The Tree of Life – Myth or Fact

The “Tree of Life” is one of many images that I love, such as rainbows, and lightning and a magnificent sunrise or sunset, or eagles soaring. Without reading anything about the tree of life for some reason it always appealed to me as ‘The Family of Mankind’. It was akin to, but not the same as, Jesus who symbolically described himself to his apostles and others in many ways such as that he was the vine, and we are the fruit.

Since knowing The Urantia Book, I like to see it as The Brotherhood of Man and our spiritual family and friends, under the Fatherhood of God.

I have seen the tree of life in paintings, carpets, bronze and other statues and decided to do a Google search. As per Wikipedia:  

The tree of life is a fundamental widespread myth or archetype in many of the world’s mythologies, religious, and philosophical traditions. The tree of knowledge, connecting to heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or cosmic tree, and are portrayed in various religions and philosophies as the same tree.

For example, in Christianity the tree of life first appears in Genesis 2:9 and 3:22-24 as the source of eternal life in the Garden of Eden, from which access is revoked when man is driven from the garden. It then reappears in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, and most predominantly in the last chapter of that book (Chapter 22) as a part of the new garden of paradise. Access is then no longer forbidden, for those who “wash their robes” (or as the textual variant in the King James Version has it, “they that do his commandments”) “have right to the tree of life” (v.14).

A similar statement appears in Revelation 2:7, where the tree of life is promised as a reward to those who overcome. Revelation 22 begins with a reference to the “pure river of water of life” which proceeds “out of the throne of God”. The river seems to feed two trees of life, one “on either side of the river” which “bear twelve manner of fruits” “and the leaves of the tree were for healing of the nations” (v.1-2)  Or this may indicate that the tree of life is a vine that grows on both sides of the river, as John 15:1 would hint at.

The Urantia Book mentions the Tree of Life in two contexts:

1) As referred to by the Life Carriers the tree of life is expressed in relation to:

nonprogressive specimens, together with the later appearing fish family, today represent the stationary types of early and lower animals, branches of the tree of life which failed to progress. [Paper 65:2.5, page 732.3]

2)  The shrub called the tree of life:

a shrub of Edentia which was sent to Urantia by the Most Highs of Norlatiadek at the time of Caligastia’s arrival. In the days of Dalamatia this tree grew in the central courtyard of the temple of the unseen Father, and it was the fruit of the tree of life that enabled the material and otherwise mortal beings of the Prince’s staff to live on indefinitely as long as they had access to it. [Paper 66:4.13, page 745.3]

Upon the outbreak of rebellion, loyal cherubim and seraphim, with the aid of three faithful midwayers assumed the custody of the tree of life and permitted only the forty loyalists of the staff and their associated modified mortals to partake of the fruit and leaves of this energy plant. There were fifty-six of these modified Andonite associates of the staff, sixteen of the Andonite attendants of the disloyal staff refusing to go into rebellion with their masters. [67:3.5, page 756.6]

The tree […of life] was regrown from the central core by Van and his associates in their temporary camp. This Edentia shrub was subsequently taken to their highland retreat, where it served both Van and Amadon for more than one hundred and fifty thousand years. [Paper 73:6.5, page 826.4]

Urartu is a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the historic Armenian Highlands (present-day eastern Anatolia). 

In ancient Urartu, the tree of life was a religious symbol and was drawn on walls of fortresses and carved on the armour of warriors. The branches of the tree were equally divided on the right and left sides of the stem, with each branch having one leaf, and one leaf on the apex of the tree. Servants stood on each side of the tree with one of their hands up as if they are taking care of the tree.

It is no wonder that Myths and symbolism would enshroud the tree, guarded by whoever guarded it during those 150,000 years that Van and Amadon continued living on this planet, never ageing. The last Ice Age came and went, generation after generation  of humans lived and died, but not Van and Amadon, who …were sustained by the technique of the  tree of life in conjunction with the specialized life ministry of the Melchizedeks  [67:6.4, 759.7]

When Van and his associates made ready the Garden for Adam and Eve, they transplanted the Edentia tree to the Garden of Eden, where, once again, it grew in a central, circular courtyard of another temple to the Father. And Adam and Eve periodically partook of its fruit for the maintenance of their dual form of physical life. [Paper 73:6.6, page 826.3]

When Adam and his family were forced to leave the garden, a little over one hundred years from their arrival on Urantia (approximately 38,000 years ago), they were not permitted to carry the core of the tree away from the Garden.

When the Nodites invaded Eden, they were told that they would become as “gods if they partook of the fruit of the tree.” Much to their surprise they found it unguarded. They ate freely of the fruit for years, but it did nothing for them; they were all material mortals of the realm; they lacked that endowment which acted as a complement to the fruit of the tree. They became enraged at their inability to benefit from the tree of life, and in connection with one of their internal wars, the temple and the tree were both destroyed by fire; only the stone wall stood until the Garden was subsequently submerged. [Paper 73:6.7, page 826.4] 

The tree was consumed by fire but the factual reality of the tree of life lived on and continues to live on as a beautiful symbol of eternal life.

Religion is but one tree with many branches. If you look only upon the branches, then you are tempted to say that there are many religions; but if you look at the whole tree, you understand that there is but one religion.

Mahatma Gandi