The Tree of Knowledge

There has been much debate about the meaning and the actual existence of the famous tree of Adam who, tempted by Eve, herself tempted by the serpent, ate the famous apple:

Gen 2

8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Gen 3

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

We shall note that there is no mention of any apple and that God never specified not to eat the fruit but any part at all. In any case, it is the fruit that was eaten, and that is highly symbolical.

Please note that this page is not meant to discredit any belief in the actual existence of a certain tree in a certain garden, but instead to implement on a deeper level on a teaching which, although written for the comprehension of a child in like terms, can also bring about a richness of meanings that takes a lifetime to gather and practice.

You must keep this in mind as a parable to understand the allegory of the Jerusalem temple and the ARK; and how they work together symbolically as teaching tools to conduct our life and understand all the parts and place of each experience we have, and more importantly, to give a sense, a logic, a reason, a cause, an excuse, and above all a purpose to our life.

Has anyone asked: why was a ‘tree’ chosen instead of a bush or a vine or a mushroom? They all can have fruits.

If eating a ’fruit’ was the problem, why choose this particular plant type?

Indeed it is also chosen to describe life: the ‘tree’ of life. There is a very special reason.

There is something that makes the tree unique that other plants do not have. It is not for its fruits, bushes and vines and palms do have them too, it is not for its leaves either, the other types of plants have them too –for most-. Of course they all have roots, somehow. So what is the only feature that makes a tree a tree? What indicates to a 3 year old child that such plant is a tree and not a bush? What do bushes and vines have in common that a tree, whether small or large doesn’t have? What, finally, distinguishes a bush and a tree of the same size, from the same Genus and species, say like 2 brother plants from the same parent pod, one grown as a tree and the other shaped as a bush of the same height?

You guessed it! The shape!

You will ask me: what’s with the shape?

-it is not the shape per say, but what makes the shape that will have you call it: tree? The trunk!

The trunk is the secret of the whole Bible! How so? Well this is where our journey begins.

Have you ever gone to a university and having chosen a career, been asked what branch are you specializing in? isn’t it therefore a ‘branch’ of knowledge? Could we gather all the ‘branches’ of all knowledge and join them into a bush? Be patient the trunk will come later. What is the particularity of a branch? It is something that is gravely overlooked by most people, yet everyone knows it well: the branch grows! Astonishing!

Indeed, as time elapses, the branch keeps on growing, and growing, and growing. Small twigs become branchlets, then secondary branches, while they keep on producing more and more twigs. Thus is knowledge: the more you know the more you have to learn. Observe that the branch as it keeps growing gets further and further away from its origin! As well, it gets weaker and weaker. This is a very important concept in this metaphor. You will see why shortly.

As we get more and more knowledge, don’t we have to specialize? Isn’t it because we cannot handle everything of every branchlet we encounter and explore? Oh yes! it is our dearest desire to know it all! and remembering it as much… Yet otherwise is our capacity: we can learn more, but we can also forget! in fact we MUST forget some and remember other.

And so as we move forward in knowledge of a particular subject, we abandon other data, right and left, even though it is related to our subject. This illustrates very simply our incapacity to know everything! All the knowledge we can handle is but a light twig on an immense giant! Indeed the fruit of this knowledge is limited to our capacity to understand and absorb. The further we move forward, the more we abandon on the sides, thus the less we know in proportion with to the size of our branch.

Let’s consider the branch very small; it has one leaf and one fruit.

Can we say that that fruit is representing all the fruits of the branch? It is because the branch has only one fruit. What if the branch has grown to have a thousand fruits; what does one fruit represent? Isn’t it only 1/1000th of all the fruits of the branch? Therefore when do we seem to get more knowledge?

If the fruit represents knowledge, is it when the branch is far grown, of when the branch is a baby? And so when the branch is a baby, isn’t it closer to the source and thus stronger and fuller than when far grown?

If you are only able to eat one fruit, which fruit would you chose? The one at the further out of 1 thousand, the diluted version of the whole? Or the only one fruit that contains everything, thus the closest to its origin?

Let us further consider that if you are on branch # one from the beginning, you are not on branch # two or three, and so no matter what, as long as you are on a branch, you cannot be on all. Therefore how can we have all knowledge? Indeed, Eve considered the fruit good to gain wisdom, the serpent assured her that she would be equal to God, the all-knowing. Unless she eats the whole tree, can she otherwise gain all knowledge?

