Back: The Third Commandment
We all know that according to the story God made the earth and all the things on the earth in seven days, and on that seventh day, he rested. God, being the merciful guy he is, got to the end of the busiest week since time started, thought that he had earned a tasteful cosmic beer, stuck his feet up, and patted himself on the back for completing such a big job. I hope he manifested a petrol station and treated himself to a “gourmet” peppered steak pie as is the only correct way to celebrate a job well done. So then a couple of time-periods later along comes Moses. He climbs to the top of a big rock to talk to the creator of reality, and God goes, “I’ve got these nine things that you can’t do, and I understand it’s a big ask not to just bash someone’s head in or sleep around on your wife.” God continues, “but don’t worry, one time I had this mean peppered steak pie after a hard week of work, and so I want you guys to also have one whole day off a week so you’re not always toiling the dirt in the baking levant sun.” Moses, who gave up his cushy life in the court of the pharaoh, grits his teeth, “Wow, thanks God, that’s probably a better deal than being a slave of the Egyptian state” God replies “Great! Been cooking that idea up for a while, a real treat” The indescribable entity that is manifest God then follows up. “I better check that spraying wet bread all over the dirt is still enough sustenance for you guys, it’s been a while since I created you and I can’t quite remember what you eat.” Moses, not wanting to offend creation itself, “Oh yea that’s working great, but if you could send a couple more desert lizards our way please, they’re a real treat.” God chuckles, “Great… great, I was worried and was thinking I should just stop you guys from getting hungry or thirsty but you know what they say ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken,’ now get out of here you little rapscallion you.” And so God generously invented the half weekend as more important than not-murdering.
The fourth commandment is exceptional in the set because it is the only one that seems to be a positive right. All the other commandments are explicit in their wording as mechanisms one should use to restrict themselves. However, here is a command that once a week you don’t have to work and you get a whole day to rest. Surely this is just kindness, a way to get away from work to focus on the beauty of the world for a day, to examine this commandment in any major way might be looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Despite this, there seems to be a disconnect about what constitutes the Sabbath between the Abrahamic religions. The Jewish opinion is that the Sabbath goes from the end of Friday until the end of Saturday, while the Catholic opinion is that the day Jesus rose from the dead was the holy day and therefore celebrates the Sunday. The tremendous joke about organised religion claiming to celebrate the Fourth Commandment is that the only rest one seems to get on the Sabbath is in the sleep taken during the service that one is compelled to attend. That is, of course, before being snapped awake by a collection of people whose only pleasure in attendance is in being a lieutenant of the collective punishment.
In this, we see how another Commandment has become a corrupted mechanism for social control. If one is to practise the Fourth Commandment ‘properly’ then one must stand up and sit down and listen and sing in a highly regimented fashion, the kind of thing that only a raving lunatic might call rest. Because of this, large numbers of people have thrown off these shackles and left all of the expectations of the faith behind, calling themselves spiritual rather than religious. However what they are is sane, as no reasonable person can be forced into seeing the meaning behind such practises. In this piece, I will unshackle the Fourth Commandment from all of the cultural trappings around it, including the concept of the ‘day’ itself. By showing you how it is the mechanism that links the first three commandments together, the truth that runs through the Commandments will be revealed and the Ten Commandments will cease being a mechanism for social control, and begin to be a tool for personal growth and social acceptance in totality.
The important part about the Ten Commandments is that they must be understood in order and holistically. This is particularly important with the Fourth Commandment as it is defined as a celebration of the act of creation. This reframes the prior three commandments as the act of creation that is being celebrated. By understanding the Fourth Commandment in this way it fundamentally redefines what rest is.
