The First Commandment (Rabel)
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lectures given on May 27, 1976
12:28And one of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, What commandment is the first of all?12:29Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 12:30and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. 12:31The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 12:32And the scribe said unto him, Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one; and there is none other but he: 12:33and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is much more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. 12:34And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
In our next incident, we will take the Mark version, 12:28-34. A good way to try to gain the great importance of this little lesson is to imagine yourself in the place of this scribe, that you are having an actual conversation with the literal person of Jesus Christ and you realize, as obviously the scribe did, that here he was given a golden opportunity, an opportunity that more than likely would never come his way again for many, many incarnations.
You are face to face, now, with the greatest consciousness known to this human family on this planet; and you have an opportunity to ask Him any question you wish. You must think now, "Which question would I ask? If I actually had at my disposal that great transcendent consciousness called Jesus Christ and I did not have much time, and I knew I would get an answer from Him, what question would I ask?" A sample of a few that might be it like?" A lot of people might ask that. Some might ask, "What is the very best technique of spiritual healing?" Other might ask, "Just how did you multiply those loaves and fishes?" or "Just how did you resurrect your body from the state of death?" or I can imagine many persons asking this, "What is the real answer as to why God lets good people suffer?" etc. But luckily for us, at least for me, the scribe in our story simply asks, "What commandment is first of all?" The more I think of it, folks, the more I am convinced that there could not be a better question. In other words, he is asking, "What is the most important of all spiritual laws for me to understand and to obey?" Now, just think of the importance of this question. Jesus is being asked to delve into all His vast knowledge and understanding of God, of Truth, of cosmos, and of mankind; and He is being asked to choose what He considers to be the one most vital and important thing for any human being to know and to do at this given time. What comes first, what is the greatest thing of all to know on all knowledge possible for human mind? Jesus generously gives the reply which includes three components of the one answer. He tells us the three ingredients which constitute the most important thing for any human being to know and to do under spiritual law.
Now, let us keep pretending that we are having this actual conversation with Jesus in person. You have asked Him the question as to what the greatest commandment is, and He has given you the answer as in our text. You have listened carefully, and you do something that you very seldom do in your life. You listen and do not fuss with what you have heard. For once we have an example of someone realizing who they are, where they are, what is happening; so you listen carefully, and you express your approval and your complete agreement with Him. Then He looks at you and says to you, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." How would you feel? Well, let me tell you a little secret. The very same thing is spoken to you each time you listen carefully to words of Truth coming from your own Christ-center. Instead of letting your ego and your intellect fuss and argue and seek exceptions, you listen and you agree and you approve, in your own mind and heart; then you, too, are not far from the kingdom of God.
Now, let's look carefully at Jesus' choice of what constitutes God's greatest commandment and just see, now, if we too can understand it, approve of it, and agree with it without human fuss. If we can, we are not far from the kingdom of God.
Jesus begins with "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one." There are many times in the Bible where God is equated with the word one, and every time this is done or you hear it, it is a wise practice to have your imagination construct the word one in three capital letters instead of just one or the figure one. ONE is a semantic or imagery device to help your understanding.
Now, what does Jesus mean by "God is one"? Many persons would say that by this He means that there is only one God, but this is a very superficial explanation. It does not really cover Jesus' meaning. When Jesus uses the word ONE to describe or equate with God, He does not mean the numeral one, such as one tree, one dollar, one person. When used as just a number one, then that word becomes a part of the system of arithmetic. When you use the number one, you are in the realm of arithmetic; and then you have the implication of the certainty or possibility of then two, three, four, five, and even zero. This manner of usage of one does not apply with speaking of God. God being one refers to God as all-ness, with no possibility of two, three, four, or zero. I know I am belaboring this, folks, but I want to. God as all-ness is the cosmic o-n-e, not the cosmic number one, the only reality, the only meaning there is, the only source of all possibilities. Then, of course, you expand on this idea of the cosmic one, and you get omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience, the only knowingness, the only presence, the only power, not one in the sense of two, three, or four might follow, God is one only, nothing before, nothing after. God is all in all, the ONE.
Then, you are a part of that ONE in your oneness with God. Now, in Unity, we call your individual oneness with the ONE, individuality. It is your unique, your individual ONENESS with God in God, your individuality. But you see, mankind appears as many, but man is ONE. God has an only begotten son. His name is I AM. That is your name in God, and it is the name of all man. It is oneness with the ONE.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God." He does not say that you shall love God. He says "you shall love the Lord thy God”, which is your individual oneness with the Almighty God. That is what you love. I love my oneness with God Almighty, and that oneness with God Almighty is the Lord your God, your individuality, your Christhood, your Sonship, "With all thy soul, with all thy mind, with all thy strength," because that oneness with God is your heart, your soul, your mind and is your strength; and you must love this more than anything else. I love the truth that I am one with God, my Father. See? How different this is from I love my selfhood first.
