World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts
Editor, Andrew Wilson
The founder is steadfast through his trials, and finally emerges the victor. In the case of Buddha and Mahavira, these trials were largely internal struggles to realize the truth through sustained meditation and austerities. Upon the conquest of his passions and attaining the highest liberation, Gotama became the Buddha, the Wayfarer who had reached the Goal, the "trackless one" who had transcended the cycle of birth and death. Jain sutras describe Mahavira's victory, by which he becomes a Tirthankara, in similar terms.
In the Abrahamic faiths the founders maintained an attitude of faith despite rejection and persecution, and are finally vindicated. Abraham was the first great victor of faith, who was tested ten times, according to Jewish tradition. His ultimate test came when God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Moses demonstrated unshakable faith in confronting Pharaoh with God's demand that he free the Israelites. Risking imprisonment and ridicule even from his own people, he persevered and led the people out of Egyptian slavery under the divine protection that he alone knew was available to them. Jesus' victory transcends death itself: obedient to death on the cross, he is resurrected and exalted to the right hand of God. St. Paul's hymn of kenosis describes how Jesus, though essentially divine, offered himself to be humiliated and killed, according to the will of God, and thereby received divine approval and exaltation. His willingness to empty himself and suffer is itself part of his victorious standard of faith. Then we include the account of Jesus' resurrection appearances from the Gospel of Luke. Muhammad's vindication came during his lifetime. He returned victorious to Mecca after years of exile, brought an end to paganism in Arabia, and established the new nation of Islam. Zarathustra, also, was vindicated in his lifetime through gaining as a patron Prince Vishtaspa, whom he convinced to put his doctrines into practice. Confucius, on the other hand, never lived to see his teachings adopted in China. His victory was total, nevertheless, as China would eventually come entirely under the tutelage of Confucian teachings.
All these great founders of religion had courage, steadfastness of purpose, and fidelity to the goal which they sought, the cause which they championed, the reality which they realized, and the revelation with which they had been entrusted. With these qualities they could be victorious.
All have I overcome. All do I know. From all am I detached. All have I renounced. Wholly absorbed am I in the destruction of craving. Having comprehended all by myself, whom shall I call my teacher?
Buddhism. Dhammapada 353
Through many a birth I wandered in samsara, seeking but not finding the builder of this house. Sorrowful is it to be born again and again.
O house-builder! You are seen. You shall build no house again. All your rafters are broken. Your ridgepole is shattered. My mind has attained the unconditioned. Achieved is the end of craving.
Buddhism. Dhammapada 153-54
Having mastered perfectly all the methods of trance, the prince recalled, in the first watch of the night, the sequence of his former births.
Next the Rightly-illumined One perceived [the chain of causation], and thus was decisively awakened: When birth is destroyed, old age, and death ceases; when becoming is destroyed, then birth ceases; when attachment is destroyed, becoming ceases; when craving is destroyed, attachment ceases; when sensations are destroyed, craving ceases; when contact is destroyed, sensation ceases; when the six sense organs are destroyed, contact ceases; when the psycho-physical organism is destroyed, the six sense organs cease; when consciousness is destroyed, the psycho-physical organism ceases; when psychic constructions are destroyed, consciousness ceases; when ignorance is destroyed, psychic constructions cease.
Reflecting his right understanding, the great hermit arose before the world as Buddha, the Enlightened One. He found self nowhere, as the fire whose fuel has been exhausted. Then he conceived the Eightfold Path, the straightest and safest path for the attainment of this end.
For seven days, the Buddha with serene mind contemplated the Truth that he had attained and gazed at the Bodhi tree without blinking: "Here on this spot I have fulfilled my cherished goal; I now rest at ease in the Dharma of selflessness."
Buddhism. Ashvaghosha, Buddhacarita 14
Dhammapada 153-54: The 'house-builder' is the chain of causation that binds humanity to existence and suffering; see the following passage. It is not God the Creator.
The Venerable One lived... indifferent alike to the smell of ordure and of sandal, to straw and jewels, dirt and gold, pleasure and pain, attached neither to this world nor to that beyond, desiring neither life nor death; he arrived at the shore of samsara, and he exerted himself for the suppression of the defilement of karma.
With supreme knowledge, with supreme intuition, with supreme conduct, in blameless lodgings, in blameless wandering, with supreme valor, with supreme uprightness, with supreme mildness, with supreme dexterity, with supreme patience, with supreme freedom from passions, with supreme control, with supreme contentment, with supreme understanding, on the supreme path to final liberation, which is the fruit of veracity, control, penance, and good conduct, the Venerable One meditated on himself for twelve years.
During the thirteenth year, in the second month of summer, in the fourth fortnight, the light of the month Vaisakha, on its tenth day, when the shadow had turned towards the east and the first wake was over, on the day called Suvrata... after fasting two-and-a-half days without drinking water, being engaged in deep meditation, he reached the highest knowledge and intuition, called wholeness (kevala), which is infinite, supreme, unobstructed, unimpeded, complete, and full!
