THEOSOPHY, Vol. 16, No. 6, April, 1928
(Pages 259-265; Size: 23K)
(Number 27 of a 59-part series)
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
THE biblical Garden of Eden is inseparably associated with the theological dogmas of original sin, a personal Devil, the "fall" of man, and the attendant curse which rests upon all mankind, for "in Adam all sinned:" the whole episode the prelude to the necessary birth of a Savior, whose vicarious atonement for man's wickedness is the only hope of his salvation, or eternal life. Since these erroneous and subversive ideas constitute the basis upon which popular Christianity rests, every one should acquaint himself with this allegory which in ancient times was universal, and symbolical of esoteric truths now revealed in the teachings of Theosophy. The story in Genesis is, condensed, as follows:"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison,...the name of the second river is Gihon,...the name of the third river is Hiddikel; that is it which goeth east of Assyria, and the fourth is Euphrates. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make an helpmeet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs,...and the rib...made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. [Then the Lord cursed Adam and Eve, saying] cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou returnest to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."Up to the present time no complete form of this story has been found among the clay tablets of Mesopotamia, but portions have been discovered which indicate its origin and show that the Babylonians were as familiar with this as with other allegories transplanted on Hebrew soil. Its location between the Euphrates and the Tigris, a name for which was Idikla, to which the word hid, meaning river, was prefixed, giving us the Hiddikel of Genesis, carries us back to Sumer. Now there is a Sumerian hymn in which reference is made to a holy place in the plain of Eden, but instead of a tree we find--"In Eridu a vine(1) grew overshadowing; in a holy placeWe will recall that rivers are mentioned in the Mahabharata, and there represent the spiritual and physical streams of life. Although the Garden of Eden has been considered by Christians only the geographical location of the birthplace of all mankind, it also corresponds to the Kuru-Kshetra,(3) or body acquired by karma, which should indeed be a holy place, "the temple of the Holy Ghost." There were many Edens; China, which can hardly be suspected of having known anything of the Jews 2,000 B.C., had such a primitive garden in Central Asia, inhabited by the "Dragons of Wisdom." In days of old, the Tree and the Serpent were divine imagery; but the tree was reversed, its roots growing above as we have already seen in the sacred Ashwattha of India and the mighty ash, Yggdrasil, of the Norse. It is only when its pure boughs had touched terrestrial matter, our Adamic race, that this tree became soiled by contact and lost its pristine purity; and that the Serpent of Eternity -- the heaven-born Logos -- was finally degraded. In Smith's Chaldean Account of Genesis (p. 88) there is a most striking picture of an early Babylonian cylinder which represents the garden of Eden as plainly as may be done in art. In the center is the tree of life, with four branches on the side of the woman, and three on the side of the man. The base of the tree is formed out of a serpent, while behind the woman is a standing serpent, evidently beguiling her with words of wisdom. The four and the three branches symbolize the seven races and the seven principles of man, the four on the woman's side typifying the lower, material nature, the three on the man's side symbolical of the higher triad. For the tree is verily man himself, and the serpent, the conscious Manas, the connecting link between matter and spirit, heaven and earth. The antiquity of the serpent symbol also points to the fact that the original sin and the so-called "fall," when the sexes separated in the Third Round, occurred during the earliest portion of what science calls the Mesozoic times, or the age of reptiles. Thus we see that between the Serpent of Eden and the Devil of Christianity is an abyss. Alone the sledge hammer of the ancient Wisdom-Religion can kill this pernicious theological dogma.
was it brought forth;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Into the heart of its holy house, which spreads its
shade like a forest, hath ho man entered.
In its midst is Tammuz,(2)
Between the mouths of the rivers on both sides."