But let’s consider further a second part of the plant: the capillary system, the nutrients going up and the sap coming back. Let’s consider knowledge to be these nutrients feeding the branches, let’s consider the sap as the feed-back that nourishes the plant. Where do all these nutrients pass through and where do all this sap pass through? Don’t they go through the origin of the branches and back in a constant unbroken communication? If we consider all the branches together as we have said earlier, aren’t they joined at their origin? And so aren’t all nutrients once together in one spot? And isn’t all sap from all branches coming back to one spot?

So then no matter how large or small the plant is, all knowledge is One at one point, it has One origin and One destination: the same One spot. And wouldn’t it make sense to understand that it is not up on the branch that we find ALL knowledge since, instead, the branch takes us away from the source of all knowledge, but in the Origin itself, at the source?

To be on the branch and eat the ‘fruit’ describes our insatiable thirst to explore further and further in the attempt to get more knowledge and more power, where it is indeed the reverse that gives it to us.

But this is only one part of the metaphor.

We said that the trunk is of a great importance. It is the most important part. It has many functions and though a plant can exist without a ‘trunk’, our metaphor needs a trunk to be complete: it makes the tree. To understand it we must understand the different functions of that trunk.

First that the trunk is One.

Indeed there may be many branches but there is only one trunk.

Second that the trunk bears the branches. Look, as a botany related major, i studied closely plants, and i can name quite a few that have multiple trunks; they are still called trees with trunks!

That trunk is that very origin of those branches as we said earlier. It is where, the closer to which you are, the closer to all knowledge you will be!

Indeed and thirdly, that through the trunk flow the nutrients and the sap. They have no other way to get to the branches and back. In fact this is when we realize that the trunk feeds the branches and vice-versa. Furthermore, we then realize the symbiosis between those branches and the trunk as well. Indeed, the trunk feeds the branches, but if the branches do not perform (through their leaves) and send back nutrients, the trunk WILL cut them off naturally. Just observe a tree which has dead branches!

Fourth one is that the trunk provides a gap between the branches and the dirt (ideally!). This is of extreme importance in our metaphor. It is the trunk that protects the branches from contaminants, so that the branches do not have to touch the ground. There is another reason for this too. When a branch touches the ground it may root out and produce another tree – competition! Keep this in mind for later.

Fifth, that the trunk without branches can (in most trees) produce more branches, though a branch without a trunk will die! so the most important part of the tree then is the trunk. I have seen trunks cut-off and thrown about growing new roots and branches- of course we all have seen branches cut and planted to produce new trees, but it remain that those branches are meant to become the new trunks!

Sixth, that a palm tree was not chosen because (for most species) it has no branches only leaves (though we call them branches, the technical term is: fronds), it therefore would be useless for the metaphor. And most of all that the trunk is the one making the whole tree. of course that would be the ideal tree: no branch, all One in the trunk! No trunk and we have a bush or a vine or an herb. Notice those plants touch the ground or crawl upon it, they have no majesty and no trunk protects them. That protection is what therefore would sanctify them by setting them apart.


As you might have guessed it by now, the trunk is our Father, G-d, the origin of all knowledge. The metaphor explains how our quest for knowledge leads us away from its actual source. How our tendency to rely upon ourselves, which is the fruit of our knowledge, causes us to fall away from the trunk; whereas if we allow Him to show us the way, we have by default complete access to all knowledge.

Indeed how vain is it to try to figure out what is right and what is wrong when what is right for one man is not for another!

Thus he who searches for all knowledge must seek to know nothing. Then only he will find it all!


Wherefrom would one be able to see the whole tree? Can it be from the front? Can it be front the side or the rear? Can it be from above? Go to a large tree and try.

Try now! look at a tree! (i won’t peak)

And you will find that only from the trunk can you see the whole tree. For from the front, side or back, you see only that side, and from the top only the top. But from the trunk can all the branches be seen.

If the branches are knowledge, then from the trunk all knowledge can be perceived.


What is the gain of knowledge? How really is important all this knowledge compared to what Pure Joy, the Source of all existence, has really to offer?… Isn’t that the reason for all actions?…to be satisfied and peaceful so as to experience joy? If so, is getting knowledge a part of that? And if it is, how do you get peace out of knowledge? How do you get joy out of knowledge? Are you satisfying your ego? Are you attempting to obtain Joy from and about the objects from which you have gained such knowledge? How long can you feel that Joy? Is that Joy really located in these objects?

