Inner Symbolism of the Garden of Eden

When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, they obeyed the Law of Sacrifice in offering up the firstlings of their flock as they had been commanded by God. In a famous passage of scripture, Adam is told part of the reason why he had to comply with this ordinance:

“An angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son” (Moses 5:6 – 8).

It has been said with regards to the mysteries of godliness that every revealing is also a concealing, considering that not all aspects of a given mystery may be comprehended in one communication. This idea is apparent in the above dialogue between Adam and the angel inasmuch as Adam is only given one facet of the symbolism of the ordinance or token he participated in. Consider for example all the other facets of the token of animal sacrifice that Adam was not told in that moment:

ElementApplication
A valuable possession, namely an animal life, is voluntarily given up.The practical value of the action demonstrates the principle of sacrifice in that something must literally be surrendered in faith.
The animal was the firstling.This symbolizes the firstborn or Only Begotten of the Father, Jesus Christ, who would later be sacrificed.
The animal goes trustingly into the act, not knowing what fate exactly will befall it.This symbolizes the sacrificer’s own emulation of the future trust Christ would have in the will of the Father, carrying out the act despite not comprehending the result of the act in the moment.
The sacrificer must endure the unpleasant act of carrying out the sacrifice and watching the animal’s blood pour out in death.This symbolizes the Father’s role in so loving the world that he gave his only begotten Son as a sacrifice to save people from their sins.

Later, Adam was baptized by water, another token of a covenant with multiple symbolic applications. Adam was given some instruction regarding these things, as it states in the record:

“Father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam:… Teach these things freely unto your children, saying: Inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; for by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified” (Moses 6:53, 58 – 60).

Again, Adam was given here only part of the symbolic interpretation of this token. 4,000 years later, Paul in his writings to the saints in Rome revealed even more layers of symbolism than what Adam had been told:

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:3 – 6).

These passages illustrate that baptism reflects many levels of symbolic imagery in its token or act: mirroring birth, death, and resurrection—simultaneously! The ability for physical ordinances—or covenantal tokens—within the Gospel of Jesus Christ to act as visual teachers on multiple levels all at the same time should not come as a surprise; after all, Jesus Christ himself taught in parables so that multiple levels of meaning could be addressed all at once.

Perhaps not coincidentally, many apocryphal sources indicate that Christ’s most powerful allegorical—and hence symbolic—teachings were reserved for his disciples after his resurrection when he instructed them, “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). According to these accounts, Jesus provided his disciples afterward secret physical ordinances and esoteric teachings that had something to do with Adam and Eve. Examples of these gnostic teachings that have survived in a muddy form to the present day include quotations such as the following:

“Great is the mystery of marriage! For without it, the world would not exist….

“The forms of evil spirit include male ones and female ones…. And none shall be able to escape them, since they detain him if he does not receive a male power or a female power, the bridegroom and the bride[, which] one receives them from the mirrored bridal chamber…. 

“When Eve was still with Adam, death did not exist. When she was separated from him, death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more….

“A bridal chamber is not for the animals, nor is it for the slaves, nor for defiled women; but it is for free men and virgins. Through the Holy Spirit we are indeed begotten again, but we are begotten through Christ in the two. We are anointed through the Spirit. When we were begotten, we were united. None can see himself either in water or in a mirror without light. Nor again can you see in light without mirror or water. For this reason, it is fitting to baptize in the two, in the light and the water….

“If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him.”1

These secret ordinances related to Adam and Eve are only vaguely recognized today amidst what is known as the gnostic forty days literature. This name has reference to Christ’s teachings in the “forty days” after his resurrection, wherein he taught “things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3), and which have been the subject of gnostic mysteries since the very beginning of Christianity’s spread.

Unfortunately, whatever true mysteries and ordinances were once taught have been lost, being eventually replaced with mysticism in the early Christian church. Early church fathers, such as St. Augustine, influenced by the likes of St. Ambrose, came to accept mysticism in Biblical texts by interpreting them in a strictly allegorical light. This mystical tradition is somewhat reflected in the quotation above regarding baptism wherein a new layer of symbolism is added in the form of the water being like a mirror and the Holy Ghost being like a light, which when combined allow a person to truly see their reflection—a symbol itself of the full identity of a soul. This mystical interpretation of the baptismal token presents a level of symbolic correspondence pertaining to the psycho-spiritual organization of man (further defined below), which is a decidedly abstract and nearly occult take on the purpose of the ordinance. According to the forty days literature, Adam and Eve, and likewise the whole Garden of Eden itself, find themselves similarly transposed into a purely allegorical setting in order to teach mystic principles concerning the soul of man. But is this transposition justified in light of modern revelation?

Latter-day Saints have been blessed with revelation that confirms the literalness of the Bible in its stories. For example, many Christian theologians consider Job to be a fictional character meant to extoll certain virtues, but the Lord confirmed his reality in a revelation to Joseph Smith wherein he was told, “thou art not yet as Job” (D&C 121:10). But is it right that Mormons should interpret every account in the scriptures as literal even if they are “translated correctly”? (see Articles of Faith 1:8). To answer that question, let us consider some verses that may give grounds for sometimes taking a non-literal, symbolic approach to certain scriptures:

“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20 – 21).

“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you…?” (1 Cor. 6:19).

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:16 – 17).

“Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual” (D&C 29:34 – 35).

“Inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me…the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual” (D&C 67:10).

Man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy. The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple. The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:33 – 36).

The foregoing verses hint at an approach to interpreting the symbolism of ordinances in a manner not intuitive to carnal—or superficial—perceptions. Overarchingly, Joseph Smith taught that God not only views us as spirits (‘man is spirit’) and gives us spiritual commandments (‘my commandments are spiritual’) but that He actually interacts with us in a wholly spiritual, non-physical manner:

“All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all; and those revelations which will save our spirits will save our bodies. God reveals them to us in view of no eternal dissolution of the body, or tabernacle.”2

This indicates that where scripture regards a story, we ought to take it literally; but where it regards an allegory or an ordinance, we ought to take it symbolically. What the gnostic literature suggests is that the Garden of Eden story may actually be of this latter type. In this post we will explore some of the reasons that justify this interpretation. But before we explore the theme of the creation account as an ordinance text, we must first gain a deeper understanding of our true, spiritual selves because the allegory of the Garden of Eden—if indeed it is an allegory—concerns a fuller understanding of the nature of man.

