The Tree of Life and the Divine Restoration: Part IV
by A. C. George
Let us now explore the esoteric implications of the Garden of Eden (Gan Eden) story in relation to Cabalistic philosophy, and specifically regarding the extended symbol system known as the “Tree of Life”. This symbolic mapping incorporates the biblical story of expulsion from paradise. The direct cause of expulsion was the ingestion of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (ToK) of Tov and Raa, two Hebrew words that have most always been translated to respectively mean “good” and “evil”. The act of ingesting the fruit has been associated with “sin” and “fall” (from grace), two concepts alluding to alienation from an inherent state of divine proximity if not communion.
The concept of knowledge in the biblical and QBLH context, on the other hand, is about intimacy of experience with ramifications of existential metamorphosis. The consequence would be to stimulate evolution and existential maturation. The premise here is that the stimulus itself is not just that which is termed “good” in opposition to that which is termed “evil”, but a relationship between complementary evolutionary strategies.
Let us look at the semantic pair in mention in its original context: Tov (Tayt, Vav, Bayt- transliterated TVB) and Raa (Resh, Ayin- trasnsliterated RO). In terms of the meanings of its constituent letters Tov refers to a structure that fertilizes one’s house or presence. It is a natural state, in other words. Raa, on the other hand is the vision or way of another or “another vision”. As such, it is the artifice for better or ill. If obedience to divine authority is Tov, then one’s own initiative is Raa.
The interpretation makes sense in terms of the ToL of QBLH because the 3rd and 4th sephiroth are therein termed depths of Tov and Raa respectively. “Depth” in this case can be considered a metaphor for an arcane mystery. We have the mystery of good and the mystery of bad. Or rather the mystery of intrinsic harmony and the mystery of evolutionary challenge and initiative. It is the dramatization of the latter around which the story of the fall revolves.
The garden of delight, full of wonders as it was, did not involve evolutionary challenge nor any sense of initiative where the first humans were concerned. How could it when they could not tell between what was pleasing to them and what was not? That is not to say that the value of the tree of knowledge is the insurgency it inspires against a divine status quo. The value is in making the one imbibing its fruit aware of the meaning of Tov, Raa and the complementary and symbiotic nature of their relationship. What is so bad about that?
Religious interpreters of the story would say it is about humans being disobedient and not about being able to discern between qualities. They site that the first symptom of imbibing the fruit was to experience “modesty” or a sense of shame in being naked before the divine. Today we know that modesty is taught and that one desires to be covered and/or concealed because it makes them feel vulnerable and exposed. This only occurs when exposure is sensed as threatening. Perhaps being exposed to YHVH Elohim was not always a “good” thing, but the first humans did not have the ability to tell when they were not treated lovingly.
Speculation aside, the Torah explains precisely why humans were expelled, and then kept out of the enclosure of their creation. It had nothing to do with defiance. The truth is that the activation of the fruit of knowledge, aside from awakening discernment, is only fulfilled when the fruit of the tree of life is also imbibed afterward. Then, as the “Lord” mused, “They shall be as Elohim”. It is likely that later generations misunderstood the import of the statement. For a mystic the meaning is clear: consuming both fruits in the proper order (knowledge and then life) engenders a profound transformation of existential identity via the power of divine realization. Elohim ends up clarifying to its peers (and the readers of the story) that not only are the wages of consuming the fruit of the ToK the experience of death, but the subsequent redemption of rebirth only comes when tree congress comes full circle: meaning the fruit of the Tree of Life must be consumed forthwith.
Once Eve and Adam consumed the fruit of discernment, however, they were promptly banished to insure that they never even come near the Tree of Life again. Some analysts insinuate and some openly posit that if humans just did what they were told, they would have been freely given the fruits of their destiny in full…when they were ready. The first humans were thus held accountable for disobedience they could not evaluate one way or the other, under the pretext that they didn’t need to evaluate…just do as they were told. What is most problematic, however, with the story is that making a choice based on a convincing argument (the serpent’s in this case) cannot be done without the discernment necessary for arguments to make sense in the first place.
The sloppiness of this story lends one to come to conclusions about it that can dovetail in to more than one conspiracy theory about archons and aliens. Whether these have merit or not is beyond the scope of this exposition. We do not have to resort to such rationalizations, however, nor do we need to whitewash the inconsistencies with artful commentary and blind faith. We can choose to open to the understanding that many tales holding arcane wisdom utilize paradox so that their meanings cannot be extracted with day to day reasoning. Sometimes the tale is so focused on making a point that it ignores the context that is supposed to give it coherence and consistency.
In this particular story, we know there are two trees. And we know that to become as Elohim we must consume both their fruit, in the proper order. We know that we are no stranger as humanity to either of these trees, since the first humans ate of their fruit- albeit not in the proper order. The story appears to emphasize the nature of these fruits, and that when one is eaten the other is forbidden so the caterpillar human does not awaken as the butterfly Elohim equivalent.
Discernment is superficially qualified as evaluating between good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant, harmony and dissonance etc. Analyzing the words as letter strings, however, we can see how the first represents a natural and healthy state, whereas the second touted as bad actually refers to acting and thinking outside the status quo of natural harmony. This is, in fact, what humans tend to do and what separates them from the proverbial “beasts in the field”.
If humans are aware where they veer away from instinct and natural “default” instinctive inclination they can act with deliberation. Such discernment and the ability to act artfully (with artifice) is apparently necessary if the tree of life is to lead one to an Elohim-like condition.
Here is another hint: The serpent is one being connected to the story. It is cast in the bad guy role even though it facilitated consumption of the fruit that gave humanity the initiative to cultivate discernment. The other being associated with the story is cast in the good guy role, even though it is hostile to humans. This is the Kerub guarding the East Gate of Eden. One must pass this Kerub and its revolving fiery sword to access the tree of life. Perhaps this too is a mystic allusion. If so, what mysteries does it conceal or even imply?
Human experience is practically defined by the consequences of eating the first fruit, for humans not only discern between what is natural and what is artificial and dysfunctional, but have become enslaved to the latter. Yet human destiny is incomplete without the fruit of the other tree, the one that used to be permitted before the eyes of the first humans were open. This Tree of Life, is described in QBLH as an existential map.
Perhaps it is indeed an allegory of the primordial human frame itself- both cosmic and microcosmic. If so, it is the embodiment of that being which chose to veer from the dictates of its Creator in the first place even before it could tell what that meant: you, me and everyone human. At some point there will be a fifth installment. This topic is by no means exhausted, and I have yet to touch up the “divine restoration” part as I originally intended. In any case, there is more to come…(at some point).