Cain and Abel: Higher and Lower Consciousness

by Joshua Tilghman on June 27, 2012

We all know the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, but do we really understand the great spiritual implications of this iconic struggle between brothers? For centuries the church has taught this story as a literal struggle between two individuals. However, the true intent behind the narrative of Cain and Abel is much more important than its literal rendition because Cain and Abel represent something much nearer to us than a 6,000 year-old story ever could. To put it candidly, their struggle represents the condition of the human mind; Cain and Abel are the two very different natures within us, and the grand struggle deals with the incompatibility of these two natures, especially when the ego is in control.

This blog post will trace the story in its entirety. We will uncover the “inner” mystery of these two characters, how they relate to our own individuality, and hopefully come to understand how to benefit from the knowledge we obtain.

The story begins in Genesis chapter 4. The scripture states:

“And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.”

The word “conceived” above could also be translated as experienced. If you have read other posts on this site, then chances are you already know that Adam and Eve represent the conscious and subconscious aspects of the mind. Adam experiencing Eve simply means the fractured conscious and the subconscious birthing the ego. Cain’s name, which is associated with our ego nature, means to erect and create (carnally), and his character is connected with our lower nature. In Hebrew, Abel’s name means breath (spirit), and his character is connected with our higher nature.

From the text it is clear that Cain and Abel are twins. Rightly so, because our higher and lower natures are the result of our incarnation (more on that later). The question I want you to think about now is: which nature is ruling in you?

When we read the narrative of Cain and Abel, we must realize we are reading a narrative about ourselves. Abel is the “inner” kingdom of your mind, and Cain is the outer aspect of your mind; one is spiritual and the other is physical. So if the Bible teaches us to walk by faith (spirit) and not sight (what we see and understand physically), what can we really learn through the example of Cain and Abel?

First of all, we should take note that Abel is not the one struggling. The struggle is about Cain because the ego is always in a constant struggle to kill off the higher nature. The ego wants total control because to sacrifice the ego is to die to self and let the Christ nature live through you. Let’s see how all this plays out in the story.

“And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord has respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (Gen. 4:3-6).

Ouch! Is the Lord biased against vegetables? Obviously not. So why did the Lord really accept Abel’s offering but not Cain’s? When we look beneath the literal interpretation we discover that Cain’s fruits cannot be accepted by God because they represent the fruit of his own labor. Our own labors are the fruit of ego, and they can never please the higher self because this fruit is here today and gone tomorrow. In other words, it has no lasting or permanent quality. But Abel’s offering is automatically accepted by God because Abel’s nature is ONE with God already. Abel is the higher self.

Notice in the literal story how Abel did not have to work, struggle, or produce anything to present his offering. He only watched over and kept the flock as it grazed and grew of its own accord. Go stand in the woods or near a waterfall and observe how nature is seamlessly integrated into one grand symphony of expression. Notice its BEING.

Next in the story we are told that God sees Cain’s disappointment and tries to reason with him.

“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doeth not well, sin lieth at the door…” Gen (4:7).

This is the author’s attempt to show us that the ego is full of ignorance. To give in to the ego is to give in to our lower nature. We all know that a few verses later Cain rises up (the ego always does) and kills Abel. Shortly after the murder of the higher nature, which symbolically represents the ego taking control, God curses Cain and tells him that he will be “a fugitive and a vagabond” in the earth. In other words, unlike the higher nature which is grounded in BEING, the ego is always trying to create, solve, and fix problems. This is part of the nature of the human mind, and it is part of the delusion. Jesus taught us not to worry about the things of this world, but rather to be as a child who understands how to BE in the NOW. Consider how the mind both creates and then tries to solve its own problems. The ego is constantly living in the past or present by dwelling on anything except that which is NOW, which is BEING.

We should also understand here that God isn’t really cursing Cain. The curse represents the natural outcome for any individual who is ruled by ego. How does this curse play out for Cain, and ultimately, for us? Cain would become a wanderer with no permanent home in the earth. Genesis 4:12 states:

“…a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.”