To start with, we understand, in a practical sense, that the earth and all the things on it took billions of years to be created. We also understand that through evolution all things are in flux and there is no mechanical endpoint to creation short of the current moment. It is patently absurd then, to assume that in any real sense the world was created by a mythical being over a week and then left to run like a piece of clockwork. The understanding that may have been corrupted over time is in this mechanical idea of the world colliding with the belief that religion is trying to factually describe a scientific understanding of the world. What is relevant is the poetic nature of the creation. To accept this one must accept that their understanding of the world through memory is necessarily poetic, as there is no scientific test that can be completed to prove that the past existed. Therefore the shared memory of all humankind is something of a piece of poetry that very well could have flashed into existence along with everything else at this exact moment. Of course, if you begin discussing with people, shared memory presents as more holes than it is substance, so the aspects of value which make it into the collective memory must have some value proposition over the forgotten memories. This isn’t arbitrary, as at the time of writing I cannot place what time and what specific location I put my shoes on but I can remember quite distinctly memories from childhood that, in a mechanical and scientific sense, have less bearing on the current moment. The first four Commandments detail how to experience the moment properly as to improve one’s position iteratively through time moments. This is what the Sabbath is, the moment after the creation, the lived moment. The Sabbath is the experience of the four-dimensional tunnel that is life. The importance of rest in this context is to relax into the ride of life.
The First Commandment as outlined in my writing details that one should orient themselves towards the aspect of the highest value. By understanding the fourth commandment as well the meaning of ‘rest’ becomes clearer.
This can be done with reference to all time scales;
At the longest time scale, by the end of your life, you might spend your last moments in heaven; a place surrounded by family that loves you in a place or society that perfectly reflects an ideal reality where evil has been pushed out and this peace will last forever, and this all happened because you were a good person who actively engaged with reality to bring about a peace that generations could be proud of. At that moment you can rest one final time knowing there is nothing you would have changed in life.
At the mid time scale, you would be highly skilled in a domain that you are proud to be working in. You would be financially compensated very well for this work, but the more important aspect is that people seek you out to learn from you and derive genuine value from your work. You can direct your strong financial position to support the education and fitness of your children. You hope to teach them a strong moral framework so that they can take that position that you have given them and also create good in the world. You can take your position and begin to pass the baton on so a younger person with more energy can contend with the challenge that has been your life’s work, and take things a bit easier from here.
In the short time scale, you would be developing well in your skillset. Not every problem can be solved but you are surrounded by a tight-knit group that can overcome any problem if you work together. Sure, not everything is going the way you imagine it, but every day you take a couple sets forward and if you look back you begin to see the distance you have traveled. You feel like a tree that hasn’t quite punctured the canopy but isn’t quite on the forest floor either. As you keep moving things should get easier and you might find a moment or two to rest and catch your breath.
Finally, there’s the moment itself. There are the dishes that you’ve put off. There’s the study that you’ve ignored. There’s the birthday present you haven’t bought. ‘For this moment however I’ll just rest, and forget about it, I’ll deal with it in the next moment’. In this, the mechanism by which we undermine our success is presented. When taken with the Fourth Commandment the First Commandment presents as the God the Father, a judgemental force who wants the best for you because it knows what you could become. In resting first, there is a disconnect between what one wants to be and what one is acting to become, when this comes out of alignment one feels ‘the judgement of God’ a kind of anxiety that one knows is self-inflicted.
The Second Commandment, as outlined in my writing, is a requirement to see the world as it is, rather than cast images onto it to see what you want to see. The necessary concession to appreciate the Second Commandment is that one must also not separate the physical body from the rest of the physical realm. In the sense that it is just as easy to rearrange the position of one’s hands as it is the position of one’s books. In this, the body and brain are just as much a tool as anything else, and one must make accommodations for the failures of the flesh much like one must understand the limitations of any tool.
The state of ‘flow’ is a well-understood phenomenon. If one has aligned themselves with a valuable goal, and the work is both physically and mentally challenging then the individual enters the state of ‘flow’ where the individual begins to reorder reality with superhuman ease to the endpoint of achieving that goal, be it some act of construction or academic or athletic feat. It is notable that if one takes a moment to look inside themselves they aren’t like a Russian doll with a smaller and observable self that one can pick at and examine. The feeling is a presentation of headlessness, driven by a kind of internal wind. It is also notable that the way one views themselves in the moment is separate from how one sees themselves in the past or in the future, where these entities are instead seen in the third person as characters in a story with little ability to affect their actions. Taking a moment to understand how the moment expresses, and so knitting the Second and Fourth Commandments together, betrays the nature of what is described in the Second Commandment. A moment of force that is acting in the interest of some greater transcendent goal, the description of God the Spirit. You are presented a moment in which you have no free will, as you cannot change any of the choices leading up to this point, and the future is in a technical sense unknowable. Therefore you are left with a moment in which you can observe the momentum of life, and if you see an opening, you might be able to shift the trajectory of the life you are observing towards a more positive end.
