The Life of Abundance

If one rea ls the whole commandment, the original language is obviously outdated. Now, along with not coveting one's neighbor's wife, we would include one's neighbor's husband, and we certainly hope one's neighbor does not have any slavesl Quite clearly, we can translate th <• into modern terms: cars, big screen television, career, boat, barbecue, and everything of the kind, including the dog, kids, cat, and canarv! Covet nothing that belongs to someone else. Why? Because one cannot be satisfied and happy with oneself and one's own life as long as one is trying to "keep up with the Joneses," as the saying goes.

Although this wisdom is totally obvious in our own society and culture which is founded upon consumerism, it is clearly not understood After all, it would put an end to the radical consumerism of capitalism if it were understood. Consumerism is fueled by our belief that accumulating more "stuff" and "things" will lead to our happiness and satisfaction, and that it represents success in life. What is most curious is that, if we ever really look into it, we will see that lasting satisfaction and happiness never comes from anything outside of ourselves. Whether we have a lot of nice things or relatively few things, or whether we have an ideal relationship or none at all, or any number of things we mignt predicate our happiness upon, the truth is, if we don't find the source of happiness in ourselves, we simply won't be happy. This commandment encourages us to look inward for the source of lasting satisfaction and happiness instead of constantly looking outward.

According to the Kabbalah, the divine intends us to experience life's abundance. It states that we are intimately connected to an infinite and exhaustless reservoirs of energy, resource-, opportunities, and divine assistance, through which we can acquire whatever our hearts desire. This is true in the material dimension, in terms of the collective of humanity on earth, as well as in the spiritual dimensions. What prevents us from fully tapping into this life abundance, however, is a fundamental delusion of lack, which comes from our belief in an isolated and independent existence apart from the whole of creation and divine being. This leads to a state of poverty consciousness, feelings of unworthiness, and the mistake of coveting. This is not isolated to poor individuals, either. One merely needs to consider the many beautiful and famous people who have never felt that they received enough attention and love, or the multibillionaire who just has to make another million or billion dollars to be happy!

Basically, Gnostic Christianity encourages us to celebrate our own portion, and to recognize the abundance and blessings present in our own lives, and teaches that this, in and of itself, leads to a flow of divine grace and will generate life abundance. This is not to say that everyone is going to be a billionaire, supermodel, celebrity, or anything else we stereotypically associate with abundance. Rather, it is really a question of recognizing what abundance means on an individual level and seeking the' fulfillment of our own true desire. We are all unique individuals, and what will truly lead to our own satisfaction and happiness is also i unique,- thus we must look inward to discover and realize this. We must be careful not to allow unenlightened society to dictate what abundance is or what happiness and success are, for most likely that will have little or nothing to do with our real bliss or joy. This, in essence, is the meaning of this commandment.

We might put this commandment in the following way: Celebrate your life and the abundance in your oton experience. This is a key to real prosperity, success, health, and happiness.

Within and behind these Commandments is a great depth of mystical and esoteric teachings in Gnostic Christianity. Here we have given some of the simple and practical wisdom Sophians draw from them. In Sophian Gnosticism, the Commandments are not taken to form any fixed creed or dogmatic doctrine. Rather, they are contemplated for the sake of guidance and encouragement in spiritual practice and the spiritual life. Ultimately, like the Gnostic Gospel itself, every initiate will have his or her own understanding of the Ten Commandments and the Torah. and will apply the principles according to the truth and light of her or his own experience. In the Sophian view, the Commandments simply express life wisdom through which one is more likely to experience prosperity, success, health and happiness, and to actually progress on the path to enlightenment. It is for this reason that the Commandments are taught in many Gnostic Christian schools, each school having its own oral tradition associated with them.

Now we can turn our attention to essential wisdom from the Gospel and consider some Gnostic teachings associated with the Beatitudes as they appear in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

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