World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson



Wherever people subscribe to a religion or any doctrine of moral excellence, there may arise the sin of hypocrisy. The hypocrite wishes to enjoy the approval of his peers and even the perquisites of a religious office by appearing outwardly moral or religious, while inwardly he is not. Or, where religion makes serious demands upon people's lives, such as Islam's call to jihad or Buddhism's strict precepts of monastic discipline, the hypocrite tries to circumvent these demands while appearing outwardly righteous. The hypocrite does not pay the price of commitment to the religious life and hence does not reap its spiritual benefits; he remains at a low state. Furthermore, when hypocrites rise to high position, they set a bad example for ordinary believers and bring religion itself into disrepute.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Christianity. Matthew 23.27-28

King Alexander Jannaeus said to his wife, "Fear not the [true] Pharisees nor the non-Pharisees, but those hypocrites who ape the Pharisees."

Judaism. Talmud, Sota 22b

And Jesus said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."

Christianity. Mark 7.6-7

Matthew 23.27-28: Cf. Matthew 7.15-16, p. 446; 12.34-37, p. 487; 23.2-3, p. 810; Hadith of Tirmidhi, p. 446. A good example of hypocrisy is the attitude of the priest and Levite to the mugging victim on the road in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10.25-37, p. 971. Sota 22b: Although among Christians the term 'Pharisee' has come to mean people with a rigid, formalistic religion, the historical Pharisees were a party of sincere Jewish believers. The New Testament's condemnation of the Pharisees should be taken to refer to the hypocrites among them.

The man of superior "righteousness" takes action, and has an ulterior motive to do so. The man of superior "propriety" takes action, And when people do not respond to it, he will stretch his arms and force it on them.

Taoism. Tao Te Ching 38

What is the use of your matted hair, O witless man? What is the use of your antelope skin garment? Within, you are full of passions; without, you embellish yourself [with the paraphernalia of an ascetic].

Buddhism. Dhammapada 394

Some go to bathe at holy places-- With hearts impure and faculties false. As one part of impurity they wash, twice more freshly stick to them. They washed themselves outside; inside they are full of deadly poison. The pure in soul are pure even without ritual bathing; The wicked will be wicked in all ritual performances.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Var Suhi, M.1, p. 789

The brahmin's sacred thread binds not his passions and lust for woman. Each morning his face is covered with shame. By the thread his feet and hands are not restrained; Nor his slanderous tongue and lustful eyes... Listen, O world! to this marvel: This man, blind in soul, is called wise.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 471

He who has the character of a sinner, though he lays great stress on the outward signs of his religious calling as a means of living, he who does not control himself though he pretends to do so, will come to grief for a long time.

As hemlock kills him who drinks it, as a weapon cuts him who awkwardly handles it, as a demon harms him who does not incant it, so the Law harms him who mixes it up with sensuality.

Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 20.43-44

Mark 7.6-7: Jesus is quoting Isaiah 29.13. Cf. Matthew 7.21, p. 811; James 3.13-18; Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2, pp. 598f. Tao Te Ching 38: Lao Tzu is criticizing action according to conventional ethical and social norms as leading to self-righteousness and legalism. Dhammapada 394: Cf. Tevigga Sutta, Digha Nikaya xiii.33-34, pp. 209f. Var Suhi, M.1: Cf. Var Mahj, M.1, p. 485, Udana 6, p. 858. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 20.43-44: Cf. Sutrakritanga 2.1.18-19, p. 446.

Many with a yellow robe on their necks are of evil disposition and uncontrolled. Evil-doers on account of their evil deeds are born in a woeful state.

Better to swallow a red-hot iron ball [which would consume one] like a flame of fire than to be an immoral and uncontrolled person feeding on the alms offered by the devout....

Any loose act, any corrupt practice, a life of dubious holiness--none of these is of much fruit.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 307-12

Whoever derives a profit for himself from the words of the Torah is helping on his own destruction.

