The Tree of Life and the tree of knowledge
By its vertical trunk from which horizontal branches are spreading, by its double nature at once unified and dual, the tree raises an ambiguity that we rediscover in the Garden of Eden. In fact, two trees grow in the Garden: the Tree of Life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, the relationship between these two trees remains unclear:
- Is it about two distinct trees or a unique tree ? In the latter case, would the Tree of Life be depicted by a central trunk and the duality of the tree of knowledge by two lateral ones ? For more of details on the representation of the tree, see the World Tree.
- Could the tree of knowledge of good and evil stand, as the Tree of Life, in the Centre of the Garden ? Does the Centre not symbolize the place or better the state, where opposites balance each other, transform themselves into complements and merge into Unity ?
Nevertheless, it is certain that the Tree of Life gathers all opposed aspects in a unified state. It follows that the tree of knowledge is, in a way, the terrestrial manifestation of the celestial Tree of Life. Therefore, the denomination of terrestrial Paradise.
The source of four rivers is located at the foot of the Tree of Life. These four rivers are oriented according to the compass points and water the terrestrial world. They are associated with the four elements or states of the terrestrial world: water (north), fire (south), air (east) and earth (west). The elements are coming from a unique source, the primeval ether, equally situated at the foot of the Tree. The ether symbolizes the other elements in a unified state and stands at the base of the World Axis linking Earth and Heaven.
The source also symbolizes the "teaching fountain" of the primeval Tradition related to the Centre and the four rivers, its transmission to the guardians of the Tradition. We rediscover here the link mentioned in the quest for the Holy Grail between the cup and the Tradition.
The branches of the Tree of Life carry the fruit of eternal Life, symbolizing the unified state beyond antagonisms and associated with the World Centre. It is about the state where the being's will and divine Will coincide, where the being sees unity beyond all things and all things in the perfect simultaneity of the Eternal present.
These fruit, products of the elevation of the sap from Earth to Heaven, are twelve (sometimes ten) in number. This number corresponds to the twelve Stations of the Sun during its yearly zodiacal run. This is why they are often called “golden fruit”.
The Tree of Life, carrier of fruit of eternal Life, is guarded by a serpent. Made in the image of the Tree, the serpent gathers antagonisms in a unified state. Its beneficial and malefic aspects are of course related to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The access to the Tree of Life or to the tree of knowledge depends on the degree of spirituality reached by the postulants:
- The beings that have succeeded in rejoining the Centre and the unified state will be able to taste the fruit of the Tree of Life giving access to eternal Life, to immortality proper to the spiritual world;
- The beings that have moved away from the Centre and are living in the dualistic world will only be able to taste fruit of the Tree of knowledge. It will help them to become aware of their condition of ordinary being and of the lost unity.
We know which fruit Adam and Eve tasted, but was it their real intention ?