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 religious life begins with a decision.  It is not something
that comes in the natural course of an unexamined life, but it must be
consciously chosen and cleaved to.  Neither can the decision be compelled
by human authorities, nor by the power of Heaven.  The call to faith must
be entered into freely. Often the call to decision is an exhortation to
awaken to the real dangers and fragility of human life: the inevitability
of death, the awareness of the sinfulness of one's life, the looming
threat of hell and punishment.  In the light of these dangers, religion
offers a sure refuge and way to salvation. This decision is commonly
described as between two possibilities: life or death, the narrow gate or
the wide gate, two roads.  This decision also requires a commitment based
upon knowledge sufficient that one will not later be swayed by doubts.

"Men, what must I do to be saved?"  And they said, "Believe in the Lord
Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

                       Christianity.  Acts 16.30-31

Say, "O mankind, I am the Messenger of God to you all, of Him to whom
belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth.  There is no God but
He.  He gives life, and He makes to die.  So believe in God, and His
messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, who believes in God
and in His words, and follow him that haply you may be led aright."

                           Islam.  Qur'an 7.158

Seek refuge with the Lord alone,
       with your whole being, Bharata.
By His grace, you will reach
       supreme peace, an everlasting estate.

                      Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 18.62

To many a refuge fear-stricken men betake themselves--to hills, woods,
groves, trees, and shrines.  Nay, no such refuge is safe, no such refuge
is supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one freed from ill.

He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha [the teacher], the Dhamma [the
teaching], and the Sangha [the taught], sees with right knowledge the Four
Noble Truths: Sorrow, the Cause of Sorrow, the Transcending of Sorrow and
the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to the Cessation of Sorrow.  This,
indeed, is refuge secure.  By seeking such refuge one is released from all

                      Buddhism.  Dhammapada 188-192

Young person, run to embrace Ifa.
Young person, run to embrace Ifa.
If people deceive you,

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Dhammapada 188-192: Cf. Khuddaka Patha, p. 53.
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Do not accept.
If people deceive you,
Do not accept.
Truth is bitter.

The future of the world belongs to Ifa
It will certainly not be spoiled in our own time.
It will not be spoiled in our own time.
The world will not be spoiled in our own time.
Ifa will mend it.

          African Traditional Religions.  Yoruba Hymn  (Nigeria)

Confucius said, "Set your heart upon the Way, support yourself by its
power, lean upon goodness, seek distraction in the arts."

                       Confucianism.  Analects 7.6

Arise! Awake! Approach the great and learn.  Like the sharp edge of a
razor is that path--so the wise say--hard to tread and difficult to cross.

                    Hinduism.  Katha Upanishad 1.3.14

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that
leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is
narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are

                      Christianity.  Matthew 7.13-14

Man always stands at the crossroads of good and evil.

                   Perfect Liberty Kyodan.  Precepts 18

Surely, the path that leads to worldly gain is one, and the path that
leads to Nibb-ana is another; understanding this, the bhikkhu, the
disciple of the Buddha, should not rejoice in wordly favours, but
cultivate detachment.

                         Buddhism.  Dhammapada 75

Have We not granted him two eyes,
and a tongue, and two lips,
and guided him on the two high roads?
Yet he has not assaulted the Steep!
What will make you realize what is the Steep?
To free a slave,
or to give food at a time of hunger,
to an orphan near of kin
or a needy man in misery;
then to become one who believes, and to counsel each other to be
steadfast, and to counsel each other to be merciful.

                          Islam.  Qur'an 90.8-17

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Yoruba Hymn: Ifa is the name of one of the high Yoruba divinities, but it
also means Yoruba religion as a whole.  Both meanings are used here.
Katha Upanishad 1.3.14: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 4.34-35, p. 814; Uttaradhyayana
Sutra 10.28-33, p. 962.  Dhammapada 75: See previous note.
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Thus says the Lord:
"Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls."

                 Judaism and Christianity.  Jeremiah 6.16

They say only, "Lo! we found our fathers following a religion, and we are
guided by their footprints."  And even so We sent not a warner before you
[Muhammad] into any township, but its luxurious ones said, "Lo! We found
our fathers following a religion, and we are following their footprints."
And the warner said, "What!  Even though I bring you better guidance than
that you found your fathers following?"  They answered, "Lo! In what you
bring we are disbelievers."  We have requited them; see what was the
consequence for the deniers.

                         Islam.  Qur'an 43.22-25

Jesus said to them, "No one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does,
the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will
be destroyed.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins."

                       Christianity.  Luke 5.37-38

    Were I but possessed of the least knowledge, I would, when walking on
the great way, fear only paths that lead astray.  The great Way is easy,
yet people prefer bypaths.

The court is corrupt,
The fields are overgrown with weeds,
The granaries are empty;
Yet there are those dressed in fineries,
With swords at their sides,
Filled with food and drink,
And possessed of too much wealth.
This is known as taking the lead in robbery.
Far indeed is this from the Way.

                         Taoism.  Tao Te Ching 53

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Qur'an 90.8-17: The two highways are the steep and difficult path of
virtue--called the Steep--and the easy path of vice and self-centered
living. On the Straight Path, see Qur'an 1, p. 53.  Qur'an 43.22-25: In
contrasting this and the preceding passage, recall that Muhammad was a
prophet who brought a new teaching that differed from the traditions of
the polytheists, while Jeremiah was a prophet who called his people back
to the fundamentals of the Covenant of Moses.  Luke 5.37-38: Jesus brought
a new message, 'new wine'; it could not abide with those who were attached
to the conventional wisdom, the 'old wineskins.'  Cf. Luke 9.60, p. 583.
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A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the
banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, "Come;
for all is now ready."  But they all alike began to make excuses.  The
first said to him, "I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I
pray you, have me excused."  And another said, "I have bought five yoke of
oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused."  And another
said, "I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come."  So the
servant came and reported this to his master.  Then the householder in
anger said to his servant, "Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the
city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame."  And the
servant said, "Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is
room."  And the master said to his servant, "Go out to the highways and
hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I
tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet."

