Praying with Genesis; Musing about Physics

I sat down with my over-sized, orange cup of hazelnut coffee in my adirondack chair in the backyard this morning with the intention to pray. Surprisingly, I was led to read Genesis 3:1–24 from the Hebrew Bible. Reading this familiar account of Eve and Adam’s departure from the Garden of Eden, I was struck by how Divine Love (my name for G-d) is portrayed as punitive. It was an uncomfortable, dissonant feeling. So I asked Divine Love to reveal to me the gift that I had been called into this prayer experience to receive. Then POP! And WOW! I saw this well-known story in a new and life-giving way. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I’ve been listening to books and videos by modern physicists and medical doctors on the topic of quantum mechanics. One theory is that our life experience is a holographic simulation in which we perceive ourselves as separate individuals and have access to the senses of humanity. There are many speculations as to the point of this. Regardless, my new way of viewing the tale in Genesis is significantly informed by this quantum proposition. As I figuratively stepped back from the story and viewed it as a whole, it occurred to me that this illustration is a metaphor for coming to earth and living in this holographic simulation. The serpent gave Eve a choice, and Eve, along with Adam, willing entered the world of duality to gain wisdom. And perhaps it is with all of us. We willingly leave the world of nonduality (all is one; I am that I am; eating from The Tree of Life) and enter the world of duality (good vs. bad; us vs. them; eating from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) where we have to labor and where we perceive separateness. From this dualistic perspective, we project and blame. We perceive Divine Love as apart from ourselves, legalistic, and punishing. We become self-centered and “hide ourselves” from the presence of Divine Love. And as part of the simulation, we are blocked from seeing the “Garden of Eden” so that we may fully engage in this human drama.

It reminds me of Julian of Norwich’s Lord and Servant parable. Throughout the visions this 14th century English anchoress received when she was near death, she struggled with the concept of sin because Jesus had told her in the visions that sin is necessary (not bad), but all will be well. This idea was vastly counter-intuitive for her because she had been indoctrinated to believe that she, and all of us, are guilty sinners worthy of damnation. So in response to her confusion, Jesus answered by showing her a story of a lord and a servant. This was a story to which she could relate since her culture was based on the feudal system. The parable goes like this:

Once there was a lord who had a devoted servant always by his side. The love which the servant had for the lord was equal to the love that the lord had for him. Looking at his servant with love and tenderness, the lord sends the servant off to attend to his business. The servant was eager to do anything that the lord asked of him, so he hurried off. In going off to complete his assigned task, the servant fell. The lord knew that the servant would fall when he went off to do his will, but the servant did not know. The most difficult part for the servant was that he felt alone, uncomfortable, and estranged from his lord. He was used to looking to the lord for all of his comfort, but now he was distracted by his feelings and the obstacles along his path. So he suffered. Yet his lord never ceased from looking upon him with love and great pride. The servant’s work that the lord gave him to do was the hard manual work of gardening. He was to prepare the land, plant, and tend the garden so that he would produce the food that the lord loves. (The servant, in essence, was to be the vehicle of Divine Love’s continuing creation.) The servant, with no thought for himself or the perils of the task, was eager to do the lord’s will. Knowing this, how could the lord not look upon his servant with love, compassion, and pity? And that is just what he did. The lord could not wait to bring the servant unto himself again and to recompense him for his great struggles. Neither the servant’s emotions nor mistakes had any impact whatsoever on the love that the Lord felt for his servant. Julian saw clearly that Divine Love sees our wounds as trophies.

I am reminded of this parable in reading Genesis 3 because the entrance into duality is portrayed as a fall from grace, much like the servant’s experience. As a result, Eve and Adam and their descendants feel self-centeredness, selfishness, fear, anger, and shame and then project these attributes onto Divine Love. Rather than understanding that they have entered this experience by choice, they blame Divine Love for the trials of this human life (this holographic simulation). They literally create Divine Love in their own dualistic image. Divine Love, from whom we all arise, is not punitive, however, but entering duality, we perceive it that way.

I find it amazing that this doctrine of “original sin” (described by Christians who were trying to understand the point of Jesus’ willing death), rather than the obviousness of the “original choice” in the story, has been perpetuated to this very day, requiring a need for atonement — the “repair” of our relationship with Divine Love. The ironic part is that, by choosing to experience duality, we, ourselves, have created the need for atonement. It seems that our life task is to awaken to the reality of nonduality while being present to this dualistic world. As we awaken to nonduality, the need for atonement is seen as the illusion that it is.

As I revisited the story, I noticed the character of the serpent and allowed myself to free associate. Being a long-time yoga practitioner, the link was immediate. The serpent revealed herself as Kundalini energy. Of Kundalini, it has been said, “She is consciousness: the power of matter to know itself.” Wow and hmm. The serpent represents consciousness itself. And unless we enter duality, we do not experience ourselves as unique manifestations of Divine Love.

Well, I don’t know the answers or even the questions. And I am certainly not promoting a new doctrine. I just pray and listen. I look for the innocence and show up with an empty cup. Don’t take these musings as reality unless they strike a harmonious chord. You who have ears to hear, will resonate.

Interfaith Minister, Spiritual Director, Retreat Facilitator, Psychotherapist