World religions (small group study)

We’ve developed a 5 week small group study for you to consider world religions including the New Church. With a friend, small group, or as an individual, check out these themes present in all religions and explore how they show up in your life.

Use this as a format to gather together with some friends, your spouse, your family (or on your own) and start exploring this topic.

Each week provides a set of readings from various religions. Read these with your group, and then discuss using these or other questions:

Weekly Discussion Questions

  • What resonated with you from these quotations?
  • What challenged you?
  • How have you seen this topic's significance in your life?
  • Do these different perspectives on this one truth help you see it in a more holistic way?
  • How can you bring this into your life this week?
  • How do these different perspectives expand your idea of this concept/truth?

Weekly Readings

Click on a week, below, to see the readings for the weekly group meeting. 

Week 1 — Self awareness

“If you love others, and affection is not returned, look into your love. If you rule others, and they are unruly, look into your wisdom. If you treat others politely and they do not return your politeness, look into your respect. If your desires are not fulfilled, turn inward and examine yourself.” Confucianism

“First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Christianity

“The faults of others we see easily; our own are very difficult to see. Our neighbor’s faults we winnow eagerly, as chaff from grain; our own we hide away as a cheat hides a losing roll of the dice.” Buddhism

“He who knows others is discerning; he who knows himself is wise.” Taoism

“They who quarrel with others, instead of quarreling with their own hearts, waste their lives.” Sikhism

A Swedenborgian Perspective on the Topic

“He who lives the life of charity and faith does the work of repentance daily; he reflects upon the evils which are with him, he acknowledges them, he guards against them, he supplicates the Lord for help. For man of himself continually lapses, but he is continually raised by the Lord, and led to good.” New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 163

Week 2 — Actions speak louder than words

“God will not ask a man of what race he is. He will ask what he has done.” Sikhism

“God will render to every man according to his deeds.” Christianity

“A man asked Mohammad how to tell when one is truly faithful, and he replied; “If you derive pleasure from the good which you do and are grieved by the evil which you commit, then you are a true believer.” Islam

“But I say unto you: deeds of love are worth as much as all the commandments of the law.” Judaism

“No Brahmin is a Brahmin by birth. No outcaste is an outcaste by birth. An outcaste is an outcaste by his deeds. A Brahmin is a Brahmin by his deeds.” Buddhism

A Swedenborgian Perspective on the Topic

“In the spiritual world, into which everyone comes after death, the question is not asked what your belief has been or your doctrine, but what your life has been. Was it such or such? For, as is known, such as one’s life is, such is one’s belief, yes, one’s doctrine. For life fashions a doctrine and a belief for itself.” Divine Providence 101

Week 3 — Deeper meaning in scriptures

“The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” Christianity

“Rather let a letter be uprooted than the Torah be forgotten.” Judaism

“The Koran was sent down in seven dialects, and in every one of its sentences there is an outer and an inner meaning.” Islam

“Study the words, no doubt, but look behind them to the thought they indicate, and having found it, throw the words away as chaff when you have sifted out the grain.” Hinduism

“Let no scholars scrutinize the language of the wise too closely; the seers think more of the thought than of the words in which ‘tis caught.” Sufism

A Swedenborgian Perspective on the Topic

“From the mere letter of the Word of the Old Testament no one would ever discern the fact that this part of the Word contains deep secrets of heaven, and that everything within it both in general and in particular bears reference to the Lord, to His heaven, to the church, to religious belief, and to all things connected therewith; for from the letter or sense of the letter all that anyone can see is that —to speak generally— everything therein has reference merely to the external rites and ordinances of the Jewish Church. Yet the truth is that everywhere in that Word there are internal things which never appear at all in the external things except a very few which the Lord revealed and explained to the Apostles; such as that the sacrifices signify the Lord; that the land of Canaan and Jerusalem signify heaven —on which account they are called the Heavenly Canaan and Jerusalem— and that Paradise has a similar signification.” Secrets of Heaven 1

Week 4 — Heaven is within

“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." Christianity

“What the undeveloped man seeks is outside; what the advanced man seeks is within himself.” Confucianism

“If you think the Law is outside yourself, you are embracing not the absolute Law but some inferior teaching.” Buddhism

“Do not search in distant skies for God. In man’s own heart is He found.” Shintoism

“God bides hidden in the hearts of all.” Hinduism

“Why wilt thou go into the jungles? What do you hope to find there? Even as the scent dwells within the flower, so God within thine own heart ever abides. Seek Him with earnestness and find Him there.” Sikhism

A Swedenborgian Perspective on the Topic

"Eternal happiness, which is also called heavenly joy, is imparted to those who are in love and faith in the Lord, from the Lord. This is because this love and faith have that joy in them. The people who have heaven in them come into it after death. Meanwhile it lies hidden in their internal level. In the heavens there is a communion of all goods. There the peace, the intelligence, the wisdom, and the happiness of all are communicated to each; yet to everyone according to his or her reception of love and faith from the Lord. Hence it may appear how great the peace, intelligence, wisdom and happiness in heaven is." New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 236

Week 5 — There is one God

“There is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Christianity

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” Judaism

“He is the one God hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the Self within all beings, watching over all worlds, dwelling in all beings, the witness, the perceiver.” Hinduism

“Remember even when alone that the Divine is everywhere.” Confucianism

“There is but one God whose name is true. He is the creator, immortal, unborn, self-existent.” Sikhism

A Swedenborgian Perspective on the Topic

“God’s love goes out and extends not only to good people and good things but also to evil people and evil things it goes not only in the people and things that are in heaven but also to those that are in hell—for God is the same everywhere from eternity to eternity.” True Christianity 43

Many quotes selected from the work “Oneness: Great Principles Shared by All Religions” by Jeffrey Moses .Compiled and Expanded by Bronwen Henry

Full issue

Daily Inspiration

"A person's life from infancy to old age is nothing else than an advance from the world towards heaven, the last stage of which is death, the actual transition from one life to the next."

Arcana Coelestia 3016