METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Fall semester 1975 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on September 19, 1975
Gen. 4:3-16, pp. 50-58 of transcript.
Cain and Abel
A lot of people think that evolution and progress is as simple as a straight line moving forward into constant ascendancy. That’s the way we’d like it, wouldn’t we? We’d love it if our progress, our evolution, if our growth and unfoldment was a straight line pointing forward and upward; but it isn’t. There are many variations, there are twistings and turnings, there are wheels within wheels; in other words, there are cycles that occur within this overall way of progress, and because this cyclic movement is typical of man’s evolution, this can bring him some perplexity or even alarm in certain respects. This is, my growth, my progress, my evolution, my unfoldment is not going to be as simple as this to understand. It’s going to be that in its overall direction and movement, but within it, are constantly occurring themes and variations, many of which are cyclic.
Now, if it’s cyclic, it means that the wheel, the cycle of that particular phase of evolution has to return to where we once were, and if we realize this, we’re liable to get very discouraged and very disappointed and find ourselves feeling guilty. You say, “Oh, I thought I had that made, "or" I thought I had that taken care of,” or “You teach in Unity that once a lesson is really learned, one doesn’t need to repeat it. Here I am going through this same boodle again.” This is the reason why Jesus so often says, “Fear not, be not anxious.” You know, don’t fly off the handle before you understand the whole picture.
If it seems to you that you’re right back where you started, you’re not, really. You’re back at the starting point of a cycle which resembles former cycles, but it’s not the same plane anymore. You might have to repeat an experience, which in many ways resembles a prior experience, but it won’t be exactly the same. This is true all the way through, even things like recurring illnesses, recurring symptoms of illnesses.
A lot of people who have a condition that recurs, that persists, think erroneously it’s the same thing; it’s not. It may be the same in certain respects, certain things that produce it have not been cleared up yet, so there may be many points of resemblance, but it’s not exactly the same. If you’re healed of a condition, you’re healed, that’s the healing. If it comes back, that’s a new healing but not exactly the same as the old one.
Do you remember, in our book, Jesus Christ Heals. Mr. Fillmore says, “Metaphysicians all agree, no two cases are exactly alike, and no present experience that you may he going through is exactly like any former experience. It may he only a day between, but it can’t be exactly the same.” So, remember even though cycles within the whole pathway of your evolution may seem to bring you back to where you once were, it’s not exactly the same; you’re on a higher plane somehow, to some degree.
Why did I bring that up? Because you’ll see that as we go through, especially the Old Testament, and we’re talking about, every page, every word is talking about man. Many of these symbolic characters are going to accomplish, achieve something, which would indicate then, in Bible symbolism, that particular aspect of you which has fulfilled itself, has done what’s required of him. And then further on, we’ll find the whole thing being repeated with slight alteration. You might he thinking, “Oh, here I thought we were done with that.” Here we are back to the same theme again — and this is supposed to he the pattern of an evolving person, but we’ve already handled that. Why does another character take us through the very same kind of lesson? Well, there’ll be some differences, there may he some similarities, but there’ll be some differences.
So don’t get impatient with what looks like contradictions or inconsistencies in these presentations, because it’s like a plant, the flowers, blossoms may resemble each other but there’s something different. They’re either turned in a different direction or there’s a variation in coloring somehow, there’s always something different.
We’re dealing with the first two sons of Adam and Eve, who are Cain and Abel. This is in the Fourth Chapter.
“And in the process of time, it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the first things of his flock and the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering, but unto Cain and his offering He had not respect, and Cain was robbed, and his countenance fell. And the Lord God said unto Cain, ‘Why are thou robbed, and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not he accepted? If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.’”
There is the first mention in the Bible of THAT word, sin. Verse 7, Chapter 4. It was a long time ago that that word was used. “Sin lieth at the door.” Notice something about this verse. We really aren’t told anything, except it happened. That’s all, and no explanation, no details are given, only this, “And Cain saw Abel, his brother. And it came to pass when they were in the fields that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him.” That’s all. We don’t know what happened, how it was done, why it was done, what provoked it, we are just told it happened. Cain slew Abel.
