It is written that God beckoned Moses to ascend to the summit of Mount Sinai from whence the Commandments were given to him and his people. The metaphysical interpretation of this story may be understood thus: The sacred mountain of Sinai symbolises a high place of consciousness far above the level of thought and emotion which is the common lot of humanity. Moses whose name means ‘drawing out’ had led his people out of the realm of instinctive and emotional thought that Egypt represents. Thus, Moses symbolises the act of drawing the soul’s awareness out of the limited consciousness of the body into a higher state of awareness, and by ascending the sacred mountain of Sinai are led into the presence of the Divine. In this elevated state the soul is inspired to act according to a higher law that is represented by the Ten Commandments.
At one level the Commandments constitute a moral system that appears to be punitive and absolute. On another level they are universal laws which must be understood by humanity if it is to take the next step in its evolution. Considered as such the Ten Commandments are far more benign that we usually give them credit for. They express the Divine principles of Love, Compassion and Justice and by these principles all life is justified; each creature, each species has a place and a purpose in the Divine order of things. It is not God’s Will that all creatures, humanity included, should live for all time in abject slavery to fixed patterns of behaviour. It is taught that all life will eventually evolve into conscious unity with the Divine Godhead that created it. Considering then the Ten Commandments as a Divine Revelation, we can meditate upon them knowing that our efforts will be more than amply rewarded.#
I AM THE LORD THY GOD, YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.
The first commandment establishes the principle of ‘One God’ a universal principle which demands of the soul that it should recognise that God is one both in unity and diversity. That all life proceeds from God, is dependant upon God and ultimately returns to God. To understand that God is one, and to recognise that this One God created the Universe, is to be mature enough to realise that nothing can exist outside of God, and that everything including both Good and Evil, however we perceive them, were created by God ( Isaiah 45:7 KJV).
If God be omnipresent and omniscient, if God be eternal, infinite and all seeing, then this must be so. If we believe that God created no evil, we must either change our definition of God or our definition of Good and Evil, for to accept more than one Absolute is to fall foul of the ancient delusion of Dualism - which holds that there exist two fundamental principles by which all life is affected: an absolute good and an absolute evil. Two warring forces forever opposed. The kingdom of one being heaven and the kingdom of the other being earth. The soul being both the battleground and the prize.
Before the advent of monotheistic religion people believed in many different deities whose supremacy was based upon power. From time to time these deities were superseded by more powerful gods. Today such gods are more familiar to people as Science, Capital, Profit and Sovereignty, to name but a few, and which now stand paramount in the temple of such souls wherein all true sense of the Divine has been eradicated. The first commandment is as relevant today as it was in Moses’ time. It contains a wisdom which teaches that there is One Absolute Unity, whose nature is life itself, all creatures are dependant upon it for all time for they are but expressions of it. This central principle generates health and well-being both in the individual and the community. The civilisation which holds to this commandment mines a rich seam of wisdom that enables it to deal with the forces of nature intelligently, for such a culture recognises the Divine as the source of all life out of which emanates all understanding, wisdom, compassion, justice, and harmony, totally free from caprice, petulance, vanity, and jealousy. In short, free from all the failings of a god made in man’s image.
Upon this solid foundation the principles of freedom, love and tolerance may prevail, science may flourish and culture evolve because the intellectual matrix of humanity is harmoniously integrated with the Spiritual life. Underlying the first commandment then is the teaching that the Divine Godhead is at one with all creation, life eternal partaking in all life. That the transient nature of this world is not the be all and end of all. Out of the Eternal we sprang and back into it we will go, life out of the very heart of God, generated out of Divine love whose ultimate purpose is full of love. What then should we fear in this vale of tears?
YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FOR YOURSELF A GRAVEN IMAGE, OR ANY LIKENESS OF ANYTHING THAT IS IN HEAVEN ABOVE OR THAT IS IN THE EARTH BENEATH, OR IS IN THE WATER UNDER THE EARTH; YOU SHALL NOT BOW DOWN TO THEM OR SERVE THEM.
The context of this commandment is in the final line: “you shall not bow down to them or serve them” The making of images for worship is fundamentally the practice of Idolatry. Forms and images have nothing in them or about them that deserve the respect due to the Godhead. We must remember that the human mind is inclined to be somewhat capricious and is therefore not to be completely trusted, especially concerning spiritual things. Even today many people give veneration to images and statues believing them to be inhabited by gods and spirits. In First world countries millions of people daily follow the activities of make believe communities who exist only on the television and give what can only be called religious attention to such Icons as the motorcar, body worship, sport, money and numerous other ephemeral treasures from Mammon’s kingdom.
