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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Government should operate impartially and with integrity. Its
leaders should be honest, moral, and virtuous people, who will not
take bribes or act corruptly. Because people look up to a
nation's leaders as role models, they should set a good example for
the people. 

The notion that a leader may rule by moral force is widespread in many religions, but it is particularly central to the Confucian ideal of government. On the other hand, the Islamic view of leadership is more pessimistic: people should not expect the ruler to be any different from themselves; they should rather look to God for guidance.

God has promised such of you as believe and do good works that He will surely make them to succeed the present rulers in the earth, even as He caused those who were before them to succeed; and he will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them.

1. Islam. Qur'an 24.55

uke Ai: "May I ask what is the art of government?" Confucius: "The art of government simply consists in making things right, or putting things in their right places. When the ruler himself is 'right,' then the people naturally follow him in his right course."

2. Confucianism. Book of Ritual 27

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Book of Ritual 27: The Confucian doctrine of Rectification of Names teaches that people at every position of life should live up to the proper responsibilities of their offices. It should begin with the ruler. See note to Analects 12.11, p. 614; also Doctrine of the Mean 14, p. 615; Mencius I.B.8, p. 887.
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K'ang-tzu asked Confucius about government, saying, "Suppose I were to slay those who have not the Way in order to help those who have the Way, what would you think of it?" Confucius replied, saying, "If you desire what is good, the people will at once be good. The essence of the gentleman is that of wind; the essence of small people is that of grass. And when a wind passes over the grass, it cannot choose but bend."

3. Confucianism. Analects 12.19

cerned alone with the upholding of the world, You should act. Whatever the best man does, others do that also. The world follows the standard he sets for himself.

4. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 3.20-21

hen the king is deceitful, who will not be deceitful? When the king is unrighteous, who will not be unrighteous?

5. Jainism. Somadeva, Nitivakyamrita 17.183

cius said, "Those rulers whose measures are dictated by mere expediency will arouse continual discontent."

6. Confucianism. Analects 4.12

ucius said, "If a ruler himself is upright, all will go well even though he does not give orders. But if he himself is not upright, even though he gives orders, they will not be obeyed."

7. Confucianism. Analects 13.6

hen cattle are crossing, if the old bull swerves, They all go swerving, following his lead. So among men, if he who's reckoned best Lives not aright, much more do other folk. If the ruler be unrighteous, the whole land dwells in woe.

When cattle are crossing, if the bull goes straight, They all go straight because his course is straight. So among men, if he who's reckoned best Lives righteously, the others do so too. The whole land dwells in happiness if the ruler lives aright.

8. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya ii.75

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Analects 12.19: On not propagating one's religion by force, see Qur'an 2.256, p. 586. The position that the state has the right and duty to use the sword in order to enforce correct thinking has had a long history in China, from the Legalists of the Ch'in dynasty to Mao Tse Tung in the twentieth century. Analects 13.6: Cf. Analects 4.5, p. 807.
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Now a
bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?

9. Christianity. 1 Timothy 3.2-5

peror Kotoku proclaimed to his ministers, "In governing, let us do truly as was done by the emperors of old in ruling the realm. Let us govern with true sincerity."

10. Shinto. Nihon Shoki 25

of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, He dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth upon a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

11. Judaism and Christianity. 2 Samuel 23.3-4

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Nihon Shoki 25: Cf. Kojiki, Preface, p. 897. 2 Samuel 23.3-4: These are from the last words of King David. Cf. Joshua 1:1-9, pp. 891f.; Deuteronomy 17.14-20, p. 898.
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e Emperor Yao was reverent, intelligent, accomplished, sincere, and mild. He was sincerely respectful and capable of modesty. His light covered the four extremities of the empire and extended to Heaven above and the earth below. He was able to make bright his great virtue, bring affection to the nine branches of his family... and harmonize the myriad states. The numerous people were amply nourished and prosperous and became harmonious....

The emperor said, "Oh you Chief of the Four Mountains, I have been on the throne for seventy years. If you can carry out the mandate, I shall resign my position to you." The Chief of the Four Mountains said, "I have not the virtue. I would only disgrace the high position." The emperor said, "Promote someone who is already illustrious, or raise up someone who is humble and mean." They all said to the emperor, "There is an unmarried man in a low position called Shun of Y." The emperor said, "Yes, I have heard of him. What is he like?" The Chief said, "He is the son of a blind man. His father is stupid, his mother deceitful, his half-brother Hsiang is arrogant. Yet he has been able to live in harmony with them and to be splendidly filial. He has controlled himself and has not come to wickedness." The emperor said, "I will try him; I will wive him and observe his behavior towards my two daughters." He gave orders and sent down his two daughters to the bend of the Kuei River to be wives in the House of Y. The emperor said, "Be reverent!"...

