“There are two great systems in the body of man: the tree of life, which is the arterial with its roots in the heart; and, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, i.e. the nervous system, which has its roots in the brain.” – Manly P. Hall, “How to Understand Your Bible: A Philosopher’s Interpretation of Obscure and Puzzling Passages.”
To be clear, I do not exclusively follow any particular religion. My belief aligns with that of Mr. Hall – “there is but one religion and one truth, and all the great faiths of the world are parts or fragments of the Ancient Wisdom.” Here however, I will examine and proffer a couple of theories pertaining to the allegorical Garden of Eden story, according to Hall’s interpretation. Linking the trees in the Garden to biological systems in the human body seems a very logical assertion. It has also been said that Adam may have represented the conscious mind, and Eve the subconscious. Understanding that there weren’t any scientific terms concerning psychology or biological structures such as we have today explains the use of symbolism in the Eden myth, that and to purposely veil it’s true contents from those who would look no further than the surface.
Some important things to note beforehand; the bible has been translated and revised numerous times. This permits the possibility of important factors being moved around or even changed entirely, either due to accidental ignorance or purposeful deluding. One such example is a theory that the serpent in the garden was actually a force for good, with some believing that the god of the old testament was in fact the devil. Was the story possibly changed for some reason or another? It is important to seek earnestly for answers and to take everything into consideration while doing so – to analyze and question everything until the truth comes more and more into focus.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the human nervous system, one only needs to look at an anatomical diagram to see the resemblance between the two. The five senses of the body function to interpret information, to discern duality (good and evil, this and that). What is seen is varying degrees of dark and bright, what’s heard is a measure between loud and silent, and so on. So what kind of fruit does this tree bear, if its roots are in the brain? Thoughts. All that is determined by the nervous structure is summated into thought within the mind. Upon eating the fruit of the discernment of dualities, Eve and Adam knew the difference between naked and clothed. Whereas there was just life before, now they knew its opposite; death.
Thinking thoughts is eating the fruit which is forbidden in the eyes of the old testament’s God. If we think, we are supposedly cut off from the tree of life – the system with its roots in the heart, whose fruit is pure experience without judgement or discernment. Two suppositions arise from this analysis: was the Eden story an elaborate form of brainwashing, or does it contain a genuine truth beneath its surface? Those who study psychology know the power of symbolism and its effects on the subconscious. There have been many translators throughout the course of the bible; maybe a certain group realized the power that religion had over the masses and used it to their advantage. The God of Genesis could have symbolized those in ruling at the time, who proclaimed that eating the forbidden fruit (thinking) would result in death and should be avoided. To blindly follow the words of “god” and obey without thought or question.
The other theory is that the Edenic story does in fact contain a profound secret concerning human nature. When one thinks in immoderation, the conscious mind overtakes the subconscious. Whilst stuck in thought, the awareness becomes limited – with consciousness moving into the realm of over-analysis and away from pure experience. The fruit of the tree of life becomes secluded, and soon the tree itself withers away leaving one thinking still yet, “Where did life go?”. It is no wonder so many turn to meditation, a practice that strives to tame the conscious mind and reconnect with the subconscious.
Upon contemplating the Garden of Eden story, one must look at these things as riddles or puzzles. In order to better understand the message beneath – whether it be a sincere truth or a fabricated lie – the pieces must be logical and the placement with careful consideration. All sides must be taken into account if the most accurate perspective is to be granted. Only through questioning can the answer become more clear, and sometimes perhaps the cessation of thinking and a balance of the mind is the answer.
Artwork By William Blake