When the venerable ascetic Mahavira had become a Jina and Saint, he was a Liberated One, omniscient and comprehending all objects; he knew and saw all conditions of the world, of gods, men, and demons: whence they come, whither they go, whether they are born as men or animals or become gods or beings in purgatory, the ideas, the thoughts of their minds, the food, doings, desires, the open and secret deeds of all the living beings in the whole world; he the Saint, for whom there is no secret, knew and saw all conditions of all living beings in the world, what they thought, spoke, or did at any moment.
Jainism. Kalpa Sutra 120-21
With ten trials Abraham our father was tried, and he bore them all, to make known how great was the love of Abraham our father.
Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 5.4
After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together.
And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided."
And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed My voice."
Judaism and Christianity. Genesis 22.1-18
Buddhacarita 14: This describes the Buddha's enlightenment. Its fundamental doctrinal expression is the chain of dependent origination, given here and in Samyutta Nikaya xxii.90, pp. 548f. Kalpa Sutra 120-21: This describes Mahavira's enlightenment to become the supreme soul, called a Jina, a saint, a kevalin, and a Tirthankara. Abot 5.4: The ten trials: in Babylon when he was thrown into a fiery furnace (Qur'an 21.51-71, p. 601), his call to depart for an unknown land (Genesis 12.1, p. 793), and thence to Egypt (Genesis 12.10), the test involving his wife in Egypt (Genesis 12.11-20) and again in Gerar (Genesis 20.1-18), the war with the kings (Genesis 14), the covenant between the pieces (Genesis 15), the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17), the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21.10-13), and the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22, below). Ten is the traditional number, corresponding to the Ten Words by which God created the world; the exact enumeration of the trials may vary. Cf. Hebrews 11.8-19, pp. 754f.
Then We sent forth, after them, Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh and his council with Our signs, but they waxed proud, and were a sinful people. So when the truth came to them from Us, they said, "Surely this is a manifest sorcery."... So none believed in Moses, save a seed of his people, for fear of Pharaoh and their council, that they would persecute them; and Pharaoh was high in the land, and he was one of the prodigals. Moses said, "O my people, if you believe in God, in Him put your trust, if you have surrendered." They said, "In God we have put our trust. Our Lord, make us not a temptation to the people of the evildoers, and deliver us by Thy mercy from the people of the unbelievers."...
Moses said, "Our Lord, You have given to Pharaoh and his council adornment and possessions in this present life. Our Lord, let them go astray from Your way; our Lord, obliterate their possessions, and harden their hearts so that they do not believe, till they see the painful chastisement." He said, "Your prayer is answered; so go you straight, and follow not the way of those that know not."
And We brought the children of Israel over the sea; and Pharaoh and his hosts followed them insolently and impetuously till, when the drowning over- took them, he said, "I believe that there is no god but He in whom the children of Israel believe; I am of those that surrender." "Now? And before you were a rebel, one of those who did corruption. So today We shall deliver you with your body, that you might be a sign to those after you. Surely many men are heedless of Our signs."
Islam. Qur'an 10.75-92
Genesis 22.1-18: The binding of Isaac, the Akkedah, was Abraham's ultimate test of faith. Isaac was his only son by his wife Sarah, born miraculously by God's hand after she was long past child-bearing age; furthermore, he was the one by whom God's promise of numerous descendants was to be fulfilled. Such was the love and attachment that Abraham had for his son. Yet at God's command, he willingly offered him up, though it was more difficult than to sacrifice his own life. Isaac's self-sacrifice is sometimes compared to Jesus' crucifixion. For three of the many Jewish reflections on the binding of Isaac, see Genesis Rabbah 56, pp. 621f.; 56.11, p. 876; Rosh Hashanah 16a, p. 648. A Christian reflection is found in Hebrews 11.17-19, pp. 745f.
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.... The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped by the sea, by Pi-ha-hiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were in great fear. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord; and they said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, 'Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."
And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still."...
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And in the morning watch the Lord in a pillar of fire and of cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily; and the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from before Israel; for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians."
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen." So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its wonted flow when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled into it, and the Lord routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
Thus the Lord saved Israel from the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore. And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did against the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord; and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Judaism and Christianity. Exodus 14.5-31
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christianity. Philippians 2.6-11
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
That very day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of bread.
As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace to you!" But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see that I have." And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high."
Then he led them out as far as to Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
Christianity. Luke 24.1-53
Exodus 14.5-31: Cf. Exodus 15.1-11, p. 564. Philippians 2.6-11: This is the well-known hymn of Christ's kenosis, or self-emptying. By grasping at nothing and denying himself totally, Jesus laid the condition to be totally vindicated and exalted by God. Cf. Mark 8.34-36, p. 897. Luke 24.1-53: Immediately after the tragic events leading to Christ's crucifixion as recounted in Luke 22.39-23.46, pp. 602f., comes the glorious victory over death and evil that is Christ's resurrection. This description of the resurrection begins with the discovery of the empty tomb, thence his appearance among the disciples on the road to Emmaus and his partaking of a meal with them, and concludes with his ascension into heaven. Another resurrection appearance, to Thomas, is given in John 20.24-29, pp. 653f.
