Religion, Spirituality, The Inner World, The unconscious, Ways of Being

Forbidden fruit

One of my former students emailed recently telling me that his young son had asked “Daddy. What would have happened if Adam hadn’t eaten the apple?” I’m still waiting to hear what my student said but it has been nagging at me all day. The classic story is Garden of Eden; Forbidden Fruit; Fall; Exile; Christmas; Easter; Second Coming. That’s the standard Nine Lessons and Carols version.Several things intrigue me here. What was the tree’s purpose? Presumably God didn’t need it-being all-knowing etc. Adam and Eve didn’t need it because they had no idea of Good and Evil-yet. And the Genesis  version speaks of two trees. The tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So in this version Life is not directly connected with Knowledge. How, then, were Adam and Eve supposed to live? Can one live without knowledge? What would an unknowing person look like? And of what value might their choices be? If I never hate, what value does my love have? If I can only do “Right” how do I know the Right from the wrong? Or, more importantly, how I know my Right from my Wrong? I think it is wrong to behead someone. I think Rape is wrong. I think these things because I have a particular moral code drawn from all manner of sources, not the least of which is my awareness of my shadow side.

I wonder what God was thinking all this time? (If He knew? Jung’s book on Job has an interesting take on this question. He suggests that Satan represented all the bits of God that He couldn’t manage. So his banishment was inevitable. God had to do something with His own Shadow. The book is “Answer to Job”. It makes fascinating reading.) Was God being a good parent and protecting Adam and Eve from too much pressure in the same way that we worry about what children might be accessing on the Web? Or was He being very controlling, choosing to keep all knowledge to himself for fear that He be dethroned? (Rather like any despot throughout history who has to keep knowledge and power in their own hands?)

As a counsellor I am aware of the fantasy that I have all Knowledge. That I have a magic wand which, if I used it, would instantly heal my patient. I have no such wand-thankfully. I have to walk the path with my patient trying to shed some light en route. What Knowledge I have I share-although I do it judiciously. As Eliot observed “Humankind cannot bear over much reality.” Which is not to say that humankind cannot bear any reality…




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