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The Ten Commandments

More modern rewrites of the Ten Commandments;
Alternative guides to good behavior

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This list is continued from a previous list of rewrites....

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More attempts to rewrite the Ten Commandments:

  • Ellory F. Schempp, was the plaintiff in the case Abington v. Schempp. The case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court who declared in 1963 that Bible devotions in U.S. public school are unconstitutional. He suggests nine commandments:
    1. You are a human, and neither Jesus, nor Mohammed, nor Buddha speaks for you. Take courage—you can live without a god.
    2. Do not injure human beings or any animal; make reasonable exceptions.
    3. When you see evil, make sure it is not in a mirror. Sometimes the enemy is us. Emotions are part of life. Feelings are good. Angry and fearful feelings are valid, but be circumspect.
    4. Morality is about how you treat the life that has been given you—before you got asked. Once here, try to do some good and leave us a little better than when you arrived. There is no second chance.
    5. Ideas are good. Some ideas are better than others. The best way to winnow is to seek evidence that supports an idea in a way that can be tested and evaluated. Covet not ancient ideas that contradict new evidence.
    6. Love one another. Love is good, but trying. There is no god nor parent nor partner that loves you all the time, unconditionally. Keep not fantasies in your minds. Accept reality. Even when things look dark, there is lots of love around. Tap into it.
    7. Sex is good. Have fun. Do not hurt another out of selfishness. Do not worry what sex others might have.
    8. Honor thy parents, but remember they put their pants on one leg at a time.
    9. There is great beauty in the world—on this Earth, in music, in the life around us. Take note for it and you shall be richly rewarded. 1

  • Anonymous: A series of nineteen "instructions for life" are found throughout the Internet and are generally attributed to the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, exiled head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama actually had nothing to do with the list. The nineteen instructions:

    "...are a truncated version of a much longer list [of 45 instructions] that worked its way around the Internet in 1999 in conjunction with an ASCII art representation of a 'Nepalese Good Luck Tantra Totem' (the list was also sometimes identified as being a 'modern Japanese good luck tantra'):


    1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
    2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
    3. Follow the three Rs:
      bullet Respect for self,
      bullet Respect for others, and
      bullet Responsibility for all your actions.
    4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
    5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
    6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
    7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
    8. Spend some time alone every day.
    9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
    10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
    11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
    12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
    13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
    14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
    15. Be gentle with the earth.
    16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
    17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
    18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
    19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon. 2
  • Chief White Cloud wrote a series of Ten Commandments from a Native American perspective:
      1. Remain close to the Great Spirit.
      2. Show great respect for all your fellow beings.
      3. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
      4. Be truthful and honest at all times.
      5. Do what you know to be right.
      6. Look after the well being of mind and body.
      7. Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
      8. Take full responsibility for your actions.
      9. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
      10. Work together for the benefit of all mankind.

  • Image of book cover Stirling M. Cooper, Sr.: "Replacing the Ten Commandments: Cooper's Essays Guidelines for Creating a Good Life and a Civilized World."

    Book review from

    "Is it time to replace most of the religious commandments and codes of the past with reason and secular thinking?

    In modern terms, what are the purposes of life? What are the purposes of schooling? What are the implied contracts between any citizen of the world and his/her government? What are the duties and responsibilities of all persons who are members of the human race?

    These are but a few of the BIG questions raised by Stirling. He attempts to look at the great ideas of mankind and to view them as objectively as possible. He is not attempting to indoctrinate, nor to defend any particular "box." He is not a member of any church, political party or social group.

    Nothing he states is to be viewed as chiseled in stone or as being found on tablets of gold. However, he hopes his ideas will provoke some new thinking aimed at reducing wars and other forms of madness of our age. He also hopes that readers will look inwardly and try to improve their own lives through major changes in how they think and act. He thinks new philosophic positions can be found and used to make better human beings!

    This is a book for thinkers - for the curious - for the mentally brave. Stirling challenges you - and dares you - to step outside the boxes which govern your life."

    Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

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Alternative guides to good behavior: 

bullet Laura Darlene Lansberry comments:

"Four of the original ten commandments serve no other purpose than to stroke the ego of El, a local tribal god of a small Hebrew tribe from centuries past. Other commandments are either too weak, too strong, or too vague. [My] Ten Rational Commandments is the first 'serious' attempt in thousands of years to update this primitive guide for human conduct."

She rewords some of the original Ten Commandments, and adds some others, like:
bullet "Thou shalt respect the right of others to have opinions, ideas, and thoughts that are at odds with your own."

bullet "Thou shalt keep thy beliefs private, not seeking to convert others, or force thy beliefs on any other, including your own children." 3

bullet Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede: "A'in it harm no one, do what thou wilt." That is, one is free to do whatever one wishes, as long as it does not harm anyone, including themselves. Most believe in the Three-fold Law -- that any evil or good one does towards others will return with three times the intensity to the initiator. These two taken together make it unlikely that a Wiccan will be tempted to hurt or manipulate others.

bullet The United Communities of Spirit is a global interfaith network, "linking people of diverse faiths and beliefs who want to work with others to build a better world." They produced an initial sketch of principles which will be shaped and refined in the future through dialogue. Their "Philosophy of Network Community" discusses aspects of inclusivity, diversity, dialogue, cooperation and team-building, trust, unity-in-diversity, ethic of reciprocity, individual freedom, democracy, science, healing and forgiveness, personal responsibility, objective interpretation, wisdom and virtue. Although intended for group work, most of it is applicable to personal use. 4

bullet Interfaith Voices for Peace and Justice have a page of statements which describe members' "Philosophy of Interfaith Relations". Although intended to guide people in ecumenical and inter-faith activities, many of the statements apply equally well to personal activities. 5

bullet Ayn Rand, in her book "Atlas Shrugged" wrote:

"If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments." 6

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  1. Ellery Schempp, "The Democratic Way," The First Parish in Bedford, Unitarian Universalist, 2004-FEB-01, at:
  2. "Hello Dalai," Rumor Has it, at:
  3. L.D. Lansberry, "Ten rational commandments," at: 
  4. United Communities of Spirit at:
  5. Interfaith Voices for Peace and Justice at:
  6. Harry Binswanger, "The Ten Commandments vs. America," Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, 2005-MAR-02, at: 
  7. "The Ten Indian Commandments," at:

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Copyright 2000 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAR-6
Latest update: 2014-AUG-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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