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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The responsibilities of the citizen begin with respect for legitimate government. In some of the passages on this topic, there is an implicit social contract: the people surrender part of their autonomy to the government, which in turn establishes law and order among an unruly and violent population. Other passages distinguish the claims of religion from the claims of government; each is sovereign in its own sphere, and hence we may "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Thus religions teach that the good citizen should respect and cooperate with government, bearing with its policies with which he disagrees, and even enduring occasions when its weight is oppressive. Yet as we have already noted, there are limits to obedience to a government when it goes against the will of Heaven.

ack of respect to the constituted authority is the source of most conflicts in the world.

1. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

abbi Hanina the deputy of the priests, said, "Pray for the peace of the government; for, except for the fear of that, we should have swallowed each other alive."

2. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 3.2

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Abot 3.2: This is not a mild platitude suitable for ordinary citizens, but a deliberate choice in the midst of a controversy over how to regard the Roman Empire, which severely oppressed the Jews under its control. Jews who chafed under Roman rule were calling for rebellion, which when it came was disastrous; the Jewish War (68-70 <c.e.) ended with the destruction of the Temple, and later the Bar Kochba rebellion (132-34 <c.e.) would be brutally crushed. But the rabbis whose words were compiled in the Mishnah called for resignation to Roman rule.
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Simeon ben Lachish said, "'And behold, it was very good' [Genesis 1.4]: this is the kingdom of Heaven; this is also the kingdom of earth. Is then the earthly kingdom good? Yes, for it exacts justice of mankind. As it is said: 'I made the earth and created Rome [reading Edom in place of Adam] upon it.' [Isaiah 45.12]."

3. Judaism. Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 9

Umar reported the Prophet as saying, "The sultan is God's shade on earth to which each one of His servants who is wronged repairs. When he is just he will have a reward, and it is the duty of the common people to be grateful; but when he acts tyrannically the burden rests on him, and it is the duty of the common people to show endurance."

4. Islam. Hadith of Baihaqi

ring and obeying [those in government] are the duty of a Muslim both regarding what he likes and what he dislikes, as long as he is not commanded to perform an act of disobedience to God, in which case he must neither hear nor obey.

5. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim

t every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

6. Christianity. Romans 13.1-7

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Genesis Rabbah 9: The pun on Adam, 'man' in the verse from Isaiah, is possible because both words are formed from the same Hebrew letters: aleph, dalet, mem. This is in accordance with the interpretive principle that close study of the Hebrew letters can reveal hidden meanings of scripture. The sentiment is the same as in the previous passage. Hadith of Baihaqi: Cf. Mencius I.B.4, p. 902. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim: Cf. Hadith of Muslim, p. 899.
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the people gathered together and lamented, saying, "Evil ways are rife among the people--theft, censure, false speech, and punishment have appeared among us. Let us choose one man from among us, to dispense wrath, censure, and banishment when they are right and proper, and give him a share of our rice in return." So they chose the most handsome, attractive, and capable among them and invited him to dispense anger, censure, and banishment. He consented and did so, and they gave him a share of their rice. Mahasammata meanse elected (sammata) by the whole people (mahajana), and hence Mahasammata was the first name to be given to a ruler. He was lord of the fields (khettanam) and hence Khattiya was his second name. He pleases (ranjeti) others by his righteousness, and hence his third name, Raja. This was the origin of the nobility, according to the tale of long ago.

7. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.92-93, Agganna Suttanta

they sent some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to entrap Jesus in his talk. And they came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?" But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it." And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

8. Christianity. Mark 12.13-17

king Wu Ting (c. 1323 <b.c.) appointed Yueh prime minister. He gave Yueh his instructions, "Morning and evening, send in your reprimands, and so help me to patch up my personal virtue. Imagine that I am a steel weapon: I will use you for a whetstone. Imagine I have to cross a big river: I will use you for a boat and oars. Imagine I am a year of record drought: I will use you as a copious rain... "You, yes you, teach me what should be my aims. You be the malt that works up the brew. Imagine we are making a good soup, you be the salt and prunes.... "If a talented man is unjust, the ruler should give him no share in the royal responsibility. If the ruler is unjust, the talented man should not eat his food."

9. Confucianism. Book of History 4.8.1-3

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Digha Nikaya ii.92-93: This is a Buddhist version of the social contract. These etymologies of khattiya (Skt. ksatriya) and raja help signify the meaning of the office, even if they are not historically correct. Book of History 4.8.1-3: In the Confucian relation between prince and minister, the able minister serves his lord with good, honest advice and covers for his shortcomings. The prince, in turn, should be attentive and accepting of his minister's wise counsel. Cf. Doctrine of the Mean 20.8, p. 216; Book of Ritual 7.2.19, p. 216; Chuang Tzu 4, p. 616; Analects 14.8, p. 877.
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