If this were literal the Bible would contradict itself since Cain did settle down shortly thereafter and built a city. And since we understand that it isn’t literal, most of us can identify with Cain if we our honest with ourselves. Aren’t many of us just drifting through life, creating our own problems and then trying to solve them? Aren’t most of us just vagabonds in the earth? This is true for all of us in the ongoing process of life and death until true repentance comes and we learn to value Christ consciousness. You may be asking what I mean by stating “…in the ongoing process of life and death…” Let’s get back to reincarnation a moment to answer that.

A few verses later the author of Genesis tells us that Cain “…went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod…” (Gen. 4:16).

The Hebrew word for Nod means to “wander.” This is another clue that it’s not a real place. It’s actually an abstract concept teaching reincarnation indirectly. To be a wanderer in the earth means to incarnate again and again into the physical. Why? Because when one is ruled by the ego, that soul vibrates to the tune of carnality. Therefore the author of Genesis also understands what the author of Job did (as well as someone else who reads this blog and recently pointed out to me):

“…Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return…” (Job 1:21).

It is also interesting to note that many popular cultural references points to the “Land of Nod” as meaning “the land of sleep” ( Many of you who may have studied Gnostic texts will also understand what I mean when I say that incarnating into a physical body and forgetting your former glory is to “drink the cup of forgetfulness.” See my article on Reincarnation and the Bible HERE to learn more.

And for those of us who are still having trouble with reincarnation, please see this touching Youtube video about reincarnation and a young boy HERE. ABC did the original story.

Before our conclusion, I want to discuss one more important point that many may have questioned: Where did Cain get his wife in the land of Nod? Ultimately it does not matter because this is not a literal story. That’s why the Biblical author of Genesis never attempts to tell us this information. Cain knowing his wife and reproducing the “ungodly” line symbolically represents the cycle of death and rebirth as it is expressed through the ego and the reincarnation cycle. This is also why Cain’s line became masters of craftsmanship, of metal working, of music, of culture, and ultimately, of civilization! The ego is behind all of it. As I have stated before, the ego is not evil. But it shouldn’t be in charge.

As a final thought, there is a lot of talk today about higher awareness and consciousness. The year 2012 is supposed to mark the end of a “dark age” and at the same time serve as an earmark to the beginnings of something great, something better for humanity. I believe this something great has to do with many people connecting with their higher nature. Check out Christine Hoeflich’s website, The Great Shift, Your Higher Self and the Divine Plan for more details on “how” to connect. I have also enjoyed Share the Spiritual blog by Suzie for her positive, upbeat message.

But ultimately remember that we cannot be forced to lay down the ego. When the New Testament says that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, it means that the suffering we keep revisiting ourselves with will one day become painful enough for us to ask the right questions about what we are doing wrong. It is then that we can begin the path to connect with our higher nature or Christ consciousness!

I hope this post has solved some of the mystery for you surrounding the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. In the true spirit of the scripture, we see that Cain and Abel teach us about the mind of humanity. Feel free to comment on anything you think might be relevant!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky Jones June 28, 2012 at 4:21 am

This is just a proof that even before, pride and jealousy would do nothing but to harm the people around us. It would be better if we take time to ponder on the things that hurt us instead of taking actions right away.


Joshua Tilghman June 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

Becky, very true! Thanks for your comment.


Christine Hoeflich June 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

Thanks Josh for this inspiring article! I have not viewed the story of Cain and Abel in this way, and it is indeed eye-opening. Humankind has struggled between the “ego” (living one’s life from what we were taught to believe…by anyone with an agenda) and “higher consciousness” (living one’s life from our inner truth, inner guidance, higher consciousness). This has indeed been the struggle for so long, but I am clear that the Great Shift in Consiousness is finally upon us and that through connecting with higher consciousness / Christ consciousness, humanity will finally be free!


Joshua Tilghman June 28, 2012 at 10:34 am


I am glad you gained some new insight on one of the most popular Biblical stories of all time. I hope more people can see what Genesis is about so that they can begin to focus on real conscious growth. Thanks for your comment.