“And the Lord God said unto Cain (there was God, right on the spot, huh?) ‘Where is Abel, thy brother?’ ‘I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And He said, ‘What hast thou, done?’ (A loaded question, wasn’t it?) (The Lord knew exactly what he’d done. And he’s asking, “what hast thou done, etc.” And then He says) “Thou art cursed from the earth—and when thou tillest the ground which shall not yield to you—” “Cain said unto the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth, and from Thy face I shall be hid. And I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth.”’
Now here is another one of the ludicrous incongruities found in the text. “And it shall come to pass that everyone that finds me shall slay me.” How, how many people have we dealt with so far? four, if you’re taking the Bible literally. We have Cain, we have Adam snd Eve, and Abel, and Abel’s been wiped out. So we have just Momma and Poppa left. How imagine this: if only you and your mother and father were the only people on earth, the way the literalists take Genesis, what kind of sense would you be talking? If only your mother and father lived on earth besides you, and if you said to someone called the Lord God, “Everyone that finds me is going to kill me.” How many people could find you? Only your mother and father. And what’s the chance that they’re going to kill you? Very little. And how many times can you kill?
You see, he says, “Everyone that findeth me shall slay me.” So we’ve got two alternatives here. One, either that Genesis is not talking about the beginnings of the beginnings of all beginnings, that he is only zeroing in on a certain section of this planet and talking about these characters as they come up in the narrative, or the other one, which I think is the correct one, this is pure esoteric symbolism, timeless symbolism — that it can be in any sense literalistic history is just impossible.
“So, the Lord God said, ‘Whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken upon him sevenfold, and the Lord set a mark on Cain, thus if any finding him should kill him, and Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod.
Now, in the book, Mysteries of Genesis, whose author was supposed to be Charles Fillmore, but he only wrote the first chapter and parts of the second chapter, and then he kind of oversaw the production of the rest of the book. You’ll find that after the second chapter there is a definite change in the quality of the explanatory remarks.
In this book the story of Cain and Abel, as well as all the other allegories, is dealt with on a level that is deeper than I think is wise to present in our centers and churches. This is my own opinion, and you are free, of course, to do as you will. My feeling is, I love this book quite a bit. I read it, I study it, and I ponder it, and I give thanks for it on my own time; and it has done a lot to condition my consciousness. But that consciousness which I use on a different level with my students, especially in the field. I make my interpretations based on this but not verbatim transference of this because this is so esoteric, so cosmic; but I take the material from that basis and the Metaphysical Bible and try to bring it up to a more humanistic level, not entirely but we must keep some mysticism and occultism and certainly religious devotion in it.
We don’t want to present pure humanistic teaching out of the Bible, because there are books on psychology and case histories for that. So my interpretations, while they may seem to deviate, do not oppose these. They just bring the essential idea to a more communicable level, to a level where most people are more concerned than what you will find in this book. Do I give you the impression in any way that I am downgrading this book? No, it’s a book that I say we should use for our personal, individual self-education, not try to give it in chunks to people; because the average person, let’s face it, does find it a bit unreadable. In other words, this book will do you good only after you already know how to interpret the Bible. Once you know how to, then this book sheds all kinds of wonderful light.
The book deals with Cain and Abel on a very esoteric consciousness, but I bring more into the individual human psychology level, which doesn’t change the basic meaning. I think we started out wherein Abel means breath and vapors. He was described as a keeper of sheep. Sheep always stand for thoughts; fish are ideas. Cain, who means acquisitiveness, possessions drawn unto itself, is described as a tiller of the soil. Metaphysically, these two men represent the first very definite, dominant tendencies that develop in all human beings, resulting from the original parents of our human nature, which are our ability to think and to feel. This is the basis of our human consciousness.
