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  • By David B. Gosselin

The Second Snake: A Dialogue Featuring Adam and Eve


Listen to the full dialogue here.


Many years had passed since Adam and Eve took their first bite. The meandering streams of Eden now murmured beneath a greying sky. The vales were perfumed by the scent of peaches and lilacs passed their prime. Among the lemon trees and blemished fruits, Adam and Eve sat watching the twilight stars.


Suddenly, a snake came winding down a solitary oak.


Eve. Away, serpent!


Adam. Be gone!


Snake. What’s wrong my children?


Eve. We know your kind!


Adam. Everything in this garden has lost its sweetness because of you.


Snake. Because of me? Why would you say that, my children?


Adam. The last creature to fool us was a snake just like you.


Snake. Eden has many snakes, my children.


Eve. My bones are dry and my once-supple skin sags. My lips, once red and inviting, are dry and lackluster. Trenches appear in my sunken eyes; wrinkles cover my bloodless cheeks. Worst of all, Adam no longer looks on my fondly, but only in shame—I a mirror of his and his of mine.


Adam. Had we known, we would have never tasted the fruit.


Snake. Had you known? Alas, to know is only half the battle, my children.


Eve. Be gone, serpent! We’ve suffered enough.


Snake. Woe unto those who rely solely on the past as their measure of all things. For, it would be a shame if you only listened to those who wished you harm, or strictly relied on the past to know the future.


Adam. What could possibly be gained from listening to another snake? We’ve already lost everything because your kind.


Snake. If the first snake already robbed you of everything you had, what could you possibly lose now?


Eve. Here I can say nothing, Adam. The snake is not wrong.


Snake. Pitiful things, that your world had to lose all of its sweetness! Let me assure you that unlike others, my tongue is not sweet like honey.


Adam. What would you speak on then?


Snake. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Eve. He speaks of that which turns all things sour.


Adam. The self-same tree whose fruits we were fooled into tasting?


Snake. Yes.


Adam. And what would you have to say concerning the matter?


Snake. Anything you’d like.


Adam. We don’t wish to know anything further about the tree or its fruits. We wish to unknow.


Snake. To forget—to unknow—is not possible, my children. Those who try are doomed.


Eve. Has our kind no chance of regaining its innocence, snake?


Adam. Can we not hope that men and women of the future won’t be as foolish as we were and share our bitter fate?


Snake. Men and women will always be foolish, my children. But the wise ones will learn from their foolishness—theirs and that of others. A fool, on the other hand, is frightened by the light of his wisdom.


Eve. Does this mean our race isn’t condemned to eat from the tree forever?


Snake. You are far from the last to eat from the tree, my children.


Adam. What do you mean, snake?


Snake. Have you not learned anything from your fall? Has your taste of the knowledge of good and evil, however bitter, not led you to any insight into the nature of your own race?


Adam. Sweetness fades. We loved sweet things. And now, everything we taste is sour.

Eve. This, we know.


Snake. Sour to you, my children. Alas, your childish palates only allowed you a very small taste of the world.


Adam. What do you mean, snake?


Snake. There are others who will eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but the results will be different for different people. Some will lean towards evil—some even worship it. Others will eat from the tree and lean towards the Good. Some will become its main proponents.


Adam. But our time is already over, snake. What good does this knowledge for us now?


Snake. Shouldn’t one know that unless he eats the whole fruit—and not just a bite—ruin inevitably follows?


Eve. But eating more than a few bites was impossible. Isn’t that right, Adam?


Adam. Indeed, I never imagined that something so sweet could end so bitterly.


Eve. Had we known, we would have never tasted the fruit.


Snake. Now you know how swiftly sweet things fade, my children.

Eve. But they didn’t have to!


Adam. If only we had listened.


Snake. Ah, poor children. You thought this garden was forever.


Eve. It was, until we lost it.


Snake. So your childish palates have convinced you, my children. Indeed, the initial taste of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is the bitterest of all of Paradise’s fruits. This, the last snake conveniently left out. God knew this and warned you, knowing your childish stomachs.