In the Babylonian "curse" after the "fall," (given in Smith's Chaldean Account of Genesis) the "Lord of the earth his name called out, the Father Elu" (Elohim), and pronounced his curse, which "the God Hea (Ea) heard, and his liver was angry, because his man (angelic man) had corrupted his purity," for which Hea expresses the desire that "'Wisdom and knowledge' hostilely may they injure him" (man). Hea tries to bring to nought the knowledge gained by man through his newly-acquired intellectual and conscious capacity of creating in his turn -- thus taking the monopoly out of the hands of God (the Gods) -- just as the Elohim do in the third chapter of Genesis. Following their example, it has always been the policy of the priesthood to keep man in ignorance, and hence mankind generally, in spite of its vaunted knowledge, is unacquainted with its own nature. Nevertheless the spirit of wisdom being upon and in man -- by the union of the Manasic with the Kamic nature -- that Manasic spirit which made him learn the secrets of creation on the Kriyashaktic and of procreation on the earthly planes, led some as naturally to discover their way to immortality, without the intercession of a Savior, notwithstanding the jealousy of all the gods. Therefore, in anticipation of this possibility, which no Christian believes in, the Elohim say: "And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and live forever," as he has already taken of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they "placed at the east of Eden Cherubim and a flaming sword (the evil passions) which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
This final mystery finds its counterpart in the legend of Adapa,(4) "the seed of mankind." Adapa, a fisherman, is the son of Ea, and a zealous provider for the temple at Eridu. One day while fishing he broke the wings of the south wind so that for seven days it could not blow. Anu, noticing this, sent for Adapa to appear in heaven. Before his departure Ea instructs, or rather purposely deceives him, in much the same fashion as the Lord God deceived Adam in regard to the eating of the tree: "When thou comest before Anu, they will offer thee food of death. Do not eat. They will offer thee waters of death. Do not drink. They will offer thee a garment. Put it on. They will offer thee oil. Anoint thyself. The order that I give thee do not neglect." Adapa arrives in heaven and the gods are angry that an impure mortal has been allowed to see their abode and learn their secrets. Since, however, nothing now remains but to admit him into their circle, they bring him food and water of life. He refuses this, but puts on the dress which they bring him and anoints himself with the oil. At this procedure Anu is amazed and inquires: "Now, Adapa, why didst thou not eat? Why didst thou not drink? Now thou wilt not remain alive." Adapa answers that he followed the instructions of Ea; so he was sent back to earth to live and die as an ordinary mortal. This action is parallelled in the action of those Mahatmas who forego Nirvana and take on body after body of flesh so that they may remain with and help mankind. The dress Adapa dons may be likened to "the coats of skins" which the Lord God gave Adam and Eve, that is, the physical body, before which time -- when their eyes were still unopened -- they were "naked," an expression for the astral condition of the human form. So we see that the "original sin" and the "fall" were only steps in the evolutionary law of life, a necessary change from the methods of creation in the preceding cycles. We are now better able, perhaps, to understand that passage in the Gita: "He who, sinfully delighting in the gratification of his passions, doth not cause this wheel [or reincarnation] thus already set in motion to continue revolving, liveth in vain." And H. P. Blavatsky states that with the Brahmans it was a religious duty to have a son.
Another Chaldean tablet bearing upon this subject gives an account of the seven wicked Gods or Spirits:"1. In the first days the evil GodsThen follows the description of them, the fourth being a "serpent," the phallic symbol of the Fourth Race in human evolution.
2. the angels, who were in rebellion, who in the lower part of heaven
3. had been created,
4. they caused their evil work
5. devising with wicked heads ...
7. There were seven of them.""15. The seven of them, messengers of Anu, their king."Anu is identical with Sin, the moon, in one aspect, the seed of all material life, and corresponds to Jehovah, who is double-sexed as Anu is. That they are those who create man's form is evidenced by their being "in the lower part of heaven." The messengers of Anu are shown, in lines 28-41, as being finally overpowered by the same Sin with the help of Bel (the Sun) and Ishtar (Venus). There are two "falls," the rebellion of the Archangels and their "fall," and the "fall" of Adam and Eve. Both are karmic effects, intellectual and spiritual on the one hand, physical and psychic on the other. The Archangels, some of whom were Nirmanakayas from other Manvantaras, were those who, compelled by Karmic law to drink the cup of gall to its last bitter drop, had to incarnate anew, and thus make responsible thinking entities of the astral statues projected by their inferior brethren -- "the wicked gods."
The Secret Doctrine is not alone in speaking of primeval MEN born simultaneously on the seven divisions of our Globe. In the first column of the Cutha tablet, seven human beings with the faces of ravens (black, swarthy complexions), whom "the (seven) great gods created," are mentioned. "In the midst of the earth they grew up and became great ... Seven kings, brothers of the same family." These are the Seven Kings of Edom to whom reference is made in the Kabala; the first race, which was imperfect, i.e., was born before the "balance" (sexes) existed, was therefore destroyed. They were "destroyed," as a race, by being merged in their own progeny (by exudation); that is to say, the sexless race became the bisexual (potentially); the latter the androgynes; these again the sexual, the later third (our Adam and Eve). Were the Chaldean tablets less mutilated, says H.P.B., they would be found to contain word for word the same accounts as given in the archaic records. They corroborate the Theosophical teachings: (1) That the race which was the first to fall into generation was a dark race (Zalmat Gaguadi), which they call the