World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts
Editor, Andrew Wilson
In this section are collected passages describing the unity of God. First are texts proclaiming the oneness of Absolute Reality: God in the monotheistic religions, a Primal Absolute at the root of phenomena in Confucian and Taoist metaphysical texts, and a reality that in Mahayana Buddhism is called Nirvana or Suchness and which transcends any being, divine or human. Next come passages, especially from the Hindu tradition, which recognize many deities but recognize them to be the diverse manifestations of the One that is beyond any name. Or, in the case of Native American religion, the many spiritual forces are one by virtue of their solidarity in action. For related texts on the One God who exists at the root of all religions, see Prologue One Source and One Goal, pp... In sharp contrast to the above, we have also included some representative passages, largely from the monotheistic religions, which define the Oneness of God in contradistinction to all other existence. Other divine beings are regarded at best as subordinate to the One God and at worst as illusory or demonic: see Idolatry, pp. 286-89.
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Deuteronomy 6.4
I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.
Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 45.5
Say, He is God, the One! God, the eternally Besought of all! He neither begets nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him.
Islam. Qur'an 112
He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the Self within all beings, watching over all works, dwelling in all beings, the witness, the perceiver, the only one, free from qualities.
Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.11
He is the Sole Supreme Being; of eternal manifestation; Creator, Immanent Reality; Without Fear, Without Rancor; Timeless Form; Unincarnated; Self-existent; Realized by the grace of the Holy Preceptor.
Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji, p. 1: The Mul Mantra
The sage clasps the Primal Unity, Testing by it everything under heaven.
Taoism. Tao Te Ching 22
Absolute truth is indestructible. Being indestructible, it is eternal. Being eternal, it is self-existent. Being self-existent, it is infinite. Being infinite, it is vast and deep. Being vast and deep, it is transcendental and intelligent. It is because it is vast and deep that it contains all existence. It is because it is transcendental and intelligent that it embraces all existence. It is because it is infinite and eternal that it fulfils or perfects all existence. In vastness and depth it is like the Earth. In transcendental intelligence it is like Heaven. Infinite and eternal, it is the Infinite itself. Such being the nature of absolute truth, it manifests itself without being seen; it produces effects without motion; it accomplishes its ends without action.
Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 26
Deuteronomy 6.4: The opening lines of the Shema, p. 55. Qur'an 112: This sura, which concludes the Qur'an (except for two prayers for protection), has been called the essence of the Qur'an. God's oneness implies that all reality is a unity (tawhid): see Qur'an 2.115, p. 109. Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.11: This is a favorite verse of Shankara: see Vedanta Sutras I.1.4; cf. Sama Veda 372, p. 766. Doctrine of the Mean 26: Compare descriptions of the Tao and Dharmakaya as a single transcendent principle, e.g., Tao Te Ching 25, p. 95, and Garland Sutra 37, p. 96.
When appearances and names are put away and all discrimination ceases, that which remains is the true and essential nature of things and, as nothing can be predicated as to the nature of essence, is called the "Suchness" of Reality. This universal, undifferentiated, inscrutable Suchness is the only Reality, but it is variously characterized as Truth, Mind-essence, Transcendental Intelligence, Perfection of Wisdom, etc. This Dharma of the imagelessness of the Essence-nature of Ultimate Reality is the Dharma which has been proclaimed by all the Buddhas, and when all things are understood in full agreement with it, one is in possession of Perfect Knowledge.
Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra
Tathagatas certainly do not come from anywhere, nor do they go anywhere. Because Suchness does not move, and the Tathagata is Suchness. Non-production does not come nor go, and the Tathagata is non-production. One cannot conceive of the coming or going of the reality-limit, and the Tathagata is the reality-limit. The same can be said of emptiness, of what exists in accordance with fact, of dispassion, of stopping, of the element of space. For the Tathagata is not outside these dharmas. The Suchness of these dharmas and the Suchness of all dharmas and the Suchness of the Tathagata are simply this one single Suchness. There is no division within Suchness. Just simply one single is this Suchness, not two, nor three.
Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 31.1
Then Vidaghdha, son of Shakala, asked him, "How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" Yajnavalkya, ascertaining the number through a group of mantras known as the Nivid, replied, "As many as are mentioned in the Nivid of the gods: three hundred and three, and three thousand and three." "Very good," said the son of Shakala, "and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "Thirty-three." "Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "Six." "Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "Three." "Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "Two." "Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "One and a half." "Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?" "One."
Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.1
Lankavatara Sutra: This sutra teaches that the existing world is created by mind. The world of appearances, which is characterized by suffering, is rooted in the seeds of defilements that are accumulated in the subconscious mind. True Reality is what is realized when all defilements have been removed and the mind operates with Perfect Wisdom. The Suchness of existence is thus identical with the essence of Mind. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 31.1: This is one of the earliest Mahayana sutras, and the first which used the word Mahayana. The doctrine of Suchness deals with the unchanging truth beyond the limit of phenomenal reality. It is the same as Emptiness--the doctrine that one cannot rely upon any phenomenon, as all are impermanent, relative, and conditioned by other phenomena. It is also the same as the Tathagata, that is, the Buddha whose essence is eternity.
There is only one God; all the "gods" are but His ministering angels who are His manifestations.
Omoto Kyo. Michi-no-Shiori
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 12.4-7
God said to Israel, "Because you have seen me in many likenesses, there are not therefore many gods. But it is ever the same God: I am the Lord your God." Rabbi Levi said, "God appeared to them like a mirror, in which many faces can be reflected; a thousand people look at it; it looks at all of them." So when God spoke to the Israelites, each one thought that God spoke individually to him.
Judaism. Midrash, Pesikta Kahana 109b-110a
Just as light is diffused from a fire which is confined to one spot, so is this whole universe the diffused energy of the supreme Brahman. And as light shows a difference, greater or less, according to its nearness or distance from the fire, so is there a variation in the energy of the impersonal Brahman. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are his chief energies. The deities are inferior to them; the yakshas, etc. to the deities; men, cattle, wild animals, birds, and reptiles to the yakshas, etc.; and trees and plants are the lowest of all these energies....
Vishnu is the highest and most immediate of all the energies of Brahman, the embodied Brahman, formed of the whole Brahman. On him this entire universe is woven and interwoven: from him is the world, and the world is in him; and he is the whole universe. Vishnu, the Lord, consisting of what is perishable as well as what is imperishable, sustains everything, both Spirit and Matter, in the form of his ornaments and weapons.
Hinduism. Vishnu Purana 1
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.1: The infinite number of gods is included in the limited number represented in the Nivid, these are again but manifestations of the Thirty-three, and these are likewise included in the successively more fundamental things down to the One, That, Brahman. Cf. Rig Veda 1.164.46, p. 59. Michi-no-Shiori: Cf. Hebrews 1.14, p. 368. Vishnu Purana 1: The first paragraph is a good statement of Pantheism and the theory of creation by emanation. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are sometimes called the Hindu trinity. Cf. Chun Boo Kyung, p. 95.
Every object in the world has a spirit, and that spirit is wakan. Thus the spirits of the tree or things of that kind, while not like the spirit of man, are also wakan. Wakan comes from the wakan beings. These wakan beings are greater than mankind in the same way that mankind is greater than animals. They are never born and never die. They can do many things that mankind cannot do. Mankind can pray to the wakan beings for help. There are many of these beings but all are of four kinds. The word Wakan Tanka means all of the wakan beings because they are all as if one.
Wakan Tanka Kin signifies the chief or leading wakan being, which is the Sun. However, the most powerful of the wakan beings is Nagk Tanka, the Great Spirit, who is also called Taku Shanskan, the Sky....
Mankind is permitted to pray to the wakan beings. If their prayer is directed to all the good wakan beings, they should pray to Wakan Tanka; but if the prayer is offered to only one of these beings, then the one addressed should be named.... Wakan Tanka is like sixteen diferent persons; but each person is kan. Therefore, they are only the same as one.
Native American Religions. Dakota Tradition
O God, You are great, You are the one who created me, I have no other. God, You are in the heavens, You are the only one: Now my child is sick, And You will grant me my desire.
African Traditional Religions. Anuak Prayer (Sudan)
God has not chosen any son, nor is there any god along with Him; else each god would have surely championed that which he created, and some of them would have overcome others. Glorified be God above all that they allege... exalted be He over all that they ascribe as partners unto Him!
Islam. Qur'an 23.91-92
We know that an idol has no real existence, and that there is no God but one. For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth--as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"--yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 8.4-6
Only from the unitary and unified Cause, can the unified resultant world be created.
Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 10-13-72
To Him belong all creatures in the heavens and on the earth: even those who are in His very Presence are not too proud to serve Him, nor are they ever weary. They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever flag or intermit. Or have they taken gods from the earth who can raise the dead? If there were, in the heavens or in the earth, other gods besides God, there would have been confusion in both! But glory to God, the Lord of the Throne; high is He above what they attribute to Him!
Islam. Qur'an 21.19-22
Dakota Tradition: This is a concise statement of the solidarity of all spiritual forces; see Cree Round Dance Song, p. 55; Zuni Song, p. 295; Sioux Tradition, p. 370; Yanomami Shaman, p. 370; Winnebago Invocation, p. 373. Qur'an 23.91-92: Cf. Qur'an 18.110, p. 655; 29.41, p. 403; and related passages. Qur'an 21.19-22: Cf. Qur'an 21.26-29, p. 263.
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