For an intelligent understanding of the Ten Commandments we need to realize the principles on which they are based. The first principle is that life is meant for growing unto God. The Commandments are not meant to make God like us or to stop God from disliking us. Such egoic attitudes are impossible for God. God is love (I John 4:8, 16), and loves us at all times without change, for He is “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The Commandments are not for the gaining of reward and the avoiding of punishment, either. Their sole purpose is “the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19).
Through both practical and esoteric observance of the Ten Commandments, we purify and order our minds to enable us to receive the wisdom of God and thereby become gods within God. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
Cause and effect
The second principle implied within the Ten Commandments is the law of cause and effect–that what we do shall be done to us in return, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
This is dramatically expressed by the wise Solomon in his declaration: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). That is, today’s murder is a continuation of yesterday’s killing. Yesterday someone killed; today they are themselves killed, reaping what they have sown. The lie spoken about us today is the reaping of a lie which we spoke about someone else in the past. And those who speak that lie now shall themselves be lied about in the future.
The Daily Prayer Book (edited by Philip Birnbaum. Hebrew Publishing Company, New York), in the second chapter of the section entitled “Ethics of the Fathers,” the seventh section, gives an incident from the life of Hillel, perhaps the greatest Rabbi in Jewish history, and a contemporary of Jesus. “He [Hillel] saw a skull floating on the surface of the water. He said to it: Because you drowned others, others have drowned you; and those who have drowned you shall themselves be drowned.”
Therefore when the Commandments speak of things to be done or avoided, it is because of the reaction such deeds will eventually have on us. Do not kill, or you will be killed. Do not steal, or you will be stolen from. Do not lie, or you shall be lied to (or about). It is the metaphysical equivalent of Newton’s law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Our creative power
The third principle–actually tied in with the second one–is that as children of God, living images of God (Genesis 1:27), we bear within us the divine power to create our life. “God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). The same power is within us, though limited. Because of this, Jesus taught that hate is a form of murder and lust is a form of adultery (Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28).
Many of the statements in the Bible, such as “seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7b), are mistakenly looked upon as promises, when they are really statements of metaphysical facts. The so-called Golden rule: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12), and “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31), is not a noble ideal but a principle for actively shaping our future life in this and future births.
The fundamental purpose
Why, then, were the Ten Commandments given by God? The key is given in the Twelfth Ode of Solomon, where it says: “The dwelling-place of the Word is man.” Logos is the term used for “word.” Logos means reason, intelligence, thought, and will even more than it means speech. (Speech is actually the last manifestation of logos.) Logos arises from the basic intelligence and consciousness of man where it begins as an impulse which forms into a concept which extends into a formulated thought which is then spoken.
Logos is fundamentally the very power of awareness, of perception of an object, whether internal or external. The cosmic Christ is called the Logos, the Word of God, since creation is held–indeed exists–within His consciousness.
Since we are in the image of God we, too, possess the faculty and power of Word. In the Old Testament the Logos is also called “the mouth of God,” “the mouth of the Lord,” and “the breath of His Mouth.” It is both Speaker and Speech as well as the Spoken. The power of Logos-Word is demonstrated in the already-cited Genesis statement: “God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” The “saying” of God is the projection of the divine force of the Word, which is also Will.
Our real nature
We are not just images of God, we are gods, being in truth the sons of God (Psalms 82:6; I John 3:2). Identifying in our ignorance with our actions, we may say: “God knows we are but sinners,” but God knows no such thing. Instead, God knows that we are His own divine children however we behave.
In the extremity of our identification with the perishable body, we may even say: “God knows we are but dust.” No! God knows that we are spirits within Spirit, that He is the Whole of which we are the parts. What we seem to be at the moment is but a dream. It is our eternal status that is real–and that alone is seen by God as true. He yearns to deliver us from the dream of mortality and separation from Him. “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15, 16).
“If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (II Timothy 2:13). And His nature is love.
We, too, must take a hand in our deliverance by working to restore the divine image within and without. One of the first steps in our self-restoration is the recognition and development of the divine powers which we share with God.
God has placed each of us within a life sphere that is our private universe. Most people think of karma as a terrible force of retribution, but it is really our own power to create a world in which to live and manifest our will. So according to our willing and subsequent acting, we determine what our little world within the greater world is to be. Karma is the manifestation of our will–not an external power to which we are helplessly subject.
