My takeaways from Genesis 1.
- God is the “still small voice” we call the conscience. (1 Kings:19, KJV)
- God lights our path but gives us the liberty to choose our own way.
- “Want to improve the world? It can’t be done.” (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)
- Just be like God — point the way by living it then let people choose whatever path they desire.
- Acquainting ourselves with knowledge, we attain understanding.
- Acquainting ourselves with understanding we grasp how unwise it is to rely on what we (believe we) know.
- Understanding is attained in stages.
- We can’t stop inquiring when we first see the light.
- We have to use the light to see the contradictions. (Matthew 7:5, KJV)
- What we call cognitive dissonance, is God’s process for doing this.
- Are you guided by your conscience or by your thoughts?
- Experientially, the difference is subtil but ultimately, it’s the difference between God (the aforesaid voice) and Mammon (the wisdom we perceive ourselves as having).
- Before pushing our hypotheses about how life ought to be, we should ensure we live out those hypotheses first, being mindful of drawbacks as much as we are of the benefits.
- The essence of our existence is to judge our own circumstances.
- Satisfaction brings serenity (Heaven), displeasure brings misery (outer darkness).
- Experiences don’t have to be understood; understanding is an entirely different and unnecessary matter. Pursuit of understanding brings misery — unless of course, you’ve already pursued knowledge, in which case you need understanding to bring you back to center.
- True faith is trust that heeding the small still voice brings about the best possible circumstance, even when all else says otherwise.
The following is a rough translation of what I believe to be the meaning of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. I worked from the King James Version of the Bible but took reference from a number of other translations and sought the definitions of words originally used (via Biblehub). I will be adding to and refining this translation as time goes on.
Additionally, I will be expounding on some of the choice words I’ve used to allude to some of the meanings in the Biblical text (not yet explored here). The Biblical text employs multiple literary devices that paint distinct pictures along separate trajectories but all of which arrive at the same point.
I’ll explore these metaphors and allusions in time as well but have conveyed here (as best I can for now) what I have gathered so to be the moral/psychological significance of the first chapter and this considering like significance as it develops throughout the book.Ervin Welsh
1:1 From great insight, the Judges began conceptualizing a new way of life.
1:2 In the mind of the people, life was like a fleeting wind; brief and miserable. They were consumed by fear and murmured in anguish. The Judges meditated at length and with great care and attention to the people’s discontentment.
1:3 Careful contemplation thereupon gave rise to an awareness among the Judges,
1:4 Who began to perceive said watchfulness as desirable.
1:5 The Judges called awareness (watchfulness/mindfulness/focus) Day, and obscurity (blindness/the unknown) Night. And the transition from inattention to conscientiousness was the first area of focus.
1:6 Contemplating more deeply over all this, the Judges expanded their awareness and divided knowledge had, from their unawares.
They “gave [their] heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven”. (Ecclesiastes 1:13, KJV) That which they saw wise i.e. pleasant (waters above) was divided from that which brought discontentment i.e. sin/unwise (waters below).
1:7 Wisdom was considered to be the way of the divine; and devotion thereto they concluded was the way to serenity.
They continued to inquire into their thoughts and decided it best that any sensation that did not give rise to wisdom should be suppressed. And that conscious thought too should be purged of sin (i.e. that which misses the mark — that which is unwise).
1:8 The Judges found that living in this way was serene, whereas anguish and misery emanated from those things that were subsequently suppressed. And the ending of mere observation and the beginning of discrimination was the second area of focus.
1:9 The Judges inquired even further to qualify these findings. All unwise inclinations were suppressed. And thought was divided from feeling, appearing as it were to be the more solid ground upon which to found decisions.
1:10 The Judges considered mindful living solid ground (Earth) and unconsciousness tumultuous (Seas). Investigating these sentiments, they found the prescribed way (wisdom) desirable.
1:11 Into mindful living the Judges investigated yet further, opening up to fleeting thoughts, worldly pleasures and joy. They were watchful of the consequences of these pursuits. “Whatsoever [their] eyes desired [they] kept not from them, [they] withheld not [their] heart from any joy; for [their] heart rejoiced in all [their] labour.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10, KJV) What they found was satisfying.
1:12 With all of life’s pleasures in pursuit, the Judges began to discriminate which path brought what kind of pleasures.
1:13 And the ending of mere discrimination and the beginning of value judgements was the third area of focus.
1:14 The Judges sought clarity (light) and understanding these paths gave way to foresight regarding what would yield pleasure (and what kind) and what would bring displeasure. Clarity sought, revealed familiar markers (signs/symbols) that signaled the nature of forthcoming things. The way the times unfolded and the way one’s thoughts unfolded, signaled seasons. The ending of a time and the dawning of another (days) and the estimable duration of a time (cycle/year) could also be discerned owing to understanding had through awareness (light).
1:15 Clarity shed light on all about which the Judges were aware.
1:16 And two forms of awareness developed, consciousness and intuition. The greater light (consciousness) for guidance with regard to that which could be perceived and the lesser light (intuition) for direction with what was unknown. A multitude of considerations (stars) also populated the mind.
1:17 Consciousness developed from awareness and this was put to the observation of, and inquiry into, thoughts and feelings.
1:18 Appropriate action concerning that about which the Judges could foresee and that which they couldn’t, was made clearer through consciousness. Attention to thought and feeling proved to be desirable.
1:19 And the transition from mere value judgements to a discerning the ideal way of life was the fourth area of focus.
1:20 The Judges then welcomed the welling up with desire of the turning tide of feelings.
1:21 Desires that consumed the desire-er (great whales) and desires that clouded judgement (fowl) teemed within. Passion (including desires/hopes) and reckless abandon (including fear) — the extremes of unbridled pleasure — were seen to bring pleasure, and proved useful motivating forces.
1:22 The Judges sought the benefit of harbouring these extremes, and fostered said benefits. And desires (sea creatures) permeated their feelings (seas) and fear (fowl) clouded their judgement (earth) in circumstances where appropriate action was known but fear abounded.
1:23 And the transition from discerning the ideal way of life, to prescribing the ideal way of life, was the fifth area of focus.
1:24 Investigating still further, the Judges grazed over droves of thoughts. Lustful ideals slowly crept to the fore, while some thoughts were pursued with all the force of thought behind them — boring deeper and deeper yet.
1:25 And all thought was pursued. Cursory thoughts yielded more questions. Lustful thoughts increased desire and every rabbit hole dug, called for another such hole to be dug. These pursuits all brought pleasure (of their commensurate kind).
1:26 Having proofed all this, the Judges saw themselves as the ideal prototype for the people to follow. In the Judge’s image-ination, man should vow to subdue all passions, desires and fears and rule over his thoughts, rather than get carried away by any of these.
1:27 This is the vow the people were to take. Each individual, both simple-minded but aware (the male element) and conscious i.e. intellectually capable (the female element) were they borne.
1:28 In both natures they were encouraged but were to vow to give priority to the male element (simple-minded awareness), over the female element (intellectual capacity). They were also to vow to sub-do their passions, desires, fears and wandering thoughts.
1:29 They were to vow instead to pursue pleasure, joy and endeavours that yielded more of the aforesaid.
1:30 The self-control they were to exercise meant that passions, desires, fears and lust were to be but a wind (fleeting).
1:31 And all this which the Judges had been considered, and reasoned out, they perceived to be complete (whole/in balance) and desirable. And the transition from prescribing the ideal way of life, to requiring those over whom they (would) rule(d), to vow to live by it, was the sixth area of focus.