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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Giving alms to the poor and hospitality to strangers are
traditional virtues encouraged by all religions.  A relationship to the
Highest Good naturally builds a bond among all members of the
community--for all people are as brothers and sisters with the absolute
value of (potential) Enlightened Beings or God's children.  Giving alms
and charity is a concrete expression of this spiritual bond.  Along with
admonitions to practice charity, texts such as the Parable of the Sheep
and the Goats from the New Testament, liken helping a poor man to giving
offerings to God or the highest saints.  Charity is not excused even for
the poorest giver, according to several texts.  Finally, we have passages
on hospitality, including two texts lauding exemplary acts of charity, by
a companion of the Prophet Muhammad and the Hindu householder Rantideva,
who gave food and water to guests even though it meant that they would
have to go without.

Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord delivers him in the day of trouble.

1.Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 41.1

They feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan, and the prisoner, for love of Him, saying, "We wish for no reward nor thanks from you."

2.Islam. Qur'an 76.8-9

Charity--to be moved at the sight of the thirsty, the hungry, and the miserable and to offer relief to them out of pity--is the spring of virtue.

3.Jainism. Kundakunda, Pancastikaya 137

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Psalm 41.1: Cf. Var Sarang, M.1, p. 846. Qur'an 76.8-9: Cf. Qur'an 2.264, p. 428; 16.90, p. 827; 90.8-17, p. 584.
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"Ye shall walk after the Lord your God" [Deuteronomy 13.4]. But how can a man walk after God who is a devouring fire? [Deuteronomy 4.24]. It means, walk after His attributes: clothe the naked, visit the sick, comfort the mourner, bury the dead.

4.Judaism. Talmud, Sota 14a

Relieve people in distress as speedily as you must release a fish from a dry rill [lest he die]. Deliver people from danger as quickly as you must free a sparrow from a tight noose. Be compassionate to orphans and relieve widows. Respect the old and help the poor.

5.Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way

Every person's every joint must perform a charity every day the sun comes up: to act justly between two people is a charity; to help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it is a charity; a good word is a charity; every step you take in prayers is a charity; and removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity.

6.Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 26

Be kind to parents, and the near kinsman, and to orphans, and to the needy, and to the neighbor who is of kin, and to the neighbor who is a stranger, and to the companion at your side, and to the traveler, and to [slaves] that your right hands own. Surely God loves not the proud and boastful such as are niggardly, and bid other men to be niggardly, and themselves conceal the bounty that God has given them.

7.Islam. Qur'an 4.36-37

If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.... You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him; because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and the poor, in the land.

8.Judaism and Christianity. Deuteronomy 15.7-11

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Sota 14a: Cf. Gittin 61a, p. 68. Tract of the Quiet Way: Cf. Great Learning 10.7-9, p. 806. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 26: Cf. Hadith of Ibn Majah, p. 847. Qur'an 4.36-37: Cf. Qur'an 2.177, pp. 741f.; 107.4-7, p. 427. On the Prophet's charity, see Hadith, p. 596. Deuteronomy 15.7-11: Cf. Matthew 6.1-4, p. 428.
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The gods have not ordained that humans die of hunger;
even to the well-fed man death comes in many shapes.
The wealth of the generous man never wastes away,
but the niggard has none to console him.

He who, possessed of food, hardens his heart
against the weak man, hungry and suffering,
who comes to him for help, though of old he helped him--
surely he finds none to console him.

He is liberal who gives to anyone who asks for alms,
to the homeless, distressed man who seeks food;
success comes to him in the challenge of battle,
and for future conflicts he makes an ally.

He is no friend who does not give to a friend,
to a comrade who comes imploring for food;
let him leave such a man--his is not a home--
and rather seek a stranger who brings him comfort.

Let the rich man satisfy one who seeks help;
and let him look upon the long view:
For wealth revolves like the wheels of a chariot,
coming now to one, now to another.

In vain does the mean man acquire food;
it is--I speak the truth--verily his death;
he who does not cherish a comrade or a friend,
who eats all alone, is all sin.

9.Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.117.1-6

There are three kinds of persons existing in the world: one is like a drought, one who rains locally, and one who pours down everywhere.

How is a person like a drought? He gives nothing to all alike, not giving food and drink, clothing and vehicle, flowers, scents and unguents, bed, lodging and light, neither to recluses and brahmins nor to wretched and needy beggars. In this way, a person is like a drought.

How is a person like a local rainfall? He is a giver to some, but to others he gives not.... In this way, a person is like a local rain- fall.

How does a person rain down everywhere? He gives to all, be they recluses and brahmins or wretched, needy beggars; he is a giver of food and drink, clothing... lodging and lights. In this way a person rains down everywhere.

10.Buddhism. Itivuttaka 65

When the Holy One loves a man, He sends him a present in the shape of a poor man, so that he should perform some good deed to him, through the merit of which he may draw a cord of grace.

