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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       Faith has many dimensions and aspects.  There is faith which is
belief, faith which is knowledge, faith which is vision, faith which is
trust, and faith which is the heart's intention.  Some people are willing
to die for faith, others experience genuine faith as mixed with doubt.  In
several scriptures the value of faith is set above the efficacy of works,
for faith means acceptance of God's all-sufficient grace while works
signify self-reliance and a kind of unbelief.  Other texts consider faith
to be the starting point for knowledge and the basis for proper effort in
the religious path.

       This section opens with passages in which faith is assent to a
particular belief.  The content of faith is sometimes stated as a creed,
giving in a few words the basic tenets of religion.  Based upon this
belief, a person is rightly guided to a true relationship with God and
progress in the religious life.

       The next passages describe faith as an attitude of receptive
devotion to God and trust in God's providence.  It is faith in the sense
of faithfulness. Such faith has the attributes of vision and hope, giving
people the will to persevere in the path despite persecution and seeming
lack of results.

       Third, we have brought together some key passages on the faith of
Abraham. Abraham is depicted as the exemplar of faith in Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam.  In the Qur'an, Abraham is called the first
Muslim, literally One who Submits' his will to God.  Submission, islam, is
regarded as the fundamental attitude of all Muslims; see Fear, Submission,
Obedience, pp. 767-72.  In the Christian Bible, Paul makes the faith of
Abraham the basis for his distinction between faith and works.  Faith is
the acceptance of God's grace through Jesus Christ which alone is
sufficient to bring salvation, while the works of the law are human
efforts which can only confirm man's powerlessness to save himself; see
Grace, pp. 505-12.

       On this topic of faith and works we include other passages as well:
from the Lotus Sutra, the scriptures of Pure Land Buddhism, the Talmud,
and the Adi Granth.  The Buddhist saint Shinan emphasizes the power of
faith and the insufficiency of works to a degree comparable to the
Lutheran Christian doctrine of sola fide, Faith Alone.  The passage from
the Talmud shows that Judaism does not accept Paul's characterization of
the law as human striving antithetical to faith, but rather places faith
at the peak of the law.

       The last group of passages illustrates the extremes of absolute
faith and doubt: the faith that can move mountains and the doubt that
withers any benefits of faith.  Absolute faith in these passages means
trust in God, even when it appears unrealistic and even hazardous to do
so.  Yet it is precisely in such circumstances that doubt most often

Right belief, right knowledge, right conduct, these together constitute
the path to liberation.

                      Jainism.  Tattvarthasutra 1.1

He who does not understand the will of Heaven cannot be regarded as a

                      Confucianism.  Analects 20.3.1

Unless you have believed, you will not understand.

                  Judaism and Christianity.  Isaiah 7.9

Without faith there is no knowledge, without knowledge there is no
virtuous conduct, without virtues there is no deliverance, and without
deliverance there is no perfection [Nirvana].

                   Jainism.  Uttaradhyayana Sutra 28.30

They said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"  Jesus
answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he
has sent."

                       Christianity.  John 6.28-29

O you who believe, believe in God and His Apostle and the scripture which
He has sent to His Apostle and the scriptures which He sent down to those
before. Whoever denies God, His angels, His books, His apostles, and the
Day of Judgment, has gone far, far astray.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 4.136

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Isaiah 7.9: This is a translation from the Septuagint; the Hebrew text,
which is accepted for all modern Bibles, reads: "Unless you are faithful,
you will not be established."  Yet since the time of St. Augustine, this
reading has been immensely influential as a foundation for the Christian
theological tradition of "faith seeking understanding."  Qur'an 4.136: In
this passage and the following tradition, faith means to believe the
central tenets of Islam. They recite the Muslim creed in five clauses.
Cf. Qur'an 2.177, p. 861.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

Iman (faith)... is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His
messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny, both the
good and the evil thereof.

                   Islam.  Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 2

There are four kinds of faith.  The first is the faith in the Ultimate
Source. Because of this faith a man comes to meditate with joy on the
principle of Suchness.  The second is the faith in the numberless
excellent qualities of the Buddhas.  Because of this faith a man comes to
meditate on them always, to draw near to them in fellowship, to honor
them, and to respect them, developing his capacity for goodness and
seeking after the all-embracing knowledge.  The third is the faith in the
great benefits of the Dharma.  Because of this faith a man comes
constantly to remember and practice the various disciplines leading to
enlightenment.  The fourth is faith in the Sangha, whose members are able
to devote themselves to the practice of benefitting both themselves and
others. Because of this faith a man comes to approach the assemby of
Bodhisattvas constantly and with joy to seek instruction from them in the
correct practice.