Thanks to the teachings of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, we know that we are, as the scriptures state above, spiritual beings that are having a physical experience. What few may realize is that the truth of these constructs has actually been verified in a branch of science known as depth psychology.

Carl Jung and the Inner World

The founder of psyche-analysis, the renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung, while analyzing numerous subjects in an attempt to map the psychological workings of man, stumbled upon an astonishing thing: man possessed not just an unseen structure governing thought patterns and personality, but an entire “inner world” that seemed to have its formation before physical birth. As Jung stated:

“This ‘inside,’ which modern rationalism is so eager to derive from ‘outside,’ has an a priori structure of its own that antedates all conscious experience.”3

This psycho-spiritual reality of man’s nature was developed by Jung to a degree that the interplay and relationship of several distinct and desperate layers could be illustrated in the following way, which illustration will hereafter be referred to as the map of the psyche:

A simple explanation of the above diagram is as follows:

  • Self: the self is the entirety of a person, both conscious and unconscious; it is not only the portion defined by the circumference but also the God-like center of the person.
  • Ego: the ego is the center of the conscious portion of the self; it is that portion of ourselves of which we are consciously aware by default; it is primarily preoccupied with its own preservation; its presence keeps the inner world of man’s experience firmly in the region of the unconscious.
  • Persona: the persona is the outward image that the ego projects into the outer world; it is the image that the ego thinks others perceive of it and with which others directly interact. It is the interface between a person’s ego and the superego of society.
  • Anima/Animus: the anima and animus are archetypal forces of femininity and masculinity that operate in the unconscious part of the self, that portion of the person that interfaces with the inner world.
  • Shadow: the shadow is the undesirable aspects or traits of a person, which are repressed or suppressed into a fully unconscious state; it is everything a person wishes not to be recognized as by others in the outer world; for Dr. Jekyll it is Mr. Hyde, and for Mr. Hyde it is Dr. Jekyll.

The map of the psyche demonstrates the truths that Jung stumbled upon—that “man lives in two worlds.”4 Though a man is only aware of the conscious portion of his self wherein his ego has formed and from which he presents his persona to the outside world, he is also alive in another world: the unconscious inner world. This is experienced internally and is normally invisible to the natural body, but it is in fact more real and more impactful than the ego-centric nature of the outer world.

An analogy could be used to comprehend these dual realities:

A man retires from a long and eventful career and decides to explore the internet in his newfound leisure. He finds and begins to interact with users of an online forum using a pseudonym so that his true identity is not known by the other users. All the other forum members do the same, representing themselves by a username and an image. The forum is focused on debating the idea that the earth is flat. At first the man thinks the flat earth is a silly idea but, over time, the man begins to see things differently as he encounters sophisticated arguments and persuasive users so that he is no longer sure; he begins to feel a kinship with certain other users based on the content of their posts on the forum and how they write, or in other words, he begins to like them for whom they have made themselves out to be on the website; and, so that he too may be liked by other users, the man invests much time in becoming an active part of the website where he has built a reputation for being open-minded and speculative in his timid defense of a round earth. Despite the uncertainty regarding the earth’s shape construed between this man and the other users on the forum, the truth is that the man was once a bold and uncompromising astronaut who had even been in orbit around the globe, a fact which now totally escapes his recollection as he is absorbed on the forum. In fact, the director of the space program is his next door neighbor, but he has not gotten up to speak with a real person in so long that he has forgotten how to do it!

This analogy models the map of the psyche in the following ways:

  • When the man goes online and forgets his true identity, he is functioning as the ego, a limited portion of his self that has become obsessed with preserving a social status within the limited world of the forum.
  • The forum website represents the outer world—or the physical world in which we now live—and the man’s username, image, and the content of his posts represent his persona. Likewise these elements from other users represent their personas as well, their true and full identities remaining obscured and unknown to one another. Collectively, their unanimous viewpoints to which they all align constitute the societal superego.
  • The man’s experience and identity as an astronaut with an authoritative neighbor are the unconscious and typically inaccessible traits and powers of his whole self.
  • His easygoing nature online is in contrast to his undaunted character before retirement, representing an imbalance of the anima and animus qualities.

For this man, it cannot be said that the world of the forum—despite being misinformed and limited to digital written expressions—is any less real to him than the globe he had seen from the space station. Nonetheless, these two realities are also very different. Despite having two spheres of experience, the man’s loss of his full self in his absorption with the forum prevented him from being a greater help to the round earth advocates with whom he was interacting. Just imagine if he could remember who he really was and what he had really seen! To his peers on the website, his full self would be God-like indeed.

To understand the parallels to the Gospel, we must make a bridge to the map of the psyche using the unique vernacular and terminology of Mormonism. (Incidentally, appropriate mappings of vernaculars with other mystical or faith-based explanations of non-physical experience is the key to comprehending their truths in relation to the understanding imparted by the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.) The diagram used above is now represented with different terms:

Let’s consider the mapped parallels:

  • Soul: the soul is the entirety of a person, both the flesh (the conscious) and the spirit (the unconscious).
  • Natural Man: the natural man is the center of the conscious portion of the soul; it is that portion of ourselves of which we are consciously aware by default (especially after the age of accountability); it is primarily preoccupied with its own preservation physically and socially; its presence keeps the spiritual world of man’s experience firmly in the region of the unconscious.
  • Outward Appearance: the outward appearance is the image that the natural man attempts to project into the outer world; it is the image that the natural man thinks others perceive of it and the image with which others directly interact. It is the interface between a person’s carnal mind and the dictates of the worldly.
  • Contractive/Expansive: the contractive and expansive sides of the spirit are archetypal forces of femininity and masculinity that operate in the spirit portion of the soul, that portion of the person that interfaces with the spirit world.
  • Unknown Depths: the unknown depths are a person’s self-defined undesirable aspects or traits, which are repressed or suppressed into a fully unconscious state, though it is yet alive in the spirit; it is everything a person wishes not to be recognized as by others in the physical world; for Dr. Jekyll it is Mr. Hyde, and for Mr. Hyde it is Dr. Jekyll.

Applying these mappings to the analogy of the flat-earth debating ex-astronaut, we can see how that our spirits are like the man with a vast and forgotten tome of experience who has become absorbed with an artificially constructed reality. The man’s website forum represents the physical world; and the usernames, images, and posts represent the outward appearances put forth by the natural man. Likewise we too have lost sight of our spiritual selves and have been so fully absorbed by the cares of the world that we seldom stop to question it all.

