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Monthly Archives: March 2018

The 10th Commandment – The shall not covet your neighbor’s ….anything!”

The 10th Commandment: “Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, nor his man-servant or his maid-servant nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbors….”

Well, we did it! We’re at the 10th WORD…do you feel as if you have accomplished anything? Have you learned anything?

I have. Researching these Commandments has been very interesting, but then I am very interested in Bible history and metaphysics, so I would be interested.
How about you? I’d love to hear from you…positive as well as, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!?!?!?!

SO, what does this 10th Commitment, Challenge, Law mean…covet this and covet that…
The commandments, are from a moral standpoint, codes for improving conduct & changing character, but also hidden keys for modifying consciousness.

Covet means to wish for earnestly, to desire (what belongs to another)

Neal Donald Walsh asks, in his Commitment:
Covet your neighbor’s spouse? why would you want your neighbor’s spouse when you know all others are your spouse?
Covet your neighbor’s goods? why would you want your neighbor’s goods when you know that all goods can be yours, and all your goods belong to the world?
What do you think that means?
WE are all One…all together, everything.

And this goes back to “Thou shall not steal” does it not? We must have the consciousness for the things that are to be ours.
To covet means that you are missing the key to life: nothing can ever come to you or be kept from you except in accord with your state of consciousness.
Our Creator has an infinite amount of everything and will shower it upon you as your thoughts, words and actions are in alignment with your best self. In this case it’s simple – Don’t envy others.
Greed and covetousness stem from the mistaken idea that our good is limited.
Jesus told us that we should not be anxious about our daily needs; we should seek first God’s kingdom within us, and then all things would be given us. Our good, whatever it may be – health, harmony, friends, success or prosperity is God-ordained and God-sustained. It is inexhaustible, limitless. No one can take it away. No law, rule, or regulation can interfere with it. And so, we do not resent or interfere with the good that belongs to another.

Covetousness is a moral as well as a spiritual sin. This commandment is disobeyed as often as the first commandment, and as unthinkingly. Wars are fought because one nation covets what another has; families are broken up because someone desires the husband or wife. Greed, envy, jealousy, & selfishness are closely allied to covetousness.
As we grow in spiritual stature, we realize that we never need the good another has. All good is from our Creator, whose presence is constantly with us. Nothing can deprive us of it except our own inability to receive.
That’s an important thing…willingness to receive & do the work to prepare for receiving.

So, when is enough, enough? All sources agree that our tendency to covet, to want something someone else has, only leads to suffering.
Compare and despair is the inevitable result of breaking this commandment
Sr. Joan calls this the Law of Self-control
She brings up an interesting point…If we can’t see ‘covetousness’, is it wrong?
Just asking that question is the problem it shows how underdeveloped spiritually we are, our lack of moral maturity.
She says it’s not the behavior that results in covetousness, it’s failing to be satisfied…the disease of unbridled desire; the constant satisfaction of the senses, the inability to be at peace with the self, with life, that’s what makes it a sin of the soul.
And its Competition and comparison that are the engines that drive otherwise healthy people to covetousness where restlessness and dissatisfaction dwell.
It’s a contest we cannot win, because, however strong, smart or rich we are, we always lose to those who are stronger, smarter and richer…and that makes everyone a potential enemy rather than ally.
Covetousness is trying to get outside myself what I do not have within – peace, satisfaction, a sense of wholeness.
“We who are little less than gods, little lower than the angels” already have what the rest of the cosmos lacks; the ability to control ourselves.

The great tragedy of humanity is the delusion that life is lived from the outside in. Our whole conditioning from infancy onward is to believe that whatever it is that we may want or need is ‘out there’.
We are deluded thinking out there will bring acceptance, success, etc. but that very act of coveting shuts us off from the inner flow.
This is why Jesus insisted that the rich young man let go of his stuff or at least his willingness to do so for unless he could give them up he was possessed by them
Ask yourself, of your ‘stuff’- do I really have these things or do they have you?

Our culture is against us…telling us what to buy to be successful, to be noticed, to be liked…we don’t need that.
It’s about lust, about the insatiable need to not simply to have more than we need but to have more than is good for us; Failing to be satisfied with anything.
Lust is about power and control, not sex, or desire
John Lahr, American critic, “Society drives people crazy with lust & calls it advertising.”
We live in a culture that cultivates lust, the desire for what we do not own & do not need & cannot contain – & then wonders why so many are unhappy with life.
It isn’t what we have that makes us unhappy; it’s what we want that leaves us dull to the present, unaware of what we have.
Only God is enough. Only when we see beyond all things in which we are immersed, only when we learn to hold them all with a relaxed grasp, can we ever discover the One in whom all of them take their being.
The Hindus say it this way – the seeker who leaves all things to seek God
In Buddhism – the purpose of life is to achieve nirvana, the state of desireless-ness in which all suffering disappears & the seeker flows with the universe without expectation, without demands.
In Islam, the Sufi remind us that there is a life above what we call life where the Creator & created come to one heart, one mind.
The Israelites say – awareness of One God is enough, is all there is, is what life is really about.
In Christianity – if you put down your desires for everything other than God you will find God
And Judaism – we must separate from material world to know spiritual.
Detachment means – movement away from being possessed by particular things in order to make room in ourselves to be possessed by God—it is the emptiness that possesses the Everything there is in life of lasting value.
At that moment of genuine detachment that we come to know the core of spiritual life…we find God in everything and everything in God.
Most of us have everything we need. Greed is the compulsion to get more because we refuse to enjoy what we have.
John D. Rockefeller, “I know of nothing more despicable & pathic than a person who devotes all the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money’s sake.” Its not wealth, but why we make it & what we do with it that makes the difference.
“To work hard, to play well, to enjoy life, to give to others, and to be satisfied with what we have may be the only criteria we need to know whether or not we have really succeeded in life.”
Beware of what you value in life… shoes pg 131
What is it in my life that is the equivalent of Imelda Marcos’s shoes?

