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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       Spiritual growth is a long process that requires perseverance and
patience. Once the resolution is made and the journey is begun, it should
not be abandoned, for the result is often not decided until the very end.
Patience is not merely to wait for fate to intervene; rather it means to
persevere in the practices of the discipline until the goal is achieved.
The scriptures express the virtue of perseverance through various
metaphors: running a race, climbing a tree, digging a well, and boring to
the pith of a tree.

       To conclude this section, we have singled out two passages which
tell stories of great patience.  One, from the story of Job in the Bible,
describes his patience and faith in the midst of suffering.  The other,
from the Qur'an, is the story of Moses' mystic journey, where the mark of
a patient man is that he can accept the vicissitudes of life, as unlikely
as they might be, without doubting the ever-present but unseen hand of

Be patient; surely God's promise is true.  And ask forgiveness for your
sin, and proclaim the praise of your Lord at evening and dawn.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 40.55

Though he be ever so tired by repeated failure, let him begin his
operations again and again; for fortune greatly favors the man who
perseveres in his undertakings.

                      Hinduism.  Laws of Manu 9.300

And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap,
if we do not lose heart.

                   Christianity.  Bible, Galatians 6.9

How long can you continue to sacrifice with a heart of love?  This is what
determines whether you have victory or defeat.

               Unification Church.  Sun Myung Moon, 9-1-72

Once when the Master was standing by a stream, he said, "Could one but go
on and on like this, never ceasing day or night!"

                       Confucianism.  Analects 9.16

The snail has no hands,
The snail has no feet,
Gently the snail climbs the tree.

         African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

If fishermen, hunters, and farmers,
Thinking merely of their own livelihood,
Endure the sufferings of heat and cold,
Why am I not patient for the sake of the world's joy?

      Buddhism.  Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life

He who endures to the end will be saved.

                        Christianity.  Mark 13.13

The day that the sun sets and does not rise again is indeed an evil day.

         African Traditional Religions.  Igala Proverb (Nigeria)

Perseverance prevails even against Heaven.

                     Judaism.  Talmud, Sanhedrin 105a

Prosperity forsakes those who always dream of fate and favors those who
persevere.  One should therefore always be active and alert.

                      Hinduism.  Matsya Purana 221.2

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Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 4.40: Cf. Dhammapada 80, p. 731,
another comparison of the spiritual task to worldly labors.  Igala
Proverb: Even the worst problems have solutions if one only perseveres.
Sanhedrin 105a: 'Heaven' here may mean one's God-ordained destiny.  Cf.
Matsya Purana 180.5-7, p. 710. Matsya Purana 221.2: Cf. Acarangasutra
1.35-37. p. 739.
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Master Tseng said, "The true Knight of the Way must perforce be both
broad-shouldered and stout of heart; his burden is heavy and he has far to
go. For Goodness is the burden he has taken upon himself; and must we not
grant that it is a heavy one to bear?  Only with death does his journey
end; then must we not grant that he has far to go?"

                       Confucianism.  Analects 8.7

Life is like a hill.
Mawu the Creator made it steep and slippery,
To right and left deep waters surround it,
You cannot turn back once you start to climb.
You must climb with a load on your head.
A man's arms will not help him, for it's a trial,
The world is a place of trial.

               African Traditional Religions.  Dahomey Song

You who believe, seek help through patience and prayer; God stands
alongside the patient!  We will test you with a bit of fear and hunger,
and a shortage of wealth and souls and produce.  Proclaim such to patient
people who say, whenever disaster strikes them, "We are God's, and are
returning to Him!"  Such will be granted their prayers by their Lord as
well as mercy.  Those are guided!

                         Islam.  Qur'an 2.153-57

Race with one another for forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 57.21

Heedful among the heedless, wide awake amongst the slumbering, the wise
man advances as does a swift horse, leaving a weak jade behind.

