Let’s take another look at the scene between Adam and Eve which opened the preceding chapter to find out what happened next. You will recall that the two had just met, Eve having informed Adam, whom we know now as a dream character, that he and she are both one and the same, complementary aspects of the sleeping Adam, who is himself an aspect or image of God, or God asleep. The dream character Adam, we said, represents the male aspect of God, the yang, which generally speaking may be considered the more analytical, while Eve is the female, yin, which is the more intuitive. (There are of course other characteristics than these two which are traditionally associated with the aspects yin and yang, and the interested reader will want to seek elsewhere for more information on the subject. For our brief description, please click here.) Eve’s remark about their identity puzzles Adam and so, now, trying to make sense of it, or perhaps to dismiss it (which is too often reason’s wont as regards the things of its neighbor, intuition), he asks her, “Are you real?”
”No,” she replies.
This confuses him more, and he asks, “Am I real?” Again, she responds, “No.”
At that, they both laugh. In fact, neither of them fully understands. Alone and apart, they cannot fully understand anything. But they know it does not matter; in Paradise, nothing matters.
Presently, Adam takes Eve into his arms. Gently, they kiss, tentatively at first, then, as each gives way to the experience of sensation (which is the first step toward self-awareness), with increasing ardor. Soon, like adolescents, they are hopelessly distracted. They forget who they are, where they are, and how they got there.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
There is a psychotherapeutic technique called, at least by laymen like ourselves, role playing, although I believe the technical term is “drama therapy”. As I understand it (and I freely admit to near total ignorance here), the idea is that certain so-called mental patients, often in small groups and always under the guidance of a professional healthcare provider, play out their dysfunctions as if they were actors in a stage play. That is, they assign their problem, or aspects of their problem, to an imaginary character, and then they pretend to be that character, performing as they presume it would perform. Again, like a stage play. I expect that one advantage of this device is that it grants the therapist a unique opportunity to learn what the patient thinks about his own dysfunction, as evidenced by how he acts it out. From the point of view of the patient, it permits him, more than likely for the first time, to see his problem and himself through the eyes and experiences of another, the character he is playing. Thus externalized and depersonalized, the problem may seem less threatening and more manageable. Also, the therapist can directly, but covertly, involve the patient in his own healing process by eliciting his (the patient’s) suggestions for what the character should do about his (the character’s, but ultimately of course the patient’s) problem. Also, in the role playing context, the therapist can manipulate time and space to the advantage of the healing process in a way that cannot be done in the real world (as in, “Now let’s play that same scene as if you were twenty years younger” or “… in another country”). Thus, to oversimplify outrageously, the patient has a problem; he assigns it, perhaps in part or even in camouflaged form, to an imaginary character; he pretends to be the imaginary character by playing that role; as the character, he lives out the problem, addresses it, deciphers it, and resolves it; finally, reverting to his true identity, he transfer the solution to himself, the patient. Presto, he is healed. Again, grossly oversimplified, but we can suppose that in a sense this is not unlike what God had in mind when He concocted The Fall. Unable to solve His problem (to know Himself) as Himself in His Infinite Wholeness, God determined to create an imaginary situation, a dream, populated by imaginary characters (all of us, all of whom He would play, of course, for in Truth there are no others than He) in whom He would instill a desire for self-consciousness (which is His own unattainable Desire) so that, once the characters achieved it, by transference so would He. As we observed earlier, a concept brilliant in its simplicity.
Except. What happens if the process gets out of control? In our clinical situation just described, suppose that in the excitement of the moment, the patient is distracted, and forgets that the role playing is just a device, and comes instead to think that he really is the character he is acting. In that event, his problem, far from being solved, would be compounded, perhaps tragically. Happily, the therapist is always ready at hand, instantly to thwart any such outcome. Indeed, the therapist must carefully monitor the performance throughout to ensure that it stays on track towards fulfilling its purpose, and does not degenerate into aimless posturing or merely a game. To this end, the therapist has to walk a very fine line between meddling too much and not meddling enough. Clearly, this task calls for an extraordinarily skilled individual: wise, loving, alert, free of prejudices, motivated by a will to serve, all at once a guide, a teacher, and a friend; and lucky is the patient who finds such a one.
