Return to the Garden (The "core" wound)

We are stardust  
Billion year old carbon  
We are golden  
Caught in the devil's bargain  
And we've got to get ourselves  
back to the Garden 

-Joni Mitchell


The story of the garden of Eden is an "origin" story. My view is that within this "origin story" we may be seeing clues about the origins of the structure of the psyche, how those structures came into being, and also how they are manifest in the outer world. This inner and outer structure then become a feedback loop, and perpetuate the other's existence. By looking at the manifestation of these patterns and foundational "motifs" in the outer world in terms of behaviors, interpersonal group dynamics, societal structure and more we can see major clues about these psychological underpinnings and the inner "motif" which shapes our perceptions as well.

(Side note: A "motif" is a foundational pattern. In music school we learned to analyze compositions in order to understand the nature of their construction. A motif is one very basic building block. The most famous motif is perhaps Beethoven's 5th Symphony (listen below). Beginning with a few simple notes, Beethoven then builds a complex symphony. The seed of all of that complexity is this one simple idea that appears at the beginning of the composition, and a few other key spots.

The analogy, here, is that the "core wound" that is explored in the blog also functions as a sort of "psychological motif", and from that seed, or motif, exposition and development occur in an understandable sequence of cause and effect.)

The ancient nature of the story is also a clue that this has been the state of being in humanity, and may be a key in understanding our deepest nature.

In modern times, there are more and more explorations into the nature of the mind, and even what we might consider "enlightenment". Neuroscience, Psychology and new psychedelic research is delving deeper into how the mind processes reality, and what is the cause of mental suffering? So, there are physiological, psychological and philosophical threads that all may point to the same understanding.

One common view is that this "enlightenment" is perhaps some "higher spiritual nature" that seems to be some enhancement, or some type of "adding on", or "achievement". However, viewing the same "spiritual nature" or state thru the lens of this "Garden" story, I am considering here that it is a returning to our original state of being.

So, now let's look at the story of the "Garden of Eden" and explore how it may hold a clue to these origins, and perhaps how our perceptions are shaped.

I should also say that this particular "insight" came about mainly by noticing the dynamics in a couple of pretty normal day to day interactions. (I did have an insight around this years ago, but it wasn't fully formed.) The first interaction I'll mention here, was during a situation in which I felt myself being slightly triggered by someone's behavior, I noticed in our discussions that they were subtly invalidating. 

Instead of reacting to this invalidation, I asked myself, why would a person be invalidating? Not only in this particular case, but in any case. What is their need? What is motivating this behavior? And as I thought about this, I realized that their need was to feel that they "mattered". So this subconscious need "to matter" was causing them to, try to create a hierarchy, so to speak. In this case the invalidation, of one choice over the other, was in essence a subconscious way of creating the hierarchy in which, they were "right" and by default had more "value".

As I thought through the situation and realized this dynamic, then I had more compassion for them. I thought "okay, well, they're suffering because they essentially are carrying this feeling that they need be subtly manipulative in order to establish their sense of "value". So, this particular situation spurred me to start to think about this energy of "you matter" as a driver of behavior. As I considered this, it seemed that we all have this basic desire to "matter", or feel that we have some "value" and that it may drive many of actions or behaviors subconsciously. 

Another personal scenario also came up for me around this time. It happened when I had texted somebody that was important (to me) and I really wanted to hear from them in hopes that they had similar feelings about our growing relationship. As I waited on their reply over the next few hours which turned into longer, my mind started, like, going through my own bit of neurosis or "monkey mind". So, as I waited I noticed that attachment and expectation grew, and I began to be a little more expectant than I would be for just a general reply from someone where this "expectation" wasn't present. As I was observing this thought process and expectation, I thought, "why are you having this sort of anxiety around this?" And, again, as I looked into the layers of my own thought process, I realized that at the root of it was that I wanted to "matter" to that person. But really, it was an impulse within me to feel that I had value. I wanted the person I valued to also value me. So, there was this energy again, this time manifesting in my own behavior. I simply wanted to feel like "I matter". 

