Genesis 3:22 - And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of Us ...

And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of Us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)
Following is a review some of the key Hebrew phrases of the verse, together with the symbolism being used:

What does 'One of Us' mean?

"The man" is translated from אדם ('adam), which is used to indicate man, mankind or human being. It is being used here to symbolize each of us.

"Has become like one of Us, knowing" comes from היה אחד ידע (hayah 'echad yada`). This indicates not that we have become like God, but rather, it indicates a change of consciousness from one of God's loving servants to one of wanting to enjoy as God enjoys. In other words, we are now seeking our own satisfaction rather than seeking to please God. This is akin to becoming envious of God's position.

Notice the plural in "Us." This confirms God's ability to expand Himself. This is how He simultaneously relates with each of us individually.

We were created by God to love and serve God. Thus, our normal position in the spiritual realm is God's servitor. By nature, our joy is giving God enjoyment. Yet because love requires freedom, we also have been given the freedom to seek God's position of being the enjoyer. Should we become envious of His enjoyment, we seek to be "like" God.

This phrase also indicates that the position of being self-focused is God's position. Therefore, the meaning of the phrase is not that we became "like" God - but that we now seek God's position. We seek to be like God.

What does 'Good and evil' mean?

"Good and evil" are being translated from טוב (towb) and רע (ra`). The more accurate translation of these two are "self-centered pleasure and pain." Those in the spiritual realm whose lives are focused upon pleasing the Supreme Being do not experience self-centered pleasure and its natural consequence, pain.

Citizens of the upper spiritual realm are only focused upon God's pleasure, and thus they only experience spiritual pleasure - the pleasure connected to love. And even what could be supposed as pain for the inhabitants of the spiritual realm - mainly the pain of separation from God - is also spiritually pleasurable to those inhabitants.

The next part of the verse is substantively translated, but it is important to understand the meaning. God is saying that because we now seek His position, we will know self-centered pleasure and pain on our own. We will thus have to experience the results of a self-centered existence - fleeting flashes of pleasure combined with pain.

What does becoming covered mean?

Remember that this verse is following the previous verse where God "clothes" the symbolic Adam (us) and the symbolic Eve (the spiritual community who fell with us) within the "skin" of physical bodies.

What this means is that our change in consciousness from one of loving God to one of becoming self-centered results in our becoming covered within a temporary physical body. Why is this?

Once we became envious, there was no place for us in the spiritual realm. We fell away from the spiritual realm due to our self-centered desires. These desires became manifest by our taking on a particular type of temporary physical body. Our physical bodies are designed, in other words, to execute our desire for self-centered enjoyment and independence from God. Our bodies were designed for us to play out our desires to be in God's position.

And this is surprising? Just look around. Everyone around us is wanting to achieve self-centered desires. Each of us wants to be given attention, and ultimately be served by others.

We can see this even amongst babies. We come into the world crying for comfort. We want to be free of pain. Then we want to be fed. When we don't get fed, we cry. What is being fed? Being fed is being served by someone. Do babies come into the world wanting to give anything back to mama who carried them for nine months? No. We want more. We want food. Then we want attention. Then we want toys. As we grow older, we want the other kids to respect us. We want our peers to like us, and give us respect. We also want bigger toys. And later, we want to enjoy sex.

As we grow older, our self-centeredness expands. We want to make lots of money. We want a beautiful husband or wife. We want a big job, a big house and we want to drive a big car.

When these do not satisfy us, we want a family. We want kids. We want to "create" little people who will look up to us and love us. Then we want to teach our little "creations" our great wisdom, so they can do want we want them to do.

Then, later on, we want to retire. We want to sit back and enjoy life. We want to take a cruise. We want our grandchildren to come around to love us and serve us.

This is how most of us see becoming happy here in this world. And what is all this? This is the desire to be like God. We want to be loved, be served, own stuff, create people and be the king of our own little kingdom. This is God's position. And this is what we want.

None of the people living in the physical world want to serve. No one wants to be a servant. We all want to be masters. We all want to rule over others. This is our disease, and this is why we are here in this physical world, away from God.

The last part of the verse confirms this. It indicates that once we choose self-centeredness over our natural position of God's loving servant, we are escorted out of the spiritual world, and we will no longer taste the exchange of our loving relationship with God. This is symbolized in this parable by the statement, "He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

What does the 'tree of life' symbolize?

The "tree of life" was described earlier in Genesis as being in the "middle" of the "Garden." The "tree of life" symbolizes our loving relationship with the Supreme Being, and its "fruit" is love for God - what ultimately fulfills us. This is why this symbolic tree is described as being in the "middle" of the "Garden" - which symbolizes the spiritual realm.

But once we became envious of God - symbolized by eating of the other "fruit" - we then had to give up our loving relationship with God.

This is typical amongst relationships. Let's say that we had a childhood friend for many years, and suddenly found ourselves competing with that friend to be captain of a sports team. Then let's say that we became captain, and our friend didn't. They then become jealous that we became captain and they didn't. Could we continue our childhood friendship as it was? No. That jealousy would interfere with our friendship. Our friendship as it was would be dissolved by the jealousy.

It is the same with God and each of us - the living beings He created. Once we become envious of God's position, we thereby give up our position of one of God's loving servants and playmates within the spiritual realm.

The fact that this parable is differentiating between the physical world and the spiritual world is confirmed by the use of חיה עולם (chayah `owlam). This indicates living forever.

This is critical because in the physical world, these bodies are temporary. They are born, get old and then die. They are temporary vehicles from which we attempt to play God's role - focusing on our own pleasure and trying to have others love us and worship us.

Our spiritual selves, however, are eternal. In the spiritual realm we never get old. We never die. In the spiritual world we are our bodies. In the physical world, we are not our bodies. We operate them, just as a driver operates a car.

It is within the spiritual realm that we are truly happy. We are happy because we are exchanging love with God and love with all of God's other children. We can see that this is our natural position as we look around and see that everyone including us is seeking love and to be loved. Yet we are never satisfied with the type of love we find in the physical world, because all the other citizens of the physical world are also trying to be in God's position. So we struggle and compete with each other for position and attention. We struggle for God's position, in other words.

And what little love exists within this world is predicated upon our temporary physical bodies. We typically love only those who have bodies within our body's family, or those who marry our bodies, or those who somehow prove their devotion to us. Otherwise, we don't love others, and others don't love us. This is not really love; because it is conditional.

Is real love is conditional?

When someone really loves another, it doesn't matter what body they have on or what family their body comes from. It doesn't matter if the person hates them. Real love is unconditional.

This is the kind of love we are desperate for. This is the type of love that comes from the Supreme Being, and those within the spiritual world who love God unconditionally - they also love others unconditionally. It is like an infection: Those in the spiritual realm are all infected with spiritual love.

But once we decide that we want more for ourselves - we want what God has - it all dissolves. In an instant, we find ourselves fallen from the spiritual realm, and sucked inside of a physical body's sperm to be fertilized. Then the body develops around us, and we begin to identify with a temporary physical body, as we seek to use it for achieving our self-centered goals.

We abandoned our love for God and became jealous of Him - so we were pushed out of the spiritual realm. This is what this verse explains.

Consider another translation of this verse in Chapter Three of the New Book of Genesis.