Such bowing and serving of forms and images contribute to the decadence of the soul, and consequently to the degeneration of civilisation. To those with questionable motives this may seem to be perfectly acceptable, but it must be remembered that the progress of Life is one of unfolding development (evolution) and that its direction is one way - towards God. In this there is life, yes life eternal at that. Alternatively there is decadence - a gross self indulgence in the things of the senses which must inevitably lead to the stupefaction of the Will to evolve and a movement away from the Divine. There is nothing wrong with that which nature has to offer, but one should bear in mind that when more importance is given to things of the world than is given to the cultivation of Spiritual knowledge then the soul is in danger of atrophy and is in essence practising Idolatry.
There are two aspects worthy of consideration in the contemplation of the second commandment; Firstly, that of believing images or forms to be imbued with life, especially life of a divine or supernatural nature and the consequent veneration of them. This is no easy matter to understand because it is possible for such objects to be charged with what may appear to be supernatural powers, such magical objects do exist! It is further possible for objects to be spiritually charged or consecrated. Such objects are plentiful, yet though both may be deserving of respect for different reasons, neither deserve to be venerated. The Ten Commandments came from the book of Exodus in which detailed instructions are to be found concerning the making of forms such as the Ark, the Altar, and vestments etc. It is not so much the making of images which is forbidden but the undue respect and virtue that is so often accorded to them.
The second aspect concerns the soul, which is, whilst in the body subject to the influences of the instinctive nature (genes) and to the world of the senses. The objects of the senses are what binds the soul to the world. A cunning snare which holds the soul trapped like the proverbial monkey with its hand in the sweet jar - a prisoner of its own desires. The things of the senses are not necessarily wrong or evil, they are merely as they are, neither good nor bad except we make them so. Our instinctive nature demands of us that we survive and procreate, consequently the things of this world which help us to attain these objectives are very significant and dominate much of our time and thoughts. But the soul is of Divine origin and its attachment to the things of the earth must inevitably come to an end, as it must evolve towards its spiritual goal, hence the purpose of religion.
The creation of base mental images which inflate our self-esteem is on its own level a form of Idolatry, ambition when taken too far becomes avarice and appetite when exercised beyond basic needs, whether it be for food, drink or sex becomes gluttony and lust. Now the Wise have always known that humility, continence, and prudence are essential qualities to be developed if the fruits of our labours are to be kept in perspective, for they otherwise become obsessive and then we are in danger of overstepping the mark by giving them the attention and reverence due only to God. Thus, when we create such images and serve them, we break the second commandment.
Considering the two aspects together we can see that in this commandment we have been given a key for our spiritual development. It is taught in the Gospel that the Christ is “the light that lighteth the life of every man that cometh into the world.” from which we can understand that there is a Divine element within us all and it is the purpose of our life to be ‘at one’ with this Divine reality. Thus, to give undue reverence to the things of the world is directing our efforts away from the Divine. It is true that we must respect God’s creation, but not to the point of worshipping it. The teaching give by the Christ is very simple, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, with all thy heart and with all of thy strength.” and “Love thy neighbour as thy self.” This is the most fundamental of teachings, in loving God, we respect ourselves in due proportion - an enigmatic statement but nonetheless true. The consequence of this is that we must develop respect for Life in all its forms, for only then can we learn to see the Divine in all things – the essence not the form, and this we can worship gladly without having recourse to any kind of Fetishism.
YOU SHALL NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD YOUR GOD IN VAIN.
The begging question is, what is the name of the ‘Lord your God?’ the answer is to be found in any Hebrew/English Bible. The relevant text reads; “You shall not take the name of Yehovah your God in vain.” (Ex.20, v7) The next question that arises is ‘Why?’ Before this question can be properly answered, it should be understood that the commandment does not forbid the use of the name of God but the improper use of it. ‘Vain’ according to the Oxford Dictionary, means - trivial, conceited, and to use for no real purpose. Therefore, using a person’s name in vain is to use it trivially or in a conceited manner without respect, consideration. or valid purpose. This commandment clearly forbids anyone from improperly using the name of God (Jehovah).