So then I began to think about this ancient story of the Garden of Eden and consider an analogy or parallel to these situations.

So, I assume we all know the story of the Garden of Eden, basically. In any case, I'm just I'm going to talk through the basic story.

So "the Garden" represents, in my view, intimacy, abundance and unconditional love. I am viewing this as also an archetypal origin story. It functions as a representational story of "us".

And so in the Garden there was Adam and Eve, and they were the representation of the divine masculine and feminine. Adam and Eve had this perfect relationship with the Creator. In this relationship there was no sense of separation. We were in perfect union. (Union is also what the word "yoga"means.) In this state of Divine union, all of our needs were met by the Creator, there was an abundance of food, there was intimacy and there was a complete and unconditional love. There was only one stipulation that the Creator had given Adam and Eve, and that was -- don't eat of the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil".

My feeling is that in order for love to be real there must be a sense of equality and of choice. Without choice, it would have just been a very nice prison. So, the instruction was, just don't eat of this one tree, which is the tree of the "knowledge of good and evil."

"Love is that which enables choice. Love is always stronger than Fear. Always choose on the basis of Love."

-Forest Landry

As the story progresses along comes a snake. And the snake said, "Hey, the Creator really just doesn't want you to eat the fruit of this tree because he doesn't want you to be on par with him." In my view, the snake represents the voice of "shame". Why? Because it was basically saying to them, "Telling you not to eat the fruit is a trick to keep you from your potential." What the snake was saying was: "You're not good enough. You don't really matter yet, but if you eat this will". So the snake was like the first manipulator using triangulation to deceive them.

Then, they ate of the fruit and as soon as they did they immediately felt this separation. The intimacy, abundance and unconditional love that they previously felt was gone. So by eating of the fruit, they then experienced this fall in consciousness or or fall from grace. As they felt that "fall", they felt shame, and they then put the leaves on their body because they realized they were naked. 

So "the fall" after they ate of this tree, signifies the first shame from the perception of the loss of unconditional love

So, now I'm going to make the parallel of that archetypical story to our own everyday lives.

My parallel analogy is that when we were born, we come from pure love. For most of us, for the first year of our life, we're just doted upon, we're held in our mother's arms, and our father's arms. Whoever is around "goo goo's and ga ga's" over us. Basically, at that point all of this love and attention we are receiving is totally unconditional and there's intimacy and abundance. We are not required to "do" anything to receive this love, and care, which seems to come from every direction.

(Side note: I realize everyone is not born into a loving situation. The main point here is that in our infancy we are not expected to behave in a certain way, nor do we calculate our behaviors. We simply receive care from our care givers.)

Eventually, as we grow and begin our path of childhood development, we we start to be able to do things in the world and have agency. As we explore this agency or autonomy, there is a time where we cross a boundary or cause some problem. We might get disciplined or scolded, or we just start to notice in some instance that we're no longer loved unconditionally. 

From that point forward we realize now that things are conditional. We now perceive that we have to do some "thing", to meet expectations and receive positive feedback. Before this positive feedback just came freely. When we first experience this "fall from grace" as little beings we often also experience some sense of shame. So, the shame that Adam and Eve felt from eating the fruit is parallel to the shame from the loss of unconditional love. They crossed a boundary that was there for their benefit. When we perceive the loss of unconditional love, now we perceive that there's a "condition" to acceptance.

And so that condition brings up the thought of acceptability and unacceptability. 

As "acceptability and unacceptability" arise, this is also the birth of duality. There is now the calculation within the mind of cause and effect as it relates to our perceived value. As soon the birth of duality arises, then we're aware that we want to return to "the Garden". We want to return to the place of unconditional love. And so we go from a state of simply "being", to a state of "becoming". Now we have to become "something" to recapture that sense of "acceptability". This sense of needing to "become" is the "fruit" of the tree of duality - "Good" and "Evil". The subconscious now begins to accumulate, as we look beyond the present and into the future to calculate cause and effect, in a world of opposites.