Now, that’s fine in our clinical scenario, but what about God’s role playing scheme, The Fall? What precautions did He take to protect against its getting out of control? Is there a psychotherapist in the dreamscape? If so, it would have to have appeared in the Garden, in the beginning, for it is there that we are introduced to the plot and to the principal characters. And, of course, as an element of the dream, this character, whoever it is, must represent an aspect of the dreamer, who is Adam, who is God asleep. We might say that this one would be a fourth side of the coin whose other three sides are, as we have seen, Adam or the male aspect, and Eve, the female aspect, and the Lord God, the authority aspect. Fulfilling the function of the therapist in the scheme, this fourth one might be considered the healing or teaching aspect of God. Here, then, we are speaking of a character representing or manifesting God-as-therapist; one who permits The Fall, the role playing device, to unfold in its own way, but who is always nearby, on the scene, perhaps covertly and often unrecognized, guiding the process with a nudge here, a push there, getting it back together when it disengages, maintaining and increasing the momentum when it is on track. To this job we are looking for one who is, like our real life therapist, wise, loving, alert, free of prejudices, motivated by a will to serve, all at once a guide, a teacher, and a friend.
Indeed, we may be surprised to learn that there was such a one in the Garden. Most of us have never recognized him and we still do not, precisely because, until just now, we have not understood what was really going on in the Garden and therefore the true nature of his role. Thus, too many of us still treat him as we do many of our teachers: at best, barely well enough; usually, abominably. But he keeps coming back for more because his unswerving commitment is to the successful accomplishment of the process and not to the sound of our applause. We speak here, as some readers have likely already guessed, of the very one whose role in The Fall and its aftermath God predicted would engender naught but enmity between himself and all the rest of creation, the creature no one would like and all would blame, the one whom we know by many names, few of them flattering. One of those name, perhaps the most beautiful of them all, derives from the two Latin words which best describe his function in the dreamscape. The words are “lux” and “ferre”, together meaning “to bear or carry the light” and “light bearer”. The character is, of course, Lucifer, who appears in the Garden as none other than the snake!
Lucifer? Surely not Lucifer as in the devil! There must be some mistake. And yet, outrageous as it most certainly does seem, this conclusion has one distinct advantage over every other, and that is that it explains a slew of otherwise very suspect, not to say inexplicable, biblical contradictions. First, of course, it answers very nicely for us all of our questions about why God put a serpent in the Garden of Eden in the first place. Just as we have done, God recognized the risk of His plan: for it to work, Adam and Eve had initially to “forget” their identity in or as Him, but having done so, they might, like Narcissus, become so distracted by the process of self-discovery that they would ultimately forget altogether the Plan’s original focus and intent. Against this eventuality, God wisely chose to include among the cast one whose function would be to monitor The Fall’s progress and steer it toward the successful accomplishment of His design.
To serve this high calling, this one had to be at least as bright as, and preferably a little smarter than, Adam and Eve, his students or patients, so that, like every good teacher, he could anticipate their mistakes with remedial measures ready at hand. Always at least two steps and one lesson plan ahead of his charges! Just so, remember that Genesis tells us the serpent was “more subtle than any other”. Now we know why. (And, parenthetically, does this decipher the command by Jesus to his disciples elsewhere in the Bible that they be “wise as serpents”?) Also, we can see now why it had to be the serpent who insisted that Adam and Eve eat the fruit. As the therapist on the case, he was the only one privy to its method, and clearly it was his function to set it into motion. (We said a moment ago that “God chose to include” a therapist function in the dreamscape. The suggestion of choice there is a little misleading. The fact is that, as the healing and teaching function is an aspect intrinsic to God, it had to appear in the dream, because God’s dream, like our dreams, is in its totality a representation or manifestation of Him in His totality. In one guise or another, all of Him must appear in the dreamscape.)