The English interpretation of the name Jehovah is ‘Lord’ which is insufficient for a proper understanding of its deeply profound meaning, thus it is I think, that because we have a sanitised rendition of a great mystery, we are incapable of truly understanding the meaning of this commandment. The Gospel of John commences thus; “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God, He was in the beginning with God.” This statement refers to the Christ who as the Word or Logos is the manifest and outward expression of the unknowable Godhead. Thus, to use the name of God is to call upon the manifest power of God and to call upon the name of God for trivial matters is to risk a Divine reprimand. There are those who have by their disbelief closed their minds to the existence of the power of the Divine. The consequence of such an attitude is a complete lack of respect for the Creator and the forces of nature which are nothing less than expressions of that Divinity. Such a disrespectful attitude, especially when applied in using the name of God is an unnatural act which must ultimately lead to ill-health, both physically and spiritually. For the believing soul such an attitude is impossible, for where there is respect for the originator of life there naturally follows an ever-growing consciousness and respect for life itself. Such a positive attitude is distinctly advantageous because the Logos becomes a means of revelation and illumination rather than a focal point of mockery and derision.
The wisdom of this commandment is concerned with love and propriety – the love of life and the respectful treatment of it. As we learn to see something of the Divine in all things it must inevitably follow that we also learn to love and respect Life in all its diversity; and more importantly to see something of the Divine within ourselves. Thus, in treating our fellow creatures with respect we take the first step towards unity with the Divine spark of Life within ourselves. Which is what God intended of humanity when the creatures of the earth were given over to our care and protection, - that is to learn the power of love in action. both in giving and in receiving. There are certain souls, who through persistent hard work have learnt important lessons concerning Love and the nobility of life. To such people a deeper understanding of the divine name Jehovah is given, for they have developed sufficient wisdom not to be tempted into using the name selfishly or inappropriately, for when such people call upon the name of the Lord a response is given.
Many wonderful things have been accomplished by people like the patriot in defence of his or her country or ardent lovers in defence of their beloved or by caring parents on behalf of their children, but the name of the Lord transcends such activities. Sacred are the virtues of human nature but more sacred by far is the name of the Lord. Only those who have learnt the nature of love in all its aspects can truly love God. Which is not to say that human emotions are inferior to that experienced by an elevated few, it is rather a question of degree, for when Love has reached its potential on the field of human endeavour it takes a quantum leap into another realm where the love of God becomes greater than the love of the things of the world.
REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY, TO KEEP IT HOLY. SIX DAYS THOU SHALL LABOUR BUT THE SEVENTH IS A SABBATH TO THE LORD YOUR GOD.
Every civilisation has its Sabbath, a day when the soul turns away from its struggle for survival here upon Earth and turns instead to contemplate spiritual things. Israel has its Sabbath on a Saturday and Islam has its Sabbath on a Friday. Christianity, established its Sabbath on the first day of the week which is Sunday.
Industry and commerce have long understood that incessant labour leads to a decline in both the quality and productivity of work. Thus, within Industry time for rest and recreation is given to all who labour, thereby ensuring high standards of quality and reliable production. Too much work invariably generates high levels of stress and illness, thus rest is important in maintaining a balanced life. However, the maxim ‘Man cannot live by bread alone’ is a recognition that the products and rewards of this world are insufficient for a healthy and balanced life. There is more to life than merely satisfying our bodily needs. Humanity is more than mere flesh and blood, more than thoughts and feelings, it has a spiritual dimension that also requires attention.
This commandment contains a wisdom which relates to that spiritual dimension and its needs. Basic questions such as Who am I? From whence do I come? To where do I go? What is the meaning and purpose of life? etc. are questions that demand answers that the world cannot satisfy, for the answers that the world can give do not fulfil the Soul’s inner need to know.
The nature of the mind being what it is, gains little from superficial or cursory observation. Time is required, prime time and prime energy, without interruption or disturbance, for the contemplation and understanding of spiritual things. Only then do answers evolve which satisfy the soul’s inner requirements. If we can give prime time to things temporal, things which are of little permanent value, how much more then can we give to that which is truly essential and of lasting value? This commandment ordains that we should give one day in each week to the affairs of the soul. In this it outlines a principle of regularly devoting prime time and energy to our spiritual life.
