He who is able to read these words aright will doubtless already see in them the sentence for many who do not observe this most exalted of all the Commandments.
“Thou shalt have no other gods!”
Many a man reads far too little into these words. He has made it too easy for himself! In the first place he probably thinks of idolaters only as those people who kneel before a row of wooden figures, each one of which represents a particular god; perhaps thinks also of demon-worshippers and others similarly gone astray, at best calling them to mind with pity, but he does not include himself among them.
Just take a look at yourselves calmly for once, and examine yourselves as to whether perchance you belong to them after all!
One has a child who really means more to him than anything, for whom he could make any sacrifice, forgetting all else. Another sets earthly pleasure far above everything, and with the best volition would in the end be absolutely incapable of renouncing this pleasure for anything, if he were faced with such a challenge as afforded him a voluntary decision. A third again loves money, a fourth power, a fifth a woman, another earthly distinction, and again in all these things they all ultimately love only … themselves!
That is idolatry in the truest sense. The First Commandment warns against it! Forbids it! And woe to him who does not obey it to the letter!
This infringement avenges itself immediately, for such a person must always remain earthbound when he passes over into the Ethereal Realm. In reality however he has only bound himself to the earth through the propensity for something which is upon earth! He is thus held back from further ascent, loses the time given to him for it, and runs the risk of not emerging from the Ethereal Realm in time to rise therefrom to the Luminous Realm of the free spirits.
He will then be swept along into the inevitable disintegration of all material substance, which serves to purify it for its resurrection and its new formation. But for the human soul this is spiritual death to all the personal consciousness it had developed, and therewith also the destruction of its form and its name for eternity!
Obedience to this Commandment is meant to give protection from this terrible fate! It is one of the most exalted Commandments, because it remains the one most necessary to man! Unfortunately, he is all too apt to yield to some propensity which finally enslaves him! But whatever he allows to become a propensity he therewith makes into a golden calf, which he sets in the highest place, and thereby also as a false deity or idol beside his God, very often even above Him!
Unfortunately there are only too many “propensities” which man has created for himself, and which with the utmost thoughtlessness he readily adopts! A propensity is the predilection for something earthly, as I have already pointed out. Naturally there are still many more of them.
But he who acquires a propensity is “caught”, as the word correctly indicates. Thereby he is caught by the gross material when he enters the beyond for his further development, and cannot easily detach himself again from it; he is thus retarded, held back! It can indeed also be called a curse that is a perpetual burden to him. The process is the same, no matter how it is expressed in words.
If in his life on earth, however, he puts God above all else, not only in his imagination or merely in words, but in his intuitive perceiving, thus truly and genuinely, in reverential love that binds him as if to a propensity, then through the binding he will at once strive upwards through the same effect when he enters the beyond; for he takes with him the reverence and love for God; it supports him and finally bears him into Paradise, the abode of the pure spirits who have become free from all burdens, and whose binding leads only to God’s Luminous Truth!
Therefore pay strict attention to the keeping of this Commandment. You will be protected thereby from many unfavorable threads of fate.