by Rabbi Eli Mallon, M.Ed., LMSW

Adam and Eve ate fruit from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” [1] Afterwards, they thought that they could determine what’s best for themselves (e.g. they should be clothed). [2] This attitude underlies “pride”: “I know what’s best and I want my way.” But this, we come to see, is also the root of all fear, anger, worry, envy, etc. [3]

No one really knows the future. An act that seems “wrong” at first, can sometimes turn out to be beneficial. Conversely, an act that seems “right” at first can ultimately have negative consequences (e.g. appeasing Hitler pre-WW II). Outside of the general guidelines of mitzvot, or nama/niyama, we ourselves really can’t know.

So: Adam and Eve didn’t actually “know good and bad” after eating the fruit They erroneously believed that they “knew.” Their “pride” had no basis in Reality.

This world (or universe) in which we now live actually is “Eden,” when seen from the “Divine” viewpoint (which, for us, means higher states of conscious-ness).

Eating the fruit, “Eden” became a world of toil, trials and fear – but in appearance only. Eden never ceased to be Eden in reality. The world isn’t “less filled with G-d” just because we don’t see G-d in the world or the world in G-d.

The Midrash [4] says: when Adam and Eve were in the Garden, they were 200 cubits [@350-400 ft.] tall; when they left the Garden, they were 100 cubits [@150-200 ft.] tall.

Were people ever really 100 cubits tall, let alone 200? No. But from higher heights, we see further. So, perhaps the midrash is saying that while in Eden, Adam and Eve could “see further”: Their consciousness, their field of vision, was “higher,” more inclusive, while they were in the Garden, and lower after they left it. While in the Garden, they saw the world more from a Divine perspective; afterwards, from more of a human one.

Another Midrash [5] says: Before their disobedience, Adam (and Eve?) saw a light in which they could see “from one end of the world to the other.” It similarly says that their faces “glowed.”

It’s our “natural state.” All of us should be in a higher state of conscious-ness, filled with light and glowing with health, joy and love. If we take it further, all of us are already perfect! Our perception became limited by Adam & Eve’s error [*] but the essential truth never changed. In effect, our perception is inaccurate.

Rabbi Hisda said: “Of all in whom there’s a ‘prideful’ spirit’ [גסות הרוח], G-d says, ‘he [or she] and I can’t live in the world together’.” [6] It means that our own mistaken sense of separation obscures G-d’s ongoing Presence to us.

Our “pride,” our assumed “separate self”, has no actual reality. It’s a “tendency” that each of us carries – as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s foolish non-compliance – that can be corrected by re-harmonizing ourselves with our own Divine Source – i.e. by surrender of our sense of separation from G-d.

As Steve Sufian, teacher of TM, has commented, this isn’t a “thought” or “mood.” It’s an actual change in consciousness. Jewish tradition calls it “D’veikut” — “cleaving to G-d.”

It’s the ultimate goal of any meditation or spiritual method.

Until Avraham (“Avram,” at first), Biblical characters either “walked with G-d” or walked immersed in their own worldliness. Avraham’s the first to demon-strate the possibility of rediscovering that we’re living perpetually in Eden.

There are multiple paths to this “rediscovery,” as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and others teach [7]. Among them could clearly be counted “karma yoga” — the surrender of the self through “selfless action;” what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi calls “the innocent path of action” (as in “Torah lishma”) [8]  — or “bhakti yoga” — transcending through the love of G-d (as in Hasidut) [9]. In later midrashim, Avraham is even spoken of as coming to his realization through a process of “reasoning” — i.e. “jnana yoga;” the “intellectual” path to G-d-realization (as in learning Kabbalah, Rambam, Luzzatto, etc.) [10].

But the outcome is the same: the surrender of the self to the Self. It’s called “obedience” in the Bible: Not the frightened groveling of a slave or prisoner, but the submission of one who would learn all that his or her teacher can share with a willing student.

It’s reunifying ourselves with our Divine Source.

It’s coming back to what we are meant to be.


 [1] B’reishith/Gen. 3:6
 [2] B’reishith/Gen. 3:7
 [3] B’reishith/Gen. 3:10
 [4Pesikta Rabbati 1:1
 [5] G’morah to Mishnah Hagigah 2:1 and elsewhere
 [6Sotah 5a
 [7] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; The Science of Being and the Art of Living (1966); p. 281
 [8] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (3:3); p. 185
 [9] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; The Science of Being and the Art of Living (1966); p. 290; see also Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (4:25); p. 293
[10] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; The Science of Being and the Art of Living (1966); p. 283
  [*] We could also interpret the “Adam & Eve” story allegorically as a process that’s taking place within us, but that would be outside the limits of this short piece.