The tree of life has found itself trapped in our creation story and the fall of Adam and Eve. In our Mormon culture, once cherubim and a flaming sword guarded it, it simply disappears to us. However, as ancient records resurface, we discover much more detail about the tree of life, to rethink the whole image. Consider the possibility that the tree of life hasn’t disappeared, but has been preserved in hidden symbolism, in the scriptures, unnoticed. By recognizing those hidden scriptural images, perhaps our desire to study them, with new eyes, would produce a passion to ask, seek, knock, and partake of that hidden fruit.
Trapped in Stories: The tree of life is trapped in our creation and garden story, that it has little value to the unlearned mind. No one goes out into the world looking for a tree, that if you partake, you shall never hunger or thirst. It is only mentioned in passing through the records of Adam, Lehi and Alma, but it is simply considered symbolic, and not really accessible. Alma warned us that if we fail to read the words of Christ, we would get less and less of the word, until we know nothing concerning the mysteries:
“11. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries…“
What I am suggesting is, the reason we’ve lost connection to the tree of life is directly tied to hardened hearts that won’t receive even the lesser portion of the word, and that has resulted in ignorance toward the mysteries. In the mysteries of ascension, the role of the tree of life, plays a key part. It was through the tree of life that all ascended. Without knowledge of the tree of life, ascension is simply impossible.
Ancient Records: Ancient records have resurfaced through Joseph Smith, and more have come in the 20th century, in his support. Lets take a look at the Hebrew traditions, pointing to the symbolic remnants of the tree of life.
Ancient Hebrew traditions are deeply rooted in tree symbols. The burning of the incense would produce a column of smoke, that when it rose and hit the top of the Holy of Holies, the smoke would plume, creating an image of a tree of life. Another symbol was a constant burning of fire. The Lord promised Israel that He would be a cloud of smoke by day, and a pillar of fire by night, referring to the tree. Moses’ burning bush on Sinai, is another connection of the cloud of smoke and pillar of fire. To the Hebrew, the tree of life was a worm hole, that had the ability to transport a person to the heavens. Thus, cherubim and a flaming sword was set at the tree, to guard Satan from escaping this world, until his final destruction.
On the veil of the temple was sewn a tree. By passing through the veil, the priest symbolically was taken to the upper heavens, just as the tree of life acted as a conduit to the heavens, a direct transport. Often, tall trees were referenced to represent the reach of the tree of life, and it’s ability to connect to the heavens. The candle-stick Menorah, kept in the temple, was a symbol of the tree of life, whose fruits where symbolized by lit candles (representing true light, of the upper heavens). Different tree types were used, but each represented the tallest trees, in the relative area, offering access to heaven through the tree: Redwood, Mustard, Ished, Cedars, Pine, etc. Interesting fact, the story of “Jack and the Bean Stalk” came from similar ascent traditions, pointing to the “magic seed” being planted (symbolically: the word), and growing into “the bean stalk” (symbolically: the tree of life).
The two columns at the front of the temple of King Solomon (Boaz and Joachim), represented two trees, symbolic of the mother and wife of the king. Sometimes they are depicted as two lionesses, with power to slash his throat, judging the king best. No one know’s the king better than his mother and his wife. The two pillars, the two lionesses, and two trees, represent the condescension (to a garden/temple) and ascension (from a garden/temple) of a king. In Egypt and Hebrew, on the days of spring and fall equinox, the pillars or trees were facing directly eastward, and the rising sun would ascend between the two pillars or trees, symbolic of the ascension of a king.
The women of the temple have been abused, reduced, and removed, to leave very little trace of her role to instruct us. All the emphasis has been placed on the dominant gender and his power. But without the influence of the woman, the tree of life, there can be no ascension into heaven.
Reconnect: If your eyes have been opened a little more by this blog, you have the opportunity to reconnect to the heavens by “Growing your own tree of life!” The process is not quick and cannot be hastened. Alma teaches us this process in Chapter 32. Here we learn that the words of Christ is “the seed of the tree of life.” If it is planted on good soil, void of rocks, and properly nourished, then that seed will grow tall and into the heavens. In the heavens is where the fruit is sweetest. When that tree exists in you, you can ascend, partake of the fruit, such that you’ll never hunger or thirst again. (Alma 32:28-43).
Conclusion: This Sunday my bishop confiscated my wife’s and my temple recommend for declaring a full-tithe, but not producing the proper “financial statements” as evidence. He accused me of lying. He accused me of bringing a bad spirit. And he accused me of breaking the laws written in the scriptures and the handbook. He did all of the accusing. All I did was declare a full-tithe. But, in this day and age, a man’s word means nothing.
By their fruits ye shall know them. While I have born testimony of Christ, continually talk of Christ, preach of Christ, rejoice in Christ, and prophesy of Christ, …my fruits are meaningless to the bishop, because I don’t have the financial statement as evidence of my financial donations. Although all the ward knows me for my passion to discuss the gospel on-a-dime, only a financial statement is sufficient for the bishop, for me to declare to God that I am a full-tithe payer. I will not produce such a record, to be seen of men. My God knows my actions, and I have nothing to hide concerning my declaration as fully-tithed.
“1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.“
I desire to offer alms in secret, without financial statements as proof, that my Father in heaven, who sees in secret, will reward me openly.
The fruit offered by my senior authorities are quickly becoming more and more bitter. Their focus is preoccupied with manuals, that they cannot see their negative effect on people. Their fruits have no resemblance of the fruit of the tree of life, which is described as white above all that is white, pure above all that is pure, and sweet above all that is sweet, and if you partake of it, you shall never hunger nor shall you thirst (Alma 32:43-44). They fail to get their moisture from the roots, where the words of Christ is planted as a seed.
However, despite the treatment of my “blind guides,” my sincere study in the words of Christ, has developed the seed within my chest, beyond a sapling, producing a tree trunk of significance, that the persecution of my bishop cannot uproot my tree. I will continue to nourish my tree of life, awaiting the promised fruit with anxiety.
I recommend we all begin by planting “the word” into our hearts, and continue to nourish it by your faith, until you too can partake of the fruits of your tree of life. The word is the seed. Faith is the nourishing of that seed. Grace is God’s the real work, transforming the seed into a tree. It is God’s grace that produces the tree, giving us access to the heavens. Our faith cannot change the seed, nor what it can become. The grace of God does that work. All that we have power to do, is to have FAITH, and feast upon the words of Christ. The words of Christ will tell you all things what you should do.