Spiritual not Religious

Visitors Essays

Spirituality and Ten Commandments

by Sasha Carrera

spiritual not religious, be one with all
My parents have never been very churchy people. We went, at my urging, when I was a kid, but they dropped off again when I left home. So on a recent visit, when I found the Ten Commandments posted on the side of fridge, I had to wonder “what’s with the fire and brimstone?”

After years in recovery and countless hours of Super Soul Sunday, I have largely healed from the “Mean Santa” version of God I grew up with - that capricious old white man who blessed or smote regardless of how well I behaved. So I approached the list with a fair amount of disdain, after all, this was the list you had to follow to win Mean Santa’s favor, right? And Mean Santa hadn’t proved himself so reliable in the fair and equitable department. However, by the time I got to the end of the list, I had a whole new take on the “commandments” and their use.

New Reading of 10 Commandments

spiritual not religious 10 commandments
In my new reading of the commandments, they’re not so much commandments (to follow if you want to curry favor) but suggestions to follow if you want to live a better life. Taken as such, they’re a pretty excellent blueprint for living fulfilling and connected lives - for becoming really good humans.

  1. You shall put God first. God, to me, means “goodness”: the things that matter, that come from the heart, that take us out of ourselves and put us in communion with others: compassion, care, service, acceptance.
  2. You shall not worship other gods. The “other gods” would be the things that take us out of communion and put us right back into ourselves: the quest for money, power, skinniness, sex, alcohol - all the things we think will “fix us” or make us whole.
  3. You shall not take God’s name in vain. And we’re back to goodness: don’t denigrate or downplay the things that matter, don’t look skeptically at some one else’s good works or diminish our own. Not only does this sap them of their power, it prevents the spirit of goodness from spreading and rubbing off on others. We become a society of cynics and naysayers.
  4. You shall keep the Sabbath holy. Meditate! Be here now! Take time to smell the roses! Be present to life whenever and wherever you can.
  5. You shall honor your father and your mother. Certainly we need to care for our parents and for all the elderly (if we’re lucky, we’ll all need it some day) but even beyond that we need to honor the wisdom and experience of or forebears. Remember history, learn from it. Don’t let every generation repeat the mistakes and wars of generations before.
  6. You shall not murder. Pretty straight forward: causes a world of hurt to everyone involved.
  7. You shall not commit adultery: again, a difficult discussion can avoid debilitating sorrow.
  8. You shall not steal. ‘Nough said.
  9. You shall not lie: even those little “white lies” that seem so innocuous and are intended to save others’ feelings will eventually land you in some drawn out, boring event you could have avoided had you simply told the truth. Great way to avoid resentments too.
  10. You shall not covet. This one’s the clincher for me. Coveting, wanting something that’s not ours (material, circumstantial, physical) is the equivalent of “comparing and despairing.” If we are in competition with others, there’s no way to find fellowship.

spiritual not religious, one love

And that brings us back to 1. Make the choices that bring us into community with our fellow human beings. Cleave to what is good in all of us. That is the path of happiness. That is my new way of the 10 Commandments.

Sasha Carrera is an actor and writer currently transitioning from a life in Los Angeles to a farm in Maryland. She seeks to find the common threads in world religions and spiritual practices and is a firm believer that embracing our places of vulnerability allows God to enter in.


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