These are your original parents, of all the selves you have ever been. These are your original starting parents, ancestors. Your real ancestors are Adam and Eve, the ability to think and the ability to feel and what you did about that started you into individuality and all the selves of you that you have been, are your ancestors, are your forefathers, and they have all died; and they have produced the self you now are, which will die and will become the self you will be. Then your present self will be the ancestor of your future self, your family tree. And no ancestor-worship permitted in Unity. Let the Chinese and the Jews have that.
So we have this characteristic which everyone shares if they are human beings. We have this concern for doing things in the outer and getting things from the outer. This is the externalized aspect of your motivated self. There in this side of your human nature which is externalized in its interests, in its attention, its motivation, and in its desire. He works at that, tilling the soil, getting things done, collecting the fruits of the earth.
But there is the other side of all of us, which is the internalized side of us, whose interests and efforts are more concerned with our inner life, our inner self, not so much with things, but with sheep, with thoughts and feelings. It is the side of you which wants to cultivate more inner life, your inner life; and since that side of us is more interior, it is nearer to the spiritual. You see, the more interior we go, the nearer we’re getting to the spiritual center. Both of these are legitimate children; they’re brothers, and as long as they tend to their own business and do what’s right, we have a balanced integrated, happy person.
But something occurs which throws a fly in the ointment. We’re told that when the offerings of each of these are brought before the Lord, that the Lord had respect for Abel’s offering and not for Cain’s. Very perceptive psychological insight on the part of the writer. It is not what we do or get or become in outer ways that impresses the Lord of our being; it is what we believe within ourselves, what we do with our own thinking and feeling, what we do with our own inner motivation and desires, the results of our inner work on ourselves is what really counts in the sight of spiritual law. Jesus later takes this up in effect that in an outer way you can learn all kinds of things and make a big impression, but the impression is only made upon yourself or in the sight of other people, but not in the sight of God. Because your Father who sees in secret, and the Father, or the Law, or the Lord of your Being is not interested in what you do or don’t do out here— you’re interested in that and other people are interested in that, but the Law or Lord of your Being is interested in what you and I do to ourselves in here, in what we are, rather than what we do and get.
Now, when a person realizes this, especially the side of the person who is all wrapped up in doing and getting and impressing, when he realizes that he’s not getting from that the satisfaction and the sense of fulfillment, how then would that part of the person quite likely feel about it? He would become frustrated, that part of us becomes frustrated. I’m thinking about one minister in particular who had a terrifically developed Cain, and his whole mission was to go out there and draw the largest crowd of people, and to build one of the most impressive Unity churches in the movement. Exactly that. And when it was done, it wasn’t it. He had a very bad reaction, a very painful reaction after doing and getting. So he did not accomplish the thing he really hoped to get out of it. This often causes a feeling of frustration and an imbalance in the functioning of our inner and outer self.
Now the alternative to this, of course, would be to be very glad that it is the inner, personal, very individual work on the state of me, Ed Rabel, within. What kind of a person am I making myself? How am I functioning primarily in my secret thoughts and feeling within? If I could learn to rejoice that this is the way it is, and this outer stuff has its place, but it’s not first place, then I would rejoice and I would prevent what happens here. But we’re being told about a case where it does happen. The turning of the outer, the more externalized, ambitious and selfish side of us, turning against all the potential of our inner, gentler, more perceptive, more humble and yet much more meaningful side of us, happens again and again in our world. In many ways, different manners in which it happens, but it constantly repeats this sort of thing.
The lesser part of me turns against the better part of me and squelches it. I know I should do this, but this part of me says, do that. I know I should simmer down and forgive, but the Cain part of me is overwrought and so I speak the nasty word of retaliation. At that moment that act has been duplicated in my soul. The more selfish, more impulsive, more ambitious, the more materialistic side of me suppresses or even temporarily can annihilate my better half. You’ve all heard the expression, “You killed my good intentions.” The good intentions are part of the Abel side of me. Modern psychiatry has proved this. Psychoanalysis is full of this, but they keep it strictly upon the mental and emotional level. This goes deeper than that. This is more on the psychic and spiritual level also, although it’s presented in the narrative as a physical level, an act of physical violence, but, that same violence can be duplicated on the mental, emotional, psychic level of us, and is very fancifully described as the Lord’s curse on Cain; but then the curse is cancelled by the mark of protection or divine forgiveness canceling out the original curse. This is all the writer’s beautiful imagination.