Most people are weighed down with the struggle of existence, therefore they are recommended to give only a little of their time to the affairs of the Spirit. But every civilisation produces its Holy men and women who devote much more of their time to such things. People are not expected to spend the whole of their working day in prayer and meditation. There is work aplenty to be done in the world, but some prime time should be set aside, the minimum expected according to Divine Ordinance is one day’s prime time without disturbance. Those who can give more should do so.
It has been said that too much transcendental activity leads to a form of intoxication which is unhealthy, often leading the individual into states of obsession and outlandish fantasies. In this there is a great deal of truth, but it is equally true to say that too much involvement with materialism also leads to obsession and outlandish fantasies concerning the things of the world. It goes without saying that a fine balance can and indeed should be maintained between both worlds; let your head be in the clouds but keep your feet firmly upon the ground. Divine Providence, knowing humanities inclinations, has with wisdom pointed out quite clearly that in our passion for life’s experience we should not forget our true nature and heritage. For our true nature and heritage is not revealed by our involvement with the things of the world as we might erroneously think, rather it is by turning to the Divine that we are truly inspired. Thus, we are wisely guided by this commandment to contemplate the Divine, for only it can give the answers.
HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER THAT THY DAYS MIGHT BE LONG IN THE LAND WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVES THEE.
The family unit is the basis of human society. So deep is the sense of family ingrained into human consciousness that no civilisation has been able to exist without it. The family unit consisting of parents and children, extends to include grandparents and relatives. The nature of the inter-relationships between the members of the family determines their quality-of-life experience. This conditioning has profound implications for society, consisting as it does of many families, the sum of the parts determining the nature of the whole. Therefore, harmonious family life indicates well adjusted family members and by extension contributes towards a well-adjusted society. A well-adjusted society creates the ideal environment for healthy family development and so the cycle evolves.
Just as society requires sound management to administer it’s needs so too does a family. The difference between them is in the fact that governments are elected, whereas the very nature of the family dictates that the parents govern. Their union results in children who need to be cared for. Inspired by love for each other parents take upon themselves the long office of nurturing and educating their offspring, until such a time arises that they can look after themselves - thus we are commanded to venerate our mother and father. It is a sad fact that some parents leave a lot to be desired in the way that they meet their chosen obligations, but this does not detract from the essential proposition of honouring them. It must be acknowledged that most parents set out in their administration of a family with good intentions. We should then recognise the role of the parent in principle rather than looking with a cynical eye and basing our judgements upon specific examples.
From the first moment of birth, we are conditioned by our family environment, wherein important psychological modifications are made in the formative years of infancy; None are more significant than the mother and father figures created during this period, which influence our actions at very deep levels for the duration of life. The attitudes we develop towards them figure largely in the formation of our character. Consequently, this commandment demands of us that we learn to give due respect to our parents because any attitude we foster towards them is reflected upon the corresponding archetypes which exist within us. The structure of the Cosmos, and of the human psyche, consists of among other things two creative principles; the masculine and the feminine’. Out of the relationship between these two principles evolves the entire creation. On a cosmic scale we must think of Creation in terms of a chemistry between Divine Archetypes, but on a human scale it is Adam and Eve who represent these creative principles, and as such are humanity’s father and mother which are reflected in everyone. If each individual is to develop in a wholesome manner then the masculine and feminine components of our being must be recognised and respected. These principles have their most powerful expression in the role of Mother and Father. An imbalanced or negative attitude towards either creates a situation wherein growth and development are impaired and/or distorted.
The family is a schoolroom wherein the basic lessons concerning the nature of the masculine and feminine can and indeed must be learned. Parents are brought together by the love they have for one another; this love is naturally extended to their offspring. The combined virtues of the parents stimulate a corresponding development in their young, thus the children learn to recognise the different qualities of their parents. If they were mature enough and had sufficient wisdom, they would see the gradual emergence into conscious expression of their own latent masculine and feminine nature. The love given to one’s parents is in reality love given to one’s Self and herein is the underlying wisdom of this commandment - if we have no respect for our parents then Self respect is distorted along with our attitude to others. A society with a predominance of members with such an attitude quickly degenerates and does not survive long, hence the second part of this commandment - “That your days might be long in the land that the Lord your God gives you.”
Love is the true expression of our parents and if we were to truly understand how such love drew them together then we would understand how the same unqualified love draws together the masculine and feminine parts of our psyche. The archetypal Father and Mother are the principal expressions of the Divine Godhead and generate through their activities the whole of Creation through the positive and negative components of which they consist. This macrocosmic chemistry is reflected in the microcosmic world of humanity and as such is recognised as the masculine and feminine natures. All thought and action, indeed all experience, is generated through the chemistry of these two principles taking place Within.
