Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The Biblical Story Of Creation
THE BIBLICAL STORY OF CREATION
In order to understand the story of the creation as told in the Bible, it is important to distinguish between the different worlds. The opening chapter of Genesis, the first book of Moses, describes how the world was created, how God in 7 days – remember the 7 primal principles – created heaven and earth, light and darkness, plants, animals and man. In chapter 1, verses 26 – 27 we read:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image and likeness to rule the fish in the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all wild animals on earth, and all reptiles that crawl upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
This accounts of the 7-day creation process refers expressly not to the material world, but to the world of primal ideas. God created the human being as man and woman, the image of the pure human which at this stage is still androgynous. In the second chapter of Genesis we are told of the creation of Adam as a living being with a soul. In chapter 2, verse 7 we read:
… then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Thus the man became a living creature.
In verse 19 the account continues:
So God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of heaven. He brought them to the man.
Finally verse 21 tells of the creation of woman:
The Lord God put the man into a trance, and while he slept, he took one of his ribs and closed the flesh over the place. The Lord God then built up the rib, which he had taken out of the man, into a woman. He brought her to the man, and the man said: “Now this, at last – bone from my bones, flesh from my flesh! - This shall be called woman, for from man was this taken.”
(In the Hebrew isch = man, ischsa = woman). Verse 25 states:
Now they were both naked, the man and his wife, but they had no feeling of shame towards one another.
These detailed quotations should serve to elucidate certain important points which often lead to misunderstandings. Genesis tells of the different steps in the creation process. The 7-day sequence of the first chapter refers to the world of ideas. At this point already “man” was created. It was only a this stage that he was created in God's image. This is the “Adam Kadmon” of the Qabalists, the primal idea of humanity, which cannot have had much in common with physical humanity as known to us and embodied by us. The man whose creation is described in the first chapter is the ideal image which has not yet plunged into a fallen state and become material. The God-like image of man, so often alluded to, cannot be applied to the physical man of our material world, but, at best, represents the goal towards which mankind should be striving. As Jesus said: “Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
In the first chapter God created the human being as man-and-woman. Only much later are we given the description of how God formed Adam from dust and subsequently woman from his rib. Man on the first level, the level of the primal principles, is man and woman in one, an androgynous being which has not yet entered the realm of polarity.
The first chapter describes both the creation of man and that of plants and animals. Not until the second chapter, however, do we learn that the creation of these was carried out again in a different way, this time through the moulding of forms out of the earth. In the first chapter the whole creation process is finished by the seventh day, the day of rest. In the second chapter this is repeated on another plane, in another world. While the first creation took place on the plane of primal ideas, the second took place on the plane of forms. Only in the second chapter does God create forms and turn man into a living being with a soul by breathing into him the breath of life. Significantly the Greek word for soul, psyche, also means breath.
Although creation has by this stage been carried onto the plane of form, which the Qabalists call Yetzirah, we are not as yet dealing with our own material plane, but rather with the astral level on which the “souls” of things are formed, the patterns that will later determine the nature of their physical being. On this level man is still androgynous, containing both sexes in himself. This is made clear by the fact that woman was created from man and not from outside him.
The fact that they were not aware of their nakedness shows us that at this stage man was spiritually in a state of complete unity, that in his consciousness he was not yet able to recognize polarity. Thus we are told that he was still in Paradise and could speak with God and the animals, which is merely another way of saying that he was still at one with the All-consciousness, that consciousness was not yet individualized, that his own consciousness was not yet separated from cosmic consciousness. To be in a state of unity means to be one with everything; only with polarity does the I become separate from the not-I. Paradise symbolizes the unity in which man originally existed. He was not yet separated from God, from his source. There was as yet no division of the sexes, no consciousness of individuality.