Trees and Towers
Doing some preliminary reading and studying of Genesis for EFM (Education for Ministry) got me thinking. A good thing, I'm guessing, seeing as how this course is designed to get you thinking outside the box, or at least thinking within a new box? I don't know, anyhow....
So reading about Adam and Eve, one of my least favourite stories - no where near as pleasant and dreamy as the 1st creation story - and getting that same old irritation about the woman bringing eternal damnation upon mankind etc etc. Then reading further, I came across another favourite, the story of the Tower of Babel. Here were a bunch of people, building a huge tower up to heaven. The things people could do when they worked together were amazing.
In both cases, God was a bit miffed. He kicked Adam and Even out of the garden, and as for the tower project, he scattered everyone in different directions by bestowing upon them the gift of many different languages.
Then it occurred to me... I'm a bit slow.
Now, keep in mind I am NOT a literalist. Myth and metaphor about sums it up for me. But I am fascinated by it. I was thinking about the writings in Gospel of Thomas. One thing often stressed in Gospel of Thomas are sayings that refer to recognizing the world as a carcass. By 'world' we can substitute 'System'. For after all, it also says the Kingdom of God is at hand, it is inside of us an spread upon the earth. Earth being a different term that world.
So, I see it like this, similar to 'hubris' the greek word for what was, at one point the WORST sin. Over indulgence, delusions of grandeur, narcissism... The tree of Knowledge is not just of 'wisdom' but was a Knowing of Everything. Maybe a wee bit too potent for these newly made peeps Adam and Eve. Were they to eat from it, they would suddenly have longings, cravings, embarassment... their own personal wordly needs would grow and surpass our relationship to God, our higher selves. But-they ate from the tree. Their contentment to tend the Garden, live and love would be no more. They had tasted the 'Knowledge' , the Everything, and would now have comparison. They would never feel fulfilled. And on that note, they BEST be kicked out of the Garden, because to have that knowledge, and those sufferings, and then eat from a tree that would make you live forever, would be tragic! They had already defied one rule, so chances were, the Tree of Life would be next on their list.
The Tree of Knowledge brought them perpetual hunger. It's like being told. Maybe the snake told Eve to eat the fruit because the snake wanted some company outside of the Garden. Who knows.
Secondly then. Tower of Babel. Similar really. Except now you have a bunch of people, building up this tower, and building up their Egos. 'Look what we've done!' How marvelous, how wonderful. They want to reach up to the heavens, and rather than become Godlike in person, in thought and deed, they are operating with a bit of a power-hungry agenda. God put a stop to that. Scattered them about by introducing different languages so that people could not just come together and build such things, or work together like that.
These lessons though are very pertinent today.
If we have the extra cable channels, then we want the bigger TV, and with the bigger TV comes more channels and DVDs and less time spent on our spirit, and MORE time spent being distracted by the carcass of the System. It's all about MORE, BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER.... and in the meantime, we allow ourselves to become pulled away and eventually unplugged, from our source. We all get together and join causes and take our ideas to other places andplace those ideas onto other societies and we get so caught up in the politics of it all, we often forget the core thing... It's all about God. Not God the bearded man in the sky, but God the Divine, higher aspect of ourself, or God the everywhere present existence within all things, or WHATEVER it is that God is to a person. (It's a pretty individual thing)
Sure, the stories are a bit more harsh, but thinking about the audience that they were written for, a few thousand years ago, a demanding fierce God represented a stern but loving parent. One that would punish the child out of love and desire to set him or her on the correct path. Times change and as we learn things about human nature etc., Nowadays spanking at all is highly discouraged and frowned upon. But back in these days, these stories formed important lessons. They were instructions.
Buddhist teachers write and talk alot about mindfulness. Monks and Nuns , when they give up all their possessions and profess a new way of life, are casting aside the Carcass. But when we see something bright, and beckoning, and desirable, something that makes us want IT more than anything else, it is usually something that just feeds into our addiction to this materialistic realm.
Taking a walk on a beautiful sunny October morning, with the dry leaves rattling a melody in the trees, damp cooling earth filling the still warm air with the smell of fading summer, we can feel it. Looking into the eyes of our laughing child while holding hands and examining a lady bug, hugging Grandma, who is frail and delicate but filled with love for us... we ARE in the garden. Now we just have to be smart enough to ignore that beckoning tree. Perhaps then, we will be worthy of the Tree of Life.