Rabbi David Cooper, a world-renowned mystical teacher and author of God is a Verb, presents fascinating interpretations of the Biblical account of Eve and the serpent. Although his insight comes from obscure mystical writings, he has a gift of presenting them well to the general public. You don’t have to be a rabbi or an expert in Kabbalah to understand his teachings. Today I want to explore his teaching on the relationship between Eve and the serpent, and how it relates to consciousness.
Before we jump into one of his interpretations, it is important to realize that one of the keys to understanding mystical writings is the emphasis that is sometimes placed on sex. Everything in creation is seen as the result of a sexual act. Why? Because ancient mystics understood the interaction between spirit and corporeality that mainstream 21st century science failed to investigate. The truth is that spirit procreates by materiality! When you think about it, this is pretty obvious. We are spirit inside of a physical shell. We do the same. Our physical bodies are able to procreate another human being that is also filled with spirit. But what gets confusing is how spirit comes to inhabit the physical body. I used to wonder if God actually breathed spirit into our bodies the moment we were birthed into the world. Now I know I was thinking about reality all wrong; I hadn’t even considered the possibility that spirit and corporeality are two different sides of the same coin, and spirit (consciousness) already fills everything.
With that being said, let’s delve a little into Rabbi Cooper’s interpretation. I think you’ll see that beneath the literal understanding of Adam and Eve is the proof that Genesis has always taught that the development of consciousness is only possible through the corporeal, and therefore, the expulsion from Paradise was a blessing!
One of the questions that we need to ask is:
What is it that is created through the intimate act of spirit and the material? What’s the point in being here in the first place? Genesis teaches the answer is to birth to new states of consciousness. To put it another way, the intimate relationship between spirit and the material world provides the potential for more awareness. I have written about this concept in dozens of articles on this site, but Rabbi Cooper gives more insight into the subject through the relationship between Eve and the serpent. He explains it all through an alternate interpretation of Genesis 3:13, which states:
“…the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”
Of course this is the scene where Eve is trying to shift the blame to the serpent for her disobedience. Beguiled means to “seduce.” Cooper points out that the Hebrew word used for “beguiled,” hishiani, can also be translated, “to elevate.” Cooper then states that the serpent brought Eve to a “higher state.” Ultimately, Rabbi Cooper is stating that the dealings between Eve and the serpent symbolize the elevation of consciousness because there is now a potential for more awareness.
Don’t be confused. Cooper is not saying that a literal serpent gave a literal woman the ability for more awareness. He is teaching that all these characters are symbols for what happened to consciousness as it went from a state of oneness with God to a state of fragmentation in materiality.
Going from oneness to fragmentation doesn’t at first seem to indicate a “higher state.” Quite the contrary. On the surface it would seem that the Bible is saying Eve somehow became broken. But such is one of the mysteries of consciousness; fragmentation enables duality, which also enables experiences that have impacts on the way individual consciousness learns to express itself.
Cooper’s interpretation is so striking because it is in direct opposition to the traditional interpretation we have been taught through church leaders for centuries. Most Christians believe that when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, their potential became limited, not expanded. But Cooper, myself, and every other mystic of the ages believe that’s bogus; man didn’t really “fall.” Rather, the door was thrown wide open for the potential of being raised!
And isn’t this the message of Christ? Perhaps we should pay more attention to the term, Christ consciousness as the ancient mystics might have understood it.
The traditional Christian might now be refusing to read further, but many other portions of Genesis supports Rabbi Cooper’s interpretation. For example, take Genesis 3:22, which states:
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man has become as one of us…”
Hmm…this is a strange pronouncement from God. Eating that which was forbidden makes us as God? I guess the serpent, the one that is supposed to be the ultimate deceiver, was telling the truth when the Bible states:
“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.”
First of all, their “eyes being opened” represents that a new level of awareness comes into the picture. Second of all, the terms “good” and “evil” symbolize the world of duality that is experienced through the eyes of individual consciousness.
Now which do you want to believe? The traditional teachings of the church, or the insight and understanding of the mystic? I don’t think it’s that hard to see which interpretation makes more sense in the grander scheme of things.
Let’s look at Genesis 3:22 again, but this time we’ll dissect the rest of the verse I didn’t quote earlier.
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man has 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…”
The traditional church does have part of the above interpretation right. Taking hold of the tree of life and living forever symbolizes our return home to God. But what’s missing is the fact that the person returns home with “higher consciousness,” not the traditional salvation message we have been watered down with. This “higher consciousness” is the result of the individual ego being assaulted by its own delusions, judgments, and opinions (through a myriad of lifetimes) until enough experience has been gained to bring about an epiphany so grand that the ego is crucified and subsequently resurrected as something wholly new. Some call it “enlightenment.”
If all this is beginning to make more sense to you let’s take it a step further. The Biblical account also includes the fact that Adam and Eve were “naked” before they ate of the fruit. Cooper tells us that this eating of the fruit means a sexual encounter. Again, we are not speaking of sex in the sense that we normally experience it. We are talking about the interplay of spirit and matter.