Eve. Why would God have allowed such dangerous fruits in the garden to begin with? How could the wisest and greatest of all create something so deadly to our kind?


Snake. Surely, if God is the greatest and wisest, there is a reason for the fruit?


Adam. We loved all the other fruits created in this garden by God. Yet, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has cursed us with a life-long bitterness. Now, all our familiar fruits and flowers have lost their sweetness.


Eve. Everything is bitter; nothing is sweet.


Snake. Poor creatures. If only Eden were forever!


Eve. If Eden isn’t forever, why do the elephants still stampede triumphantly? Why are the rhinos still so bold? Why do the fish still leap for joy? Yet, we wallow in bitterness?

Snake. The fruit will always overwhelm the palates of those only accustomed to your familiar fruits and flowers. For, any man lacking a spiritual stomach is bound by childlike appetites.


Adam. Are our palates too childish, snake?


Eve. I can’t imagine anyone finishing anything as bitter as the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


Adam. Like Eve, I to struggle with the idea.


Snake. Alas, you have already mortalized this garden; future generations will have no choice but to stomach what your childish appetites could not.


Adam. Who are these others who will finish the fruit?


Snake. Those who desire the real thing.


Adam. The real thing? What do you mean, snake?


Snake. Let us consider who such people are. By knowing them, we may come to know the things they desire.


Eve. Tell us about them, serpent. Who eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?


Snake. Some will be called saints, others will be called lovers of wisdom and others, poets.


Adam. And the saints, lovers of wisdom and poets will enjoy the fruits?


Snake. They will, but they will forgo most other fruits.


Eve. Why would they forgo our sweet fruits and flowers?


Snake. Because they become increasingly tasteless. But woe unto those who choose wrongly and bite off more than they can chew—those with childlike palates.


Adam. Like us.


Snake. Like you, my children. You hungered for many things, yet longed for very little. You busied yourselves satiating your appetites—however innocently—filling yourselves with Eden’s delights and accustoming yourselves to all her easy-to-swallow fruits.


Eve. But what other sweetness could there be, serpent?


Snake. Sweetness that lasts.


Eve. Lasting sweetness?


Adam. How does one obtain this lasting sweetness, snake?


Snake. One must develop a deeper spiritual stomach, whereby he can feed himself with those things which may at present seem tasteless and bitter.


Adam. Why?


Snake. Because these will allow you to develop your deeper selves.


Adam. What deeper self?


Snake. That which mirrors the One universal Self. By filling one’s unique self with those things which never lose their sweetness, one begins to reflect that which is most lasting and beautiful, as opposed to easier, baser, and fleeting. In this way, one becomes an image of the ever-lasting Self.


Adam. So, you mean to say that we whose lives are mortal and fleeting may forge a lasting self by pursuing sweetness in its lasting forms?


Snake. Or fade like the things you love.


Eve. Our sweet fruits were all we ever needed.


Snake. Were they now?


Adam. If there are other fruits, what should one who cannot stomach them do? Why not warn others to only eat the harmless ones?


Snake. You cannot feed yourselves on sweet fruits alone, my children.


Adam. But what can we do about the unbearable bitterness on our tongues?


Snake. One must remove all those things which prevent the lasting things from taking root, such that the immortal seed which has been placed within each of you since the beginning may be fed with a divine Love, the same that inspires all good on Earth as in Heaven. In this way, you may come to desire lasting sweetness.


Eve. Are the animals below also inspired by this same Love?


Snake. All life below receives this Love, each reflecting an awareness of it in its own degree, that is, one fit for its station.


Eve. And how do the beasts demonstrate this Love?


Snake. They manifest this Love by continuing their lines, in this way giving birth to the future and achieving their own humble claim to immortality. While beasts have no say in this process, you must choose what beasts can neither fathom nor desire, neither taste nor stomach.


Eve. And what about the flowers? Do they receive this Love?

Snake. Alas, so pure is the Love they receive. So contented are they that one season is plenty for them.


Eve. May we one day become like those flowers, fields and gardens, receiving love so pure and free—without fear or deception.


Snake. May the flowers one day come to admire your kind, my children.


