Adam and Eve

Let's look at what Abdu'l-Baha says in Some Answered Questions about the meaning of the story of Adam and Eve (pages 122-126). He says that there are many meanings in the story and he will give us one of them. He explains that "Adam signifies the heavenly spirit of Adam, and Eve is his human soul". "The tree of good and evil signifies the human world." This is explained by the fact that the spiritual world is purely good but the human world contains opposites like light and darkness and good and evil. "The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world." Abdu'l-Baha explains that attachment to the human world led the soul of Adam from a world of freedom—the spiritual world—to a world of bondage—the human world.

A few paragraphs later, Abdu'l-Baha gives us the definition of sin. He states: "this attachment of the soul and spirit to the human world ... is sin", "for attachment to the world has become the cause of the bondage of spirits, and this bondage is identical with sin." (page 124) We can see here that Abdu'l-Baha defines sin as attachment to the human world. In other words, he sees sin as a prison. Given this, we can begin to understand why he talks about being freed from sin. In Abdu'l-Baha's mind, sin is a spiritual state; it is the state of being attached to the human world. To be freed from sin is to lift one's soul out of its submersion in the human world and lift it up and attach it to the heavenly Kingdom.

The Adam and Eve story tells us that, when Adam ate the fruit from the tree of good and evil, God decided to hide the tree of life so that Adam couldn't get to it. Abdu'l-Baha tells us that the tree of life represents the Word of God or the manifestations. This means that, those who are attached to the human world (that is, eat the fruit of good and evil) cannot access the tree of life. It is hidden from someone in that spiritual state. In order to access the tree of life, one must become free from the prison of sin; that is, freed from the human world. I understand that this is what Baha'u'llah means when he says that he has sanctified his hem from the infidels. Those who have not broken free cannot eat from the tree of life. They have no access to it.

I know that when people hear this stuff about detachment, they think to themselves: are you saying that there is no profit in doing good works in this world? Does detachment from the human world mean that I should no longer operate in this human world? Interestingly, Abdu'l-Baha addresses this matter briefly in the chapter. He says: "The sin in Adam is relative to his position. Although from this attachment there proceed results, nevertheless, attachment to the earthly world is considered a sin. The good deeds of the righteous are the sins of the Near Ones." (page 126) I think Abdu'l-Baha is saying that there is profit in the works people do while attached to the human world. But there is greater profit in learning to detach our hearts from the human world and investing them in the Kingdom. In any case, if our hearts are sanctified from the earthly world, this does not preclude us from doing good works on earth, especially teaching.

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