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.7

Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Christianity. Matthew 7.21

God's Messenger is reported as saying, "When one commits fornication he is not a believer, when one steals he is not a believer, when one drinks wine he is not a believer, when one takes plunder on account of which men raise their eyes at him he is not a believer, and when one of you defrauds he is not a believer; so beware, beware!"

Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim

The opulent man who is liberal towards strangers, while his family lives in distress, has counterfeit virtue which will first make him taste the sweets [of fame], but afterwards make him swallow the poison [of punishment in hell].

Hinduism. Laws of Manu 11.9

Woe to those who pray and are heedless of their prayers, to those who make display and refuse charity.

Islam. Qur'an 107.4-7

Dhammapada 308: Cf. Lotus Sutra 2, p. 411; Var Sarang, M.1, p. 1013; Oracle of Hachiman, p. 728. Abot 4.7: Cf. 2 Thessalonians 3.8-12, p. 1013; James 3.13-18, p. 798; Var Sarang, M.1, p. 1013. Matthew 7.21: Cf. Abot 1.17, p. 811. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim: Cf. Qur'an 6.151-53, p. 168; 25.63-76, p. 233; Jeremiah 7.1-15, p. 1088. Qur'an 107.4-7: Cf. Qur'an 2.177, p. 861; Shinto Uden Futsujosho, p. 830.

Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Christianity. Matthew 6.1-4

O believers, void not your freewill offerings with reproach and injury, as one who expends of his substance to show off to men and believes not in God and the Last Day. The likeness of him is as the likeness of a smooth rock on which is soil, and a torrent smites it, and leaves it barren. They have no power over anything that they have earned. God guides not the people of the unbelievers.

Islam. Qur'an 2.264

When We show favor to a man, he withdraws and turns aside, but when ill touches him then he abounds in prayer.

Islam. Qur'an 41.51

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.

Christianity. Revelation 3.15-16

And of mankind are some who say, "We believe in God and the Last Day," when they believe not. They think to beguile God and those who believe, and they beguile none save themselves; but they perceive not. In their hearts is a disease, and God increases their disease. A painful doom is theirs because they lie. And when it is said to them, "Make not mischief on the earth," they say, "We are only peacemakers." Behold they are indeed the mischief-makers but they perceive not.

Islam. Qur'an 2.8-12

Matthew 6.1-4: Cf. Matthew 6.5-8, p. 830; Mencius VII.B.11, p. 986. Qur'an 2.264: Cf. Qur'an 2.271, p. 873; Matthew 5.23-24, p. 993. Revelation 3.15-16: This was said to the wealthy church of Laodicea, whose comfortable and lukewarm Christianity was nauseating. Qur'an 2.8-12: 'We are only peacemakers': these were the lukewarm Muslims of Medinah who wanted to maintain their peaceful lives and a comfortable coexistence with the unbelievers, when Muhammad was calling the people to total commitment to the cause of Islam.

As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, "Come, and hear what the word is that comes forth from the Lord." And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with their lips they show much love, but their heart is set on their gain.

Judaism and Christianity. Ezekiel 33.30-31

The evildoers who pursue Devotion held sacred by thine initiate, Because they have no part in the Good Mind, O Lord, From them she shrinks back, with Righteousness, As far as the wild beasts of prey shrink back from us!

Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 34.9

Many are the gurus who are proficient to the utmost in Vedas and Shastras; but rare is the guru who has attained to the supreme Truth.

Many are the gurus on earth who give what is other than the Self; but rare is the guru who brings to light the Atman.

Many are the gurus who rob the disciple of his wealth; but rare is the guru who removes the disciple's afflictions.

Many are they who are given to the discipline and conduct according to caste, stage, and family; but he who is devoid of all volition is a guru rare to find.

He is the guru by whose very contact there flows the supreme bliss; the intelligent man shall choose such a one as the guru and no other.

Hinduism. Kularnava Tantra 13

Ezekiel 33.30-31: Cf. Micah 3.5, p. 446.


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