The Mystical Teachings of Christianity
By Jim Lewis
The Fall of Man
“Why am I here on planet earth in the condition I am in?” “Why is there so much suffering if God is good and loving?” “If God is just and this is a just universe, then why is there so much injustice in the world?” Why are some born healthy and some sick; some rich and some poor?”
We have sought answers to these questions for centuries. Philosophers have speculated about them. Some of these philosophers and teachers have known the answers and have tried to communicate them to us, but we have missed the point. For almost three thousand years we have had an answer in the story of the Fall of Man which is in our Bible. The story has been misinterpreted, however, so that we have not realized it contained the answer.
I suppose we have all asked ourselves the question, “Why, if we are created by God in His image and likeness, do we suffer so much and why are we so limited? Were we at one time living in a state of immortality?” The story of the Fall of Man helps us to understand why we are here on planet earth in the condition in which we find ourselves.
In the story we are told that one day Eve was in the Garden, enjoying all the privileges given to her and Adam by God. They had been told that they could eat of all the fruit of the garden except the fruit from the tree in the midst of the garden. This tree has been designated as the tree of life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve was by herself on this occasion. As she stood in the garden she was approached by a serpent that came walking into the garden and began talking with Eve. The serpent asked her why she didn’t eat from the forbidden tree. Eve explained that God had forbidden it, telling her that if she ate of that tree she would die. The serpent said that wasn’t true; God had told her that because He knew that if she and Adam ate the fruit they would become like God, knowing good and evil, and that they would not die. The serpent told Eve of the so-called benefits of eating the fruit, and the more she looked at it and thought about it, the more desirable the fruit became to her. Finally she ate the fruit, and took some to her husband, persuading him to eat it also.
Contrary to what they thought, instead of experiencing greater wisdom and happiness, they experienced feelings of guilt, shame, and fear. They realized they had done something wrong. They realized they were naked and used leaves to try and cover themselves. They tried to hide from God amongst the other trees. Although they did not die instantly, the process of degeneration no doubt began. As a result of their disobedience they were put out of the Garden and were told that from that moment on, it would become difficult and painful for women to give birth to children and that men would find it hard and difficult to till the soil and make it productive.
The basic theology of the Christian church is built around this story. This is supposed to be the origin of sin, the original sin into which every soul is born. As a result of this sin we are out of favor with God and liable to hell forever if we are not redeemed. Some have felt the sin by Adam and Eve was related to sex since they afterwards realized their nakedness and felt guilty and shameful. It is rather odd that the church has regarded sex as a sin. God therefore had to induce man and woman to sin in order to provide an opportunity for Him to create a new soul. Of course this is only another ease of the illogical thinking of many past religious teachers.
The story of Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man is an allegory. They are not individuals, especially not the first two. The Bible tells us very plainly that God created all of us at the same time and that He finished His creation. The word “creation” is a figure of speech, a word used by the intellect to try and grasp the beginning of life; in truth, there was no beginning. You and I and all people have always existed.
It has been thought by some that the forbidden fruit was an apple. This probably comes from Latin Christianity. The word for bad or evil in Latin is “malus” and the word for apple is “malum”.
The story implies that mankind was living in a state of immortality. We were happy and had unlimited possibilities for growing. The desire for wisdom implies that we did not consciously know all that we wanted to know but we were told not to seek the answers in the world of appearances, the forbidden fruit. However, since we were created in God’s image and likeness we had unlimited freedom to do as we pleased, but we had to take the consequences of our choices.
It is true that there are individuals now living in a state of immortality. Jesus is only one of many. There are more individuals living on his plane of consciousness than are here on planet earth or have ever been on earth. Most of these individuals have never known and have never experienced the limitations of consciousness in which we find ourselves.
The story depicts only what has happened to those who are here, those who have used the power of free choice unwisely. Adam and Eve are not separate people, they are the mental-emotional, the reason and feeling of every person, whether male or female. The serpent is not a snake. The Hebrew word used in this story has also been interpreted to mean hippopotamus, crocodile, and other animals. It also has a more abstract meaning to describe man’s effort to acquire knowledge by experience. It is this more mystical meaning that is pertinent here.
All knowledge gained from experience is limited and is very difficult to obtain. Much of the material benefits we seem to enjoy today are of this type, but these things come forth from much difficult effort and they are challenging to maintain. We are discovering this about our energy shortage today. The method of Jesus was much more simple: He spoke the word and everything He needed was provided instantly, even money to pay His taxes.
In the story we have the “voice of experience” or “sensation” telling us, Eve, of the benefits to be gained if we will go the route of sensation and experience. Some people actually believe this negative philosophy today. They think that one must experience pain and suffering in order to know and appreciate health, happiness, and joy. We do not have to experience evil in order to know and enjoy the good things of life. The serpent promised independence from God. Some are trying to live or I might say “exist” independently from God. Instead of listening to Him and following His guidance they follow their own personal inclinations which are usually based upon sensory experience. Some even go so far as to think they will become wise simply by studying the knowledge of things. And have we not all thought that the more experiences of sensation we have the happier we will be?
Experience has an insatiable appetite; it is never quenched. Once indulgence begins, it brings about degeneration and limitation and dependence. We are told the serpent is very subtle and so is sensory experience. It promises so much and delivers so little. The more it is indulged in, the more we forget the importance of inner values.
