexpectedly.  Cf. Dinka Prayer,
p. 146. Yoruba Proverb: 'Olodumare' is a Yoruba name for the Supreme
Being.  Cf. Psalm 55.22, p. 826.  Psalm 46.1-3: The imagery is one of
cosmic destruction in the latter days.  This psalm was the inspiration for
Martin Luther's famous hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."  Cf. Psalm
23, p. 507; Psalm 93, pp. 541f.; Rig Veda 8.69.8, p. 766.
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A king is not saved by his great army,
    a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
    and by its great might it cannot save.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love,
That he may deliver their soul from death,
    and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Psalm 33.16-20

Altar Mountain of the Sacred Forest,
Where, since the divine age,
It has been said the myriad gods descended
       To make offerings for safe passage
       In the land of abundant rice on the
       Plain of reeds.
Spring, and your spring mists rise,
Come the fall, and aflush with rouge,
You, mountain god of the forest altar,
       Take for belt the stream of the River Asuka,
       Whose current so swift,
       No easy birth her stony pillows give to the moss,
       Yet still moss on them abounds.
I shall beseech you each new night,
Show me in divined dreams
The way I should pass in peace!
Oh, god with sword-like awe enshrined.

                       Shinto.  The Man'yoshu XIII

Free us, Indra, from the fear of all that we are afraid of.
       May thou, with thy saving power,
       turn away the hater and the enemy.

We call on Indra, bounteous Giver,
       we will be prosperous in men and cattle.
Let not the demon hosts approach us;
       turn the hostiles away on all sides.

Adorable Indra, our Savior,
       Vritra-slayer and Furtherer of our highest aims,
may he be our Protector from the end,
       from the middle, from behind, and from in front.

Lead us to a free world, Wise One,
       where lie divine luster, sunlight, and security.
Valiant are the arms of thee, the Powerful;
       we will take to their vast shelter.

                    Hinduism.  Atharva Veda 19.15.1-4

Good God of this earth, my Lord!
You are above me, I am below you.
When misfortune comes to me,
As trees keep off the sun from me,
May you keep off misfortune;
My Lord, be my shadow!

Calling upon you, I pass the day.
Calling upon you, I pass the night.
When this moon rises, do not forsake me;
When I rise, I do not forsake you;
Let the danger pass by me.

God, my Lord, you Sun with thirty rays,
When the enemy comes, let not your worm be killed upon the earth;
Keep him off, as we seeing a worm upon the earth,
Crush him if we like, spare him if we like.
As we tread upon and kill a worm upon the earth,
Thus, if you please, you crush us upon the earth.
God, you go, holding the bad and the good in your hand;
My Lord, let us not be killed,
We your worms, we are praying to you.

           African Traditional Religions.  Boran Prayer (Kenya)

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Atharva Veda 19.15.1-4: Indra is the chief Vedic god, who established
justice throughout the cosmos by slaying the serpent-demon Vritra, the
personification of all evil, lawlessness, darkness, and drought; see Rig
Veda 1.80.  Cf. Rig Veda 10.103, p. 1052; Bhagavad Gita 11.26-34, pp.
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If God gives you a cup of wine and an evil-minded person kicks it over, He
fills it up for you again.

           African Traditional Religions.  Akan Proverb (Ghana)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
       who abides in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress;
       my God, in whom I trust."
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler,
       and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
       and under his wings you will find refuge;
       his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,
       nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
       nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
       ten thousand at your right hand;
       but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
       and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
       the Most High your habitation,
no evil shall befall you,
       no scourge come near your tent.
For he will give his angels charge of you
       to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
       lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
       the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Psalm 91.1-13

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Akan Proverb: Cf. Banyarawanda Proverb, p. 107.
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Knowing It one is not touched by evil action.  Therefore he who knows It
as such becomes self-controlled, calm, withdrawn into himself, patient,
and collected; he sees the Self in his own self; he sees all as the Self.
Evil does not overcome him, but he overcomes all evil.  Evil does not
afflict him, but he consumes all evil.

                Hinduism.  Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.23

One who has a true hold on life, when he walks on land does not meet
tigers or wild buffaloes; in battle he is not touched by weapons of war.
Indeed, a buffalo that attacked him would find nothing for his horns to
butt, a tiger would find nothing for its claws to tear, a weapon would
find no place for its blade to lodge.  And why?  Because such men have no
"death-spot" in them.

                         Taoism.  Tao Te Ching 50

Those who are devoted to the perfection of wisdom should expect therefrom
many advantages here and now.  They will not die an untimely death, nor
from poison, or sword, or fire, or water, or staff, or violence.  When
they bring to mind and repeat this perfection of wisdom, the calamities
which threaten them from kings and princes, from king's counsellors and
king's ministers, will not take place.  If kings, etc., would try to do
harm to those who again and again bring to mind and repeat the perfection
of wisdom, they will not succeed; because the perfection of wisdom upholds
them.  Although kings, etc., may approach them with harmful intent, they
will instead decide to greet them, to converse with them, to be polite and
friendly to them.  For this perfection of wisdom entails an attitude of
friendliness and compassion toward all beings.  Therefore, even though the
devotee of the perfection of wisdom may be in the middle of a wilderness
infested with venomous vipers, bandits, and ghosts, none can harm them,
except as a punishment for past deeds.

