World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson



Of all the kindnesses which can be conferred upon someone, perhaps the greatest is to lead him to realize the truth and to attain his inborn potential for goodness. The passages which are gathered here describe witnessing to the truth in two forms. First is to witness by example, or to "let your light so shine before men." Through good deeds and a compassionate heart the believer demonstrates his faith as a living reality and naturally draws others to him. Second is to witness by evangelism, by preaching and teaching the doctrine. We include both texts commissioning evangelism and missionary activity and texts describing the standards of good conduct and pure mind which should accompany the preaching.

Master Tseng said, "The gentleman by his culture collects friends about him, and through these friends promotes goodness."

Confucianism. Analects 12.24

Whoso is perfect in virtue and insight, is established in the Dhamma, has realized the Truths, and fulfills his own duties--he is respected by all people.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 217

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christianity. Matthew 5.14-16

Analects 12.24: Cf. Doctrine of the Mean 33, p. 874. Matthew 5.14-16: Having received the grace of salvation through Christ, the Christian becomes a being of light who should illumine the world. To avoid displaying that light, by giving witness to Christ and God's word and by giving unstinting love, is a sin. Cf. 1 John 4.7-20, p. 208.

I should be a lamp for the world Replete with the virtues of Buddhahood, Their ten powers, their omniscience. All sentient beings Burn with greed, anger, and folly; I should save and free them, Have them extinguish the pains of the states of woe.

Buddhism. Garland Sutra 36

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the peoples, a light to the nations, To open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 42.6-7

Hillel said, "Be of the disciples of Aaron--one that loves peace, that loves mankind and brings them nigh to the Law."

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 1.12

Believers, be God's helpers. When Jesus the son of Mary said to the disciples, "Who will help me on the way to God?" they replied, "We are God's helpers."

Islam. Qur'an 61.14

Asvins, Lords of light, fill me with the sweetness of the bee-honey, so I may speak the glorious Word to the masses of the people.

Hinduism. Atharva Veda 6.69.2

Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and kindly exhortation. Reason with them in the most courteous manner. Your Lord knows best those who stray from His path and those who are rightly guided.

Islam. Qur'an 16.125

Garland Sutra 36: Cf. Dhammapada 54, p. 873; Doctrine of the Mean 33, p. 874. Isaiah 42.6-7: Cf. Isaiah 42.1-4, p. 449. Abot 1.12: Judaism no longer encourages missionary activity. But at the time when the Mishnah was compiled Jewish missionaries were active throughout the Roman world. Qur'an 61.14: See 1 Corinthians 3.9, p. 709. Qur'an 16.125: Cf. Qur'an 6.108, p. 65; 10.99-100, p. 65. Dhammapada 406, p. 862; Laws of Manu 4.138, p. 862.

Those who teach this supreme truth of the Gita to all who love me perform the greatest act of love; they will undoubtedly come to me. No one can render me more devoted service; no one on earth can be more dear to me.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 18.68-69

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the close of the age.

Christianity. Matthew 28.18-20: The Great Commission

By discoursing on morality and righteousness, convert both the cunning and the dull. By preaching on the canonical books and histories, enlighten the ignorant and the benighted.... Publish and make known sutras and tracts. Build and repair temples and shrines.... Expound moral maxims to correct the people's faults.

Taoism. Tract of the Quiet Way

The Emperor Sujin proclaimed to the assembled lords, "The root of leading the nation's people is education. We are now reverently worshipping the kami, with the result that misfortunes have all disappeared. But as for those people far away from the capital city, they are not yet favored with our imperial grace. Therefore, let us now select from among our assembled lords, some to send to the far provinces in the four directions, to inform the people there of our nation's laws."

Shinto. Nihon Shoki 5

If you are aware of a certain truth, if you possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and goodwill. If it be accepted, if it fulfill its purpose, your object is attained. If anyone should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide them. Beware lest you deal unkindly with him.

