With thanks to my honorary granddaughter Amie Zor’s thoughtful post about Adam, Eve and the expulsion from Eden, I’ll attempt a Buddhist approach to the biblical story. Let’s call it the Parable of Adam, Eve, and Mara.
At their pure inner core, all beings know that they are not separate from one another. In that state of mind, it is as if they live in a Garden of Eden, where they have no need for shame, no need to differentiate friend from foe, good from evil, and no need to imagine a creator god to oversee their behavior. They have no expectations that their lives should be other than they are.
But something in our nature likes to delude us into forgetting this oneness of all things and into believing that life should be fairer than it is. We give that demon a name, Mara, to help us identify it.
Suppose that, a very long time ago, the first two human beings evolved from earlier beings. We’ll call them Adam and Eve. Their inner core, or Buddha-nature, was pure, and they had no fear of other beings, no sense of good and evil, no self that was separate from other beings and from whatever force brought them into being.
Adam and Eve did have a sense, though, that one of the trees in their garden bore intoxicating fruit that they should stay away from. That was the Tree of Duality.
Looking for an opportunity to trick Adam and Eve into believing they were distinct, separate beings, Mara took the form of a snake to talk with them. No beings had ever lied to Adam and Eve, and they had no way of knowing that the snake was not really a being, so they listened as the demon Mara told them how much fun it would be to become intoxicated on the fruit of the Tree of Duality.
So Adam and Eve ate the fruit and became drunk with duality.
They began to see the world as a conflict between good and evil. They decided that only a cruel god would create such an unfriendly place, so they invented the god of the Old Testament and then hid from him. Because Mara had taken the form of a snake, they feared and despised all snakes. They made distinctions everywhere: friend and foe, human and animal, smart and dumb, handsome and ugly, strong and weak, rich and poor. They began to see old age, sickness, and death as unfair, as burdens, as suffering. They thought child-bearing was punishment.
So that was how Mara, for thousands of years to come, deluded human beings into forgetting that they could return to the Garden of Eden.
Every parable is supposed to have a moral. I’d say the moral is: Some believe in an original sin that requires salvation. Other believe in a delusion that requires awakening.
— Mel Pine (Urgyen Jigme)
Copyright 2016 © Mel Harkrader Pine