© Lauren Turner 9-16-99
Just as the rays of the sun can intensify greatly when condensed to a tiny spot through a lens, spiritual teachings when condensed to basic principles have tremendous power.
Not too many years ago a book entitled “The One Minute Manager” took over the business world by storm. One of its most basic assertions was that if managers wanted to be effective they had to learn to give their instructions clearly and concisely in one minute or less. The authors contended that if you couldn’t condense your instructions like this, your workers would have trouble focusing, they would become confused and they would forget much of what you said.
This idea is certainly not new. Moses gave people a condensed list of ten simple laws to learn more than 3000 years ago. Jesus condensed things even further. He said that all the scriptures could be summed up in two simple laws. Islam has its five pillars. Buddhism has its noble eightfold path. Today we have Alcoholics Anonymous with its famous 12 Steps and the best selling book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.
The Roman Philosopher Seneca said that you could measure the corruptness of a government by the number of its laws. While many mainline religions seem to complicate their faith to the point where they require leaders with advanced degrees to explain it to their people, there is great value in condensing things so that we can focus on a few major goals rather than getting confused over thousands of minor ones.
I’ve directed many theatrical works involving young, inexperienced actors. I’ve found you can get them to act convincingly in two ways. The first way is extremely complex. If you want them to create a realistic illusion of being frightened, for example, you can carefully teach them how to hold their posture, you can teach them subtle movements and body language, you can teach them the proper inflection of their voice, the tempo of their speech, etc. After filling a notebook full of details they can study these and try to mimic all these fine nuances. This is no small task and even after months of work it still may seem contrived and unnatural. But there is another way, which is elegant in its simplicity. You simply tell the actors to focus on just one thing: making themselves feel afraid inside. If they can do this effectively, they will just automatically do all the other things without needing instruction. It will appear natural and real almost immediately. While the first way is complex and time consuming it yields poor results, but the second way is simple, almost instantaneous and surprisingly it usually yields better results.
Jesus said that if we focused on two basic laws, we would just automatically obey all the others. If we love God and love our neighbor we will automatically obey all the other laws because they are all based on these two. But, just as Seneca noted, when we have thousands of laws, it is easier to get confused by focusing on the letter of the law and miss the spirit of the law. When religions become extremely complex and authoritative in their written law, their zeal to obey these laws often leads to the very things the laws were designed to prevent. The cure often becomes worse than the disease. All major religions promote truth, peace and the sacredness of life, and yet, as often as not it is legalistic, religious people who have been responsible for the suppression of truth, massacres and torture. Not surprisingly, the liberators of people have almost always concentrated on the spirit of the law rather than the letter. Jesus, Martin Luther, Wesley and Martin Luther King all broke many of the legalistic traditions of their day, but, were judged by later generations as better obeying the spirit of God’s law.
It was in this frame of mind that I discovered the 9 Great laws. I discovered them by studying the entire Bible and noting the themes that seemed to be stressed the most and the most often. I was surprised to discover after I put the 9 Great Laws down on paper that while they are distinctly Christian in mindset all of these things are taught by all the great world religions at least to some degree1. The 9 great laws are not an attempt to replace Scripture, but, rather they are a tool to help us remember the greatest teachings and apply them to our lives.
There is tremendous power in these laws. People who begin to practice these laws will begin to notice major changes in their lives in a very short time. These laws are nothing new. I was certainly not the first to discover them. They have been taught to us by people of faith from the beginning of recorded history. Whenever individuals have focused on these laws they have become liberated from all forms of bondage, gained tremendous strength and have been extremely effective in accomplishing whatever God has led them to do. Whenever a society has been committed to these laws the society as a whole has flourished. Even without considering the supernatural element this is just common sense. Often individuals who practiced these laws faced overwhelming odds and yet in spite of this they still managed to succeed dramatically.
Conversely, whenever individuals or societies have violated these laws, they have inevitably become enslaved by others, failed to achieve whatever they attempted and lived lives filled with misery. Even when they seemed to have no adversity and everything seemed set for success they still failed.
Whether you are aware of these laws or not, you are still effected by them just as when you step off a roof you will fall regardless of your knowledge of the laws of physics. Understanding these laws, however, can dramatically accelerate your spiritual growth, protect you from major setbacks and bring you great strength and effectiveness.
The 9 Great Laws can heal or strengthen individuals or groups spiritually. God created us and when we live as God intended us to live we can do amazing things. If a person is living a life of bondage and failure these laws can heal. If a person is already strong and healthy spiritually, the chances are they are already following these laws. The closer we follow these laws the stronger we will become.
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