Friday, October 7, 2011

Purpose of the Commandments

In the Bible, it is written that ten crucial commandments were given to Moses on Mt Sinai and that he brought them down to the Israelites below.

They are:

Thou shalt have no other gods before me

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

There is much debate over these words, whether they are still relevant, what exactly constitutes a violation, what the consequences of that violation (immediate and long term) are, and so forth.

Commandments one, two, and three leave me with the most questions. If there were an omnipotent being who was above all others without question or chance for being overtaken, why would that being go to such great lengths to declare not only that they need to be first and foremost but also that they are jealous?

Suffice it that if one were to believe in a single omnipotent being, the commandment would be to seek that being above all other pursuits in life.

To the sabbath, not only is one to take a day of rest to themselves and spend it as much as possible in contemplation, prayer, meditation or the like, but also is not to put other people to work for them. That means, not only should you not cook but you also should not go through a drive thru. You shouldn't participate in commerce in any form. This is actually a very good idea for anyone who is attempting to simplify their lives and or become more spiritual or even healthier. One day a week, rather than spending money, stressing out, eating poorly or spending time in futile efforts, spend the day in nature as much as possible, in quiet contemplation as much as possible, and fasting, if possible. It's a great reset for your mind and body to take a break from all the business once a week.

Honoring thy father and thy mother (for a greater lifespan?) is another somewhat confusing one. There is the idea that this means obeyance, but I feel that it is a greater scope than what "honor" would mean in this context. It's almost as if it is a warning to stay true to who you are and where you have come from in your life. For example, today we are aware of many genetic diseases that can be dormant or non-symptomatic as long as certain foods, activities or situations are avoided. Such avoidance, in essence, would be following this commandment. It seems that far too often it is used to threaten children into behaving.

Which brings me to another point - the Bible is constantly praising the innocence of the child and how people need to return to a childlike state, which is completely contradictory to the idea that parents should be controlling and commanding their children as they do. It is the adults who should be learning from the children and not the other way around.

Thou shalt not kill, steal, bear false witness, nor covet: These are your basic instructions to treating other people properly. Together, they ultimately form the golden rule especially when you consider that "bear false witness" can mean both not lying yourself but also not tolerating it from others. So, it is essentially that one should not cause harm to come to others and if they can stop someone else from harming others, they should.

Now that we've got it all broken down, lets put it back together and get to the point:

Why is it so important that we recognize and respect that there is a higher power than ourselves, be true to ourselves, and are careful not to cause harm to others?

It's all about evolution. Which is kind of ironic considering that most Bible-believers aren't fans of the idea of evolution. But that's ok, I'm sure they like something I don't, like football or whatever.

Anyway, While human beings were still taking their first steps in this world (thousands of years in the span of the universe is barely a breath), they were guided away from barbaric ways and taught to to cohabit in cleaner and more respectful ways. These rules and commandments were laid out in order to introduce a system of rules and punishments in order to keep people on the right track long enough for them to -essentially- grow the moral fiber within themselves to the point that they wouldn't need these rules, they would simply understand right from wrong.

Then along came the great divide. The massive canyon between those people who still required the rules and those people who were kind and concientious enough to progress on their own and work on themselves internally rather than causing problems externally for others. (Extroversion is after all imposing your emotions outward on the world rather than inward on yourself)

This divide still exists today though I'd say far more people have crossed the bridge to the self-policing side. Nonetheless, those who can't seem to help but steal, kill, rape, lie, cheat or be adulterous or envious still seem to be a vast majority.

So if you question whether or not these commandments are still valid, look no further than your local police precinct to confirm that indeed they are. If they weren't, we wouldn't need police to keep order or put people to justice for their crimes. Even knowing the punishments, people still insist upon causing harm. Until this darkness within us passes on, we will continue to require a system of rules and punishments to keep us in line.

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