Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Myth 1

Popular Christianity unfortunately goes little beyond the
naive literalistic interpretation of the Bible. This tends
to shut people off from the true meanings, which are not
about historical events but about spiritual (and
psychological) realities.

Take Genesis 1: the creation story reports that God
created the world and its contents in 6 days; that's hard
for even the most naive to believe-- literally! But it's
fraught with spiritual significance; you have to understand
the language of metaphor (poetry, actually). On the sixth
day, having created everything, God gave a judgment on the
work: it was 'very good'.

This has profound metaphoric significance: it means the
universe is beneficent-- and meaningful. God is telling us
that life is worth living; there are benefits; for eyes
that are open there is glory ("the whole earth is filled
with the glory of God").

God's judgment includes all creatures, and specifically
you and me: we are very good. Once we realize our
goodness, then we may see goodness in even the 'least of
these', our fellow men. (I did!)

We come to the Fall: the Garden, the two trees, the snake.
Was there once a real geographical place where a man and a
woman were tempted by a snake?

Or is the Garden a place in your brain, from which you've
been excluded by your separation from that unitary
consciousness that you enjoyed as a baby when your mother
and the whole world(!) were a part of you. (Some people
believe that you may go back.)

In the myth our two ancestors were banished from
the Garden-- possessed of the knowledge of good and evil
(we might call it a survival mechanism!) The cherubims
and the flaming sword are thought to symbolize God's
intention to keep us out of the Garden.

But Campbell, as well as Fox, Blake, Frye, and in fact
many other people, had other ideas:

Campbell (Thou Art That, p. 51): "the Buddha says,
'don't be afraid; come right through'." The two
guardians (of the Buddist temple) or cherubims (of
the Garden) represent fear and desire:

"The fear is that of death, and the desire is for
more of this world" [like wanting to stay in the
womb?]. "Fear and desire are what keep you out of
the Garden. It's not God who keeps us in exile, but

"What then is the way back into the Garden? One must
overcome fear and desire." [Most people cling to life
because they don't believe there's anything more. I've
noticed that the good Christian finds it much easier
to die.]

George Fox, in Chapter Two of his Autobiography, wrote
"Now I was come up in spirit through the flaming sword,
into the paradise of God."

Blake: "For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby
commanded to leave his guard at tree of life, and when
he does, the whole creation will be consumed, and appear
infinite, and holy whereas it now appears finite &
corrupt." (Lots of other stuff at Plate 14)

(I'm not suggesting that these images should replace a
more conventional picture of the Garden; they are only
offered as metaphors that may or may not speak to your


I_Wonder said...

Larry, Happy to meet you! I'm glad you found my blog and grateful for your post. It is good to meet a fellow shipper who looks beyond the ink to the Truth!

George Breed said...

Well, hot dang! Looks as if I've found another brother (and who found whom is always a question).

Just picked up Thou Art That yesterday and now here YOU are!

Thank you for your thoughts. I'll read some more.

Larry said...

I'm really grateful for you two fellows, and I wish a few more readers would 'come out of the closet'.

Twyla said...

Great Post!!! (three exclamation points worth) I love your way of reading the Book.

The idea about fear and desire keeping us from fullness (the garden) really melds well with yogic thought, which is that the problem is attraction and aversion. The goal being to become one who just IS, without judging every thought or event to put it one of these two categories. I see this tendency in myself and dislike it very much. Oops, see how I did that? Judged, placed in aversion file. The problem is, when I am too attached, it steals my peace and joy. And when I push anything I perceive to be "negative" away from me, I deny what is true and real, often times.

It all seems to fit with Christ's admonition to lose my life so that I might find it.

(sorry for the ramble. thanks for getting me thinking)

Larry said...