Digesting the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

As mental beings we are used to seeing things in terms of stark opposition. The biblical book of Genesis recounts the story of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was forbidden for being eaten by those who dwelt in paradise, Adam and Eve. When they chose to disregard this edict and ate of the fruit of that tree, they could no longer dwell in the Garden of Eden and had to go out into the world, struggle, suffer, bear life with pain and live with the shock of the opposites that oppressed and burdened them. This story is a parable that can easily be applied to the difference between the view of the mental being as opposed to that of the spiritual standpoint which recognizes not only the oneness and harmony of all things that exist, but their inter-relationships, and the hidden divine powers that stand behind those things which we find to be weak, evil, or sorrowful.

Sri Aurobindo takes up this discussion: “Each energy, each quality is in the ideal divine nature pure, perfect, self-possessed, harmonious in its action; nothing there strives for its own separate limited self-fulfilment, all act in an inexpressible oneness….The one divine Power of being works with an immeasurable liberty and, tied to no single excluding law, not limited by any binding system, rejoices in her own play of infinity and never falters in her truth of self-expression perfect for ever.”

In this sense, there is no absolute “evil” that is the opposition to God, and that destroys or distorts the works of God, and the solution is not to try to destroy the “evil” but to find the hidden secret meaning and sense of each manifestation and energy in the universe, and to reveal the hidden sense behind what we ignorantly call sin, weakness, suffering, or evil. Behind each one of these there is a Power that has a true, radiant form when seen with the divine Vision. “All in this Nature that is of the ignorance, all that is imperfect or painful or perverse and repellent, does not exist as an absolute opposite of the nature of the Godhead, but goes back to something behind itself, goes back to a saving power of spirit in which it can find its own true being and redemption.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 9, The Theory of the Vibhuti, pp. 355-356