Adam and Eve had everything in the Garden of Eden, didn’t they? Well, almost everything. They didn’t know the difference between good and evil, but we are told that Eve and the snake changed all that. God had given Adam and Eve only one rule: Do not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. For a while, Adam and Eve found it easy to honor this rule, for there was much to discover in the beautiful garden and each other.
But eventually temptation came in the form of a snake who suggested they break God’s rule. Eve must have resisted at first, but gradually she began to question God and wonder about the forbidden fruit. How does it taste? she must have asked herself. Why shouldn’t we eat it? “C’mon, Eve. Just one bite,” we can imagine the tiny voice in her mind saying. And so the first rule was broken and Adam and Eve were forced to leave the beautiful walled garden and lose their blissful, childlike innocence forever.
The sacred stories from every religion represent psycho-spiritual truths. This one is about the birth of human consciousness, and it is as relevant today as it was to our earliest ancestors. Like Adam and Eve, during our youth most of us focus on the rules and expectations of our outer, omnipotent gods: religious, familial or otherwise. Responding appropriately to the collective awareness of our time is normal and desirable, not just because we need the support and protection of our groups to survive, but also because we need their approval to validate our worth.
But when it comes to our inner lives, as long as we do not challenge the standards of our gods we live mostly in a state of foggy unknowing, never suspecting that the rules we feel compelled to keep might not be in the best interest of ourselves or others. We might be vehement in our support of them, but at bottom, it is not their rightness that makes keeping them so appealing, but the sense of security they provide. The illusion of safety protects us from the confusion, terror, and loneliness of following our own mysterious inner impulses.
The miracle of life is about growth and change, and human life is no exception. Whether we like it or not, the very fact of being alive compels us to evolve beyond outdated and incomplete forms. Eve is a symbol of this sacred energy which shows up in a powerful need to honor formerly forbidden behaviors or thoughts and questions deemed “heretical” by our groups. Like her, every ego resists this urge because breaking from conformity involves great suffering and risk. But if we take enough little risks along the way, we can grow strong and conscious enough to listen to our inner voice and tolerate the tension of making conscious choices.
An ego with this kind of strength will eventually challenge repressive rules and wander alone on a dark wilderness path with only its unknown self for company. Eve’s inner opposite is symbolized by Adam, her undeveloped masculine side. Working together, our inner partners will follow a path defined not by conforming or rebelling, but by cooperating to fulfill our unique purpose in creative new ways that benefit all.
If God is Love and Life, then God/Love/Life wants us to become conscious of our potential for good and evil so we can grow out of blind ignorance and slavery into moral responsibility. As for me, I think Eve was the first Warrior and I’m glad she took that bite!
I too have suffered from despair since childhood. It began at the age of 11 when my father died. To this day there are many occasions in my daily life when I cannot get excited about something because I know it will not last and my pleasure will not last and I will die and nobody will care and nothing I have done will make any difference, and so what?