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 scriptures of many religions speak of a coming leader who will consummate the fulfillment of the divine will on earth. He will manifest in his person the righteousness and compassion of God, and he will bring about the final defeat of evil, and establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The Hebrew title Messiah--'Christ' in Greek means "anointed one," that person who will be specially chosen by God for this mission and empowered to accomplish it. But while the term Messiah is specific to only a few religions, prophecies that a leader will come and accomplish such a mission are nearly universal. Religions call him by various names: Jews long for the promised Messiah; for Christians the Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth, who has already come and ascended to heaven but will reappear (perhaps in a new guise) at his Second Coming. Muslims also expect the second advent of Jesus, who will come as a Muslim Imam, and among Shiite Muslims there are various expectations of a future Imam Mahdi. Buddhist sutras prophesy the coming of the Maitreya Buddha; Vaishnavite Hindu scriptures prophesy the future descent of an avatar named Kalki; Zoroastrian scriptures prophesy the coming of the Saoshyant; and some Confucian texts speak of a future True Man who will finally bring peace to the world by perfectly instituting the Way of Confucius. Various prophecies of these future redeemers are gathered, by religion, in this section.

"Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

1. Christianity. Revelation 22.20

For to us a child is born,
       to us a son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
        and his name shall be called
       "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
       Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Of the increase of his government and of peace
       there will be no end,
upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom,
       to establish it, and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness,
       from this time forth and for ever more.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

2. Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 9.6-7

I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
        there came one like a son of man.
He came to the Ancient of Days
       and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominon
       and glory and kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
       should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
       which shall not pass away.
And his kingdom one
       that shall not be destroyed.

3. Judaism and Christianity. Daniel 7.13-14

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

4. Christianity. Matthew 24.29-31

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Isaiah 9.6-7: See Isaiah 42.1-4, pp. 367-68. Daniel 7.13-14: The 'son of man' is given dominion after the last beast is slain; see Revelation 13.1-18, pp. 777-78n. Christians identify the son of man with Jesus, and thus is the term used in the Gospels; see the following passage. Matthew 24.29-31: This passage occurs in the context of Jesus' discourse on the Mount of Olives; see Matthew 24.3-14, 32-33, p. 776. For a reinterpretation, see Book of Certitude, 33-41, p. 779.
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Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.

5. Christianity. Revelation 19.11-16

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi met Elijah at the mouth of the cave of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai. He asked Elijah, "When will the Messiah come?" Elijah replied, "Go and ask him." "But where is he?" "At the gates of Rome." "And how shall I recognize him?" "He sits among the wretched who are suffering from sores; all the others uncover all their wounds, and then bind them all up again, but he uncovers and binds up each one separately, for he thinks, 'Lest I should be summoned and be detained.'"

Then Rabbi Joshua found him and said to him, "Peace be with you, my Master and Rabbi." The Messiah replied, "Peace be with you, son of Levi." He said, "When is the Master coming?" He replied, "Today."

Then Rabbi Joshua returned to Elijah, who said, "What did he say to you?" He replied, "Peace be with you, son of Levi." Elijah said, "Then he assured to you and your father a place in the world to come." The rabbi said, "He spoke falsely to me, for he said he would come today, and he has not come." Then Elijah said, "He meant 'today, if you hearken to His voice!" [Psalm 95.7]

6. Judaism. Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a

In the time to come... the Patriarchs will say, "Ephraim, our righteous Messiah, though we are your ancestors, you are greater than we. For you have borne the sins of our children, and you have borne heavy punishments, such as neither the former nor the latter generations have endured, and you became the laughter and the mocking of all the nations for Israel's sake, and you sat in darkness, and your eyes saw no light. And your skin shrank upon your bones, and your body withered like a tree, and your eyes grew dark from fasting, and your strength dried up like a potsherd, and all this befell you because ofthe sins of our children. Is it uour will that your children should enjoy the felicity which God has destined to give them in abundance? Perhaps because of the pains which you have endured in overflowing measure for their sakes, and because thou hast lain fettered in prison, your mind is not at rest because of them?" Messiah will reply, "Patriarchs, all that I have done, I have done only for your sakes and for your children, and for your honor and theirs, so that they may enjoy the felicity which God has destined for them in abundance." Then they reply, "May your mind be appeased, for you have appeased the mind of your Creator and our mind."

7. Judaism. Midrash, Pesikta Rabbati 162b-63a

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Revelation 19.11-16: This is the image of the conquering Messiah, the King of kings, who brings judgment upon the beast--see Revelation 13.1-18, p. 931, and all wickedness. The sharp sword which issues from his mouth symbolizes the power of the king's decree: that is the Word of God. He has a name known only to himself. Sanhedrin 98a: Rabbinic Judaism learned to live with the seemingly neverending delay of the Bible's messianic promises. It turned inward, having been purged of all political ambition after the disastrous defeats in the Jewish War (68-70 >a.d.) and the Bar Kochba Rebellion (132 >a.d.). Here the historical promise of the coming of the Messiah is transformed to a personal encounter of faith. Elijah functions as a heavenly interpreter of God's secrets; cf. Baba Metzia 59ab, p. 682. On the Messiah's suffering, see Isaiah 52.13-53.12, p. 556, and the following passage; also Divine Principle I.3.5.2, p. 933.
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And [Jesus] shall be a Sign of the Hour [of Judgment]; therefore have no doubt about it, but follow Me: this is a straight way.

