The Tree of Life and The Divine Restoration: Part I
by A. C. George
Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, (the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil).- Gen.[2:9]
And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Gen.[2.16-17]
Then the LORD God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”. Gen.[3:22]
The above quotes summarize a well-known biblical account. It involves two trees in the Edenic Orchard described therein. These are the Tree of Life (ToL), and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or just plain Tree of Knowledge (ToK). The latter was notorious for bearing fruit that was forbidden due to its lethal properties.
Abrahamic religion often interprets the story to be not about the trees themselves, but about being obedient to divine command. The “bad guy” of the story, the infamous serpent, warns the first woman (Eve), that the LORD has deceived them, and that eating the fruit does not cause death. On the contrary it elevates man to divine status. The serpent in this story, appears to be the literal animal and not some diabolical manifestation, by the way, just as the trees appear to be real trees, pleasing to they eye with tasty fruit.
The serpent, in any case, is proven right- at least in part- when the “LORD God” (aka YHVH Elohim) talks to “His” collective presence to point out that the man has become like one of them, discerning good and evil. Apparently the woman was secondary, but the interesting tidbit is the phrase that follows. It explicitly states humans will live forever if they eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, now that they have already eaten of the other fruit.
Before eating of the fruit that triggered dualistic knowledge- or rather the capacity to discern between the two conditions that are translated into English as “good” and “evil”- ingesting the Tree of Life’s fruit was permitted if not downright encouraged. Somehow the forbidden fruit changed all that.
Since humans now have their eyes opened (remorseful as they may have been they would or could not go back to being blind and innocent), they had to be distanced from the enclosure known as Eden, and the ToL that would have completed the transformation begun with the forbidden fruit.
All this is more or less common knowledge by anyone familiar with Abrahamic religions, which amounts to a substantial portion of humanity at the very least. My focus points to a single premise that begs elaboration in my honest opinion: It is the premise that these two trees are actually facets of the same principle.
Suffice it to say that I take the account to be allegorical regardless of how plainly literal its statements appear to be. I also correlate the account in reference to the esoteric mapping that links the human microcosm with creation’s macrocosm, known as the Tree of Life.
Let us examine these “trees” from the viewpoint that they do actually represent “mysteries”. Their perception as well as their comprehension would thus correlate with a mode of knowing that is not obvious to the worldly human psyche. The latter, after all, is more or less conditioned; intrinsically by instinct and extrinsically via social intercourse and its adaptations of relating to the general environment.
These mysteries are not so much hidden or occulted from view. It is rather that most of us are blinded to them in fundamental ways. Those who lifted their veils of awareness in the far past organized some of their understanding to teach and attempt to expand human potential, even with the danger of the fulfillment of the adage that “power corrupts etc.”. In the traditions of the Old Testament, such teachings were known as “receptions” (my paraphrase of the word QBLH– qabalah).
The Old Testament describes a story that appears quite literal, and yet can also be- and often has been- taken as allegory. It is a tale of two trees. The works of QBLH also express an esoteric map known as the Tree of Life (Etz Chaim). The latter is expressed in many versions, two of which stand out for me because they can be compared with the trees of the aforementioned biblical story.
I will refer to these two trees as a) the tree of perfection and b) the tree of the fall. These maps of intriguing territories of arcane wisdom are obviously not literal trees, but perhaps neither are the trees of Eden (fundamentalist objections notwithstanding). My premise or “what if” statement posits that we can come to some interesting and perhaps enlightening understandings if we view the two mapping styles or “trees” of QBLH philosophy as being the very trees of life and knowledge expounded in the biblical narrative.
There is no need here to describe the trees of QBLH, to draw them out, to speak of their parts and interconnecting patterns. Nor is it within the scope of this work to explain from whence the patterns originated in terms of human authorship or accredited documentation. The focus here is the biblical account. The esoteric maps are a reference to fill in the blanks for those choosing to go beyond the usual interpretations by religious or secular scholars.
Suffice it to say that a premise worth pursuing is that the two trees of QBLH are the same tree with a twist. The tree of perfection is simply the original layout of the form. It describes a healthy tree. The tree of the fall describes the aftermath of the equivalent of a lightning strike that altered the shape of the tree by causing a part of it to “fall” a certain distance from the rest (top portion) of the form.
We are speaking of two different states of the same tree. We may as well be speaking of two very different trees, however, because the proverbial fall generates alterations in the context and correspondences of the mapping that establish a reference to a very different territory of challenges than the healthy tree. How does this set of patterns fit within the context of the two trees of Gan Eden (the Orchard of Delight)?
They relate through our initiative to understand the nuances of the biblical story. They provide a context for the option of taking that story as esoteric allegory, and they connect enough dots to provide a revealing picture that can lead to awakening to the possibilities of divine restoration. Another question: what are we restoring? We are restoring the tree, and in doing so we are restoring ourselves by healing the gaps that keep our divine truth from grounding as the prime reality for us in the most tangible manner.
As already mentioned the ToL in its perfect form can be associated with the ToL at the center of Gan Eden. The fallen or asymmetric tree can be associated with the ToK of said Orchard. That implies that Knowledge or Intercourse (as in carnal knowledge) is that of being “fallen” existentially. Thus existential fragmentation results in the Intercourse that leads to one realizing they are equal to Elohim– gods or God for all practical purposes. Let me just run with this.
Even with the deepest existential connections (the knowledge of intercourse with one’s subject) wisdom is not guaranteed. Although the fall may be a path to divine actualization (god-making or simply revealing what is already there), it is still a path paved with suffering and the misery of fragmentation. It is a path of death.
It makes sense, in other words, that such a path of death would only have meaning if it were subsequently applied to restore life. In that restoration of life the knowledge gained can be, therefore, understood to fertilize the wisdom whose crowning essence is itself an actualization of evolving being. As such it is the power to express and apply the profundity of its experience in all one’s relations. Perhaps we can perceive that as the beginning of true healing.
To be continued…