If you were to sit down with Jung and undergo a session of depth psyche-analysis, he would ask questions of your thoughts, dreams, and imaginings to try and probe the nature of your “unconscious self.” Using the above translation into Mormon lingo, you would then understand that Jung was attempting to get an understanding of your spirit and its untapped reservoirs of knowledge and insights of which your conscious self may scarcely be aware.

In his experience, Jung found that the human soul went through a process from childhood through to adulthood and beyond that involved the initial formation and upbuilding of the ego (the natural man) followed by a final return and longing for communion with the unconscious (the spirit world) later in life. Indeed, to his subjects his universal recommendation for enlightenment and fulfillment he referred to as a process called individuation:

“Individuation means becoming an ‘in-dividual,’ and, in so far as ‘individuality’ embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as ‘coming to selfhood’ or ‘self-realization.'”5

Individuation is also called “integration” of the conscious and unconscious aspects of the self into a more unified whole. In other words, the goal of this process is to break down the barrier that has been imposed on the soul between the flesh and the spirit.

Jung saw that this barrier is built in childhood as the ego begins to define itself from the unseen, inner life. This is the natural consequence, Jung argued, of the soul’s exposure to knowledge of good and evil, which knowledge creates a rift with the child’s innate inner God-like spirit. Individuation then is the need to return to that ‘integrated’ state of psyche wherein the physical mind is un-divorced from the spiritual mind. From a Gospel perspective, individuation is akin to the great work of the master healer, it is a return to “at-one-ment” within each soul. As the theologian Paul Tillich noted regarding the process of salvation:

“Healing means reuniting that which is estranged, giving a center to what is split, overcoming the split between God and man, man and his world, man and himself.”6

With the map of the psyche firmly in mind, we can now re-approach the gnostic ordinances and tokens ostensibly given by Christ after his resurrection regarding Adam and Eve and the mirrored bridal chamber.

That Your Eyes May Be Opened

Little is known outside of esoteric traditions regarding the nature of the ordinances taught by Jesus Christ regarding the individuation—or healing—of Adam and Eve as delivered to his original apostles, but sufficient initiatory symbolism remains in the Biblical account of Adam and Eve to apply the map of the psyche to it and produce a legible if not profitable interpretation therefrom.

The archetypal nature of the Adam and Eve account enables the reader to apply the symbolism contained therein to himself quite effectively. As the celebrated cultural historians Arthur and Elena George noted:

“The process that Adam and Eve underwent has much in common with the initiations of protagonists in myths and in esoteric traditions, in which the initiate’s entire mode of being is transformed. In an initiation, the candidate enters into sacred space, conceived of as being removed from the real world, in a mode of preexistence.”7

Likewise the account in Genesis does not begin in the Garden of Eden or even on the earth. There is a curious trait common to the creation accounts or ordinance texts of Moses (Genesis) and Abraham (Book of Abraham), which is that both creation accounts occur in a double form, known technically as a doublet. In Moses’ account, a creation is described in Genesis 1 (going through Genesis 2:4, technically) and then over again in Genesis 2 (picking up in Genesis 2:5); in Abraham’s account the same thing occurs across chapters 4 and 5 of the Book of Abraham. Some authors have speculated that in the case of the Bible it is evidence of dual authorship, each account carrying its own agenda (the second account often pinned on Deuteronomist revisers). There are significant differences between the double accounts that would seem at first glance to support the multiple author theory:

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4Genesis 2:1 – 3:24
The only deity mentioned is the ElohimJehovah is actually named
The creation culminates with manThe creation begins with man
There are six days of creation and a day of restEverything happens without reference to specific timeframes
The creation is pronounced good including man who does not fallBefore Jehovah’s work is completed, man falls
Man and woman are formed at the same timeMan is formed first, then animals, then woman
Creation doublet in Moses’ ordinance text

Though the idea that Deuteronomist revisers, among others, have authored varying and conflicting portions of the Bible is doubtless a fact, the application of this Documentary Hypothesis of Bible authorship perhaps needn’t be extended to the first few chapters of Genesis given the fact that there is also a parallel doublet form in the Book of Abraham, which we are told was written by a single author (Abraham). Even in this additional account the strange differences in the doublet persist, mirroring the Genesis ordinance text:

Abraham 4:1 – 5:3Abraham 5:4 – 5:21
The deity named throughout is “the Gods,” corresponding to the Elohim named in HebrewJehovah is not specifically named
The creation culminates with manThe creation begins with man
There are six days of creation and a day of restEverything happens in a day
The creation is observed as being obedient except for man whom the Gods state they expect to be obedientThe account ends before the fall occurs
Man and woman are formed at the same timeMan is formed first, then the woman, then the animals
Creation doublet in Abraham’s ordinance text

Where the Genesis doublet leaves the reader scratching their head as to the reason for the repetition, the Abraham account is clear on what exactly is going on here (without having to resort to a multiple authorship theory). The text actually provides a direct explanation of why there are two different instances of creation. Note what the Gods state during their transition between the first and second creation accounts. On the day of rest, the seventh day, the scripture states:

“The Gods said among themselves: On the seventh time we will end our work, which we have counseled; and we will rest on the seventh time from all our work which we have counseled. And the Gods concluded upon the seventh time, because that on the seventh time they would rest from all their works which they (the Gods) counseled among themselves to form; and sanctified it. And thus were their decisions at the time that they counseled among themselves to form the heavens and the earth” (Abr. 5:2 – 3).

This shows that what we find in the doublets is not competing creation accounts with differing agendas but rather two different creations altogether: a spiritual creation followed by a physical creation. This is a reflection of the two worlds or dual realities in which all mankind find themselves at this time—having first been assembled as spiritual beings in a spiritual realm before being assembled in physical bodies in a physical realm. This concept is confirmed by the Lord in a revelation given to Joseph Smith:

“The first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit. For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal—first spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work—speaking unto you that you may naturally understand” (D&C 29:30 – 33).

Thus the beginning of God’s work is to form things spiritually and then give them physical forms (the end of his work, apparently, is then to take those physical things after their dissolution and give them pure bodies of refined spiritual matter). Allegorically, this shows that the more ancient part of man is the unconscious body of spirit, which itself is the culmination of phases of spiritual ordering stretching into a distant past (see Progression & Probations).

