Orig-photo-Yukteswar-286x400Master (Sri Yukteswar) expounded the Christian Bible with a beautiful clarity. It was from my Hindu guru, unknown to the roll call of Christian membership, that I learned to perceive the deathless essence of the Bible, and to understand the truth in Christ’s assertion—surely the most thrillingly intransigent ever uttered: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”1

The great masters of India mold their lives by the same godly ideals which animated Jesus; these men are his proclaimed kin: “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”2 “If ye continue in my word,” Christ pointed out, “then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”3 Freemen all, lords of themselves, the Yogi-Christs of India are part of the immortal fraternity: those who have attained a liberating knowledge of the One Father.

“The Adam and Eve story is incomprehensible to me!” I observed with considerable heat one day in my early struggles with the allegory. “Why did God punish not only the guilty pair, but also the innocent unborn generations?”

Master was more amused by my vehemence than my ignorance. “Genesis is deeply symbolic, and cannot be grasped by a literal interpretation,” he explained. “Its ‘tree of life’ is the human body. The spinal cord is like an upturned tree, with man’s hair as its roots, and afferent and efferent nerves as branches. The tree of the nervous system bears many enjoyable fruits, or sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In these, man may rightfully indulge; but he was forbidden the experience of sex, the ‘apple’ at the center of the bodily garden.4

“The ‘serpent’ represents the coiled-up spinal energy which stimulates the sex nerves. ‘Adam’ is reason, and ‘Eve’ is feeling. When the emotion or Eve-consciousness in any human being is overpowered by the sex impulse, his reason or Adam also succumbs.5

“God created the human species by materializing the bodies of man and woman through the force of His will; He endowed the new species with the power to create children in a similar ‘immaculate’ or divine manner.6 Because His manifestation in the individualized soul had hitherto been limited to animals, instinct-bound and lacking the potentialities of full reason, God made the first human bodies, symbolically called Adam and Eve. To these, for advantageous upward evolution, He transferred the souls or divine essence of two animals.7 In Adam or man, reason predominated; in Eve or woman, feeling was ascendant. Thus was expressed the duality or polarity which underlies the phenomenal worlds. Reason and feeling remain in a heaven of cooperative joy so long as the human mind is not tricked by the serpentine energy of animal propensities.

“The human body was therefore not solely a result of evolution from beasts, but was produced by an act of special creation by God. The animal forms were too crude to express full divinity; the human being was uniquely given a tremendous mental capacity—the ‘thousand-petaled lotus’ of the brain—as well as acutely awakened occult centers in the spine.

“God, or the Divine Consciousness present within the first created pair, counseled them to enjoy all human sensibilities, but not to put their concentration on touch sensations.8 These were banned in order to avoid the development of the sex organs, which would enmesh humanity in the inferior animal method of propagation. The warning not to revive subconsciously-present bestial memories was not heeded. Resuming the way of brute procreation, Adam and Eve fell from the state of heavenly joy natural to the original perfect man.

“Knowledge of ‘good and evil’ refers to the cosmic dualistic compulsion. Falling under the sway of mayathrough misuse of his feeling and reason, or Eve—and Adam—consciousness, man relinquishes his right to enter the heavenly garden of divine self-sufficiency.9 The personal responsibility of every human being is to restore his ‘parents’ or dual nature to a unified harmony or Eden.”

As Sri Yukteswar ended his discourse, I glanced with new respect at the pages of Genesis.

“Dear Master,” I said, “for the first time I feel a proper filial obligation toward Adam and Eve!”

  1. Matthew 24:35.
  2. Matthew 12:50.
  3. John 8:31-32. St. John testified: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (even to them who are established in the Christ Consciousness).”—John 1:12.
  4. “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”—Genesis 3:2-3.
  5. “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. The woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”—Gen. 3:12-13.
  6. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.”—Gen. 1:27-28.
  7. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”—Gen. 2:7.
  8.  “Now the serpent (sex force) was more subtil than any beast of the field” (any other sense of the body).—Gen. 3:1.
  9. “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”—Gen. 2:8. “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.”—Gen. 3:23. The divine man first made by God had his consciousness centered in the omnipotent single eye in the forehead (eastward). The all-creative powers of his will, focused at that spot, were lost to man when he began to “till the ground” of his physical nature.


  1. Very interesting! This metaphor certainly makes much more sense than the literal story, which I have never appreciated either. Was this information received intuitively? Why is it not commonly known? Why was the apple even provided? Why was temptation provided?

  2. Heidi, Swami Sri Yukteswar (who provided this explanation to Yogananda) did indeed receive this intuitively. Yet it also fits comfortably in the language and symbolism of yoga philosophy from India. There is also a logic to it inferred by the elements of the story: for example, the meaning of a paradise (“Garden of Eden”) suggests (as do other creation stories from around the world) that there was a time in the past when human consciousness was in tune with Divine consciousness. (All the great civilizations of the past make reference to a golden age in the far distant past.) The explanation about the human ability to procreate asexually is seen throughout the world in various myths, stories and parables, not least of which is the virgin-conception of Jesus’ mother. And, also Buddha. There is modern scientific evidence of asexual conception even among certain species of animals which normally require reproduction by normal, sexual means. And even if it is but a metaphor for purity, it at least offers valid counsel.

    As to why not commonly known: that’s simple enough! The story occurs in the Bible and its interpretation has been the sole domain of church authorities for 2000 years. There are other points of view from the East, including evidence that Jesus’s missing 18 years were spent in India and Tibet, but points of view contrary to church authority are generally suppressed one way or another. Only in the modern age of communication is it possible for differing points of view to be shared without fear of retribution.

    The apple symbolizes the “fruit”, or desirable results, of sex temptation and enjoyment.

    As to temptation, that’s a far deeper subject yet runs to the very nature of creation and the “problem” of good and evil. Scriptures of East and West offer explanations, usually in story form, of how and why evil and suffering exist in spite of their insistence upon a loving God. One simple observation is that without suffering, we would be deprived of any incentive to seek a higher truth and more lasting happiness than offered by the senses and ego affirmation. Moreover, we would lose interest in the drama if it was always “nice” or, alternatively, would do away with ourselves if it were always torture. The great drama can only continue if it holds our interest, alternating between pleasure and pain. Our goal as souls created in the “image” of God is to pierce the veil of illusion that makes the drama seem so real and seek to find the “Wizard” behind the curtain of illusion (see Wizard of Oz movie).

    The purpose of the saviors of humanity like Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna and many others is to awaken us from the illusion to seek the Source of Love out of which the great drama is enacted. Much more could be said, but I hope this will suffice for now.

    May the light of your soul guide your journey to Self-realization!

    Nayaswami Hriman

    1. Thank you, Nayaswami Hriman, for your detailed reply. I have reread a few times.

      I remember, in the first of the Matrix movie series some 20 years ago, that it was said we humans did better with the illusion/movie of suffering interspersed with pleasure. The pleasure only script wasn’t so good. In the Matrix, we are all plugged into some great machine, our bodies being used as battery cells. We’re shown a movie to keep our minds engaged. I don’t remember if we supposedly supplied more power or what with the pain/pleasure script. There were many metaphors in The Matrix. The writers, I thought, must have also been interested in spirituality.

      Our “real” life is also a bizarre method of purifying love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *