BEING NAKED IN THE GARDEN
WHAT IS ALL THIS GARDEN STUFF ABOUT?
Everywhere I turn of late there is a garden metaphor hitting me in the face. Since I am not as slow a learner as you might expect, it finally occurred to me that when something keeps crossing your path and seems to be going whereyou are, it may be expedient to travel with it.
About five years ago I was introduced
to the concept of being naked in the garden as a good thing now, for us all, not just long ago for the first two
humans (until they had kids and couldn't do that stuff anymore). Then recently, wham, two more garden discussions:
one suggesting the Garden of Eden is a metaphor for our womb. The other that it is the limitless reality we live
in, even while we are here in this limited and time bound sub-reality we usuallythink of as all of reality. All
these concepts appear to be related.
Being Naked in the Garden
I used to think the "being naked in the garden" metaphor had something to dowith "innocence" in terms of Adam and Eve apparently not knowing that such a state of undress could or should bring something called shame. But then my mind was expanded on the subject.
Someone challenged me in no uncertain terms to "get naked in the garden." After some bafflement I learned that this was a call to live in an open state, throwing off the closed/clothed state I had become so attached and used to and dependent on.
What was involved in this getting naked? Being open, removing the scaffolding of my intellectual constructs, the masks and boxes I hid behind and in. Just being. Not living in the present under the control of the past or the fear of the future. Just being.
The great lesson to be learned was that I am not my intellect. My intellect is just a tool for my use in being effective in the world. It is my tool. It is not me. As long as I am open, and present in the moment, I am naked in the garden! Simple!
Not very simple at all, actually, but it changed my life direction dramatically. I was headed one way, propelled by the past fearfully projected into thefuture, and am now happy to report that I am on a different track to a different destination.No fear.
To some it would seem I am still
on the same track as I was, but they don't know that the person they are looking at looks the same, but is not
the same, as the one they knew. Hence they have no way of knowing that although the exterior journey looks the
same, the interior journey, and the experience thereof, is radically --at the root-- different.
Remembering the Womb
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had all things provided for them. Then, because they wanted knowledge, they were expelled into a world that is hostile to them, forcing them to labor to survive.
I always took that story at almost face value. I was aware of the secular researchsuggesting that there were tens of thousands of years of peace and plentybefore the days of "civilization" as we know it now, with its walled citiesand standing armies and empires. Gathering, hunting, and limited agriculture supported nomadic and settled societies, depending on the terrain and its flora and fauna. Cities existed, but they had no walls. A true "GoldenAge" now remembered as a time of innocence, and reflected in the Garden ofEden myth. I thought this had merit.
But then along comes a new idea. The Garden of Eden story is the story of our being provided for in the womb. And our expulsion into the world so we can gain knowledge and experience. And what is the purpose of that knowledge and experience? To allow us to return to where we came from prior to entering the womb, according to some.
There is more, including the idea that Adam and Eve are metaphors for the spiritual and physical aspects of our own, and every, being. These two aspects have to leave the Garden together, and must return together, illustrating the need to keep balance in life.
I find this interesting but not particularly useful because I already learned the same idea from moving into the mode of being "naked in the garden." When "naked," one has already re-balanced one's life by recognizing that the body (and its mental prowess or intellect) is a tool allowing the self (the spiritual portion of who we are)to operate in and be effective in this material existence. So, these firsttwo "garden" ideas are parallel if not equivalent.
Had I not already been "naked" however, I would probably have altogether missedthe implications of the second one on how to be in this world. It is moreabstract and can easily be confusing to those who are Dualists: who divide themselves into a perfect and holy "spirit" and a wretchedly perverse "body" that makes them do things that are evil, and that thus needs to be "controlled" by the "spirit."
In my opinion, this latter type of dualism could benefit from a re-balancing but it misses the point of the nature of the self: it is not a spirit-being straining to control a bodily vehicle with poor brakes and alignment. It isa totality of one being, but a being with a need to stay centered in the selfthat is the part that was before the body and will be there after it. Thedifference is subtle, but avoids the neurosis of the fearful life, fearful of what the demands of the body may lead to unless suppressed and squashed and severely controlled.
The picture of Saint Francis lying
naked in the snowto suppress his desire for a loving wife and children comes to mind as anunproductive way to live
life. However, he was not in this mode of body-suppressionmuch of the time, he also spent time appreciating the
love-gift that physicallife is, as his poetic sayings on the love of life and nature show.
Where We Really Live, and Always Have, and Always Will
Finally, there was the idea held by some that before our birth we were in a state of existencethat is timeless and limitless. In the womb, we basically stay in that realityand are with our many close acquaintances in that state of being.
At birth we are not suddenly expelled from the company we keep in that world. It takes time to learn the concepts and words that describe this world and capture our consciousness. Babies spend time in both realities until, gradually, they are weaned from the one existence as they have their attention more andmore called into presence in the other.
Some never lose the ability to stop the flow of concepts and words in the conscious mind, and move back into parts of that other existence at will. The point that is exciting to me is the realization this brings thatwe continue to live in what we now see as another reality, a timeless andlimitless one. It is a reality where we always have been and will ever continueto be. It is the reality where we are part of the God-Nature that is Life!
An immediate result of this type of belief is to relate to babies in a different way. Rather than seeing them as things that need a lot of attention and work, and love, they can be viewed as persons making a difficult transition. Makingthat transition is important because this life is important in the overallscheme of things. But to me the recognition that this baby is spending someof its time in a completely different state of being increases my respect for this tiny human.
It also increases my interest in
helping this baby makea happy and successful transition into this life, and I think I can do that by increasing
my messages and actions showing love and interest. Respecting the depth of intelligence in a baby, respect that
comes just from knowing this tiny being exists in two placesat once (as we all do, but not usually as immediately
as a baby) enricheswhat can sometime be easily seen as just a one-way, and demanding, relationship.
So, What is It All About?
Allthree of these notions are like sharks circling around a central theme: the garden is a metaphor for our life. How we live that life usefully is notso much a matter of dogged determination and fearful control as it is a surrenderto, and trust in, our own deeper being. That deeper being is still in theGarden, with God to use the Biblical metaphor, and in a significant senseis connected with and thus is God in the ancient mystical and current NewAge metaphors.
Whose metaphor we believe in is not important. What is important is recognizing the basic truth of our being, stopping the fear, and learning to trust and then enjoy who we are and what we can actually do in this world. And what should we do? A lot of things, hopefully things in harmony with what we are at the very root of our being, the root that always remains in and nourishes us from the garden. And there is much to do to promote peace, love, and joy: starting with our babies and others who are close to us, and extending into our communities and to all the world.
Peace is the watchword: for the world as a whole, for nations, for families, and especially for individuals. At peace there is the opportunity for "nakedness" as a way of being. And "nakedness" is peacefulness, at-one-ment with the DivineNature, our root-nature, our continuing connection with the Garden of Being.
NOTE: Now that I have endorsed nakedness so often that I believe in it, late in 2000 I go and read a book called "Awakening Intuition" by Mona Lisa Schulz, and it says to not be too naked, in so many words. That advice remindsme of Jesus' telling his disciples to be "wise as serpents but harmless asdoves." In other words, the intellect plays a role in your life, but thereis also the need to be vulnerable as a white dove, naked in the garden inmy parlance. Balance is the key.