Week 1 – At Creation

“The idea of good and evil is the premise for any moral judgment… Good and evil, being existent halves of a moral judgment, do not derive from one another, but are always there together.” (Carl Jung, Aion)

“Judgment, guilt and forgiveness can be creative or non-creative.  Each is a whole interrelated process…” (Sean Gibbons)

What has been your experience of judgment?

What characterises judgment when it is creative?

What characterises judgment when it is non-creative?

What has been your experience of guilt? 

What does it feel like physically? 

When guilt is creative? 

What do you know about forgiveness? 

“Man is made for the sake of choice” (Kabbalah)

What does this add to the discussion?

Carl Jung speaks of a moral factor of self; Genesis speaks of the knowledge of good and evil. What do these ‘givens’ add to our understanding of judgment, guilt and forgiveness?

Read from G.B. Shaw’s Back to Methuselah below (a video clip is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nFJPprzTCY

THE SERPENT. Eve.

EVE [_startled_] Who is that?

THE SERPENT. It is I. I have come to shew you my beautiful new hood. See

[_she spreads a magnificent amethystine hood_]!

EVE [_admiring it_] Oh! But who taught you to speak?

THE SERPENT. You and Adam. I have crept through the grass, and hidden, and listened to you.

EVE. That was wonderfully clever of you.

THE SERPENT. I am the most subtle of all the creatures of the field.

EVE. Your hood is most lovely. [_She strokes it and pets the serpent_].

Pretty thing! Do you love your godmother, Eve?

THE SERPENT. I adore her. [_She licks Eve’s neck with her double tongue_].

EVE [_petting her_] Eve’s wonderful darling snake. Eve will never be lonely now that her snake can talk to her.

THE SNAKE. I can talk of many things. I am very wise. It was I who whispered the word to you that you did not know. Dead. Death. Die.

EVE [_shuddering_] Why do you remind me of it? I forgot it when I saw your beautiful hood. You must not remind me of unhappy things.

THE SERPENT. Death is not an unhappy thing when you have learnt how to conquer it.

EVE. How can I conquer it?

THE SERPENT. By another thing, called birth.

EVE. What? [_Trying to pronounce it_] B-birth?

THE SERPENT. Yes, birth.

EVE. What is birth?

THE SERPENT. The serpent never dies. Some day you shall see me come out of this beautiful skin, a new snake with a new and lovelier skin. That is birth.

EVE. I have seen that. It is wonderful.

THE SERPENT. If I can do that, what can I not do? I tell you I am very subtle. When you and Adam talk, I hear you say ‘Why?’ Always ‘Why?’ You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’ I made the word dead to describe my old skin that I cast when I am renewed. I call that renewal being born.

What is myth? 

Given this understanding, why is it important to work with myth? 

Know that ego is not in a myth; rather, we bring our ego to it.

Read Genesis 2:8,10 – 

The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.

What is in the garden? 

What are the implications for your life? 

**Depict the garden on paper. (use whatever art medium you wish)

What questions emerge from the garden reality for you?

Which question is most important for you?

Read Genesis 2:15-17 –

15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

What is the role of the human?

What does the garden symbolise in us?

What kind of God puts a tree in the centre of the garden with beautiful fruit and then says, “Don’t eat.”?

What are the possibilities for Adam/Eve?

What are the possibilities for God?

Read Genesis 3:1-7 –

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

Who created the serpent?

What knowledge does the serpent have?

Why does it confront Eve with this knowledge?  Why not Adam?

What do we have if God creates a creation that contradicts God?

What is the relationship between God and the serpent?

How do you describe these two sides of God?

What is the tree in question? 

What would it take to choose to eat?

What kind of God are we relating to?

What do Adam and Eve choose to do?

Read Genesis 3:8ff –

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18  Both thorns and thistles it shall [p]bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. 19  In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

It is helpful to view Adam/Eve as a single entity, the human being, complete with masculine and feminine sides; also, God/Serpent as a single entity.

What is God’s response to the eating of the forbidden fruit?

What happens as a result of eating the fruit?

What does it mean to have one’s eyes opened?

Why did the serpent go to the feminine half?

What did God do?

What did God not do?

Who was telling the truth to Eve about eating the fruit, God or the serpent?

What remains in the centre of the garden, which God protects?

What is your sense of the tree of life?

What do we know of it?

How do you feel about it?

** Stand and let the tree of life ‘grow’ in you. 

** Write what you know about it now?

How does it feel?

Remembering that myths are inner stories of the human psyche, what does it mean that this tree exists in you?  i.e. What are the implications?

Why is the tree only guarded and not destroyed or placed behind impenetrable barriers?

What are the implications of the flaming swords of the guards?

Read Mt. 7:13-14 –

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Why is this passage read here after looking at the tree of life?

What is the relationship between eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the straitened way?

What would you want to ask Jesus about the way?

What kind of judgment is asked for, and by whom?

Homework: Recall a time when you made a really creative choice despite judgment (real or threatened) of others.

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