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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       A sense of gratitude and indebtedness to others is an important
wellspring of a generous and virtuous life.  All people can recognize that
they are indebted to their parents, who gave them birth and raised them at
considerable sacrifice.  But our indebtedness extends much further than
that. Fundamentally, we are indebted to God our Creator and the powers of
nature that nourish and sustain our life.  Then, since the food we eat
travels from the soil to our dining table by passing through many
hands--that cultivate, harvest, clean, package, transport, sell, and
prepare it--we should recognize that we rely on the labors of many people
in order to survive.  A sense of gratitude to others is thus acknowledging
our interdependent existence; it is an antidote to the illusion of egoism.
Such gratitude is recalled and expressed in the prayer of grace or thanks
offered before meals.

       Another dimension of gratitude is directed towards those who are
responsible for our education and enlightenment in the way of truth and
salvation.  Gratitude towards one's teachers, and especially towards the
sages and founders of religions who offered their lives to find the truth,
is a proper attitude of faith.  Most of all, we should be grateful to God,
who quietly has been guiding and nurturing each person toward salvation,
and without whose grace the world would be plunged in darkness.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

                      Christianity.  Colossians 3.17

O you who believe!  Eat of the good things that We have provided for you,
and be grateful to God, if it is Him that you worship.

                                                    Islam.  Qur'an 2.172

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Colossians 3.17: Cf. Psalm 100, p. 202.
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God created foods to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe
and know the truth.  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is
to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is
consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

                      Christianity.  1 Timothy 4.3-5

Abraham caused God's name to be mentioned by all the travellers whom he
entertained.  For after they had eaten and drunk, and when they arose to
bless Abraham, he said to them, "Is it of mine that you have eaten?
Surely it is of what belongs to God that you have eaten.  So praise and
bless Him by whose word the world was created."

                        Judaism.  Talmud, Sota 10b

The unworthy man is ungrateful, forgetful of benefits [done to him].  This
ingratitude, this forgetfulness is congenial to mean people...  But the
worthy person is grateful and mindful of benefits done to him.  This
gratitude, this mindfulness, is congenial to the best people.

                     Buddhism.  Anguttara Nikaya i.61

One upon whom We bestow kindness
But will not express gratitude,
Is worse than a robber
Who carries away our belongings.

         African Traditional Religions.  Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

Be not like those who honor their gods in prosperity and curse them in
adversity.  In pleasure or pain, give thanks!

                Judaism.  Midrash, Mekilta to Exodus 20.20

Even if you cry your heart out, hurt your eyes by constant weeping and
even if you lead the life of an ascetic till the end of the world, all
these untiring efforts of yours will not be able to make compensation for
a tithe of His good will and kindness, for His bounties and munificence
and for His mercy and charity in directing you towards the path of truth
and religion.

                Islam (Shiite).  Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 57

It is God who has made the night for you, that you may rest therein, and
the day, as that which helps you to see.  Verily God is full of grace and
bounty to men, yet most men give no thanks.

It is God who has made for you the earth as a resting place, and the sky
as a canopy, and has given you shape--and made your shapes beautiful--and
has provided for you sustenance of things pure and good; such is God, your
Lord. So glory to God, the Lord of the Worlds!

                         Islam.  Qur'an 40.61, 64

O my Father, Great Elder,
I have no words to thank you,
But with your deep wisdom
I am sure that you can see
How I value your glorious gifts.
O my Father, when I look upon your greatness,
I am confounded with awe.
O Great Elder,
Ruler of all things earthly and heavenly,
I am your warrior,
Ready to act in accordance with your will.

          African Traditional Religions.  Kikuya Prayer (Kenya)

You, the World Honored One, are a great benefactor.
By doing this rare thing,
You taught and benefited us
Out of your compassion towards us.

No one will be able to repay your favors
Even if he tries to do it
For many hundreds of millions of kalpas.
No one will be able to repay your favors
Even if he bows to you respectfully,
And offers you his hands or feet or anything else.
No one will be able to repay your favors
Even if he carries you on his head or shoulders
And respects you from the bottom of his heart
For as many kalpas
As there are sands in the River Ganges.

                         Buddhism.  Lotus Sutra 4

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Qur'an 40.61, 64: Cf. Qur'an 14.32-34, p. 310; 16.10-18, p. 141; 32.4-9,
p. 126; Wadhans, M.5, p. 913.  On gratitude to parents, see Qur'an
46.15-16, p. 249.  Lotus Sutra 4: The value of the Buddha's teaching is
immeasurable.  It touches eternity, which all temporal phenomena rolled up
together cannot hope to attain.  Hence no temporal acts of gratitude can
possibly be worthy of it. Cf. Myokonin, p. 774.
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All human bodies are things lent by God.  With what thought are you using

                        Terrikyo.  Ofudesaki 3.41

When a man is born, whoever he may be, there is born simultaneously a debt
to the gods, to the sages, to the ancestors, and to men.

When he performs sacrifice it is the debt to the gods which is concerned.
It is on their behalf, therefore, that he is taking action when he
sacrifices or makes an oblation.

And when he recites the Vedas it is the debt to the sages which is
concerned. It is on their behalf, therefore, that he is taking action, for
it is said of one who has recited the Vedas that he is the guardian of the
treasure store of the sages.

And when he desires offspring, it is the debt to the ancestors which is
concerned.  It is on their behalf, therefore, that he is taking action, so
that their offspring may continue, without interruption.

And when he entertains guests, it is the debt to man which is concerned.
It is on their behalf, therefore, that he is taking action if he
entertains guests and gives them food and drink.  The man who does all
these things has performed a true work; he has obtained all, conquered

                 Hinduism.  Satapatha Brahmana

Ah, children--
Be not arrogant, but
Assist the deities of
  Marvelous spirit power
In their work.

Even the grains, and the
Teeming grass and trees--
Even these are favored with
  Blessings from Amaterasu,
Great Goddess of the Sun.

Morning and evening,
At each meal you take,
Consider the blessings of
You people of the world.

The blessings of the
Gods of heaven and earth--
Without these,
  How could we exist,
Even for a day, even for a night?

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Satapatha Brahmana On gratitude to one's parents, cf. Anguttara
Nikaya i.61, p. 250; Classic on Filial Piety 1, p. 249.  Ofudesaki 3.41:
Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-79, p. 307.
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Forget not the grace
Of generations of ancestors;
>From age to age, the ancestors
Are our own ujigami,
Gods of our families.

Father and mother
Are gods of the family;
Even so, honor them as gods with
  heartfelt service,
All you of human birth.

    Shinto. Norinaga Motoori, One Hundred Poems on the Jewelled Spear

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One Hundred Poems on the Jewelled Spear:  The ujigami are eponymous
ancestors of the clan; one's ancestors should be reverenced.
Toyouke-no-kami is the Food Goddess worshipped at the Outer Shrine of the
Temple at Ise, and Amaterasu is the Sun Goddess; they represent all the
productive forces of nature and humanity which provide our food.
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