Genesis from a Jungian perspective


I find it interesting to explore the Genesis story of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden from a Jungian perspective. I know Gnostics will have a different take on this, and indeed prefer alternative versions of the story, but here I present an orthodox Christian interpretation.

The two trees in the garden of Eden face two choices that facing humanity. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents the lower self, the ego. It offers a kind of knowledge, that is very attractive, but it does not offer wholeness. Indeed it offers a kind of death, as the opportunity cost is access to the tree of life. The tree of life on the other hand represents the higher self, that which does offer wholeness, but it can only be approached by denying the sovereignty of the ego, by surrendering to the higher self. The snake represents an ego trap. It feeds the ego, distracting us from considering the tree of life. Indeed in the story the protagonists seem barely aware of the tree of life. It hardly enters their consciousness. They spend all their time pondering the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The choice being made for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, there are consequences. By choosing the self centred life over the other centred life, difficulties are experienced in life. But there is a way back to the tree of life. This is through self sacrifice, as represented in the broader story by Jesus, known as the the second Adam. In the final chapters of the scriptures, the tree of life reappears, the way having been opened by the act of ego sacrifice. We are left with an image of the garden, now integrated with the city, and a new higher balance restored.

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