From the Bible:

(Genesis 1:27-3:24; King James Version)

God created man in his own image, male and female created He them. And God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and out of the ground God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; and also the tree of life in the midst of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil….And God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden and commanded the man, saying: “Of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die….

Now the serpent said unto the woman: “Hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” And the woman said unto the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it lest ye die.” And the serpent said unto the woman: “Ye shall not surely die….” And the woman 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….Therefore God sent them forth from the Garden of Eden.


Originally I thought it ridiculous to think that Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden just for eating an apple. Later, when I understood that there is a message for all humanity in the Adam and Eve story, I made up my mind to broadcast its allegorical truth to the whole world. As an allegory, the story of Adam and Eve tells how the first human beings fell spiritually by allowing their spiritual energy to be drawn downward in the inner spine.

What is the Garden of Eden?

God or Divine Will materialized the original man and woman, symbolically called Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve represent the two natures of God, reason and feeling, expressed in separate bodies. In man, God kept reason uppermost and feeling hidden; and in woman, He kept feeling uppermost and reason less prominent.

In the original plan of creation, man and woman, ideal soul mates, were to lead a heavenly life by keeping their minds in the “paradise” region at the point between the eyebrows, the spiritual eye. Spiritual marriage consisted of woman or feeling, uniting with reason or man, and attaining oneness with God through the perfection of that union.

The “Garden of Eden” represents the inner bliss Adam and Eve knew when they lived focused at the spiritual eye. The “tree of life” in the midst of the garden symbolizes the inner spine that runs through the center of the human body. When focused at the spiritual eye, the divine energy flows upward through the inner spine.

Adam and Eve, having been made in God’s perfect image, were in constant communion with the Almighty. God told them they were free to enjoy all the different “fruits” or senses in the bodily garden—attractive sensations of sight, hearing, smell, and taste—but not to partake of the “fruit” of the tree of life in the middle of the garden. The fruit of this tree, the sex instinct, is sometimes spoken of as the “apple.” God warned Adam and Eve that if they ate of this fruit, they would surely “die,” meaning they would fall from divine consciousness.

A lingering subconscious memory

Why did God issue this warning? The first human bodies appeared on earth as a special creation of God. When God materialized the first man and woman, he created bodies with a brain and nervous system that allowed for the full expression of divine consciousness.

Yet the souls of Adam and Eve had once been in animal bodies. Evolving upward from lower animal forms, their souls had attained a level of development that fitted them for a more refined physical vehicle for the expression of their consciousness. God caused the animals’ souls, for further advancement, to reincarnate in specially created human bodies, beginning with Adam and Eve.

However, the memory of past sex indulgence in lower animal forms lingered in the subconscious of Adam and Eve. God’s warning was intended to prevent them from awakening that subconscious memory. As children of the Divine, Adam and Eve inherited the free will either to obey God’s warning or to affirm a separate egoic reality and forsake their divine attunement.

Falling under the sway of duality

The “serpent” that tempted Eve is the powerful kundalini energy at the base of the spine, which stimulates the sex nerves and draws the energy downward in the inner spine. When tempted by the serpent, Eve, the feeling aspect in human nature, subconsciously recalled the procreative process in the animal kingdom, and felt an attraction to sexual expression. Feeling or emotion, once awakened, overpowered the faculty of reason, symbolized by Adam.

Through their misuse of feeling and reason, Adam and Eve came under the sway of duality or maya (“the knowledge of good and evil”) and lost their attunement with the Divine. Their “sin” was in choosing the outward sexual energy over the inner bliss to which God had invited them.

A unified harmony of Eden

When Adam and Eve were in perfect attunement with the Divine, they could produce physical offspring in the same manner as God, materializing them by the power of will. By indulging in physical union, Adam and Eve forsook the heavenly union of reason and feeling in divine spiritual marriage, and were relegated to the physical method of propagating the species.

The germ of Adam and Eve’s error remains in all human beings, and is experienced as the first temptation of the flesh. Ever since Adam and Eve’s fall, each individual has had to do battle with this cosmic temptation. When the sex instinct is not controlled, men and women are driven away from the “paradise” of happiness that accompanies a life of self-control and moderation. In spiritual marriage, pure love must predominate.

The dual nature of reason and feeling symbolized by Adam and Eve exists within each individual, male or female. The personal responsibility of all persons is to restore their dual nature to a unified harmony of Eden. That perfect balance comes only through ever-deepening divine contact. In God alone lies perfection.

The missing link is a myth

Adam and Eve’s fall has contributed to the widely held impression of human nature as inherently sinful. It was no great leap, from that view, for Darwin and others to attribute mankind’s very appearance on the stage of evolution to the monkeys.

According to the theory of evolution, all animal bodies are interrelated and evolved from the lemur, and the lemur from the fish family. Science has uncovered in the earth’s lowest strata seashells, then vegetation, then animals, then different kinds of primeval man, but no one has found any missing links of half-man, half-animal in the strata where human or animal skeletons were found. Why? Because the missing link is a myth. There is no missing link. Human bodies appeared on earth as a special creation of God.

How do you explain man’s animal characteristics?

The evolutionist asks: “If man is a special creation, how do you explain the existence of animal characteristics in man?”