Butterworth –
You must not look into the world for your good…the flow of good comes from within.
Pg 127 teacher holding student – water
Change our desire to have to a desire to be
Luke 12:32 reminds us: “There is a divine action within that is always working to reveal to us & express through us that which makes for prosperity & fulfillment Jesus “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Our desire for good is our intuitive feeling that it is already prepared for us if we just “let it”…having the consciousness for prosperity.
But when our mind turns to envy of others & to coveting what they have, the tendency is to frustrate the natural flow within ourselves.
Seek first to know who you are, to dis-identify yourself from beliefs in limitation & inadequacy, to get the realization that you are a child of God, heir to all the fullness of the divine flow.
Appreciate what you have & what you are as the best starting points from which to go forward to express more that is in you.
Plato –“the grateful heart is the great heart that eventually attracts to itself great things”
Count your blessings, have an Attitude of gratitude.
All of our experts agree…this commandment is about Felding – the way to feel good about what you have.
It addresses our desire for what we don’t have & our lack of appreciation for or dissatisfaction with what we do have – Comparing ourselves to others.
This adds to Insecure feelings & self-doubts.
Hebrew translation for this Commandment is – don’t hold as precious or as a treasured possession something that doesn’t belong to you.
‘the purpose of envy, when balanced, is to motivate us to move forward in life, to allow us to see & reach for the many possibilities offered by God’s creation or to celebrate our collective wealth & seek out a deeper relationship with the God of our understanding.
Pg 209 Zusya
There is psychological pain from desiring & comparing…
1. Envy increases your daily stress or anxiety levels ties & in to an underlying feeling of insufficiency or self-criticism. Raised with, “why can’t you be like…”; & then daily trying to still win their acceptance. Our families can have an idealized sense of what they wanted us to be; & we often cause the same distress by comparing ourselves to others.
2. Comparing & desiring leads to mood swings & physical symptoms.
3. Too many comparisons may affect those you love by being judgmental or impatient toward them.

Felding gives us some strategies to go along with those psychological issues….
1. Sometimes you need to take your envious feelings seriously & ask yourself, “Is this a wake-up call?” instead of suppressing the feelings, honor them & turn them into something positive like following through on a worthwhile goal; it might be a spiritual spark of intuition to work toward a dram w new passion purpose & commitment
Something that comes from the heart & is for a good purpose, there’s no harm in wanting it badly & working hard for it.
2. Sometimes you need to let go of the longing for what you don’t have & truly accept what is. Some desires can’t or shouldn’t be followed-unhealthy, self-defeating or unrealistic-we learn to let go of unproductive longings; simply isn’t meant to be yours (remember when w talked about stealing & having the consciousness for the item)
3. Sometimes you need to find a way to be patient & receptive in situations that aren’t clear yet or that simply require more time….how to remain open, receptive, & healthy even when we’re involved in a journey or project that is unclear or takes a long time. 3 good things; prayer changes the way you enter the situation

The way we deal with what we have determines the way we deal with everything else around us. It also measures the quality of our souls.

 

“Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor”

 

Great Morning Beloved!

 

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

 

OK, we ‘ve almost made it through the 10 Commandments, or the 10 words. I’m thinking it hasn’t been as drastic a visit into the Old Testament as many of you may have thought when I first mentioned that we were going to talk about the 10 Commandments…especially when I said we would do it over 10 weeks!

But we are on number 9 already, all about telling lies.

 

Eric Butterworth states the fabric of any society is composed of the interlacing of human relations. This calls for certain self-evident ethical standards…including ‘don’t tell lies, don’t exaggerate.

 

Just think where we would be if the law during Moses’ time, and before actually, when and eye for and eye was the law….in that time the accused was to carry out the punishment, and if they lied and were caught, they would get the punishment that would have gone to the accused. That probably would have settled many disputes long before going to court!

 

To bear false witness…bear means to answer; witness means understanding. Intelligence, wisdom.

So, we are to answer with wisdom, understanding, and intelligence.

Think about that a minute…

 

In her Law of Speech, Sr Joan Chittister states:

“It’s a sad state of affairs when our future leaders, business people, workers in general, feel they need to cheat to get ahead.”

That’s the finding of the Josephenson Institute of Ethics. They have been surveying our youth every year since 1992. Each year the instances of lying, cheating, & stealing has increased. And don’t look to our religious school to be doing a better job of instilling good ethics, surprisingly, those results are usually worse.

 

“If we cannot trust one another to make honest contracts, to provide honest information, to function honestly in interpersonal relations, what can we trust about society as a whole – its professionals, its bankers, its politicians?”

 

Unfortunately, things do not seem any better than when Sr. Joan wrote those words in 2006.

