Prologue: Many Paths To One Goal
One guiding principle behind World Scripture is that all religions are connected to the same Ultimate Reality and lead people toward a common goal. This is true even though the various religions make exclusive claims about themselves, sometimes asserting the uniqueness and incomparability of their God or ultimate principle. Nevertheless, in affirming the existence of Ultimate Reality or an ultimate principle, we assume that it can be only one, regardless of the various beliefs which people hold about it--be it described as one or many, impersonal or personal, absolute emptiness or absolute Being, and regardless of the name by which it is called.
Similarly, the goals of spiritual practice for each religion, while not identical, have much in common. Since the ideals imbued in human nature are universal, we may expect to find that people who have reached the goal, be it enlightenment, salvation, sanctification, self-realization, or liberation, indeed manifest the highest human qualities: love, compassion, wisdom, purity, courage, patience, righteousness, strength of character, calmness of mind, and inner joy. Regardless of religious belief, people who have realized such a goal inevitably impress others by their personal virtue. Ultimately, these goals converge and become one, inasmuch as they express the best of our common humanity.
This principle is neither a new idea nor the novel result of the interfaith movement. The scriptures of each religion contain passages which recognize that there are truths in other paths. They recognize that the God(s) worshipped by other faiths may be the same as their own God. They recognize that the teachings and practices of other faiths may be similar in many respects to their own teachings and practices. They also teach toleration and respect for righteous and sincere believers of other faiths. They condemn quarrels over doctrines for displaying egoism and enmity that have no place in the religious life. Some of these passages have been brought together in this chapter.