Friday, June 6, 2008

Rami's Version of the Ten Commandments

While I like your image of raising the bar, I am now hesitant to offer my own bar-lowering version of the Ten Commandments. Yet, I said we should do this, so here goes.

My version of the Ten Commandments is inspired by Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn. I like his focus on vows rather than commands. This reflects my personality: when someone commands something of me, my initial reaction is to resist either directly or, more often, passive aggressively. This is true even if the Commander is God.

Additionally there is the problem that God says lots of different and often contradictory things in lots of different and often mutually exclusive religions, and there is no objective way for me to discern which god is God and which religion is the one true religion. I am a Jew not because I know Judaism to be the one true faith, but because my grandparents believed it to be so. When it comes to deciding what is true in religion, I am forced back on my own devices. Since I make that decision anyway, I might as well be honest about it in these vows.

I am also drawn to the humanistic formulation of these vows. Rather than God commanding one thing or another, and my assuming it to be right because God commanded it; this formulation rests on my insight into the nature of human suffering, and it my understanding of that suffering that makes these vows compelling. Observation rather than faith is the determining factor here. And because we can all observe human nature for ourselves we can dialogue about these vows in a way that we cannot if we assume they come from God.

OK, enough hesitating; here they are: Rami's Ten Vows, or, in honor of our next text, Rami's Sermon on the Keyboard.

1. God is the Source and Substance of all Being and Becoming. Aware that the ego forever creates gods in its own image for its own profit, I vow to recognize all ideas about God as products of human culture, bound by history and circumstance, and forever incapable of defining and describing the Reality Beyond Naming.

2. God cannot be imagined and must not be imaged. Aware of the suffering caused by allegiance to dogma and creed, I vow never to make idols of ideas or to mistake any ism for the Is.

3. Do not misuse religion or spirituality by taking God in vain. Aware of the suffering caused by the misuse of God and religion in the quest of power, I vow never to mistake my path as the Path, my truth as the Truth, my idea of god as God.

4. Remember the Sabbath and set it apart. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful living, I vow to cultivate the Sabbath as a weekly day of mindfulness, rest, and renewal.

5. Honor your father and your mother. Aware of the suffering caused by old age, illness, and death, I vow to care for my parents to the best of my ability, and to promote the honor and well-being of all elderly people.

6. Do not murder. Aware of the suffering caused by the wanton destruction of life, I vow to cultivate respect for and gentleness toward all life.

7. Do not engage in sexual misconduct. Aware of the suffering caused by sexual irresponsibility, I vow to uphold the holiness of sexuality by never degrading it, another, or myself through violence, ignorance, or deceit.

8. Do not steal. Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, injustice, theft, and oppression, I vow never to take what is not mine, to respect the property of others, to work for the just sharing of resources, and to cultivate generosity.

9. Do not lie. Aware of the suffering caused by hurtful speech, I vow to speak truthfully and with compassion, to avoid gossip and slander, and to refrain from uttering words that cause needless division or discord.

10. Do no covet. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate ethical eating, drinking, and consuming, to live simply, to enjoy what I have before seeking to have more, and to labor for what I desire honestly and justly.


MaryAnn said...

Beautifully stated. Amen!

AaronHerschel said...

Here's my ten commandments:

1. I am the Lord thy God and I have filed a restraining order against all the other Gods out there. Seriously, Odin and Thor, don't come within fifty yards of me!

2. Don't make idols. I'm really self-conscious and I just can't deal with seeing pictures of me everywhere. Jeez, is that really what I look like? I need to join a gym or something.

3. Also, I will totally sue you for libel if you misquote me. Prophets, this means you!

4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it wholly. Seriously, don't try to like call me in to work that day, not even part-time. I work 24/6, Mr. 40-hour work week, so don't mess with my day off.

5. Honor your father and mother, especially when you're younger, since without them you're basically dead. When you're older, you can make fun of them a bit, but remember you might need a loan or a cosigner or something, so don't get all cold and blamey on them. They did their best, and you owe them.

Note: if your parents were abusive and stuff, honor them anyway. Nothing says revenge like magnanimity.

6. You shall not murder. But you will absolutely have to kill to survive. You figure it out.

7. You shall not commit adultery. Just get a divorce, dude.

8. You shall not steal. And, since property is theft, thou shalt not own stuff either.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor, 'cause that guy knows where you live.

10. You shall not covet your neighbour's house or wife. I know she's hot, and the house is all "lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," but your neighbour pulls in six figures and has like a billion shares of Microsoft. It's just out of your league, man.