8. Islam. Qur'an 43.61

The Messenger of Allah observed, "What will be your state when the Son of Mary descends amongst you, and there will be an Imam amongst you? What would you do when the son of Mary would descend and lead you?"

9. Islam. Hadith of Muslim

The Apostle of Allah said, "Were there remaining but one day of the duration of all time, God would send forth a man from the people of my house, who will fill the earth with equity as it has been filled with oppression."

10. Islam. Hadith of Abu Dawud

The Imam who will create a world state will make the ruling nations pay for their crimes against society. He will bring succor to humanity. He will take out the hidden wealth from the breast of the earth and will distribute it equitably amongst the needy deserving. He will teach you simple living and high thinking. He will make you understand that virtue is a state of character which is always a mean between the two extremes, and which is based upon equity and justice. He will revive the teaching of the Holy Qur'an and the traditions of the Holy Prophet after the world has ignored them as dead letters....

He will protect and defend himself with resources of science and supreme knowledge. His control over these resources will be complete. He will know how supreme they are and how carefully they will have to be used. His mind will be free from desires of bringing harm and injury to humanity. Such a knowledge to him will be like the property which was wrongly possessed by others and for which he was waiting for the permission to repossess and use.

He, in the beginning, will be like a poor stranger unknown and uncared for, and Islam then will be in the hopeless and helpless plight of an exhausted camel who has laid down its head and is wagging its tail. With such a start he will establish an empire of God in this world. He will be the final demonstration and proof of God's merciful wish to acquaint man with the right ways of life.

11. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 141, 187

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Pesikta Rabbati 162b-63a: This rabbinic conception of a suffering Messiah who takes upon himself the sins of Israel stands alongside the older belief that the Messiah would come as a conquering king. This is undoubtedly a midrash on Isaiah 52.13-53.12, p. 556. Compare the standard Christian interpretation of that prophecy as a description of the vicarious suffering of Jesus Christ for the sins of humankind. Qur'an 43.61: Many Muslims await the Second Coming of Christ, who will come to herald the Last Judgment. Hadith of Muslim: In this tradition, Christ will appear in the flesh as a Muslim Imam. Yet most people will not heed, their faith being corrupt; compare Divine Principle I.3.5.2, pp. 933f.
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He shall be the victorious Benefactor (Saoshyant) by name and World-renovator [Astavat-ereta] by name. He is Benefactor because he will benefit the entire physical world; he is World-renovator because he will establish the physical living existence indestructible. He will oppose the evil of the progeny of the biped and withstand the enmity produced by the faithful.

12. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Farvardin Yast 13.129

Whenever the Law declines and the purpose of life is forgotten, I manifest myself on earth. I am born in every age to protect the good, to destroy evil, and to reestablish the Law.

13. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 4.7-8

When the practices taught by the Vedas and the institutes of law shall nearly have ceased, and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being who exists of his own spiritual nature in the character of Brahma, and who is the beginning and the end, and who comprehends all things, shall descend upon the earth. He will be born as Kalki in the family of an eminent brahmin of Sambhala village, endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. By his irresistible might he will destroy all the barbarians and thieves, and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. He will then reestablish righteousness upon earth; and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, and shall be as pellucid as crystal. The men who are thus changed by virtue of that peculiar time shall be as the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Krita age, the Age of Purity. As it is said, "When the sun and moon, and the luner asterism Tishya, and the planet Jupiter, are in one mansion, the Krita age shall return."

14. Hinduism. Vishnu Purana 4.24

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Nahjul Balagha, Khutba 141, 187: These are prophecies of the Imam Mahdi, who will come to establish God's kingdom throughout the whole world and restore true faith. Bhagavad Gita 4.7-8: This is the classic verse on the doctrine of Vishnu's incarnations or avatars. Of the ten classical avatars of Vishnu, nine have come in the past: the fish, the tortoise, the boar, the man-lion, the dwarf, Rama, Rama-with-the-Axe, Krishna, and the Buddha. The tenth avatar is the future savior, Kalki (see below). In addition, many leaders of sectarian Hindu movements such as Chaitanya (1486-1533), Ramakrishna (1836-1886), Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), his wife Mira Richard "the Mother" (1878-1973), Meher Baba (1894-1969), and Satya Sai Baba (1926-) are revered as avatars whose missions will culminate in the coming of a new age for humanity. Cf. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1, p. 564.
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Thus have I heard: At one time the Buddha was staying near Kapilavatthu in the Banyan monastery on the bank of the river Rohani. Then the venerable Sariputta questioned the Lord about the future Conquerer,

       The Hero that shall follow you,
       The Buddha--of what sort will he be?
       I want to hear of him in full.
       Let the Visioned One describe him.
When he heard the elder's speech the Lord spoke thus,

       I will tell you, Sariputta;
       listen to my speech.
       In this auspicious aeon
       Three leaders there have been:
       Kakusandha, Konagamana,
       and the leader Kassapa too.
       I am now the perfect Buddha;
       and there will be Maitreya too
       before this same auspicious aeon
       runs to the end of its years.

15. Buddhism. Anagata-vamsa

In those days, brethren, there will arise in the world an Exalted One named Metteya. He will be an Arahant, Fully Awakened, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the worlds, unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher for gods and men, an Exalted One, a Buddha, even as I am now. He, by himself, will thoroughly know and see, as it were face to face, this universe, with its worlds of the spirits,its Brahm-as and its M-aras, and its world of recluses and brahmins, of princes and peoples, even as I now, by myself, thoroughly know and see them. The Law, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its consummation, will he proclaim, both in the spirit and in the letter; the higher life will he make known, in all its fulness and in all its purity, even as I do now. He will be accompanied by a congregation of some thousands of brethren, even as I am now accompanied by a congregation of some hundreds of brethren.

16. Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.76, Chakkavatti Sihanada Suttanta

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Anagata-vamsa: The Maitreya (Pali: Metteya) is predicted to be the future Buddha in the scriptures of both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. In both traditions some consider him as the future Messiah who will usher in the new age of bliss and consummation. On the Anagata-vamsa, see p. 932 note.
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Listen attentively with one heart. A man whose spirit shines brightly, a man whose mind is completely unified, a man whose virtue excels everyone--such a man will truly appear in this world. When he preaches precious laws, all the people will totally be satisfied as if the thirsty drink sweet drops of rain from heaven. And each and every one will attain the path of liberation from struggles.

17. Buddhism. Sutra of the Great Accomplishment of the Maitreya

Miroku, the Great God, comes forth, endowed with the
       great strength of the three in one--Fire, Water, Earth.
Miroku, the Great God, from of old has planted
       heaven upon earth.
Miroku, the Great God, even as comes a thief,
       has secretly been born below.
Leaving behind the highly exalted throne to bring
       salvation, Miroku has been born below.

18. Sekai Kyusei Kyo. Inori-no-Shu

Confucius said, "If a Kingly Man were to arise, within a single generation Goodness would prevail."

19. Confucianism. Analects 13.12

It is only the man with the most perfect divine moral nature who is able to combine in himself quickness of apprehension, intelligence and understanding--qualities necessary for the exercise of command, magnanimity, generosity, benignity, and gentleness--qualities necessary for the exercise of patience, originality, energy, strength of character, and determination--qualities necessary for the exercise of endurance, piety, noble seriousness, order, and regularity--qualities necessary for the exercise of dignity, grace, method, subtlety, and penetration--qualities necessary for the exercise of critical judgment.

Thus all-embracing and vast is the nature of such a man. Profound it is and inexhaustible, like a living spring of water, ever running out with life and vitality. All-embracing and vast, it is like Heaven. Profound and inexhaustible, it is like the abyss.

As soon as such a man shall make his appearance in the world, all people will reverence him. Whatever he says, all people will believe it. Whatever he does, all people will be pleased with it. Thus his fame and name will spread and fill all the civilized world, extending even to savage countries, wherever ships and carriages reach, wherever the labor and enterprise of man penetrate, wherever the heavens overshadow and the earth sustain, wherever the sun and moon shine, wherever frost and dew fall. All who have life and breath will honor and love him. Therefore we may say, "He is the equal of God."

It is only he in this world, who has realized his absolute self, that can order and adjust the great relations of human society, fix the fundamental principles of morality, and understand the laws of growth and reproduction of the universe.

Now, where does such a man derive his power and knowledge, except from himself? How simple and self-contained his true manhood! How unfathomable the depth of his mind! How infinitely grand and vast the moral height of his nature! Who can understand such a nature except he who is gifted with the most perfect intelligence and endowed with the highest divine qualities of character, and who has reached in his moral development the level of the gods?

20. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 31-32

O peoples of the earth! By the righteousness of God! Whatever you have been promised in the Books of your Lord, the Ruler of the Day of Return has appeared and been made manifest. Beware lest the changes and chances of the world hold you back from Him Who is the Sovereign Truth.

21. Baha'i Faith. Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, 231-32

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Sutra of the Great Accomplishment of the Maitreya: This is from one of the "six Maitreya Sutras" in the Chinese Buddhist canon. Inori-no-Shu: Miroku is the Japanese form of Maitreya, the future Buddha. In the Japanese new religions of the Omoto group, Maitreya is featured as the inaugurator of the new age, the eschatological Kingdom of Heaven. Doctrine of the Mean 31-32: These two chapters express the ideal of the Kingly Man who is to come. On the one hand, they apply to Confucius, and many hold that these chapters were written in praise of him. On the other hand, they anticipate one who has yet to make his appearance in the world. Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, 231-32: Many of the messianic religions which have arisen in modern societies have utopian and universalist visions which embrace the entire globe. Thus, in the Baha'i Faith the new Messiah, Baha'u'llah, realizes in his person the missions of all the redemeers prophesied by the various world religions. See also Divine Principle I.3.4.3, p. 953.
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