The emperor said: "Come, you Shun, in the affairs on which you have been consulted, I have examined your words; your words have been accomplished and capable of yielding fine results for three years; do you ascend to the imperial throne." Shun considered himself inferior in virtue and was not pleased. But in the first month, on the first day, he accepted the abdication of Yao in the Temple of the Accomplished Ancestor. Then he made lei sacrifice to the Lord-on-High; he made yin sacrifice to the six Venerable Ones.... He delimited the twelve provinces and raised altars on twelve mountains and he deepened the rivers.

12. Confucianism. Book of History 1.1.3 and 2.1.2-3

s you are so will you have rulers put over you.

13. Islam. Hadith of Baihaqi

in from exalting the worthy So that the people will not scheme and contend; Refrain from prizing rare possessions, So that the people will not steal; Refrain from displaying objects of desire, So that the people's hearts will not be disturbed.

Therefore the sage rules his people thus: He empties their minds, And fills their bellies; He weakens their ambitions, And strengthens their bones.

He strives always to keep people innocent of knowledge and desires, and to keep the knowing ones from meddling. By doing nothing that interferes with anything, nothing is left unregulated.

14. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 3

God, any official who takes anything from the public funds without justification will meet his Lord carrying it on himself on the Day of Judgment.

15. Islam. Hadith of Muslim

ry is the door through which come all manner of sins. Those who live by bribery cut off their mother's breasts.

16. Jainism. Somadeva, Nitivakyamrita 17.184

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Book of History 1.1.3 and 2.1.2-3: Yao and Shun were revered by Confucius as among the ideal rulers of ancient China because of their personal righteousness. Tao Te Ching 3: This Taoist passage disagrees with the Confucian wisdom that the route to honest government requires that men of ability be sought out and promoted. The Taoist sages recognized that rivalry between 'worthy' advisors was a serious corruption in the state. To feed ambition is to bring out the worst in people and is contrary to the Tao. Cf. Tao Te Ching 12, p. 801; 18-19, p. 260.
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He w
ho receives office in order to profit from it is like an adulterer, who gets his pleasure from a woman's body. God says, "I am called holy, you are called holy; if you have not all the qualities which I have, you should not accept leadership."

17. Judaism. Midrash, Pesikta Rabbati 111a

er for the sake of oneself nor for the sake of another, not desiring son, wealth, or kingdom, should a person seek his own success by unjust means. Then only is a man indeed virtuous, wise, and righteous.

18. Buddhism. Dhammapada 84

Do n
ot ask for the position of authority, for if you are granted this position as a result of your asking for it, you will be left to discharge it yourself; but if you are given it without asking you will be helped [by God].

19. Islam. Hadith of Muslim

Majesty," answered Mencius. "What is the point of mentioning the word 'profit'? All that matters is that there should be benevolence and rightness. If Your Majesty says, 'How can I profit my state?' and the counsellors say, 'How can I profit my family?' and the officials and commoners say, 'How can I profit my person?' then those above and those below will be trying to profit at the expense of one another and the state will be imperiled. When regicide is committed in a state of ten thousand chariots, it is certain to be by a vassal with a thousand chariots, and when it is committed in a state of a thousand chariots, it is certain to be by a vassal with a hundred chariots. A share of a thousand in ten thousand or a hundred in a thousand is by no means insignificant, yet if profit is put before rightness, there is no satisfaction short of total usurpation. No benevolent man ever abandons his parents, and no dutiful man ever puts his prince last. Perhaps you will now endorse what I have said: 'All that matters is that there should be benevolence and rightness. What is the point of mentioning the word "profit"?'

20. Confucianism. Mencius I.A.1

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Mencius I.A.1: Cf. Book of Ritual 7.1.2, pp. 259f. Asa Ashtapadi M.1: Nanak attributed the invasion by the Mughal conqueror Babur to God's judgment on the misrule of the kings of India. See Asa, M.1, p. 920.
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ers lost their senses in levity and frivolity; [Therefore] Babur's command has gone abroad, That even princes now go about without a crust of bread.

21. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa Ashtapadi M.1, p. 417

ou will be eager for the office of commander, but it will become a cause of regret on the day of resurrection. It is a good suckler but an evil weaner.

22. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari