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    Table of Contents

    Nature and Consciousness

    When referring to acting naturally, it is obvious that something done “naturally” does not require conscious effort. However, we must not confuse nature with a state of rectification; what is natural is not necessarily “rectified” and “complete.” On the contrary, in our current state of reality, our first nature is incomplete, and does not reflect the will of God that is imbedded at its root. We can therefore understand that the whole purpose of consciousness is to allow man to rectify nature, be it his own nature (meaning his temperament, or natural character traits) or the nature of his environment.

    The root of the concept of consciousness in the Torah is found in the first portion of the Book of Genesis. Before eating from the Tree of Knowledge Adam and Eve were “naked, and were not ashamed,” and immediately after they ate from it “they knew that they were naked….” The Tree of Knowledge primarily created a reality of self-consciousness. By eating from the Tree of Knowledge Adam sealed his fate to being self-conscious. The natural world exists as such precisely because it does not have self-consciousness; man, on the other hand, was banished from the “natural” state of the Garden of Eden because he ate from the Tree of Knowledge and became self-conscious.

    As mentioned, the natural world, notwithstanding the good imbedded in it, is damaged from its inception, being that it contains the fragments of the World of Chaos that preceded it. The task of human consciousness is to repair these fragments and to reveal the good hidden in reality, for nature without self-consciousness is neither able to affect a change in its essence nor repair its own damaged state. Premature consumption from the Tree of Knowledge created in Adam the self-consciousness necessary for the rectification of nature, however it made him lose his awareness of the Divine. Had Adam rectified his first natural, instinctive consciousness of the Divine by waiting until the Shabbat, he would first have been allowed to eat of the Tree of Life, thus gaining eternal life, before tasting of the Tree of Knowledge. Eating of the Tree of Knowledge in this rectified state would have allowed Adam to gain a consciousness of self while retaining his natural awareness of the Divine. Yet, at the moment of consumption the fruit was still forbidden, therefore God exiled Adam from the Garden of Eden in order prevent his premature consumption from the Tree of Life and receiving the gift of eternal life.

    Awareness of reality from the perspective of one who knows himself is necessary to allow man to take an active part in the rectification and development of the world, for it gives him the ability to look at the world as an observer who is detached from it. Yet, this extra dimension also causes man “neuroses” and complications dealing with himself and the outside world because of its apparent disconnection with God. With his now innate state of self-consciousness man can no longer simply “flow” naturally with himself and the world, and he is constantly driven to deliberate and critically analyze himself and his environment. He thus loses the ability to stand simply before God, his Creator.

    The fall caused by Adam's sin must now be rectified by nullifying one's overt sense of self-consciousness and becoming aware of God alone. Man's knowing himself will then no longer prevent him from being aware of the Divine, which he will perceive in all that surrounds him. Once man has brought himself to the natural-now-rectified state that Adam was in before eating of the Tree of Knowledge, he will return to the Edenic state and become worthy of eternal life. He will then be permitted to eat of the Tree of Life. This stage is analogous to the time when we will carry out the commandments naturally, as if they were voluntary, while the commandments themselves will remain mandatory.

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