The fourth commandment: “Thou shalt honor father and mother!”

God had this Commandment given to mankind. But it has caused unspeakable anguish of soul. How many a child, how many an adult, has struggled desperately not to offend most grossly against just this Commandment.

How can a child honor the father who degrades himself to the level of a drunkard; or a mother who grievously embitters the hours of the father and the entire household through her caprices, through her unrestrained temper, lack of self-discipline and so much else, making a peaceful atmosphere quite impossible!

Can a child honor its parents when it hears them roundly abusing and deceiving each other, or even coming to blows? How many a conjugal incident has often made the Commandment a torment for the children, rendering it impossible of fulfillment.

In the long run it would indeed be nothing but hypocrisy if a child were to assert that it still honored a mother when she behaves in a much more friendly way towards strangers than towards her own husband, the child’s father. When it observes with her the propensity to superficiality, sees her sink in the most ridiculous vanity to a weak-minded slave of every fashionable craze, which so often can no longer be associated with the concept of earnest, high motherhood, and which robs motherly dignity of all beauty and sublimity … on what is a child then still to base voluntary reverence for its mother? What indeed lies in the one word: “Mother!” But also what does it demand.

A child that is not yet contaminated as well must unconsciously sense within that a person of mature, serious spirit can never set out to expose her physical body merely for the sake of fashion. How then can the mother remain sacred to the child! Natural reverence impulsively sinks down to the empty form of a habitual duty or, depending upon the upbringing, to self-evident conventional politeness, thus to hypocrisy, which lacks all upward swinging of the soul. Just that upward swinging which holds warm life! Which is indispensable to a child, and accompanies him like a secure shield as he grows up and sets out in life, guarding him against temptations of all kinds, and remaining inwardly a strong tower of refuge for him, whenever doubts of any kind assail him. Right up to old age!

The word “mother” or “father” should at all times call forth a warm, fervent intuitive perception out of which the image arises before the soul in full purity, dignified, warning or assenting, as a guiding star throughout his entire earthly existence!

And what a treasure is now taken from every child when it cannot honor its father or its mother with its whole soul!

Yet the cause of these agonies of soul is again only men’s false interpretation of the Commandment. The hitherto-prevailing view was wrong; it limited the meaning and allowed it to become one-sided, whereas surely nothing sent by God can be one-sided.

But it was still more wrong that this Commandment was distorted, in that it was to be improved according to human estimation, made still more explicit by an addition: “Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother!” In this way it became personal. This was bound to lead to errors; for the Commandment in its right form is only: “Thou shalt honor father and mother!”

Hence it does not refer to particular, specific persons, whose nature cannot be determined and foreseen from the outset. Such a paradox never occurs in the Divine Laws. On no account does God demand that something be honored which does not also absolutely deserve to be honored!

On the contrary, this Commandment embraces a concept of fatherhood and motherhood instead of personality. Therefore it is not in the first place addressed to the children but to the parents themselves, demanding of them that they keep fatherhood and motherhood in honor! The Commandment imposes absolute duties upon parents, always to be fully conscious of their high task, and therewith also to bear in mind the responsibility involved in it.

In the beyond and in the Light one lives not with words but in concepts.

For this reason it happens that in rendering these concepts in words it is easy for a limitation to occur, as becomes obvious in this case. But woe unto those who have not respected this Commandment, who have not taken the trouble to recognize it aright. It is no excuse that hitherto it has so often merely been misinterpreted and wrongly apprehended.

The consequences of not keeping the Commandment made themselves felt even with procreation and the entry of the soul. It would be quite different on this earth if the incisive Commandment had been understood and fulfilled by men. Quite different souls could then have incarnated, who would have been incapable of permitting a corruption of morality and ethics to such a degree as exists today!

Just look at the murdering, look at the wild dances, look at the orgies into which everything today tends to develop. The crowning, as it were, of the triumph of sultry currents of the Darkness. And look at the uncomprehending indifference with which the decline is accepted, and even encouraged as something that is right or that has always been in existence.

Where is the man who takes the trouble to recognize the Will of God aright, who, swinging himself upwards, seeks to grasp the vast magnitude, instead of ever and ever again stubbornly compressing this great Will into the wretched limitation of the earthly brain, which he has made the temple of the intellect. He himself thereby forces his gaze to the ground, like a slave who walks in chains, instead of lifting it upwards, expanding it with radiant joy to meet the ray of recognition.

Do you not see in what a pitiful position you place yourselves with every interpretation of all that comes to you out of the Light! Whether it be Commandments, the Promises, the Message of Christ, or indeed the whole of Creation! Nothing will you see, nothing will you recognize! Indeed you do not at all seek really to understand a thing! You do not take it as it is, but try convulsively ever again to reshape everything into the inferior views to which you have surrendered yourselves for thousands of years.

Do at last free yourselves from these traditions. The power to do so is certainly at your disposal. Every moment. And without your having to make sacrifices. But they must be thrown off with one heave, with one act of will! Without trying to retain anything of it. As soon as you try to find a transition you will never become free of what has hitherto prevailed, but it will ever again tenaciously drag you back. It can only be easy for you if you sever all the old with one slash, and thus step before the new without any old burden. Only then will the gate open to you; otherwise it will remain fast shut.

And that requires only one really serious volition, it is the happening of a moment. Just like awakening from sleep. If you do not then rise at once from your bed you become tired again, and joy in the new day’s work flags, if it is not altogether lost.

Thou shalt honor father and mother! Make this now a sacred Commandment for yourselves! Raise fatherhood and motherhood to honor! Who today still knows what great dignity lies in them. And what power to ennoble mankind! Those human beings who unite here on earth should for once be clear about this; then every marriage will really be marriage, anchored in the spiritual! And all fathers and mothers worthy of honor according to the Divine Laws!

For children, however, this Commandment will become sacred and living through their parents. They will simply be unable to do anything other than honor father and mother from their soul, regardless of the individual nature of these children. Indeed the very quality of their parents will compel them to do so.

And then woe unto those children who do not absolutely fulfill the Commandment. A heavy karma would fall upon them; for there would be ample cause for it. But in the reciprocal action obedience soon becomes a matter of course, a joy and a need! Therefore go forth and heed the Commandments of God more earnestly than hitherto! That means, observe and fulfill them! So that you will become happy! –