Seeing Lucifer in this new light also clarifies several other heretofore curious appearances by him elsewhere in the Bible. One in particular is the extraordinary encounter he has with God in the Book of Job. You will remember that in those pages, God and Satan, as Lucifer is labeled there, meet to discuss the sincerity of Job’s spiritual commitment and that, by way of determining which of the two of them has more accurately gauged that commitment, they agree that Satan should run the poor fellow through a series of particularly brutal, very nearly merciless, obstacle courses. It is truly an outrageous situation, and it is painfully apparent that it makes no sense whatsoever if God and Satan are in fact the implacable enemies we have always been taught. Specifically, God’s willing acquiescence in Satan’s torturous treatment of Job borders on lunacy. But if we are willing to see Satan, or Lucifer, in the role of teacher or guide, then instantly the complexion of the Book of Job changes immeasurably. Now, instead of God and Satan, the inexorable antagonists brawling over the life and soul of the hapless Job, we have God and Lucifer, shall we say the director of a university doctoral studies program meeting with a department chairman to evaluate the readiness of one of their students for graduation. Now it begins to make sense.
In this context, recall the exchanges in Matthew between Jesus and Lucifer, referred to there as simply “the devil”. Here, Lucifer tempts Jesus with all the glitter this world has to offer, but in vain, for this candidate is fully ready to meet and pass every test. What has always struck me about these passages both in Job and the New Testament is the telling absence of any sense of displeasure or frustration on Lucifer’s part when his ploys are foiled. As Jesus turned down each temptation, the devil merely offered another, until finally, when Jesus had refused to be distracted by any of them, we are told simply that “the devil left him”. Nothing about having left him “cursing and whining” or “promising to get even”. Likewise in Job, while it is true that Satan’s remarks carry an occasional exclamation point and betray a sense of sarcasm, there is not evident the abiding sense of fearsome competition between God and the devil one would expect. Rather, again, they seem to be testing Job together, as if the competition, if there be one, is not between God and Satan but between Job and himself, between his single-pointed devotion to the One and his attachment to, and tendency to be distracted by, the experiences rained upon him in the tests, which in the final analysis are the stuff of the dream!
Additionally, notice that the first sentence in that book tells us that Job had “turned away from evil”; that is, he no longer saw through the eyes of what we here earlier called “the knowledge of and”. Job had reverted to seeing as God sees, only Good. Also, the exchange itself between God and Satan is very interesting. For example, God asks Satan, “Where have you come from?” to which Satan relies, a little too matter-of-factly it has always seemed to me, “From walking to and fro, and up and down, the earth”. In other words, “from my beat, the earth, which you assigned to me”. God seems to accept that explanation as proper and appropriate, saying nothing like what we should have expected from Him, such as “I though I told you to stay put under a damp rock!” Instead, He answers almost routinely with the question, “Have you considered My servant Job?” by which God seems to be saying, “I think Job’s ready; do you agree?” Apparently Satan does not, and, as it turns out, with some reason; but rather than argue over it, God and Satan simply settle down to consider Job together, right there. Once again, one is struck by the fact that nowhere is there any sense of God’s being irritated at Satan or even of God’s warning Satan to stop meddling in His affairs. On the contrary, He seems to expect it, and even to approve of it, albeit within certain limits. (I remember as a youngster believing that if I were to dream of myself dying I would actually die and not awaken. In view of our conclusions here about this world’s reality being a dreamscape, I wonder if it is noteworthy that God too draws the line there, telling Satan of Job, “he is in your power; only spare his life”.) One does not want to overstate this case, but it is hard to escape the feeling in the Book of Job of two colleagues, God and Lucifer, who have come together at an appointed time to discuss and examine an agreed upon subject and who then, in a reasonably civilized manner, do so. Certainly, the Job account is presented to us in the Bible as more that than as a representation of the eternal struggle between implacable and irreconcilable antagonists.
