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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       Besides the incomparable acts of charity which the founders, during
their lifetime, did to save and enlighten humanity, in every age the
founder abides as a living presence.  Thus, according to the Christian
Gospels, Jesus abides in the hearts of all believers and has sent the Holy
Spirit to enliven and instill God's love within them.  The Lotus Sutra
declares that the Buddha is eternally manifest and is forever saving
living beings.  In the traditions of the Sunnah, Muhammad is ever beside
the believers; he also intercedes on their behalf before the throne of
God.  The living presence of the founder in the hearts of believers is an
experience of personal mystical union--'I am in my Father, and you in me,
and I in you'--that is comparable to the impersonal mystical experience of
The Unitive State, pp. 585-90.

Lo, I am with you always, even to the close of the age.

                   Christianity.  Bible, Matthew 28.20

The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his
wives are their mothers.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 33.6

Verily I am beside you, as a father is beside his children.

                       Islam.  Hadith of Abu Dawud

Be aware of me always, adore me, make every act an offering to me, and you
shall come to me; this I [Krishna] promise, for you are dear to me.
Abandon all supports and look to me for protection.  I shall purify you
from the sins of the past; do not grieve.

                    Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 18.65-66

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Matthew 28.20: This is spoken by the resurrected Jesus as he commissions
his disciples to go out and teach all nations.  Qur'an 33.6: Though this
passage was uttered of the historical Muhammad, it is often taken to
signify a living spiritual relationship which believers of any age may
have with the Prophet and his family; thus the following hadith.
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[Jesus declared], "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am
gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my
yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

                  Christianity.  Bible, Matthew 11.28-30

I am the Tathagata, the Worshipful, the All-wise, the Perfectly
Enlightened in Conduct, the Well-departed, the Understander of the World,
the Peerless Lead- er, the Controller, the Teacher of Gods and Men, the
Buddha, the World-honored One.  Those who have not yet been saved, I cause
to be saved; those who have not yet been set free, to be set free; those
who have not yet been comforted, to be comforted; those who have not yet
obtained Nirvana, to obtain Nirvana. I know the present world and the
world to come as they really are.  I am the All-Knowing, the All-seeing,
the Knower of the Way, the Opener of the Way, the Preacher of the Way.
Come to me, all you gods, men, and demons, to hear the Law.

                         Buddhism.  Lotus Sutra 5

       If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will pray to
the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you
forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because
it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you,
and will be in you.

       I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.  Yet a little
while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I
live, you will live also.  In that day you will know that I am in my
Father, and you in me, and I in you.  He who has my commandments and keeps
them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my
Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

                   Christianity.  Bible, John 14.15-21

He it is who sent down peace of reassurance into the hearts of the
believers, that they might add faith to their faith.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 48.4

Says Nanak, The Master is a tree of contentment and forbearance;
Righteousness its flower, enlightenment the fruit.
This tree by joy in God keeps ever fresh and green;
By practice of meditation is it ripened.
With joy in the Lord is it consumed,
By such as dispense the supreme charity of selfless action.

               Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Var Majh, M.1, p. 147

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Matthew 11.28-30: Cf. Revelation 3.20, p. 686.  John 14.15-21:
'Counselor,' and 'Spirit of Truth' are names for the Holy Spirit, which
descended upon the disciples at Pentecost and which continues to infuse
the hearts of sincere Christians.  At the same time, the Counselor is
identified with Jesus Christ, who comes to dwell with the faithful.  Jesus
is also one with the Father. Thus, according to the doctrine of the
Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one.  On the Spirit
abiding in us, cf. Romans 8.9-17, p. 576.
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Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,
unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I
am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in me, and I in him, he
it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If a
man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and
the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you abide
in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be
done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit,
and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I
loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide
in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his
love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and
that your joy may be full.

                    Christianity.  Bible, John 15.4-11

Every Buddha Tathagata is one whose body is the Principle of Nature
(Dharmadhatu-kaya), so that he may enter into the mind of any being.
Consequently, when you have perceived Buddha, it is indeed that mind of
yours that possesses those thirty-two signs of perfection and eighty minor
marks of excellence [which you see in Buddha].  In fine, it is your mind
that becomes Buddha, nay, it is your mind that is indeed Buddha.  The
ocean of true and universal knowledge of all the Buddhas derives its
source from one's own mind and thought.  Therefore you should apply your
thought with an undivided attention to a careful meditation on that Buddha
Tathagata, the Holy and Fully Enlightened One.

               Buddhism.  Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 17

       May the Lord of Lords [Mahavira], whom all the hosts of saints keep
in mind, all the rulers of men and angels praise, and all the
scriptures--Vedas, Puranas, and Sastras--extol, make my heart his abode.

       May the Lord of Lords, who is of the nature of perception,
cognition, and bliss, is free from all mundane imperfections, is
comprehensible through concentrated contemplation, and is known as the
Highest Self, be enshrined in my heart.

       May the Lord of Lords, who cuts asunder the net of worldly
afflictions and sorrows, perceives the innermost secrets of the universe,
and is the pure introvert Self capable of being visualized by the yogins,
reside in my heart.

       May the Lord of Lords, who is the expounder of the path of
liberation, is beyond the reach of the miseries like those of birth and
death, is the seer of the three worlds, and is bodiless and faultless,
make my heart his abode.

       May the Lord of Lords, who is free from all blemishes like
attachment and aversion which hold in tight bondage all embodied beings,
who has no need of sense organs, is knowledge itself and eternally
independent, be enshrined in my heart.

       May the Lord of Lords, whose cognition pervades all the objects in
the cosmos, who has attained liberation and perfection, is fully
enlightened and absolutely free from the bondage of karma, and whose
contemplation destroys all spiritual aberrations, reside in my heart.