This polarisation of Mind and the dynamics generated therein is the underlying factor behind the creation of that which constitutes Duality - that is to say, the consciousness of space and time.
If we are to have any understanding of our Spirituality then we must harmonise the masculine and feminine aspects of the soul. When this balance or marriage is established an understanding of our divinity emerges How can this be achieved if we cannot respect them in their most material form of expression - as Father and Mother. Therefore, the wisdom of this commandment teaches us that respect for our parents makes for a healthy family and by extension a healthy society. It evolves an attitude and state of consciousness which can understand the truly profound nature of the masculine and feminine, leading to their union and the resultant consciousness of the Divine.
THOU SHALL NOT KILL.
The mysterious Will of God inspires all creation with the need to evolve. This urge is to be seen in the beautiful expressions of life in all its diversity. The act of creation is an outward and visible proof of the presence of the Divine. Therefore, we must recognise in this commandment that what God has created is not for humanity to destroy, for such acts of destruction are a contradiction of our life’s purpose. This notion surprisingly is not at variance with the laws of natures kingdom, wherein we see a life-cycle based upon a food chain of the greater eating the lesser. That humanity has been blessed with an intelligence so obviously different from the rest of the other creatures on this planet, coupled with the fact of been gifted with a moral sense that conditions behaviour, clearly demonstrates that it has been set apart for a specific if not higher purpose. This purpose, clearly outlined in the Scriptures, is to be a steward whose job it is to care for and look after the creatures of this world; not as many believe to prey upon them.
Over the past few centuries mankind has entered a very dangerous phase in its development. Most of the technology used is focused in systems based upon destruction, the energy used by humanity is based in the main upon the destruction of the atom and the burning of fossil fuels. Food production is more often than not based upon the mass destruction of animal life. Agricultural technology invariably involves destroying all superfluous vegetation and/or the deliberate destruction of all vegetable, insect, and animal life that in anyway interferes with production. Life forms at every level are used in tests of destruction in the development of chemicals for a multitude of purposes from cosmetics and medicine to food and warfare. Such an approach is evidently detrimental to the wellbeing of this world.
The wisdom within this commandment demands of us that we learn ‘if we live by the sword then we will die by the sword’. Within the soul exists the urge to destroy - as a negative expression of the survival instinct. This destructive inclination must be brought under control, a difficult thing to accomplish without some understanding of its nature and roots. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna speaking in part about this issue, states - “By wrath, by lust and by avarice is the Atman hidden.” St. Paul tells us that everyone has a celestial body as well as a terrestrial body, which means that we are part animal, and as such must confirm to nature’s laws, and part spiritual, in that we share through our soul in the substance of the Divine. The soul’s evolution through nature is different from that of the body, which develops according to the prevailing conditions in the world - serving as a vehicle for the soul to learn that which it must.
Experience soon teaches the soul that it must rise above the limitations of this earthly realm, to the point where it can be consciously guided by Divine inspiration - rather than stay in subjection to the rule of Instinct. The instincts are very powerful, few can say that they have transcended their influence. The soul dominated and conditioned by the chemistry of Nature assumes such conditioning to be the true nature of its existence. Consequently through identification with this ‘lower nature’ the soul is ever ready to support and defend it as part of itself. Thus, the passion of Anger is assumed (like all the passions) to be justifiable when the situation demands it.
It is possible that under certain conditions Anger is justifiable, but generally it is all too often used to assert one’s Will in matters where one has little or no right, or as an instinctive option to limited understanding, and/or to give vent to emotions that are difficult to articulate. Under such circumstances the aggression involved negates reason and generates fear. The ultimate expression of uncontrolled anger is Murder - which is the unjust killing of a fellow being. The consequences of such an act generates conflict which frequently leads to social and indeed personal destruction. That which ensues from such an outrage can be not only revenge, but riot, war, famine, drought, and poverty, to name but a few of the negative expressions of Anger. Whereas the control of aggression leads to a well-ordered society in which reason and justice, compassion and trust prevail. The wisdom of this commandment teaches us that we should not be blindly led by our passions and the recognition of this is an important step in our evolution.
THOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.
