World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts
Editor, Andrew Wilson
Cultivate The Good
If, continually and over a long time, a person practices good deeds, he will form good habits. Good habits cultivated over a long time lead to the formation of good character. According to the Parable of the Sower, the human spirit is like a field that must be sowed, cultivated, and weeded if it is to bear a good crop. People can only develop good habits by constant practice; otherwise they will develop bad habits that become progressively more difficult to break. Thus good begets good, while evil begets evil. We also include several passages which suggest that even doing good for bad or base motives can be beneficial by encouraging good habits.
Not to do any evil, to cultivate good, to purify one's mind--this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
Buddhism. Dhammapada 183
Immaturity: A watery hole at the foot of a mountain amidst uncultivated growth. The superior man by determined good conduct nourishes his virtue.
Confucianism. I Ching 4: Immaturity
By the... soul, and Him who perfected it and inspired it with conscience of what is wrong for it and right for it: He is indeed successful who causes it to grow, and he is indeed a failure who stunts it.
Islam. Qur'an 91.7-10
By sustained effort, earnestness, discipline, and self-control, let the wise man make for himself an island which no flood can overwhelm.
Buddhism. Dhammapada 25
Dhammapada 183: This may well be the most famous aphorism of the Buddha.
Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Christianity. 1 Timothy 4.7-8
This Atman, resplendent and pure, whom the sinless disciples behold residing within the body, is attained by unceasing practice of truthfulness, austerity, right knowledge, and continence.
Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.5
Birth does not lead to greatness; but cultivation of numerous virtues by a man leads him to greatness. It is a pearl that possesses real greatness and not the pair of shells in which it is produced.
Jainism. Vajjalagam 687
Gain: The superior man, seeing what is good, imitates it; Seeing what is bad, he corrects it in himself.
Confucianism. I Ching 42: Gain
The domain of voidness, yet where one cultivates all types of virtues, such is the domain of the bodhisattva.
Buddhism. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 5
Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Christianity. 2 Peter 1.5-11
1 Timothy 4.7-8: Paul frequently compares inner training to the physical training of an athlete: see 1 Corinthians 9.24-27, p. 745. Cf. Dhammapada 80, p. 731; Chuang Tzu 19, p. 204. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.5: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 5.24, p. 533. I Ching 42: Cf. Analects 7.3, 7.28, p. 657. Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 5: This and the following passage teach that attaining enlightenment or receiving salvation are not excuses for ceasing to cultivate the good. Mahayana Buddhism teaches that everything phenomenal is void (sunya), yet that void is the womb of everything. Voidness correctly realized generates wisdom and compassion; these direct one to cultivate the good.
Run to do even a slight precept, and flee from transgression; for precept draws precept in its train, and transgression, transgression; for the recompense of a precept is a precept, and the recompense of a transgression is a transgression.
Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.2
Make haste in doing good; check your mind from evil; for the mind of him who is slow in doing meritorious actions delights in evil.
Should a person commit evil, he should not do it again and again; he should not find pleasure therein: painful is the accumulation of evil.
Should a person perform a meritorious action, he should do it again and again; he should find pleasure therein: blissful is the accumulation of merit.
Buddhism. Dhammapada 116-18
Do not disregard evil, saying, "It will not come nigh unto me": by the falling of drops even a water jar is filled; likewise the fool, gathering little by little, fills himself with evil.
Do not disregard merit, saying "It will not come nigh unto me": by the falling of drops of water even a water jar is filled; likewise the wise man, gathering little by little, fills himself with good.
Buddhism. Dhammapada 121-22
Black goats must be caught early, before it is dark.
African Traditional Religions. Igala Proverb (Nigeria)
If you neglect the Torah, many causes for neglecting it will present themselves to you.
Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.12
Mencius said to Kau Tzu, "A trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time. Now your heart is blocked by grass."
Confucianism. Mencius VII.B.21
If one guards himself against sin three times, the Holy One guards him from then on.
Judaism. Jerusalem Talmud, Kiddushin 1.9
Engage in Torah and charity even with an ulterior motive, for the habit of right doing will lead also to right motivation.
Judaism. Talmud, Pesahim 50b
Igala Proverb: This means nip problems in the bud before they escalate.
The Master said, "The inferior man is not ashamed of unkindness and does not shrink from injustice. If no advantage beckons he makes no effort. If he is not intimidated he does not improve himself, but if he is made to behave correctly in small matters he is careful in large ones. This is fortunate for the inferior man. This is what is meant when it is said in the I Ching, 'His feet are fastened in the stocks, so that he cannot walk. No blame' [Hexagram 21, Biting Through].
"If good does not accumulate, it is not enough to make a name for a man. If evil does not accumulate, it is not enough to destroy a man. Therefore the inferior man thinks to himself, Goodness in small things has no value, and so neglects it. He thinks, Small sins do no harm, and so does not give them up. Thus his sins accumulate until they can no longer be covered up, and his guilt becomes so great that it can no longer be wiped out. In the I Ching it is said, 'His neck is fastened in the wooden cangue, so that his ears are hidden. Misfortune' [Hexagram 21, Shih Ho]."
Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 2.5.7-8
The Holy One gives wisdom only to him who has wisdom.
Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 55a
For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
Christianity. Bible, Matthew 13.12
If there is no host on the inside to receive it [the Tao], it will not stay; if there is no mark on the outside to guide it, it will not go. If what is brought forth from the inside is not received on the outside, then the sage will not bring it forth. If what is taken in from the outside is not received by a host on the inside, the sage will not entrust it.
Taoism. Chuang Tzu 14
"Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold, and sixtyfold and a hundredfold....
"Do you not understand this parable?... The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them. And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown upon good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixty- fold and a hundredfold."
Christianity. Mark 4.3-20: Parable of the Sower
Chuang Tzu 14: Cf. Tao Te Ching 41, p. 805 Matthew 13.12: Cf. the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25.14-30, p. 1015. Mark 4.3-20: The individual's capacity for truth determines the degree of its reception. Yet that capacity is itself something to be cultivated, by clearing away the thorns and pulling up the weeds so that the Word of God may bear fruit. Cf. Tao Te Ching 41, p. 805.
Download entire book in ZIP format
Table of Contents