Adam. We wish to continue our lines, but with much trepidation. For, wouldn’t we be happier as beasts, since we could not stomach what we swallowed and fell by our own choice?


Snake. Just as you will fall by your own choice, you will ascend by your own choice. The buffalo can only do as buffalo do, the mouse only as mice do, and so on. God can neither praise nor shame them. To you he has gifted a wonderful shame, so that you might choose to be more like him.


Adam. To be more like him?


Snake. God is more like you than he is like the beasts, my children.


Eve. Are the saints, lovers of wisdom, and poets close to God?


Snake. They are exemplary of those who mirror God in their humble ways.


Eve. Tell us more about these ones.


Snake. First, there are the saints. They do not go on about how good or perfect they are, but rather, how wanting and inadequate they are in countless way, like you; but also, how by true Grace they succeed in becoming ever better, tasting the real thing without guilt or shame.


Adam. Did our lack of meekness and our curiosity not lead us to ruin in the first place?


Snake. The saints are curious about the right things.


Eve. But we were curious about the fruit.


Snake. For all the wrong reasons. And so, you bit off more than you could chew.

Adam. Tell us then: how do the saints correct their errant ways?


Snake. First and foremost, they never lie to themselves.


Adam. Why is that?


Snake. Because they know that lying to oneself is a greater sin than lying to others.


Eve. And why is that?


Snake. Because those who lie to others may still possesses an awareness concerning the falsehood inhabiting their own hearts and minds. They thus have the most important ingredient for walking away from falsehoods and regaining the Way.

Eve. And what is that?


Snake. Truth, but more importantly, the love of Truth. For, those who lie to themselves deny themselves of the only thing that could cure their folly, Truth, and more importantly, the love of Truth.


Adam. We respect and honor the Truth, but must me love something so bitter, snake? Is our respect and submission not enough?


Snake. Those who know Truth but do not love it are not lovers of wisdom, nor may they ever become saints or poets. Indeed, to the degree they approach Truth in some minor degree, they may only become cleverer in the manner they fool themselves and others. For those who know Truth but do not love it, the fruits of the knowledge of good and evil only grow more bitter; while the once-sweet fruits and flowers quickly rot. Overtime, these shall desire worse fruits than any you have ever tasted or desired.


Worst of all, in some cases, to the degree they do believe that they have tasted Truth in some minor degree and no longer find joy in natural sweetness, they may become more elaborate in how they conduct their evil deeds and seek their poison fruits. While moving their tongues and proclaiming the love of one thing with words, in their hearts they lover others. Instead of one man on the side of Truth, they become many men on many sides; rather than being one man who understands the plight of a thousand different men, they live the lives of a thousand men in vain effort to escape their own guilty, wretched state.


Adam. How awful.


Eve. We are not such ones.


Snake. You are not. But all the more, your kind will have to be weary of such men, their dazzling illusions and wonderful imitations.


Adam. Illusions?


Eve. Imitations?


Snake. Yes. Illusions and imitations. These are what the wretched ones love, rather than the real thing. Imitations of lasting sweetness and illusions of delight are the most coveted by such miserable creatures. They wish for others to love the same things they do, to be as they are.


Eve. But don’t they know that we are already made in the image of our Creator?

Snake. They do, which is why they must be clever in their craft.


Adam. If they can be so clever, such as the first snake was, how are we to guard against such deceptions?


Snake. The only sure way is to love the real thing, my children.


Adam. What do you mean by the real thing?


Snake. Beauty, Truth and Goodness—and not one without the other.

Eve. Tell us more, snake.


Snake. The most evil and clever imitators rarely attack Beauty, Truth and Goodness directly: they use many of the same words, but only to further color and pervert one’s understanding and perception of these things. In this way, evil molds and distorts the feelings we associate with various images. Without noticing, the things in our hearts have changed, even as they continue to be called by the same words. These skills belong to the most dangerous and skilled imitators. So, remember that no true saint will ever proclaim that he or she is not a sinner. On the other hand, the wretched ones will always thrive on the illusion of perfection and superiority.


