Monday, July 22, 2013

MINDFULNESS IS THE TREE OF LIFE

The essence of mindfulness, and mindful living, is this---there is only life manifesting itself in all things as all things, and that one life is forever unfolding moment by moment. Everything is forever being renewed, for each new moment in consciousness is a refreshing. So, when we live mindfully, we co-create and recreate for ourselves moment by moment a new heaven and a new earth.

There are two accounts of creation in the Bible. The first account of creation is written from God’s point of view, so to speak. It is an account of life as God, who made it, sees things. If you have a problem with the word God, then simply say that it is an account of life as it really is. What is recorded in this first account is not literally true but it is true nevertheless. The second account of creation is written from our point of view, and it is in many ways a gross distortion or misrepresentation of the real or true. It’s the way we see things, and life, when we are not seeing them as they really are, that is, when we are not living mindfully.

Now, in the first account (see the first chapter of the book of Genesis), God made man and woman in God’s very own image and likeness such that what is true of God is also true of you and me. Not only that but God saw that his creation----all his creation---was ‘good.’ Note that word---‘good.’ This is a spiritual or metaphysical statement about life per se. It is good in absolute terms, notwithstanding that there is still relative good and relative bad, the latter being variations in degree, but not kind, from the whole, absolute and perfect.

Now, when it comes to the second account of creation (see the second chapter of Genesis) God is presented, or rather seen, by the mythical couple Adam and Eve in crude, anthropomorphic terms. (Sadly, so many conservative Christians still see God in that way.) In the mythical Bible story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the two protagonists were told by God that they could freely eat of any tree in the garden except the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ As respects the latter, God warned that if Adam and Eve ate of that tree they would surely die. Well, guess what? Naughty Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, and God expels them from the garden to prevent them from eating of a second tree, the 'tree of life,' and living forever. The disobedience of Adam and Eve is known in traditional Christian theology as the ‘Fall of Man.’


Here’s my take on the story. The tree of life is a symbol of the one presence and power that is life itself---the very livingness and oneness of life, the very ground of our being, indeed the ground of all being. The tree of life is Beingness, or Be-ing, itself. I AM-ness. Oneness. It is the impersonal principle of life that is forever becoming personal as you and me and all other things. True it is that this power of life can be used positively or negatively, that is, either for relative good or relative bad, but it is one and the same power at all times. The power is like electricity---it can be used to light or warm a room or it can be used to kill, but it is the same power nevertheless. Go into a darkened room, and turn on the light. The darkness in the room disappears. The darkness is not a thing-in-itself; it is just the relative and temporary absence of light. So it is with relative good and relative bad. There is only one presence and one power active in the universe as your life and mine and as the life of all other persons and things. This presence and power is 'over all and through all and in all' (Eph 4:6); it is 'life, and that life [is] the light of all humankind' (cf Jn 1:4); it is the medium in which all things 'live and move and have [their] being' (Acts 17:28), and 'there is no other' (cf Is 45:5).

Thus, I do not accept the view, promulgated by traditional Christianity, that there are two warring powers at work in the universe, one good and the other bad. No, there is only one power or principle at work, and it is fundamentally good. ‘Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity’ (Hab 1:13). Unity, not duality. There is one presence and one power for a couple of reasons. First, all things live and move and have their being on the one level or plane of existence. Secondly, a single logic or principle applies to all things and how they are related to each other. If that were not the case, we could not speak meaningfully of things at all. In those two senses, all things are ‘one,’ but not in any monistic sense. If there were two supreme cosmic powers at work in the universe, forever being at odds with each other, one such power would surely counteract, indeed cancel out, the other. The belief---or rather misbelief---that there are supposedly two powers at work in the universe is the so-called ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ the fruit of which Adam and Eve did eat. Our mythical forebears sought to believe that there were two powers at work, and they paid a high price for it. So do we, if we seek to affirm and identify with a supposed power or authority other than life itself.

So, this second account of creation is a parody---a distortion in human consciousness of the real and the good. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the illusion of duality as opposed to the vision of oneness and unity represented by the tree of life. The illusion of duality is the result of false or erroneous thinking on our part whenever we ‘eat the fruit of the forbidden fruit’ by giving power and authority to that which is false and untrue, and by otherwise acting mindlessly. Every time you identify with some false self---some ‘I’ or ‘me’ in your mind in the form of some like, dislike, craving, or attachment---you are eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. Every time you cease to be choicelessly aware of life as it unfolds from one moment to the next, you are eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. In short, every time you think, feel, or act mindlessly, you are watering and fertilizing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There really is evil and sickness in the world, but as I see it that is largely due to the widely held misbelief that there are two cosmic powers at work. If all people affirmed the existence of only one power---the tree of life---evil and sickness would in time disappear. However, that will never happen---not in this world at least---because too many of us, including me, still give power and authority in our daily lives to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Each moment of each day you have two choices. You can choose to live mindfully, or you can choose to live mindlessly. You can live with awareness, and be aware that you are aware---or you can live unawares. The choice is yours---and yours alone. To use the metaphorical language of the Bible, you can choose to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree---that is, the tree of knowledge of good and evil---in which case you create for yourself a false reality of ‘self’ and bondage to self, or you can choose to eat of the tree of life. God is the tree of life, God is life, and that life is your life and my life---right now! There is no other life. There is only life. Affirm that fact---and mindfully live it!

Yes, God---that is, life---sets before you in each new moment of each day both ‘life and death, blessing and cursing.’ The message of the Bible, indeed that of all sacred literature and ancient wisdom is this---choose life, that you may live (Deut 30:19).



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