Prosperity and distress, those are far better translations for the Hebrew words towb and ra', the reality of human struggle whence such words are open-ended. In other words, the ability to appropriately permit oneself to conceive the infinity of good and evil. One tree, two ways to go, left or right. Likewise, one people, two ways to go, prosper or distress.
The message provided here is a warning implying that whomever we run into, there shall always be among them those that prosper or distress, but the moment you partake of their fruit, you become as one with them. This is of course the golden rule of non-interference, to live in the world but not be part of it, judge not whether right or wrong, let tree branches find their own direction. This fruit is not good to the sights unless there is gain conceived in the eye of the beholder, for by its taking we impose our idea of good and evil upon the masses and interfere with their evolution.
We are not here to teach, convert, judge, or correct, only to answer questions in accordance with inner spiritual guidance, not our conscious choice. This is what Eve did when she told the snake what God had commanded. However, she was lured into violating the prime directive believing there was something to be gained by becoming involved with the tree which, in this case, represented Atlantis.
We are faced with a tree today and various forces want us involved in judging this world. That we cannot do. The world, this tree, must be what it is, it must be allowed to express in its present and future forms without interference because the evolutionary classrooms of billions depend on it being what it is. Blocking pain might seem benign, however it could cost a soul several added reincarnations to eventually learn from a necessary experience.
No good is gooder and no wrong wronger than another. Good and evil is knowledge, relative facts, personal experiences, but love is wisdom beyond what limited facts or experiences one might have. Thus, forgive our debt as we forgive others, for our facts are finite, incomplete, but love conquers all.
The tree of the Hesperides, knowledge of good and evil, the Hindu Banyan tree, the Kabbalah, and many other pictorial conceptions involving trees attempt to describe man's ultimate struggle to grasp mythological, sacred, and philosophical traditions. What do trees mean? People, cultures, trials.
In the case of the tree of good and evil, what fruits are good and which are evil is not given, only that the fruit itself, when taken, provides forbidden knowledge. So, what unrighteous feature of this tree, that holds both good and evil in some sort of balance, imparts agony to the innocent? Is it that the untrained eye could misuse good and evil from its preserved, balanced form?
Is it that such prescribed innocence is not gullibility but rather a mental state that does not judge good or evil, or makes no implied effort to create a state of unbalance between the two, thus not putting good above evil? Many have said that God can create no evil, but if so, why did this tree have evil? Where did it come from?
עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע
Tree of the knowledge of good and evil
Thus, religion got this wrong, way wrong. Good and evil is finite, love is infinite. That's the true difference between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Good and Evil.
Obscurity fills the mind of eartheans trying to discover the smallest molecule and the farthest galaxies. Much the same way, mankind has been obsessed with finding the ends of good and evil hoping to achieve spiritual actualization and the ends of morality, but there is no end. In our minds, everything must have a beginning and an end, but infinity is just that, no end and no beginning, only evolution. Therein, given that good and evil both are evolutionary directions, neither have plenary meaning, only direction of opposure, much like an arrowhead vector pointing in the relative direction of an individual's compliance with infinite energy.
Taking into account that each being is in itself a different conglomerate of evolutionary energy, having its own differing balance of positive and negative experiences, no two souls share a common experience midpoint and thus cannot be compared. So it is that spiritual compliance is the relative measure of personal development, one's own state of mental affinity with a dimensional level of existence, for our life is where our mind is.
WHERE DO WE GET OUR CONCEPT OF GOOD AND EVIL
Few realize that this particular biblical phrase signifies the core foundation of all fundamentalist doctrine. For thousands of years, it ignited confounding belief in the true purpose of good and evil on this earth plane. In a way, religion polarized the idea of absolute good and bad, drawing a line between the two and giving rise to unrealistic distinction between them.
We have only ourselves to compare against. Who is that qualified authority that can judge among us, given the goodest of us is but the worse of angels? Who will judge angels to be good when they are the worse of good compared to God? Good extends infinitely, but so does evil. So, where's the midpoint line between them? Without this reference point, how can we judge?