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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        Knowledge of spiritual and religious truth is often best imparted
by a teacher.  The personal relationship between a worthy teacher and his
disciple allows a level of guidance and intimate communication of truth
beyond what may be attained by the private study of scripture or through
personal prayer and meditation.  The teacher should have a mature faith,
rich experience, and accomplishment by which he can set an example for his
students and convey to them the insights born of his experience and
mastery.  The students, for their part, should be obedient to the teacher
and willing to receive discipline.

        In some Eastern religions, where the teacher is the embodiment of
truth through his own self-realization, he is regarded as the ultimate
authority.  In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, on the other hand, the
teacher is not to be trusted by virtue of his own personal spiritual or
intellectual prowess.  He is but a servant of God, and he must be true to
the traditions and doctrinal foundations established by the founder,
passed on by the elders, and laid down in scripture.

        Discipleship in many religions can also refer to following
directly the example of the founder, who is the supreme teacher.  The
disciple not only heeds the words of the founder, who is the Revealer of
Truth, pp. 628-35; he also follows in the founder's footsteps by imitating
his example, life-style, and attitude of heart.  Furthermore, in many
religions the succession of disciples extending from the living teacher
back to the founder establishes the Apostolic Succession, the proper chain
of authority for teaching and administration.

        Finally, discipleship is a call to help and support the founder in
his mission.  The disciples of Jesus and the Companions of Muhammad were
willing to die for their lord in service of the cause of God.  The
disciple proclaims the founder's message to the world; he shares in his
persecution and sufferings; for "a servant is not above his master."  This
discipleship has its cost, but it also brings with it the honor of being a
co-worker with God.

One not knowing a land asks of one who knows it,
        he goes forward instructed by the knowing one.
Such, indeed, is the blessing of instruction,
        one finds a path that leads him straight onward.

                       Hinduism.  Rig Veda 10.32.7

Let thy house be a place of meeting for the wise, and dust thyself with
the dust of their feet, and drink their words with thirst.

                       Judaism.  Mishnah, Abot 1.4

Just as cold disappears by sitting near the fire,
So are sins destroyed in the congregation of saints.

           Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Ramkali Ashtpadi, M.5, p. 914

One fakih (scholar in religion) is more annoying to Satan than a thousand
of the faithful who perform only their ceremonial duties.

                        Islam.  Hadith of Tirmidhi

Approach someone who has realized the purpose of life and question him
with reverence and devotion; he will instruct you in this wisdom.  Once
you attain it, you will never be deluded.  You will see all creatures in
the Self, and all in Me.

                     Hinduism.  Bhagavad Gita 4.34-35

Should one see a wise man, who, like a revealer of treasure, points out
faults and reproves; let one associate with such a wise person; it will be
better, not worse, for him who associates with such a one.

Let him advise, instruct, and dissuade one from evil; truly pleasing is he
to the good, displeasing is he to the bad.

                       Buddhism.  Dhammapada 76-77

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Rig Veda 10.32.7: Cf. Katha Upanishad 1.3.14, p. 672.  In Jainism, respect
for teachers who have attained liberation is expressed in the Namokar
Mantra, pp. 54-55.
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Stand in the assembly of the elders.
        Who is wise?  Cleave to him.
Be ready to listen to every narrative,
        do not let wise proverbs escape you.
If you see an intelligent man, visit him early;
        let your foot wear out his doorstep.

                      Christianity.  Sirach 6.34-36

He who sees through the eye tells proverbs.

         African Traditional Religions.  Igala Proverb (Nigeria)

To many it is not given to hear of the Self.  Many, though they hear of
it, do not understand it.  Wonderful is he who speaks of it.  Intelligent
is he who learns of it.  Blessed is he who, taught by a good teacher, is
able to understand it.