Cooper also explains that in Kabbalah, the serpent is known as the “skin of the universe.” The serpent represents the energy of a third dimension, giving us the material plane. This is the fragmentation of consciousness he speaks about. Is this interpretation of the serpent more correct than what we have been taught in church? Certainly, especially when you consider the fact that the Jews have always stated the serpent in the Garden has never been associated with the Satan of Christianity. Understood in this light, the serpent is the universal symbol and force of potential awareness through the soul’s journey in materiality.
But we shouldn’t get too excited over life just yet. Yes, there is glory at the end of the journey, the return home to Paradise. But we have to get through the Cherubim with the flaming sword guarding the entry to this Paradise (Gen 3:26), remember?
That journey of the soul in corporeality is tough. It is filled with the “ups” and “downs” of life (and the ego). It is these “ups” and “downs,” the delusions of the ego, which eventually give greater meaning to individual consciousness, for without these experiences, the potential for higher awareness would not be possible. But in the end we return through Christ (higher consciousness)!
The Voice of God in the Garden
Remember what happened after Adam and Eve eat the fruit? The voice of God comes walking into the Garden in the cool of the day. This is another strange but brilliant metaphor ancient mystical writers used to describe consciousness. The voice of God is a metaphor explaining the new level awareness that man has now gained through his entering a new dimension of consciousness, corporeality. In fact, this new level of awareness is the voice inside of man, his conscience. That is why man realized they were naked and had to hide.
Nakedness, Fig Leaves, and Clothes
This makes even more sense when we dissect the symbol of nakedness as it relates to Adam and Eve. I briefly discussed in my last post that nakedness is a symbol for purity and innocence of consciousness without the ego. Before Adam and Eve fell in the Garden, they knew only purity and innocence. But this is not the ultimate meaning of the story. In the grander scheme this represents the state of consciousness before it expressed ego and individuality. The reason man and women were one in Adam before the fall was because consciousness wasn’t expressed through the physical duality we experience today. The Garden of Eden is a metaphor for consciousness without the level of self-awareness humans have the potential for now. Yes, it is true that nothing bad existed there, but it is also true that man was ignorant of good and evil (duality and higher levels of self-awareness).
In one sense to become like a God is to know, or become aware, of the actualized potential that duality provides the opportunity for.
Understanding why Adam and Eve were clothed with fig leaves also gives us another reason to know that the fall was something positive for humanity, not negative. Fig leaves used as clothes symbolize spiritual growth. But spiritual growth (ability for higher awareness) is never understood by the lower ego. The ego only sees what’s in front of it. Adam and Eve’s new state of awareness wasn’t a curse. It was a blessing. Yes, they died (spiritually), but it takes a spiritual death in order to have a new spiritual birth and eventual resurrection or awakening.
It is interesting to note that in the literal story, God took the time to clothe them with fig leaves briefly. But then he kicks them out of the Garden and clothes them with animal skins. If this was a literal story, what was the point in clothing them with fig leaves first?
The answer lies in the continual unfoldment of consciousness through corporeality. This corporeality is represented by the “thorns and thistles” that Adam and Eve must now toil amongst to live. They are then clothed with animal skins because clothes in this manner represent the covering of the nakedness of consciousness with judgments and opinions of the ego. This is where our delusions come in. We believe we are what our life situation tells us that we are instead of seeing the bigger spiritual picture of the journey of the soul.
In a sense, this is the real meaning of the “fall.” It is a fall because consciousness fell into lower vibrations, but the climb back up raises it again with higher awareness, and it’s a beautiful process.
On an even more positive note, the author of Genesis doesn’t leave us with Adam and Eve toiling amongst thistles and thorns forever. Cain and Abel are presented as symbols for mankind’s lower and higher self from the very beginning. That is offspring of Adam and Eve’s, and ultimately our, consciousness in duality. See more here.
The story goes on, all the way from the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt (the ego) to the Promised Land (higher consciousness) and beyond to the Christ, the second Adam, or the highest ideal of individual consciousness liberated from the physical world we find ourselves in today.
As I always try to get across on this site, it is high time for the traditional church to shed its water-downed interpretations of the Bible and realize its higher meanings. Humanity would greatly benefit. In times past it was only those who had access to esoteric material and the soul need for spiritual awakening that came to understand what really lay in the scriptures. But now we have the opportunity to spread the truth of the scriptures to much of the world and have a better understanding of ourselves and what God is supposed to mean to us. Don’t get me wrong. Churches do some great stuff for humanity today and much of it has its place. I’ve been there and I can honestly say it helped me grow. For me it was a necessary step for soul growth. But it was in realizing the misinterpretations of the scriptures in church that led me to that growth.
It’d be nice if the church could evolve into an institution promoting a viable means of raising consciousness through avenues like meditation instead of pointless salvation programs or sitting around and waiting for the misinformed Rapture to happen.
Unfortunately, I know it doesn’t work like that. But maybe this will change someday.
A special thanks to Rabbi Cooper for his understanding as well!