Where does favoritism and envy start; where is its genesis? The first instance of perceived favoritism and what it leads to, as far as the biblical writings go, is the story of sibling rivalry between the two first born children of the archetypical parents of humanity, Adam and Eve.
Cain is the first born with Abel being the first couple’s second child. It just so happens that Cain’s talents run to agriculture, while Abel raises sheep. So, “In the course of time,” Genesis says, both Cain and Abel brought an offering to God; Cain from his crops of the land and Abel from the firstlings of his flock. Now, I didn’t see anywhere before this where God had asked for an offering, so who instigates the event in which regard, or favor raises its head? For whatever reason, it is said God has regard for Abel’s offering which causes jealousy in the heart of Cain, leading him to murder his brother, Abel. One might ask the question, “Who is at fault?” One might also ask the question, and it was, is this a stumbling block put in our path by the Ground of Being that we might learn to overcome the idea of favor? Maybe it is an obstacle like the temptation to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which, in the long run, also seems to be beneficial for humankind, as it heads towards godhood complete with eternal life. Is it all part of a divine plan to help us realize our potential?
If our spiritual journey is somewhat linear, (even though every part of the journey, including the beginning and end, are present in every other part of our journey), division and with it “regard,” come into the picture after humanity has succumbed to the temptation to eat of the fruit of the tree and after they have been cast out of a supposed, pristine existence in the Garden of Eden and after we begin to be self-aware.
Our acceptance of the gift of freewill, mythologically expressed when we are commanded not to do something such as, not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, is the beginning of our encounter with matters of duality, i.e. good and evil. Free will is only exercised when there are choices to be made that influence and shape our participation in life. Free will, when expressed, creates duality.
Ultimately, are we not to transcend the duality which “regard” and “favor” support? When duality is seen as it really is, as a creation of our un-enlightened imagination, as if there is an “our,” at all, vs. a “them,” we will see it isn’t God who “regards” anyone’s offering. Rather, it is our need to be regarded that imagines and images a god who would favor one human being over another. With this kind of a god we could certainly buy favor, win wars, and enslave our neighbors. It always seems to be the case when our god is a god who favors, we are the ones favored; we know the right incantations and, naturally, our god supports our prejudice.
When we imagine that we are hearing some sort of divine command coming from somewhere else, we have already made a choice. From this point, do we continue expressing our free will, thereby giving power to an alter ego not our own, but an ego with the potential to become a New Being, born of the non-dual dimension, and filled with self-awareness as a god knowing good and evil while transcending its power, or do we stay in the garden, unaware of our potential as beings in God’s image. What causes us to become self-aware in a selfless manner?