Adultery is the act of two people becoming carnally involved with each other whilst one or both are otherwise married. According to civil law marriage is a legally binding contract between man and woman – the breaking of this contract has consequences. According to the Church, marriage is a sacrament and as such is binding for life. A sacrament is an outward and visible expression of the Grace of God, the conferring of which is permanent. Consequently, the act of adultery is the breaking of a sacred vow made before God. Such a vow is not to be treated lightly, the implications are serious, both psychologically and spiritually.
God has designed a sophisticated coding of the basic components that are fundamental for the development and evolution of organic life, these components we call genes. The inter-reaction of genetic material is quite volatile. Amongst humans’ certain genetic families react badly with each other and generate incredible deformities and weakness’s. It has long been known that the intermarriage of close relatives is particularly susceptible to such variables. Consequently, the formal regulation of mating couples was and indeed still is of vital importance if the community or race is to remain healthy. The means by which such control was previously maintained was through the strict regulation of marriage. Thus for thousands of years genetic families evolved slowly, carefully and in most cases successfully.
The global increase of population since 1900 and the massive increase in couples divorcing over the same period, has created a situation wherein it is quite impossible without medical assistance to predict safe genetic development. Consequently, it has become increasingly more difficult to recognise the potential for deformity. That this argument can be taken too far is accepted, nevertheless the situation is not improved by assuming more liberal views concerning the serious act of generation.
Psychologically the situation is equally chaotic when the emotional factors involved in marriage are taken less seriously than the sacrament demands. For most people emotional growth and maturation within this state is often awkward and painful - no one individual can truly say that they were born mature enough to have no need for development. Mistakes in marital relationships are frequent and if such mistakes are to be threatened with divorce whenever they occur, then a rigid and sterile etiquette develops in place of mutual trust and tolerance. Under such conditions partners live in an atmosphere of anxiety and fear rather than one of love. Separation leads frequently to a disturbed psyche which is forever on the defensive or bent upon seeking emotional compensation without commitment, and family life often becomes an emotional battlefield where unhealthy attitudes develop in the offspring, leading ultimately to an emotionally sick society.
Christ taught that adultery exists in two forms; the first is obviously the physical act itself, but just as important is the internal lusting or imagining of carnal knowledge with another. That anyone should do, or want to do such a thing indicates selfishness, and a lack of understanding and sensitivity, the fulfilment of such a need is far outweighed by the damage done within the families concerned. The emotional turmoil and frequent domestic hardships incurred through the resultant separation and divorces and the problems inflicted upon any children involved, clearly demonstrates the wisdom of this commandment. The metaphysics underlying this commandment are profound - respect for life is generated by the wholesomeness of the attitude we have towards the masculine and feminine of our being.
Adultery destroys any harmony that we may have attained - it indicates a soul who in seeking emotional and carnal gratification and who is yet to realise the Divine aspect of their being. The principle underlying marriage is an outward attraction of inner opposites, the man sees in the woman the reflection of his feminine nature first brought to consciousness by his experience of his mother, and the woman sees in the man the reflection of her masculine nature first brought to consciousness by her experience of her father. When either commit adultery, they reject their mate and in doing so reject their own inner nature, the result is inner turmoil, guilt, and aggression. This situation conflicts with Divine Will, especially when the marriage is solemnised sacramentally. Therefore let those who seek to tread the spiritual path think seriously about this, How can the Celestial Marriage come to pass when ‘desire’ is still of the flesh and the masculine and feminine nature of the aspirant is in conflict?
THOU SHALL NOT STEAL.
In most civilisations the principle of Ownership has long been recognised and accepted. Over the course of history laws have evolved governing the details and ethics of possession. The act of taking that which in the eyes of society does not belong to us is ‘Stealing’ Such an act not only has social repercussions it also invokes Divine Justice.
As far as humanity is concerned Divine Justice is based upon the principle of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we would have others respect our person and our rights to live with dignity then we should treat them in a like manner, for like attracts like and every cause has its related effect. To the wise every thought, decision and action has a like reaction, consequently theft is as detrimental to the thief as it is to the victim. However, such noble behaviour is not commonplace - demanding as it does firm control over our appetites and emotions. When such control is successfully applied it forms part of the bedrock of a healthy community. Where such control ceases to exist, co-operation fails and the barbaric rule of ‘might is right’ prevails. Under such conditions people live in fear and suspicion, which is the very antithesis of the human spirit. This should be born in mind when contemplating this commandment which teaches us that we must earn by honest labour that which we may call our own.
