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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       While Theravada Buddhism and Jainism regard progress toward
enlightenment as entirely a matter of individual effort, in the theistic
religions human efforts are undertaken in the context of God's grace.  The
relationship between effort and grace is what Thomas Aquinas called
synergy: effort calls forth grace, and grace prompts effort.  A number of
texts stress human initiative as calling forth grace--"God helps those who
help themselves"; conversely, others describe grace as preceding and
overshadowing human effort.  The concluding text describe the conjoint
action of human effort and divine providence, including the paradoxical
nature of their relationship.  For texts that regard salvation as by grace
alone, see Grace, pp. 505-12.

Be mindful of me, and I will be mindful of you.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 2.152

If you say yes, your God will say yes.

          African Traditional Religions.  Igbo Proverb (Nigeria)

Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will
draw near to you.

                        Christianity.  James 4.7-8

God changes not what is in a people, until they change what is in

                           Islam.  Qur'an 13.11

Those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly

                 Judaism and Christianity.  1 Samuel 2.30

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Qur'an 13.11: Cf. Abot 2.4, p. 771.  1 Samuel 2.30: Cf. Sukkah 53a, p.
114; Berakot 55a, p. 718; Matthew 13.12, p. 718.
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Realization of the holy Word is granted to those who place themselves under
God's shelter.

            Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Wadhans Chhant, M.5, p. 571

He who longs for the Self--by him alone is the Self attained.  To him does
the Self reveal His true being.

                    Hinduism.  Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.3

Remembering me, you shall overcome all difficulties through my grace.  But
if you will not heed me in your self-will, nothing will avail you.

                      Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 18.58

He who conforms to the Way is gladly accepted by the Way; he who conforms
to virtue is gladly accepted by virtue; he who conforms to loss is gladly
accepted by loss.

                         Taoism.  Tao Te Ching 23

If a man sanctify himself a little, he becomes much sanctified; if he
sanctify himself below, he becomes sanctified from above; if he sanctify
himself in this world, he becomes sanctified in the world to come.

                        Judaism.  Talmud, Yoma 39a

If you wish to find the true way,
Right action will lead you to it directly;
But if you do not strive for Buddhahood
You will grope in the dark and never find it.

                      Buddhism.  Sutra of Hui Neng 2

In the Book of Changes it is said, "He is blessed by Heaven.  Good
fortune. Nothing that does not further."

The Master said, To bless means to help.  Heaven helps the man who is
devoted; men help the man who is true.  He who walks in truth and is
devoted in his thinking, and furthermore reveres the worthy, is blessed by
Heaven. "He has good fortune, and there is nothing that would not further"
[Hexagram 42: Increase].

             Confucianism.  I Ching, Great Commentary 1.12.1

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Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.3: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 7.21-23, p. 725.  For a
different and more grace-centered interpretation of this same text, in
which it is the Self who chooses whom He will, see p. 508.  Bhagavad Gita
18.58: Cf. Hadith of Muslim, p. 758.  Tao Te Ching 23: Cf. Analects 7.6,
p. 672; 7.29, p. 114.  On 'conforming to loss,' see Bhagavad Gita 7.21-23,
Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 6, p. 726; Makkot 10b, p. 725; Abot 4.12, p.
717.  Yoma 39a: Cf. Abot 2.4, p. 771; Berakot 55a, p. 718, Jerusalem
Talmud, Kiddushin 1.9, p. 717.
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Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it
will be opened to you.  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks
finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man of you, if
his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for
fish, will give him a serpent?  If you, then, who are evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in
heaven give good things to those who ask him!

                   Christianity.  Bible, Matthew 7.7-11

God has declared: I am close to the thought that My servant has of Me, and
I am with him whenever He recollects Me.  If he remembers Me in himself, I
remember him in Myself, and if he remembers Me in a gathering I remember
him better than those in the gathering do, and if he approaches Me by as
much as one hand's length, I approach him by a cubit....   If he takes a
step towards me, I run towards him.

                              Islam.  Hadith

God asks nothing of any soul save that which He has given it.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 65.7

God gives each person a hook with which to pluck his fruit.