The Third Commandment, as outlined in my writing, details the requirement to not have a vain relationship with the past. That is to say one cannot believe that their own past is better or worse than it is. To understand one’s own past, they must appreciate that they are as flawed as all the people that they know, and everyone else is likely as well-intentioned as them. To believe anything else about past occurrences in one’s life is vanity and requires a self-inflated opinion of oneself.
When integrated with the Fourth Commandment, the Third Commandment becomes an instrument for both forgiveness and honest progress. By integrating both the Third and Fourth Commandments, one can see the separation between their past self, and the self in the moment. In effect one can see is that the past self cannot possibly choose an action for the self in the current moment. In a way, we can gain rest from the expression of our past, flawed selves. This could be described as the dead self that has resurrected in this moment to act and die again. In doing so we understand the separation that one can see between the self and other people.
We see people act and repeat their destructive behaviour patterns. In time we understand this as the expression of the individual we can forgive them for their transgressions and either accept these trespasses on ourselves or distance ourselves from them. To this end, we see that others are actors that play out their roles. However, we do not offer the same forgiveness to ourselves, as there is no capacity to distance oneself from one’s own expression. What we are left with is this bizarre story of ourselves, left in memory, that details the journey of an individual through time, who struggled with truth, presented to reality, has been betrayed by others, faced the oppression of a world that they never had the tools to fix, and died carrying all the mistakes of life to be reborn in this moment. What one might consider to be the value between the Fourth and Third Commandments is what is presented by God the Son. Respecting the Sabbath in this way is to find a way to forgive oneself in the moment by moment presentation of life for not having solved every problem that you have contended with. It is the acceptance that there is no reason to be tied to one’s past beyond the extent that one chooses to be in the moment. The major concern that people have with accepting a deterministic and forgivable relationship with the previous action is the relationship with crime. In effect, if an individual truly comes to terms with their crime and desires to do better in the future, how can we punish them? In a moral sense, society shouldn’t punish assuming that individuals would go do good works from here on out, but due to the nature of deception, this naturally can’t be assumed. In an honest sense if an individual can come to terms with the horror of their trespasses onto others and forgive themselves, then they must be able to forgive the cascade of trespasses that will befall them from other individuals responding to their actions.
Therefore one might be able to see that all four of the first commandments together would be read like this.
You can align yourself with a transcendent goal.
You can interact meaningfully with reality towards this goal.
Your past failings do not need to stop you from achieving the goal.
Your life will be the most fulfilling if you live this way.
Considering the first four commandments holistically presents the relationship one must have with themselves to be successful in life. Due to the natural uncertainty of life, this is the basis for faith. Faith is not the social requirement of some set of cultural practises, it isn’t the requirement to pay lip service to some testable set of delusions, and it isn’t the requirement that an individual limit themselves as to not offend a cosmic father figure. Faith within this framework is the understanding that the future is unknown, but by genuinely engaging with reality one can produce a position that they can derive meaning from.
These ideas may begin to touch on the model encapsulated within the Christian idea of the Trinity. Of course, ancient thinkers, before the description of the subconscious mind, would find evidence of God everywhere when the common denominator is in the shared wiring of the human brain. It may be valuable to understand the work done by these thinkers that produced these cultural stories, as the meaning may ring true, but the reasoning must adapt to the times. Concerning the opening four commandments and this presentation of the trinity, we are presented with a model of the self that is consistent with reality. We are presented with a future version of ourselves who is a loving judge who desires us to do better than we are doing and forgives us for our failings, God the Father. We are presented with a transient reality in which we flow through and act in, God the Spirit. We are also presented with our dead past that carries all the truth and flaws associated with that expression through human flesh, God the Son.
These three entities have a definable separation but are all constitute parts of the whole self. On top of all of this, we must accept that reality is an expression of the thoughts inside the brain. Because of this, there is no way to prove that there is a reality outside of the experienced reality within the brain, assuming that experience is even inside the brain. Therefore we a philosophically presented with an entity that expresses itself in three distinct parts and is metaphysically the creator of the reality it perceives.
So we are left with that great lament against the idea of God. If God is so good, and God is so great, how can you sit there and watch bad things happen to good people?
Onwards: The Fifth Commandment