The symbolic application of this initial portion of the creation account as an ordinance could be summed up as follows: the unconscious spirit or mind of the initiate is older and wiser than what his physical body would allow him to believe. This portion of the initiation is to awaken the initiate to an awareness of his fuller self, that he is more than he has been led to believe by the outward appearances with which he has been acquainted all his life to that point.

Inherent in the process of physical creation or incarnation is a reduction to a state of unknowing, an ouroboric state of darkness or relative blindness. In fact, man begins his physical career in a state of complete disorientation: forgetting all, upside down, underwater, and in the dark. Likewise Adam begins his ordinance with his eyes closed in a deep sleep, a symbol of the darkness of the womb where physical life begins:

“An initiate’s transformation to a higher stage of being is likened to death, because one’s former state of being is said to die and be left behind. Such transformations are typical of creation myths…. This is why at the start of an initiation ritual the candidates often wear blindfolds…and why the ritual begins in a dark chamber and ends with the enlightened being led out into the light. This also explains why blinding is often the fate of failed heroes (e.g., Oedipus, Samson).”7b

Initiation rites are typically tests for candidates, providing information that must be acted upon, typically through recitation, in order to successfully pass through them. The symbolism of Adam’s journey beginning in darkness demonstrates that mortality itself is a macroscopic initiation rite for the spirit of man, which begins its test in the darkness of the womb.

The parallels with childhood development can be taken further to solidify this connection: Adam and Eve initially started their career in the Garden of Eden innocent and in a state of amnesia to all that came before, the same as babies who come to earth tabula rasa (see D&C 93:38); and, just like children who feel no shame in their nakedness, unaware of the societal meaning of clothing, Adam and Eve are also oblivious to their outward state, clothed or unclothed.

Obviously the allegorical parallels to early childhood are many, and Adam and Eve’s initial placement in the Garden carries heavy symbolism of mental and psychological human development. This is perhaps made most obvious by the agent of transformation itself utilized in the Adam and Eve ordinance drama: the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Problem of Evil

It has been speculated by some that the fruit that induced a state of shame upon Adam and Eve had to be sexual in nature, that its symbolic application is that of a sexual awareness. But this theory breaks upon simple reflection that animals, though not possessing a knowledge of good and evil like humans, know all about sex and bear no shame about it. No, the fruit represents exactly what its name says: knowledge.

“Good and evil” as a phrase functions as a linguistic tool known as a merism, which is simply the juxtaposition of two contrasting things to make reference to a whole. “The rich and the poor” would simply mean “everyone”; “Big and small” would mean “all sizes”; and “black and white” would mean “all colors.” The concept is graphically embodied by the famous taoist symbol of the yin yang:

The Egyptian equivalent was the “upper and lower kingdoms,” which geographic contrasts were used as symbols to represent good and evil. Hence the pharaoh wore the double crown of both regions to show that he was ruler of all things and could maintain order in the kingdom overall—not by eliminating evil but by comprehending it. This ability made the pharaoh god-like, and his honorific title would include, “Uniter of the Two Lands.”

“The crux of the ancient Egyptian system of beliefs was the relationship between order (ma’at) and chaos (isfet). Although a state of order was considered to be the ideal, it was acknowledged that an opposing yet interdependent state of chaos must exist in order for equilibrium to be achieved.”8

smꜢ-tꜢwi (sema tawy), “the uniter of the two lands”

This concept of deification through obtaining a knowledge of contrasting pairs—or all things—is reflected in Genesis when it is said that the possession of a knowledge of good and evil would “open” Adam and Eve’s eyes and make them “as gods” (Gen. 3:5). This all calls to mind the curious statement of Joseph Smith who said that man must not only “depart from evil” (Psalm 37:27) but also comprehend it (clearly, Joseph Smith would have made a good Pharaoh):

“The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.”9

The fact is that experiential knowledge comes by way of contrast, light being defined only by shadow; order, by chaos; etc. Hence someone must know evil to know good, and by extension someone cannot say that they are truly good without having turned aside from the opportunity to be evil. As the Lord later told Adam regarding the nature of human development, “When they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good” (Moses 6:55).

Given that the Elohim do not magically create things ex nihilo but rather organize preexisting chaos into ordered forms, another important allegorical lesson to the initiate of the Adam and Eve ordinance is that evil was neither created nor authored by the Gods (just as the presence of unorganized matter was not their doing either). This lesson is particularly important as the ordinance implies that evil, as an uncreated quality, is inherently within the initiate as a necessary aspect of his whole self (or soul). Put plainly, this is to say that evil must exist within all living things. Taking the yin yang symbol quite literally, even the half of full light contains an element of darkness (though it has been encircled and subdued fully by the light).

By extension this would mean that all intelligences or spirits are capable of being either good or evil at any time. This is true even of the Gods who, after all, differed from Adam and Eve only in already knowing good and evil.10 The scriptures show that what we may consider to be even “lower” classes of intelligences or spirits also have free agency and thus can choose to be good or to not be good:

“The Gods organized the earth to bring forth grass from its own seed, and the herb to bring forth herb from its own seed, yielding seed after his kind; and the earth to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind; and the Gods saw that they [the Gods] were obeyed…. And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed“(Abraham 4:12, 18).

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:11 – 12).

“The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made. And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,)…to destroy the world” (Moses 4:5 – 6).

Note in the above scriptures how the goodness of a thing is defined by its obedience. This is because all intelligences, or spirits, possess the ability to choose whom to obey, an attribute commonly referred to as free agency. When they choose to obey the Gods, it is called righteousness; when they choose to obey others—or in other words, when they choose to disobey the Gods—it is called evil. Conversely, those who oppose the will of the Gods would consider obedience to their cause to be actual righteousness and disobedience to it as evil.

This subjectivity of good and evil makes the contest of opinions and perspectives in eternity an inevitable and ongoing war. For example, those spirits who believed in and supported Lucifer’s agenda before this world considered themselves and their leader to be the righteous party in their rebellion against the Gods. Indeed, the rebellion’s proposition for solving the problem of evil called for the only viable solution in the universe: “to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3).

Though this would have solved for evil, it would have also have made it impossible to define the truly good or obedient. The Gods who won against Lucifer and his ilk entrusted and elevated man as co-creators in the unfolding of world events. They knew that though evil would be coaxed out of the heart of man and manifest into the world like slithering serpents upon the dust, it was a risk worth taking to see the obedient rise upon the wings of eternal liberty granted them.

