Ten Rules for Realism


by Lauri Boyd

In his essay Ten Rules for Realism, 21st century theologian Gene Marshall offers a new take on the ancient 10 Commandments of Moses. Seen through Marshall’s lens, these rules are as relevant to our spiritual journey today as they were 3 centuries ago. They offer simple advice for grounding ourselves in Spirit and for living in relationship with each other and the world around us. Here are Marshall’s 10 rules with my commentary…

1. You shall not devote your life to any reality more than to Reality with a capital “R.”

In other words, always keep in mind that this little ‘r’ reality that we experience with our little ‘s’ self is only a small part of something much bigger. In the capital ‘R’ reality, there is only God – one presence, one power, absolute good. As we move through our daily experience, we must let our words and actions flow forth from Spirit, not ego.

2. You shall not mistake any names, thoughts, ideas, or symbols, for this unnamable Reality.

Human language is too limited to adequately describe God. Yet in our humanness, we must find ways to experience this capital ‘R’ Reality. And each of us is drawn to certain names, thoughts, ideas, and symbols that resonate with us. Yet we must never assume that our way is the one right way. When we do that, we mistake our spiritual practice for Spirit itself.

3. You shall not trivialize the symbols that do illuminate this Reality.

We have already acknowledged that human language is inadequate to the task of describing an experience of the Spiritual. Yet it is not respectful or skillful to mock the symbols that someone uses to engage Spirit.

4. Keep free a seventh of your time for nurturing your Reality devotion.

It’s called ‘practice’ for a reason. Engage in regular spiritual practice, so that when life throws you a curve ball, you won’t be trying to learn your practice in the midst of the chaos.

5. Honor your ancestry in Reality-devoted living.

Respect your tradition. Respect the experiences of your elders. They have much wisdom to impart. Unity grew out of the Christian tradition. That wisdom-source still shows in our teachings and traditions. It is important to honor that tradition. We are not new. We are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.

6. You shall not murder your neighboring beings.

Respect the life around us in all its forms. Even those whom we are certain are ‘other’.

7. You shall not misuse your sexual powers.

Respect the interconnectedness of all beings as a sacred practice.

8. You shall not take for yourself what belongs to another.

Live in a consciousness of abundance. Practice generosity.

9. You shall not falsely accuse the life of another.

We create our experience by the activity of our thinking. We create stories to give meaning to our experiences. We must practice an awareness of the stories we are creating. We must know that we can never know what another’s motive or experience has been. We only know our own story of them.

10. You shall not covet having a life that is not your very own potential.

You are a uniquely gifted spiritual being. Never try to make your own light shine brighter by dimming the light of another. Shine your own light.

From the NRSV Bible, Exodus 20:2-17…

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lordyour God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lordblessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 You shall not murder.

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

One thought on “Ten Rules for Realism”

  1. Finally a “Ten Commandments” I can embrace. Thank you for sharing this again with your very thoughtful commentary.

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