Lying takes from people what they are: their reputation, their understanding, the quality of their lives. And, it takes those things from the one who was lied about too.

When one has things taken from them, they can get another to replace it. With a lie, both the liar and the lied about must content with suspicion, mistrust and dishonor forever.

Joan was reminded by her father when she was young…

“Never lie. It’s not worth what it does to you when you’re found out.”

And I would say even before….

There was a time when “a man’s or woman’s word is his bond’. So where do YOU stand on that? Is your word your truth?

Walt Whitman said, “the good or bad you say of another, you actually say of yourself.”

Interesting thought….

 

It is up to us, each and every one, to do our part to change the state of our ethics. What can we do?  We’ll get there in a minute….

Along the same lines as Walt Whitman, or should I say Walt Whitman was along the same lines as…Jesus, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” Mt 7:1,2

Neal Donald Walsh tells us we really cannot bear false witness-what we say or report on expresses where we are & what we are…we reveal an awareness of error, perhaps a preoccupation with error, in our own consciousness.

It even implies – what we say about another person will happen to us…by saying it we indicate that it has already happened in us.

 

“When you know that ‘life is consciousness,’ you know that you have a responsibility for what you see & hear & sense. You always see according to your level of awareness. You are not responsible for what people do or say, but you are responsible for what you do or say or think about them.”

 

You’ve probably have seen or heard this: “Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people.”

 

Did you know, originally, criticism meant ‘to evaluate or establish true worth, I wonder where it went the other direction?

Now, Criticizing is usually evidence of poor self-regard – a subconscious attempt to cut the person down to a size where the critic can feel more comfortable in relating

We need to ask ourselves Is it true, is it kind, is it needful? before saying, or even thinking something about another.

Think about what it is we are going to crititize…is it the idea or the person?

Opposing ideas is ok, when done compassionately, just not the person who espouses them. We are really tested with this concept in today’s political atmosphere…

 

Felding… Challenge: Reducing gossip and hurtful talk in your daily life

 

He asks, “How did gossip make the top 10 list?”

REALLY! That’s amazing when you think about it….

 

This Commandment actually translates as: don’t answer, respond or repeat against your neighbor.

I like that interpretation.

 

We all can relate to being harmed in some way by another’s loose tongue…

Maybe being teased whether as a child or adult…it happens. Maybe feeling uncomfortable when hearing another talk about someone in an uncomplimentary way. Maybe someone said something untrue about you or you were betrayed by another that you trusted…

These are all ways in which the sacredness of our speech is broken.our speech is godlike because our words are creative.

And often, when unkind or false stories are spread, they can take a long time to be rectified…if ever.

Pg 185-6 feathers story

Anyone on a spiritual path will not indulge in gossip, speaking or listening…if there is no listener there is no gossip

 

Why do people gossip? There are some psychological reasons: if they are insecure, makes them feel more like the other; for revenge; to bond with others who are sharing stories; to sound like an expert on the subject. There are others too, but this gives you an idea why people take that road.

 

There are benefits to cutting back on gossip:

  1. Cutting back on gossip is one of the best ways to see whether you intend to live according to the Golden Rule. Gaining control of the urge to gossip becomes an excellent experiment to see how well you intend to live up to the statement “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Requires a deep sense of empathy for another’s discomfort.
  2. Guarding your tongue against saying hurtful things is one way of improving the karma or consequences of your actions in this lifetime. From a Buddhist, Hindu or Zen perspective, gossiping affects one type of karma…the type that affects this lifetime. And the Talmud says “Gossip is like a three-pronged tongue which injures the spirit of three people: the person about whom the gossip is said, the person who listens to it, and the person who says it.” Think about it!
  3. Questioning and contradicting the gossip or generalizations you hear about groups of people who are different from you is an important act of social responsibility and fairness. The most harmful speech is racism and sexism…complicity or silence is also harmful…questioning the negative things people say about others not only benefits the target of the hateful talk, it also prevents the hurtful remarks from staying in the minds of anyone who hears it. Repeating seemingly positive generalizations are hurtful or can cause tensions…like all lesbians hate men (not! I love you guys!)

By actively questioning stereotypes we accomplish 3 things:

  1. We make the person who is telling hurtful things about a group think twice before maligning others
  2. We prevent bystanders from accepting slander as truthful
  3. We make sure we don’t internalize & later repeat lies or hurtful remarks

Experts know that unconfirmed & unconfronted rumors spread behind peoples backs cause lasting, negative perceptions & harsh judgments. (Obama’s birth status for example)

 

And remember this?    Rev. Martin Niemoller, minister in Germany in the 1930’s, who strongly opposed the Nazi regime said, “First they came for the socialists & I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists & I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews & I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – & there was no one left to speak for me.”

Breathe…

How can we cut back on gossip & hurtful speech?

Felding has some “reflections”

 

Reflection #1 – if you are about to say something personal about someone & it might be hurtful or invasive for that individual, ask yourself, “What is my intention here…to do good or harm?” Slow down and know your intention. Make sure you are not running on lower instincts; in the Hindu, Buddhist & Zen traditions, it’s your inner intention that matters, more so than the external result in determining whether you produce good or bad. Romans 2:14-16 “what the law requires is written on your heart.”

Reflection #2 – Recognize that the issue is not whether the gossip is true or false. Will your words likely produce harm or good? Even truthful statements can be hurtful if taken wrong or spread to the wrong person. Being gay is something that is mine to share…some people are not open to everyone, even in today’s climate.

Reflection #3 – Treat nearly everything said to you as a secret that’s entrusted to you for safekeeping, rather than as a juicy piece of gossip to spread. Assume everything is confidential.

Reflection #4 – Carefully select an honorable person with whom you could share private things, to whom you could ventilate or complain confidentially. Not everyone has earned the right to hear your story.

Reflection #5 – Think seriously about when silence is a mistake. Building a sense of community includes discretion, respect, & mutual caring. Some situations it is appropriate to speak up to the correct persons – abuse, crimes, etc.

Reflection #6 – Be willing to let people know you aren’t available for gossip or bad-mouthing others, even if that makes you temporarily less ‘popular.’

 

Jesus “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” John 18:37

We all can say the same for we are all inheriently the Christ

 

To bear witness to the truth is to know who we are & to express our true selves honestly

 

“What I say defines me as a person as much as it defines what I’m talking about: it names me honest or dishonest, righteous or unrighteous, full of integrity or morally bankrupt of soul.”

To say something false about someone or something violates creation as God has made it by naming it something that it is not.

Think about the court scene in “Miracle on 34th Street” when Kris Kringle’s lawyer suggests that the judge is not anything other than who he claims to be and therefore Santa Clause was who he said he claims to be. Neither could be other than who they were, and if we tried to say otherwise, it was a false statement, a false reality.

Lying obscures the real self…even from the self. The more ones lies, the harder it is to know what truth is, it violates the image of God in us

 

Pg 118 story about mask

 

When we see with the Divinity within, with that knowledge, hear from that knowledge & feel from that knowledge—then we are projecting that divinity in the words we speak, the things we do & the feelings we engender

 

This may be the most important of all the commandments, if properly understood.

 

The real or fundamental meaning is that you always express what you are. You cannot be one thing and express another. You cannot permanently bear false witness. As long as we witness to error, we are bearing false testimony, and our business is to witness to the Truth of Being, the truth about ourselves and each other: we are divine beings, spiritual and perfect, one with God.

 

Remember – Truth is its own reward; it requires no memory, no elaborate explanations, no conspiring confederates, and no fear of exposer.

 

Great Morning Beloved!

 

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Pic

“nor shall you say a thing that is not true, and thus bear false witness”

OK, we ‘ve almost made it through the 10 Commandments, or the 10 words. I’m thinking it hasn’t been as drastic a visit into the Old Testament as many of you may have thought when I first mentioned that we were going to talk about the 10 Commandments…especially when I said we would do it over 10 weeks!

But we are on number 9 already, all about telling lies.

 

Eric Butterworth states the fabric of any society is composed of the interlacing of human relations. This calls for certain self-evident ethical standards…including ‘don’t tell lies, don’t exaggerate.

 

Just think where we would be if the law during Moses’ time, and before actually, when and eye for and eye was the law….in that time the accused was to carry out the punishment, and if they lied and were caught, they would get the punishment that would have gone to the accused. That probably would have settled many disputes long before going to court!

 

To bear false witness…bear means to answer; witness means understanding. Intelligence, wisdom.

So, we are to answer with wisdom, understanding, and intelligence.

Think about that a minute…

 

In her Law of Speech, Sr Joan Chittister states:

“It’s a sad state of affairs when our future leaders, business people, workers in general, feel they need to cheat to get ahead.”

That’s the finding of the Josephenson Institute of Ethics. They have been surveying our youth every year since 1992. Each year the instances of lying, cheating, & stealing has increased. And don’t look to our religious school to be doing a better job of instilling good ethics, surprisingly, those results are usually worse.

 

“If we cannot trust one another to make honest contracts, to provide honest information, to function honestly in interpersonal relations, what can we trust about society as a whole – its professionals, its bankers, its politicians?”

 

Unfortunately, things do not seem any better than when Sr. Joan wrote those words in 2006.

Lying takes from people what they are: their reputation, their understanding, the quality of their lives. And, it takes those things from the one who was lied about too.

When one has things taken from them, they can get another to replace it. With a lie, both the liar and the lied about must content with suspicion, mistrust and dishonor forever.

Joan was reminded by her father when she was young…

“Never lie. It’s not worth what it does to you when you’re found out.”

And I would say even before….

There was a time when “a man’s or woman’s word is his bond’. So where do YOU stand on that? Is your word your truth?

Walt Whitman said, “the good or bad you say of another, you actually say of yourself.”

Interesting thought….

 

It is up to us, each and every one, to do our part to change the state of our ethics. What can we do?  We’ll get there in a minute….

Along the same lines as Walt Whitman, or should I say Walt Whitman was along the same lines as…Jesus, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” Mt 7:1,2

Neal Donald Walsh tells us we really cannot bear false witness-what we say or report on expresses where we are & what we are…we reveal an awareness of error, perhaps a preoccupation with error, in our own consciousness.

It even implies – what we say about another person will happen to us…by saying it we indicate that it has already happened in us.

 

“When you know that ‘life is consciousness,’ you know that you have a responsibility for what you see & hear & sense. You always see according to your level of awareness. You are not responsible for what people do or say, but you are responsible for what you do or say or think about them.”

 

You’ve probably have seen or heard this: “Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people.”