From the state of mind that arises we now perceive that there is a future moment of "becoming" that promises our return to the state where love is. The ability to enjoy presence is lost as the subconscious seeking for what has been lost, begins. This state of "becoming" is now our path to return to the Garden". Now we seek to navigate the duality of "unacceptability" and "acceptability" on our way to "becoming" that which is worthy of "love". Before this love simply came by "being" and without any conditions. The perception of future, and past arise to mark progress in this quest to re-capture a love that has been perceived as lost.

Remember, that the name of the tree was the "Tree of the  knowledge of Good and evil", which are two poles, or two opposites. So it's the tree of duality. Consider that when we we ate of this tree of duality, and it caused our fall in consciousness by the growing necessity to calculate duality in the context of acceptability and shame. Now we have stepped on to the path of the knowledge of duality. The knowledge of good and evil. 

Now in the state of becoming "mind" arises. By "mind", I mean the conceptual mind. Why does this conceptual mind arise? This mode of mind arises because now we have to calculate acceptability and unacceptability. Now what comes into motion is the "egoic perspective", or calculated "self" and so this is also the birth of the ruminating and ever calculating monkey mind. 

This series of events accounts for the genesis of the "egoic" perspective. The dualistic nature of self perception has now been born from the perception of the loss of unconditional Love, which is experienced as shame. This is also the arising of craving and aversion, and attachment and expectation. These perceptions, which become stressors on the nervous system, are subconsciously driven by shame. This is a natural sequence of cause and effect.

You may remember craving, aversion and attachment and expectation as core to the teachings of Buddha. Buddha saw these as the drivers of stress and mental suffering, and taught his students to abide in "equanimity", which is the state of balance between these poles.

So continuing on the logical path of this reactive structure of consciousness. One might ask, what is it that the mind conditioned to duality wants? It wants control and power. And why does it want control and power? It wants control and power so that it can dictate the new reality. It is this new reality where it will seek to create another "Garden" a new world of intimacy, abundance and "love"... that it can control. The new reality is the reality where it gets love for being something or becoming some thing (other than its authentic and true self, flaws and all). All of this however, is simply an attempt to return to that place of abundance, intimacy and unconditional love (for who we are). This in turn becomes an unconscious driver of behavior, and perceptions.

Why am I calling this a "core wound"? I'm calling it that because its at the very core of our subconscious, and in many ways is the event that begins the need for the subconscious to exist at all. 

This "core wound" drives a lot of other behaviors that we're not conscious of, because we lost the awareness of its "genesis" when we were little babies. We simply forgot why the perceptions and resulting actions were initiated. And the whole inertia of the resulting behaviors, is this energy of "do I matter" or "do I have value in the social order", "am I acceptable?", "Am I good enough?".

So, it naturally follows that when we lost that perception of unconditional love, we also lost the sense of intrinsic value. As we can easily observe in our world, there's a hierarchy of value. In this hierarchy people are "rich" or "poor", or "sexy " or "successful", or "losers" or whatever kind of comparison of value that is created. However, all of that's an illusion to convince the players in the play that they can reach the state of "mattering" again. All of this is an illusion that is created subconsciously in an effort to return to the "Garden", to return to the place of unconditional love (in our own origin story).

In essence, that's what a spiritual awakening is. It is seeing thru this illusion, and returning to the full awareness of your intrinsic value and also seeing that in others. Self-realization, or being "born again" is (in part) waking up to the illusion of the self that is seeking to "become", and returning to the core Self which is content in simply "being", knowing that you are the "I Am" in the Garden. Your value is intrinsic to simply "being", you are not "greater than" or "less than".

So, I invite you to begin to observe your thoughts, notice their nature. What are the drivers? As you peel back the layers where does it lead? What is the impetus behind them? Does it lead back to questioning your value?