11.Judaism. Zohar, Genesis 104a

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Itivuttaka 65: This and the other Hindu and Buddhist passages in this section take a different point of view from the Hindu and Buddhist doctrine of the Field of Merit, in Dhammapada 356-59, p. 751; Petavatthu ii.69-71, pp. 752f.; Bhagavad Gita 17.20-22, p. 753, which regards only people of spiritual attainment as the proper recipients of gifts. Cf. Great Learning 10.9.
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Whoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs on the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates the lot of a needy person, Allah will alleviate his lot in this world and the next. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allah will shield him in this world and the next. Allah will aid a servant of His so long as the servant aids his brother.

12.Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 36

When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?" And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." Then he will say to those at his left hand, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then the they also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?" Then he will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

13.Christianity. Matthew 25.31-46 : Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

On the day of judgment God Most High will say, "Son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me." He will reply, "My Lord, how could I visit Thee when Thou art the Lord of the Universe!" He will say, "Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was ill and yet you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him you soon would have found Me with him?"

14.Islam. Hadith of Muslim

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Matthew 25.31-46: Cf. Matthew 19.21-24, p. 805; Luke 10.25-37, p. 829.
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All beings should be accommodated and served by me as attentively as I would show filial respect to my parents, due respect to my teachers, to elders, and arhats, up to the Tathagatas, all in equality. I would be a good physician to the sick, a guide to those who have wandered from the path, setting their feet in the right way. I would be a light to those who wander in darkness. I would enable the people in poverty to discover vaults of treasure. A bodhisattva should thus benefit all beings in equal treatment, and bestow his loving care on all beings alike. And why? because if a bodhisattva serves all beings, that is equal to serving Buddhas dutifully. To hold all beings in high esteem, and render them respectful services, that is equal to reverencing and serving the Tathagatas. To make all beings happy, is to please the Tathagatas.

15.Buddhism. Gandavyuha Sutra, Vows of Samantabhadra

One should give even from a scanty store to him who asks.

16.Buddhism. Dhammapada 224

Even a poor man who himself subsists on charity should give charity.

17.Judaism. Talmud, Gittin 7b

Not having enough of anything can cause one to become a miser.

18.African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.

19.Christianity. Luke 3.11

See to it that whoever enters your house obtains something to eat, however little you may have. Such food will be a source of death to you if you withhold it.

20.Native American Religions. A Winnebago Father's Precepts

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

21.Christianity. Hebrews 13.1

Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbor, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest.

22.Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 15

The husband and wife of the house should not turn away any who comes at eating time and asks for food. If food is not available, a place to rest, water for refreshing one's self, a reed mat to lay one's self on, and pleasing words entertaining the guest--these at least never fail in the houses of the good.

23.Hinduism. Apastamba Dharma Sutra 8.2

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Yoruba Proverb: Meaning that since it is bad to become a miser, you should give even though you yourself are in need. Hebrews 13.1: Cf. Hitachi Fudoki, pp. 744-45. Apastamba Dharma Sutra 8.2: Cf. Hitachi Fudoki, pp. 744-45.
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According to Abu Hurairah, a man came to find the Prophet and the latter asked his wives for something to give him to eat. "We have absolutely nothing," they replied, "except water." "Who wants to share his meal with this man?" asked the Prophet. A man of the Companions then said, "I." Then he led this man to his wife and said to her, "Treat generously the guest of the Messenger of God." She replied, "We have nothing except our children's supper." "Oh, well," he replied, "get your meal ready, light your lamp, and when your children want supper, put them to bed." So the woman prepared the meal, lit the lamp, put the children to bed, then, getting up as if to trim the lamp, she extinguished it. The Companion and his wife then made as if to eat, but in fact they spent the night with empty stomachs. The next day when the Companion went to find the Messenger of God, the latter said to him, "This night God smiled." It was then that God revealed these words, "and they prefer the others before themselves, although there be indigence among them" [Qur'an 59.9].

24.Islam. Hadith of Bukhari

The fame of Rantideva is sung in this and the other world, Rantideva, who, though himself hungry, was in the habit of giving away his wealth as it came, while trusting in God to provide his needs. Even in time of famine, Rantideva continued his generosity though his family was reduced to poverty.

For forty-eight days he and his family were starving; a little liquid, and that enough for only one, was all that remained. As he was about to drink it, an outcaste came begging for water. Rantideva was moved at the sight and said, "I do not desire from God the great state attended by divine powers or even deliverance from rebirth. Establishing myself in the hearts of all beings, I take on myself their suffering so that they may be rid of their misery." So saying, the compassionate king gave that little liquid to the outcaste, though he himself was dying of thirst.

The gods of the three worlds came and desired to bestow upon him manifold blessings, but Rantideva, who had no attachment or desire, merely bowed to Lord Vasudeva [Krishna] in devotion.

25.Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 9