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Friday, 28 March 2014

Where was the Garden of Eden?

Where was the Garden of Eden?

EVERYTHING material, moral or spiritual is impressed upon the mind through its perceptions of opposites or contrasts. Light and dark, heat and cold, virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, are contrasting entities, without one of which the other could form no impression.

The New Testament is the best interpreter of the old. Paul says (Rom. v, 14), Adam is a figure of him that was to come. Without a perception of man's sensual estate, as portrayed in the figure of Adam, a conception of his spiritual possibilities, as revealed through the nature and character of Jesus, could not have been impressed strongly enough upon the mind of man to give it an impetus to action and imitation.

And it is by the impressions made upon the consciousness that the soul, which clothes the spirit and becomes the arisen spiritual body, is developed within the temple of clay through which the life-giving spirit acts in earth life—controlling, yet subject to it.

The mind, growing with its experiences, is moulded both from impressions through the outer or physical man and through consciousness from the inner or spiritual man.

But, of course, the physical impressions are much stronger and vivid in the beginning, and form a framework, as it were, upon which the more subtle spirit impressions may accumulate, because the spirit is weak, through its associated but unassimilating condition with matter, and cannot act freely or forcibly till rid of the opposing material body and clothed in its own adaptive spiritual body. Where the soul is malformed by excess of, or improper, physical impressions it must be healed by a more perfect understanding before the spirit can advance in it. Yet there is that about the very material elements composing the physical body necessary to give the strength and willpower of control over lower forms, and vivid conception to a degree of greatness such as may constitute a spirit of God's creation— a son in his own likeness.

Thus you perceive the value of a long life on earth, even under adverse conditions. As all things were made of God, and without him nothing was made that was made, it follows inevitably that the qualities of matter itself are inherent in the Divine mind.

Yet the very qualities which appear evil and opposed to good in their first warring of opposing entities, by which soul-forms are evolved, may, in an assimilated, perfected state, such as that in which the Divine mind must exist (since all his laws, however diverse and opposing, tend to wholesale harmony), prove only qualities of wise, unimpeachable goodness.

Adam was a figure of the carnal man, subject to the temptations of physical appetites, ungoverned by higher faculties which give him self-control and restraint.

He who subjects any knowledge he may have of right and wrong to bodily desire also becomes the moral coward, representing timidity and falsehood, that Adam was.

The serpent is a figure by which is represented desire, and the arguments with which reason will be persuaded by the passions clamouring for their indulgence.

What stronger figure could have been given than that of a woman by which a man may transgress? What thing under the sun does a man find it so hard to resist as the woman he loves, even when he knows her to be in the wrong?

The curse is a figure, too. By what patient and arduous toil of the will in man is it that the fruit of the spirit—the bread of life—is developed through the dark soil of the physical man, to nourish and sustain the growing soul! Naturally, there was no mystery or misfortune in early times so great to man's mind as that of death, for which no reason appeared to his mind save the wrath of an offended deity.

Understanding nothing of the spirit latent within him he could comprehend nothing of the death, to all intents and purposes, of that spirit when undeveloping, because of strong opposing environments.

The Garden of Eden, then, is an allegory. If there had been no figure of original purity (as of course the original germ of spirit is pure) in the allegory there would have been no perception conveyed of the vice of yielding to the appetites of the flesh when opposed to the moral rectitude.

Paul says, Adam is a figure of him who was to come—a figure of darkness, by which the light of truth and virtue and rectitude, and all fruits of the spiritual man as exemplified in Jesus, are thrown into greater prominence and contrast.

But why did God endow man with so keen an appreciation of fleshly enjoyments and ever-recurring cravings for satisfaction, whose gratification begets misery and death (or lack of development of the spirit)? Foreseeing all things, why did he so construct his laws that there should be a necessity of the knowledge of good and evil in man's mind? Why did he form man essentially selfish, and place him among temptations appealing always to self-indulgence, when the fruits of such indulgence are evils to his spiritual nature?

Since impressions are made upon the mind only by contrasts it is evident that by such contrasts alone can the mind develop beyond the thing which it is at first created, and it is only by this sort of a development that a creature can be given free will—the power to discriminate and choose.

He learns from experience to love the light of truth and harmony as he learns to abhor darkness and its attendant miseries and loathsome horrors.

He who comes into a clear light of knowledge and understanding cannot be tempted to wrong-doing, to in any way injure others or himself; yet we cannot assert that to sin is merely ignorance, it is not a vacuity, it is an entity as well as is godliness. I should say it is a quality inherent to the lower forms of matter from whence higher forms are evolved, the further they progress in enlightened and refined forms of matter the further they leave behind the influences of the dark, material atmosphere and substance in which the propensities to sin are inherent.