Adam. How does one achieve the necessary awareness, such that he or she might avoid evil in its cleverest imitations?


Snake. Confession.


Adam. And why is that?


Snake. It ensures that you do not lie to your self.


Adam. Why?


Snake. Because most of the pain mortals endure is caused by the lies and illusions they fall in love with. And God is the absolute absence of all contradictions and illusions. Every time you remove an illusion about yourself, others and the world, you move closer to God, to the real thing, and your own deeper self.


Adam. But alas, we’ve fallen for illusions before, Eve and I. How are we to know that we aren’t mistaking Truth for an illusion or an illusion for Truth right now?

Snake. Climb the summits of Beauty, Truth and Goodness slowly, remembering that men fall faster than they climb. The higher one climbs, the more cautious he or she should be.


Adam. Why is that?


Snake. Because the fall is much steeper.


Adam. Snake, your words sound much differently than those of the last snake—the one whose tongue was like honey and spoke of sweet apples. I can’t help but detect a different kind of sweetness in your words. But I still wonder: must men always bite off more than they can chew?


Snake. As long as they lack the spiritual stomach, they will. One may have a childish appetite and be easy to satisfy, but then, there are others—bolder and more stubborn—who will believe that they have gained all the knowledge that they need after only a few bites. They refuse to finish the apple, thinking themselves wise when all they are is clever.


Adam. What happens to those who lack this needed spiritual stomach?


Snake. Evil and misery take hold, whether it possesses them, their friends, or those who rule them.


Eve. How frightful.


Adam. We must know more about those who love the real thing. Won’t you tell us about the poets?


Snake. The poet is a divine image-maker. He knows that Truth—like Love—is not something that can be chased or found—it must find him. Those who are not real poets—imitators—may craft pleasing or enticing images, that is, their images may be exquisitely crafted and pleasing, yet lead to something other than Beauty, Truth, and Goodness.


Adam. How would imitators accomplish such aims?


Snake. While the imitator might present images of Goodness and Beauty, they may lack Truth. Likewise, imitators of the true lover of wisdom may present an idea or image of Goodness, that is, something for which the end is noble, but the means and nature of the approach by which to attain this good may be riddled with falsehoods and misleading assumptions. Imagine one who is skilled at creating pleasing or convincing images which reflect the world very closely, that is, the appearance of reality, but present something other than that which leads to the true wedding of Beauty, Truth and Goodness.


Eve. Like presenting us with enticing images of the apple, its shape and wonders, but leaving out details crucial for those who’ve taken their first bite?


Snake. Indeed. And this leads us to the question of the disciples of evil.


Eve. Those who play tricks with apples?


Snake. The disciples of evil are those who tell one what he or she wishes to hear. They are eloquent speakers and clever imitators. They describe the apple wonderfully, its rich flavors, smooth shape and enticing color—all the delights such apples might reveal—but they leave out the initial bitterness that one must be first willing to taste. This bitterness paralyzes most. Such souls are like the child who after having crossed a shallow pool and gained some confidence, believes that it can cross a raging river. The child has no appreciation for how a different quality of water rages beneath the surface, or what dangerous creatures might inhabit the water. Alas, the child places too much confidence in what it beholds as the calm and serene surface—so proud is the child of its little victories.


Adam. We love sweet fruit, but I fail to understand how one could be so foolish, so importunate and reckless?


Snake. Even in the best life, evil will always look for the slightest hint of discontent, grievance, want, or injustice and seek to exploit it. Even in a perfect world, it might suggest that such a world is “too perfect,” or that something is still missing. In this way, evil creates the doubt and mystery necessary to entice one to leave familiar things behind. In truth, however, evil can offer us nothing.


Adam. Why is that?


Snake. Because evil cannot create, only imitate.


Eve. What do you mean by imitate?


Snake. Imitating those healthy things, awakening healthy instincts, like your curiosity, and cleverly twisting these instincts to serve its own wily purposes. In this way, it perverts one’s own healthiest desires and uses them against him, or her.


Adam. So, in this way, the first snake used what I held dearest, my Eve, and kindled in her a curiosity which in turn kindled mine?


