Eve ("the woman") in this story symbolizes the part of the immediate community of the spiritual realm that supported our decision to become self-centered, and envious of God. This doesn't mean that the whole spiritual community fell from the spiritual realm.
We can simply look around us and see that countless individuals made the same decision to reject God and become self-centered. Thus we know that we are not alone in this decision. Why is this?
The reality is that love requires freedom. In order to exchange real love with those He created, God had to give us the freedom not to love Him. This is represented in the story of Eden by the "tree of knowledge of self-centered pleasure and pain" (as discussed with Genesis 2:9, the Hebrew words טוֹב (towb) and רַע (ra') are more appropriately translated to 'pleasure and pain' rather than 'good and evil').
God, as the Supreme Controller, can put whatever choices in front of us that He wishes. If He wanted us to be His robots or slaves, He would not have given us the choice to love Him or not. But the fact that so many of us have chosen to ignore Him here in this physical world is a testament that God indeed wanted to give us the freedom to love Him or not.
This doesn't mean that He doesn't want us to love Him. He does want our love, but He wants us to give it freely. This is why in this allegorical story in Genesis, He asked them not to eat of the fruit, but still made the fruit available to them.
The fact that God created us to exchange a loving relationship with Him also shows in the fact that He was disappointed at the decision. He doesn't need our love. He has plenty of other children that love Him out of volition. However, He knows that we will only be happy when we are exchanging love with Him. So He is disappointed in our decision to reject our relationship with Him.
Going back to the symbolism in this story, God is disappointed that Eve has chosen to eat, and influenced Adam to eat the fruit. But instead of taking any responsibility, Eve is now denying responsibility.
In other words, those among us in the spiritual community who supported and even partnered in our decision to reject love for God and became self-centered, also denied responsibility. There is a hidden meaning here, but part of it is simple: We all want to deny responsibility for our decision. We want to blame someone else. This is part of the disease of self-centeredness: Self-righteousness.
Remember that the purpose of this story is to put in symbolic terms what actually happened to each of us. The symbolism must be carefully considered in order to understand the story. This makes the story unavailable to some and available to others. Why is that?
Some of us simply do not want to know. We want to live within our pretend identities within the temporary physical world and our temporary physical bodies. We want to play out our physical lives as if we are these bodies and the identities that go along with them.
To understand that we are spiritual in nature, and we originated in the spiritual world and fell to the physical world would quite simply destroy our fantasy. So most of us refuse to understand this allegorical story of Eden.
Most of the sectarian institutions refuse to accept the meaning of this story. From popes, priests and reverends, to deacons, cardinals and others, the individuals making up these organizations want to pretend that the Garden of Eden was a place on the planet earth, and Adam and Eve were the first two humans to occupy the earth. This is a convenient way to avoid the Truth.
Even though many of these sectarians accept the eating of the fruit as symbolic to the "original sin," they do not want to understand that each of us did this. They want to blame the "original sin" on Adam and Eve so we can all deny responsibility. They simply want to fit the story into their current identification of their physical positions within the church, and ignore the real meaning of the story.
This is the incredible depth and beauty of this story, so rich in wisdom. The depth of the story allows some of us to deny its true meaning so we can continue with our fantasies here in the physical world.
Deep within this verse is yet another lesson, one that gets to the heart of our fall from the spiritual world.
Eve blames the serpent, saying, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." What does this mean?
The Hebrew word being translated to "deceived" is נָשָׁא. This is an ancient word with deep primitive meaning. On the periphery, it can mean to become a creditor, charging interest. In its more deeper meaning, it means to cheat or trick someone.
Remember that the serpent in this story of Eden symbolizes our enviousness of God - our desire to be the enjoyer and the center of attention (as He is in the spiritual realm). This is confirmed by this verse, spoken by the serpent:
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4-5)In other words, the serpent is tempting Eve to eat the fruit, saying, "you will be like God." Thus the symbolism is quite clear.
Now Eve is saying that the serpent deceived her. Why?
Because we were created by God, we each contain a small part or essence of Him. While we were created to care for Him and love Him, we each also have the ability to desire to be Him. This is part of the freedom He granted us, but it also contains a trap. This is the why the serpent is being described as having deceived Eve.
The deception is that while we have the ability to desire to be God, we can never be God. No matter how hard we try, we can never take God's position of Supreme Controller and Creator - despite the many philosophies that maintain that we are God. God will always be our superior - our Master - and we will always be His inferior. No matter how hard we try, we are never in complete control of others and our environment.
But once we succumb to the desire to be like God, we fall into the deception. We begin to strive to be someone we are not. We begin to lust after pleasure - and experience pain as a consequence.
Our natural position is to care for God and give God pleasure. When we are in our natural position, our pleasure is connected with His pleasure. We don't have our own pleasure, and thus, we don't have our own pain. Any pain that might be connected to giving God pleasure is also pleasurable to the living being. Thus we really do not experience real pain in our natural position.
But when we try to achieve pleasure for ourselves, real pain comes along with it. This is because God must be fair to us: He must give us a real experience if we want to be out on our own. Even though we will never really be on our own, He must give us a virtual experience of pretending to be Him in order to exercise our freedom not to love Him.
How does God achieve this? By creating the physical world. The physical world is a temporary, changing environment that allows the eternal spiritual living beings who rejected God (us) to take on temporary physical bodies in order to play out our self-centered fantasies. Because we can never really be independent from God, God had to create the illusion of independence.
We could compare the physical world to a computer game. A person sits down at the computer and gets involved in the game. He takes on a particular icon, and gets immersed in the game's environment. People get addicted to computer games because we can lose ourselves in them. While we are playing the game we can forget our responsibilities for awhile and pretend to be someone else. This is going on the physical world too, as we (from the spiritual world) have taken on these virtual, temporary physical bodies.
So we take on temporary physical bodies and live out a few decades - and lifetimes - selfishly focused on our desires. We are each pretending to be God - the Enjoyer - and therefore are searching frantically for self-fulfillment.
Yet none of us - even the most wealthy, famous and powerful - are fulfilled in this role. We continue to be empty here, always searching for that special someone to fill our "hole." That 'special someone' is actually God - Whom we forsook. This is the real pain that we must endure. The physical pains of the body are merely virtual reflections of this real pain of loneliness and emptiness we feel without our Best Friend, God.
God created the physical world to also teach us. He didn't just set us free in this virtual world to become lord over everyone. That would be cruel, because that would never allow us to return to our real identities. We'd be lost here forever in this state of emptiness.
So God designed this physical world with consequences. As we go forth to achieve our goals, we are also taught various lessons - via the consequences of our actions. Most lessons are centered around our innate ability to care for others. Most of these lessons teach us - some gradually - that being lord is not our natural position. Our natural position is to care for God and care for others. We need to love, in other words. This is why Jesus and Moses' teachings - which give us the pathway back home - were centered around loving God:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38 and Deut. 6:5)