Ten Commitments

Many of us find the notion of “commandments” oppressive and hierarchical. Yet we know that a community cannot be built on the principle of only doing what feels right at the moment — it requires a sense of responsibility to each other. So, we encourage our community to take on the following ten commitments, based roughly on a rereading of the Torah’s ten commandments (and incorporating the framework and many specific ideas articulated by Rami Shapiro in his book Minyan).

Start each day with ten minutes of meditation on these ten principles, followed by the Shema. It will bring a new level of joy in your life.

TEN COMMITMENTS

1. YHVH, the Power of Transformation and Healing, is the Ultimate Reality of the Universe and the Source of Transcendent Unity

Aware of the suffering caused by not acknowledging the ultimate Unity of All Being, I vow to recognize every human being as a manifestation of the Divine and to spend more time each day in awe and wonder at the grandeur of Creation.

Aware of the suffering that is caused when we unconsciously pass on to others the pain, cruelty, depression and despair that has been inflicted upon us, I vow to become conscious and then act upon all the possibilities for healing and transforming my own life and being involved in healing and transforming the larger world.

2. Idolatry

Aware of the suffering caused by taking existing social realities, economic security, ideologies, religious beliefs, national commitments, or the gratification of our current desires as the highest value, I vow to recognize only God as the ultimate, and to look at the universe and each part of my life as an evolving part of a larger Totality whose ultimate worth is measured by how close it brings us to God and to love of each other. To stay in touch with this reality, I vow to meditate each day for at least ten minutes and to contemplate the totality of the universe and my humble place in it.

3. Do not take God in Vain

Aware of the suffering caused by religious or spiritual fanaticism, I vow to be respectful of all religious traditions which preach love and respect for the Other, and to recognize that there are many possible paths to God. I vow to acknowledge that we as Jews are not better than others and our path is only one of the many ways that people have heard God’s voice. I vow to remain aware of the distortions in our own traditions, and the ways that I myself necessarily bring my own limitations to every encounter with the Divine. So I will practice spiritual humility. Yet I will enthusiastically advocate for what I find compelling in the Jewish tradition and encourage others to explore that which has moved me.

4. Observe the Sabbath

Aware of the suffering produced by excessive focus on “making it” and obtaining material satisfactions, I vow to regularly observe Shabbat as a day in which I focus on celebrating the world rather than trying to control it or maximize my own advantage within it. I will build Shabbat with the Beyt Tikkun community and enjoy loving connection with others. I will use some Shabbat time to renew my commitment to social justice and healing. I will also set aside significant amounts of time for inner spiritual development, personal renewal, reflection, and pleasure.

5. Honor your Mother and Father

Aware of the suffering caused by aging, disease, and death, I vow to provide care and support for my parents.

Aware that every parent has faults and has inflicted pain on their children, I vow to forgive my parents and to allow myself to see them as human beings with the same kinds of limitations as every other human being on the planet. And I vow to remember the moments of kindness and nurturance, and to let them play a larger role in my memory as I develop a sense of compassion for them and for myself.

6. Do not Murder

Aware of the suffering caused by wars, environmental irresponsibility, and eruptions of violence, I vow to recognize the sanctity of life and not to passively participate in social practices that are destructive of the lives of others. I will resist the perpetrators of violence and oppression of others, the poisoners of our environment, and those who demean others or encourage acts of violence. Aware that much violence is the irrational and often self-destructive response to the absence of love and caring, I vow to show more loving and caring energy to everyone around me, to take the time to know others more deeply, and to struggle for a world which provides everyone with recognition and spiritual nourishment.

7. Do not Engage in Sexual Exploitation

Aware of the suffering caused when people break their commitments of sexual loyalty to each other, and the suffering caused by using other people for our own sexual purposes, I vow to keep my commitments and to be fully honest and open in my sexual dealings with others, avoiding deceit or manipulation to obtain my own ends. I will rejoice in my body and the bodies of others, will treat them as embodiments of Divine energy, and will seek to enhance my own pleasure and the pleasure of others around me, joyfully celebrating sex as an opportunity for encounter with the holy. I will do all I can to prevent sexual abuse in adults and children, the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases, and the misuse of sexuality to further domination or control of others. I will respect the diversity of non-exploitative sexual expression and lifestyles and will not seek to impose sexual orthodoxies on others.

8. Do not Steal

Aware of the suffering caused by an unjust distribution of the world’s resources, exploitation, and theft, I vow to practice generosity, to share what I have, and to not keep anything that should belong to others while working for a wise use of the goods and services that are available. I will not horde what I have, and especially will not horde love. I will support a fairer redistribution of the wealth of the planet so that everyone has adequate material well-being, recognizing that contemporary global inequalities in wealth are often the resultant of colonialism, genocide, slavery, theft and the imposition of monetary and trade policies by the powerful on the powerless. In the meantime, I will do my best to support the homeless and others who are in need.

Aware that others sometimes contribute much energy to keeping this community functioning, I will give time and energy to the tasks of building the Beyt Tikkun community, and, when possible, will donate generously of my financial resources and my talents and time.

9. Do not Lie

Aware of the suffering caused by wrongful speech, I vow to cultivate a practice of holy speech in which my words are directed to increasing the love and caring in the world. I vow to avoid words that are misleading or manipulative, and avoid spreading stories that I do not know to be true, or which might cause unnecessary divisiveness or harm, and instead will use my speech to increase harmony, social justice, kindness, hopefulness, trust and solidarity. I will be generous in praise and support for others. To heighten my awareness of this commitment, I will dedicate one day a week to full and total holiness of words, refraining from any speech that day which does not hallow God’s name or bring joy to others.

10. Do not Covet

Aware of the suffering caused by excessive consumption of the world’s resources, I vow to rejoice in what I have and to live a life of ethical consumption governed by a recognition that the world’s resources are already strained and by a desire to promote ecological sustainability and material modesty. I vow to see the success of others as an inspiration rather than as detracting from my own sufficiency and to cultivate in myself and others the sense that I have enough and that I am enough and that there is enough for everyone.

Meditate on the following mantra:

Shema Yisra’el, YHVH (adonai) Eloheynu, YHVH (adonai) Echad.

Hear, you who struggle to connect to God: The Power of Healing and Transformation is the ultimate reality and shaper of the universe, the Transformative Power unifies all being as One spiritually-alive, mutually inter-dependent, awesome and fantastic totality.

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun, chair of the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. He is the author of eleven books, including two national bestsellers—The Left Hand of God and Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. His most recent book, Embracing Israel/Palestine, is available on Kindle from Amazon.com and in hard copy from tikkun.org/eip. He welcomes your responses and invites you to join with him by joining the Network of Spiritual Progressives (membership comes with a subscription to Tikkun magazine). You can contact him at rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com.
 
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