The Fall on a Summer Day

The following is a parable based on an ancient story and real memories of an idyllic summer of two boys who knew little but learned lessons of stomach aches, rocks thrown, and the will to live of garter snakes.

One summer day at the beginning of time, Eve was busy elsewhere, but Adam and his sidekick, Steve, were walking in paradise. It was summer and  the boys had not eaten much that day. They had been busy classifying and tormenting snakes, and building a nest of hay in the shade when Steve spotted a tree with green apples. Steve, not yet having a defined sense of self had no use of personal pronouns. He pointed at the tree and said, “Eat fruit.” Adam said, “Uh uh.” Adam was not clear on why not. God had told him not to eat those apples, but not being ego based, Adam didn’t distinguish between himself and God. He just knew not to eat those green apples. Steve said, “Want apples!” Simple Adam had no reason not to eat them, other than that inner knowing, and knowing was now competing with a sensation in his stomach that lent urgency to Steve’s argument.

So Adam and Steve filled up on green apples. The rest of the day was marked by stomach distress. Adam told Steve: “Green apples bad. No eat. Steve, stupid. Don’t know tree of good from tree of evil. No tell Eve about this.” And so judgment entered human consciousness and with it the first criticism, the first deception and the first conspiracy. Suddenly, Adam had a sense of the separation between himself and Steve and Eve. He felt lonely. He wanted to be with Eve in a way he had never felt before. He told Steve not to hang around with him anymore.

Eve sensed something was different about Adam. He didn’t seem happy. Not yet distinguishing good from evil, Eve didn’t understand at first. But soon she realized that Adam was different from her. He was grumpy and didn’t trust her implicitly as he had before. He wouldn’t talk about why Steve was not always hanging around anymore. Eventually, Adam told Eve, “You act like everything is perfect. But you know, if you eat green apples your belly hurts. Also, if you eat dirt, wood, and sand. Must have rules. Some things you can eat. Some things don’t eat. Have you notice lion eat lamb? Didn’t see that before. Lion eat lots of things that move, like us. Got bad feeling about living near lion. Not like snakes too. Also other boys get you in trouble and throw rocks too much.” Fear was born and shared. Eve resented Adam’s rules and sometimes she did what she felt like doing anyway. It made him angry. Soon the world did not look so colorful to either of them. They had discovered shame and discomfort and they longed for the way it used to be. They realized there was a past that was different from the eternal present. They never got the idea of future until they had children. And when they lost a child their fear deepened. They no longer trusted the bounty of nature. They made plans and worked hard to make sure their children never had to be hungry. They taught them the rules of green apples, wild animals and strange boys.

We humans have inherited a legacy of separation, fear and shame. It comes naturally with consciousness. When we learn to judge good from bad, we cleave ourselves off from the rest of creation. Our minds fill with planning and worry. We ignore our inner knowing in favor of rules and judgment. We still have the option of stepping back into paradise by returning to that conscious presence in the Now that joins us with all that is. If we take a breath and step into that place between thoughts where things just are what they are in all their perfection, where knowing replaces thinking, we may find ourselves back in the garden, but with the wisdom of experience.

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© 2010 Tom Barrett