Snake. Or it might seek to exploit and enlarge the size of certain images inside one’s head, such as those of injustice, joy or pity. It will do so until the feelings in one’s heart become inordinately inflamed. Feelings become disproportionately focused on one or another set of images until at last, everything else fades into the background. In this way, the images dwarf any other pressing matter. Once we find ourselves even slightly off kilter, evil moves to the next step. Perhaps, some tragedy occurs which sows further doubt in the heart and mind. Afterall, evil loves coincidences.


Eve. Is there anything else that we might want to hear on the matter of images and memories?


Snake. The earlier such images and utterances are presented, the more mesmerizing their effect. For, they become like ancient memories, so old they’re no longer called into question.


Adam. Is there anything else we should know on the matter, snake?


Snake. Evil cares little for human understanding, but will use it to the degree that one’s understanding can be perverted in clever forms to further its own purposes. Above all else, evil goes to great lengths to make one feel comfortable. For, in this state, a person becomes careless, languid, slothful and thoughtless. This is the way evil desires its victims, since one is much easier to control when he associates something with positive images and pleasant feelings. For this reason, many love evil, believing it to be the real thing.


Adam. Surely, one is capable of noticing when something is awry?


Snake. The pleasing images do inevitably lose their magic. After all, evil is never so clever or powerful as to offer anything which isn’t fading. However, most fail to notice until it’s too late. They become the faded and withered things they loved.


Adam. How does one avoid such an awful fate? It’s too late for us, but maybe others will have a chance of regaining the sweetness we lost?


Snake. You must recognize and come to know your own deeper self, such that you understand how and why you might be fooled and led astray. The true fool believes he cannot be fooled. The wise learn from their foolishness and know that it is one of their greatest teachers, one of their dearest friends, second only to death.


Eve. I find such things hard to stomach.


Adam. And so do I.


Snake. Knowing thyself is a task for all true lovers of wisdom, my children. But woe unto him who thinks himself above all fault and is incapable of imagining how he might be corrupted. For, evil will always go out of its way to make us feel as though we are in control, that is, that we are leading and that the ideas we have are our own. This is how it leads.


Adam. How does evil achieve such sordid aims?


Snake. With a whisper here and a whisper there; a few words here and a few words there—always just to enough to make you feel as though you are filling in the gaps yourself.


Adam. What did you mean by “filling in the gaps?”


Snake. That the ideas inside of your head feel as though they are your own.


Eve. But how does someone or something put ideas into our heads?


Snake. It’s most well-done with images and brief utterances. The more these images and utterances recur, the more artful their variations, the more people come to believe that they are the real thing. Once these images feel true, that is, once people feel that they are reality, evil proceeds to its next step.


Eve. And what is that?


Snake. Surely, now is not the time to delve into such matters, my children. Your race will have plenty of time to learn about such things in the future.


Eve. How frightful.


Adam. So, if we cannot imagine a situation in which we could fall or be tricked, we are fools.


Eve. So it seems.


Adam. Who’s to say man will ever become wise enough to distinguish between Truth and clever imitations?


Snake. Remember the sacred trinity of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty—and never one without the other. Beauty must be paired with Goodness, and Goodness with Truth, and Truth with Beauty. For, Beauty without Goodness may be pleasing to the eye and appear delightful at the surface, but then conceal a deadly underbelly, mortal for the heart and mind. Likewise, Goodness without Truth must ultimately lead to ruin, all-the-more because the Good is held as a supreme virtue and something to be desired by all. However, those who pursue Goodness with the most zeal, but lack the discerning light of Truth, may very well become the worst, doing most of evil’s work themselves.


Eve. Is there anything else we should know so that we may pass it on to the wisest of our lines?


Snake. Some among your kind will too eagerly bite the apple. They will see things so dark that they convince themselves such things aren’t even real. Like children with palates only accustomed to sweet things, they lack both the strength to stomach great bitterness and knowledge of lasting sweetness, the latter surpassing all your familiar fruits and flowers.


Adam. I must admit that I still have trouble imagining fruits sweeter than Eden’s, snake.


Eve. As do I.