When we realize that our ability to act within the world is actually the power to create our future, that all actions are seeds which shall inevitably bear fruit which we must taste to the full, we can understand our desperate need for control of our will–to withhold it from sowing negative seeds and to apply it to the sowing of positive seeds. In this way we can determine exactly what our future existence shall be.
The divine plan
The Ten Commandments are the divine plan for development of our will. Through misunderstanding they have been presented as coercive regulations thundered at us with the implied threat of eternal retributions for disobedience. It is indeed true that acting contrary to the principles of the Commandments will result in misfortune and suffering, but such results are simple reactions of universal law, not punishments from an angry God.
If we walk over a cliff we will likely die or be severely crippled, so the person who calls out “Halt!” is hardly trying to be a tyrant over us. If we ignore his warning and step out to our injury, those injuries are not his punishment of us–he will be the first to run to our assistance. In the same way God has spoken in love through the Ten Commandments, warning us of harmful actions and urging us to wise actions. At the same time, He has given us the divine power of free will to ignore His warnings and violate the principles He advocates if we so choose. He wishes sons, not slaves.
Perspective on the commandments
We should look upon any commandment given by God or the Masters of spiritual life as being prefaced with the unspoken words: “If you would live….” For that is the bottom line of the whole matter–the regaining of Life. We have come out from Life and fallen into the forgetfulness which is death–not in reality, but in such a convincing illusion that we suffer just the same as if it were real.
The great call is: “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:14). The Ten Commandments are a vital part of the “how” of awakening. Notice we are not told that Christ will awaken us, but we are exhorted to wake up ourselves. If you have ever been asleep and tried to wake up–especially from a nightmare–you know how frustrating such an attempt can be. You also know how easy it is to think you have awakened when you are still asleep and only dreaming that you awoke!
Not only are the Ten Commandments an essential part of the awakening process, their observance is also an indication that we are truly on the path of awakening, for through them we shake off the delusions of spiritual sleep to which we find ourselves presently enslaved. Through observing the Commandments we come to purify and free our wills so we can apply them to the highest Goal. Understanding this, we are ready to consider the practical–though esoteric–purpose of the Ten Commandments.
The higher view
Within the mind of God are Divine “words”–ideas or concepts–which are the prototypes that are passed on from Him into the minds of the Creational Hierarchy who then emanate the creation according to the patterns perceived. Human beings, too, have the Power of the Word. Although they cannot create worlds for others to inhabit, they can drastically modify for better or worse–and thus create–the world of their personal life within the greater world.
Proof of our creative power
Vernon Cameron, the inventor of the Aurameter, gave a remarkable demonstration of the creative power of the mind at Columbia University. He had one of the University professors sit in an empty room for fifteen minutes and intensely visualize a steel post running from floor to ceiling at some point of the professor’s choosing–which he did not reveal to anyone. Then Cameron came in and walked all around the room making a sweeping motion with the Aurameter. When he came to the exact location of the visualized steel post, the Aurameter bent to one side, just as though it was striking a solid object. By moving the Aurameter up and down and around, he detected the exact dimensions of the “imaginary” post, which was thereby demonstrated to be a real object existing in the subtle energy levels where mind and matter are one.
Those who have worked in the field of mind-to-mind healing have also proven the capacity of the mind to heal–just as modern psychology has shown the power of the mind to create so-called psychosomatic illness. Since it has also been discovered that we human beings use only a fraction of our brains, the potential of a fully operative brain-mind is simply inconceivable. One of the tasks of the Christian is to realize that potential.
The plain facts
Although this great power is unknown to us, it is well known to God Who has implanted it within us. Therefore He has given the Ten Commandments as basic guidelines for the developing aspirant to follow. Their “do’s and do nots” have profound esoteric value and are given solely for our protection. For those who cannot control their inner powers fly headlong to destruction when they audaciously try to ascend to higher consciousness in a haphazard manner.
It is our own delusion that we are human beings. He Who is Truth has said without qualification or exception: “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6). And in the Ten Commandments He is addressing us as the creative beings we really are.
Read the next article in Gnosis of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.