That first soil is the hot-bed in which the seed is germinated and puts forth its feelers. When you pluck the perfect fruit from the tree what trace do you perceive of the muck and mire in which the roots that started and fed it toward its completion were imbedded?

Ah! but you say every soul is not alike. One develops much spiritual beauty in its earthly life and passes on to an existence of enjoyment and reward, while another, from no evident reason but that God ordained it so, lives a gross, carnal existence, and finally suffers only misery and degradation when in another sphere he comes to realise himself as he is in the darkness of his own spirit.

You admit the sinful man may be an example to other men, and cause them to reflect and shun the evil which he so shockingly portrays, and thus good to others may result from his abasement; but the man who was fitted to be a vessel of dishonour—where is God's justice and compensation to him?

Your trouble arises from supposing that he who is what you call good finds existence after the change to spiritual life a very easy, an enjoyable, affair. Many calling themselves Christians picture to their fancies a lazy, unprogressive existence that would be as gross to the spirit as is an altogether sensual life to the soul on earth.

You forget that none is entirely good but God, because none other has all knowledge. We must believe that God has knowledge of good and evil, because he governs all things by such strong contrasts; but that he prefers the good because he leads the souls he creates always toward that end.

You forget that the more spiritual, the more filled with the light of true knowledge, the soul becomes, the more it loves, not some great, unknown spirit it calls God merely, but all creation in and through which God is revealed.

Loves particularly all of its own kind, with which the attraction of like to like brings it into closest sympathy and understanding. How, then, can a good spirit be entirely, or rather carelessly, happy, seeing others of its kind miserable, and knowing the cause of that misery and the remedy?

He may be happy because he knows the remedy. But can he be idle? Can he find time merely to enjoy to live, merely for the delights of sensing his own existence, free from pains and sufferings? Would not the moment he so fell from goodness as to conceive of such self-indulgence his torments of self-reproach and self-contempt exceed any sufferings which what you would call a bad spirit would be capable of enduring?

It is obvious, then, the very God-ordained law of his own nature, the quality of selfishness, which, less enlightened, begets injury to others, compels him voluntarily to work patiently, persistently, unfalteringly, for the elevation and development into the light of his darker brethren.

And he works with great humility. He perceives the environments which surrounded and retarded the dark one in earth life, witnesses the efforts and struggles of the suffering spirit to throw off the habits of character which still bind it.

He proves his gratitude for having escaped such sufferings by the devotion with which he lends himself to the aid of any whom he may find his peculiar individuality fits him to help. He cannot progress so very far—he cannot go beyond and out of the sight of his race in happiness and knowledge.

He must wait and be a teacher, a guide, to help them along in the path which he can perceive, leading upward, where all may tread, when the search has been made, till all are found.

If men in the world could realise this do you not suppose they would labour harder while upon the earth, through the development and instruction of children, and of the fallen everywhere, and save themselves ages of work in the next world, even if they escape such personal wrong-doing and misery?

For it is far harder to take a soul out of a rut of wrong thoughts and desires than it is to prevent him from falling into one, or to help him up when he first falls.

Do you think anyone who should realise all this could push an unfortunate further down, even if he was in the way?

The story of the prodigal son is a good example of the rejoicing in spirit life over a soul that emerges from the darkness into the light. But the story does not go far enough to tell what a hero the prodigal becomes for the conversion of those in the darkness, which he remembers in such vivid contrast to his glorified peace and knowledge, that his love to God and his brethren transcends, often, the comprehension of those born on the spiritual side of life who lack the vigour of will and wisdom which earth experience and influence infuses.

Thus all things work together for good indeed.

There is no limit to time—there is always eternity ahead and always new delights and possibilities to be found in every progression. We know God is good and loving, and will promote the ultimate good of all, because the nearer we approach him the more of all that is opposed to good and love must be left behind.

But we also know that upon our own individual efforts depends not only our own good but the good of our race, and even the race must pause to keep the race behind it following in its wake.

The spiritual planes are united so closely they are like steps of a mighty stairway, leading on up to mystery, glory, infinity.

And through all and over all the holy spirit of God is infused, more willing to give of spiritual holiness to anyone who by desire places himself en rapport to receive, than the most earnest petitioner, longing through his prayers for the fullness of its bounty, is willing to receive.

Let all keep, then, the spiritual attitude of prayer, which is that of being willing to be impressed with the truth.

Spirit Author Unknown — LEAFLETS OF TRUTH; OR, Light From the Shadow Land, M. KARL, CHICAGO: 1886