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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    Admonitions to refrain from evil, which are found in every religion,
open this section.  Notable is restraint in Jainism, where ahimsa (non-
violence) is practiced to the extent that one is careful as one walks,
eats, drinks, and breathes not to kill even insects or microscopic

       There are admonitions to refrain from acting wrongly, even when the
mind is full of evil promptings, or when the crowd is urging.   Silence
and discretion are valuable allies in this regard.  Some texts, in various
ways, urge us to set up a fence and honor a clear boundary line, marked by
prohibitions and moral principles, so that good and evil may be clearly
distinguished.  The ground must be swept clean of confusing debris, and
areas of gray avoided, lest we fall unwittingly into a mistake.

       This section concludes with passages which counsel moderation in
all things.  Excessive behavior of any kind--stinginess or profligacy,
mortification of the flesh or drowning in sense pleasures, self-righteous
action or action to please others--should be eschewed in favor of the
Golden Mean or Middle Path.

Forsake the outward sin, and the inward; surely the earners of sin shall
be recompensed for what they have earned.

                   Islam.  Qur'an 6.120

Just as a wealthy merchant with only a small escort avoids a perilous
route; just as one desiring to live avoids poison; even so should one
shun evil things.

                   Buddhism.  Dhammapada 123

Good is restraint in deed; good is restraint in speech; good is restraint
in mind; good is restraint in everything.  The bhikkhu, restrained at all
points, is freed from sorrow.

                   Buddhism.  Dhammapada 361

Realizing the retributive nature of karmas, a wise man refrains from
accumulating them.

                   Jainism.  Acarangasutra 4.51

The highest charity is refraining from violence.

                   Hinduism.  Srimad Bhagavatam 11.12

Let him who believes in Allah and the last day either speak good or be

                   Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 15

The very first principle of religion laid down by Lord Mahavira is
Ahimsa--Non-injury to living beings--which must be observed very scrupu-
lously and thoroughly, and behaving towards all living beings with proper
restraint and control.

                   Jainism.  Dashavaikalika Sutra 6.9

He who acts, harms; he who grabs, lets slip.
Therefore the sage does not act, and so does not harm,
Does not grab, and so does not let slip.

                   Taoism.  Tao Te Ching 64

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Dhammapada 361: Cf. Dhammapada 183, p. 715; Majjhima Nikaya i.415, p. 465. On
restraint of speech, see Dhammapada 133, p. 497.  Acarangasutra 4.51: Karma is
accumulated through evil deeds and desires, but most especially through crimes
of violence against other creatures; see below.  Tao Te Ching 64: In the Tao Te
Ching, any form of acquisitiveness or activism is out of harmony with the Tao,
and will lead to bad results.
- - - - - - - - - - - -

Restrain thyself with those that call upon their Lord at morning and
evening, desiring His countenance, and let not thine eyes turn away from
them, desiring the adornments of the present life; and obey not him whose
heart We have made neglectful of Our remembrance so that he follows his
own lust, and his affair has become all excess.

                   Islam.  Qur'an 18.8

Why endeavor in the way of evil,
As therefrom is received evil retribution?
If you take a long view, you would not practice evil at all.
Throw your dice in a manner
That with the Lord you lose not the game.
Direct your endeavor to profit.

                   Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 474

A single bangle does not make a sound.

                   African Traditional Religions.  Igala Proverb (Nigeria)

Verily God forgives my people the evil promptings which arise within their
hearts as long as they do not speak about them and did not act upon them.

                   Islam.  Hadith of Muslim

Mencius said, "Only when a man will not do some things is he capable of
doing great things."

                   Confucianism.  Mencius IV.B.8

The emptiest of you are as well-packed with religious observances as a
pomegranate with seeds.  For everyone who has the opportunity of commit-
ting a sin and escapes it and refrains from doing it performs a highly
religious act.  How much more, then, is this true of those "behind your
veil," the modest and self-restrained among you!

                   Judaism.  Midrash, Canticles Rabbah 4.4.3

Under the sway of strong impulse, the man who is devoid of self-control
willfully commits deeds that he knows to be fraught with future misery.
But the man of discrimination, even though moved by desires, at once be-
comes conscious of the evil that is in them, and does not yield to their
influence but remains unattached.

                   Hinduism.  Srimad Bhagavatam 11.7

My son, if sinners entice you,
       do not consent.
If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood,
       let us wantonly ambush the innocent;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive
       and whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
we shall find all precious goods,
       we shall fill our houses with spoil;
throw in your lot among us,
       we will all have one purse"--
my son, do not walk in the way with them,
       hold back your foot from their paths;
for their feet run to evil,
       and they make haste to shed blood.

