World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


The Search For Knowledge

The search for knowledge is incumbent upon every human being. Education and diligent study for elevates and ennobles the human person. The most important knowledge is spiritual wisdom--the Way or the Dhamma--which not only enlightens the intellect but also elevates the spirit and fosters a good will. When a person finds a deep truth, it awakens an emotion of inner joy, because that truth corresponds with what is already within his or her original mind.

The search for knowledge is an obligation laid on every Muslim.

Islam. Hadith of Ibn Majah and Baihaqi

A good, all-round education, appreciation of the arts, a highly trained discipline and pleasant speech; this is the highest blessing.

Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 261

Confucius said, "Broaden your knowledge of the Classics, restrain it with ritual, and you are unlikely to deviate from the Way."

Confucianism. Analects 12.15

There is no greater wealth than wisdom; no greater poverty than ignorance; no greater heritage than culture.

Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Saying 52

When Confucius was going to Wei, Jan Ch'iu drove him. The Master said, "What a dense population!" Jan Ch'iu said, "When the people have multiplied, what next should be done for them?" The Master said, "Enrich them." Jan Ch'iu said, "When one has enriched them, what next should be done for them?" The Master said, "Instruct them."

Confucianism. Analects 13.9

Nahjul Balagha, Saying 52: Cf. Lamentations Rabbah, Proem 2, p. 1035.

A disciple in training will comprehend this earth, the realm of death and the realm of the gods. A disciple in training will investigate the well-taught Path of Virtue, even as an expert garland-maker picks flowers.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 45

The Master said, "A gentleman can see a question from all sides without bias. The small man is biased and can see a question only from one side."

Confucianism. Analects 2.14

There are three things that occasion sorrow to a superior man [who is devoted to learning]: If there be any subject of which he has not heard, and he cannot get to hear of it; if he hear of it, and cannot get to learn it; if he have learned it, and cannot get to carry it out in practice.

Confucianism. Book of Ritual

The parents of a child are but his enemies when they fail to educate him properly in his boyhood. An illiterate boy, like a heron amidst swans, cannot shine in the assembly of the learned. Learning imparts a heightened charm to a homely face. Knowledge is the best treasure that a man can secretly hoard up in life. Learning is the revered of the revered. Knowledge makes a man honest, virtuous, and endearing to society. It is learning alone that enables a man to better the condition of his friends and relations. Knowledge is the holiest of holies, the god of the gods, and commands respect of crowned heads; shorn of it a man is but an animal. The fixtures and furniture of one's house may be stolen by thieves; but knowledge, the highest treasure, is above all stealing.

Hinduism. Garuda Purana

Dhammapada 45: Cf. Verses on the Perfection of Wisdom which is the Storehouse of Precious Virtues 14.7-8, p. 735.

Does not wisdom call, does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, in the paths she takes her stand; beside the gates of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud; "To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the sons of men. O simple ones, learn prudence; O foolish men, pay attention. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right; for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.

They are all straight to him who understands and right to those who find knowledge. Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

Judaism and Christianity. Proverbs 8.1-11

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.

Christianity. James 1.5

[God] gives wisdom to whom He will, and he to whom wisdom is given has truly received abundant good. But none remember except men of understanding.

Islam. Qur'an 2.269

What thing I am I do not know. I wander secluded, burdened by my mind. When the Firstborn of Truth has come to me I receive a share of that selfsame Word.

Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.164.37

Mencius said, "A gentleman steeps himself in the Way because he wishes to find it in himself."

Confucianism. Mencius IV.B.14

He who imbibes the Dhamma abides in happiness with mind pacified; the wise man ever delights in the Dhamma revealed by the Noble Ones.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 79

When they listen to that which has been revealed unto the Messenger, you see their eyes overflow with tears because of their recognition of the Truth. They say, "Our Lord, we believe. Inscribe us as among the witnesses."

Islam. Qur'an 5.83

Proverbs 8.1-11: Wisdom is personified here, and in Proverbs 8.22-23, p. 151; Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 7.1, p. 152; and Sirach 24.26-27, p. 806. Cf. 1 Corinthians 2.6-10, p. 538. James 1.5: God is the ultimate source of wisdom, and he who doubts is invited to bring the matter before God in prayer. Cf. Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2, pp. 598. Qur'an 2.269: Cf. Proverbs 9.11, p. 796. Rig Veda 1.164.37: This is the cosmic law as imparted by a teacher.

As the heat of a fire reduces wood to ashes, the fire of knowledge burns to ashes all karma. Nothing in this world purifies like spiritual wisdom. It is the perfection achieved in time through the path of yoga, the path which leads to the Self within.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 4.37-38

Those who see Truth and speak Truth, Their bodies and minds become truthful. Truth is their evidence, Truth is their instruction, True is the praise of the truthful. Those who have forgotten Truth cry in agony and weep while departing.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri Raga, M.3, p. 69

The end and aim of wisdom is repentance and good deeds.

Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 17

True learning induces in the mind service of mankind.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa, M.1, p. 356

Bhagavad Gita 4.37-38: Cf. Laws of Manu 5.109, p. 728; Narada Dharma Sutra 1.210, p. 159; Sifre Deuteronomy, pp. 494-95. Berakot 17 and Asa, M.1: Cf. James 3.13-18, p. 798; Book of Certitude, 69, p. 798; Precepts of Divine Learning, p. 798.


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