The two trees

Allow me to introduce a fundamental paradigm that I believe requires greater understanding. Based on my own experience and that of those around me, many of us have yet to grasp this paradigm in a meaningful way. To aid in this understanding, I will utilize the metaphor of two trees.

In the garden, there were two trees. One of these was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Firstly, this tree is distinct and separate from all other trees. Secondly, this tree produces both good and evil. Eating from this tree results in a form of death that impacts every aspect of our being. While it is not a physical death, it limits our thought process to such an extent that we cannot bring forth life. If we continue to distinguish between good and evil, we are essentially eating from the tree that God has forbidden us to eat from, and this will ultimately lead to our demise.

On the other hand, the book we read describes another tree: the tree of life. God never forbade us from eating from this tree and made no mention of it. By consuming its fruit, our worldview is altered, and our persona transformed beyond recognition from those who have eaten more frequently from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Regarding the prevailing mistake in our thought process, which 100% of us present in this room make, it is my belief that it is something we learn from religion. I must stress that this is a sideline note, but it is my personal opinion that religion is undesirable. What we should value are our relationships with something greater than ourselves, and having faith in the knowledge that we can be saved by a greater power. Unlike religion, which is man’s attempt to save himself, faith is our realization that we cannot save ourselves, but that there is a provision to save us by a being that is much grander, excellent and more significant than ourselves. I strongly advise against pursuing religion as it will prove harmful to our well-being.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the root of a grand misconception that we have all been ensnared by. We have been led to believe that good and evil are two distinct things, separate from one another. This is the cycle that religion keeps us bound to, convincing us that if we do evil, we must now do good to be saved. Yet we find ourselves doing wrong again, and we convince ourselves that we just need to do good again.

However, let us not forget that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is just one tree, with one root and one fruit. If we liken the fruit of this tree to an apple, if we bite into 100% good, we also bite into 100% evil. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is sustained by the law, and in turn, upholds the law. The tree of life, on the other hand, operates solely by grace.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil demands our good performance, while the tree of life demands relationship with the one who embodies life. Relationship is not work, but a state of being. Upholding the law, however, is hard work, and has nothing to do with our state of being.

If we must draw a distinction, let us do so not between good and evil, but between the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as an entity and the tree of life as an entity. Let us elevate our distinction so that it is not on a low level between good and evil, but between good and evil as an entity, and life as an entity. Then, we can choose life.

My heart aches at the realization that organized Christianity has been tainted with the tree of knowledge of good and evil to a greater extent than the rest of the world. We have been missing out on the abundant life that our best Friend, whom I speak of metaphorically as a tree, wants to offer us. He brings life where death was expected, grace where law was demanded, and freedom where strict adherence to right and wrong has bound so many.

We must not indulge in dualistic thinking, that is, to categorize things as right or wrong, good or evil. This way of thinking is not helpful, nor will it ever be. The law is not obsolete, as it serves a purpose for those who are not yet mature enough to govern themselves from within. Such individuals require external regulation to be the best version of themselves. However, for those of us who have matured to the point of having an internal locus of control, we must be led by the Friend who lives within us.

The tree of life is different in every way from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. One of the most beautiful demonstrations of this truth can be seen in the story of the woman caught in adultery, who was brought before our best Friend, Jesus, by those who sought to condemn her. They viewed themselves as good and righteous, and her as evil and deserving of death. However, our Friend showed them the way to the tree of life. He acknowledged the wrong that the woman had done and affirmed the righteousness of those who sought to condemn her. But He then took their hands and led them towards a new paradigm, one that focused on life and not death. He reconstructed their thinking, and they could no longer bring themselves to condemn the woman. They had gone from shouting for her death to standing silent in awe of the transformation that had taken place before them.

They made a clear separation, as if the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil were two distinct trees within their minds. But it is not. Our Friend, however, met them where they were and acknowledged the truth of their claims. Yes, the woman committed adultery, and they were holy and righteous. He then took their hands and led them towards the Tree of Life, reshaping their thinking and paradigm from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil towards the Tree of Life. As a result, they could not harm the woman, despite their earlier rage and demands for justice.

If you must draw a distinction, do not base it on the concepts of good and evil. Instead, distinguish between the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as a distinct entity and the Tree of Life as another entity. Do not make the mistake of believing that distinguishing between good and evil is valid, for they are in reality one and the same.

Elevate your distinctions to a higher level, separating good and evil as entities, and life as an entity. Choose life over death. It saddens me to say that organized Christianity is heavily influenced by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, more so than even the secular world. We must seek out life, which is symbolized by a ‘tree’ but ultimately refers to a person, our Best Friend.

Our Friend brings life where others seek death, grace where others demand law, and freedom where others are bound by binary thinking of right and wrong. We cannot afford to think dualistically, in terms of right and wrong. Such thinking will never serve us. Although the law is not obsolete, it serves a purpose for those who are not yet mature enough to possess an internal locus of control. They require the law. However, you and I must mature beyond this external locus of control and allow the One who lives within us to lead us.

I differentiate between born-again individuals and those who are not, based on the spirit’s three primary functions: intuition, conscience, and fellowship. Intuition allows us to know things without experiencing them with our physical senses. Conscience enables us to discern between right and wrong and recognize what is beneficial for us. Fellowship allows us to connect with others on a spiritual level, a level that is impossible without a living spirit.

In conclusion, let us not forget that the spirit is the heart, and the law of God is written on our hearts. Let us choose life and embrace the One who brings us life, freedom, and grace.

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