The other day my friend and I got into a very interesting spiritual conversation.
He is a close and dear Christian friend of mine. I have been developing into a very spiritually conscious person, and although I don’t adhere to any one religion specifically, I love the many spiritual conversations the two of us have for a few reasons.
I love the opportunity to take what I have learned and see how it applies to the many different teachings from the different cultures around us. I also appreciate my friend’s point of view because it makes me think about mine. But one of the most vital reasons is that, through the narrow space where our differences in views exist, my inner guru speaks to me and sometimes reveals a valuable lesson.
The conversation we had the other day was a significant one in that respect. We were talking about the story of the Garden of Eden and he said to me that the original sin was sex. He said that, besides the obvious taking the fruit from the “tree of knowledge,” and Adam and Eve’s initial covering of themselves with fig leaves, sex was the original sin. It was from this viewpoint that one of our best conversations began.
When I think about the story of the Garden of Eden, I picture this ideal world of abundance and happiness. I envision a place of completion and balance, unity and oneness, with no beginning and no end. I see a place where there is no division between creator and created but instead a relationship more like the ocean and the ocean waves, existing as one with no duality.
I explained to my friend that I believe the original sin was seeking beyond that infinite space.
The original sin was the fulfillment of the inner desire to do what is desired, for the sake of personal gain.
By taking from the “tree of knowledge,” Adam and Eve engaged in a selfish act, and in that act they perceived themselves to be separate from God. In the wake of that event they realized they were naked and began to cover themselves up. In that act alone is seen the first inklings of fear: fear of being seen, fear of being judged and fear in general.
My friend views man’s relationship with God much differently, it seems. To him, God is a separate entity, and despite the fact that we are created by him, we are separate from him. He seems to believe that God passed judgment on man based on his disobedience, and banished us from the garden.
It is my opinion that, in that single act of selfishness, separation was created. However, was a separation really created, or did man perceive a separation taking place because of his actions? We came from the infinite, so how can we not be a part of that anymore?
This is the part of the conversation where my inner voice kind of woke me up. Maybe the “tree of knowledge” exists within us as our own perceptions, our minds, our egos. Isn’t it possible that when we give too much attention to our own perceptions, we cultivate our suffering? When man first perceived himself to be separate, is that not when the first signs of suffering began? Didn’t we become fearful of judgment and experience such a distance that we considered ourselves cast out from God’s grace, from the Garden of Eden?
I often look back on that day and wonder if my friend took anything away from that conversation. Whichever way he chooses to define sin, I believe our own perceptions have the most potential to deceive us, causing a false sense of separation between us and God. And who am I to argue about where my friend sees the beginnings of that separation?
Whenever we feel as if we have fallen out of God’s grace, the weight of our burdens falls heavy upon us. Who is to say or care where the source of our error is? The only thing we can do is humble ourselves at God’s feet, admit that we know nothing and pray to be guided back into God’s love.
I remember that at the end of that conversation my friend and I agreed on one thing. We can debate this subject all day long, but the reality is that both of us can be totally different in our views and still be right.
I went into that conversation with one viewpoint, only to have it expanded even further than I thought possible. I can’t take for granted the teacher that resides in all of us.
Always evolving on a never-ending spiritual journey, a student to the Guru within, Salvatore Vionito spends his time writing poetry inspired by the universal teachings of the Divine. He constantly seeks out the microcosmic truths that exist within every living moment in order to always see the creator within the creation. Writing is one of the things that helps him accomplish this goal. When Salvatore isn’t writing he loves to go on hikes, meditate, practice Bhakti Yoga and spend time with his wife, three daughters and cat. He always tries to find ways of reducing his family’s carbon footprint. He is also the co-owner of Avani Priya Malas and Jewelry (www.avanipriyamalas.com), a custom Mala shop that he and his wife Jenni created. Salvatore has future ambitions to create a poetry blog and also to start working on his first book of poetry, to be titled “108 Poems to the Divine.”
Editor: Jayleigh Lewis