You no doubt have noticed that we are first enticed to indulge through our feeling nature, Eve. We observe the world of appearances and our inclination to experience is quickened. We feel that if we only had a certain object, person, money, or something else that we would be healed, prospered, or guaranteed success. We then go to our intellect and give him a bill of goods based on this immature feeling and he gives the OK to indulge. The consequences are often quite disastrous; we have much evidence of it in the lives of individuals today. How many times have we said to ourselves, after we have become involved in an undesirable situation, “I knew I should not have done this.” Why didn’t we listen to this inner voice? Because the serpent, sensation, promised so much we couldn’t resist.
It is not only the negative things that we know we shouldn’t do or indulge in or consume that bring about limitation and unfulfillment. There are many who think that if they only eat the right foods, perform the right exercises, and practice relaxation and meditation that they will be happy, healthy, prosperous, and immortal. They think of immortality as living forever in a state of bliss, even though they are out of their body.
The Bible tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Although it is good and beneficial to a degree to eat the right foods, to perform daily exercises, and to relax and meditate, there is more to the spiritual life than these things. I recently heard a well-known commentator on TV make the statement that he enjoyed meditation and that it helped him, but he was not interested in the universal consciousness. By this he meant he was only interested in gaining the physical benefits and possibly the peace of mind and tranquility that came from practicing a time of quiet meditation each day.
When we do not heed and follow the instructions of the inner voice of God and instead follow the false promises of the voice of sensation and experience, the results will always be negative. This is true even when they at first seem to be enjoyable and beneficial.
As a result of disobedience to the inner voice we feel separated from God even though we do not actually become separated from Him. This leads to guilt feelings, for we know we have done something that was not for our highest and best good. We also experience fear, for we know we are inadequate to meet the challenges of life on our own.
Eve was told that she would experience increased pain and difficulty in bearing children. Adam was told that he would find it hard and difficult to till the soil and would only bring forth food through the sweat of his brow. Once the feeling nature and subconsciousness have been given over to sensation and experience it is painful to give birth to true ideas. Sensation and experience would tell us that we are separated from God and we find it rather painful to believe that He is with us even in the negative condition in which we might find ourselves. It is painful to give birth to faith and belief when one is experiencing illness. It is painful to give birth to confidence when one is confronted with a frightening experience.
Adam, the intellect, also finds it hard and difficult to deal with truth on the intellectual level. Just read some of the many philosophical concepts of Kant, Jung, Spinoza, Hume, and others. Much of the international conflict that we know today is due to the difficulty of trying to understand each other’s philosophy. The intellect tries to understand truth, which is one, by thinking in terms of duality. It wants to understand how things began when there was no beginning. Truth is hard to comprehend in a mind of duality, one that thinks in terms of good and evil. Some labor under the philosophy that says, “If I know what is wrong then I will know what is right.” We know what is wrong with a lot of things and yet we do not know what is right. In their need for healing, some seek what is wrong instead of realizing what is right, realizing the life force and energy within them can heal and renew them.
Adam and Eve were told that in the day they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would surely die. God did not cause death: it is the result of disobedience to the laws and principles that would give immortality. There are many people today who actually think that God causes death. You no doubt have heard someone say about the transition of another, “God has taken him home.” It is very hard and very difficult for us to think or feel that we have anything to do with death. Didn’t Adam say to God, “Eve made me do it.” And Eve said, “The serpent made me do it.” It is a human tendency to want to blame someone or some thing for our state of limitation instead of accepting the truth that we are responsible.
God is the Author of life. If we would listen to the inner voice, He would teach us how to live forever. God never kills babies and he never kills adults. We must cease using Bible passages that we do not understand to verify our negative beliefs.
If we are to rise out of this false state of consciousness, this consciousness of lack, limitation, sickness, poverty, and injustice, then we must not blame anyone, not even ourselves. All we need to do is to turn to God with an open mind. We must be willing to let go of our negative religious beliefs and interpretations of those beliefs. We must be willing to let go of our negative human beliefs and prejudices and be prepared for a rebuilding of consciousness. We cannot live happy, successful lives independently of God. Reliance upon sensory stimulation for happiness, joy, wisdom, security or any other good only leads us further into a feeling of separation and the accumulation of feelings of guilt and fear.
Jesus said, “Of mine own self I can do nothing.” He relied totally upon God, the Father within Him and He was a happy and successful individual. God is Principle. Obedience to Principle, the following of our intuitive guidance, leads to freedom.
So, there is such a thing as “original sin”, but not as the church has taught it. We are here on planet earth in the state we find ourselves, not because God plays favorites or because He hates us, but because we have used our freedom of choice unwisely somewhere and sometime in the past. This is not our first adventure on earth. Some of us have been here many times.
Sin is simply a mistake in judgment that leads to a mistake in action that leads to undesirable and often unpleasant consequences. Every individual comes into this life experience with a consciousness that needs to be raised or saved; it is this consciousness that determines our experiences. If we do not like what we are experiencing, we can, with God’s help, improve or transform our consciousness and bring forth better conditions and experiences. As we improve the quality of our consciousness, God can work through us to do greater and better things, not only for us, but for others also. Paul suggested that we do this when he said, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what is the good, the acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
We transform consciousness through daily study, prayer, and the effort to apply the truth we learn in our lives. The more we listen for the “still small voice” within us and follow its leading, the more we will stay on the path and we will be guided in ways of peace, health, and plenty.
© 1981, Dr. James C. Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.