                   Judaism and Christianity.  Proverbs 1.10-16

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Igala Proverb: It takes two to quarrel, so do not accuse another of being
quarrelsome.  Hadith of Muslim: Cf. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 29, p. 497;
Ephesians 4.26-27, p. 923.  Canticles Rabbah 4.4.3: This is a midrash on
"Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil" (Song of
Solomon 4.3).  Srimad Bhagavatam 11.7: Cf. Majjhima Nikaya i.415, p. 465.
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Whenever there is attachment in my mind
And whenever there is the desire to be angry,
I should not do anything nor say anything,
But remain like a piece of wood....

Whenever I am eager for praise
Or have the desire to blame others;
Whenever I have the wish to speak harshly and cause dispute;
At such times I should remain like a piece of wood.

Whenever I desire material gain, honor or fame;
Whenever I seek attendants or a circle of friends,
And when in my mind I wish to be served;
At [all] these times I should remain like a piece of wood.

Whenever I have the wish to decrease or to stop working for others
And the desire to pursue my own welfare alone,
If [motivated by such thoughts] a wish to say something occurs,
At these times I should remain like a piece of wood.

                   Buddhism.  Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way
                   of Life 5.48-52

Do only such actions as are blameless....  If at any time there is doubt
with regard to right conduct, follow the practice of great souls, who are
guileless, of good judgment, and devoted to truth.

                   Hinduism.  Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.2, 4

Rabbi Akiba said, "Laughter and levity accustom a man to immorality.
Tradition is a fence for Torah.  Tithes are a fence for riches.  Vows are
a fence for saintliness.  A fence for wisdom is silence."

                   Judaism.  Mishnah, Abot 3.17

What is lawful is obvious, and what is unlawful is obvious; and between
them are matters which are ambiguous and of which many people are ignor-
ant.  Hence, he who is careful in regard to the ambiguous has justified
himself in regard to his religion and his honor; but he who stumbles in
the ambiguous has stumbled in the forbidden, as the shepherd pasturing
around a sanctuary is on the verge of pasturing in it.  Is it not the
true that every king has a sanctuary, and is not the sanctuary of God
that which He has forbidden?

                   Islam.  Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 6

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Abot 3.17: Cf. Abot 1.1, p. 711 and note; Abot 2.8, p. 959; Sifra 93d, p. 963;
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.3.4, p. 902.  Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 6: Muhammad
himself was scrupulous in this regard; see Hadith, pp. 658f.
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       "To spread white rushes underneath.  No blame"  [Hexagram 28,
Preponderence of the Great].

       The Master said, "It does well enough simply to place something on
the floor.  But if one puts white rushes underneath, how could that be a
mistake? This is the extreme of caution.  Rushes in themselves are worth-
less, but they can have a very important effect.  If one is as cautious as
this in all that one does, one remains free of mistakes."

                   Confucianism.  I Ching, Great Commentary 1.8.7

Be generous but not extravagant, be frugal but not miserly.

                   Islam (Shiite).  Nahjul Balagha, Saying 32

However hungry you are, you do not eat with both hands.

                   African Traditional Religions.  Akan Proverb (Ghana)

The master said, "'The Ospreys!' Pleasure not carried to the point of
debauch; grief not carried to the point of self-injury."

                   Confucianism.  Analects 3.20

Be not righteous overmuch, and do not make yourself overwise; why should
you destroy yourself?  Be not wicked overmuch, neither be a fool; why
should you die before your time?

                   Judaism and Christianity.  Ecclesiastes 7.16-17

In practicing the ordinary virtues and in the exercise of care in ordinary
conversation, when there is deficiency, the superior man never fails to
make further effort, and where there is excess, never dares to go to the

                   Confucianism.  Doctrine of the Mean 13.4

That things have being, O Kaccana, constitutes one extreme of doctrine;
that things have no being is the other extreme.  These extremes have been
avoided by the Tathagata, and it is a middle doctrine he teaches.

                    Buddhism.  Samyutta Nikaya xxii.90

Your fame or your person, which is dearer?
Your person or your goods, which is worth more?
Gain or loss, which is the greater bane?
That is why excessive meanness is sure to lead to great expense;
Too much store is sure to end in immense loss.
Know contentment, and you will suffer no disgrace;
Know when to stop, and you will meet with no danger.
You can then endure.

                   Taoism.  Tao Te Ching 44

- - - - - - - - - - - -
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.8.7: On discretion, see I Ching, Great
Commentary 1.8.10, p. 497, 2.5.9, p. 742.  Nahjul Balagha, Saying 32: cf.
Qur'an 31.19. Akan Proverb: This proverb means that as you restrain your-
self when eating to stay within the bounds of good manners, you should
also in all things resist temptation and act within the bounds of propr-
iety.  Analects 3.20: 'The Ospreys!' refers to Ode 1 of the Book of Songs,
p. 255.  Confucius interprets this ode as describing a model of conduct
according to the Golden Mean: faithfulness in both joy and affliction.
Samyutta Nikaya xxii.90: In practice, the 'middle doctrine' (madhyamaka)
means avoiding both the extremes of worldliness ('things have being') and
total renunciation ('things have no being').
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