                         Jainism.  Samayika Patha

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Var Majh, M.1: This and the following passage express the image of the
founder as a Tree of Life.  For more on this image, see Psalm 1:1-3, p.
160; Qur'an 14.24-27, p. 161, and Revelation 22.1-5, pp. 1118f.  John
15.4-11: Cf. Romans 6.3-11, pp. 854f.  Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 17:
Cf. Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala 5, p. 652; Garland Sutra 37, p. 96; Sutra
of Hui Neng 2, p. 536.
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In order to save all creatures,
I expediently speak of Nirvana,
Yet truly I am not extinct,
But ever here preaching the Law.
I ever remain in this world,
In supernatural power,
So that all perverted creatures
Fail to see me, though near,
Looking on me as extinct,
Everywhere worshipping my relics,
Cherishing desire for goodness
And thirsting with aspiration.
When all creatures have submitted,
Are upright, and gentle in mind,
Wholeheartedly looking for Buddha,
Not caring for their own lives,
Then I with all the Sangha
On the Spirit Vulture Peak appear,
And then I tell all creatures
That I exist here, forever undying,
By means of expedients revealing
Myself as dead, yet not dead.
If in other regions there are beings,
Reverent and joyful in faith,
Again I am in their midst
To preach the supreme Law.
You, not hearing of this,
Only say I am extinct.
I, beholding all living creatures
Sunk in the sea of suffering,
At first do not show myself,
But set them expectant and thirsting,
Then, when their hearts are longing,
I appear to preach the Law.
In supernatural power,
Through kalpas numberless,
On the Spirit Vulture Peak am I,
And in other dwelling places.

                        Buddhism.  Lotus Sutra 16

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Samayika Patha: On these recitations, see p. 844n.
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I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am
alive for evermore, and I have the keys to Death and Hades.

                  Christianity.  Bible, Revelation 1.18

Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?  It is God who justifies;
who is to condemn?  Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from
the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?

                   Christianity.  Bible, Romans 8.33-34

Why [on Rosh Hashanah] do we blow on a ram's horn?  The Holy One said,
"Sound before me a ram's horn so that I may remember on your behalf the
binding of Isaac the son of Abraham, and account it to you as if you had
bound yourselves before me.

                   Judaism.  Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 16a

My life is a mercy and a blessing for you: in my presence you speak, and
an answer is given you.  When I die my death will be a mercy and a
blessing for you: After death, your deeds will be sent to me and I will
look at them: If you worked righteousness, I will praise God for this.  If
you worked evil, I will ask God that you be forgiven.

                        Islam.  Hadith of Ibn Sa`d

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to
pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too
deep for words.  And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the
mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according
to the will of God.

                   Christianity.  Bible, Romans 8.26-27

According to Anas, the Prophet said, "At the Judgment Day the believers
will assemble and will say, 'Let us ask someone to intercede for us.' They
will go and find Adam and say to him, 'You are the father of mankind; God
has created you with His hand, He has taught the angels to kneel before
you, and He has taught you the names of all things.  Intercede to the Lord
on our behalf in order that He may deliver us from our present
predicament.'  He will reply, 'I am not the one you are needing.  Go and
find Noah; he is the first messenger whom God sent to mankind.'  They will
find Noah, and he will say, 'I am not the one you need.'  He will remind
them that he asked the Lord about things of which he could have no
knowledge, and he would be ashamed to intercede for them.  'Go,' he will
say to them, 'and find the Friend of the Merciful [Abraham].'  They will
do as they are bid, and the latter will say, 'Go and ask Moses, this
worshipper to whom God has addressed a word and to whom He has given the
Torah.'  They will go and find Moses, and he will say to them, 'I am not
he whom you need.'  He will tell them that he killed a man who was not
guilty, and that he is ashamed before his Lord.  Then he arranges for them
to approach Jesus, the worshipper of God and His messenger, the Word of
God and the Spirit of God.  But Jesus will say to them, 'I am not the one
whom you need; go and find Muhammad (God bless and preserve him!); he is
the servant for whom God has pardoned all faults, past and future.'

       "Then they will come to me; I shall go to the Lord and ask Him if
He will listen to me.  He will grant me my request, and when I see Him, I
shall fall down on my knees and remain there as long as it pleases Him.
Then He will say to me, 'Look up; ask and you shall receive; speak and you
will be heard; intercede and your intercession will be granted.'  Then I
shall raise my head; I shall praise the Lord, following the formula which
He will teach me; then I shall intercede.  The Eternal One will show me a
group of people, for whom I shall gain access into Paradise.  This done, I
shall return to the Lord, and when I have seen Him, under the same
condition as before, I shall intercede afresh.  He will show me a second
group, for whom I shall gain access to Paradise.  Then I shall do the same
a third and a fourth time, and shall say, 'There are no more for hell
except those whom the Qur'an has condemned to it, and who must live in it

                        Islam.  Hadith of Bukhari

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Lotus Sutra 16: Cf. Lotus Sutra 16, the prose version, p. 121.  Revelation
1.18: Cf. 1 Corinthians 15.21-22, p. 547.  Rosh Hashanah 16a: Rosh
Hashanah is the Jewish New Year; it is invoked by sounding the ram's horn.
On the binding of Isaac, see Genesis 22, pp. 613f.  Romans 8.26-27: The
Holy Spirit enters the hearts of believers and helps them in their
weakness, sanctifying them by transforming their minds into the image of
the Son, the mind of Christ.  The Spirit leads people to testify to Jesus
Christ: see 1 Corinthians 12.1-3, p. 380; Matthew 10.19-20, p. 821.  The
Spirit is liberating: see John 3.8, p. 531.For another conception of the
Holy Spirit as all God-centered, loving spiritual influences, see Sun
Myung Moon, 1-5-81, p. 372.
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