Glen Tucker June 29, 2012 at 4:25 am

Thank you Joshua, a simple and gentle exposition of hidden truths (no longer!) 🙂 – I believe you have laid it out perfectly and especially given more evidence that the bible does understand reincarnation.

Truly the deep messages of all faiths are becoming evident by careful analysis of writings in holy books. An outcome to of the enlightenment taking place as a result of the devine plan and the era of 2012.

I also believe that there is a physical truth to behind the biblical story, the alien visitation that pushed the genetic evolution of mankind and our “fall” into ego. This was an act that created the awareness of separation and the journey of “free will”.

I shall definitely be following your blog!


Joshua Tilghman June 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

Glen, thanks for the kind words. And you are right…the messages behind all the major faiths are becoming evident people are slowly beginning to realize that the holy text were used for the wrong purposes in the past. What was once only privileged knowledge is now becoming more widespread. In the Old Testament there is a scripture that states, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.” Let’s hope we can bring that knowledge to light.


Imran April 6, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Hi Josh,
Wow! This article about ego and consciousness is very eye opening from an esoteric perspective and I’m very intrigued. It really helps me to have a better understanding how the ego and the higher self influence our decisions in everyday lives in an esoteric way rather than psychological way.

Though I have a question and I need you to clarify. As you stated, I really don’t quite understand:

“Our own labors are the fruit of ego, and they can never please the higher self because this fruit is here today and gone tomorrow. In other words, it has no lasting or permanent quality.”

I find it a bit hard to understand, what the statements means.
Correct me if I’m wrong, I think what you’re saying is if we only create our own work, for the sake of self-indulgence, (not solving other people’s problems and meet their needs, not doing things beyond ourselves, beyond our ego) that explains why people often suffer and struggle in life because they spend more time satisfying their ego, rather than doing something outside of themselves. They’re too busy solving their personal things. They are delusional that because they believe the world revolves around them.

This is what I think, so Am I right? Am I on the right page?


Joshua Tilghman May 28, 2014 at 8:25 pm


Yes, you got it! I would also like to add that the ego is transitory in each life experience. The higher self is the real, the ego the illusion as well.

Thanks for the comment.


Horus Gonodo October 15, 2014 at 9:21 am

You need to consider not the appropriate terms in your articles.

1. “God” is a word derived from the Germanic great ancestor, Gawd/Gaud.

“English is primarily a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects, brought to Britain by Germanic invaders and/or settlers in the 8th and 9th centuries from the places which are now called North West Germany and the Netherlands.” – Wikipedia.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the word “God” is derived from Germanic “Gotte/Gawd.”

The correct reference may should be “the Divine.”


• Webster’s 1913 Dictionary:
• Catholic Encyclopedia:
• American Heritage Dictionary:

(NB: Using the correct word or term does not question or cast doubt about the validity of the Divine)

2. “Jesus” is an English word from the Greek name, Iesus, which means “hail Zeus” ie “praise to the sun.” Read,

The real and historical person was “Yahoshua the Nazarene” who is outside of the Greek Scriptures.

3. Bible – The word “Bible” is derived from the word “byblos,” the Egyptian word for parchment. The Greeks assimilated the word “byblos” and it became “biblios,” which means “the books” or “the scrolls.” Later the Latin phrase “ta Biblia” would likewise mean “the books.” Hence the name of the Bible in English literally means “the books” and nothing to do with religion.

This why the word “Scriptures” is preferred.

To “script” is to write and these are “writings” collected and bound together. The original writings were not as organised as they appear now because organizing into chapters and verses were done centuries later by a Catholic bishop.

There has been numerous distortions arising out of movement of language and translations. Never ever separate the meaning of a word from its origin or etymology. Go back as far as you can!

Think about these and do your own research.


Joshua Tilghman December 15, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Horus, very true but I am not so concerned with being that technical. My readers understand through familiar terms and concepts. Your point number 3 is also debatable. I’ve read much on the subject, and think this could be possible, but there’s not enough evidence to say this conclusively.


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