The truth of the Self cannot be fully understood when taught by an
ignorant man, for opinions regarding it, not founded in knowledge, vary
one from another.  Subtler than the subtlest is this Self, and beyond all
logic.  Taught by a teacher who knows the Self and Brahman as one, a man
leaves vain theory behind and attains to truth.

The awakening which you have known does not come through the intellect,
but rather, in fullest measure, from the lips of the wise....

Words cannot reveal him.  Mind cannot reach him.  Eyes do not see him.
How then can he be comprehended, save when taught by those seers who
indeed have known him?

                Hinduism.  Katha Upanishad 1.2.7-9; 2.6.12

Whoever does not have a guide, Satan is his guide.

                              Islam.  Hadith

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Igala Proverb: Only one with much life experience, who sees with the eye
of wisdom, is qualified to instruct others.  Hadith:  This tradition is
from Sufi circles.  The role of the teacher is particularly important in
the Sufi orders, for it is the teacher who preserves and conveys the
esoteric wisdom essential to spiritual advancement on the Path.
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It is very important for a person who wishes to "lament" to receive aid
and advice from a wichasha wakan (holy man), so that everything is done
correctly, for if things are not done in the right way, something very bad
can happen, and even a serpent could come and wrap itself around the

          Native American Religions.  Black Elk, Sioux Tradition

The teacher, brethren, should regard the pupil as his son.  The pupil
should regard the teacher as his father.  Thus these two, by mutual
reverence and deference joined, dwelling in community of life, will win
increase, growth, progress in this Norm-discipline.

                 Buddhism.  Vinaya Pitaka, Mahavagga 3.1

As in the sky flies the white-clothed crane,
Keeping its mind behind,
In its heart continually remembering its young ones;
So the true Guru keeps the disciple absorbed in the love of God,
And also keeps him in his heart.

                     Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Gauri, M.4

Set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in
purity.  Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to
preaching, to teaching.  Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given
you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands
upon you. Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may
see your progress.  Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to
that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

                     Christianity.  1 Timothy 4.12-16

The sage always excels in saving people, and so abandons no one;
Always excels in saving things, and so abandons nothing.
This is called following one's discernment.
Hence the good man is the teacher the bad learns from;
And the bad man is the material the good works on.
Not to value the teacher
Nor to love the material
Though it seems clever, betrays great bewilderment.

                         Taoism.  Tao Te Ching 27

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Black Elk: To 'lament' means to enter a place of total isolation and cry
for a vision; see Sioux Vision Quest, pp. 847ff.  1 Timothy 4.12-16: The
teaching positions in the church: bishop, priest, and deacon, are endowed
in a ceremony of the laying of hands.  Thus the gift of apostolic
authority, first given to Peter (see Matthew 16.15-19, p. 286), is passed
on.  Tao Te Ching 27: Cf. Chuang Tzu 14, p. 718.
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Much Torah have I learned from my teachers, more from my colleagues, but
from my students most of all.

                       Judaism.  Talmud, Taanit 7a

The Master said, "Even when walking in a party of no more than three I can
always be certain of learning from those I am with.  There will be good
qualities that I can select for imitation and bad ones that will teach me
what requires correction in myself."

                       Confucianism.  Analects 7.28

        What then is Apollos?  What is Paul?  Servants through whom you
believed, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but
God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is
anything, but only God who gives the growth.  He who plants and he who
waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

        According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master
builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it.  Let
each man take care how he builds upon it.  For no other foundation can any
one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

                    Christianity. 1 Corinthians 3.5-11

        The guru, it is declared, is the very Lord himself.  To approach
the guru, to worship the guru, is to approach the Lord, worship the Lord.
Why should the Lord choose to manifest through the guru, why should he not
act directly?

        Shiva is really all-pervading, above the mind, without features,
imperishable... infinite; how can such a one be worshipped?  That is why,
out of compassion for his creatures, He takes the form of the guru and,
when so worshipped in devotion, grants liberation and fulfillment.  Shiva
has no binding form, Shiva is not perceivable by the human eye; therefore
He protects the disciple conforming to Dharma in the form of the guru. The
guru is none other than the supreme Shiva enclosed in human skin; he walks
the earth, concealed, for bestowing grace on the good disciples....  To
him who is loaded with sinful karma, the guru appears to be human; but to
him whose karma is auspicious, meritful, the guru appears as Shiva.

