Rootsie's European Roots  

By Rootsie
September 02, 2003

I am always cautious when I hear calls for unity. Like much else in this looking-glass world, what passes for unity is not unity at all, but the result of someone's attempt to bring artificial stasis to a dynamic, fluid situation, declaring a premature resolution when things are still unclear.

Political parties and governments "of national unity" always crumble. In the name of resolving conflict, some see the answer in stifling debate, and skipping to a desired end without doing the necessary work, step by step, that would in time reveal true unity.

We humans do not enjoy paradox: not at all. We like issues to be simple: they are wrong and we are right, they are bad and we are good. We enjoy the emotional lift we receive from being among those with whom we always can agree. We form organizations around certain ideas and doctrines, and the more proscriptive and one-sided they are, the more apparent unity exists within that group.

The followers of Jesus Christ have never been able to achieve unity, because for all of their attempts to institutionalize certain principles and literally set them in stone, there are always pesky trouble-makers who come with a different interpretation. In the history of Christianity, it has been the habit of the unity-mongers to kill all dissidents in the name of unity.

The question is, what is unity, really? In terms of the word itself, unity is oneness. This condition of oneness is evident all around us. We are one planet, for example. We are a single human species among the millions of other particular and unique species on this planet. Beyond this, the smart physicists and metaphysicists see that all that exists on earth in matter and in mind is of one substance, governed by essential laws. Physicists say that it is the space between the electrons in the nucleus of an atom, and the frequencies at which they dance, that determine whether you have a rock or a chair or a human.

Entertainment of this idea, since humans are the only species with the ability to reflect on this unity, and the ability even to choose not to acknowledge and experience it, invites us to ask what this means in real life. What does it mean that I am one with every other person and with every creature and with every THING? Is it possible to experience this oneness with other humans and with all things? This is the question behind all of our yearnings, all of our attempts to declare or impose unity, or see it where it is not. Since unity is our natural state, we wish above all to 'return' to it. For indeed, we have the strange sense that once we knew this experience of unity, and have forgotten. Because we have 'forgotten', do we now labor under false ideas of what this unity truly is?

We say often, and I think that all can agree, that the natural world around us exists in unity. What are the characteristics of the unity we see in nature? What we see is that nature is not stable, and is ever-changing. Stable-states in the natural world don't exist for long. There is always a counterforce that comes along as a challenge to stability, and the response of a natural system to that counterforce determines whether that system, or that species, will grow or disappear altogether. We call these events "the cycles of nature." We perceive a larger unity governing the apparent chaos. The unity of nature is dynamic, and not static, and this is good. We can see that too.

Until its view was challenged and largely overthrown by modern science, the official Christian Church held to the idea that God created the Earth and everything in it in 6 days, and then He rested. Creation was complete and at rest. And in the subsequent 6,000 or so years, that creation has been moving further and further from the perfection of the 6th day, decaying bit by bit, until at the end of history Jesus Christ will return to redeem matter, to spiritualize it, if you will. And this New Heaven and New Earth will not decay, but will exist in perfection for all eternity.

The reason given for the state of degeneration of God's creation is the Fall of Adam and Eve. Because they questioned and denied the omnipotence of God, and thought it possible to know what God knows, see what God sees, and create as God creates, they set into motion the conditions for a terribly suffering world.

It is easy to laugh at this impossible vision of human history, but there are truths to be found here. The writers of this story were trying to grapple with their own suffering, and the obvious lack of unity they saw on display all around them. They were struggling for an understanding of the creative force which set this planet spinning, an explanation for the events of a history that seemed to contradict the idea of a benevolent and loving Divine Essence. They clearly felt that whatever the original intent of this God, things had gone terribly wrong. So they hypothesized a 'Fall' from divine unity for which humans were responsible. It was simply not possible for them to blame God, nor has this ever been possible in the entire history of humanity. Why not? I suggest that although we may have forgotten much, there is a knowledge as intrinsic to us as our hearts and blood and bones, and it is the knowledge that we are one with whatever it is that caused us to be here, and that it is perfect. Experiencing that perfect oneness either in life or after death has always been seen as the great goal of human life. Based on archaeological evidence, there has never been a group of human beings which did not ask and seek to answer essential spiritual questions. To my eyes, the 'religious instinct' is as real as any 'animal' instinct that directs us. It may be encoded in the neuro-chemicals in our brains, about which little is known.