Yes you get what you ask for…We’ve heard all the preaching about getting anything we want. All the treasures of the world are yours to squander…but in the end, what is worth anything?…is it the cars? or the big houses or small… anything?…

Not one second on this world can be neither taken nor returned… yet in gaining all, was it joy you were looking for? And if so, did you find the Joy in the knowledge or in the obtaining of the knowledge or the objects.

What about the objects, did you find joy in the objects themselves or in their discovery?

Joy and what is enjoyable is nothing but a mind twister: you are imposing a condition of which you, by yourself, suffer the yoke. If joy is what you are looking for, if satisfaction is what you are looking for, then why imposing a distance between you and it?   Why imposing a condition? why seeking in the Branches what is in the trunk? Why seek bread in the crumbs? Why seek wisdom where there is none?

Let us seek the tree. Let us see a tree with one trunk and many branches; let us see the branches growing infinitely and splitting into branchlets and twigs. Let us know that all sap runs through the trunk to reach the branches and back to the trunk as an unending dance. Let the leaves now be the expressions of that sap which brings the nutrients. Let the sap be knowledge, knowledge of the Joy, the pure Joy. Let the leaves be your experience of that joy.

If joy is the trunk, and what are enjoyable are the leaves, then this is how it works: the smaller the tree, the fewer the branches, the fewer the leaves, thus the closer you come to joy (the trunk)… but the more leaves (knowledge) you get, the more branches you get; and thus the further away from the trunk… As well the more diluted is the joy… Then the more chances that, as the leaves wilt, dry and fall, the less complete the joy you feel, for you see: All the leaves together are then considered, in this example, the way to the complete Joy: the expression of the trunk! All the leaves, then, have to be experienced together in order to have the full effect of the full Joy…

So …

From the closest place to the trunk, if we have only one leaf there: that one leaf represents the whole Joy = 100%.. Then as well, further away, 1,000,000 leaves found would be the whole Joy as well= 100%. In this latter, see that if any one falls, you can never have the full spectrum of the full Joy.

You will say: “but if there is only one leaf and one falls, we have nothing, but if we have 1 000 000 and one falls we have almost everything”.

Yes, but can you experience so many all at once? Perhaps you can deal with only one at a time. If so then only the one single leaf would make you full of joy. If it falls, then you must wait for the next one to grow to be full of joy. However, if you can only experience one leaf at once, and the full joy is expressed in even two leaves total, then you will never be able to experience full Joy; much less with more leaves. Then with so many branches, who can be on two branches at once?

Chose wisely how much is enough…before you get lost in the clutter!

Cling to the trunk…not the twigs that break with the first wind!

He who dwells in the trunk can see all the branches, but he who dwells in the branches is hidden from the other branches, neither can he see the trunk.

Jesus dwelled in the trunk…he was one with love, with Joy, thus one with God…

Put yourself in his place and laying against the trunk, look up the branches and see all the people climbing and climbing further and further away…and see them wobbling on the weak twigs and falling like rotten apples, all in search of full joy through knowledge of what is right and what is wrong!

They are playing God, deciding upon right and wrong. Let God produce what is right and what is wrong, it is not for us to judge but to listen as it is said:

Deut 6

4 Hear (o Israel) the Lord our G-d,[ ]. the same verse which ends in:[ ] The Lord is One[ness].

Then decide… You are looking for the truth…

There is only one truth…and it is not in the knowledge of this world which is fleeting and ephemeral like a twig in the wind or a leaf which grows in springs and falls in autumn.

Seek the trunk thru which all knowledge arises and all life flows. Then you will have knowledge of all knowledge. Cling to the trunk and be the servant so you may live.

Now one last and sublime reason why the tree had to be chosen. In Hebrew the word for “tree” is Etz written with 2 letters: ‘E’ and ‘Tz’. And so that last reason is found in the letters making the word E Tz: עֵץ

for the ayin:

The Ayin Letter

for the tzade:

The Tzade Letter

Put together it may then be interpreted as knowledge and wisdom, where wisdom  (the Wise Tzade) bears knowledge, justice and obedience (the eye), where justice carries obedience, unions of the sons, where one son bears the other, etc. I will let you draw your conclusions.

However something else had caught my attention: When you join the two letters in one single drawing you get the image of a tree with four branches!

I have come to think that Hebrew is not a language born out of sounds representing ideas but out of sounding acronyms, themselves representing ideas, much like Chinese.

This comes in handy in the following parts.

Published on July 13, 2010 at 3:04 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Todah raba Senor Briar. Una lectura más agradable y estimulante del todo.

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