           Christianity.  Luke 14.16-24: Parable of the Banquet

He who is not with me is against me.

                       Christianity.  Matthew 12.30

God puts forth a parable: A man belonging to many partners at variance
with each other, and a man belonging entirely to one master: are those two
equal in comparison?

                           Islam.  Qur'an 39.29

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the
other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot
serve God and mammon.

                       Christianity.  Matthew 6.24

If by giving up a lesser happiness one may behold a greater one, let the
wise man give up the lesser happiness in consideration of the greater

                        Buddhism.  Dhammapada 290

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Tao Te Ching 53: The 'by paths' mean ways of avoiding or rationalizing
away one's obligations for the sake of personal gain.  Cf. Tao Te Ching
12, p. 934. Luke 14.16-24: In this parable, Jesus laments that the most
qualified people make excuses that worldly occupations keep them from
participating in God's kingdom.  So God must call the poor and
impoverished, who have nothing to lose. Cf. Matthew 16.26, p. 962; Luke
9.60, p. 583; 9.62, p. 742; Abot 2.8, p. 959; Digha Nikaya iii.185, p.
1013.  On the other hand, compare Abot de Rabbi Nathan B, 31, p. 304.
Matthew 12.30: Compare Bhagavad Gita 6.5-6, p. 391.  Matthew 6.24: Cf.
Matthew 16.26, p. 962.  Dhammapada 290: Cf. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti
4, p. 198.
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Both the good and the pleasant present themselves to a man.  The calm soul
examines them well and discriminates.  Yea, he prefers the good to the
pleasant; but the fool chooses the pleasant out of greed and avarice.

                     Hinduism.  Katha Upanishad 1.2.2

The Self-existent pierced sense openings outward;
therefore a man looks out, not in.
But a certain wise man, in search of immortality,
turned his gaze inward and saw the Self within.
The foolish go after outward pleasures
and walk into the snare of all-embracing death.
The wise, however, discerning [the path to] immortality,
do not seek the permanent among things impermanent.

                     Hinduism.  Katha Upanishad 4.1-2

The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man
found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and
buys that field.

The kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on
finding one pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it.

                     Christianity.  Matthew 13.44-46

Hear with your ears that which is the sovereign good;
With a clear mind look upon the two sides
Between which each man must choose for himself,
Watchful beforehand that the great test may be accomplished in our favor.

Now at the beginning the twin spirits have declared their nature,
The better and the evil,
In thought and word and deed.  And between the two
The wise ones choose well, not so the foolish.

                  Zoroastrianism.  Avesta, Yasna 30.2-3

Behold, I [Moses] set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the
blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I
command you this day, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments
of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this
day, to go after other gods.

             Judaism and Christianity.  Deuteronomy 11.26-28

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Katha Upanishad 1.2.2: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23, p. 198; Dhammapada
7-8, p. 444.  Katha Upanishad 4.1-2: Truth is found through meditation and
fixing attention on the Self within, not by dealing with the deceptive and
transient phenomena of the world.  This is the most fundamental statement
of Upanishadic philosophy.  Cf. Mahabharata, Shanti Parva 177, p. 199;
Udana 11, p. 199. Yasna 30.2-3: Cf. Yasna 30.3-5, p. 388, 49.3, p. 963.
Deuteronomy 11.26-28: Cf. Deuteronomy 6.20-8.20, p. 1084.
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       And now remember, remember my brethren, that whosoever perishes,
perishes unto himself; and whosoever does iniquity, does it to himself;
for behold, you are free; you are permitted to act for yourselves; for
behold, God has given you a knowledge and has made you free.

       He has given to you that you might know good from evil; and he has
given to you that you might choose life or death; and you can do good and
be restored to that which is good, or have that which is good restored to
you; or you can do evil, and have that which is evil restored to you.

      Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Book of Mormon,
                             Helaman 14.30-31

No compulsion is there in religion; rectitude has been distinguished from

                           Islam.  Qur'an 2.256

I [Krishna] give you these precious words of wisdom; reflect on them and
then do as you choose.

                      Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 18.63

I am not biased in favor of Mahavira, nor averse to Kapila or other
teachers. I am committed to the preaching that is truly rational.

                Jainism.  Haribhadra, Loktattvanirnaya 38

Do not be misled by reports, or tradition, or hearsay.  Be not led by the
authority of religious texts, nor by mere logic or inference, nor by
considering appearances, nor by the delight in speculative opinions, nor
by seeming possibilities, nor by the idea: "This is our teacher."  But
when you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome and
wrong, and bad, then give them up....  And when you know for yourselves
that certain things are wholesome and good, then accept them and follow

          Buddhism.  Anguttara Nikaya i.190-91, Kesaputta Sutta

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Qur'an 2.256: Cf. Qur'an 10.94-95, p. 759, 10.99-100, p. 65; Analects
12.19, p. 1072.    Anguttara Nikaya i.190-91: Cf. Majjhima Nikaya i.318,
p. 655, ii.16, p. 759; Vinaya ii.10, p. 64.
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