                Buddhism.  Awakening of Faith in Mahayana

The righteous shall live by being faithful.

                 Judaism and Christianity.  Habakkuk 2.4

By faith you shall be free and go beyond the world of death.

                       Buddhism.  Sutta Nipata 1146

When the Israelites saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore, and saw
the great power which the Lord had put forth against Egypt, the people
were in awe of the Lord and put their faith in him and in Moses his

                        Judaism.  Exodus 14.30-31

The true believers are those whose hearts are filled with awe at the
mention of God, and whose faith grows stronger as they listen to His
revelations.  They put their trust in their Lord, pray steadfastly, and
give in alms of that which We have given them.  Such are the true
believers.  They shall be exalted and forgiven by their Lord, and a
generous provision shall be made for them.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 8.2-4

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 2: See the previous note.  Awakening of Faith in
Mahayana: This description of the four faiths includes faith in the
traditional Three Treasures--the Buddha, the Dharma, and the
Sangha--preceded by faith in the particularly Mahayanist teaching about
the Absolute, or Suchness, which is all-inclusive, unconditional,
transcendent, and immanent.  This work, whose Sanskrit title is Mahayana
Shraddahotpada Shastra, is attributed to Ashvaghosha.  In China it is
among the most highly regarded of Buddhist scriptures and is used by most
of its major schools.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

Put your trust on the Exalted in Might, the Merciful--Who sees you
standing forth in prayer, and your movements among those who prostrate
themselves.  For it is He who hears and sees all things.

                         Islam.  Qur'an 26.218-20

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
       and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him
       and he will make straight your paths.

             Judaism and Christianity.  Bible, Proverbs 3.5-6

God has endeared the Faith to you, and has made it beautiful in your
hearts, and He has made hateful to you unbelief, wickedness, and
rebellion: such indeed are those who walk in righteousness--a grace and
favor from God.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 49.7

Faith is composed of the heart's intention.
Light comes through faith.
Through faith men come to prayer,
Faith in the morning, faith at noon and at the setting of the sun.
O Faith, give us faith!

                      Hinduism.  Rig Veda 10.151.4-5

The faith of every man, O Arjuna, accords with his nature.  Man is made up
of faith; as is his faith, so is he.

The threefold austerity [of body, speech, and mind] practiced with faith
by men of balanced mind, without any expectation of reward, is said to be

Without faith, whatever offering or gift is made or work done or penance
performed, it is reckoned "not-being" both now and hereafter.

                   Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 17.3,17,28

Inexpressible is the state of faith;
Whoever attempts to describe it shall in the end regret his rashness.
This state pen and paper cannot record,
Nor cogitation penetrate its secret.
The great, immaculate Name of God
May only be realized by one
Whose mind is firmly fixed in faith.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Proverbs 3.5-6: Cf. Qur'an 18.65-82, p. 748; Gleanings from the Writings
of Baha'u'llah 127, p. 204.  Qur'an 49.7: Cf. Qur'an 48.4, p. 552; Yasna
60.21, p. 721.  Rig Veda 10.151.4-5: Cf. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.8, p. 721.
Bhagavad Gita 7.3,17,28: This meaning of faith is somewhat akin to
sincerity: see Bhagavad Gita 7.21-23, p. 725; Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.3,
p. 866.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

Through faith the mind and intellect find concentration;
And to the seeker are revealed all the stages of enlightenment.
Through faith one will not receive blows in the Hereafter,
Nor be subjected to death's terror.
The great, immaculate Name of God
May only be realized by one
Whose mind is firmly fixed in faith.

Through faith man meets no obstacle on the Path,
And shall proceed to his abode with God with his honor universally
One with faith shall not stray into sects and byways,
But be fixed in true religion.
The great, immaculate Name of God
May only be realized by one
Whose mind is firmly fixed in faith.

Through faith man finds the Door of Liberation:
Even his relatives are liberated through him.
Through faith are both Preceptor and disciple liberated.
Says Nanak, One with faith
Need not wander about begging for divine grace.
The great, immaculate Name of God
May only be realized by one
Whose mind is firmly fixed in faith.

              Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Japuji 12-15, M.1, p. 3

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

                Judaism and Christianity.  Proverbs 29.18

       Once there was a person who sought the True Path in the Himalayas.
He cared nothing for all the treasures of the earth or even for all the
delights of heaven, but he sought the teaching that would remove all
mental delusions. The gods were impressed by the man's earnestness and
sincerity and decided to test his mind.  So one of the gods disguised
himself as a demon and appeared in the Himalayas, singing,

          Everything changes,
                  Everything appears and disappears.

       The seeker heard this song which pleased him so, as if he had found
a spring of cool water for his thirst or as if he were a slave
unexpectedly set free.  He thought, "At last I have found the true
teaching that I have sought for so long."  He followed the voice and at
last came upon the frightful demon. With an uneasy mind he approached the
demon and said, "Was it you who sang the holy song that I have just heard?
If it was you, please sing more of it."  The demon replied, "Yes, it was
my song, but I can not sing more of it until I have had something to eat;
I am starving."  The man begged him in earnest, saying, "It has a sacred
meaning to me and I have sought its teaching for a long time. I have only
heard a part of it; please let me hear more."  The demon said again, "I am
starving, but if I can taste the warm flesh and blood of a man, I will
finish the song."  The man, in his eagerness to hear the teaching,
promised the demon that he could have his body after he had heard the
teaching. Then the demon sang the complete song,

           Everything changes,
                  Everything appears and disappears,
                  There is perfect tranquillity
                  When one transcends both life and extinction.

Hearing this, the man, after he wrote the poem on rocks and trees around,
quietly climbed a tree and hurled himself to the feet of the demon, but
the demon had disappeared and, instead, a radiant god received the body of
the man unharmed.

                  Buddhism.  Mahaparinirvana Sutra 13.19

       Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of
things not seen.  For by it men of old received divine approval.  By faith
we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what
is seen was made out of things which do not appear.

       By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain,
through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by
accepting his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; he was not
found, because God had taken him.  Now before he was taken he was attested
as having pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please him.
For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he
rewards those who seek him.

       By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen,
took heed and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; by this
he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which comes
by faith.

       By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing
where he was to go.  By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a
foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the
same promise.  For he looked forward to the city which has foundations,
whose builder and maker is God.  By faith Sarah herself received power to
conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him
faithful who had promised.  Therefore from one man, and him as good as
dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the
innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

       These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but
having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they
were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it
clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that
land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to
return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly
one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has
prepared for them a city.

       By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who
had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom it
was said, "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named."  He considered
that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively
speaking, he did receive him back...

       By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid for three months by his
parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not
afraid of the king's edict.  By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused
to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to share
ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures
of sin.  He considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than
the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to the reward.  By faith he left
Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king; for he endured as seeing
him who is invisible.  By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the
blood, so that the Destroyer of the first-born might not touch them.

       By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land; but the
Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.  By faith the
walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient,
because she had given friendly welcome to the spies.

       And what more shall I say?  For time would fail me to tell of
Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets--who
through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises,
stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the
sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign
armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection.  Some were
tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a
better life.  Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and
imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed
with the sword, they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute,
afflicted, ill-treated--of whom the world was not worthy--wandering over
deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

       And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive
what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that
apart from us they should not be made perfect.

       Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so
closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy
that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is
seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

                     Christianity.  Hebrews 11.1-12.2

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Mahaparinirvana Sutra 13.19: Cf. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 6, p. 443;
Qur'an 18.65-82, p. 748; Daniel 3.1-28, pp. 883f. Hebrews 11.1-12.2: The
'promise' which the saints whose stories are recounted here had not
received was the salvation wrought through Jesus Christ, the 'perfecter of
our faith'--and of theirs as well.  They live still as witnesses,
encouraging us.  Cf. Acts 7.1-60, pp. 887f.; Daniel 3, pp. 883f.; Gittin
57b, p. 886; Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 81, p. 371.  On
the metaphor of the foot race, cf. 1 Corinthians 9.24-27, p. 745.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

He [Abraham] believed the Lord, and he reckoned it to him as

                 Judaism and Christianity.  Genesis 15.6

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

                      Christianity.  Ephesians 2.8-9

O foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus
Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?  Let me [Paul] ask you only
this, Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with
faith?  Are you so foolish?  Having begun with the Spirit, are you now
ending with the flesh?  Did you experience so many things in vain?--if it
really is in vain.  Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works
miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
Thus Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
So you see that it is men of faith who are sons of Abraham....

Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for "He
who through faith is righteous shall live"; but the law does not rest on
faith, for "He who does them shall live by them."

                  Christianity.  Galatians 3.1-7, 11-12

Rabbi Simlai said, "Six hundred and thirteen commandments were given to
Moses, 365 negative commandments, answering to the number of the days of
the year, and 248 positive commandments, answering to the number of a
man's members.  Then David came and reduced them to eleven [Psalm 15].
Then came Isaiah, and reduced them to six [Isaiah 63.15].  Then came
Micah, and reduced them to three [Micah 6.8].  Then Isaiah came again, and
reduced them to two, as it is said, 'Keep ye judgment and do
righteousness.'  Then came Amos, and reduced them to one, as it is said,
'Seek me and live.'  Or one may say, then came Habakkuk [2.4], and reduced
them to one, as it is said, 'The righteous shall live by his faith.'"