 

Did you know, originally, criticism meant ‘to evaluate or establish true worth, I wonder where it went the other direction?

Now, Criticizing is usually evidence of poor self-regard – a subconscious attempt to cut the person down to a size where the critic can feel more comfortable in relating

We need to ask ourselves Is it true, is it kind, is it needful? before saying, or even thinking something about another.

Think about what it is we are going to crititize…is it the idea or the person?

Opposing ideas is ok, when done compassionately, just not the person who espouses them. We are really tested with this concept in today’s political atmosphere…

 

Felding… Challenge: Reducing gossip and hurtful talk in your daily life

 

He asks, “How did gossip make the top 10 list?”

REALLY! That’s amazing when you think about it….

 

This Commandment actually translates as: don’t answer, respond or repeat against your neighbor.

I like that interpretation.

 

We all can relate to being harmed in some way by another’s loose tongue…

Maybe being teased whether as a child or adult…it happens. Maybe feeling uncomfortable when hearing another talk about someone in an uncomplimentary way. Maybe someone said something untrue about you or you were betrayed by another that you trusted…

These are all ways in which the sacredness of our speech is broken.our speech is godlike because our words are creative.

And often, when unkind or false stories are spread, they can take a long time to be rectified…if ever.

Pg 185-6 feathers story

Anyone on a spiritual path will not indulge in gossip, speaking or listening…if there is no listener there is no gossip

 

Why do people gossip? There are some psychological reasons: if they are insecure, makes them feel more like the other; for revenge; to bond with others who are sharing stories; to sound like an expert on the subject. There are others too, but this gives you an idea why people take that road.

 

There are benefits to cutting back on gossip:

  1. Cutting back on gossip is one of the best ways to see whether you intend to live according to the Golden Rule. Gaining control of the urge to gossip becomes an excellent experiment to see how well you intend to live up to the statement “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Requires a deep sense of empathy for another’s discomfort.
  2. Guarding your tongue against saying hurtful things is one way of improving the karma or consequences of your actions in this lifetime. From a Buddhist, Hindu or Zen perspective, gossiping affects one type of karma…the type that affects this lifetime. And the Talmud says “Gossip is like a three-pronged tongue which injures the spirit of three people: the person about whom the gossip is said, the person who listens to it, and the person who says it.” Think about it!
  3. Questioning and contradicting the gossip or generalizations you hear about groups of people who are different from you is an important act of social responsibility and fairness. The most harmful speech is racism and sexism…complicity or silence is also harmful…questioning the negative things people say about others not only benefits the target of the hateful talk, it also prevents the hurtful remarks from staying in the minds of anyone who hears it. Repeating seemingly positive generalizations are hurtful or can cause tensions…like all lesbians hate men (not! I love you guys!)

By actively questioning stereotypes we accomplish 3 things:

  1. We make the person who is telling hurtful things about a group think twice before maligning others
  2. We prevent bystanders from accepting slander as truthful
  3. We make sure we don’t internalize & later repeat lies or hurtful remarks

Experts know that unconfirmed & unconfronted rumors spread behind peoples backs cause lasting, negative perceptions & harsh judgments. (Obama’s birth status for example)

 

And remember this?    Rev. Martin Niemoller, minister in Germany in the 1930’s, who strongly opposed the Nazi regime said, “First they came for the socialists & I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists & I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews & I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – & there was no one left to speak for me.”

Breathe…

How can we cut back on gossip & hurtful speech?

Felding has some “reflections”

 

Reflection #1 – if you are about to say something personal about someone & it might be hurtful or invasive for that individual, ask yourself, “What is my intention here…to do good or harm?” Slow down and know your intention. Make sure you are not running on lower instincts; in the Hindu, Buddhist & Zen traditions, it’s your inner intention that matters, more so than the external result in determining whether you produce good or bad. Romans 2:14-16 “what the law requires is written on your heart.”

Reflection #2 – Recognize that the issue is not whether the gossip is true or false. Will your words likely produce harm or good? Even truthful statements can be hurtful if taken wrong or spread to the wrong person. Being gay is something that is mine to share…some people are not open to everyone, even in today’s climate.

Reflection #3 – Treat nearly everything said to you as a secret that’s entrusted to you for safekeeping, rather than as a juicy piece of gossip to spread. Assume everything is confidential.

Reflection #4 – Carefully select an honorable person with whom you could share private things, to whom you could ventilate or complain confidentially. Not everyone has earned the right to hear your story.

Reflection #5 – Think seriously about when silence is a mistake. Building a sense of community includes discretion, respect, & mutual caring. Some situations it is appropriate to speak up to the correct persons – abuse, crimes, etc.

Reflection #6 – Be willing to let people know you aren’t available for gossip or bad-mouthing others, even if that makes you temporarily less ‘popular.’

 

Jesus “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” John 18:37

We all can say the same for we are all inheriently the Christ

 

To bear witness to the truth is to know who we are & to express our true selves honestly

 

“What I say defines me as a person as much as it defines what I’m talking about: it names me honest or dishonest, righteous or unrighteous, full of integrity or morally bankrupt of soul.”

To say something false about someone or something violates creation as God has made it by naming it something that it is not.

