An Excerpt from an essay by ServiceSpace friend – Somik Raha:
We humans, by necessity, make distinctions. We label things as good, bad, or other. This is known as label bias. Distinctions are the vehicle of our knowledge. They help us be efficient and creative, and yet, by making distinctions on an indivisible reality, we become blind to that indivisible reality. This is a much greater bias, which we will call Knowledge Bias.
The Hebrew Bible is so attuned to Knowledge Bias that it calls out this bias front and center with the story of Adam and Eve. The biblical thinkers tried to explain to a community of shepherds that knowledge was problematic because knowledge is based on distinctions, and distinctions divide a reality which itself knows no distinctions. Therefore, when one becomes knowledgeable, one is really seeing separation from a unifying reality.
What a profound philosophy! But how does one share this with shepherds? They chose the story of Adam and Eve having an idyllic, carefree life in the Garden of Eden, which contained two special trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. In the story, God told them not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. After Adam and Eve disobeyed and bit into the fruit, they were expelled from the Garden. They and their children for all generations were condemned to a life that included hardship, toil, and suffering.
Kabbalists and other Jewish mystics interpret this as follows: the Tree of Life is reality without distinctions, felt as the Oneness of all being; the Tree of Knowledge is duality which rests on distinctions that create separation from reality. This story points to our universal story as humans. Our source is an underlying reality that unites all of us — or simply, Oneness. But in order to become fully human, we need to plunge into the world of Duality. Just staying in Duality can obscure our underlying unifying reality, and when that happens, we humans experience suffering. What happens when we are able to transcend Knowledge Bias and be connected to reality as it is, through a sense of Oneness, while at the same time, fully embracing our Duality that gives us uniqueness? According to the metaphor, that is the Garden of Eden! We cannot have the garden with just one tree. We need both! And so it is.