The Christ taught us that unless we renounce the world, we shall never enter the kingdom of heaven. The Bhagavad Gita informs us that “by anger by lust, and by avarice is the Atman hidden.” The same message is drawn from both teachings - by our attachment to the things of the world we are blinded to reality of the indwelling Christ (Atman). The outward direction of the soul’s attention gives rise to that which is commonly called the ‘Ego’ which is born out of the chemistry of the soul’s involvement with nature. The ego’s requirements are invariably determined by those things which appertain to the instincts, especially the primary instincts of survival and procreation. This can be clearly observed in the way people defend their claims over a mate or protect their territory. Having said this it must be remembered that humanity is gregarious by nature and has of necessity learnt to live and work together for the mutual benefits that are so obviously generated by co-operation.
Religion exists, that it does so is sufficient to justify its claims which are as old as humanity itself - the existence of God, the existence of the soul, its divine nature and purpose and the means of attaining freedom from the shackles of this world, these amongst others are the essential teachings of most religions. Christ instructed us to love one another but He also taught us that we must die to the world if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. There is no contradiction here, to love one another is to allow each of our fellows the just rewards of their labours. To do this we must have some self-control and to ‘die to the world’ is merely an extension of the same self-control. Unless your love of the Divine is greater than your love of the things of the world you will never be able to renounce the world and if you are continually at odds with your fellows through offending them by taking that which society deems to be rightfully theirs, how can you truly say that you love them? The love of the Divine is the love of life itself; this must include all people for they are divine by right of the very life that they are. If you would love the Divine then you must seek to assist your fellows not hinder or offend them through greed or insensitivity.
Humanity’s fundamental purpose in life is to evolve into full consciousness of the Divine. To attain this exalted state of being we must become at one with the indwelling Christ. This is only possible when we have transcended the realm of the cell-level consciousness. which is to say that we must rise above the influence of the instincts. The power to do this is called love and the first step towards understanding love is in establishing harmony with your fellows. Such love acts as a catalyst within the psyche that engenders a love of all life. Only then is one ready to enter the Inner Temple of the soul and commune with the Divine Essence, Life itself.
THOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOUR.
To bear false witness is to lie. To bear false witness against your neighbour is to lie about the activities, attitudes, beliefs, and conditions of another person. The most common form of bearing false witness is in the passing on of hearsay about the affairs of another person without having any real knowledge of the matter - and even if one were privy to the truth, idle chatter about the affairs of another is a very questionable practice.
The Christ taught us that it is not what goes into the mouth which defiles but that which comes out of it. That which comes out of the mouth is speech and that which defiles is obviously not truth but falsehood. The creation of falsehood is the telling of lies and deception, invariably the purpose of deception is to seek unfair advantage over another. This may be merely exaggerating one’s abilities, or reporting the nature of circumstances in which we find ourselves so that we may be seen in a more favourable light, or it may be malicious criticism of another person for revenge, profit, or status. Whatever the reason, to tell lies about another person is to undermine their integrity and misleads the recipient of the lie. False witness is then fundamentally destructive to all the parties involved - It breeds animosity and suspicion and is a direct contradiction of the commandment given to us by the Christ; “Love ye one another.” The true act of love is the recognition and respect of the divine element ‘within,’ this divine element is found within the heart of all creatures consequently it is not possible to love one another if we bear false witness.
We have been taught that elevating oneself at the expense of another is wrong. It is wrong for two reasons: firstly, the act of self elevation be it conscious or otherwise is an act of egoism which only serves to strengthen the rule of the lower-self. Secondly, to do so at another’s expense is detrimental to the well-being of our fellows and by extension is detrimental to the community. To consciously interfere with the growth and development of another person for personal reasons is selfish and ungracious. What is required from us is that we assist one another toward maturity, this can only be accomplished by our adherence to truth and in fair dealing with our fellows - a difficult thing to do when we are full of Self-esteem.
*The wisdom of this commandment consists in true humility, which is simply putting the awareness of Self into perspective. In doing so we learn that in human society everyone is at the mercy of the good or evil intentions of another. That a fellow may have wronged does not justify our criticism, nor does it merit using the failings of another for our own ends. There is an old proverb which states - “ If you can’t do anyone good, don’t do them harm.” To emphasise this point I refer you to the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery; the relevance of this parable is not in the fact that a woman, or for that matter anyone is caught doing wrong, no the relevance is in the attitude of those who would condemn. Who is qualified to pass judgement upon another? Which is what we do when we voice our opinions about the acts and/or qualities of another. Do we criticise an infant for its inability to walk or handle its food with the same dexterity as an adult? No, we do not, neither then should we criticise those who have yet to master situations that we may have learnt with greater ease and opportunity.