Think about the court scene in “Miracle on 34th Street” when Kris Kringle’s lawyer suggests that the judge is not anything other than who he claims to be and therefore Santa Clause was who he said he claims to be. Neither could be other than who they were, and if we tried to say otherwise, it was a false statement, a false reality.

Lying obscures the real self…even from the self. The more ones lies, the harder it is to know what truth is, it violates the image of God in us

 

Pg 118 story about mask

 

When we see with the Divinity within, with that knowledge, hear from that knowledge & feel from that knowledge—then we are projecting that divinity in the words we speak, the things we do & the feelings we engender

 

This may be the most important of all the commandments, if properly understood.

 

The real or fundamental meaning is that you always express what you are. You cannot be one thing and express another. You cannot permanently bear false witness. As long as we witness to error, we are bearing false testimony, and our business is to witness to the Truth of Being, the truth about ourselves and each other: we are divine beings, spiritual and perfect, one with God.

 

Remember – Truth is its own reward; it requires no memory, no elaborate explanations, no conspiring confederates, and no fear of exposer.

 

Thou shalt not commit adultery

Thou shalt not commit adultery

 

Things have changed, haven’t they. When we consider how the ideas around sex and marriage have evolved, if you may, from the time of the 10 words, to today…it’s mind boggling.
During the time of Moses, women had lost almost all of their authority. What was once a maternalistic society, based on agriculture and community had become, through force and attrition, very paternalistic, and through that change, women were put in their place, so to speak. In many cases, they lost much if not all authority and power that they once held.
And, as we see today, many women are still working their way out of that label, of being property, with no voice. What was meant for a specific time and people, has been carried through to all time and all peoples.

And the moralistic and the prudery of the Puritans & the Victorian age didn’t help. Adultery wasn’t discussed, but in whispers; and sex, at that time, was a naughty word.
Not so today…but some wonder if this is due to an increase in immorality or a decrease in hypocrisy.
Have we failed miserably in keeping this commandment?

The word Adultery comes from adulterate – meaning to pollute or to add to.

From its Hebrew root, it is ‘a total or complete abandoning of one’s principles.’
Adulterate, then, means to add something that cheapens the quality or upsets the completeness.

And is it a judgment that we place on any situation, based on moral codes & values that change with ages & cultures.
Purity is a matter of consciousness & Prudery is simply a moralistic hang-up.
Sex is not a thing – it’s a way in which a person may express.
If we look at it as a thing we reduce ourselves to the level of animals.

Let’s start with Sr. Joan Chittister. She calls this the Law of Commitment
When this was written, men were permitted multiple wives, women were property of the husband. Having several wives was a sign of wealth, a means to further the family name, to continue that wealth and name into the future.
The law was really meant to prohibit Hebrew men from being with another man’s wife. And a wife from being with any other man but her husband…a bit of a sexist thing there.
So, adultery was really about property and inheritance. No love involved…but responsibility for one another and for the family.

The word implied here is commitment, a notion of permanence, family, the spiritual meaning of the constancy of relationships.

Sr. Joan says marriage today is about finding what’s missing in ourselves & providing what’s missing in another until both can become who we are really meant to be. It’s about growing together and forward.
Two equals are meant to become more together than they ever could be alone. I like that.

We are reminded that none of us is self-sufficient. We all need others for many reasons and growing is one of those reasons.
What can all this mean for us today? A new Harris Poll found that 23 percent of men thought it was sometimes or always acceptable for an employer to expect sex from an employee.
Today, 40-50% of marriages end in divorce, tho the rate is slowing.
Not surprising, one of the major causes of divorce is surrounded around the misunderstandings about sex.
In fact, Adultery is often what signals that the relationship has already deteriorated
It is a disregard for the relationship, exploitation of the partnership, narcissistic victimization of another-sexually, emotionally, psychologically, for the sake of ones self.

The capacity to form & maintain relationships is one of the signs of mental health, of psychological maturity, of the ability to respond appropriately.
Love that lasts, that invites itself in the welfare of another, is the only human proof we have of the nature of God who is with us always.
We must truly care about the people we love, not just for our own satisfaction. Not exploit them, not ignore them, not patronize them, not manipulate them.

This is not about physical misbehavior – it’s about the integrity of the heart, about loving people more spiritually than physically; it’s about loving them rightly …with the soul as well as the body.

Simone Signoret says, “Chains do not hold a marriage together, it is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” It’s the weaving of those threads that counts.”
Imagine that…..

Commitment is the byproduct of communication. When the sharing stops the relationship is in danger. I can personally vouch for that.
There is a Chinese proverb: “Married couples who love each other tell each other a thousand things without talking.” If you know what your partner is thinking, respond to it. If you don’t, ask yourself why you are not communicating.

Sometimes the ‘other person’ is a job, an obsession, a hobby…it’s not always about sex.
Joe Murray said, “marriage should be a duet – when one sings, the other claps.” If the feelings are beginning to unravel, ask who isn’t clapping.
Neal Donald Walsh tells us his Commitment: You will not defile the purity of love with dishonesty or deceit, for this is adulterous. I promise you, when you have found God, you shall not commit adultery

If we think about it, adultery symbolizes idolatry. The fundamental idea behind the commandment is to have one God, to recognize only one Power. To us, idolatry means giving power to a false god, to outside things.
And adultery involved the violation of a sacred agreement; it was not necessarily concerned with the sex act per se.