                      Hinduism.  Kularnava Tantra 13

- - - - - - - - - - - -
1 Corinthians 3.5-11: Paul is writing to a community in which disputes
have arisen over the doctrines of different teachers.  Paul reminds them
that a teacher is no more than a servant of God and Christ, and that all
true teaching is built on Christ's foundation, not the constructions of
human reason.  Kularnava Tantra 13: On the teacher as avatar or infused by
God, see Bhagavad Gita 4.7-8, p. 1106n; Rig Veda 4.26.1, p. 652; Asa
Chhant, M.4, p. 651; Swaiyya Guru, Kala, p. 663.  Only the student with a
sincere mind sees God in his teacher; cf. Bhagavad Gita 11.41-42, p. 653;
Garland Sutra 10, p. 725.  This Tantra also addresses the problem of
hypocritical teachers; see p. 493.
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The disciple that takes abode in the Master's home to receive guidance
Should with his heart the Master's guidance accept. He should nowise show
off his ego; He should ever in his heart meditate on the Name Divine. The
disciple that has abandoned himself to the Master-- All his objectives
shall be fulfilled. One that serves and seeks no recompense, Finds union
with the Lord.

           Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 18, M.5, p. 285

After having taught the Veda, a teacher instructs the pupil, "Say what is
true! Do thy your!  Do not neglect the study of the Veda!  After having
brought to your teacher his proper reward, do not cut off the line of
children!  Do not swerve from the truth!  Do not swerve from duty!  Do not
neglect what is useful!  Do not neglect greatness!  Do not neglect the
learning and teaching of the Veda!

        "Do not neglect the [sacrificial] works due to the gods and the
fathers! Let your mother be to you like unto a god!  Let your father be to
you like unto a god!  Let your teacher be to you like unto a god!  Let
your guest be to you like unto a god!  Whatever good works have been
performed by us, those should be observed by you."

                Hinduism.  Taittiriyaka Upanishad 1.11.1-2

During many kalpas I was long a king and vowed to seek the Supreme Wisdom,
my mind never relenting....  For the sake of the Law, I gave up the throne
of my domain, deputed my government to the prince-royal, and with beating
drum and open proclamation, sought everywhere for the truth, promising,
"Whoever is able to tell me of a Great Vehicle, him I will all my life
provide for, and be his footman."  At that time a certain hermit came to
me, the king, and said, "I have a Great Vehicle, named Wonderful
Law-flower Sutra.  If you will not disobey me, I will explain it to you."
I, the king, hearing what the hermit said, became ecstatic with joy and
instantly followed, providing for his needs, gathering fruit, drawing
water, collecting fuel, laying his food, even of my body making his seat
and bed, yet never feeling fatigue of body or mind.  While I thus served,
a millennium passed, and for the sake of the Law, I zealously waited on
him that he should lack nothing.

                        Buddhism.  Lotus Sutra 12

Verily in the Messenger of God you have a good example for him who looks
unto God and the Last Day, and remembers God much.

                           Islam.  Qur'an 33.21

Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
        and to the quarry from which you were digged.
Look to Abraham your father
        and to Sarah who bore you;
for when he was but one I called him,
        and I blessed him and made him many.

                 Judaism and Christianity.  Isaiah 55.1-2

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Taittiriyaka Upanishad 1.11.1-2: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 13.7, p. 911; Qur'an
31.17, p. 245; Oracle of Temmangu, p. 246.  Lotus Sutra 12: The Buddha
recounts a story of one of his previous lives, where as a bodhisattva in
training he served his teacher to obtain the teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
This episode inspired Gyoki (668-749