I love my oneness with God, first, because that is what enables me to even know I have selfhood or existence or personality. So who and what is God? The God we may love not because we are told that we must, but because our own mind and heart and soul and strength radiate this spontaneous and genuine love which simply cannot help overflowing from us. The real God we can love in this manner is love itself. The God that we are really able to love in this way with a spontaneous and totally unselfish manner is love itself. God, the very principle and spirit of goodness, the presence of rightness, truth and beauty within all creation and especially so in you, its child. You are its child, and you are one with it; so how can any sane person not respond to this knowledge other than love, loving the very idea of it, loving the truth of it.
Any sane person who hears this and has any degree of understanding of it loves it; and it is a reciprocal-love, because God first loves us by His everlasting love. So try never to think of God as something outside of yourself, which you are supposed to love. I used to get a vision of Jesus wagging His finger at someone, saying "You're supposed to love God." That is not it at all. God is within you, and your love for God is not something which you are supposed to really project, to give out in any way. It is something which simply abides in you, and you become aware of it or you let yourself become aware of it. It is very still.
It is not something you do or even talk about, really; it is just something you feel and know. It is the most beautiful part of your whole nature, and the love you feel for God is God Himself. That same feeling of love you have for Him is the love He forever has for you. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Your neighbor as thyself; truer words probably have never been spoken, because your neighbor is as yourself. Let's try to explain this. Earlier in the lesson, we said that mankind is man only in the realm of outer appearance and expression. Each individual is a different facet of the only-begotten-son of God. You understand that the only-begotten-son is the image and likeness of God, the son of God, God's perfect idea of being, and there is only one perfect idea of being but countless facets of expression of this one. Each of us is a facet of the only-begotten-son of God. Just as the aspects of God are infinite, so the aspects of the son of God appear as infinite in number, but human beings are not many different sons of God, only many different aspects or expressions of the one son of God.
Now, this explanation, I know, is on the level of rather complex metaphysics. Let us try to bring it down a little more to a simpler level. Why do I love you? I might give many human-based reasons for this, but regardless of whatever reason my human personality might give as a reason for loving you, I can have only one real reason for doing so. It has to be the basic reason for all loving, which is unity, oneness, not just closeness but oneness. That is the one cosmic reason for anybody who loves anybody, that there is somewhere in that soul, that consciousness, a spark of realization of unity and oneness. Then the personality can pick up on that, and devise many reason for it or justifications for it, like, “You have a good build" or "Children need a father" or “The chances for a successful ministry are better when you are married". The personality can cook up all kinds of justifications, and these can be good-bad, right-wrong, selfish-unselfish, etc. But that does not change the basic purity of the reason why anybody loves anybody, and that is you have somehow realized the truth of oneness, of unity; and awareness of love is the logical result.
Now, remember, that no matter how close two human beings seem to be, it is never as close as they really are, as they are in truth. People who love each other are more than close. They are realizing oneness, unity. They exist within each other, I cannot love you if you do not exist in me. If we are not so at one that I exist in you and you exist in me, and I mean literally; people who live [love] each other no longer lead separate lives but are no [now] expressions of the one life. This goes for two persons who are "lovers" in the conventional sense and this goes for larger groups of persons who are lovers in the more spiritual sense, which is what Jesus was referring to, of course. You see, you and I probably don't think of us as lovers, but we are; and you know when this comes to me the strongest, that we are lovers? When you guys are gone, when there is a break and you go away. I just walk around here desolate, and most of the other faculty do. It is just like being a family. We really are lovers, but in the spiritual sense.
Q. There are people who love each other very much but cannot stand to be around each other. There is some kind of cosmic attraction, but the personalities clash; and we recognize that we love each other more when we are a thousand miles apart.
A. That is so true, and this is why, folks, it is very important and helpful to get these teachings on personality and individuality very clear in your mind. That won't answer all the questions for you, because there will always be cosmic and karmic things that are behind; but a good grasp of the real validity of personality and the eternal verities of individuality will help lessen these personality clashes or at least lessen the impact they have on you. The clashes will probably be there as long as the personality is there, but the impact, our reaction to these clashes, are usually highly, highly over-exaggerated; and that can be cut down immediately, you see. This basic innate lovableness that we all have and this loving feeling we have toward each other is very real and very true, and to cultivate awareness of it is the greatest thing a person can do according to Jesus, and I am in agreement with Him.