Also, begin to notice any triggers, any need for judgment or comparison. Also, notice the layers that lead to these conscious thoughts. What are their subconscious drivers? Is the motivation to "matter", for "acceptance", for "validation"?

The key exploration is: Are these inner subconscious drivers that arise from these "needs" leading to mental suffering for self or others which could include - judgment, criticism, blame, dishonesty, manipulation, jealousy, envy.. etc..

"Be still and know" (Be Still. Observe. Know) --- This is our most basic instruction pointing us back to our origin, to self knowledge. and out of forgetfulness.

You may notice, as the layers in the mind are explored, that it often comes back to this basic feeling of "Do I Matter" (to the other). With practice, you get used to "dispelling" that energy because it is understood that at the root of perception there is an illusion, and the monkey mind gradually begins to let go. The mind is like, "well, then... I'm not going to have these thoughts". Being able to just identify the core motivator begins to bring clarity. Knowing that it's about "mattering" and the illusion of "hierarchical value" enables the mental "motif" to begin to dissolve bit by bit. The mind is like, okay, "now that I see it, we don't need try so hard then to satisfy this illusion." The mind naturally tends to "quiet". There simply is not as much processing to do.

Side note: In my experience, there is an energetic and physiological process that begins to occur as mind adjusts. As the mind adjusts the body adjusts. Understanding and navigating this process is the goal of mind-body practices like yoga, meditation, breath work, sound therapy and so on. These practices help us begin to relieve the physiological tension that is the result of an incorrect perspective.

Compassion, grace and patience naturally arise from seeing that it's just such a basic human need. I mean, like, why do we want to have success? Why do we want control? Why do we want to be sexually attractive? Why do we want anything? It's just that we want to "matter" and feel "loved", and by extension have our needs met. We seek to achieve this "mattering" by setting out to meet the conditions and circumstances that we perceive will get us there.

Desire itself arises to convince us that we are worthy, if we can only "obtain" some external thing. The underlying message in the pursuit is that "you will matter", or  "you will have value" by obtaining that which is prized.

The sad part of the egoic perspective is that even if you're good at "mattering", or you can do something to get people's attention and validation, you'll never believe in that love and attention anyway. While it will be enjoyed for a season, eventually it will be perceived as inauthentic, and hollow.

So the egoic perspective never will never be able to know love. It will forever be lost in a world of craving, aversion, and manipulation.

As the famous quote goes "What does it profit anyone to gain the world, but lose their own soul?"

Ultimately, I think what we want from any spiritual experience, or life for that matter... is intimacy, abundance and unconditional Love. Right? Because who cares about the spiritual experience if it doesn't lead us to something valuable?

The good news is we can begin to receive what we never lost and begin to give it to each other.

"The Garden" is here and now, within each of us.

In future posts, I plan to explore the physiological and psychological challenges in our quest to return. There's definitely more to unpack here and I hope what I am attempting to communicate will have even more clarity with subsequent posts.


So, to quickly recap. The "core wound" being explored here is the perception of the loss of unconditional love. This wound leads to shame. The shame leads to a desire for acceptance. Acceptance manifests as "I/You Matter" (energy), or the desire to matter (to a partner, family, loved ones, society, etc). This becomes a "motif" or foundational pattern and ultimately leads in the psyche to "duality", and the ever ruminating mind. Of course, we all want to matter, and be valued, and feel love and acceptance. They key here is that once we see that, we can also see how that impulse may also manifest in ways that perpetuate the feeling of separation, and mental suffering. The hope is that by understanding and being conscious of these core drivers of behavior, it is possible to move again towards behaviors that lead to intimacy, abundance and unconditional love -- In other words: Union, and Unity and Peace.




"The problem is you’re afraid to acknowledge your own beauty. You’re too busy holding onto your unworthiness. You’d rather be a schmuck sitting before some great man, that fits in more with who you think you are. Well, enough already. I sit before you because I see your beauty, even if you don’t." --Ram Dass

"The Kingdom of Heaven (also the Garden?) is within You" - Yeshua