The best possession of Zarathustra Spitama has been revealed: It is that the Wise Lord has granted, through the Right, eternal bliss To him and to all those who have observed and practiced The words and deeds of his good religion.
By the thought of him, by words and deeds, Shall prince Vishtaspa and Spitama, Zarathustra's son, And Frashaoshtra strive willingly To please the Wise One and to pray in His praise, Making even the paths to the religion of the savior, Which the Lord has ordained.
Zoroastrianism. Yasna 53.1-2
The border warden requested to be introduced to Confucius, saying, "When men of superior virtue have come to this [exile], I have never been denied the privilege of seeing them." The followers introduced him, and when he came out from the interview, he said, "My friends, why are you distressed by your master's loss of office? The kingdom has long been without the principles of truth and right; Heaven is going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue."
Confucianism. Analects 3.24
Did We not expand your breast for you and lift from you your burden, the burden that weighed down on your back? Did We not exalt your fame? So truly with hardship comes ease, truly with hardship comes ease. So when you are empty, labor, and let your Lord be your Quest.
Islam. Qur'an 94
A declaration of immunity from God and His Apostle, to those of the pagans with whom you have contracted mutual alliances... and an announcement from God and His Apostle, to the people assembled on the day of the Great Pilgrimage, that God and His Apostle dissolve treaty obligations with the pagans. If then, you repent, it will be best for you; but if you turn away, know that you cannot frustrate God. And proclaim a grievous penalty to those who reject Faith. But the treaties are not dissolved with those pagans with whom you have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfill your engagements with them to the end of their term: God loves the righteous.
But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every strategem of war; but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. If one among the pagans asks you for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the Word of God; and then escort him to where he can be secure....
O you who believe! Truly the pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if you fear poverty [from loss of their trade], soon God will enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for God is All-knowing, All-wise.
Islam. Qur'an 9.1-6, 28
Yasna 53.1-2: Cf. Yasna 28.7, p. 1038. Qur'an 94: This early Meccan sura, called "Solace," describes the Prophet's inward assurance at a time of difficulty and persecution. The revelation foretells future victory as though it is already accomplished; coming as it does from a plane beyond time.
The Apostle continued his pilgrimage and showed the men the rites and taught them the customs of their hajj. He made a speech in which he made things clear. He praised and glorified God, then he said, "O men, listen to my words. I do not know whether I shall ever meet you in this place again after this year. Your blood and your property are sacrosanct until you meet your Lord and He will ask you of your works. I have told you. He who has a pledge let him return it to him who entrusted him with it; all usury is abolished, but you have your capital. Wrong not and you shall not be wronged.... All blood shed in the pagan period is to be left unavenged. The first claim on blood I abolish is that of ibn Rabi`a ibn al-Harith ibn `Abdu'l-Muttalib. It is the first blood shed in the pagan period which I deal with. Satan despairs of ever being worshipped in your land, but if he can be obeyed in anything short of worship, he will be pleased in matters you may be disposed to think of little account, so beware of him in your religion.... Time has completed its cycle and is as it was on the day that God created the heavens and the earth."
Islam. Ibn Hisham, Sirat Rasul Allah
Qur'an 9.1-6, 28: These are among the verses given at the time of the Muslims' final victory over the pagans, as they began to organize a new nation, and in anticipation of the victorious pilgrimage to Mecca in <A.H. 9 (October, 630 <A.D. ). They were read there to the assembled pilgrims by `Ali as a statement of state policy. This declaration of immunity granted the pagans relief from any blood debts due to having previously violated their agreements with the Muslims (see below). At the same time, the pagans were welcomed to sincerely embrace Islam or face extinction.
The United States of America declared war against me. The battle has been fought, and the United States was defeated. Throughout the world, the established religions joined the opposition: Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism--every religion on earth united against me. But when I counterattacked, they all utterly fell down. Who protected me? God! No matter how strongly they came against me, they could not move my position away form the vertical standing point, from the center of God's love.
From this center position... I was steadfast and stirred up this world to make a victorious foundation by fighting all of Satan's power. You must never forget how I gained this foundation. I was named the victor. Only one man in history has ever defeated all of Satan's world. Now I am leading world humanity into unity.
Everything I had was poured into America so that with love, we could restore the original way. I made oneness with everyone, western and eastern people, centering only on true love. Everyone who has come against me, even Satan, cannot deny that I have made that kind of foundation a reality on the earth. Of course God is enjoying my victory and He is raising His hand, "My son! My victor! Welcome to My place of Heart!"
Now wherever I go, there will be no opposition because I have brought unity between East and West, North and South on the individual level, family, tribal, national, world, and cosmic levels. At the time of Jesus, even though he came as the Messiah, he was whipped from day one until the end. There was opposition and crucifixion, just the opposite of what should have been. I received similar persecution, but from this day on we can go forward without any opposition because the world is looking for hope which cannot be found anywhere except with me!
Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-3-89
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