According to the story, Adam and Eve were living in paradise and they were allowed to do anything and eat out of any tree except one, the tree of knowledge. The devil lured them to the tree and told them that god prohibited them from eating it because if they do, they will be like him, knowing everything. Adam and Eve fell for the trick and once they ate the fruit of knowledge they realized that they are naked and felt ashamed. God expelled them, along with the devil, out of paradise. He also condemned everyone born of them to carry the original sin, the sin of eating the fruit of knowledge. Again, most religions take this story literally. I, on the other hand, share the view with the Toltec who see the story as symbolic for where we came from and where we are today.
We can translate the symbols to see heaven and hell as states of mind. The tree of knowledge taught people the difference between “right” and “wrong”; it is the root from which judging arose. Every child is born in heaven; children have no labels for anything. As they learn judgment from their parents and society, everything has to have either “good” or “bad” label. And based on the definition of the label given to anything, they generate the appropriate emotion when dealing with it. With age, grownups have accumulated a lot more labels and they have a readily accessible library of emotions to deal with anything or any situation. If they witness more good than bad, they will be mostly living in heaven. If the opposite is true, they could be living squarely in hell.
There is a state in which adult humans can experience living in heaven totally, and this is the state of falling in love, especially young love when we were innocent and didn’t have layers of judgment to “protect” us from being “hurt”. A girl fall in love with a boy, she is so in love her feet hardly touch the ground. Her eyes sparkling, her smile radiant and everything in the world seems to be wonderful. A jealous friend, or a well-intending mother, whispers something to her that is coming out of their judgment. This common everyday act is exactly what the story has symbolized in the images of a snake giving humans an apple to bite. If she bites, she swallows the seed of the tree of knowledge. The tree would grow inside of her until it eventually drives her out of heaven and into hell where everything and everyone is bleak, gloomy, deceitful and not trustworthy. Welcome to everyday common reality.
For this reason, adults in their mid-years yearn to a love similar to what they have experienced as teenagers; yearn to their first love when they were still engulfed in innocence. This was the closest experience, they remember, to living in heaven. This was paradise claimed before judgment ruined the rest of their lives. This also explains why many middle aged people want to have relationships with younger people.
But as long as we don’t reject the seed of the tree of knowledge from inside us, as long as we don’t shed judgment away, we will live in hell and we will always yearn to a heavenly state which is becoming a distant flicker in our memories.
I see light blog
The image is a courtesy of "Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische"