A young man named Adam was happy to be in church. He mingled with the various members of his congregation while enjoying some morning coffee and sharing some verbal pleasantries. He felt he belonged here. Church was a place where his presence was always appreciated and where he felt cared for and supported. Church was where he could find love, support and an affirmation of self.
On this particular Sunday he noticed an attractive young female, about his age, enter the church for the first time. She sat at the back of the church as the service began.
After the church service was over, the young female helped serve some fruit to the members during the potluck meal of their “Fellowship Hour.” Adam was always mildly disappointed during the Fellowship Hour because the conversation always became secular and rarely doctrinal. During this time of “sharing” his fellow members would reinforce their relationships with conversations about their children, grandchildren or other terrestrial matters.
Adam noticed that as the strange young woman was passing fruit among the members sitting at each of the tables, their worldly conversations seemed to increase in the level of their enjoyment. Adam asked a fellow member who the new girl was, pointing in her direction. But the member sitting next to him said he didn’t see anyone new.
Only Adam could see her!
Adam, sensing that something really strange was going on, approached the mystery woman and introduced himself. “Hi, my name is Adam. Is this your first time, here?”
The young woman seemed surprised, “Oh, you can see me?!”
“Of course I can see you,” replied Adam.
“I am invisible and unrecognizable to most people,” came her curious response. “I am Eve—the biblical Eve.”
This raised Adam’s eyebrows. “How can I see you when no one else can?”
“You must be aware of what is really going at this church more than the others,” she volunteered.
Adam was now convinced that he was experiencing a unique spiritual vision. But he was intellectually collected enough to know that he could learn something important from such a non-ordinary or holotropic state of consciousness. So he allowed the mysterious woman in his vision to continue her conversation.
“Have you studied the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis?” she asked.
Adam nodded “yes.”
“Do you know that Holy Scripture is written in a symbolic language, with deeper levels of meaning?” she asked further.
“Why yes,” answered Adam. “I study the Bible translations of the theologian Emanuel Swedenborg.”
“Good! Then you know that everything in the Garden of Eden symbolically represents all the innermost qualities of Adam’s faith and belief-system,” said the attractive young woman. She continued, saying, “You must also be familiar with the idea that the Tree of Life represented God’s sacred communication with humankind and originally had a place of importance at the center of their belief system—but that another tree eventually took this central position within human consciousness.”
“Yes,” answered Adam. “The human race became more focused on their self-importance and preferred to be ruled by their personal intelligence and self-guidance, which was represented by the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Eve smiled at his reply, then supplied additional details. “Humankind longed for a new kind of companionship which you have correctly named self-importance. Humans sought this validation to fill their feeling of inner emptiness. So the eventual screw-up within the human psyche was more subtle and unrecognizable than simply a straightforward choice between goodness and evil. You see, in order to keep humankind under the function of free will, God had to allow for their consciousness to be diminished into a kind of sleep-like trance. That is, they no longer would be able to directly perceive the truth of their dependence on God, but instead, they would see reality topsy-turvy through the lower functioning of their own favored opinions—which is as dead as a rib bone.”
“So why are you here?” asked Adam in a point blank manner.
“You and your church members have invited me here!” was her unexpected answer. “I am here because most of the people who come to this church—including you—do so, longing to be validated. I symbolize this personal validation. I am kept alive and relevant through their ongoing state of psychic slumber.”
“But these are all good people and they share their kindness with others,” came Adam’s quick defense of his congregation and friends.
“She laughed in an unsettling way and said, “Sharing what? During your church’s Fellowship Hour, your congregation finds its true level of spirituality. How many conversations are they having about God and the challenges of putting oneself through the ordeals of true spiritual growth? Instead, they are supporting each other’s slumber!”
Then Eve looked Adam squarely in the eyes and said, “What do you think most motivates and glues together the members of this or any other church community? If you were to interfere with their need for seeking some validation or affirmation of self from the church community they would openly rebel—just as Adam did in the Genesis story!”
Adam now realized how big a part validation was playing in his church activity and why the “serpent” was considered to be the most cunning and subtle creature in the entire garden. Humankind has been lulled to sleep and likes it! There would be no evil in the world if men and women were to wake up from their inner snoozing and trance and correctly perceive reality and their eternal predicament. Adam wondered how could he have missed connecting the dots?
Eve just kept on passing around the “fruit” to all the tables.
(BTW, my new book Swedenborg & Gurdjieff addresses this important spiritual topic and the obstacles that stand in the way of our personal transformation—in much greater detail.)