by Michael Maciel
We are looking at the Ten Commandments as a kind of occult document, a set of explicit instructions on how to use the Law of Mind to produce results in the world. Moses had been trained in the highest echelons of the Egyptian Priesthood, the same group who over the centuries had curated the vast storehouse of knowledge that had produced feats of engineering that even today’s scientists cannot duplicate, much less understand. Their mastery of geomantic architecture, cosmology, and cosmic consciousness forms the basis of what we call today the “Ancient Mysteries.” It is that body of knowledge that Moses inculcates into his new Priesthood, the Tribe of Levi, and he writes it in stone so that it will never be lost. As it turns out, more than a nation was “called out of Egypt,” a lot more.
So, here we have the third dictum: “Thou shalt not take the Lord thy God’s name in vain.” It is both an occult principle and a bit of conventional wisdom. It draws into focus an underlying theme, one hidden in plain sight up until now—Humility. More than a state of mind, humility is the deep recognition that there is always more—more knowledge, more wisdom, more reality—than we as human beings can ever comprehend. As a spiritual orientation, humility makes exploration and discovery possible. Without it, any sense of more would threaten the status quo. It is arrogance, regardless of which field of discipline you find it in, that spoils progress. It always has.
Vanity is pride, pure and simple. Many spiritual teachers throughout the arc of their careers have experienced instances of this kind of pride. When people gain insights into those around them, it’s human nature to want to use it to the hilt. The smarter you are, the dumber those around you appear, and controlling them, for some, is more seductive than mountains of gold. Such abusers of spiritual power become giddy with controlling what people do by controlling what they think. It’s like an addictive drug.
The 19th Century British politician and writer, Lord Acton, said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We don’t have to look very far to find proof of his statement. Modern science is a prime example of it. From bioengineering to nuclear technology, science has found more than a few ways to play God. That most ominous quote from the Bhagavad Gita that atom bomb builder, J. Robert Oppenheimer, used to describe his first thoughts after unleashing the power of the atom says it all: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Later, like Dr. Frankenstein, he realized that he could not control his monster, and he deeply regretted having exposed humanity to such danger.
But power, whether spiritual or scientific (is there a difference?), doesn’t have to be abused. It just has to be respected. Whether we use our knowledge to understand the human psyche or the inner workings of nature, we must always keep in mind the possibility—no, the inevitability—of unintended consequences. No one knows the full extent of the interconnectedness of the Web of Life. We can’t always predict what will happen when we pluck one of its strands.
The context within which the Third Commandment was written is the same as the First and Second. It recognizes that the governing principles of the universe are more than blind forces of nature, that the intelligence inherent in the cosmos isn’t some kind of computer program set to operate in the background but that it is also self-aware. It is conscious, and it is self-determining. What primitive man didn’t understand was that this omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent intelligence must obey its own laws. Moses certainly understood this, because he uses the word “covenant” to describe our relationship to the Divine. “Covenant” means “contract.” Both parties are bound to it by law. It’s not that Moses believed that there was some third party involved that would enforce the contract; he understood that law is the very nature and fabric of the universe. It cannot operate in a manner that is inconsistent with its own laws. And as Jesus said when he brought Moses’ message into his era, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
In a way, modern science began, at least in our time, with the Ten Commandments, because they present this notion of a universe controlled by laws—universal laws—laws that everyone must obey, even the universe itself. We cannot effect changes in our lives by merely wanting them to happen or by believing that we deserve special treatment. There is a method by which changes are made, and the Ten Commandments outline that method in concise detail.
“Thou shalt not take the Lord thy God’s name in vain” is a clear caveat to those who would seek to master the Laws of Creation. The message is simple: The power you’re dealing with is God’s, not yours. Don’t try to put your name on it! It is bigger than you are and will always be bigger. If you misuse it, it will bring about your own destruction, not because the universe (God) doesn’t like you but because it simply doesn’t care. Its love for us consists in its undeviating reliability, not in our opinion of ourselves.
Books by Michael Maciel