      Buddhism.  Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 75-76

       Master Lieh Tzu said to Barrier Keeper Yin, "The Perfect Man can
walk under water without choking, can tread on fire without being burned,
and can travel above the ten thousand things without being frightened.
May I ask how he manages this?"

       The Barrier Keeper Yin replied, "This is because he guards the pure
breath--it has nothing to do with wisdom, skill, determination, or
courage. Sit down and I will tell you about it.  All that have faces,
forms, voices, colors--these are all mere things.  How could one thing and
another thing be far removed from each other?  And how could any of them
be capable of leading you to what preceded them?  They are forms,
colors--nothing more.  But that which creates things has no form, and it
rests where there is no change.  If a man can get hold of this and exhaust
it fully, then how can things stand in his way?  He may rest within the
bounds that know no excess, hide within the borders that know no source,
wander where the ten thousand things have their end and beginning, unify
his nature, nourish his breath, unite his virtue, and thereby communicate
with that which creates all things.  A man like this guards what belongs
to Heaven and keeps it whole.  His spirit has no flaw, so how can things
enter in and get at him?

       "When a drunken man falls from a carriage, though the carriage may
be going very fast, he won't be killed.  He has bones and joints the same
as other men, and yet he is not injured as they would be, because his
spirit is whole.  He didn't know he was riding, and he doesn't know he has
fallen out. Life and death, alarm and terror do not enter his breast, and
so he can bang against things without fear of injury.  If he can keep
himself whole like this by means of wine, how much more can a man keep
himself whole by means of Heaven!  The sage hides himself in Heaven--hence
there is nothing that can do him harm."

                          Taoism.  Chuang Tzu 19

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Psalm 91.1-13:Cf. Luke 10.19-20, pp. 314f.; Matthew 4.1-11, p. 621; Joshua
1.1-9, p. 1056; Daniel 3.1-28, pp. 883f.; Acts 16.19-30, p. 889.  Tao Te
Ching 50: Cf. Tao Te Ching 16, p. 538.
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       O Apostle!  Sufficient for you is God--for you and for those who
follow you among the believers.

       O Apostle!  Rouse the believers to the fight.  If there are twenty
among you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred; if a
hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the unbelievers, for these are a
people without understanding.

       For the present, God has lightened your task, for He knows that
there is a weak spot in you; but even so, if there are a hundred of you,
patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred, and if a
thousand, they will vanquish two thousand, with the leave of God; for God
is with those who patiently persevere.

                          Islam.  Qur'an 8.64-66

       O you who believe! Remember the grace of God on you, when there
came down on you hosts; but We sent against them a hurricane and forces
you could not see: but God sees clearly all that you do.  Behold! they
came on you from above you and from below you, and behold, the eyes became
dim and the hearts gaped up to the throats, and you imagined various vain
thoughts about God!  In that situation were the believers tried; they were
shaken as by a tremendous shaking....

       And God turned back the unbelievers, for all their fury; no
advantage did they gain; and enough is God for the believers in their
fight.  And God is full of Strength, Able to enforce His will.

                          Islam.  Qur'an 33.9-25

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Chuang Tzu 19: Based on this tradition, the drunken man or the fool who is
so pliant that he can stagger about and always escape harm is a stock
character in Chinese drama.  Cf. Tao Te Ching 55, p. 231; Chuang Tzu 6, p.
584.  Qur'an 8.64-66: This revelation was given on the eve of the battle
of Badr, where the companions of Muhammad, ill-equipped (the 'weak spot'),
defeated a force that outnumbered them by more than three to one.
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O king, I say unto thee that Krishna is Eternal and Unfading... the
Supreme Lord of all creatures, the great Master.  He is warrior, He is
Victory, He is Victor, and He is the Lord of all nature.  O king, He is
full of goodness and divested of all the qualities of darkness and
passion.  There, where Krishna is, there righteousness is; and where
righteousness is, there is victory.  It is by the Yoga of his Supreme
Excellence, and the Yoga of his Self, that the sons of Pandu, O king, are
supported.  Victory, therefore, will surely be theirs.  He it is that
always imparts to the Pandavas understanding endued with righteousness and
strength in battle; and He it is who always protects them from danger.

                 Hinduism.  Mahabharata, Bhishma Parva 66

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord,
"I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
       the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
       and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
       my father's God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a man of war;
       the Lord is his name.

"Pharaoh's chariots and his host he cast into the sea;
       and his picked officers are sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods cover them;
       they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
       your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
       you send forth your fury, it consumes them like stubble.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up,
       the floods stood up in a heap;
       the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, 'I will pursue,
       I will overtake,
       I will divide the spoil,
       my desire shall have its fill of them.
       I will draw my sword,
       my hand shall destroy them.'
You blew them away with your wind,
       the sea covered them;
they sank as lead
       in the mighty waters.

"Who is like thee, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like thee, majestic in holiness,
terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders?"

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Exodus 15.1-11

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Qur'an 33.9-25: Vv. 9-11, 25.  This surah describes the Battle of the
Trench (