Cain and Abel: Our Lower and Higher Consciousness
Many of us are familiar with the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, but do we really understand the deep spiritual implications of this struggle between two brothers?
For centuries, the church system has taught this story as a literal struggle between two literal individuals. However, the true intent behind the allegory of Cain and Abel is much more important than its literal rendition ... because Cain and Abel represent something much nearer to us than a 6,000 year-old story or fable ever could.
To put it simply, their struggle represents through metaphor, the condition of the human mind. Cain and Abel are the two very different natures within each of us, and the grand struggle deals with the incompatibility of these two natures, especially when the ego is left in control. There's a great short story about "The Two Wolves." Find it online ... you'll understand what we're about to go through explaining.
This article will trace the entire story. We will uncover the “inner/esoteric” mystery of these two characters, how they relate to our own individuality, and hopefully come to an understanding of how to benefit from the knowledge we obtain.
We begin with Genesis chapter 4:
“And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.”
The word “conceived” above could also be translated as experienced. Adam and Eve represent the conscious and subconscious aspects of mind.
Adam "experiencing" Eve ... simply means the fractured conscious and the subconscious, birthing the ego. Cain’s name, which is associated with our ego nature, means to "erect and create (carnally)," and his character is connected with our own lower nature. In Hebrew, Abel’s name means breath (spirit), and his character is connected with our Higher-nature.
From the text it is clear to assume that Cain and Abel are twins. Rightly so, because our higher and lower natures are the result of our incarnation. Ask yourself, which nature is ruling in you now?
When we read the story of Cain and Abel, we must realize we are reading a story about ourselves. Abel is the “inner” kingdom of your mind, and Cain is the outer aspect of your mind; one is spiritual and the other is physical. So if the Bible teaches us to walk by faith (spirit) and not by sight (what we see and understand physically), what can we learn and discern through the example of Cain and Abel?
First of all, we should notice that Abel is not the one struggling. The struggle is about Cain, because the ego is always in a constant struggle to kill off the Higher nature. The ego wants total control, because to sacrifice the ego is to die to self and let the Christ nature live through you.
“And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord has respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (Gen. 4:3-6).
So now we ask - why did the Lord accept Abel’s offering but not Cain’s? When we look beneath the layer of the literal and historical interpretation, we discover that Cain’s fruits cannot be accepted by God/Source because they represent the fruit of his "own labor."
Our own labors are the fruit of ego, and they can never please the Higher-Self because this fruit is here today and gone tomorrow. In other words, it has no lasting or permanent quality. But Abel’s offering is automatically accepted by God because Abel’s nature is ONE with God already. Abel is representative of the higher self.
Notice in the literal story how Abel did not have to work, struggle, or produce anything to present his offering. He only watched over and kept the flock as it grazed and grew of its own accord.
Go stand in the woods or near a waterfall and observe how nature is seamlessly integrated into one grand symphony of expression. Notice its BEING. It just IS. Just as a flower blooms when nature says it will.
Next, we are told that God sees Cain’s disappointment and tries to reason with him.
“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doeth not well, sin lieth at the door…” Gen (4:7).
This is the author’s attempt to show us that the ego is full of ignorance. To give in to the ego is to give in to our lower nature. We all know that a few verses later Cain rises up (the ego always does) and kills Abel.
Shortly after the murder of the Higher nature, which symbolically represents the ego taking control, God curses Cain and tells him that he will be “a fugitive and a vagabond” in the earth. In other words, unlike the higher nature which is grounded in BEING, the ego is always trying to create, solve, and fix problems. This is part of the nature of the human mind, and it is part of the delusion.
In the New Testament, Jesus taught not to worry about the things of this world, but rather to be as a child who understands how to BE in the NOW. Consider how the mind both creates and then tries to solve its own problems. The ego is constantly living in the past or present by dwelling on anything except that which is NOW, which is BEING ... in the present moment.
We should also understand here that God isn’t really cursing Cain. The curse represents the natural outcome (cause and effect / karma) for any individual who is ruled by ego. How does this curse play out for Cain, and ultimately, for us? Cain would become a wanderer with no permanent home in the earth. Remember, Genesis 4:12 states:
“…a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.”
If this were literal the Bible would contradict itself since Cain did settle down shortly thereafter and built a city. And since we understand that it isn’t literal, most of us can identify with Cain if we are honest with ourselves.
Aren’t many of us just drifting through life, creating our own problems and then trying to solve them? Aren’t most of us just vagabonds in the earth?
This is true for all of us in the ongoing process of life and death until true repentance comes and we learn to value Christ consciousness. You may be asking what I mean by stating “…in the ongoing process of life and death…” Let’s get back to reincarnation a moment to answer that.
A few verses later the author of Genesis tells us that Cain “…went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod…” (Gen. 4:16).
The Hebrew word for Nod means to “wander.” This is another clue that it’s not a real place. It’s actually an abstract concept teaching reincarnation indirectly. To be a wanderer in the earth means to incarnate again and again into the physical.
Why? Because when one is ruled by the ego, that soul vibrates to the tune of carnal needs ... physical desires. Therefore the author of Genesis also understands what the author of Job did:
“…Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return…” (Job 1:21).
It is also interesting to note that many popular cultural references points to the “Land of Nod” as meaning "the land of sleep." Many of you who may have studied Gnostic texts will also understand what I mean when I say that incarnating into a physical body and forgetting your former glory is to “drink the cup of forgetfulness.”
And for those of us who are still having trouble with reincarnation, known that it is believed among the oldest spiritual systems in the world ... and was once part of Christianity as well, until it was removed by the Roman Church.
I want to talk about one more important point that many have questioned. I know as a kid I did. Where did Cain get his wife in the land of Nod? Ultimately it does not matter because this is not a literal story. That’s why the Biblical author of Genesis never attempts to tell us this information. The story is myth, allegory, an outer story with an inner meaning.
Cain knowing his wife and reproducing the “ungodly” line symbolically represents the cycle of death and rebirth as it is expressed through the ego and the reincarnation cycle.
This is also why Cain’s line became masters of craftsmanship, of metal working, of music, of culture, and ultimately, of civilization. The ego is behind all of it. As I have stated before, the ego is not evil. But it shouldn’t be in charge. Remember if you will in the NT Bible, Jesus says to Peter "get behind thee satan." This represents being sure to know that Spirit is to lead, and ego is to follow.
As a final thought, remember that we cannot be forced to lay down the ego. When the New Testament says that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, it means that the suffering we keep revisiting ourselves with will one day become painful enough for us to ask the right questions about what we are doing wrong. It is then that we can begin the path to connect with our higher nature or Christ consciousness. The Divine Spark of God/Source within all of mankind.
Just a thought ...
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.
My thanks to Joshua Tilghman