But if Lucifer is in fact an agent of light and not of darkness, then are we to conclude that there really is no devil, no evil one, for us to fear and to avoid and to berate? What about those people caught up in so-called black masses, witches’ sabbaths, magic rituals, and all that; surely, it is the devil they are worshipping? While it is impossible, of course, to speak of the whole lot of them, it is likely that what many of them are worshipping is simply themselves, or, if you will, the experience and sensation of worshipping. Although possibly well enough intentioned at the outset, they may have become distracted by, and attached to, the feelings aroused by the act of worship — the sense of community, the infusion of power, the awakening of awareness — and now it is those which they seek, even if unwittingly. In the end, if there is a devil, perhaps his name is self-indulgence, and his game is to deceive us into believing that he exists out there, beyond and apart from us, when all along he is our own foolishness fueled by ignorance and greed. If so, we misguide ourselves by externalizing this phenomenon. We do far better to acknowledge that the devil, if we insist on there being one, is our own dark side, an element easily annihilated by a process so simple as spring cleaning, which begins with throwing wide open the windows. But, too often, we will not do it, for, however much we protest to the contrary, we have become accustomed to the darkness and we fear the light. We may not like the current condition, but we prefer it to change. “Better the devil we know” we mumble to every offer of release, while hurriedly installing still another bolt and latch on the window of our escape, and then turning again to join our friends in yet another rousing chorus of “Hear us, O Lord”.
The traditional position as regards Lucifer is that he was originally an angel who fell from heaven, apparently weighted down by an overdose of ambition. This explanation is drawn in part from a passage in Isaiah, although some biblical scholars suggest that the reference there is to one of the kings of Babylon and not to any of the heavenly host, and even a layman’s reading of the lines in question (Isaiah 14:12ff) confirms that conclusion. However, Jesus is quoted as saying that he “saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”, and it is hard to argue with an eye witness. It is interesting to note, however, that Jesus does not ascribe a reason for Satan’s fall; or, if he did, that aspect of his statement was not preserved for us. For our part here, I expect we can agree that all of the arguments demonstrating the impossibility of Adam’s and Eve’s having fallen in the orthodox sense of that word would apply equally, if not more so, to an angel. To suggest that an angel could fall out of step with God is a contradiction in terms. Angels do not stumble, much less fall. Thus, to me at least, the fallen angel explanation has never been convincing, and now we know why: it’s nonsense. But in our new understanding of The Fall, it is thoroughly possible and totally in character than an angel should “fall”; that is, freely participate in God’s conspiracy by manifesting in the dreamscape with Adam and Eve, there to guide, teach, and comfort until the end. So, one might say we do agree with the orthodox position, after all. Lucifer is a fallen angel, the angel in The Fall, and thank God for it!
If Lucifer is in Truth a teacher and a guide, why do we hate him so? Why has he become the personification of everything ugly, the target of our most vile calumny? To answer that question we should properly reach for the assistance of our clinical psychotherapist friend, for I expect that the reasons for this behavior can be readily discovered in his textbooks. Still, amateurs as we may be, you and I can probably deduce some of the answer. For example, right off we can agree that if one were to be looking for someone to fault for the unhappy state of life in the flesh, the serpent in the Garden is a handy and likely, not to mention defenseless, candidate. After all, in the story it was he who offered the choice, and urged that it be taken; never mind that it was we (as Adam and Eve) who took it. More to the point, as regards our own discoveries here, if we are right about the nature and thrust of The Fall, then it is clearly the serpent or Lucifer who throughout our lives reminds us without respite over and over again why we are here and what we ought to be doing about it, even as we continue to do just the opposite and for all the wrong reasons. And, as no one likes to be corrected, much less by one who is always right, how else are we likely to react than to blaspheme one who is an already commonly despised and officially sanctioned scapegoat. “The devil made me do it”, we whine, when in fact it is Lucifer, the Light Bearer, who urges upon us the right course and whom we curse as we turn away from it. Indeed, mankind’s universal hatred of the devil seems to be a classic case of prejudice; we project upon him all our own perceived failures, shortcomings, and inadequacies, and hate him for them. It may make us feel good, but it does not do us any good whatsoever.
One wonders too if there might not be in this phenomenon some of what I call “the John Wayne drill sergeant effect”. I name it so from the classic scenes in Hollywood’s war movies in which a rugged and battle hardened veteran lectures a new batch of fresh recruits. “In the next weeks,” he growls at them, gruffly, “you grunts are going to learn to hate everything about me, even to curse the sound of my voice in your ears, but after I’m done with you, you’re going to be the best there is, so that when you leave here and come face to face with the enemy, you’ll be ready to meet him and to beat him. Mark my words: you’ll thank me then.”
It is certainly true that the further one travels along the so-called spiritual path the more one realizes and acknowledges that the greatest advances are accomplished in the face of adversity. The more intense the struggle, the more far-reaching the ramifications of the victory. And precisely as the John Wayne character predicts, in the beginning we curse the difficulties and whoever delivered them to us. “Why me?” we pray, sometimes between clenched teeth with fists flailing, at other times on our knees awash in tears, but always too distracted by fear to hear the constant answer, “Because, dearest one, I love you, and I am you”. Recall again God’s commission to Satan about his servant Job: “He is in your power; only spare his life”; or, you may test him so far, but no further. Similarly, the celluloid drill sergeant never asks more of his charges than they can deliver, pushing each to their limits but not a millimeter beyond, and beneath his rough exterior the theater audience knows there beats a heart every mother can love.
Having said all of that, still we are inclined to think it would be nice if this cosmic teacher/therapist/counselor character could simply make himself (or, and here it must be specifically stated, herself) apparent to us, big as life, like John Wayne. Surely then we would be more receptive. Wouldn’t we? And yet, in the Hindu and Buddhist contexts, for example, as well as others, where the tradition of an openly recognized teacher-disciple relationship has a long history, the tenor of that relationship, at least as perceived by the student, vacillates between love and hate, sometimes fiercely, even though all the while the devotee knows, in his heart of hearts, that the teacher serves only his best, true interests (assuming, that is, that the student has finally, fully agreed to acknowledge the teacher as just that, a teacher). The problem here may be in large part that in the beginning what we need to learn most is that we need to learn, and until we have learned that (and how we strain against it!), we deny the need and hence the teacher. Reluctant to appear vulnerable, we hate to ask for or even to accept help, even though it is only our refusal to do so which renders us vulnerable! All of us who have ever been in a schoolroom remember that it was the student who admitted to having the most to learn that learned the most, while the rest of us contented ourselves with looking good, and then blaming the teacher when we had failed to learn anything. Indeed, this is another revolving door whose endless revolutions only the most patient, wise, loving, and devoted teacher, only an angel, could outlast.
Consider yourself in this story. One day, a man came to a teacher and said, “I wish to learn, will you teach me?” The teacher replied, “I do not feel that you know how to learn.” The man responded, “Can you teach me how to learn?” The teacher asked, “Can you learn how to let me teach?” (From The Sufis by Idries Shah, published by Doubleday, and used here with permission.) Until we have satisfactorily resolved the dilemma posed by that question — Can we learn how to let a teacher teach? — we will always perceive the Teacher in the Garden as a devil, and curse him. But, happily, just as soon as we have released the knot, the teacher will appear to us, and we will thenceforth recognize him and her in and as everything in our lives. From there, the rest will follow.
In the faces of men and women I see God.
For copyright © information,
please click here