                         Buddhism.  Dhammapada 29

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one
receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete
exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable
wreath, but we an imperishable.  Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not
box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after
preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

                   Christianity.  1 Corinthians 9.24-27

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Analacts 8.7: Cf. I Ching 58, p. 201; Lotus Sutra 13, pp. 882f.  Qur'an
2.153-57: Cf. Qur'an 2.177, p. 861; 3.186, p. 879.  1 Corinthians 9.24-27:
Cf. 1 Timothy 4.7-8, p. 716; Hebrews 12.1-2, pp. 754f.
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You will be running to the four corners of the universe:
To where the land meets the big water;
To where the sky meets the land;
To where the home of winter is;
To the home of rain.
Run this! Run!
Be strong!
For you are the mother of a people.

                 Native American Religions.  Apache Song

Scripture credits with performance not him who begins a task, but him who
completes it.

                        Judaism.  Talmud, Sota 13b

You have crossed the great ocean; why do you halt so near the shore?  Make
haste to get on the other side, Gautama; be careful all the while!

                   Jainism.  Uttaradhyayana Sutra 10.34

Mencius said, "To try to achieve anything is like digging a well.  You can
dig a hole nine fathoms deep, but if you fail to reach the source of
water, it is just an abandoned well."

                     Confucianism.  Mencius VII.A.29

Rabbi Akiba, illiterate at forty, saw one day a stone's perforation where
water fell from a spring, and having heard people say, "Waters wear
stones," he thought, "If soft water can bore through a rock, surely
iron-clad Torah should, by sheer persistence, penetrate a tender mind";
and he turned to study.

                 Judaism.  Talmud, Abot de Rabbi Nathan 6

       Suppose a man goes to the forest to get some of the pith that grows
in the center of a tree and returns with a burden of branches and leaves,
thinking that he has secured what he went after; would he not be foolish?

       A person seeks a path that will lead him away from misery; and yet,
he follows that path a little way, notices some little advance, and
immediately becomes proud and conceited.  He is like the man who sought
pith and came back satisfied with a burden of branches and leaves.

       Another man goes into the forest seeking pith and comes back with a
load of branches.  He is like the person on the path who becomes satisfied
with the progress he has made by a little effort, and relaxes his effort
and becomes proud and conceited.

       Another man comes back carrying a load of bark instead of the pith
he was looking for.  He is like the person who finds that his mind is
becoming calmer and his thoughts clearer, and then relaxes his effort and
becomes proud and conceited.  Then another man brings back a load of the
woody fiber of the tree instead of the pith.  Like him is one who has
gained a measure of intuitive insight, and then relaxes his effort.  All
of these seekers, who become easily satisfied after insufficient effort
and become proud and overbearing, relax their efforts and easily fall into
idleness.  All these people will inevitably face suffering again.

         Buddhism.  Majjhima Nikaya i.192-95: Simile of the Pith

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Apache Song: This is a song for the girls' initiation to adulthood, which
takes place at puberty.  Mencius VII.A.29: Cf. Luke 14.28-31, p. 736.
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It matters not what you learn; but when you once learn a thing, you must
never give it up until you have mastered it.  It matters not what you
inquire into, but when you inquire into a thing, you must never give it up
until you have thoroughly understood it.  It matters not what you try to
think out, but when you once try to think out a thing you must never give
it up until you have got what you want.  It matters not what you try to
sift out, but when you once try to sift out a thing, you must never give
it up until you have sifted it out clearly and distinctly.  It matters not
what you try to carry out, but when you once try to carry out a thing you
must never give it up until you have done it thoroughly and well.  If
another man succeed by one effort, you will use a hundred efforts.  If
another man succeed by ten efforts, you will use a thousand efforts.  Let
a man really proceed in this manner, and though dull, he will surely
become intelligent; though weak, he will surely become strong.