In this book, Mysteries of Genesis, (Chapter 3, The Fall of Man -B) Cain is dealt with almost entirely as that side of me which has all this concern about the outer. It affects the body, or the physical organism, which is my manifested vehicle of my concern for the outer life, so the body is included there. Now when we have let this happen, when our more spiritual side is suppressed or inactivated because of the reaction of our more materialistic or selfish side, the state of our existence, then goes to a low. You hit a low in the way you feel and in the state of existence which in the book, Mysteries of Genesis, is called a miserable state. But most people who are miserable, if that could be diagnosed, metaphysically, would be found that somewhere along the line they have recently let their Cain kill their Abel, and they’re suffering a reaction.
In almost every case, you’ve done something that you knew would be better not to have done. Or, you have failed to do something which the better side of you realized should have been done. Cain, again, killed the Abel, overpowered the Abel, and there is this letdown in consciousness which can manifest as the actual state of your life, and in that state a person often in his own language will cry out what Cain cried out, “My conscience is more than I can bear,” or “I can’t take this any longer. I will not put up with this state. This state is not for me.” And so this cry constitutes a call for help. We’ve all gone through this. I don’t like this state I’m in; I don’t belong here, it’s more than I want to put up with. Where’s the help? That was it.
Because right after that, what does Cain receive? He received the help in the form what is called a mark, the mark put on Cain. Now, that mark could mean different things or it could be a combination. It could be the first mention in the Bible of what becomes more and more important as we go along — Divine Forgiveness, the ever-active divine forgiveness, which is given to those who need forgiveness; and who are the only people who need forgiveness? The wrong-doing part, the mistake-making part, that’s the part that gets the mark of forgiveness. The part of you that doesn’t need forgiveness doesn’t get that mark, the Christ. Then this also is a symbol for the reality of something that a lot of Truth students need to take more seriously, the principle of divine protection. For some reason, that aspect of Truth is still lagging in many people’s minds, because of outer appearances, seeming contradictions. Divine protection is just as much of a reality, a principle, as healing, as prosperity, as love. Protection is a spiritual reality, and this is the first symbol used to refer to that particular principle.
Now, the Lord God says that Cain is not to be slain. The outer aspect of your consciousness, and whatever vehicle you’re expressing that external aspect of your consciousness, that is to be preserved. You cannot have an annihilation or a blocking out of your externalized self. You are always going to have that externalized direction of consciousness and a proper vehicle to express that externalized direction of consciousness. At the present time, in our human family, what we call that manifested vehicle for externalized direction of consciousness is physical body, but it is not the body. It is the physical organism part of your body. It is the end of the line of your body. It is the last stage of body consciousness, which is externalized manifestation.
Keep this in mind, folks, people make the mistake of thinking that the externalized manifestation is the whole body, when they say my body, they usually mean only that. Well, that is only one aspect of your body. You have a lot more body than that flesh envelope showing right now — get it? And as you become more spiritually aware, more and more Christ conscious, more of your real body, your true body, your whole body will be able to find it’s way into expression. Right now we are very limited in our body consciousness of expression. It’s the corruptible that we’re manifesting now. I did not say corrupted; I said corruptible, means we have a type of flesh body manifestation to which practically anything can happen, it’s very vulnerable, because it isn’t a real representative of the full potential of the body, but we’re coming to it. Healing is a part of that. That growing and developing of a greater body consciousness. Anyway, that what Mysteries of Genesis deals with.
No part of the real you can ever be destroyed; you are indestructible, the real part of you. The only thing about you and me which can be destroyed, and in many cases should be destroyed, are these; current forms and current states of us, but never us. You and I cannot be destroyed, including your externalized direction of self; that is preserved, protected.
Transcribed by Bill Nelson on 02-12-2015