                     Judaism.  Talmud, Makkot 23b-24a

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Ephesians 2.8-9: Cf. Galatians 2.20, p. 898.  Galatians 3.1-7: Paul is
quoting from Genesis 15.6 on the faith of Abraham to contrast the value of
faith with the worthlessness of relying on human efforts to observe the
many ordinances on ritual, diet, and worship found in the Law of Moses.
More of this passage, dealing with the incompleteness of works of the Law,
is given at p. 163.  Cf. Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.7-11, p. 164; Sutra of Hui
Neng 6, p. 163.  Galatians 3.11: Paul quotes Habakkuk 2.4 to support the
priority of faith over the obligations of the Law.  The second quotation,
from Leviticus 18.5, states that a man shall live by doing the
commandments of the Torah.  By quoting this, Paul is arguing that faith
and the Law are two independent and opposing principles; one can live
either by faith or by the Law.  Yet, he argues, justification through the
Law is impossible--cf. Romans 3.19-20, p. 163.  This is contrary to the
Jewish view that faith is the core of the Law, as in the following passage
from the Talmud.  Also compare James 2.14-26, pp. 1009f., on the necessity
of good works which demonstrate true faith.  Makkot 23b-24a: Judaism does
not accept Paul's characterization, above, that faith is opposed to the
Law. Rather, the rabbis teach that faith is the core and concrescence of
the law.  This passage also quotes Habakkuk 2.4, but here it is
interpreted to mean that 'the righteous shall live by his faith' and not
merely profess it.  Cf. Genesis Rabbah 60.2, p. 508.  Qur'an 2.130-36: The
word islam means Submission or 'the Surrender.'  Abraham's faith is
exemplary for the Muslim, just as for the Jew and the Christian.
Therefore Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are called the Abrahamic
religions.  Lotus Sutra 3: Faith is the key to acquiring the teaching of
the Lotus Sutra.  The shravakas and pratyekabuddhas, for whom Buddhism is
a matter of training and efforts at Nirvana, cannot attain it by their
works or acquired wisdom.  In the Buddhist tradition, Shariputra is often
described as the wisest of the disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha.  Yet even
he can acquire the teaching of the Lotus Sutra 'only by faith,' not by his
own powers of understanding.  Cf. Lotus Sutra 2, p. 411.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

        Who therefore shrinks from the religion of Abraham, except he be
foolish-minded?  Indeed, We chose him in the present world, and in the
world to come he shall be among the righteous.  When his Lord said to him,
"Surrender," he said, "I have surrendered myself to the Lord of all
Being."  And Abraham charged his sons with this and Jacob likewise, "My
sons, God has chosen for you the religion; see that you die not save in
surrender."  Why, were you witnesses when death came to Jacob?  When he
said to his sons, "What will you serve after me?"  They said, "We will
serve your God and the God of your fathers Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, One
God; to Him we surrender."  That is a nation that has passed away; there
awaits them that they have earned, and there awaits you what you have
earned; you shall not be questioned concerning the things they did.

        And they say, "Be Jews or Christians and you shall be guided."
Say, "Nay, rather the creed of Abraham, a man of pure faith; he was no
idolator." Say you, "We believe in God, and in that which has been sent
down on us and sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the
Tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and the Prophets; of
their Lord; we make no division between any of them, and to Him we

                         Islam.  Qur'an 2.130-36

All the shravakas,
And pratyekabuddhas,
Cannot by their powers
Attain unto this sutra.
Even you, into this sutra
Enter only by faith.

                         Buddhism.  Lotus Sutra 3

       As far as I, Shinran, am concerned, it is only because the worthy
Honen taught me so that I believe salvation comes from Amida by saying the
Nembutsu. Whether the Nembutsu brings rebirth in the Pure Land or leads
one to hell, I myself have no way of knowing.  But even if I had been
misled by Honen and went to hell for saying the Nembutsu, I would have no
regrets.  If I were capable of attaining Buddhahood on my own through the
practice of some other discipline, and yet went down to hell for saying
the Nembutsu, then I might regret having been misled.  But since I am
incapable of practicing such disciplines, there can be no doubt that I
would be doomed to hell anyway....

       "If even a good man can be reborn in the Pure Land, how much more
so a wicked man!"  People generally think, however, that if even a wicked
man can be reborn in the Pure Land, how much more so a good man!  This
latter view may at first sight seem reasonable, but it is not in accord
with the purpose of the Original Vow [of Amida Buddha], with faith in the
Power of Another.  The reason for this is that he who, relying on his own
power, undertakes to perform meritorious deeds, has no intention of
relying on the Power of Another and is not the object of the Original Vow
of Amida.  Should he, however, abandon his reliance on his own power and
put his trust in the Power of Another, he can be born in the True Land of
Recompense.  We who are caught in the net of our own passions cannot free
ourselves from bondage to birth and death, no matter what kind of
austerities or good deeds we try to perform.  Seeing this and pitying our
condition, Amida made his Vow with the intention of bringing wicked men to
Buddhahood.  Therefore the wicked man who depends on the Power of Another
is the prime object of salvation.

                       Buddhism.  Shinran, Tannisho

Exhausted after all effort, to the Lord's shelter I go,
Now that to His shelter I have come, say I,
"Lord, preserve me or ruin me as may please Thee!"

              Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Devgandhari, M.4, p. 527

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you
will move this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and
nothing will be impossible to you.

                       Christianity.  Matthew 17.20

Ibn Mas'ud reported God's Messenger as saying, "He who has in his heart
faith equal to a single grain of mustard seed will not enter hell, and he
who has in his heart as much pride as a grain of mustard seed will not
enter paradise."

                         Islam.  Hadith of Muslim

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Tannisho: Shinran is the founder of the Jodo Shinshu school of Pure Land
Buddhism in Japan; his teacher Honen founded the Jodo Shu school.  The
Original Vow of Amida Buddha is found in the Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra
8.18, p. 639. The teaching that sinners have an easier time being reborn
in the Pure Land than do the righteous is linked to the Buddha's teaching
of No-self (anatta). By throwing oneself entirely on the grace of the
Buddha and accounting one's own accomplishments as nothing, there is no
question of any attachment to self. A wicked person who repents completely
accounts his self as nothing, but good people are more likely to have
residual pride in their own virtues or attainments and hence are blocked
from the goal.  Cf. Shinran, pp. 913f. Compare Lotus Sutra 2, p. 411;
Isaiah 64.6, p. 411; Matthew 9.10-13, p. 638; Luke 18.10-14, p. 902.
Devgandhari, M.4: Cf. Shalok, M.9, p. 390; Gauri Bhawan Akkhari, M.5, p.
508.  Hadith of Muslim: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 18.58, p. 685.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

If you are in any doubt concerning what We have sent down to you, then
question those who have read the Book before you; Truth has come to you
from your Lord, so do not be a waverer; do not be someone who rejects
God's signs, so you be a loser.

                         Islam.  Qur'an 10.94-95

A man of faith, absorbed in faith, his senses controlled, attains
knowledge, and, knowledge attained, quickly finds supreme peace.  But the
ignorant man, who is without faith, goes doubting to destruction.  For the
doubting self there is neither this world, nor the next, nor joy.

                     Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 4.39-40

One of the crowd said [to Jesus], "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for
he has a dumb spirit; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and
he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid... have pity on us and
help us."  And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible to
him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said,
"I believe; help my unbelief!"

                       Christianity.  Mark 9.17-24

       Whatever monk has doubts about the Teacher, is perplexed, is not
convinced, is not sure, his mind does not incline to ardor, to continual
application, to perseverance, to striving.  This is the first mental
barrenness that thus comes not to be got rid of by him whose mind does not
incline to ardor, to continual application, to perseverance, to striving.

       And again, this monk has doubts about the Dhamma... has doubts
about the Order... has doubts about the training, is perplexed, is not
convinced, is not sure... his mind does not incline to ardor... to
striving.  If these mental barrennesses are not rooted out, that he should
come to growth, expansion, and maturity in this dhamma and
discipline--such a situation does not occur.

            Buddhism.  Majjhima Nikaya i.101, Cetokhila Sutta

       The boat was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the
waves... And in the fourth watch of the night he [Jesus] came to them,
walking on the sea.  But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea,
they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!"  And they cried out in fear.
But immediately he spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no

       And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on
the water."  He said, "Come."  So Peter got out of the boat and walked on
the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and
beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me."  Jesus reached out his
hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you

                  Christianity.  Bible, Matthew 14.24-31

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Mark 9.17-24: Throughout the synoptic Gospels, Jesus heals only those who
have faith.  See Mark 5.24-34, p. 526.  Majjhima Nikaya i.101: Cf. Sutta
Nipata 249, p. 860; Anguttara Nikaya i.190-91, p. 676.  Matthew 14.24-31:
Cf. the episode of Doubting Thomas, John 20.24-29, pp. 653f.
- - - - - - - - - - - -