“The Adam and Eve story is incomprehensible to me!” I observed with considerable heat one day in my early struggles with the allegory. “Why did God punish not only the guilty pair, but also the innocent unborn generations?”
Master was more amused by my vehemence than my ignorance. “Genesis is deeply symbolic, and cannot be grasped by a literal interpretation,” he explained. “Its ‘tree of life’ is the human body. The spinal cord is like an upturned tree, with man’s hair as its roots, and afferent and efferent nerves as branches. The tree of the nervous system bears many enjoyable fruits, or sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In these, man may rightfully indulge; but he was forbidden the experience of sex, the ‘apple’ at the center of the bodily garden.
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”-Genesis 3:2-3.
“The ‘serpent’ represents the coiled-up spinal energy which stimulates the sex nerves. ’Adam’ is reason, and ‘Eve’ is feeling. When the emotion or Eve-consciousness in any human being is overpowered by the sex impulse, his reason or Adam also succumbs.
“The human body was therefore not solely a result of evolution from beasts, but was produced by an act of special creation by God. The animal forms were too crude to express full divinity; the human being was uniquely given a tremendous mental capacity – the ‘thousand-petaled lotus’ of the brain – as well as acutely awakened occult centers in the spine.
“God, or the Divine Consciousness present within the first created pair, counseled them to enjoy all human sensibilities, but not to put their concentration on touch sensations.
“Now the serpent (sex force) was more subtile than any beast of the field” (any other sense of the body). – Gen. 3:1.
These were banned in order to avoid the development of the sex organs, which would enmesh humanity in the inferior animal method of propagation. The warning not to revive subconsciously present bestial memories was not heeded. Resuming the way of brute procreation, Adam and Eve fell from the state of heavenly joy natural to the original perfect man.
“Knowledge of ‘good and evil’ refers to the cosmic dualistic compulsion. Falling under the sway of maya through misuse of his feeling and reason, or Eve-and Adam-consciousness, man relinquishes his right to enter the heavenly garden of divine self-sufficiency. The personal responsibility of every human being is to restore his ‘parents’ or dual nature to a unified harmony or Eden.”
“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” – Gen. 2:8. “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” – Gen. 3:23. The divine man first made by God had his consciousness centered in the omnipotent single eye in the forehead (eastward). The all-creative powers of his will, focused at that spot, were lost to man when he began to “till the ground” of his physical nature.
Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”