          African Traditional Religions.  Igbo Proverb (Nigeria)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens
the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

                      Christianity.  Revelation 3.20

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own
doing, it is the gift of God--not because of works, lest any man should
boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

                     Christianity.  Ephesians 2.8-10

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Matthew 7.7-11: Cf. Luke 6.38, p. 983; Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 18.19-21,
p. 827.  Hadith: A sacred hadith transmitted by Ibn Hanbal, the great
Muslim jurist.  Cf. Sukkah 53a, p. 114; Romans 8:26-27, p. 648.  Qur'an
65.7: Cf. Qur'an 2.286, p. 509; 48.4 p. 645; 1 Corinthians 10.13, p. 509.
Revelation 3.20: Cf. John 15.4-11, p. 646.  Ephesians 2.8-10: The two
halves of this passage balance the grace of God with the obligation for
good works.  Priority is given to grace, by which we are transformed and
enabled to do the good works.
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Lo! this is an admonishment, that whosoever will may choose a way unto his
Lord; yet you will not, unless God wills.  Lo! God is Knower, Wise.  He
makes whom He will to enter His mercy, and for evildoers has prepared a
painful doom.

                         Islam.  Qur'an 76.29-31

Rabbi Akiba says, Everything is foreseen, yet freedom of choice is given;
the world is judged by grace, yet all is according to the preponderance of

                       Judaism.  Mishnah, Abot 3.19

By man's actions is acquired the vesture of human incarnation; By God's
grace is attained the Door of Liberation. Nanak!  Know the All-holy to be
Almighty, Absolute.

                Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Japuji 4, M.1, p. 2

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in
you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

                    Christianity.  Philippians 2.12-13

No affliction befalls, except it be by the leave of God.  Whosoever
believes in God, He will guide his heart.  And God has knowledge of

                           Islam.  Qur'an 64.11

Should you do anything that is beautiful, God has caused it to be
beautiful, Should you do anything evil, God has caused it to be evil.

          African Traditional Religions.  Nupe Proverb (Nigeria)

O My servants, everyone of you is in error, except the one I have guided,
so ask guidance from Me and I will guide you.  O My servants, everyone of
you is hungry, except him whom I have fed, so ask food of Me and I will
feed you.  O My servants, everyone of you is naked except him whom I have
clothed, so ask clothing of Me and I will clothe you.  O My servants, you
sin day and night, and I pardon your sins; so ask pardon of Me and I will
pardon you.

                   Islam.  Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 24

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Qur'an 76.29-31: Cf. Qur'an 49.7, p. 752.  Abot 3.19: This passage
juxtaposes two pairs of contraries: divine foreknowledge and human
freedom, and the divine attributes of mercy and justice.  Cf. Exodus
33.18, p. 689; Berakot 33b, p. 680.  Philippians 2.12-13: Individual
responsibility and the indwelling grace of God are juxtaposed in this
passage.  Cf. Romans 8.26-27, p. 648.
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All undertakings in this world depend both on the ordering of fate and on
human exertion; but among these two the ways of fate are unfathomable; in
the case of man's work action is possible.

                      Hinduism.  Laws of Manu 7.205

All by Thee is accomplished, Thine is the might,
Thou watcheth Thy handiwork,
With chess pieces raw and ripe.
All that into the world have come, must depart hence--
All shall by turns go.
Why put out of mind the Lord, master of life and death?
By one's own hands is one's affairs set straight.

             Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 473-74

Lord Mahavira!  Your word sometimes supports the view of providence, at
other times calls events spontaneously occurring or ascribes destiny to
external factors.  At times you hold the deeds of individuals to be the
mold of their desert, at other times find that another's deeds project
their moral reflection on the individual.  The miracle is that none blames
you for these paradoxical utterances!

                 Jainism.  Hemachandra, Dvatrimshika 3.8

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Asa-ki-Var, M.1: The image of God in heaven moving chess pieces which
determine man's destiny on earth is evocative of absolute predestination.
Yet that is all the more reason to be mindful of God, Master of the game;
for who knows on what basis he decides his moves, or whether he will not
choose to move the pieces again?
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