All the Good Days in God: Virtues of Eden

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Virtues of Eden

There are a few point of debate in the biblical story of Adam and Eve. God planted the tree of life and tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of Eden. Adam could eat the fruit of any tree in the garden; except, the fruit from the tree of knowledge or he would surely die. Later Adam had to select a helper. Observing all animals and birds he decided a helper should be similar to himself. God made Eve. Eve was not told to avoid eating the fruit and she did. After finding it was not poisonous she gave the fruit of knowledge to Adam. God moved them away from Eden. After many years they died.

Clearly a parable animals and birds already lived on Earth a considerable amount of time and mate within their species to produce offspring. Therefore, a person has to think what lessons does a person learns from the story.

There are several connections between the tree of life and tree of knowledge. Adam was fulfilling a leadership position, giving names and tending to plants and animals. This is a worthwhile learning experience. Perhaps he could not eat from the tree of knowledge until developing a foundation of experience. Many people believe they were meant to partake of the tree, because it was planted in the middle of Eden. It was planned by God in the beginning. Though the serpent was punished God knew Adam would fail; therefore, realized he was deceived and this is supposedly knowledge of good and evil. However, Adam did die and was not deceived. Perhaps the tree of knowledge was planted in the garden so Adam could eat the fruit of knowledge when he was ready, similarly to couples being married.

Acknowledging both potential interpretations of planting the tree, if Adam waited until God said he could eat from the tree, as opposed to being deceived, a person sees how the parable relates to life. When we are young, we want to experiment. We were told by our parents we are not ready to experience life. Testing boundaries we may feel as though parents deceived us when finding nothing awful happened immediately after experimentation. Continuing to question one day foretold repercussions come true. At this time we learn there was no deception, yet it is too late.

We do not need to test the wisdom of the Word of God. Forewarned of the dangers associated to actions we may avoid complications; however, children need to learn from experience. Warnings prepare a person to handle a situation. When situations escalate and a person sees repercussions they learn and leave. Adam did not. Therefore, he was not ready.

As for Eve, people often associate her character as being deceptive and bringing down the human race. She gave Adam the fruit of knowledge. Adam was told not to eat the fruit. Eve was the helper born after Adam was forewarned. Her activity in relation to the story is far greater than simply giving Adam the fruit of knowledge.

With guidelines between leader and follower actions have several consequences. Eve was without obligation to not eat the fruit of knowledge; therefore, Adam failed to lead her properly. His folly resulted in doing something that would kill him. Eve's dismissal of Adam's contract and not understanding implications harmed her. She should not be tempting Adam into danger. They were both punished for folly and exiled.

First we see an enabler, yet when God said consequences would be great both man and woman were responsible for their action. We have to resist people tempting us into doing something inappropriate, because we will suffer the consequences. It is also wrong to promote doing something inappropriate. If a person believes in the Bible and acknowledges idols of God are detestable we should not re-gift the idol to another person. They should grind it to dust and bury it. Perhaps they know it is a harmless statue, because it is not the true image of God. In this way, they do not recognize potential sin when passing it along to another person, yet it is still a false idol and qualifies as sin if the person receiving the statue worships it.

It reminds me of passages in Leviticus addressing civil code about interacting with people of different faiths. There is a similar reference in Genesis: when Jacob had to leave Rachael behind, because she wanted to keep statues of family Gods.

Even when people are practicing faith within a congregation, during the story there was a congregation of two, there is a tendency to become relaxed about the laws in relation to empathy and peer pressure. We tend to trust people close to us. When a person understands something as wrong they are responsible for their own actions; therefore, they have the highest interest to remain virtuous.

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  1. Hello, and thank you for this post.

    Here is another take on the “second tree” in the garden, from the book, The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing.

    In the biblical creation stories, Adam and Eve lived in perfect unity with God and nature. They did not even know they were different from each other. This is how infants are; they do not discriminate between themselves and their mothers or the environment.

    When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil they suddenly began to discriminate. They knew they were different from each other, and were thus cast out of the garden. This is how it is for people as they mature; they sense a difference between themselves and everything else in the world. From this, grasping and aversion arise.

    Now, in this tale, the gods–yes, “gods,” for at this point the biblical God uses the plural “we,” and “us”–even God becomes differentiated with the knowledge of good and evil, this and that, male and female. The gods fear that Adam and Eve may eat from another tree in the garden, the tree of life, and become immortal.

    When people first hear about awakening to the vast, unnamable, fathomless void, it is like becoming aware of the second tree in the Garden of Eden. The unnamable void, like the tree of life, is guarded by two cherubs and a flaming sword. The two cherubs, like all dualities, must be transcended. Ceasing conceptualization cuts away the barrier of duality like a flaming sword.

    Now, what happens when the fruit from the tree of immortal life is consumed? Again, we are back in the garden living in perfect unity with God and nature–but no longer as unconscious infants, but as consciousness itself. Here is the experience of the eye seeing the eye. Awareness is aware of itself.

    This is the meaning of the sages when they say things like “seeing without seeing” and “hearing without hearing” and “speaking without speaking.”
    ~The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing: The Second Ancestor of Zen in the West

    Thanks again.


  2. Yes, that is also an interesting interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve. We must become conscious of our environments.


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