Baha'i Faith. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 15

Matthew 28.18-20: The Great Commission is the foundation for Christian missions to the world. Cf. Matthew 10.11-20, pp. 712f. Tract of the Quiet Way: In keeping with the syncretic nature of religion in China, where the Three Teachings--Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism--coexisted, this passage encourages evangelism by means of Confucian books, Buddhist sutras, and Taoist tracts. Evangelism is not to convert people from one religion to another, but rather to bring about a renovation of character and to encourage morality and righteousness. See Tract of the Quiet Way and Commentary, p. 64. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 15: Cf. Matthew 10.11-15, pp. 712f.

Monks, there are these two gifts, the carnal and the spiritual. Of these two gifts the spiritual gift is preeminent. Monks, there are two sharings together, the sharing of the carnal and the sharing of the spiritual. Of these two sharings together the sharing of the spiritual is preeminent.

Buddhism. Itivuttaka 98

There is a traffic in speakers of fine words; Persons of grave demeanor are accepted as gifts; Even the bad let slip no opportunity to acquire them. Therefore on the day of an emperor's enthronement Or at the installation of the three officers of state, Rather than send a team of four horses, preceded by a disc of jade, Better were it, as can be done without moving from one's seat, to send this Tao. For what did the ancients say of this Tao, how did they prize it? "Pursuing, they [who have Tao] shall catch; pursued, they shall escape"? They thought it, indeed, the most precious of all things under heaven.

Taoism. Tao Te Ching 62

We are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.... We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return--I speak as to children--widen your hearts also.

Christianity. 2 Corinthians 5.20-6.13

Itivuttaka 98: cf. Anguttara Nikaya i.61, pp. 221f.; Mulamadhyamaka Karika 24.8-12, p. 863a. 2 Corinthians 5.20-6.13: Cf. 1 Peter 2.12, p. 68; Matthew 10.1-25, pp. 712f.; 1 Corinthians 9.19-22, p. 863a.

When the bodhisattva Enters his quiet room, And, in perfect meditation, Sees things in their true meaning, And, rising from his meditation, Whether to kings or nations, Or princes, ministers, and people, To brahmins or to others, Opens up, expounds, And preaches to them this Sutra, His mind shall be at ease And free from timid weakness.

Let him who would preach this Sutra Renounce an envious, angry, proud, Deceitful, or false mind, And ever do upright deeds; He should disparage none, Never argue over the Law, Nor cause others doubts or regret... But ever be gentle, patient, And compassionate to all.

Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 14

A son or daughter... becomes endowed with that kind of wise insight which allows him to see all beings as on the way to their slaughter. Great compassion thereby takes hold of him. With his heavenly eye he surveys countless beings, and what he sees fills him with great agitation. So many carry the burden of a karma which will soon be punished in the hells, others have acquired unfortunate rebirths which keep them away from the Buddha and his teachings, others are doomed soon to be killed or they are enveloped in the net of false views, or fail to find the path, while others who had gained a rebirth favorable to their emancipation have lost it again. And he radiates great friendliness and compassion over all those beings, and gives his attention to them, thinking, "I shall become a savior to all those beings, I shall release them from all their sufferings!"

Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 402-63

To be unsnared by vulgar ways, to make no vain show of material things, to bring no hardship on others, to avoid offending the mob, to seek peace and security for the world, preservation of the people's lives, full provender for others as well as oneself, and to rest content when these aims are fulfilled, in this way bringing purity to the heart--there were those in ancient times who believed that the "art of the Way" lay in these things.. They preached liberality of mind, hoping thereby to bring men together in the joy of harmony, to insure concord within the four seas. Their chief task lay, they felt, in the effort to establish these ideals. They regarded it as no shame to suffer insult, but sought to put an end to strife among the people, to outlaw aggression, to abolish the use of arms, and to rescue the world from warfare. With these aims they walked the whole world over, trying to persuade those above them and to teach those below, and though the world refused to listen, they clamored all the louder and would not give up, until men said, "High and low are sick at the sight of them, and still they demand to be seen!"

Taoism. Chuang Tzu 33

Lotus Sutra 14: This chapter describes rules for correct and effective preaching. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 402-03: Here is another expression of the bodhisattva ideal. Chuang Tzu 33: This chapter of the Chuang Tzu describes sages of various schools--Taoists, Mohists, Legalists, Confucianists--who wandered about China during the Chou dynasty, preaching their visions of peace and harmony. See Shih Chi 47, pp. 526f.


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