Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #70
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on September 7, 1975
“The Ten Commandments” are the great cliche of Western religion. “Living by the Commandments” is both a protest of piety and an excuse for non-involvement with religion. Yet, few persons can repeat the Commandments, or even locate them in the Bible. And those who can rarely have an awareness of the inner meaning. We need to break the Commandments, actually break them down to their basic essence, so that we may see them as Universal laws commended to us, to which we must make a commitment.
The Fifth Commandment is, “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER, THAT YOUR DAYS MAY BE LONG IN THE LAND WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD GIVES YOU.” Another version adds the phrase, “And that it may go well with thee...” Thus, it would appear that the inner meaning involves as important spiritual law by which we may have long life and abundance.
The surface meaning of the Commandment deals with the obvious ideal of respecting one’s parents. However, honor and respect cannot come by coercion. A parent may demand respect, but there will be frustrated anger. As a child said, “Daddy, don’t say ‘must’ to me, for it makes me feel ‘won’t’ all over.”
“Honoring” parents, in the perfunctory practice, is an anemic state akin to the word “tolerance.” To tolerate someone means to put up with him even if you don’t like him. It could be said that the Fifth Commandment involves a lot of this sort of hypocrisy.
The Hebrew word translated as “honor” is “kaw-bad”. which literally means “burdensome.” The literal meaning is “Accept the burden of your parents.” Many have dealt with oldsters in this consciousness, hiding much frustration and bitterness. This has led to feelings of guilt in the offspring, and to unreasonable demands by the parents: “I am you parent. You owe me respect and support. I brought you into the world...and don’t ever forget it.”
The Commandments all evolve out of the basic “I”...The Lord God is one. Every person lives in the One and is of the One. Thus, too much emphasis may have been placed on the role of parents, making graven images of them. God is the true parent. Our “burden” is that we are heavy with child...for within every person is the unborn possibility of limitless life, and ours is the privilege and the responsibility of giving birth to it.
In the creative flow of life, God is the true parent. Gibran says, “Your children are not your children. They are sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you...” Thus, the parent must honor the father-mother principle of life by keeping a true perspective in the role of parenthood. He should remember: “This is not my child...He is God’s child. I have the responsibility (burden) to be a steward for awhile in guiding and rearing the child. But I must honor my father-mother priniciple by working to make myself progressively unnecessary, to help the child to get along without me in security and self-reliance. ‘
The promise is...if the parent sees God as the true parenting process working through him and God as being the true parent of the child, then he will carry the burden with joy and fulfillment, and he will live long, and it will go well with him.
To teach a child to respect his parents at all costs, even to respect them when they may be unworthy of that respect, may well lead the child to lose respect for himself. If the child respects himself, and knows his own wholeness as a person, he will have love and understanding for his parents. It is not that children do not love and respect parents, but that parents do not love and respect themselves... thus they make graven images... even making one of themselves.
Jesus had a revolutionary concept of the relationship of parent and child. He said, “Call no man on earth your father, except the father within.” And, “If any man cometh unto me and hates not his father and mother, he cannot be my disciple.” This word “hate” here in this context actually means “to separate, to let go of.” other words, if you are so attached to your parents or your offspring that you let them stand in the way of your soul unfoldment, then you are not worthy of the creative flow. Honor your parents by freeing them to their experience, and accept that freedom for yourself.
Parents often try to live their lives through their children. Then, as they grow older and their interests broaden, there is a terrible sense that their lives are threatened. The parent needs to keep in his own flow, even as the child should be encouraged to get into his. This calls for the discipline to “loose him and let him go.” That parent who honors the father-mother principle will always have the respect of his children.
Another self-considered meaning of the fifth commandment is the acceptance of personal responsibility for what you will eventually become. A speaker addressed a Junior High School assembly on the theme: “Be good to your old man.” The youngsters anticipated some Sunday School moralizing. However, that wasn’t it at all. He said, “Be careful what you do and think today, for it will have a profound influence on what you will be in later years. Your “old man” is the one who will evolve out of the person you now are.” The child is the parent of the adult. Your consciousness today definitely helps to shape the person you become. When you think, speak, or act in negative ways, you mortgage your future.
However, in its deepest sense, the fifth commandment deals with divine polarity. Honor God in the recognition of the father-mother aspect of divine law. God is One...but in the One is the Creative Process which is male and female. (“Male and female created he them.”) To honor father and mother is to respect the process of the creative flow within, which is male and female, and works best when in perfect balance. You are intellectual and emotional, you have wisdom and love. Truth comes first to the intellect, but the neeed is to ponder these things in our heart and let love breathe life into them.
The fifth commandment calls for balance. There is a great need to liberate the divine feminine within all persons. The intellect brings forth great works in ours lives, but we need to release the flow of love and kindness... to lift our experience into the well-balanced proportions that foreshadow true fulfillment.
Honor and respect the father-mother principle... respect the creative process that is instantly and constantly available within you in any time of need...and the promise is—Your days will be long...and it will go well with you.
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth