The Genesis of Enlightenment
The Evolution of Eve
Collage with Michelangelo’s Eve by Herb Greene
In an ever increasing fascination with the principles and teachings behind yoga, I’ve been studying the Yoga Sutra, supposedly collected by a yogi named Patanjali, and the teachings of which are believed to be much older than the Bible. In my reading and pondering, as I’ve come across ideas and practices that feel True to me, I’ve re-explored my relationship with the scriptures that I grew up with; specifically some sections of the Old Testament and the Pearl of Great Price. In reading the well known versions of the creation story, which I had already accepted more as allegory, something struck me that I’ve been wanting to unravel.
Throughout the tale that we read in Genesis and Moses, there appears to be a step by step process described of how we came to exist on this earth. But upon further inspection, if you are able to set aside a literal interpretation (and all the sexist baggage that comes with it) it begins to look more like a formulation; a prescription for personal progress and enlightenment hidden behind details that are often too easily made into an excuse for the “way things are”.
There are multiple sources of evidence to suggest that the principles contained within the Yoga Sutra have been around far longer than anything written by Moses or any other prophet of God. Because of this, and because of our related lack of information on the life of Christ, it’s been easy for me to open up to the possibility of Jesus being acquainted, through travel and study perhaps, with teachings and practices that we today attribute to eastern philosophies. In my own view of the progress of world religions, I see many of the core teachings of yoga (intersecting with both Hinduism and Buddhism) as being a foundation for what Christ later came to teach the world. As a groundwork for the soul, I believe they pointed to the ways in which we can find true inner peace and happiness, something that we don’t usually see as necessary in Christianity, but which I believe to be pivotal in learning to truly serve and care for others, especially without sacrificing ourselves – which in the context of our spirit, we are not asked to do.
In returning to Genesis with this perspective, I see the messages that we have been taught more as equivalent to the teachings of the Yoga Sutra, though far less clear. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear? Is it possible, that in the example of Adam and Eve, we see the indirect harm that comes from living a life of delusion, aversion, and clinging? In the story, are they not unable to see reality for what it is? In the second chapter of the yoga sutra, it reads, “The causes of suffering are not seeing things as they are, the sense of “I”, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life.” It further explains that all suffering germinates in the field of delusion, and that attachment is a “residue of pleasant experience”, aversion is a “residue of suffering”, and “clinging to life is instinctive and self-perpetuating”. Also, did Adam and Eve not cling to each other, in addition to the comfort in which they lived? Were they not, by virtue of blind obedience, unknowingly averse to taking the steps to live outside the Garden?
Which leads to the next part of the story. Eve, having been good and faithful, decides (especially when told through an LDS lens) that it is better to see things as they really are. She (as almost a heroine to the existence of human life to hear some people tell it) accepts that the way they are living, by not moving forward and by avoiding temporal death and physical pain, is merely a falsely happy existence. True joy, she reasons by extension, cannot be attained without accepting the causes of true suffering and removing them, and by accepting the natural balance of life. And in essence, she is enlightened, along with Adam as “the eyes of them both were opened”.
And the rest is history (or is it historical fiction?). As far as I can find, there are no other interpretations of the book of Genesis in this form, though there is an article that explores other aspects of the book as being extensions of hindu teachings about the creation of the mind from the lower to the higher, separating the soul from the ego using Cain and Abel as allegory. So I am perfectly willing to entertain other interpretations of what I have observed. But is it possible that through Eve’s example we are being told not only to take things into our own hands and choose for ourselves based on knowledge and understanding, but that we have an obligation to remove the obstructions and afflictions that prevent us and others from seeing the world as it is? Just a thought.
(painting subject explored here)