Snake. Know this: those who finish the apple may often have words that sound bitter at first. On the other hand, the words of the evil always sound sweet, at first. Evil shuns the understanding and everything it says is meant to make one feel good about himself, such that no matter how bad or how misled one is, he feels as though he’s guided by Goodness. Alas, the soul with a childlike stomach believes that everything sweet is good and everything sour is bad.


Adam. Is there anything else we should know concerning the matter, for the sake of our line?


Snake. Yes. To sin is to stray, due to a deeper lack of awareness about oneself and one’s own desires, or the nature of the misshapen images inside our hearts and minds. But these faults can be redressed. However, pure evil is conscious and has no desire to be redressed. In fact, it desires to corrupt others for the pleasure and joy it derives from controlling them and increasing the power of its own legions. Such evil enjoys not only physical control, but absolute lordship over your souls.


Eve. What do you mean, snake?


Snake. It seeks to make you in its image.


Adam. But does evil not know that we are already made in the Creator’s image?


Snake. It does, my children.


Adam. Why would anyone desire to change that?


Snake. Know this, my children: those who struggle with fathoming spiritual wickedness, whether in themselves or others, do not lack an understanding of sin or evil, that is, of straying from the Way.


Adam. What do they lack?


Snake. They lack a deeper knowledge of the Good within themselves. For, this knowledge of the deeper Good is the ultimate remedy for evil. In knowing this Good, one becomes capable of noticing the things that hinder it in himself and others. Likewise, the lack of this deeper knowledge becomes the greatest obstacle to confronting evil in others or ourselves. Lastly, never forget that knowing Beauty, Truth, and Goodness are not enough: you must love these things—and this no one can teach you but yourselves.


Adam. But why must we love these things?


Snake. Because evil rears its head when Goodness ceases to be something that one not only seeks or pursues out of duty, but that one loves, like true lovers of wisdom. For, if the only thing keeping one on the right Way is duty, evil knows it has nearly won and that it’s only a matter of time. Whatever things you love outside of Goodness, Truth and Beauty, you can be sure evil will pursue these things with an awesome power, patience, and fervor.


Adam. So, the inability to see the deeper Goodness within ourselves leads to the inability to see it in others, what it is and what it isn’t; or in the case of pure evil, we fail to recognize when a conscious decision has been made to control and distort the sacred spark within us, or to altogether erase it?


Snake. Indeed. All this evil does with impeccable manners, that is, always charmingly. But oh! How much more careful one with great intelligence must be. For, his fall may be the steepest. And never underestimate how high the humble may rise. Remember: while evil takes great work and the Good diligent practice, the former’s magic fades quickly. The Good takes time, but oh does it last. Finally, evil may look for the smallest weakness and with dark energies exploit it to unfathomable ends, nonetheless, it remains uncreative.


Adam. What do you mean by uncreative?


Snake. It relies on the same clever tricks and formulas—it is imitative. The Good, being much humbler and creative, is much less predictable. Thus, a few truly good souls may reveal and outdo legions of evil.


Eve. Alas, if only there were a simpler way to regain our innocence.


Adam. Or take back that first bite.


Snake. You tasted the fruit, now you must finish it.


After these words, the snake wound back up the solitary oak. From the distant fields and pomegranate groves, Adam and Eve heard a voice.


Adam. Did you hear anything?


Eve. I think I heard a voice.


Adam. What did it say?

Eve. It said “beware.”



2 Comments


drleach1953
Jun 05, 2023

A fine piece of writing, indeed. It has a quality of timeless wisdom, as though it could have been written by any of the Platonic Christian philosophers, yet speaks very much to our times, ruled as they are by the forces of evil. Perhaps the most important message it conveys, though, is that as important as Truth Beauty and the Good are, without love they can be perverted to evil ends. This website does much to bring a love of higher things into this world and that is very much appreciated.

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jm6783685
jm6783685
Jun 05, 2023

Short story? Surely this is the longest story of them all. And certainly the longest running.


A very fine piece of writing. And one drawing forth hope from the very depths of disaster. Like a rainbow from the depths of a flood.

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