Next the question comes of not just why I love you, I know the reason for that. It is the best reason in the world, but then how do I love you? With romantic feeling and erotic yearnings and desires? Perhaps. Remember, dear ones, romantic and erotic feelings have their rightful validity on this dimension. It is just that they are tricky. That is all, but they are valid modes of expression. The love Jesus speaks of, of course, is greater than this. It is unlimited and all-encompassing. It is the spirit of God, who is love.
Love of neighbor as yourself would mean many things, but one of its meanings would be that you view another person as one with yourself. You do not think of yourself as someone separated from and isolated from another human being. This has nothing to do with spatial distance. You realize that there is only one life, and that you are an expression of that life, and all other persons are also expressions of your same life. When I am able to realize that you are an expression of my life, I would immediately have more concern for you. I would be more aware of you, and the more aware you become of a person and the more concern you have for them, the more you wish them well, the more you begin to want good to happen. Something begins to build which you can't cook up yourself; by the way, folks, don't try to cook this up, because you'll burn the stew: empathy. If empathy is not spontaneous, it does not arise of itself, it is not empathy. It is role-playing, it is attitudenizing. It is not the same thing, but empathy is one of the treasures, and it begins to come forth when we start thinking about our neighbor in the light of Truth, that I am an expression of that same light which you are, not your light, my light, his light, but one light of which we all partake and which we all express as individuals as well as races, nationalities, and life wave families.
There is no part of you and nothing about you that is not directly connected somehow with every other human being in every part of your world. You cannot tell where that connection is, but we must know it is there, a direct connection. Anyone who enters your life in any way is your neighbor, and you are to love every person who enters your life this way, by realizing your oneness with them and by desiring only good to come to them. You do not have to have sex with everybody, you just have to have goodwill toward everybody. It is that simple. You may ask, "Can I do this?" Well, of course you can. The chances are you are doing it most of the time already. It has become a habit with most of you already, but if you feel that you should be doing more of it, then it is merely a matter of conscious practice. Take some time each day to clearly and definitely think of your oneness with other human beings. This is one of the finest practices that I have ever tried.
Deliberately take time out and think of your oneness with other human beings. Meditate on it, and then declare to yourself that you desire only good to come to everybody. Then you will be amazed about how your love-consciousness will grow. This practice, you will find, will harmonize many disturbed parts of your emotional nature, and you will attract many new blessings through this activated magnet of a love consciousness. Are you glad that this is the greatest of all commandments rather than something else? I am. I am so glad that this, and not something else is it. If you agree with and if something in you is rejoicing that love is the greatest of all requirements made on us by God, then you are in exactly the same position as the scribe in our Gospel text. If the Word spoken by Jesus and interpreted by yours truly have a good effect on you, have won your agreement and approval, then Jesus Christ is saying loudly and clearly to you as He did then, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
Now, somewhere among us there might be a bit of ego chirping at this moment, saying "I don't want to be told I’m not far from it. I want to be told be told I have it. That isn't good enough to be not far from it. I want to be told I have it." Let me tell you something, folks, you and I will never have it, never, because no matter how much of it we may have attained, there is always more; so you are always still not far from it, even at your best. By that, of course, we mean that the next stage, the next dimension. We never "have it", "because if we "have it” we have it, so what? There is always more. "What about when I reach the archangelic state of the ninth dynasty of the seventh cosmic ...?” Wonderful, wonderful, you look great in that new outfit, but you still have more to learn. Now, remember, that when we talk like this we say that you will always have your spiritual assignment of greater service, greater attainment. We do not always mean in the direction of more bulk, more girth, more "importance". Sometimes this greater thing, which, would constitute our next step appears to be a kind of even retrogression from certain points of view. For instance, Jesus' advent.
From certain points of view, that could have looked like a retrogression, to come back to a dimension which He had mastered already; and you would say "That was not progress for Him, that was retrogression." It wasn't, was it? Why not? Because it was done by choice, consciously and willing as a mode of service; and nobody ever regresses when he is being of service. He may lose a certain a certain status or place in hierarchy, but he will not regress in his spiritual values and meaning so that it is not always going on to "greater things" in the sense of greater things quantity-wise, but maybe greater things in the sense of quality-wise, which might be a sacrificial type of thing. I just hurl that in because I do not want us to always have the idea of going into a dimension of more gold streets and better looking bodies, etc. Maybe, not but greater meaning and greater satisfaction; yes, always.
Text of the original transcript at the 3rd paragraph of p.273 through the 3rd paragraph of p.277.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-12-2014