Posted by: spiritthrive | October 11, 2012

The Knowledge of Good and Evil

One of the bible stories that has fascinated me since childhood is that of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (TKGE).

I recently reread the details of this story, which is found in the first few chapters of Genesis, and it surprised me how much attention is given to it.

Other than the account of creation itself, the story of TKGE has the most emphasis placed on it of any other.

My intention is not to debate the historical accuracy of this text, at best a distracting, tangential argument that serves to “lessen the lessons,” if you will, of the metastory.

Rather, I am fascinated to learn what teaching is conveyed by the TKGE, what wisdom the tradition of its retelling—first orally and then by written word—serves.

Before eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam lived a blissful, worry-free existence with his “helpmate” (she had not yet been given a name).

So free of judgment were the two of them, they didn’t even realize they were naked—that is, the features that separated them were seen but without apology or shame.

According to the account, a serpent persuaded the woman that it was alright to partake of the TKGE, and that, instead of death as God had said, the only repercussion would be “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The serpent’s assurances prevailed and the woman ate the forbidden fruit as did Adam.

Instantly they were ashamed of (they judged) their nakedness and God delivered many sorrowful curses into their lives.

Adam also named his helpmate “Eve”—perhaps he now saw (judged) her as separate.

So what the heck does all this mean?

Adam and Eve eat a simple apple and damn themselves to an earthly hell?

I’m not completely there yet with my truth from this story, but I believe I am gathering clues.

At one time, humans were closer to spirit and didn’t feel the need to assign (judge) values to events.

Events simply “were,” and that was sufficient and they were happy.

Over time (perhaps not as instantaneous as eating a piece of fruit) people learned they could assign a value judgment to events, and began to do so with increasing anxiousness. (See the Chinese farmer’s tale.)

Instead of living in each moment as they created it, humans felt compelled to spend their precious time in judgment of events, themselves and others, which only served to subtract joy from their lives.

Adam and Eve attracted what were termed curses because of their newly developed need for judgment.

Maybe we cannot uneat of the TKGE.

Maybe what we need to do is to learn to live fully in the moment, to withhold judgment perhaps even to the point where we lose the ability to judge, and to be grateful for all that is in our lives precisely because it is neither good nor bad—it simply is.

And thereby realize that is perfectly sufficient for our happiness.

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