Meg Lee Chin

Some dismiss the Bible, Koran and Torah as fairy stories. But I reckon fairy stories have a lot to tell us about our collective unconscious. As they filter through the generations, certain themes endure. I suspect this longevity signals a spark of truth. Those myths and legends which survive the test of time, may offer insight into the human experience.

In the Garden of Eden story, Adam and Eve lived in Paradise. But they tasted forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This opened their eyes. They saw they were naked.

Hence they lost their innocence, became self conscious and aware of their vulnerability. They developed a moral conscience and experienced shame. They were cast out of paradise and forced to toil for the rest of their lives.

By contrast, animals never left the Garden. They don't ruminate over the past nor do they worry about the future. They live fully in the moment and rely on instinct to survive. They have no knowledge of good and evil.

Unhappiness lasts only as long as pain lasts. Once the pain is gone, they revert to contentment. Once any danger has passed, they let go of fear. Animals don't form armies. They don't build fortresses, prisons or bombs. They don't force other animals to work for them.

This ability to live fully in the moment is what psychologists call "mindfulness". They say it is a recipe for happiness.

We humans have evolved a neocortex in our brains. The neocortex is the seat of self consciousness. It brings morality and knowledge of good and evil.
It also gives us imagination and the tendency to fear things which exist only in our heads.

The neocortex separates us from instinct. We leave the Garden of Eden and become imprisoned by our own minds. Hence we build fortresses, prisons and bombs. We force others to work for us.

Could it be that the Garden of Eden represents the evolution of the neocortex in our brain? Was it the transition from an animal to human consciousness? Does the Garden of Eden story hold the key to why we are unhappy? Is the message to live fully in the moment?

More importantly… should I get off Facebook, go outside and lift my face to the rain?