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“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.

 


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