The creation story in Genesis has no past or future; it depicts life as continuously unfolding out of the eternal present. The teachings it contains tell us that all life is one and originates from One source. It is from out of that unity that creation emerges. It tells us that we - the human species - are inseparable from the creativity of life in all its expressions. For the most part, we have barely understood these teachings - for had we done so, they would have gone some way to curbing our increasingly destructive behaviour towards the rest of life. Instead we have used mistranslations of the creation story to justify our exploitation of the living earth and our abuse of our fellow creatures - the very antithesis of the deeper meaning of the teachings in Genesis.
Whether we consider ourselves to be religious or atheist, as coming from a scholarly, scientific, or mystical background, we need to approach the biblical creation story from a point of unknowing. We need to strip away
all our previously learnt misconceptions about it. Genesis does not merely refer to the origins of the physical universe. Nor is it set in the past. It depicts life continually unfolding within us, and within everything that exists. It depicts creation as happening Now.
Genesis is written in ancient Hebrew ideograms that cannot be translated word for word into modern English sentences or those of any other language. No conventional translation can fully capture the essence of the Hebrew words which simultaneously contain many meanings on many levels. Hebrew words do not unfold in a purely linear fashion. They open out, revealing relationships and energy patterns which combine, unfold, and work together in the same moment – which is outside of linear time. As we deepen our own understanding, the words expand for us and open out these deeper dimensions
Genesis is part of the Jewish mystical tradition, and its Hebrew name is Bereshith. The name Genesis was only applied to the text when it was translated from Hebrew into Greek during the 3rd century BCE. The opening word - Bereshith - can be translated In the beginning, beginnings or beginning in power, and in this context, in power means not yet in physical action. The next Hebrew word is Bara - to create. The creation, like the beginning, is not a physical act nor is it subject to physical time. The opening verses of the story speak of the origins of life at a spiritual or metaphysical level without form or substance. We might say that it describes the unfolding of life at the level of abstract Idea in power or principle, and this is true of all that is depicted in the first chapter. The second chapter describes the emergence of forms out of Idea, and the third chapter the emergence of physical substance out of form.
The Hebrew text makes this very clear by using three different words - or, more accurately, concepts - for the different levels or universes of existence: Bara, to create, Yatzar to form, and Asah to make.
The different levels or universes in Genesis are born out of Divine Being - Absolute consciousness, all life contained in the Now. The origins of life or existence, and the origins of the physical universe are different themes. There is the theme of creation at a spiritual level without form or physical substance, followed by the unfolding and diversifying or "play" of forms, which finally emerge as physical substance. Put simply Absolute consciousness - Being, gives birth to itself.
The creation story in Genesis depicts the emergence of life out of Divine Being into Ideas, which diversify into forms that manifest as the physical universe. All physical life means not only the life in our own solar system, but throughout the entire Cosmos with its countless galaxies.
The loss of the knowledge that the creation story contains different levels - Divine Being, creation, formation and physical manifestation - has led to many erroneous interpretations of the text. For example - the belief that the creation of the physical universe took place over six days followed by a day of rest. The Hebrew word "Yom" which is translated as day must be interpreted within the context of the creative process. Here it means a complete cycle within creation, which is not subject to any of our concepts of physical or psychological time.
Creation takes place outside of time as we understand it. It is not an event in the past, but a continual unfolding out of the present, eternal Now. The creation of life is happening Now.
Creation is not a past event. Everything is here now. The beginning is always Now. Life is being continually created, always birthing itself into newness. Life and death are two aspects of the same cycle in the continuous renewal of life.
Contrary to conventional religious interpretations of the text there is no "God" that tells us what to do, judges us or punishes us.There are two names used in the text that are both translated as God. The first is Elohim, which can be translated as Being of beings, Unity or Absolute Life. The second name used is Jahweh which can be translated as To be Being and Being - Life that "Is" - all past and future contained in the Now. They are both best described as attributes of Absolute creative power, and they do not infer someone or something. Neither do they suppose human attributes and vices, such as benevolence and kindness, anger and vengeance. These are our own graven images - thought forms - that we project onto Being which is without form and simply is.
The religious interpretation is that Adam was a man and Eve was a woman, who lived in a state of paradise until they disobeyed God and were banished as a punishment. However, the name Adam means Universal Humanity, a complete species containing both male and female. The name Eve means a sacred circle, the sacred circle of life, or a circle of tents, and the Mother of all things. The term Eden is not a place - it describes a state of continually-changing, evolving and diversifying beautiful forms, which is why Eden is sometimes referred to as a state of paradise. The leaving of Eden by humanity symbolises our entry into the physical universe as we follow the whole of life into manifestation.
The continual play of the diversity of life, is integral to the sacred circle in which we come to know ourselves.
In the first chapter of the creation story (Verse 22) every living thing is said to have the creative capacity to bear fruit - to diversify from Idea into complex forms. This means that all the creatures that we share life with are creating life in each moment. As a species, we have a choice - to involve ourselves fully in the creative matrix of life, or to cut ourselves off from it. The human illusion is that we are a separate entity: from that perspective we seek to control, destroy and manipulate life as we will.
This brings us to one of the biggest problems - or illusions - that come out of the mistranslations of the creation story. In Chapter 1 verses 26 to 28 God is supposed to declare that humanity is to rule, and have dominion over the fish of the seas and the birds of the heavens, over all the earth and all that moves on the earth.
In the first instance the text is not describing the physical universe at all. Secondly, the rendering of the Hebrew word Radah simply as to rule or dominion, is totally misleading, and has led to the erroneous belief that we have the right to do whatever we want to life on Earth. It has been taken as giving us the right to use and abuse our fellow creatures and the Earth itself as if they were nothing more than commodities put there by God for us to exploit.
The Hebrew word Radah has to be understood within the context of the universal creativity of life. We must remember that it is being used here at a metaphysical and spiritual level, and carries a great depth of meaning. In this sense, it tells us that humanity has the potential to contain and express universal, abundant life: With the power to animate it throughout the whole of existence, from spiritual idea, through diversity of form, into the physical universe.
As we raise our level of conscious awareness, we enter fully into life. We co-operate; we join with the whole of life in all its forms. We become co-creators with our fellow creatures and with Divine being.
Right now, we are impoverishing the circle of life through our unconscious behaviour and our willful ignorance. Why are we doing this? Because we ourselves have become so impoverished. We have cut ourselves off - spiritually, psychologically and physically - from the abundance of life within us and around us, and become a destructive force. The unconscious human mind generates psychological pollution, a madness which we are acting out in destructive ways on the earth - to such an extent that we threaten to destroy much of the web of life.
This is entirely contrary to the mystical teachings given within the creation story Bereshith - that we should fully realize our own potential and know ourselves within the circle of abundant life.
If we are to understand the creation of life in Bereshith, we need to take time to contemplate and meditate upon the depth of meaning in the Hebrew concepts presented in Genesis. The usual translation of the opening verse in English text reads: