The Ten Flaws: When Moses Met a Buddha on the Mountain
Copyright 2015, John Manimas Medeiros
The ancients and the long trail of copiers got it wrong. The said that Moses, while leading the Jews out of Egypt, went up to Mount Sinai where he met with God, or saw a burning bush and heard a voice from the sky, or from inside his own Mosaic head, and he heard God say: "Bad! Bad! people. You and your tribe are a bunch of intolerably naughty children. You are sinful, just like Adam and Eve and all of the defective animals that I created - My Bad - ages ago. You are not like wine; you have not improved with age. So, I am going to give you a set of ten great laws to govern your shithead behavior. These laws are my Laws, the Laws of God. If you disobey them I will burn your ass forever, not just for a day, not just for a year, but forever. Because I am God, and that means I am Extreme, and unlike humans who get tired when they apply themselves to the hard labor of punishing children, I do not get tired because I am God. Therefore, I hope that you understand the importance of these laws. Oh, and if you find someone breaking any of these Ten Laws, and you don't see my punishment come down upon their heads immediately, don't just stand there and gawk, punish them. Don't wait for me. I might be busy attending to some other shithead tribe, or I might be sleeping. So, here are the Ten Laws."
But that was not what really happened. In ancient times there were philosophers, elder men and women who had gathered wisdom over their lifetimes. Some of them, being wise, chose to live alone some distance from human society in the tribal villages, which was understandable because the people living in the tribal villages behaved in a way that was foolish and destructive. Anyway, while Moses was nominated by the Jews escaping from Egypt to be their leader, meaning that they would hold him responsible for all of their offensive and self-destructive behaviors, he became aware that there had been a great earthquake under the sea, and that a tsunami was coming. He brought the people to the shore of the sea and they marveled that the tide had gone out much further than usual. In fact, the water's edge seemed to be far in the distance beyond the wet sands and clumps of flattened sea grass and barnacles clinging to rocks. "Come now. Hurry!" he said. "There is little time. Run across the sand. Go toward the distant water first, then back away from the water. Let Pharaohs army see us. They will follow."
And the Jews crossed the sand that was normally under several feet of water, and while they were crossing they could see that the distant water was changing. It was rising like a giant foaming wave, like a wall of water. Which it was. You know the rest.
After searching the desert for a long time for a good place to settle down, Moses became totally frustrated. The people were getting comfortable with their nomadic lives and engaging in irresponsible behavior more and more. They started to act like life had no higher purpose, just a chance to dance and sing and drink and fornicate and eat until the food ran out. He had heard that there was a local Guru, or Buddha type of wise elder who lived up on Mount Sinai. So, while the people were cavorting and making a mess like stupid animals, he hiked up into the Mountain in search of the Guru. He found him. They talked. Then Moses came back down the Mountain to speak to his people, to give them some elderly advice, before they descended even further into dissolution and lost all sense of community and purpose. This is what Moses said:
"I made a mistake. You are not special people. You are not special in any way and you were not chosen by God for some special mission. You are just ordinary foolish people like everyone else. Being the blandly common, average and ordinary human defectives, you have ten great flaws. And here they are:"
One: You are not loyal to the God of principled self-control and constructive behavior. You do not uphold and defend the Good God of right action and justice. Instead you invent gods that are more convenient for you, gods that allow you to commit the vile offenses that you wish to commit against your fellow members and yourself. You create and defend gods that support your desire to be selfish and violent. Don't do that. It is destructive and will cause you suffering and pain and great losses over time.
Two: You discredit yourselves with violent and offensive language, even to the extent that you rail and rage verbally against God, using your obscene words to accuse God of being the cause of your failures and your suffering under the Laws of Nature. Don't do that. It is of no help at all. It is destructive and will cause you suffering and pain and great losses over time. The primary fault in this ridiculous pattern of behavior is your sickened thought blaming God for things for which you yourself are responsible. By blaming God for all that is bad you seek to exonerate yourself. This diminishes your intellect and makes you a fool. Don't do it.
Three: You get caught up in your worries and daily routines and your constant grasping and gasping for material wealth and comforts. You become enthralled by your own skills and arts and you become an automaton, a robot that just repeats habitual behaviors continuously without stopping to examine your life, your thoughts, your feelings, and your purpose. You do not pause to contemplate, to ask important questions and ponder elusive answers. You should be asking yourself: "What have I done this week? What will I do next week?" You make key decisions hastily, without adequate contemplation, like building rickety bridges across the raging rivers of the natural world. You deny the deep thought required to effectively cope with the predictable tumult and conflicts of life and change and death. Don't do that. It is destructive and will cause you suffering and pain and great losses over time.
Four: You tend to ignore and discredit your greatest resource, your elders. You say they are old and do not understand today's world. Everything has changed, and they do not understand what we must do to survive or how the world is unlike the world of their youth. Nonsense. Nothing of import has changed. What matters to human beings and human communities changes more slowly than a snail's pace, if these things do change at all. Your elders have valuable information, stories of decisions made, or duties neglected, and not only mistakes and errors of the past but great decisions, acts of heroism and wisdom and choices that saved the lives of individuals and protected the community from disasters, unnecessary conflicts and violence. You should be consulting with your parents and your elders. You treat them like they are just a burden, a wrinkled child who knows nothing significant. Don't do that. It is destructive and will cause you suffering and pain and great losses over time.
Five: You are prone to anger and violent thoughts. Your greatest crimes of violence begin with ordinary impatience and frustration. Your anxious heart tells you that your goals must be achieved quickly, what you want must come today, right now. Others don't learn and listen the way you want them too. The sky does not bring rain when you are ready for it. Your neighbors do not see the light that you see, but they see another light. Your rage simmers inside and grows. And then you build monuments to your hatred, contrived philosophies and explanations as to why someone is evil and must be punished, and those who do not comply with your expectations and your preferences, those whose views are not tuned to yours, must be killed. Don't do that. It is destructive and your anger is dangerous and it will cause you suffering a pain and great losses over time. In fact, your anger and violence, your rage and thirst for revenge will crush and maim your children and your mothers and your unnamed, unnumbered innocents. Disease, destruction of crops, poisoning of water, all this and more are the result of this single flaw.
Six: Your brain was given to you to guide your actions, but you follow the whimpering and whispering of your genitals. You take the capacity to bring another life into the world and treat it like a rich dessert, a pleasure bestowed only for the sake of pleasure, and you add to it hateful dominance over others, control over lives, using earnest people, even children, for the primeval and simple impulses of horses, cattle, lizards and insects. You shout of your near divinity, your connection to God, your unique spirit and place in the world, and then you overthrow all of your best aspirations for sexual gluttony. You descend into this selfishness and irresponsibility while thinking of the mate and children whom you betray, neglect and disrespect. You tell yourself that you are only human, and thus you forgive yourself for your own offense when you know that you have not forgiven others for this same offense. While betraying your mate and children, and friends, you talk about the importance of family and tribal loyalties. Therefore you perfect your sin by sinning with your mouth as well as your crotch, and your openings to the world are united in their deception. Betrayal is corrosive. Do not do this. It is destructive and selfish and will cause you suffering and pain and great losses over time.
Seven: You are never satisfied with what you have and you become angry at God when you see others with more. You know that the tribe and the world have arranged for all to work to contribute to the prosperity of the community and it is intended to render just rewards for labors and competence. But you see injustice in an imperfect world and blame God for whatever you perceive as unfair to you, and then your masterful correction of this economic discord is to steal what is not yours. You are so skilled at taking from others what belongs to them, to keep it for yourself, that you devise elaborate explanations and arguments about what is fair, contrivances of law and rules of the market so that you can create a convenient separation between law and ethics, can contrive and evoke the means to steal legally. When you take from others the fruits of their labor you justify yourself with a contrived, self-serving dissertation on how inequality is natural and you have earned all that you have by your efforts and your skills. This, even though you know your skills are at best mediocre and your efforts have been devoted to deception, manipulation, concealment, secrecy, and dismissing the rights and needs of others. You justify your thefts on the grounds that everyone does it, and we all have to survive. And yet most of that which is stolen is not necessary to the thief at all but is revealed, when examined, to be nothing more than the unseemly greed of a starving wolf whose lair is filled with rotting meat. Do not do this. It is destructive and will cause you suffering and pain and great losses over time.
Eight: You love to observe and discuss the mistakes and failures of your neighbors. You gloat and thrill at their losses and distress for both great and small errors in judgment, when they get caught in an offensive act like one that you yourself also committed but kept hidden. When you feel cheated, or someone has got the better of you, paid a lower price, or took an excessive price for something you purchased foolishly; or, when someone receives the love or respect that you want for yourself, you plot and plant lies about your neighbor. You tell stories that are not true, carefully disguised behind your confessed veil of uncertainty, but you plant the seed of doubt and mistrust artfully, to discredit and damage the lives of others, to set them back, to take what they might gain from their good works and good qualities. Out of envy you cast a net of mistrust on another person, knowing that harsh words can injure far more than the strike of a club or a stone which is publicly visible and alarming. Thus, you attack and injure your neighbor with a quite word and a knowing smile. As though you are thinking: "Let me kill this man without touching him." Do not do this. It is destructive and will cause suffering and pain and great losses over time.
Nine: You are never satisfied with what you have. You look at your neighbor's field, or through his doorway into his house, or at her children or at her clothing or her goats and you burn with envy. Why does she, no better than I, have better than I? The world is unfair, but I will not be defeated. I will think how I can get rich fields like his, and strong children like hers. I will not let my neighbors have more than I for more than a week or a month. Whatever they have, I will acquire, whatever it takes. Do not do this. Even though it begins with a thought, it becomes your disposition, your nature, and your action. Do not be assured that your envy is invisible. It is heard in your voice and glows in your jealous eyes. This envy is destructive and it will cause suffering and pain and great losses over time.
Ten: You are not satisfied with what you have. You do appreciate the comfort of your own shoes nor the taste of your own food. Your comparison with what others have goes even beyond material goods and encloses the love and respect that others receive from their mates and family and friends. You examine your mate like he or she is a saddle or a farm tool, and you deem them less beautiful or less useful than another. It is like you are haggling for a price in the market, claiming that the world that gave you your mate has cheated you, demanded too high a price or sold an article that is of lesser quality than what was alleged at the time of sale. You think of your mate as an article of trade and you wish for an exchange, another transaction, without due consideration of the faithful service and durability that only the love and commitment of a person provides. Love and union is not a market. Your mate is not a furnishing for your house. Do not do this. It is destructive and will cause suffering and pain and great losses over time. Thus ends the Ten Flaws.
Moses brought these down from the mountain to the people, who had become accustomed to nomadic life and many forms of instability and insecurity. And he showed them the Ten Flaws and explained them but the people would not deviate from their previous convictions. They said that Moses had spoken to God and God gave them Ten LAWS to live by and so now they had an official guide to who needs to be punished for sinning against God. Then Moses tried again to explain to the people that what they had been given was a narrative description of Ten Flaws that were meant to serve as reminders to them to regulate their behaviors for the greater good of the community. But they insisted "No" these are the laws of God and when one of us commits a sin the rest of us have to beat him, or her, or stone them, or strangle them or burn them alive for committing a sin against God; or, if we are too tired to do that, we can just banish them or throw them into the ocean and let nature take its course.
So, Moses was frustrated and depressed and did not know what to do. He thought to himself: Why do people invent the same stupid religion over and over again? He went back up the mountain, and where the burning brush had been there was now a pile of ashes, and he could plainly see the Guru sitting there, meditating.
Moses said, "Excuse me…"
"I see that you are back," the Guru said.
Then Moses explained that he had a problem. The people said that he, Moses, has spoken to God and received the Ten Laws or Ten Commandments as a set of strict rules from God, or maybe Moses was God himself, disguised as a leader. In any case, the people were stuck. They insisted that God was a harsh and demanding God, kind of like a grumpy old farmer who wanted his children to grow up fast so that they could do all the work on the farm and he could drink and rest and play dominoes and buy sex from the local impoverished girls. In any case, they are glad that they have a set of rules, kind of like a board game, that gives them a turn at torturing their neighbors, which is more fun than just working and taking care of business. Please tell me, are they right? Is the stuff you gave me the Ten Laws of God, or what?
"Oh, no of course not." The Guru said. "They are a list, the Ten Flaws of human nature. It is really like the first day of class in a course of study: ' Introduction to Human Behavior.' "
Then Moses said, "They tell me that I am their leader, and there is not enough food and the water is dirty and the camels are old and bony and the sun is too hot and it's all my fault."
"Welcome to the club," the Guru replied. And then the Guru fell into a deep sleep.
Moses went back down the mountain and he could see the people packing up and getting ready to move out.
"Where have you been? Did you go back up to that stupid mountain again? Why are you wasting time looking for wisdom? This place smells of our waste. There is no money to be made here and we need clean water. What kind of a leader are you anyway? Are you coming with us?"
Moses looked up toward the summit. He agonized briefly, before he turned to go with his people, the ordinary people who would blame him, as people do, for their mistakes and the events of the natural world. He had hope in his heart however, and told himself that someday the people would understand that they were not assigned a special status by God and not obligated to punish everyone who had a flaw. People just needed to remember the Ten Flaws and learn, from experience, what it is we need to do and not just what we need to avoid doing.
"Where's this new place, Moses? Where is the new place that will make us free and happy?"
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