It is true that man has animal characteristics and that his body reflects the pattern of animals: Human ears resemble sea  shells, and the tail at the end of the human spine is reminiscent of the tail of primates. The Darwin point at the top of the ear is the vestige of the long ears of the donkey, and our intestines resemble the snake. Man’s quick movements, restless eyes, and grinning face resemble the monkey. The running power of man suggests the racing power of the horse. Man is brave like the lion, foxy like the jackal, cruel like the tiger, meek like the lamb, and hypocritical like the quiet cat who has just eaten a tame canary. He can sing like the nightingale and is ferocious like the wolf.

The answer to the evolutionist is this: Man’s animal characteristics reflect his long evolutionary history through mineral, plant, and animal lives. But beginning with Adam and Eve, God caused the souls of animals, for further advancement, to reincarnate in specially created human bodies.

Our original perfection in God

Modern science points downward to the subconscious and to man’s animal origins, claiming that therein lies man’s basic reality. The ancient Hindu view of life, however, saw life’s deepest motivation as a reaching out toward its true origins in infinity, and not as a blind instinct to avoid being slain and gobbled up as propounded by Darwin.

The ancient rishis gave mankind a vision of where he is headed on his long evolutional journey. They perceived man’s longing for self-perfection not as a distortion of his animal nature, but as the result of a deeper-than-conscious memory of his eternal divine reality. They understood that the soul, though temporarily identified with various sorts of bodily and mental states, tries gradually and naturally to return to its original perfection, symbolized by Adam and Eve when they lived in the bliss of divine attunement in the Garden of Eden.

From the 1934 Praecepta Lessons and articles and books.

Transformation: “Women, far more so than men, have the potential to uplift humanity. For feeling, not reason, is that aspect of human consciousness which can inspire, purify, and transform.” Swami Kriyananda, The Hindu Way of Awakening


  1. Wonderful essay. Jai Guru and God Bless everyone’s Journey! :-)

  2. Thank you for the wonderful clarification of this mystery. Another great example of Kriyananda’s work for Yogananda.

  3. All made a lot of sense, it was received by the knowing and awakened distant memory that there is a home from which we strayed and to which now all roads lead. Thank you and God speed to all!

  4. From processing my past negative karma through yoga and then seeing past events play out as various dreams, I have observed that I’ve inhabited a number of animals forms in my past and in parallel lives, including cats and horses, as the soul and consciousness are fluid and can inhabit other animal forms, this may explain some of the human beings animal nature. Through “I” consciousness identifying with other forms that it likes or relates to, we can inwardly take on characteristics of animals in our spirit. I believe this is why many Indian people who relate to Cows and Elephants take on softened or more peaceful expressions in the eyes or more frightening or ferocious with the Tiger. Here in the United Kingdom, I see many women in particular who share characteristics with horses or rabbits. I even see young children today who have eyes so large and wide they resemble exaggerated Disney princesses, which is perhaps a little alarming as it appears more as an undesirable disfigurement like a Barbie Doll than something one would want to evolve ones form into. I’ve also seen some of my past lower human selves, often ugly or disfigured compared to my present self due to lower behaviours and karma than birth genetics.

  5. Eve (then Adam, and then all animals) did not eat from the Tree of Life, but from the Tree of Knowledge (as written correctly in the quote of the Bible) which brings this essay in a completely different light.

    The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is not Sex, but the Mind (in the dimension of Manas). In my opinion, the fall of man was not caused by desire of the flesh or memory (Chitta, which is a dimension of Mind) of past sex indulgences, but by the desire of Spirit to become individualised as Satya Yuga came to an end.

    At the end of Satya, the Kundalini Serpent was able to seduce (creating desire) Eve to eat the fruit (Manas) from the tree of Knowledge. As as result the Kundalini could descend (escape) form the subtle realms (Garden of Eden) into Ajna (also associated with Intellect or Buddhi) and the other chakras via the spine, thereby expelling Man from the subtle planes to be imprisoned in the lower dimension of Mind (Ahamkara / Chittam) and (the Mind created) Body.

    “And the eyes (senses!) of them both were opened…. as both Adam and Eve came into the discriminating Mind”, and as you cannot be in cosmic consciousness while connected to your senses/mind, they were (thus) expelled from the Garden.

    From that moment onward, the false self (Ahamkara) started creating the Ego making man believe that he (differentiated sprit) is separated from God (un-differentiated spirit). As such Man was abandoned into Maya, while (during the Kali Yuga, or age of Matter) the Kundalini (life-energy) kept descending downwards to the bottom of the spine, creating Man’s biggest Vritti, namely his idea that ‘this’ (Maya / the world made of matter) is real.

    Good and Evil (quite separated in the subtle plains (see Autobiography of a Yogi), became mixed (The Three of Knowledge is also known as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, see quote), and as such Maya (duality) was created out of Union.

    The Kundalini remained ‘dormant’ (on a global scale) until this age (Dwapara Yuga = the age of Energy) where we’ll (re-)discover the methods to create and convert the energy needed to start raising the Kundalini (life energy), only to have it leave our body again from hence it came (Ajna). A process that will take until the end of the next Treta Yuga (reversal of the process of downfall).

    This so that the Self Realised man can live again in the planes of energy (subtle planes, Garden of Eden) during the next Satya Yuga.

    (Note: I’m a disciple of Yogananda in Mumbai).

  6. I’m wondering if somebody at Ananda can tell me if this article was actually written by Yogananda (as ascribed to in the “About the Author” box at the top of the article), or perhaps by Kriyananda, as seems to be implied by Anthony’s comment above. Thank You.

  7. As you know this is Yogananda retelling Sri Yukteshwar’s explanation. (From Autobiography) Perhaps that’s what Anthony meant?

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