Did you know that Ted Kaczynski, more commonly known as the Unabomber, re-wrote the Ten Commandments for himself?

Well, neither did I, but I do now because I’ve been working on writing my own set of commandments that I’d like to live by.   I found the bible’s version and a few others, then quite unexpectedly, Ted’s.  It slowed me down a moment as I questioned the logic of following the path of a nut bag… but I figured I was ok because he only made it to number 6, renaming them his “six principles” and I was sure to complete all 10… after all, how hard could it be?

I won’t re-print his 6 (although I considered it because I believe steadfastly in free speech) because they embody the ideology of an eye for an eye and I’ve literally never found that to work out.

I’ve honestly never even thought about the Ten Commandments but what’s sparked me is my friend in my writing group who’s writing a beautiful bordering (ok, not bordering) on soft porn novel and in the introduction she introduces a wonderfully adventurous middle-aged woman’s desire to live by her own “personal commandments”.   I was hooked.   If she could have commandments of her own, then why can’t I?

I’m a big believer in core values—I’m not sure what the difference really is, commandments seem sorta the same and I just think we all need some.

When we’re young, it seems logical we grab onto the ready-made versions and try to live up to them… “do unto others”.. hard to find fault with that one.  As we get older and define ourselves and our spiritual paths more independently, it seems to me we’d all be served by clarifying what it is exactly we each stand for.

If you happen to be like me and have randomly referred or referenced the actual Ten Commandments but never really read them, here you go:

1.  You shall have no other gods before me.

2.  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.

3.  You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

4.  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor you r manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day, therefore the lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

5.  Honor your father and mother.

6.  You shall not murder.

7.  You shall not commit adultery.

8.  You shall not steal.

9.  Thou shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

10.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

No wonder I’d never really read them.  I could dive into the deeper meaning but I’d really prefer a much simpler set of commandments that I can really believe in and live and walk with everyday.

In between the bible and Ted Kaczynski’s versions, I found some that resonated and inspired me as I contemplated my own:

Do stuff.
Talk to strangers.
Stay in touch.
Make haste to be kind.
Dig deep.
Less is more.
Smaller. Be me. Let it go. Act the way I want to feel. Do it now. Be polite and be fair.

 Enjoy the process. Spend out. Identify the problem. Lighten up.  

Do what ought to be done. No calculation. There is only love. Be consistent. Hold fast to your values. Act according to your beliefs. Just don’t lie.  In all that you do, do quality.

 Always help the dreamer. Hold no animosity. In all actions be just and fair. Never lose sight of the big picture. Take responsibility. Everyday do something that makes a permanent improvement.

I read these a few times.

Some of them felt a little bullshitty to me… I would not include “be polite” in any set of commandments I wrote for myself. I’m doing this to authentically live each day.. I want to DEFINE what it is I believe and stand for.. I’m really after a list of measurements to hold myself accountable to that I deeply believe in.

I kept digging.

Eventually, I came across another set that more fully represent the deeper parts of me, from a guy whose views I resonate with: 

The alternative to the Ten Commandments cited by Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion:

1.Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

2.In all things, strive to cause no harm.

3.Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.

4.Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

5.Live life with a sense of joy and wonder.

6.Always seek to be learning something new.

7.Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.

8.Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.

9.Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.

10.Question everything.

I Really love his commandments.

In fact, I could almost steal them for my own if I wanted to take the easy way out.. but they are his and I want my own and in the spirit of minimalism I wanted even shorter ones, like the ones that A.C. Grayling came up with in The Good Book.

  1. Love well
  2. Seek the good in all things
  3. Harm no others
  4. Think for yourself
  5. Take responsibility
  6. Respect nature
  7. Do your utmost
  8. Be informed
  9. Be kind
  10. Be courageous

I could steal these also…. But they have a facebooky lightness to them that I’m not after…  I want to own them, to live and breath a set of principles that I measure my actions and thoughts with; a set of principles that define who I am.

I have a tattoo directly on my forearm.  I’ve been looking at it off and on as I’ve been writing and researching this.  I realize now this search was just a reminder that I’ve already defined my personal commandments and believe them so certainly that I’ve permanently affixed them so I can’t possibly forget:  It’s actually 4 tattoos, done at different times… It’s words and symbols that perfectly represent my personal commandments… although to my horror, like Ted, I find mine are still incomplete. 

  1. Follow the light
  2. Live In Significance
  3. Bow
  4. Focus in
  5. we’re all equal.
  6. Stay on the Middle path.
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Turns out I’ve got more to discover.  How about you?

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