Since the capacity for choosing to be evil (disobedient) is an innate quality to all spirits regardless of knowledge—or the amount of knowledge they have—the Devil did not have to force Eve to break God’s command to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge; he merely had to goad her preexistent capacity to be disobedient into action despite her not yet possessing a knowledge of good and evil. This is the basis for why the devil needs merely to tempt mankind in order for evil to manifest in the earth: evil already exists within all spirits. This is also the basis for why evil is able to manifest in the eternal worlds; even the Gods have good and evil qualities existing within themselves since, scripturally, what differentiates men and Gods is expressly not the ability to be good or evil but merely the knowledge of good and evil. Though this paints Mount Zion as being for more akin to Mount Olympus than we may be apt to believe, it explains why the devil, who is called “the father of lies” (see 2 Ne. 9:9), is capable of telling the truth in pursuit of his deceitful campaign. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus may have seen the point when he observed:

Good and evil are one. On the one hand God sees all as well, fair, and good; on the other hand a human being sees injustice here, justice there. Justice in our minds is strife.”11

Joseph Smith echoed this sentiment directly, when he said:

“There is one thing under the sun which I have learned and that is that the righteousness of man is sin because it exacteth over much; nevertheless, the righteousness of God is just, because it exacteth nothing at all, but sendeth the rain on the just and the unjust, seed time and harvest, for all of which man is ungrateful.”12

How can the righteousness of man be sin? Because it tends in some way or another to be unaligned with the mind and will of God. Sin, then, is defined by choosing to not obey God where a sufficient knowledge of good and evil already exists. In other words, sin is simply choosing to follow the counsel of someone you know you shouldn’t follow. Joseph Smith alluded to this concept when he stated:

What many people call sin is not sin. I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down…. Noah, while in his wine, [did] no harm. Noah was a righteous man, and yet he drank wine and became intoxicated; the Lord did not forsake him in consequence thereof, for he retained all the power of his Priesthood, and when he was accused by Canaan, he cursed him by the Priesthood which he held, and the Lord had respect to his word, and the Priesthood which he held, notwithstanding he was drunk, and the curse remains upon the posterity of Canaan until the present day….
“God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill;’ at another time He said, ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.”13

Leaving the Garden

When Adam and Eve finally do obtain knowledge, they find themselves unable to remain in the Garden of Eden. This expulsion is not a banishment by irate Gods but the natural symbolic context of the result upon the soul—or human psyche—of obtaining knowledge. It is just as much an allegorical explanation for the origins of certain natural processes as it is the moral of the story. For instance, consider the other curses pronounced upon Adam and Eve as a result of their condescension into mortality:

  • “Thorns…and thistles” and other noxious weeds will infest the ground (Gen. 3:18), yet these plants are the very medicines God placed in the earth to heal mortal afflictions and infirmities (see Alma 46:40);
  • Adam had “to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow” (Moses 5:1), yet the idler has no place in Zion (D&C 68:30 – 31) and even Gods had “work” from which to “rest” (Abraham 5:2); or
  • The woman will “multiply her sorrow” in bringing forth children (Gen. 3:16), yet all mammals that gestate offspring within their bodies must bring forth life on the same principle despite not having partaken of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and not possessing knowledge as man does.

Clearly, these are not avoidable curses but rather the natural state of things in a world where bodies of flesh and blood eke out their existence through sickness, heat, and corporeal reproduction. So too the very act of being forced to leave the paradisiacal garden is the symbolic, natural effect of the soul obtaining knowledge.

We see this in psychological development in children. When children become of the age where they begin to be accountable for their own choices, having come to a sufficient knowledge of good and evil, they automatically expel themselves from their previously innate spirituality and begin fostering an ego. The ego is concerned with the outer world of cultivating appearances and seeks three main things:

  1. Satiation of fleshly appetites;
  2. Maintaining a socially-accepted outward physical appearance or façade; and
  3. Appearing wise, smart, or socially correct.

And when the ego is denied any of these “cares of the world” (D&C 40:2), it takes terrible revenge through the feeling of shame. This shame, of course, is not the same thing as guilt, which may be defined as a spiritual feeling attending a negative action; shame is instead an inward response to a perceived outward social incongruity.

This is of course all embedded into the Adam and Eve ordinance. Eve, when being prodded into using her innate ability to choose evil, notices that the tree that represents knowledge (which produces ego) possessed three notable, allegorical aspects:

“The woman saw that the tree was [1] good for food, and that it was [2] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to [3] make one wise, [and] 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” (Gen. 3:6 – 7).

The result was that Adam and Eve immediately experienced shame, and consequently they resorted to dressing in a primitive vesture to denote how they then viewed themselves as being inferior to the Gods whom they had disobeyed. (Later the Gods correct this childish endeavor and give Adam and Eve clothes that redefine them as actually being worthy of divine love and investment; in short, the Gods communicate that they do not espouse society-induced shame.14)

But when children undergo ego development through the attainment of knowledge they are typically not informed that God would have them set aside society-induced shame. Instead, the more knowledge they gain, the more they tend to become conscious of their societal inadequacies, and, instead of turning away those peer-pressure feelings, they undergo even greater shame. This vicious cycle—which naturally occurs in human development—only further fractures the psyche, or the soul, widening the divide between the conscious physical mind and its now unconscious spiritual counterpart.

Put in terms of the allegorical ordinance, the expanding knowledge of good and evil as a metaphor of human development drives Adam and Eve deeper into the lone and dreary—or telestial—world and farther from their prior terrestrial Garden of Eden, which is now become hidden behind a veil.

Let’s briefly consider the above ritualistic terms overlayed on the map of the psyche:

  • Eden: Eden is the world of the soul, the entirety of a person, both in its telestial state (the conscious) and its terrestrial state (the unconscious); the boundary between the physical and the spiritual is known as the veil.
  • Yin Yang: the knowledge of good and evil is the driving force behind the separation of Eden into a lone and dreary portion and the paradisiacal garden planted eastward in it; having obtained knowledge of the world, the mind is motivated by shame to preoccupy itself with its own preservation physically and socially.
  • Cares of the World: the cares of the world are those things with which the shamed mind of man is typically preoccupied in its telestial, fallen state; it is the business that the fallen mind, or ego, thinks other minds care about. It is the interface between what a person knows and what society believes.
  • Eve/Adam: the Eve and Adam sides of the spirit are archetypal forces of femininity and masculinity that interfaces with the spirit world.
  • The Serpent: the serpent is a person’s self-defined undesirable aspects or traits, which are repressed or suppressed into a fully unconscious state, though it is yet alive in the spirit; it is the hidden potential for evil or for good that a person wishes not to be recognized as by others in the telestial world; for Dr. Jekyll it is Mr. Hyde, and for Mr. Hyde it is Dr. Jekyll.

Applying this to human development, a child loses his previous Edenic state of mind somewhere around the time of the age of accountability. The emergence of the ego is equivalent to the rise of the scriptural “natural man” who is concerned only with the flesh and the cares of the world. The mind in this state has lost the awareness of its inner spiritual world as the veil is drawn over it, and hence many children who experience natural spiritual gifts or have ESP at a very young age tend to lose those abilities around the same time.

This loss may seem regrettable on the surface, but it must be remembered that the God-like attainment of the knowledge of good and evil could come at no other cost. Indeed prior to this loss, the mind has only a tenuous, somewhat chaotic grasp on the nature of the outer world, and it is in gaining a knowledge of good and evil that the physical world can be comprehended and subdued. This can be demonstrated on a daily basis through one’s “eyes being opened” in literally transitioning from sleep to wakefulness every morning:

“As far as our psyche is concerned, our becoming aware of the world and the world coming into existence are one and the same. This process…occurs in any young child’s development (as shown by developmental psychology) and in the life of adults, such as when we wake up in the morning from an unconscious state and order falls into place. Our unconscious has no sense of space or time and little sense of order; it is indeed chaotic and is experienced as such. Thus, the dawn of consciousness and our image of the creation of the world are parallel and related processes which throw up corresponding, related symbols. The notion of primordial chaos is a natural projection of an archetypal image that helps make the unknown comprehensible”15

In the Adam and Eve ordinance, it is this critical juncture—stuck outside the Garden in a fallen world—that the initiate is told he has arrived at in his own life. The challenge and question put next to him is this: will Adam and Eve return to the Garden to partake of the fruit of the tree of life? Or in other words, will they part the veil and regain the presence of God (see Ether 3:13)?

The Way Home

According to the forty day literature, Christ taught his disciples that he came to the earth in order to bring eternal life to Adam and Eve by joining them together in the mirrored bridal chamber (see above). Though Biblical researchers are unsure where exactly this chamber was anciently, it may have been connected with the holy of holies beyond the veil in Solomon’s temple. That Christ should be the one to officiate in that mysterious chamber seems confirmed by the words of Paul:

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Heb. 10:19 – 20).

In Moses’ ordinance text, Adam and Eve are taught explicitly about “the way” provided them back to the presence of the Gods (see John 14:6):

“The Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.
“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:9 – 11).

Here Eve makes a clear connection to obedience to law in her and Adam’s quest to re-enter the presence of the Gods, or to re-obtain the Edenic state of the soul. Having been spoiled through exposure to knowledge of good and evil, the soul cannot simply revert back to the way it was in a state of innocense in order to re-enter God’s presence; it must now take care to fully comprehend and subdue both light and darkness through application to law.

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.
“And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
“…They are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Ne. 2:25 – 27).

“Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual” (D&C 29:34 – 35).

In other words, desires, appetites, and passions are themselves not inherently evil but must be kept within the bounds the Lord has set. Transgressing that boundary once possessing a knowledge of good and evil then constitutes sin. The spirit that yields obedience to the boundaries and divine instructions given by the Gods is promised a renewed access to the powers and senses of the spiritual, unconscious mind:

“Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; and whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. The Spirit of truth is of God. I [Jesus Christ] am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; and no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (D&C 93:24 – 28).

Taking up the map of the psyche, it will be recalled that the inner world—or the spiritual unconscious mind of man—is a vast untapped reservoir of supernatural ability and knowledge that can rightly be described as our higher, God-like selves. This is man’s latent intelligence with which he was imbued before birth (calling to mind Michael’s reduction from being one of the Gods to the child-like Adam [see D&C 27:11; see also Progression & Probations]). Since intelligence is “light and truth” (D&C 93:36), the above verses demonstrate that obedience to divine law results in expansion to the intelligence of man ‘until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things’ (again, ‘all things’ being represented in the merism of good and evil). This state has been attained in various degrees throughout human history—though in totality only once by Jesus Christ—the varying degrees of which manifest severally as spiritual gifts. Consider for example the supernatural abilities of the prophet Elisha who explained how he observed the duplicity of his servant Gehazi without being physically present: “Don’t you know that my spirit was there when Naaman got out of his chariot to talk with you?” (2 Kings 5:26, CEV).

Other spiritual gifts may be described in similar terms with relation to the advancement of the spirit within man as he learns to thin the veil:

