"When we go to other parts of the world and see things that might change our lives, we still come back home. It is just that ‘home’ is now a little different, too. Why can't we do that intellectually and religiously as well?"

— Francis X. Clooney, S.J.
Jesuit priest and scholar of Hinduism, Harvard University Professor

The culmination of several years' work, the UEF's series on "Common themes across Religions" is an undertaking in religious research, the bolstering of religious literacy, and of interfaith understanding.

For centuries, religion served as a force for social cohesion, and providing a moral core for human behavior. At the same time, traditional forms of religion can be dangerously divisive in contemporary global society.

Very often, this can be traced back to a lack of religious literacy and cross-faith understanding, and this series is an important step toward building a future characterized by world peace, empathy and universal love.

The inspiration for this work comes from founder Akhil’s upbringing in India, one of the most religiously pluralistic places on Earth, where from a young age he learned to respect all religions and to see them all as different refracted expressions of the same basic truths.

How can we see people from different faith backgrounds as enemies if we are aware of these commonalities? We believe that, at their core, the myriad belief systems of the world are fundamentally more similar than they are different: they all make up parts of humanity's intrinsically shared quest - that of meaning-making.

The goal of our research into the world’s religions has been to identify and make these commonalities clear to others. The approach we took breaks away from the traditional siloed process of examining religions; our approach is instead lateral. Chapter by chapter, the book slices across religions to reveal a singular theme to illuminate how it is explored by all the major religions.

We shed further light on the recurrence of certain ruminatory concepts in religions by integrating theory and research from the fields of neuroscience and philosophy; to answer the question not only of which common themes frequently reappear across vastly different religions, but indeed, why.

Published Chapters


1. One Universal God


2. Ordered Universe

3. Interconnectedness

4. Love

5. Flawed Human Condition

6. Death

7. Afterlife

8. Salvation

9. Belief in Other Worlds

10. Belief in Other Being

11. Revelation



12. Metaphorical Interpretation

13. Teaching by Parables

14. Chariot Imagery

15. Prophets as Shepherds

16. Mysterious Birth

17. Deification after Prophet’s Death

18. Creation and Destruction Myths

19. Journey and Return

20. Sacred Time

21. The Word



22. Mantra and Daily Recitation

23. Prayer and Meditation

24. Rituals

25. Praxis

26. Fasting and Diet

27. Sacrifice

28. Grace and Surrender

29. Clothing/Attire

30. Sacred Spaces and Objects

31. Music



32. Golden Rule

33. Forgiveness and Repentance

34. Nonviolence and Peace

35. Pluralism

36. Service and Justice

37. Supremacy of Intention

38. Moderation



39. Money

40. Family and Community

41. Priests and Prophets

42. Sacred Books

43. Splintering of Faiths into Sects

44. Conversion and Proselytizing

45. Authentic Self



46. Suffering

47. Focus on World Within

48. Dreams

49. Life’s Illusions

50. Learning From Nature

51. Stillness and Silence

52. Light and the Unseen

53. Awe 

54. Wholeness



55. Alternative Spiritualities