This commandment has to do with moral, clean living; no one should entertain the hope of complete spiritual expression who has not learned to comply with the highest code, both in his personal life and in his dealings with others. Spiritually, to ‘commit adultery’ is to adulterate or weaken the higher consciousness by injection of carnal thoughts and emotions.
Leonard Felding seems to agree.
He gives us his Challenge: How to Elevate your sexuality to greater sacredness & fulfillment
This Challenge unites spirituality & sexuality by suggesting that “a profound erotic intimacy can be attained only by having a spiritual connection & long-term commitment to another human being.”
The Biblical term for sexual intimacy means “to know” – to know a person as a full human being, as a complex & wonderful soul mate.
Sex was meant to be more than physical contact & release-it involves knowing each other, respecting & caring for each other in both physical & spiritual dimensions.
Felding believes getting to know your partner fully is crucial to finding sexual fulfillment.
Clifford & Joyce Penner found, “Sex is not something we ‘do’ to someone, neither is it something we do ‘for’ someone…sex is a ‘with’ experience.”

The New Interpreter’s Bible’s take of this Commandment it thus: “…it points to the recognition that sexuality is enormously wondrous & enormously dangerous. The wonder of sexuality is available only if it is practiced respectfully & under discipline. The danger of sexuality is that it is capable of evoking desires that are destructive of a person & of communal relations. In its fullest interpretation, the command against adultery envisions covenantal relations of mutuality that are genuinely life-giving, nurturing, enhancing, & respectful. Such a notion of long-term trust is treated as almost passe` in a narcissistic society preoccupied with individual freedom & satisfaction.”

Sounds like our society, does it not? Especially with the ‘me too’ and ‘times up’ movements currently finding roots & growing.
Being dishonest or manipulative is disrespectful of one’s partner, whoever that partner is.

Mt. 5:27, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Many of you may remember the uproar caused by then president Jimmy Carter who stated in an interview in Playboy magazine, “ We are taught not to judge other people. I wouldn’t condemn someone who looks on a woman with lust…I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”

The point being, Physical adultery is a great transgression because it breaks the covenant of marriage. Mental adultery destroys the soul just the same.
We are not saying that we cannot admire a good-looking man or woman. I love looking at the handiwork of our Creator as much as the next person. AS the song goes, I’m a girl watcher…and it doesn’t matter, male or female…I like to watch people.
But watch is different than lust….we are to appreciate the God-given beauty of the individual, as well as the other fine examples of beauty found in the world.

Eric Butterworth reminds us that with adultery we lose our sense of integrity.
It’s not just about the sex act. It’s about prostituting ourselves, adulterating our true worth, selling ourselves short of the real meaning of life that can only be found in the total communion of inner-centered love.

The emphasis has always been placed on the ‘sin’ or the physical acts & personal relationships. The sin is not in the act, but in the thought that leads to the act.
This can be a wake-up call of an in-balance in your life, and in your relationship.
Journalist, George Leonard tells us, “extramarital affairs or the pursuit of recreational sex are far more likely to be associated with the avoidance of change.”
After the novelty of the affair has faded, the stories told, & the ego has been temporarily satisfied, the real transformation can take place. But this is where we often fear that deeper connection and turn to yet another bed. Anything rather than see ourselves clearly & start to do something about it.
And that goes into a different topic for discussion at another time…change.

The whole reason for change is whenever we see less than the Christ in another or in ourselves. We are committing adultery…because we fail to see the divine depth in all people, all the time.

This Commandment could read…You shall not adulterate reality by judging by appearances & thus by adding on something other than Truth
Pg 90
When we say something about ourself or another that is less than true morally or spiritually. This is adultery; this is selling yourself short with feelings of inferiority.
Anything less than the Truth of our oneness in the One is adultery
Remember: we always have a choice
Pg 94

Pic

 

Thou shall not kill or is it thou shall not murder? – Unity of Rehoboth Beach, March 4, 2018

 

Thou shall not kill or is it thou shall not murder?

Here we are again…another seemingly simple Commandment Moses presented to the exiles from Egypt. Remember, metaphysically, Egypt signifies the darkness of ignorance, of sense or material consciousness. So, we are leaving our lack of understanding of the material world and going into a journey of our soul, looking for our Truth.
And as we are on this journey, we have been tasked with learning how to honor our Creator, (the first four Commandments) and are now learning how to get along with each other.
This Commandment, thou shall not kill, was actually misinterpreted originally.
We now know that it should have been interpreted as murder. You ask, what is the difference? Just think about it.

Are there not times when killing has been acceptable in most cultures? Self defense….unfortunately, wars….in some societies, euthanasia. And for those of us who enjoy a good steak, animals who help to sustain us.
So, the difference between killing and murder is intent.
There’s that consciousness thing again!

Simply stated, no one has the right to deprive anyone of life. The shedding of innocent blood is viewed as a direct offense against God.
So, let’s look at what our experts say about this Commandment.
Commitment:
Neal Donald Walsh starts out reminding us that you know you have found God when you observe that you will not murder (that is, willfully kill, without cause). For while you will understand that you cannot end another’s life in any event (all life is eternal), you will not choose to terminate any particular incarnation, nor change any life energy from one form to another, without the most sacred justification. Your new reverence for life will cause you to honor all life forms-including plants, trees, and animals – and to impact them only when it is for the highest good.
Many insights here… Highest good means good for everyone concerned. That is one way to discern if something is “God’s will”.
I love how he says, “you will know you have found God”…have you noticed that? He says it in every Commitment.
In other words, when we have finally realized the connection we have with the God of our understanding; with our Higher Self…when we finally connect with that sacred place within, we will have to commit to these laws set forth so many years ago.
We’ll have to.
Breathe that in.
This is Principle #3 God is present in all people as our divine essence, our Christ nature.

