Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)

The meaning of this verse has been shrouded by the literal misinterpretation of this section of Genesis. The literal interpretation thoroughly misses the point of this allegorical story of the symbolic Adam and Eve. The symbolism used so far in this story is described here.

Now we see new symbolism being introduced, following them eating the 'forbidden fruit.'

Remember that the tree that God warned the symbolic Adam and Eve about eating from represents the choice we each had (and still have) to become self-centered rather than God-centered. We were all created to love and care for God. But real love requires freedom of choice. So God gave each of us the choice to love Him or not. This is the reason for the existence of this second tree, which was put in the "middle" of Eden (remember, Eden represents the spiritual dimension here).

So their eating of this fruit symbolizes our having chose self-centeredness over caring for God. We decided that we want to please ourselves rather than please God. Once we made this decision, the world of self-centeredness - the attempt to enjoy ourselves as God enjoys Himself - was opened up to us.

This is represented by the statement, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened."

It is not as if God was trying to keep Adam and Eve in ignorance by asking them not to eat the fruit, as insinuated by the serpent (who symbolizes our envy of God). Rather, God was simply asking them to remain within their natural relationship with Him. Within our natural position of loving God, we are immersed in thoughts about our Best Friend and Protector. Within this relationship we are always thinking of His pleasure and His happiness. And this gives us real happiness.

We get a small glimpse of how loving another gives us happiness when we love and care for our body's spouse and/or family. We can compare this with selfishly consuming or looking out for ourselves in general. These activities do not bring any happiness, as we can see by observing the many wealthy and famous people who commit suicide or succumb to drug and alcohol abuse even with all their wealth and fame.

At some point in time, when each of us was in the spiritual dimension, we decided we'd rather seek our own happiness rather than love God.

Once we turned selfish, we no longer had the consciousness that allows us to remain a citizen of the spiritual world. This is because the spiritual dimension is full of love and caring for God and each other. There is no self-centeredness in the spiritual dimension.

This is our pure state. And this pure state is symbolized by nakedness in the story of Adam and Eve.

The symbolic Adam and Eve were naked - pure - before they ate the fruit. But once they ate of the fruit - became self-centered - they were not longer comfortable with their pure state. In the same way, once each of us became self-conscious, we were no longer comfortable in our natural state within the spiritual dimension.

Consider the change of consciousness that would suddenly make someone "realize they were naked." Consider a young child who ran around naked for two or three years who suddenly becomes aware they are naked. As the child becomes self-conscious, the child becomes aware of how they appear to others. That self-consciousness of suddenly feeling naked is being used here to illustrate how we went from the innocence of our pure state of loving and caring for God, to becoming self-conscious due to our desire for self-enjoyment.

So Adam and Eve "made coverings for themselves." Putting on fig leaves to cover nakedness symbolizes the beginning of our requiring a physical body to cover our true consciousness. Here in the physical world, we are all wearing a type of 'clothing': The physical body that covers the spiritual person within.

In other words, we suddenly needed a physical body in order to feel comfortable seeking our own happiness. We could compare this to a person going to a war zone without a gun and other military gear. A person might feel comfortable without a gun and military gear in their own peaceful home, but as soon as they decided they were going to war, they could only be comfortable when they donned a gun, a helmet and other military gear.

In the same way guns and helmets are needed for war, these physical bodies are perfectly designed for our search for self-centered happiness. Every sense organ, every appendage, and every faculty of our body is designed to support our goal of self-centered enjoyment. We are wearing our bodies much as a person might wear a suit of armor.

This is supported by one of the possible translations of the Hebrew word חֲגוֹר used in this verse: "armor." This is appropriate, because the body that covers the spiritual being within is like a suit of armor.

This is also known scientifically. Millions of people have now undergone clinical death and have reported floating above their physical body - looking down upon it. At the time of death, the spiritual person leaves the physical body. In other words, our physical body is a covering we wear for a few years, before it dies.

The physical body is an incredible vehicle we drive. It is equipped for our seeking pleasure, and it is also equipped for experiencing pain. It is, in fact, designed as a vehicle for learning, and it is for this reason that the physical body undergoes so many trials and tribulations.

Just think of all the pain and suffering in the world. People often ask why, if God were so loving, is there so much pain and suffering in the world. That pain and suffering, in fact, does not happen to us - the pure spiritual being. While we experience it, we only experience pain virtually. That pain happens to this vehicle we call the physical body. This is because the physical body - while designed for our seeking enjoyment - was also designed to help us rehabilitate: To help us hopefully one day return home.

Like any vehicle, the physical body is made of several layers. The elements each provide a layer, which include liquids (blood, lymph, etc.), solids (tissues, bones) and gases (oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide). The electricity that runs through our nervous system is also a type of layer, or covering (like the electronics of a vehicle). And the mind is yet another layer of the physical body covering the spiritual person.

But underneath these more dense layers is an even more subtle layer covering the spiritual person. This is the layer of false identity. This is the element that makes us identify with our physical body - a layer of misidentification.

We need this first subtle covering in order to believe that we are these physical bodies. We can know that this is a false identity, because we each leave our physical body and its identity at the time of death. The physical body changes throughout our lives, and then gets old and dies. Then we leave it. So our identification with our physical body is false.

God created the physical world with the illusion that we are these physical bodies. It is like a video game. A person can become temporarily immersed into a video game. While playing the game, the person identifies with the icon-persona he assumes in the game. If it is a war game, the person identifies with being a particular soldier in the game - that is, until the soldier is blown up and the game is over. Then the person can turn off the computer and detach from that video game and soldier persona.

God programs the physical world with illusion to allow us to forget Him.

The initial false self-identification - allowing us to forget God and our true selves by assuming a new identity - is what is being symbolized with Adam and Eve putting on leaves. They are in the process of transitioning from the consciousness of the spiritual realm (love for God) to the consciousness of the physical world (self-centeredness). The transition begins as our pure state becomes covered by our self-consciousness.

This is a very subtle technology - well beyond the ability of our minds to comprehend. For this reason, the spiritual teachers who initially passed down the symbolic story of Genesis to their students used this deep symbolism: because the technology is very difficult for the physical mind to comprehend. Understanding our nature as spiritual beings is already difficult for the physical mind. The physical mind only collects data from the physical senses, and the physical senses cannot perceive the spiritual dimension.

Thus this allegorical story of Adam and Eve, deep in symbolism, portrays the process of our falling from the spiritual dimension. We fell from our pure state of being the Supreme Being's devoted loving servants and playmates, to a consciousness of seeking of our own self-centered happiness. That is what landed us in this physical dimension, and the reason why the physical dimension is full of so many self-centered people - each of us struggling for our own fulfillment, yet never finding it. This is because we can only be fulfilled when we are in our pure state of loving and caring for our Best Friend, the Supreme Being.