Since the inception of our self-consciousness, two fundamental desires have been controlling us. These are the desire to see, and the desire to be wise, with our eyes.
In the Garden of Eden, two types of trees attracted us through these desires. One is the Tree of Knowledge, and the other is the Tree of Life.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.Genesis 2:8-9
All the trees that God planted in the garden were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Adam and Eve enjoyed them to satisfy their eyes. They appreciated the beauty.
And both Trees of Knowledge and Life were no exception. God made all of them pleasant to their eyes despite His prohibition on these two particular Trees.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.Genesis 3:6
Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge because it satisfied the desire to see, and the desire to be wise, with their eyes.
After eating the fruit, they suddenly were able to see themselves through their eyes. They realized both were naked and hid their bodies with fig leaves, which symbolizes the rules and traditions.
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.Genesis 3:7
Also, they were able to see “God” through their own eyes.
This new sight implies a lot. It could mean the birth of self-consciousness, the sense of guilt, and the realm of spacetime. For the first time, in human consciousness, they (more figuratively, we) realized the very existence of the universe and themselves (ourselves) in the dimension of spacetime.
Suddenly, they realized that they had stood in the vast universe beyond their comprehension, which was the fundamental reason why they existed and lived. And we exist and live as well. Perhaps, they (moreover, we) could even start asking these primordial questions:
- Where did we come from?
- Who are we?
- Where are we going?
Whether we like it or not, we had to be conscious of God’s possibility, including the possible atheistic view. Adam and Eve knew “God” unconsciously before. After eating the fruit, they had to think of “God” and who they were on earth consciously. That could take place in our lives as well.
When and if we think of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going, we can’t help but think of who “God” should or could be, including the possible atheistic view. And of course, we can’t escape from the existential questions of our life and death.
What does it mean that we die?
Thus, Adam and Eve hid themselves when God approached them. It was not only because they violated what God prohibited, but more crucially, they got confused in their existential and ontological identities. So do we in our lives.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.Genesis 3:8-10
Even in our present days, we are confused. Ultimately, we don’t know who we are, where we came from, who we are, who “God” is, and what the universe is. We are still in the path of seeking wisdom. To some extent, we became wiser. But we are merely smart with our selfish eyes only. Just like Adam and Eve, we always hide ourselves from God. And we still keep on talking with the serpent instead, believing that we could be wiser by eating more fruits from the Tree of Knowledge.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.Genesis 3:4-5
Since then, our desires to see and be wise with our eyes have ever persisted. Because of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, we are smart with our selfish eyes. That is to say, we think we are wise, and we fell into the prison of self-righteousness and the imprisonment of the tautology that we can see what we can see only, but we don’t know that.
There are some reminders of this truth to make us humble, like the following verses.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.Proverbs 3:5-7
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;1 Corinthians 1:27
And more than anything else, the glimpse of the eternity that our selfish eyes could never comprehend would be very light for our new sight without our eyes.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.John 1:4-5
Then, we can recall the second tree that Adam and Eve didn’t eat the fruit, which was the Tree of Life. What if Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Life, what could happen?
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.Genesis 3:22-24
The Tree of Life implies the realm of eternity. It looks the total opposite of what Adam and Eve acquired through the Tree of Knowledge, which made them “humans,” bringing them down to temporality with the sense of self-consciousness, guilt, spacetime, and seeking God with selfish eyes. The Tree of Life, on the other hand, could bring them back to eternity again, if God allowed.
God “placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” until the time when He decided to give His only begotten Son.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.John 3:16
Image by Bessi