September 25th, 2015 3:44pm
Unfortunately, our human instinct has caused us to use religion as we have used other objects from time immemorial—to gain advantage over others. To be sure, scripture can be used to give us a moral compass and guidance for a meaningful life. Yet, on the flip side, it can also be used as justification for the persecution, even torture, of others.
Among the most steadfast protocols in the three major world religions, is the Ten Commandments. In some of my writings (mostly in a yet to be published book), I point out the challenges I have with some of the language of scripture. What I have found are hints that much of it may have been written from man’s interpretation, inspired, not from their Divine nature, but rather their primitive nature, via their automatic brain. (To learn more about the automatic brain click here and watch the first video.)
What I have done here is an attempt to reinterpret the Ten Commandments. My interpretation is more akin to what I believe to be our Divine nature. In no way am I trying to usurp your beliefs or position myself above your religion. What I have created is something that more supports my relationship with God. Who do I think I am, after all, to take on sacred laws? These don’t have to work for you, but they do for me and I would like to share them. (In italics, prior to my description of each, is a translation of the Ten Commandants).
My Ten Commandments
1. Understand that the Divine (God) exists within all humankind
I am the Lord Your God…
My interpretation allows us to acknowledge that no one person—no matter their fame, fortune, or notoriety—is any more special than another. Popularity or success, or the drive for such, often leads us astray from this understanding. Yes, God is one, but to me that oneness means a universal singularity that is a unifying force throughout humankind and the universe.
2. You shall not idolize any person, place, or thing
You shall have no other gods beside Me...
Too often, we idolize a person (e.g. someone famous), place (e.g., Temple), or thing (e.g., Money) and not what they represent or the message they share. I decree, we should not idolize the artist, for example, but their art; the music, not the musician. Idolizing people or things removes our ability to recognize our own greatness, or the ability of a place or thing to bring it out in us.
3. You shall not underestimate the dominion of God
You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain…
My personal commandment is that one shall not take for granted the awesomeness of God. At this moment, consider the activity going on inside of you—from the billions of cells to the even more billions of microorganisms. And in that same moment consider the immensity of activity in the oceans, the forests, the jungles, the earth below your feet, right now. And before you take your next breath, consider what might be going on in the outer regions of the universe. Additionally, realize that we are merely a speck, traveling on a rock barreling through space at more than 42,000 mph! Acknowledging these realities can be humbling and empowering, knowing that nothing is too big or too small for the higher power that unites it all.
4. You shall remember that each day is a blessing
Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy…
One day a week is nice, but how often does it happen that the rest of the days become business as usual. This day, this moment, is a blessing and provides the opportunity to acknowledge the Divine within us by revealing our greatness and helping others do the same. We must respect and cherish the moments within each day.
5. You shall honor and respect the wisdom of your elders
Honor your father and your mother…
This commandment has always troubled me. It seems a bit contrived and manipulative so to keep children quiet. No doubt it was hot and uncomfortable in the desert, around the time the original commandments are thought to have been created. The last thing parents would want is their noisy, whining children to be pulling at their togas! It also doesn’t allow for circumstances of abusive parents. My new language decrees us to be humble to and learn from those who have more life experience than us—good or bad—so we can better understand the world in which we live.
6. You shall not act on aggressive instincts
You shall not murder...
This is very specific and undeniable. However, the action of murder is clearly derived from our primitive (and animalistic) nature which is controlled by our automatic brain (AB). Just as we possess a Divine nature, all of us have an AB. The AB causes us to fight and flee that which it detects as dangerous. This is instinct and we all have it—not God, but we humans. Passive behavior is akin to the flight; aggressive the fight. Danger equates to fear and when that trigger occurs and we fight with aggression it can lead to murder. The behavior of our Divine nature is assertiveness and allows for us to protect ourselves from the AB (thus aggression) of others. This distinction is very important and acting out on instincts that are primitive in nature, as aggression (including murder) will result in great life conflicts.
7. You shall not act on the instinct to be unfaithful
You shall not commit adultery...
Again this is very specific and undeniable. But again, it is an action that comes directly from our AB. Very few animals are monogamous. The natural instinct of our primitive nature, orchestrated by our AB, is to be polygamous. Therefore, we must know not to believe, trust, or take direction from our AB, no matter how forceful it is.
8. You shall not act on the instinct to gain advantage over another
Thou shalt not steal...
Also very specific and undeniable. But it too is an act originating from our AB. Since to our primitive nature other people, places, or things can pose danger to us, we are on the constant prowl for persons or circumstances that may place us in an inferior position. Does one usually take from someone who they deem superior to them? Gaining advantage, or one-upping, is one of the best ways we can “fight” the “danger” of feeling subordinate. Stealing someone’s superiority comes in many ways and is an example of our primitive AB in action.
9. You shall not trust judgmental thoughts
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor...
Seems rather straightforward, right? That is, you shouldn’t lie or gossip about your neighbor. But here again, we have the primitive instinct to scan the landscape for those people who we judge to have an advantage over us or to whom we have an advantage (for example, smarter, richer, better looking). Thus, our brain will have us fighting them, i.e. trying to take them down, or fleeing them in order for us to maintain our advantage or take theirs away. Trying to take them down can come in the form of lying or gossiping about our neighbor. Those fleeting judgmental thoughts you get about the person passing you by in the street also come from the AB as you size them up. It’s instinct, not something to be punished or about which to feel guilty. Simply and most importantly, it is not something to believe, trust, or take direction from.
10. You shall be grateful for what you have
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife…nor anything that is your neighbor’s…
On first glance it seems to make sense. After all, what’s wrong with trying to reel in envy and jealousy? These are emotions, though, that are automatic, instantaneous, and arise from our primitive nature trying to assess our competition. They are virtually unavoidable, and those who deny they have ever been jealous basically deny that they have an AB (which is not possible). Granted, these emotions are unpleasant, discomforting, and not conducive to a happy and successful life when acted upon. However, it is impossible to legislate against having them. They will come on regardless of whether there is a law against them. What can limit these emotions and prevent us from acting upon them, is by being grateful for all we have and not longing for things that we don’t have. And that is why this is my final life “commandment”.
These are my personal commandments. They are not meant to influence or preach. My goal and purpose as a physician is to help people heal—not necessarily do it for them. And so many people who are sick in spirit end up with ill physical bodies as well. Many times this comes from a lack of faith in something larger than ourselves and an emptiness of purpose. It is my hope that my personal commandments may somehow help you as they have me. Whether you believe in a particular God, or none at all, I feel these ten serve as guidelines helping us to stay grounded, happy, and whole.
© Dr. Charles F. Glassman, CoachMD