by Michael Maciel
In his Defense of Patriotism, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Saying ‘My country, right or wrong’ is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'” We love our country, and we love our mother, usually, but it does beg the question: do they really deserve our honor? One of the definitions of the verb “to honor” is “to regard with great respect.” Right away, we have a problem, because how can you honor people, including your parents, if they haven’t earned it? This obvious contradiction has led many to believe that “Honor your father and mother” is outdated, hardly applicable in today’s world. And if one of the Ten Commandments is archaic, why not the rest of them? Why take them seriously at all?
Part of the answer lies in the definition “to regard with great respect,” which, when you think about it, can just as easily be applied to a stick of dynamite. Parents can either blast away obstacles in your path, or they can blow your life apart. Either way, they are a force to be reckoned with. They will shape our lives for good or ill in significant ways, and we will carry those influences with us for the rest of our lives.
But this is the literal interpretation, perhaps a little more enlightened by the benefit of 21st Century hindsight. How can we apply it to the Law of Mind? If the Ten Commandments are the veiled instructions (hidden in plain sight) on how to use the Laws of Creation through the agency of our mind, then what are these “parents” that this commandment refers to?
The answer lies not so much in the “what” as in the “how.” How do we approach our hopes and dreams; how do we formulate our prayers, our vision, and our goals in a way that gives us the best chances for success? What is realistic to pray for, and what by anyone’s judgment is nothing more than a pipe-dream?
Setting the trajectory for your life is like throwing a ball. The better your stance and the stronger your arm, the farther you will be able to throw it, and the more accurately you will hit your target. But, here’s the overriding condition: your target must be close enough to hit. No one can reasonably expect to hit a target a mile away. When it comes to prayer—the Law of Mind—this principle works in exactly the same way.
Do you remember Charlie? She was this gorgeous, twenty-something-year-old expert in fighter jet tactics in the 1986 movie Top Gun. Her character fed directly and ingeniously into the teenage fantasy that you can be anything you want to be, as long as you want it badly enough. Innate talents and years of training are nothing compared with sincerity and desire, so why bother? Just “see yourself” as a world-class whatever, and you can be one.
Add to this the belief that you deserve the best, not because you’ve earned it but because you’re you, you know? and anything’s possible, at least in your own mind. But any way you look at it, this is off-the-charts narcissism, nothing more. Charlies don’t exist in the real world. Just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s within your reach, not even with the forces of the universe working for you.
When an apple falls from an apple tree, it usually lands somewhere close by. It doesn’t immediately launch itself into orbit around the Earth. Our goal might be something similarly spectacular, but unless we break the journey down into bite-sized chunks, we will never reach it. This requires thought. What do I have to do first to get one step closer to realizing my dream? Pray for that.
Keep your eye on the endgame, but put your spiritual and mental resources into attaining that first step. When it comes to mastering the Law of Mind, this is what “Honor your father and mother” means. Start with what you have and build from there. Every successful entrepreneur knows this.
The clichés about this are endless: bloom where you are planted; a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; there are two kinds of people—those who think they can and those who think they can’t, and both are right. The list goes on and on, and most of them are true. But there is one that is perhaps truest of all, namely, “Turn your weaknesses into strengths.”
Whatever you have to work with, work with it! You can only conceive that which your mind is capable of conceiving. Start with that. Sometimes, we get discouraged because our dreams don’t seem large enough. We feel limited by the cards we’ve been dealt. But when we face our limitations and truly accept them for what they are, we find within them the power to overcome them. This is how we turn lead into gold.
So, now we’ve covered the first five commandments. We’re halfway there. We started with focus, the single-minded devotion to our highest conception of truth. Next, we learned how our vision can grow and evolve the closer we get to it. Then we learned that power is impersonal. After that, we learned what it means to let go of our prayers so that the forces of the universe can work on them on the unseen planes. Now, we see how to work with those same forces in a realistic way—how to work with what we have.
After this, we’ll take on the big ones, murder, adultery, and theft. Everyone’s favorites. Stay tuned!
Books by Michael Maciel