                  Confucianism.  Doctrine of the Mean 20

       Now there was a day when [Job's] sons and daughters were eating and
drinking wine in their eldest brother's house; and there came a messenger
to Job, and said, "The oxen were plowing and the asses feeding beside
them; and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them, and slew the servants
with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you."  While
he was yet speaking, there came another, and said, "The fire of God fell
from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them;
and I alone have escaped to tell you."  While he was yet speaking, there
came another, and said, "The Chaldeans formed three companies, and made a
raid upon the camels and took them, and slew the servants with the edge of
the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you."  While he was yet
speaking, there came another, and said, "Your sons and daughters were
eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house; and behold, a
great wind came across the wilderness, and struck the four corners of the
house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead; and I alone
have escaped to tell you."

       Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell
upon the ground, and worshipped.  And he said, "Naked I came from my
mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has
taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

       In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

                  Judaism and Christianity.  Job 1.13-22

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Majjhima Nikaya i.192-95: Cf. Parable of the Sower, Mark 4.3-20, pp. 718f.
Job 1.13-22: Cf. Job 2.9-10, pp. 707f.; Anguttara Nikaya iii.33, p. 697.
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       Moses... found one of Our servants to whom We had given mercy from
Ourself and taught him knowledge from Our very presence.  Moses said to
him, "May I follow you so you may teach me some of the common sense you
have been taught?" He said, "You will never have any patience with me!
How can you show any patience with something that is beyond your

       He said, "You will find me patient, if God so wishes.  I will not
disobey you in any matter."  He said, "If you follow me, do not ask me
about anything until I tell you something to remember it by."

       So they both started out until, as they boarded a ship, he bored a
hole in her.  [Moses] said, "Have you scuttled her to drown her crew?  You
have done such a weird thing!"  He said, "Didn't I say that you would not
manage to show any patience with me?"  He said, "Do not take me to task
for what I have forgotten, nor weigh me down by making my case too
difficult for me."

       They journeyed on and when they met a youth, he killed him.  Moses
said, "Have you killed an innocent soul, who himself had not murdered
another?  You have committed such a horrible deed!"  He said, "Did I not
tell you that you would never manage to have any patience with me?"  He
said, "If I ever ask you about anything after this, do not let me
accompany you.  You have found an excuse so far as I am concerned."

       They both proceeded further till when they came to the people of a
town, they asked its inhabitants for some food, and they refused to treat
either of them hospitably.  They found a wall there which was about to
tumble down, so he set it straight.  Moses said, "If you had wished, you
might have accepted some payment for it."  He said, "This means a parting
between you and me.  Yet I shall inform you about the interpretation of
what you had no patience for.

       "As for the ship, it belonged to some poor men who worked at sea.
I wanted to damage it because there was a king behind them seizing every
ship by force. The young man's parents were believers, and we dreaded lest
he would burden them with arrogation and disbelief.  We wanted the Lord to
replace him for them with someone better than him in purity and nearer to
tenderness.  The wall belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and a
treasure of theirs lay underneath it.  Their father had been honorable, so
your Lord wanted them to come of age and claim their treasure as a mercy
from your Lord.  That is the interpretation of what you showed no patience

                         Islam.  Qur'an 18.65-82

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Qur'an 18.65-82: The biblical Moses had a weakness of anger and
impatience; once he killed an Egyptian and as a consequence had to flee
Egypt and live in exile in Midian; cf. Numbers 20.2-13, p. 924.  This
parable about Moses has no parallel in the Bible.  Moses seeks out a
teacher, which shows that despite his great faith and wisdom, he was
always humble to truth and eager to learn more. The unnamed teacher whom
he meets is one who is deeply acquainted with the secrets of life;
tradition assigns him the name Khidr.  He has such spiritual insight that
he can see the reality behind appearances.  For Moses, and all of us who
lack such unusual powers of insight, the truth is hidden, and we make
mistakes if we rely on quick judgments.  The truth can only be found out
through patience and trust in God.  Cf. Proverbs 3.5-6, p. 752.
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