Spiritual GiftPsyche Connection
Water DowsingBy far the simplest gift to exercise, water dowsing—sometimes called water witching—is something many can do without needing to have much truth and light in their spirit. Though the ideomotor phenomenon is responsible for the subtle movements of the dowsing device utilized, the source of those reflexes is the superior knowledge of the unconscious spirit or intelligence of the operator. The spirit of a person is capable of detecting the movements of water deep underground or otherwise far removed from natural sight. Dowsing rods, or other instruments, enable the conscious physical body of a practitioner to manifest the unconscious knowledge of their spirits. This gift is exercisable by most people and is not the product of psyche at-one-ment but illustrates the principle of the physical manifesting the latent powers of the spiritual, which is the basis for all spiritual gifts.
Charismatic Gift of Tongues (Adamic)Language is an artifact of the interfacing of physical bodies in communication. Inasmuch as spirits are able to communicate far more effectively and deeply through symbolism, the process of speaking a language is itself merely the translation of a non-physical expression. Hence many practitioners of the gift of tongues report not realizing they were speaking in a different or unknown language as the root of the activity “feels” the same when the inhibition of the physical body is sufficiently overcome. This gift is also related to the ability to speak in parables.
Discerning of SpiritsWhen one sees by the physical eyes, the character of the spirit of another person is masked by their fleshy, outward appearance; when one sees by spiritual eyes, the character of the spirit of another person is readily exposed. Depending on the degree to which a person has their spiritual eyes opened to receive images from their spiritual sight, the nature of a person’s spirit will either be presented symbolically to the mind or the information will surface only as an impression upon the heart. In either case, the application of this gift enables one to discern the spirits of all men, be they living, dead, or resurrected.
HealingAll spirits animate their host bodies through a current of virtue or power, a process which the scriptures call quickening. Upon God’s choosing, a person’s spirit may be over-charged with virtue, which enables that excess life-force to be conducted through the physical body to bring life and healing to others. This also enables any number of objects with which that person comes in physical contact to also become temporarily charged, like a battery. When that charged object is contacted by a spirit with sufficient faith to receive that virtue, the life-force travels out of the object and is absorbed by the person in need, producing a healing effect.
ProphecyTruth includes a knowledge of things to come, therefore a spirit sufficiently filled with light and truth will be able to perceive future events. The more light and truth a person is able to receive, the greater his prophetic views will be. This same ability allows the prophet to also perceive the truth of past events as it is one and the same gift of having time unfolded to one’s spirit. Since Jesus obtained the ability to perceive all events pertaining to the history of this earth, or in other words the fulness of truth, those who receive a knowledge of past or future events are said to receive the witness or “testimony of Jesus” upon that subject.
SeershipGreatest of all is the ability for a person to “see” with the eyes of their spirit, which is called being a seer. This gift is difficult to hone and often requires the seer to utilize aids in exercising his gift (urim and thummim, seer stones, etc.). The gift of a seer may be termed a combination of many other gifts operating in unison: the seer may see the underlying meaning of foreign writing with a similar ability to the gift of tongues but operating through vision; the seer may understand the movements of armies and the complexities of nations by perceiving the thoughts and intents of its leaders, similar to the discerning of spirits but operating at great distances and upon group psyches; he may touch another person and enable their eyes to be temporarily opened through the transfer of virtue, similar to the gift of healing; and things of all manner of timeframes may be presented to his view. Again, depending on the amount of truth and light present within the seer, he may perceive greater or lesser amounts of detail and may with time eliminate the need for using divinatory aids.

As a soul yields to the requirements of the gospel and the ego is dissolved, spiritual gifts begin to naturally display within that person. As Jesus said, “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17). Though it is the individual’s own spirit expanded by an increase of light and truth that enables the manifestation of these gifts (see By the Light of Truth), they come only by divine will inasmuch as the Gods dispense truth and light into the spirits of men as they see fit. The medium by which this power is communicated from the Gods to men is the Holy Ghost. Hence with a greater degree of its influence the gifts are meted out in similarly greater portions (see Classic Truth: The Light of Christ). This point was even made to Adam when, continuing in the allegorical procession of his experiences, he obtained the Holy Ghost or Comforter:

“By the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory [revelation]; the truth of all things [prophecy]; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things [healing]; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment [seership]. And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time” (Moses 6:60 – 62).

In light of the scriptural pronouncement that the spirit of man may be glorified in light and truth itself, these verses about the role of the Holy Ghost clearly represent the dependency man has on the Gods for a knowledge of things pertaining to the divine will. Though not typically described as a spiritual gift, the ability for man to commune with the Gods themselves relies on the same mechanics discussed so far and is the final key to the theorized ordinance discussed thus far.

Knock, And It Shall Be Opened

At this point in the Adam and Eve accounts the story begins to take a steadily more literal turn with children being born to them and an eventual posterity described. It is somewhere in this transition that their allegorical origins transition to their historical lives. But thinking of the ordinance acted out by their first scenes on the earth, the question remains: did Adam and Eve ever make it to the tree of life? That question is answered again in an allegorical sort of way:

“The Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost. And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen” (Moses 5:58 – 59).

It appears that for the historical Adam and Eve, their return to the terrestrial garden was also symbolically reached through sacred rite (‘all things were confirmed…by an holy ordinance’). Through these ceremonies they were possibly shown that the intended progression of the development of their psyches was such that after becoming fractured through exposure to experiential, dualistic reality—splitting into the conscious and the unconscious, the carnal and the spiritual—their souls were meant to be repaired to a wholeness through Christ in obedience to his laws.

As contemplated above, they were possibly also taught in these rites that this intended wholeness could not come without first dissolving that obnoxious obstacle introduced by the fracture—the ego. Hence, as the verse above says, ‘all things were confirmed…by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached.’ Why must the Gospel be taught in conjunction with the performance of holy rites? Because everywhere it meets you, the Gospel of Jesus Christ aims to restore the “at-one-ment” of the soul of a man, just as the rites require. Let us examine that point more closely for just a moment to note just how true it is.

The Whole Have No Need of a Physician

Consider Jesus’ teachings that are directly intended to peel away the hold that the ego has upon man when he is disconnected from his spiritual self (i.e., cast out of the garden):

  1. Satiation of fleshly appetites:
    • Jesus taught:
      “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God…. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 4:4; 6:31 – 33).
  1. Maintaining a socially-accepted outward physical appearance or façade:
    • Jesus taught:
      “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 6: 1 – 4).
  1. Appearing wise, smart, or socially correct.
    • Jesus taught:
      “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3 – 4).

This last point, about becoming as a child, now takes on greater meaning when we recall that little children have not yet developed the ego, or the carnal mind concerned with the things of this world; little children live somewhat on both sides of the veil. Becoming as a child then indicates the need for integration of the conscious and the unconscious, a return to the spiritual-minded wholeness of man’s innocent, infant state. Yet, having been exposed to knowledge of good and evil, this return cannot be accomplished without first overcoming the natural-minded ego. As the scripture summarizes, “To be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal” (2 Ne. 9:39).

Jesus’ teachings included setting an example as a perfect man, not only whole through stripping away the ego that he might be integrated in body and spirit but also balanced in the anima and animus. Consider the following table of traits or temperaments commonly categorized as feminine and masculine opposites:

FeminineMasculine
compassionatealoof
submissiveassertive
meekdaring
humblebold
full of lovedemands justice
nurturingindependent
forgivingrigid
selflessopportunistic
bears others burdensnonchalant
patientdemanding

Despite being a man—the perfect man—comparing his temperaments as shown in the scriptures to the table above it is apparent that he embodied many classically feminine traits. Or think of it this way: though of course no one thinks of Christ as being effeminate, an Arnold Schwarzenegger macho man certainly does not come to mind either. That is because as the perfect man Christ did not possess unbalanced—or exclusively masculine—temperaments. (Note: the masculine temperaments listed above are not negative in and of themselves but society will dictate their utilization either exclusively or at the wrong times and places.)