If Truth is the affirmation of being, then Lying is the distortion of being. Such an act is a negative expression of the Will, which is essentially demonic. If we are to grow spiritually, we must recognise this and endeavour to establish our Being in Truth. In bringing truth into our lives, we bring the illuminating light of understanding which is to say that truth and understanding eliminates superstition and clears away misconceptions and frees the soul from the dominion of the instinctive nature. For Truth to be established in the active life of the soul some humility is essential, this commandment leads us to consider others as we would be considered and to treat others as we would be treated - thereby putting the notion of self into a balanced perspective which induces true humility and gives life to the teaching given by the Christ; “The truth shall make you free.”
THOU SHALL NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOURS WIFE. THOU SHALL NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOURS GOODS.
The emphasis in both commandments lies upon the word ‘Covet’ which means ‘to desire eagerly’. The word desire has many connotations but essentially, they are all to do with the satisfaction of appetites. The most fundamental of all desires is for the experience of life itself and by this desire the soul is held entranced like a child - fascinated by the glitter and colour of life’s experiences. Fooled by these experiences the soul falls into the delusion of believing them to be of itself. Thus, experience becomes ‘my experience.’ This attachment brings upon the soul the pleasures and pain engendered by its involvement.
Unfortunately, as the wise have discovered, such joy that the world has to offer soon loses its charm, youth and health soon turn to age and infirmity. The appetites of youth no longer satisfy the palate of old age. The soul comes to learn that there is more to life than the exercise of the senses and the gratification of appetites. It could be argued that happiness is the fundamental objective of the soul, and which is at first sought for in the world of the senses; but experience soon teaches otherwise. True happiness can only be found in the knowledge and experience of that which is not subject to the transient conditions of the sensual world - the Divine.
The soul straddles two worlds - the spiritual world wherein is found the true and essential nature of Being, in which the soul experiences unity with is divine nature, and the physical world in which is found a continuous process of change and alteration. In this ephemeral world the soul experiences diversity and a fragmentation of consciousness. For the soul to become aware of its divine nature it must give up all attachments to the things of the world. This is only possible when the soul’s love of the Divine is greater than the its love of the world of the senses. Only then can it gravitate towards Unity instead of being continually drawn to the pleasures of the world. When the soul’s love of the sensual world is greater than its love of the spiritual world then it is unable to discriminate between the real and the illusionary - the soul then becomes a slave to its own appetite for experience and unwittingly binds itself to the body until it realises the error of its ways.
The appetites of the body are in themselves quite natural and are fundamentally concerned with the needs of the flesh (food, sex, comfort, power etc.) The inevitable consequence of the soul’s obsession with the things of the flesh is that its quality of experience becomes progressively more bestial - Reason is subjected to the cravings of appetite and the Will becomes fixed upon satisfaction. The master becomes the servant and the servant becomes an Instinctive tyrant. The wisdom of these commandments teaches the soul that it should recognise the nature of appetite and learn to control it. Thus by recognising the inherent limitations of appetite’s many expressions the soul learns to apply reason in defining and understanding them and to exercise the Will in controlling them.
The desire to satisfy an appetite taken to the extreme, ungoverned by sound reason and a firm Will must inevitably transgress the law - law which has evolved over countless generations, laws which enable people to live and work together in harmony. Interfering for selfish motives and in a negative manner with the stability of other people’s lives breeds negative emotions, and in trespassing upon another’s rights we generate discord and mistrust. What then is our purpose in life if it is not to fulfil the commandments given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ - Love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbour as thyself. This is the summarisation of the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Metaphysically the commandments teach love, yes love for the Divine and love for Life itself, it teaches love of ourselves and love for one another. How can we hope to enter the kingdom of Heaven if we continue to offend our fellows in satisfying our desires? What real gain is there in taking another’s mate or possessions? No, it is much better and wiser to fulfil our destiny by co-operating with our fellows, in this way do we learn the essential nature of Love and in doing so become as God intended from the beginning - Truly made in God’s image.