This story, and the many like it, indicate that unity is our most elevated and most desired condition. From our earliest days as distinct human beings, we have formed groups: families, clans, tribes, villages, cities, 'civilizations', and on and on. Human relations are what our philosophers speculate about, our religions emphasize,and our love songs celebrate.

The Adam and Eve story is a troubling story. I have tried to bring many interpretations to it over the years, as has an army of theologians, philosophers, poets, ecologists, feminists… What I know now, which puts me I suppose in the Gnostic camp, and thus in line for a swim in the Lake of Fire, is that the snake was right. The oldest and most recurrent symbol for the Great Goddess, the very first deity envisioned by humans, is the snake, by the way. And what we see in Genesis is an extremely historical event-in Riane Eisler's words, the attempt of the new 'dominator cultures' to overthrow the 'partnership cultures' which preceded them. The invasions of the Indo-Europeans from the periphery into the civilizations of Old Europe, the Mediterranean, the Fertile Crescent, and Africa, represent a devastation and disruption truly unprecedented in human history, according to Eisler. This wily serpent in the Garden was the voice of the old order, and thus in the eyes of the new order of the storm and thunder warrior gods, it had to be discredited. The fact that in 600-400BC, when the Hebrew Bible was first written, over a thousand years after the Aryan invasions, it was still necessary to engage in propaganda, speaks to the power of these earlier cultures. Though they worshiped the Great Goddess, they were not matriarchal in terms of dominance of women over men, but were 'partnership' cultures for whom the concept of dominance was apparently distasteful; in other words, they had a different paradigm for human relations altogether.

Back to the snake. The snake told Eve that God was not telling her the whole story, which is that humans as creations of God are part and parcel one with God, and can, as I said, know what He knows, see what He sees, create as He creates. Knowledge is the key. Eat of the tree of knowledge and you will see that you are God. So Eve did, and she got her man to eat too. We are told that all disaster in the human world resulted from this act of disobedience.

Simply in terms of the story, and whatever its interpretation, all can agree that Adam and Eve ate. And knew. And thus so do we. That is how I choose to see the story. We forget, we have forgotten, but we know. What we know is the unity of all that lives, with itself, and with its creative source, however one chooses to conceptualize that source. And each one of us possesses within us the potential to do the job the Bible said Jesus was sent to do, which is to redeem matter through spirit. The cultivation of knowledge is the key.

When we know this one unity in our very cells, indeed, that is New Heaven and New Earth. This experience has always been available to us. All of evolution has brought us to this point, where we understand that we can choose. More and more humans in this time are waking from a deep milleniums-old sleep.

They begin to see that unity is a dynamic condition, and not a static one. They see that creation is ever-unfolding, and that the ideas of the future may very well overthrow ones of the past. They begin to understand that the unity they crave will not be found in a human organization that comforts itself with a false unity based on limited ideas, rules and privileges of membership, and a rejection of diverse points of view. We often exhibit a fear of conflict, and beg, "Can't we all just get ALONG? We shouldn't talk about [fill in the blank] because it is divisive, and we must be united! Unity is strength!" But when conflict and complexity are honestly engaged, only then is true unity among humans possible. Just as in the rest of nature, challenges come which force us either to grow or die. Knowledge is the key, just as the story said. Conflict between people is only constructive when they grasp that, in the ultimate sense, unity already exists, and always has.

Once ones experience unity as a physical fact, it becomes simple to organize for the good of humanity, to use our limitless powers of creation to bring forth a world in which suffering is no longer the single undeniable reality. No attempts by unenlightened people to unify for this worldly end or that will succeed in the long run to bring any good fruits to the earth. True earthly unity can only result as humans awaken from their sleep, their forgetfulness of who they truly are. How we forgot or why we forgot are not useful questions. Whether or not we knew in the past is not relevant.

In the midst of all dynamism and ceaseless change, there is a still-point. Many wise ones have spoken of this over the centuries. Our divine essence is the source of all change, but is itself an unchanging unity. We call it the Source. Or Truth. Or Love. Or God. For humans who dislike paradox, as most of us do, this is the most difficult truth for us to see. Only when we are able to experience physically our true human condition, which is unity, can we understand this truth.

What the Judeo-Christian story primarily gets wrong is time. If we could grasp the idea the the Fall from unity; the journey, through knowledge, of the return to unity; and the perfected state of unity are co-existent, we would have a clearer picture of reality. We would be able, with patience, to work step by step to embody the unity which we in fact are.


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