There is a spectrum of temperaments between the male and female sexes that can range from extreme in one degree to extreme in the other, and which can overlap on either sex, though the differences tend to be subtle. Through example, Christ showed that the path toward reuniting the conscious and unconscious halves of the soul also requires attaining to a marriage or harmony of one’s own Anima and Animus—or Eve and Adam, feminine and masculine—temperaments. While stuck in the “natural man” state of mind—the ego—this balance is impossible to attain:

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).

This fact precludes the worldly from being able to objectively perceive their true natures. One of the greatest aids given man in the pursuit of an inner balancing of temperaments is the Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God (see D&C 107:1 – 4): a balanced man will be more selfless than he is naturally apt to be, which selflessness the priesthood requires of him; and a balanced female will be more independent than she is naturally apt to be, which independence it has been noted is a natural byproduct of polygynous marital arrangements, also a tenet of the priesthood (see Plural Marriage and the Parable of the Talents).16

Mentioning these facts only serves to underscore the point that in every aspect where the Gospel meets you, it is designed to accomplish the great healing work of balancing a person’s inner Adam and Eve qualities as the ego is dissolved and the spiritual mind is integrated into the conscious. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is, in its most reduced terms, a system of refinement through sacrifice, just as Adam was taught by the angel at his sacrificial altar.

Let Him Enter

This brings us back to the allegory of Adam and Eve and their return to the presence of the Gods. Of course Adam and Eve did not immediately turn around and re-enter the Garden of Eden after being expelled; they had first to accept Christ’s laws and signify obedience to them through sacrifice. Only then—after suffering—could they go back to that child-like place of innocence and spiritual power. Jung noted that the process of individuation, or “at-one-ment” within the soul, mirrors this requirement on a personal level:

“Because individuation is an heroic and often tragic task, the most difficult of all, it involves suffering, a passion of the ego: the ordinary empirical [person] we once were is burdened with the fate of losing one’s self in a greater dimension….”17

This was reflected by the words of Paul who summed up the Gospel path in remarkably similar terms:

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2; NASB).

Ultimately, as we read above, Adam and Eve are described as receiving certain rites in conjunction with the healing work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These acts may have represented to Adam and Eve their admittance to the tree of life, or their attainment of the blessings and covenants associated with eternal life, having penetrated the veil of their unconscious spiritual selves to commune with deity. This crowning event is hinted at throughout the scriptures, described as a revelation to the recipient by a “still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12), even the quiet spirit of Jesus. Nephi summarizes as follows:

“If ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life…. Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock (2 Ne 31:20; 32:3 – 4).

This is the whole point of the allegorical initiation, to commune with Gods, angels, and sentinels despite the flesh.

With the ego dissolved and the abilities of the spiritual self reconnected to the conscious mind—even as a little child—with a knowledge of good and evil placed under the reigns of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, an initiate is readied to enter into the presence of his Lord to hear him. With the conscious mind having pierced through the veil into the abilities of the unconscious mind, an initiate is free to explore the spirit realm and all its inhabitants. Interactions there lead a mind to a knowledge of salvation. As Joseph Smith taught:

“After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.”18

The following passage summarizes the allegorical meaning and expected blessings associated with an initiate having internalized and applied himself to the symbolic course explored thus far. Note how the hearing of Christ’s voice is described:

“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
“Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you; and if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation.
“Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound.
“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
“Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.
“Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you” (D&C 88:63 – 69).

Note in the above passage, the parallels to all discussed to this point regarding the purpose of Christ’s gnostic Adam and Eve ordinance: through obedience to commandments, such as abstaining from loud laughter, a body fills with light and increases in its spiritual abilities until it learns to commune with the Gods “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:25 – 26, JST).


Footnotes:

  1. Isenberg, Wesley W. (1996), “The Gospel of Philip”, In Robinson, James McConkey (ed.), The Nag Hammadi Library in English.
    Note here another symbolic level within the ordinance of baptism, the water being likened to a mirror and the Holy Ghost being likened to a light; together they enable the one being baptized to see the reflection of his or her soul clearly. [Go back]
  2. Galbraith, Richard. Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [STPJS]. p. 355. [Go back]
  3. Jung, C. G., & Hull, R. F. C. (Ed.). (1980), Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious. Princeton University Press, p. 101. [Go back]
  4. Jung, C. G., & Shamdasani, S. (Ed.). (2009), The red book: Liber novus. (M. Kyburz & J. Peck, Trans.). W W Norton & Co., p. 264. [Go back]
  5. Jung, C. G. (1953). Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. Bollingen Foundation, Inc., N. Y., New York. [Go back]
  6. Tillich, Paul. (1975), Systematic Theology. Vol. 2, Existence and the Christ. University of Chicago Press, p. 166. [Go back]
  7. George, Arthur and Elena. (2014), The Mythology of Eden, Hamilton Books, p. 276. [Go back 7] [Go back 7b]
  8. Oakes, L. & Gahlin, L (2008). Ancient Egypt. Hermes House, p. 336. [Go back]
  9. STPJS, p. 137. [Go back]
  10. Also in comparison to Adam and Eve, the Gods had also already correctly harnessed their dual natures through obedience to law, a lesson that Adam and Eve will be taught only after their transgression; hence the symbolism of Adam and Eve’s innocence demonstrates that an undifferentiated psyche will inevitably go against law when it cannot perceive opposites. [Go back]
  11. Heraclitus, ., & Robinson, T. M. (1991). Heraclitus: Fragments : a text and translation with a commentary. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. [Go back]
  12. STPJS, p. 317.[Go back]
  13. Ibid., p. 193 – 194, 256.[Go back]
  14. This concept was touchingly expressed to the author by the professor of Ancient Scripture, Daniel K. Belnap, who put it this way: Adam and Eve’s attempt to define themselves was apparently a pathetic one, exactly like a child that insists on putting on its own socks despite massive physical inability. When God later makes them coats of skins, it is like the parent who comes to fix the child’s failed sock attempt, making the child feel loved and look nicer all at once. [Go back]
  15. The Mythology of Eden, p.. [Go back]
  16. Foster, Lawrence. “Polygamy and the Frontier: Mormon Women in Early Utah”, in Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 3; see also Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A house full of females : plural marriage and women’s rights in early Mormonism, 1835-1870. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017. [Go back]
  17. Jung, C. G. (1970) “A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity”, Volume 11 of Collected works of C.G. Jung. Routledge and K. Paul. [Go back]
  18. STPJS, p. 150. [Go back]

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