Adami or dark Race, and that Sarka, or the light race, remained pure for a long while subsequently. (2) That the Babylonians recognized two principal Races at the time of the Fall, the Race of the Gods (the Ethereal doubles of the Pitris), having preceded these two. These "Races" are our second and third Root-races. (3) That these seven Gods, each of whom created a man, or group of men, were "the gods imprisoned or incarnated." In one of the Magical Texts are the following lines:"O Sin,(5) thou who alone givest light,The state after death is depicted in the legend of Ishtar, the Babylonian Venus. She is represented as having destroyed her youthful consort, Tammuz, a solar-deity -- the sun approaching the summer solstice, which occurs in the sixth month, designated by the title, the month of "the mission of Ishtar." The goddess, repentant and weeping goes to the lower world in search of her spouse and is obliged to pass through seven gates. At the first her great crown is removed; at the second, her earrings; at the third, her necklace; at each gate some portion of her dress is taken away until at the seventh, she stands naked before Allatu, who presides over this realm. During her absence all fertility on the earth has ceased. Shamash is informed of the disaster, and goes to Sin and Ea for aid. The latter creates "a divine servant," whose name means "the Renewal of Light," who proceeds to "the land whence there is no return" to fetch the goddess. As Ishtar repasses the gates, the articles stripped from her on her descent are returned; first, her loin cloth, her bracelets, ankle-rings and so on until she reappears upon earth fully clothed. While the myth is a symbol of the passage of the sun through the fall and winter months, it is a clear indication of the post-morten states, when the soul is divested one by one of its astral envelopes, which it again picks up on its return to another incarnation. The story ends with a warning to all who mourn for their dead to remember Tammuz. The festival of Tammuz was selected as an "All-Souls" day and became an occasion of calling to mind those who had entered Aralu. There are many references to women weeping for Tammuz. Excessive grief over the dead was manifested in Babylonia -- a custom which still prevails in the Orient -- and was the occasion for the production of a great number of dirges. The Book of Lamentations is based upon this very custom of wailing for the dead. Arulu, as the nether world was called, is dark and gloomy:
Extending light to mankind,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Showing favor to the black-headed ones,
Thy light is glorious as the Sun.""...the house whose inhabitants are deprived of light.Prof. Jastrow says,(6) "It is almost startling to note to what a degree the views embodied in the Old Testament writings regarding the fate of the dead, coincide with Babylonian conceptions. The descriptions of Sheol found in Job, in the Psalms, in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and elsewhere are hardly to be distinguished from those that we have encountered in Babylonian literature. While the dead are weak and generally inactive, although capable of suffering, they were also regarded by the Hebrews as possessing powers superior to those of the living. As among the Babylonians, the dead stand so close to the higher powers as to be themselves possessed of divine qualities. Schwally aptly characterizes this apparent contradiction by saying, 'that the dead are Refa'im (weak), but, at the same time, Elohim, i.e., divine beings." Corroborating what has already been brought out, this author says: "Further discoveries beneath the mounds of Mesopotamia and further researches in Babylonian literature, will add more evidence to the indebtedness of the Hebrews to Babylonia. It will be found that in the sacrificial ordinances of the Pentateuch, in the legal regulations, in methods of justice and punishment, Babylonian models were largely followed, or, what is an equal testimony to Babylonian influence, an opposition to Babylonian methods was dominant. It is not strange that when by a curious fate, the Hebrews were once more carried back to the 'great river of Babylon' (Psalm cxxxvii, I) the people felt so thoroughly at home there. It was only the poets and some ardent patriots who hung their harps on the willows and sighed for a return to Zion. The Jewish population steadily increased in Babylonia, and soon also the intellectual activity of Babylonian Jews outstripped that of Palestine.(7) The finishing touches to the structure of Judaism were given in Babylonia -- on the soil where the foundations were laid."
The place where dust is their nourishment, their food clay.
They have no light, dwelling in dense darkness.
And they are clothed like birds, in a garment of feathers."
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
FIRE OF PROMETHEUS
The allegory of the fire of Prometheus is another version of the rebellion of the proud Lucifer, who was hurled down to the bottomless pit, or simply unto our Earth, to live as man. The Hindu Lucifer, the Mahasura, is also said to have become envious of the Creator's resplendent light, and, at the head of inferior Asuras (not gods, but spirits), to have rebelled against Brahmâ; for which Siva hurled him down to Pâtâla. But, as philosophy goes hand in hand with allegorical fiction in Hindu myths, the devil is made to repent, and is afforded the opportunity to progress: he is a sinful man esoterically, and can by yoga devotion, and adeptship, reach his status of one with the deity, once more. Hercules, the Sun-god, descends to Hades (the cave of Initiation) to deliver the victims from their tortures, etc., etc. The Christian Church alone creates eternal torment for the devil and the damned, that she has invented. --S.D., II, p. 237.
THE BABYLONIAN EPIC OF GILGAMESH
(Part 28 of a 59-part series)
Back to the
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".
SEVEN (7) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) Jesus spoke of himself as the vine.
Back to text.
(2) Tammuz is the consort of Ishtar, the Babylonian Venus.
Back to text.
Back to text.
(4) Sayce thinks this may be translated Adama (Adam).
Back to text.
(5) The Moon.
Back to text.
(6) "Religions of Babylonia and Assyria."
Back to text.
(7) The Talmud of Babylonia, and not the Talmud of Palestine, became the authoritative work in the Jewish Church. (Jastrow.)
Back to text.