Meaning of the Tree of Life

by Joshua Tilghman on March 12, 2013

Tree of Life by HiPanda1 300x187 Meaning of the Tree of LifeThe tree of life. It is arguably one of the most popular symbols in the Bible. It’s too bad that so many people read Genesis, discover the tree of life, and think it’s literal. To do so robs the mind of this ancient symbol’s true beauty and essence!

Sometimes called the cosmic or world tree, the tree of life did not originate with the authors of Genesis. For thousands of years it has been used in sacred literature to describe man’s connection with the divine. Although different cultures have known this tree by different names, the essence of this tree’s significance is essentially the same; it represents both divine and natural man, the spiritual and natural world. And just as the tree of life symbolically spans all the worlds of existence, so does man.

I know the above sounds super spiritual, so what does it really mean for all of us down here on earth? Simply put, the tree of life is about the evolution of subjective consciousness from the lower planes to the higher planes—the world of physical matter to the world of energetic spirit. And consciousness is the center of it all!

Consider the Buddha. He was enlightened under the great Bodhi tree. Is it really just a coincidence that Odin gained supernatural abilities (enlightenment) under the branches of Yggdrasil, the mythological tree of the ancient Scandinavians? How about the fact that ancient Mayan kings, including Pakal Votan, were portrayed on stone monuments with the world tree emerging from their headdress (more enlightenment imagery)?

I apologize in advance to the fundamentalist that believes the concept behind the tree of life is unique to Biblical literature, but I don’t think all this imagery is coincidental. In fact, we can easily connect enlightenment with the Biblical tree of life. Consider the scripture from Revelations:

“…To him that overcometh [achieves enlightenment] will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).

The seven seals being opened throughout the course of the Book of Revelations corresponds to the opening of the seven chakras, the cause of enlightenment, and eating from the tree of life is symbolic of the fruit one gains after traversing the many planes of consciousness.

They key to understanding the above statement must include a knowledge of both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Let’s review the scripture from genesis that references both trees. Unveiling it will reveal some heavy esoteric knowledge.

“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” (Genesis 2:9).

Why do you think the Genesis author implies that both trees are in the midst of the garden? It is because together they represent different aspects of ONE tree! The world tree is comprised of both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

In the realm of duality you cannot have one tree without the other. The experience of man includes both trees, from limited individual consciousness to the liberation gained through cosmic consciousness. When consciousness (spirit) incarnated on the physical plane, man began living out his existence among hardship and pain. This is part of the growing process, and there is going to be some wounds to lick. But to he who overcomes by continuing to grow consciously will be given to eat of the tree of life.

The key is in the fruit!

Within the experience of duality lies consciousness evolution and moving up the tree of life to partake of its fruit. Again, we can prove all this with scripture. Review Genesis 2:9 again. God said the trees in the garden were for food. This has nothing to do with physical food. It’s a about spiritual food. Let’s compare the fruit of each tree from Gaskell’s Dictionary of Scripture and myth.

Fruit of the tree of life: “Symbolic of the higher emotions and faculties of the buddhic [Christ] nature laid up for the soul when perfected.”

In Revelations Jesus states that the tree of life on either side of the river bears twelve fruits that provide healing. What causes us to express the higher emotions and mental faculties of the Christ? It is through the acquisition of wisdom, which brings healing.

“She [wisdom] is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her…” (Proverbs 3:18).

How does anyone gain wisdom? It starts with obedience to God on the physical plane. It ends when one truly learns the lessons (on the soul level) that experience in duality provides.

Now consider the other side of this coin:

Fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil: “A symbol of the experience acquired through the activities of the lower nature and the development of the moral nature.”

How does the Bible explain how man acquired experience and learned to develop the moral nature? By being kicked out of the garden (spiritual existence) to live life among “thorns” and “thistles” (duality). This is the fruit of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil!

Other cool ways to look at the tree of life

Sometimes the tree of life is inverted in Kabbalah. The inverted tree of life has its roots firmly established in heaven (spiritual planes) and the rest of the tree emanates into the physical world. Likewise, man originated in the Eden, a spiritual plane, and ended up in the physical world, earth. The inverted tree depicts this process. Now it is up to us to climb back up the spiritual worlds. I like to picture the inverted tree as the tree of life and the right-side up tree as the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It makes sense for me to picture the two in this way because remember that the true world tree contains both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Picturing one tree as inverted and the other right-side up helps me to get a clear picture for the functions of both trees.

Closing thoughts

4546250325 45b06b7f1b z1 297x300 Meaning of the Tree of LifeThe tree of life then is the ultimate motif of the evolution of consciousness. Its branches reach into heaven, the spiritual planes. The trunk resides on the material plane, and the roots grow into the earth, or underworld, which represents many subconscious aspects of our soul.

The consciousness of man then can be likened unto a tree itself. The ultimate goal is to become complete and whole, which is the true meaning of Biblical perfection. This is accomplished through following and understanding the deeper esoteric meanings of God’s commands.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf [true ideals] shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3). 

Returning to the tree of life is to gain enlightenment. It is guarded by Cherubim because we must go through the planes of existence and experience duality in order to raise consciousness before we can gain access. It’s that simple.

Every day that you wake up, consider it your day to experience something that brings you one step closer to again gaining access to the tree of life, or enlightenment! And it’s all Biblical! I especially want Christians who are questioning orthodox interpretation to know this, so I’ll say it again. It’s all Biblical! Don’t fret the fact that the Bible is truly a book with eastern concepts woven throughout. Doing so only limits the truths provided through this great book. It certainly isn’t of isolation.


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