Have you noticed, too, the changes in yourself as you’ve journeyed along this soul path? As you’ve come to realize this Principle as well as the others? Wonderous changes, aren’t they?
That leads us to Leonard Felding’s Challenge – he says this Commandment means what you can do to prevent the crushing of a person’s spirit.
He reminds us that a person’s life is one’s most precious earthly possession and one’s right to enjoy life must be protected from idle irresponsibility which would deprive a person of it.
This challenge points to Principle #5: Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.

Put feet to our knowledge, our new understanding, our prayers.
And not do it irresponsibility.
Biblical scholars have stated that even when someone claims there is an overriding religious, political, or psychological reason to murder someone, the 10 commandments point out that the person is wrong.
What someone CLAIMS as their right isn’t necessarily so…

We are Divine, made in the image & likeness….we are not to destroy the Divine Spirit that is a part of every human being. That includes murder as well as suicide.

But this is also interpreted to mean don’t break, bruise, or crush, which can mean to not break the will of someone or crush his/her spirit. Do not assault someone physically or verbally and to not humiliate someone.
The Talmud warns about humiliating or using sneering words, which is equal to murder. That’s killing someone’s spirit.
The core issue is how to make sure we don’t shatter the Divine essence that is within each human being, including ourselves.
We need to live together as one family & we need to watch out for each other
Felding gives us 3 ways to help us reduce the likelihood of harming or cruelty to someone
1 find a way to resolve & heal the painful hurts you might be carrying inside from your past that can have lingering side effects. Could be mistreatment received as a child; witnessing one’s parents physical or emotional abuse of each other, cruel teasing from classmates or peers, a physically violent lover or spouse, painful verbal abuse from parents, siblings, lovers or bosses, as well as traumas like sexual violence, muggings & other violent crimes.

Many of us carry these wounds deep inside…trauma not processed can lead to: addictions to food, drugs or alcohol; a sense of holding back or being unable to relax in certain situations; a deadening of your spirit so that you can’t feel joy, experience intimacy, or cry appropriate tears; skin problems, stomach irritations, stress related symptoms; tendency to want to punish or put up a wall toward your family or co-workers.
Quite a list!
2 Look carefully to see if there is someone in your personal life right now whose spirit sometimes gets crushed inadvertently by something that you do or say. “The Ten Challenges”, Pg. 135

3 The most common mistake that can inadvertently injure or frustrate is not truly listening…interrupting to give advice when what they want is support and for us to listen can leave them feeling interrupted, patronized and not fully understood.

4 Think of small & large things you can do in your own way to protect others….for example – volunteering with domestic violence or child abuse prevention programs, donate time, talent and/or treasure to the programs that resonate with you; in your daily life, treat people in ways that strengthen their spirit & yours.

 

For once the Challenge and Sr. Joan are in close proximity to each other in their thoughts.
Joan Chittister – calls this The Law of Life

She is definitely against war…Surprisingly, 60% of war deaths happened in the 20th century…not in ancient civilizations by, supposedly uncivilized peoples.
What use to be a personal thing has become global – power now has the capacity to move political, military, economic & social systems.
We are experiencing this today, are we not?
She calls us to choose carefully the kinds of power we opt to exercise.
Consider your personal power, whatever it is. What are you doing with it?
The Talmud teaches “To save one life is to save the world.” Those who value life in small ways, the teaching implies, create a culture of life around them that calls the rest of us to examine our attitudes about life.
She tells us:

“If life is to be affirmed, protected, honored, & sustained, as the Parliament of the World Religions states, then failing to support families & children with health care, housing, food, education, day care, and just wages is as least as much a sin against life as war…”
This commandment warns us against our willingness to bring things down in the name of righteousness.
We, as a society nationally and internationally, make up reasons all the time to kill – to enforce authority, for political reasons, to satisfy other segments of society by stripping lands, raping forests, soiling the air.
Unfortunately;
We are not actively working to sustain all life, anywhere, we are actually undermining life everywhere.

So, we see, this Commandment is really challenging us: how we are going to interpret it. Shall it be simple, thou shall not kill or murder?

What it may really means depends on what we really think Jesus was about. Recall, Matthew 5:17-20 17″Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Jesus helped us to see that it is not behavior alone but consciousness that is at issue with the commandments. He was and is all about peace and love. And if that is our guidance from our way-shower, then killing for any reason may not be the “Christian” thing to do.
Again, we all will have to look at our personal power and discern how we wish to use it.

Humans mostly look at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart! One person has hatred in their heart, but due to social pressures and self-control does not give it outward expression. Another person has the same hatred in their heart but lacks the restraints of the first person. That inner hatred breaks out in murder. To us there is an enormous difference. To God, who looks on the heart, they are the same. Both people need that total inward change of heart that can only come through a change in thought and in their heart; what some would call repentance.
You shall not kill should become you shall enable life. From God’s perspective, Spiritual life is more important than natural life.