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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For those who do not pursue a religious vocation, the offering
is most often a donation of money and material possessions to
honor God and support the community of the faithful. The liberal
donor puts the wealth and honor of God and God's representatives
ahead of his own needs; through his donation he offers what he
holds most dear. As a standard for the faithful giver, the Bible
recommends a tithe, or ten percent of one's earnings. Through
such gifts the believer is promised a place in heaven.

Contributions to the faith are not always distinguished from Charity, pp. 987-92, to the less fortunate. In the Qur'an, the duty to give alms covers both meanings interchangeably, though Islam sometimes distinguishes zakat, the obligatory tithing to the religious authorities, from sadaqa, meaning alms-giving to the less fortunate above the legal requirement. In Islamic and Christian societies, mosques and churches typically devote most of the funds contributed for the faith to charitable purposes: to feed, clothe, and tend to the needs of the poor, infirm, widows, orphans, and homeless.

On the other hand, religious offerings differ from charity given directly to the poor in that they are meant to show devotion to God or to those who represent Truth in the highest degree. Thus, some of the passages in the latter part of this section address the questions of how and to whom donations should be given. For an offering to have the highest spiritual merit, both the donor and the recipient should be worthy. The donor should give with a pure mind and without expecting any reward or benefit from his gift. As to the recipient, he should be worthy: in Buddhist terms he should be a suitable "field of merit" where the donations that are sown may bear abundant fruit.

Every sacrifice is a boat to heaven.

1. Hinduism. Satapatha Brahmana

He who gives liberally goes straight to the gods;
on the high ridge of heaven he stands exalted.

2. Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.125.5

You will not attain piety until you expend of what you love; and whatever thing you expend, God knows of it.

3. Islam. Qur'an 3.92

All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord.

4. Judaism and Christianity. Leviticus 27.30

As water surely will wash away blood, so the giving of food to homeless or virtuous saints will certainly destroy the sins incidental to a householder's life.

5. Jainism. Samantabadhra, Ratnakarandasravakacara 114

Verily, misers go not to the celestial realms. Fools do not indeed praise liberality. The wise man rejoices in giving and thereby becomes happy thereafter.

6. Buddhism. Dhammapada 177

We should resolve to offer not only one tenth but three tenths of our earnings for the building of the Kingdom of God. One tenth is for your country, one tenth is for the people of the world, and one tenth is for the Kingdom of Heaven.

7. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 4-15-61

And [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury [of the Temple], and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living."

8. Christianity. Bible, Mark 12.41-44

The word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this temple lies in ruins? Now therefore thus says the Lord of Hosts: 'Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them in a bag with holes.... Go up to the hills, and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory', says the Lord."

9. Judaism and Christianity. Haggai 1.3-8

Weeds are the bane of fields, lust is the bane of mankind. Hence what is given to those without lust yields abundant fruit.

Weeds are the bane of fields, hatred is the bane of mankind. Hence what is given to those rid of hatred yields abundant fruit.

Weeds are the bane of fields, delusion is the bane of mankind. Hence what is given to those rid of delusion yields abundant fruit.

Weeds are the bane of fields, craving is the bane of mankind. Hence what is given to those rid of craving yields abundant fruit.

10. Buddhism. Dhammapada 356-59

The likeness of those who spend their wealth in God's way is as the likeness of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. God gives increase manifold to whom He will. God is All-embracing, All- knowing.

Those who spend their wealth for the cause of God and afterward make not reproach and injury to follow that which they have spent; their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve.

11. Islam. Qur'an 2.261-62

When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

12. Christianity. Matthew 6.3-4

O you who believe, spend of the good things which you have earned, and of that which We bring forth from the earth for you, and seek not the bad with intent to spend it in charity when you would not take it for yourselves save with disdain; and know that God is Absolute Owner of Praise...

Whatever alms you spend, or vow you vow, lo! God knows it. Wrongdoers have no helpers.

If you publish your almsgiving, it is well, but if you hide it and give it to the poor, it will be better for you, and will atone for some of your ill-deeds. God is Informed of what you do....

And whatever good thing you spend, it is for yourselves, when you spend it not save in search of God's countenance; and whatever good thing you spend, it will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged.

[Alms are] for the poor who are straitened for the cause of God, who cannot travel in the land [for trade]. The unthinking man accounts them wealthy because of their restraint. You shall know them by their mark: They do not beg of men with importunity. And whatever good thing you spend, lo! God knows it.

Those who spend their wealth by night and day, by stealth and openly, verily their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve.

13. Islam. Qur'an 2.267-74

A gift is a gift of integrity
when it is given at the right place and time to the proper person,
To one who cannot be expected to return the gift--
and given merely because it should be given.
But what is given to get a gift in return,
or for the sake of some result,
Or unwillingly,
That is a gift in the sphere of passion.
A gift is called slothful when it is given
not at the right time and place,
Nor to a worthy person,
nor with proper ceremony, but with contempt.

14. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 17.20-22

He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.

15. Christianity. Matthew 10.41-42

Those who build shrines of stone,
Of sandalwood or aloes,
Of brick and tiles, or clay;
Or those who, in the wilds,
Built Buddha-shrines of earth;
Even children who, in play,
Gathered sand for a Buddha's stupa;
Such men and beings as these
Have all attained to Buddhahood.

16. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 2

Just as much seed sown in a sterile field will not yield abundant fruit nor please the husbandman, even so, bountiful giving bestowed upon the wicked does not yield abundant fruit, nor delight the donor. And just as when scanty seed is sown in good ground the harvest gladdens the farmer when there is plenty of rain, even so when paid to the righteous, the virtuous, a deed, though it be slight, becomes merit fraught with great return.

17. Buddhism. Petavatthu ii.69-71

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Qur'an 3.92: Cf. Qur'an 108.1-2, p. 866; 47.38, p. 937. Leviticus 27.30: The custom of giving a tithe, or ten percent of one's income, is derived from this verse. Mark 12.41-44: Cf. 2 Corinthians 9.6-11, p. 836. Haggai 1.3-8: This was the attitude of the Pilgrims, who when they arrived in America, first built the church and school before providing for their own homes. Dhammapada 356-59: The notion that the saints are a field of merit is behind the metaphor in these verses. Cf. Digha Nikaya ii.88, p. 372. Qur'an 2.267-74: These and Qur'an 2.261-62 (above) are verses selected from a long discussion of donations (zakat). Verse 273 condemns indiscriminate acts of charity, and defines the proper beneficiaries as those doing volunteer service, religious teaching and ministry, those in exile, and those persecuted for their faith. Lotus Sutra 2: Cf. Hadith of Ibn Majah, p. 1015. Petavatthu ii.69-71: Many of the stories in this book deal with the spirits of the departed, "hungry ghosts" who fail to find satisfaction from the food offerings made by their kinfolk. They return to their kin and explain to them that they would be far more satisfied were they to make offerings to the Sangha in their name. Cf. Khuddaka Patha, Tirokudda Sutta, p. 374.
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