This commandment was given to man by God through Moses in the olden time. Unspeakable has been the anguish it has caused; for many a child and many an adult have striven desperately to obey and not to sin grossly against this law. How can a child honor its father if the latter has so far debased himself that he has become a drunkard, or honor a mother who not only embitters the father's life but that of the whole household by her caprices and by her undisciplined temper, her want of self-control and other defects making it impossible to enjoy a quiet hour in her company? Can a child honor its parents when it hears them roundly abusing each other, sees how they deceive each other and even come to blows?
A child witnesses scenes in wedded life that make obedience to the command a distressful problem if not altogether impossible. It would be hypocrisy if a child should assert that it honors its mother when it notices that its mother treats strangers more graciously than she treats its father, or if it sees her propensity to frivolity and how her vanity seduces her to be the slave of every silly freak of fashion, often quite incompatible with the beauty of motherhood, completely disrobing it of its dignity.
On what then is the child's reverence for its mother to rest? Mother! What a deep meaning lies in the word alone! What a serious claim is implied in it!
A child, not as yet poisoned by the world must unconsciously feel that a mature and serious individual would never consent to expose its physical body (which should be sacred to the child) because to do so, happens to be the fashion of the day!
The natural veneration the child should feel for its mother degenerates to a dutiful form, an empty habit or according to the child's bringing up in the conventional politeness of society. All hypocrisy with no elevating influence on the soul whatever!
Just this life-giving, enthusiastic veneration is indispensible to a developing child. On its entry into life, this attitude will serve as a sure shield against all temptation. Until it comes to ripe old age it will be a bulwark of strength and a refuge in moments of doubt how to proceed.
The word father or the word mother should at all times awaken a warm glow of feeling in the heart and should conjure up a pure image clothed with dignity, standing before the soul either warning or encouraging, a guiding star through life!
What a treasure, therefore, is a child robbed of which cannot honor its father and mother from its whole soul.
And yet this anguish the heart suffers is only the result of a wrong interpretation of the commandment.
The opinion hitherto held was wrong because it was limited and one-sided, whereas nothing God has sent can be limited or one-sided.
Man's fault was all the greater because the commandment was defaced with the intention of making it more explicit to man by interpolating a word:
“Thou shalt honor thy Father and thy Mother!”
This made it personal which necessarily led to error.
In its right form the commandment is “Thou shalt honor father and mother!” Not special individuals are meant, for their nature can neither be foreseen nor their development predetermined. Divine laws contain nothing so preposterous and in no case whatever does God require man to honor something unworthy of honor.
This commandment does not refer to persons but to an idea, a principle, viz. to the conception of fatherhood and to the conception of motherhood. It does not address itself to children but to the parents themselves, requiring them to honor fatherhood and motherhood.
The commandment lays special duties on the parents: they are at all times to be fully conscious of the loftiness of their task and mindful of the responsibilities it involves.
In the other world and in the Light it is in conceptions and not in words that life expresses itself; for this reason it may easily happen that, in transposing the conception into words, it gets narrowed and limited as, for example, in this instance.
Woe unto those who have not heeded this commandment, who have not troubled to understand it aright. That it was generally misinterpreted and misconceived up till now, does not serve as an excuse.
The consequences of disobedience have made themselves manifest in the race, in the generation born and in the souls incarnated. Things would be very different on this earth if this incisive commandment had been understood and obeyed. Quite other souls could then have incarnated, souls who would never have allowed the decadence of virtue and morals to have spread to the extent they have today. Look at the murders, look at the wanton dances, the orgies, to what a pitch the human passions are worked up! One would say a crowning triumph for the evilboding influences of the Dark Powers, and then notice the equanimity with which one accepts and even encourages this decline as something quite right and natural, as if it had always been so.
Where is the man who would trouble himself to know the Will of God aright? Instead of winging his flight upwards and exerting himself to grasp its magnitude, he obstinately persists in his efforts to compress this great Will into the miserable limits of his physical brain, the temple of his intellect.
Thus it is his own doing that he is compelled to keep his eyes fixed downwards like the fettered slave that he is, instead of raising them aloft in joyful appreciation of the ray of enlightenment that meets his gaze.
Do you not see how poor, incompetent and utterly inadequate is your reception of all that comes to you from the Light! Whether it be a command or a promise, the Gospel of Christ or the problems of Creation. You see nothing, you recognize nothing. You make no effort to understand a thing really, you do not accept it as it is, but convulsively try to remodel every thing and to cut it down to the low standard to which you have accustomed yourselves for thousands of years.
Break with these traditions, you have the power to do so and can use it at any moment! Nor is any sacrifice necessary: a tug, a jerk, one act of volition and success is yours!
But no amorous glances must be cast back on what you have left behind! As soon as you try to form connecting intermediate links you will never be able to shake yourselves free from the past. It will be persistently recalling you. But the break will come easy if you sever yourself with one stroke from old customs and enter into a new phase of life without carrying over any part of the burdens of the old. Only then will you find the door open to you. Otherwise it will remain fast closed. Here it is but a question of one serious act of volition and is but the matter of a moment. It may be likened to awaking from sleep in the morning. If you do not forthwith rise from your couch, you feel tired again and the joy attendant on beginning a new day's work wanes, if it does not vanish altogether!
“Ye shall honor father and mother.” Let it be to you a holy command. Put fatherhood and motherhood in the seat of honor they deserve.
Who are those today who have knowledge of the great dignity that is theirs? of their power to ennoble mankind? Couples that unite here on earth should learn to understand this clearly, for then every marriage would be anchored in the spiritual sphere and every father, every mother would be honorable, i. e. worthy of honor in the sight of Divine law!
To children this command will be sanctified by their parents and become living through them. No matter what their individual characters may be. It will be impossible for such children to do otherwise than honor their parents from their hearts. The qualities of the parents will compel them.
Woe to those children who do not fully and entirely obey this commandment. They are incurring a heavy debt of Karma which they have richly deserved.
Obedience, however, will soon become a matter of course, then a pleasure and finally a joy not to be dispensed with, for it will bring its own reward in untold blessings.
Go your way, therefore, and take more serious account of God's commandments than you have hitherto. That is to say, heed them and keep them that happiness be yours.