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 chief concern of any government should be the welfare of
its citizens. Therefore the ruler, and hence the government, should
be a servant to the people, putting their concerns and needs
ahead of his own. He is called the Father and Mother of the
People in the Chinese tradition and a Shepherd in the Judeo-Christian
and Muslim traditions--titles which express the principle that
the ruler should give the people his highest consideration. He
should, whenever possible, lighten the people's burdens and abide by
the will of the majority. He should give special consideration to
the poor and destitute and provide them sufficient means of
support. Such a government will be respected by the people, who then
will easily submit to its rule. 

verning a large state is like boiling a small fish.

1. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 60

ay no burden on the public which the majority cannot bear.

2. Judaism. Talmud, Baba Batra 60b

ruler who submits to democratic ideals, His rule is lasting.

3. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Maru, M.1

highest duty of a ruler is to protect his subjects; the ruler who enjoys the rewards of his position is bound to that duty.

4. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 7.144

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Tao Te Ching 60: Cf. Mencius I.A.6, p. 242. Baba Batra 60b: Cf. Nupe proverb, p. 255.
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The duty of rulers: Gladden the people and do not scare them; make things easy and do not make them difficult.

5. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim

n loss is above and gain below, the people's joy is boundless. When those above exhibit no pride to the ones below them, their virtue is brightly illumined.

6. Confucianism. I Ching 42: Gain

peror Nintoku climbed up a high mountain and, viewing the lands of the four quarters, said, "There is no smoke rising [from fireplaces] in the land. The entire land is impoverished. For a period of three years the people are released from all taxes and conscription." For this reason, the palace became dilapidated; although the rain leaked in everywhere, no repairs were made. The dripping rain was caught in vessels, and the inhabitants moved around to places where it did not leak. Later, when he viewed the land again, the entire land was filled with smoke. Therefore, realizing that the people were now rich, he reinstated taxes and conscription. For this reason, the common people flourished and did not suffer from his conscription. Thus his reign is praised as being the reign of a saintly ruler.

7. Shinto. Kojiki 110

weeps... over a leader who domineers over the community.

8. Judaism. Talmud, Hagiga 5b

ardianship is not to give an order but to give one's self.

9. African Traditional Religions. Nyika Proverb (Kenya and Tanzania)

onfucius said, "To demand much from oneself and little from others is the way for a ruler to banish discontent."

10. Confucianism. Analects 15.14

Jesus c
alled to them and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

11. Christianity. Matthew 20.25-28

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I Ching 42: Cf. Tao Te Ching 19, p. 260; 77, pp. 474-75; Analects 20.1.3, p. 555; Great Learning 10.7-9, p. 806. Kojiki 110: Cf. Man'yoshu I, p. 260; Great Learning 10.7-9, p. 806; Hadith of an-Nawawi 31, p. 821. Analects 15.14: Cf. Analects 20.1.3, p. 555; Great Learning 10.7-9, p. 806.
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ring to rule over the people, One must, in one's words, humble oneself before them; And, desiring to lead the people, One must, in one's person, follow behind them. Therefore the sage takes his place over the people yet is no burden; Takes his place ahead of the people yet causes no obstruction. That is why the empire supports him joyfully and never tires of doing so.

12. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 66

sovereign should become one with his people. The sovereign must think that all that he owns is not for himself, but for his country. If that happens, the country will prosper.

13. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 3-17-70

The C
aliph is a shepherd over the people and shall be questioned about his subjects.

14. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim

Ho, s
hepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the wild beasts.... Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them."

15. Judaism and Christianity. Ezekiel 34.2-10

eaven and Earth are the father and mother of the ten thousand things. Men are the sensibility of the ten thousand things. It is telling the truth, thinking well, and seeing things clearly that make the principal ruler. The principal ruler is father and mother to the common people.

16. Confucianism. Book of History 5.1.1: The Great Declaration

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Tao Te Ching 66: Cf. Tao Te Ching 2, p. 807; 3, p. 908; 7, p. 833; 12, p. 801; 28, p. 785; 77, pp. 474f.; 81, p. 833; Mencius I.A.2, p. 278. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim: Cf. Hadith of Bukhari, p. 232; Hadith of Baihaqi, pp. 918f. Ezekiel 34.2-10: On the prophetic critique of excessive courtly extravagance while the poor suffer, see Jeremiah 7.1-15, p. 921; 22.13-16, p. 904; Isaiah 10.1-4, p. 920; Amos 1.3-2:16, pp. 924f.; 8.4-8, p. 421; 2 Samuel 11-12, p. 881. Book of History 5.1.1: This is the central expression of the duties of the ruler in China. Cf. Mencius I.A.4, p. 879; I.B.8, p. 887.
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the chief has many breasts they are sucked by the people.

17. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)

To sp
eak ill of those in authority because one is not given a share in such enjoyment [as they are privileged to have] is, of course, wrong. But for one in authority over the people not to share his enjoyment with the people is equally wrong. The people will delight in the joy of him who delights in their joy, and will worry over the troubles of him who worries over their troubles. He who delights and worries on account of the Empire is surely to become a true king.

18. Confucianism. Mencius I.B.4

government is the guardian of those who have no guardian.

19. Islam. Hadith

men without wives, old women without husbands, old people without children, young children without fathers--these four types of people are the most destitute and have no one to turn to for help. Whenever King Wen put benevolent measures into effect, he always gave them first consideration. The Book of Songs says,
Happy are the rich; But have pity on the helpless.

20. Confucianism. Mencius I.B.5

the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord's release has been proclaimed.... For there will be no poor among you, for the Lord will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance to possess, if only you will obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment.

21. Judaism and Christianity. Deuteronomy 15.1-5

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Akan Proverb: In other words, the chief is like a parent who properly places himself and his wealth in the service of the people. Mencius I.B.5: In the Confucian Five Relations, the ethical norm of the ruler towards those below him is benevolence; thus Book of Ritual 7.2.19, p. 216. On the Confucian critique of excessive courtly extravagance while the poor suffer, see Mencius I.A.4, p. 879; I.B.8, p. 997; IV.A.3, p. 920; Book of Songs, Ode 254, pp. 922f. Deuteronomy 15.1-5: The biblical institution of the Sabbatical year granted a reprieve to the poor through a periodic forgiveness of debts. Cf. Leviticus 25.10, p. 255n.
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the king thy justice, O God, and thy righteousness to the royal son! May he judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with justice! Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor!

22. Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 72.1-4

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Psalm 72.1-4: This is a royal psalm extolling the virtues of the ideal king. Cf. Jeremiah 22.3, p. 256.
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The kin
g's country, Sire, is harassed and harried. There are dacoits abroad who pillage the villages and townships and who make the roads unsafe. Were the king, so long as that is so, to levy a fresh tax, verily his majesty would be acting wrongly. But perchance his majesty might think, "I'll soon put a stop to these scoundrels' game by punishments and banishment, fines and bonds and death!" But their license cannot be satisfactorily put a stop to by such a course. The remnant left unpunished would still go on harassing the realm. Now there is one method to adopt to put a thorough end to this disorder. Whosoever there be in the king's realm who devote themselves to keeping cattle and the farm, to them let his majesty give food and seed corn. Whosoever there be in the king's realm who devote themselves to trade, to them let his majesty give capital. Whosoever there be in the king's realm who devote themselves to government service, to them let his majesty give wages and food. Then those men, following each his own business, will no longer harass the realm; the king's revenue will go up; the country will be quiet and at peace; and the populace, pleased with one another and happy, dancing their children in their arms, will dwell with open doors.

23. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya i.135, Kutadanta Sutta

to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing, and does not give him his wages; who says, 'I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms,' and cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar, and painting it with vermillion. Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the poor and the needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? says the Lord.

24. Judaism and Christianity. Jeremiah 22.13-16

e court is corrupt, The fields are overgrown with weeds, The granaries are empty; Yet there are those dressed in fineries, With swords at their sides, Filled with food and drink, And possessed of too much wealth. This is known as taking the lead in robbery. Far indeed is this from the Way.

25. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 53

Po Ch arrived in Ch'i, he saw the body of a criminal who had been executed. Pushing and dragging until he had it laid out in proper position, he took off his formal robes and covered it with them, wailing to Heaven and crying out, "Alas, alas! The world is in dire misfortune, and you have been quicker than the rest of us to encounter it. 'Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not murder,' they say. But when glory and disgrace have once been defined, you will see suffering; when goods and wealth have once been gathered together, you will see wrangling. To define something that brings suffering to men, to gather together what sets them to wrangling, inflicting misery and weariness upon them, never granting them a time of rest, and yet to hope somehow that they will not end up like this--how could it be possible? "The rulers of old attributed what success they had to the people and what failures they had to themselves; attributed what was upright to the people and what was askew to themselves. Therefore, if there was something wrong with the body of even a single being, they would retire and take the blame upon themselves. But that is not the way it is done today. They make things obscure and then blame people for not understanding; they enlarge the difficulties and then punish people for not being able to cope with them; they pile on responsibilities and then penalize people for not being able to fulfill them; they make the journey longer and then chastise people for not reaching the end of it. When the knowledge and strength of the people are exhausted, they will begin to piece them out with artifice, and when day by day the amount of artifice in the world increases, how can men keep from resorting to artifice? A lack of strength invites artifice, a lack of knowledge invites deceit, a lack of goods invites theft. These thefts and robberies--who in fact deserves the blame for them?"

26. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 25

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Jeremiah 22.13-16: Jeremiah addressed this prophetic rebuke to Jehoiakim, son of the good king Josiah. See note to Ezekiel 34.2-10, above. Tao Te Ching 53: Cf. Tao Te Ching 3, p. 908; 12, p. 801. Chuang Tzu 25: Cf. Proverbs 6.30-31, p. 421.
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