For www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com ... Biting Adam s Apple in Pandora s Box ... The Greek myth of Pandora s box has it that the gods gave Pandora a box, askingMessage 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2003View SourceFor www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com
Biting Adam's Apple in Pandora's Box
The Greek myth of Pandora's box has it that the gods gave Pandora a box, asking her not to open it. But curiousity got the better of her and she "betrayed" the gods and opened it, unleashing to the human world disease, misery and death. Pandora slams the box shut too late. But "hope" too is later let out of the box- which could heal the pain. But did Pandora really betray the gods? The gods afterall, created Pandora. And the box was part of a revenge plan- out of jeaousy of man's discovery of fire. Did the gods not betray man instead by creating Pandora with the weakness of curiosity?This myth reminds us of the biblical story of God having the tree of knowledge in the otherwise perfect garden of Eden, from which, as God warns Adam and Eve, they should not eat the fruit from. "Adam's (or Eve's) apple" is similar to Pandora's box isn't it? If God (assuming he exists) [See "Why did God (if there is one) Create?" in http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheDailyEnlightenment/message/103 ] truly cared, why would He give man a test he would surely fail? And why should the first man's failure pass down to us? When we trace back every creation myth with a creator god, we inevitably end up pointing fingers not at the imperfection of the created, but the creator's imperfect design- for allowing suffering to exist or to come to exist.
But if we look deeper into these two stories, without the need to believe in any gods, we can see their common message from another interesting angle. Before we go on, let's bear in mind that it is more important to see the moral of a myth, than to believe it literally. In every moment we all hold our personal Pandora's box, Adam's apple. We choose between good and evil. Ultimately, no one can betray us- we choose to betray ourselves- it is us who let ourselves down. You can either choose to take responsibility or point fingers at the unseen arbitrary gods who do not readily reply why you deserve what you experience. You are Pandora, you are Adam. The box is yours to open or close. Any suffering that results is yours because it flows right into your very world. And hope too, is unleashed by you, through repentance. In Buddhism, we are our own creators, who continually re-create ourselves life after life through the karma generated by our thoughts, words and actions.
Perhaps, as illustrated in the stories, the first misgiving (sin) of man is curiosity. But what's wrong with innocent curiosity? Well, fire burns a curious child even if he is "innocent"- for he is not innocent of ignorance about the danger of fire. No god needs to be blamed for a child being burnt. Curiosity leads to knowledge- thus did Adam and Eve came to "know" about many "things" after eating the fruit. Knowledge is twofold- it can be used for good or evil. Knowledge too, as opposed to the purity of non-dual wisdom, is of duality. Much of our suffering comes from being swayed by what the Buddha called the eight winds of worldly concerns, around which the world revolves- the 4 dual pairs of gain and loss, honour and dishonour, praise and blame, pleasure and pain.
"Gain and Loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain;Curiosity also arises out of greed for new experiences and ignorance of any potential catastrophic results- as we can once again see in the example of the burnt child. The root of all suffering thus, is our ignorance. Whether we were created by any gods or not is no longer important in this context- for it is our ignorance or lack of wisdom that stands in our path to happiness.
Impermanent, human conditions, ending things; things vulnerable to reversal!
Recognizing and reflecting, the wise consider these: things vulnerable to reversal!
By the pleasant not stirred up in heart, nor by the unpleasant repulsed,
Tranquilized, gone past all that, neither collaborating nor resisting,
Walking the path free of lust, sorrowless, knowing the highest knowing, passed beyond."
-Anguttara Nikaya, Atthaka-Nipata, Metta Vagga, V pp 156 (The Buddha)
It is interesting to note too, that in the Buddhist "creation" account (Aggana Sutta) of how man came to be, there is a very roughly parellel incident of tasting "forbidden fruit." Refined gods from a heaven descended onto Earth like fallen angels, depleted of their good karma which sustained their long existence in the heaven. Falling into the coarser material plane of our world, they were karmically "destined" to be reborn as humans, the realm just below the realm of gods. These gods, out of curiosity, greed and ignorance, started ingesting moss found on the surface of the seas. In due time, they developed coarser, denser and more complex bodies. This is perhaps the Buddhist hidden equivalent of the theory of evolution, the origin of the species.
Back to Pandora's Box... what do you do now that you hold this box? Guard it. Realise there is no real need to be curious about unnecessary new experiences- be content. You crave to open it because you imagine, like Pandora, all kinds of wonderful things within it- all your material dreams. Yet what you truly need for true happiness is immaterial, just as the fallen gods did not really need the moss- if only they cultivated their spirituality in the heavens. What you need is spiritual cultivation. The opposite of curiosity, of craving for sensational experiences, is contentment and wisdom. The more you realise this truth, the more your Pandora's box fades away, till as if it had never been there in the first place. It's ability to tempt you to open it is there only when you have greed.
A final word on curiosity... It would be downright unfair to say curiosity is totally useless or even "evil." Curiosity on the right things is definitely useful. Curiosity for the Truth, to fathom the path out of suffering spurred the Buddha-to-be to become a Buddha. Curiosity urges us to learn. Curiosity about this article after seeing its title made you read till here. The problem with curiosity is as mentioned, dangerous only when focused at the wrong subjects of attachment, aversion and delusion (the three roots of evil). Yes, I guess you kind of anticipated this next line, and I am going to say it here- Afterall, curiosity after the wrong things killed the cat!