Throughout my life the majority of my spiritual and mystical training is from the Christian faith. I was raised in a very strict evangelical family that held a literalist interpretation of the Bible. I now come to the belief that literalism, holding the Bible as the ultimate truth of God, is actually the opposite of its intention.
If the Bible is the source of all knowledge and understanding, it then becomes God for us. It takes on a transcendent nature, answering any question that life has to offer. Becoming not just a method to point the way to God, but rather God itself. The Bible then becomes an idol for its readers. Idolatry is anything that is held above the ultimate reality and connection with the Holy Spirit. However, this does not mean that the Bible is innately bad. It can be a valuable tool that can point us in the right direction, as long as we view it as such. It is a tool or method that can promote a greater understanding and experience of that higher reality, the limitless love of God.
Of course there is not formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings ~ Arthur Rubinstein
I was trained and ordained as a Christian minister, so much of my knowledge and understanding about spirituality is from that tradition. I am open to all traditions, and have gained clear insight about God through many other paths as well. However, for the purpose of this article I will be focusing on Biblical texts as a way to understand suffering, pain, and a substantial connection to the Love of God.
Most Westerners know the story, but for those who do not; it is the first part of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. It is side by side with the Hebraic myth of creation. A brief synopsis of the story:
God created everything, created people (man and woman) in the same image as Divinity, created a garden of perfection, and finally created two magic trees within the garden. One of the trees was the tree of life, and brought fullness and completion to their experience of the garden. The other was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned the man and woman that if they ate from this second tree that death would soon follow.
As our story progresses the man and woman were eventually tempted by a snake to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent is an interesting figure, because historically in most metaphysical traditions it is a symbol of rebirth, immortality, transformation, healing, and life. This is not the archetypal picture of the snake that I was taught as a child. In my teachings growing up the snake was the embodiment of enmity with God and spitefully wanted to destroy God’s perfection through the destruction of mankind.
For the purposes of understanding this story through the context of symbolism rather than literalism, I now prefer the symbolism of the snake that represents immortality. For me this makes sense within the context of the story, that the temptation occurred not because some evil entity was present, but because of the everlasting nature of the garden. Since the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was present, eventually the desire to eat from the tree would be made manifest.
The two eventually gave in to the temptation of the snake, and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The most important thing to remember about this tree is that it is not innately evil. I feel like it is often conceptualized as the first “evil”, but it was an event that brought into consciousness duality. The knowledge of two opposing realities within the context of perfection- the Garden of Eden. There was absolutely nothing within man and woman’s experience that could have been in opposition with the innate “goodness” of what was in front of them. It was even declared such by God in previous chapters.
The Garden is a metaphor for the following: our minds, and our thinking in terms of pairs of opposites–man and woman, good and evil–are as holy as that of a god ~ Joseph Campbell
The first experience that took place with the man and woman was the recognition that they were naked. They identified that their own experience was separate from the world around them, and through that identification there was a need to shield themselves from that experience. They wanted to cover themselves up, and they tried desperately to do so on their own, although this ended up being a blunder that caused more pain.
The next event in the story is an encounter with God. God sought them out. When I was taught the literalist interpretation of this story I was told that the “sin” or evil that took place after they ate from the tree separated Eden’s children from Divinity. That God and evil could not coexist. However, this first encounter of God searching for them actually shows the opposite is true. Even though duality had caused them to internalize good and evil, it did not separate them from the eternal love. That love pursued them even after they ate from the tree. This is still happening today. The pursuit of the Divine for the attention of mankind has always persisted and will always persist. I am convinced that this great Love determinedly sought me out, and is seeking you out with tenacity as well. So the symbolic picture of God seeking the two in the garden represents the persistent searching of God to connect with mankind regardless of our state of mind or being.
The Divine’s first course of action was to deal with the snake. Of course for our symbolic understanding the snake represents the eternal nature of our existence. This makes it ever more important for us to understand that God did not destroy the snake, but rather “cursed” it to crawl on the ground, and put antagonism between mankind and the snake. God also said that the sons of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, but the serpent will then strike back and bite his heel.
Since we understand the imagery of the serpent representing immortality, what is happening here is that the immortality of mankind is being put on the ground. It doesn’t go away, and is still expressed in many cultural understandings of life and afterlife. Immortality is still believed, but a full understanding of immortality is lost. This immortality when viewed with the eyes of duality can often lead to tormenting experiences. If there is good and evil within the afterlife, the only logical conclusion is that this duality that we are experiencing must also be eternal. Granted, not all understanding of the afterlife is expressed with dualistic imagery, but it is still a widely held belief by many. This is the nature of the snake. Immortality is present, and often feared.
Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith! Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge! ~ Robert G. Ingersoll
God also said that the sons of the woman would crush the head of the snake, but the snake would respond by biting his heel. This is the rejection of the eternal nature of our existence, but even though the head will be crushed, the snake (immortality) will strike back. This represents our own battle with the nature of our experience and the concept of what immortality could mean for us. Mankind has even constructed systems of belief in the attempts to destroy the immortal nature of our being. This manifests itself in the denial of any kind of afterlife, and also the denial of God. One thing I want to point out is that the denial of God and immortality is not blasphemous. The idea of blasphemy is related to duality, the judgment between what is good and what is evil. I will discuss this in much greater detail later, but the denial of God and immortality is a part of the human evolutionary process. Otherwise it would not be a part of our story.
The next major event is that God then turns to the man and woman and says that they too are now “cursed” to experience pain. Pain in everyday life being symbolized by having to work hard to survive and, also pain in the renewal of life being symbolized in the pain of child bearing. I was taught that this was an act of anger and rage on behalf of God, but I now believe that this is one of the most intrinsic blessings we could have been given. When we view pain in the context of duality the “curse” is a horrific event. If we view this in a literalistic way we begin to see a side of God that is unloving and untrustworthy. However, it is the very nature of our duality that spawns such judgments.
Pain is not an enemy. It is a beloved friend that tells us when there is something that needs to be addressed in our situation. Pain reveals to us an innate need that must be addressed. It is when pain is viewed through the eyes of duality that it becomes suffering. Duality causes us to resist the natural order of things. We want to do good and be good. We want to reject evil and overcome evil within us. Pain is something that we want to avoid. We need to rid ourselves from its grips, because we believe that there is something innately wrong with it. Our duality now creates resistance of the pain, because we want to be “good”, and pain is not good.
Our resistance to pain is represented by the symbolism of nakedness. It is saying that something inside of us is “bad” and that “bad” is innately evil. When we resist pain, because we conceptualize it as evil, we are in essence judging and creating resistance. The result of resistance is suffering, which is represented in this story as the man and woman’s expulsion from the Garden.
You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved ~ Stewart O’Nan
The next step in the Eden story is clothing. To provide for them a method of dealing with their newfound conceptualization of good and evil God, in absolute love, covered them so they would not have to deal with the shame of their “nakedness” all at one time. An insulation was constructed to manage the effects of their “nakedness” that would allow them to exist without the need to isolate completely, and the ego was born- a means of being able to experience the torment of duality and resistance to pain, which is suffering, without being consumed by it.
The ego works in our favor, because it allows us to continue on our path and seek truth. However, the ideal goal here is not ego, it is nakedness. The understanding that what is happening in our experience is not innately good, or innately bad, it just is. The ego provides a temporal means of emotional protection until we are ready to accept reality for what it is without judgment. It keeps us from complete dissociation with what is real, which is psychosis.
Spirit has revealed to me that this story is not a literal event, but the experience of life. It represents the everyday journey we face as well as our evolutionary path. Eden is still readily available to us today. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “The kingdom of heaven is inside of you.” It is the inborn reality of being, and the contentment of non-judgment. This can be found by letting go of our classifications of good and evil so we can simply experience what is, whether it is pain or pleasure. Experiencing pain, so it leads us to a greater understanding of our “beingness,” and pleasure as something that resonates the goodness of God in our being.
Understanding the story this way resonates with my path. It may speak to you, and it may not. My point is not that you adopt my belief system, in fact, I don’t want anyone to just adopt my belief system. Belief is simply a state of mind that assists us into a higher reality. It is inevitable that many of my current beliefs are incorrect. My purpose is to share what I have experienced as a higher reality, a reality that accepts things for what they truly are.
Suffering is always a resistance to something that appears, through our duality, innately bad or good within our experience. The practice I would like you to consider is the complete acceptance of what is going on inside of you and around you without judgment. Tell yourself it is okay. If you are feeling pain, give yourself permission to feel the pain. Allow yourself to ask it why it is there.
In dealing with pain I feel like it is only within the past year that I have truly been able to befriend it. My father passed away in February, and I was able to take care of him during the final six months of his life. Pain associated with this kind of loss is a natural reaction. As I was walking through the pain with Spirit, I learned to ask the pain why it was there.
Immortality is what nature possesses without effort and without anybody’s assistance, and immortality is what the mortals must therefore try to achieve if they want to live up to the world into which they were born, to live up to the things which surround them and to whose company they are admitted for a short while ~ Hannah Arendt
Sometimes I needed to cry, sometimes I needed to be angry, but I never judged what was going on. As I have walked through, and am still walking through this process, I am realizing more and more that pain has not only been tolerable, but that it also has become a beloved friend. It has brought me to a greater understanding of life, and a purer understanding of Spirit.
It is my conviction that the only path to God is through accepting all of what is without judging. Through acceptance comes love. Actually, love is acceptance without judgment, and in my understanding, God is love. God is in everything, the birds, the trees, the walls, the floor, you, and me. The nature of the love of God echoes through all things, even our pain, and always leads us to greater acceptance. This is called faith. When we accept all of what comes into our lives as the nature of God we once again find the tree of life. The ability to experience life fully without judgment, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
This may be a new message for you, and that is okay. Test it. Live for a moment of non-judgment, and you will begin to have a clearer understanding of your pain. To give you another example from my own life, one of my biggest issues was being fat in a thin world. I considered fat evil, and thin good. The resistance that came through that single experience promoted more suffering than could ever be expressed. When I realized that there is nothing innately wrong with being fat, my understanding of life shifted, and I was able to again eat from the tree of life regarding this issue. Sometimes I still eat from that old tree, or similar trees. However, my experience is shifting in such a way that I am now living in Eden, more than I am living in hell. Knowing Spirit is a process, but my exhortation to you is never give up that process.
To conclude I will give you another message from the Bible. In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus says this, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Be patient with yourself, and be persistent. If there wasn’t already some level of persistence there, you would not be reading this. Know and accept this fully. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to come to Eden, it is always there for you, and I will be waiting for you.
| PsychicAccess.com.Cosmic Coach (James) has mastered many techniques in his psychic practice to connect with the unique heart center of each of his clients. He is a Reiki Master of many traditions, who is adept at crystal healing, card readings, and delivering detailed messages from Angels and Guides. A Christian Minister, a teacher and an Energy Guide, living in Michigan, James is always expanding the base of his knowledge to broaden his reach and serve as many clients as possible. To experience a unique reading personally designed for you, you can find Cosmic Coach at |