Lets face it, we all want to go back to paradise.
That idyllic, virus, tax and crime free place, where we can walk with God in the cool of the day. Where a heavenly being caters to our every need and all we have to do in return is not think for ourselves and blindly follow the rules. If you study the Judeao-Christian story, living in paradise meant living forever too. What a bonus!
Philosophers, psychologists and all students of human consciousness have speculated on this universal human desire for paradise. Perhaps it’s a primal memory of the carefree nine months we all spent in our mother’s wombs, when all had to do was feed and grow. Until that terrifying moment of contraction and constriction when were thrust headlong into the life we are living now!
The tipping point for our mythological proto-parents Adam and Eve, was when they chose consciousness and independence over unconscious dependence on God. By eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they set themselves up to go it alone against the harsh and life-threatening environment outside the gates of paradise.
In the story it is only after their expulsion, that human life is bounded from an eternal to a fixed term deal. Yet despite it seeming a curse, our limited lifespan is actually a gift for those who still choose consciousness over an unthinking life. Sages throughout the ages have realised that our mortality is a blessing and inspiration, not not a curse.
Pema Chodron a Tibetan Buddhist uses a simple three phrase statement as her ethical measure for skillful action, “Death is certain. The time of my death is uncertain. Knowing this, how should I live now?” A simple focus on reality.
Jesus knew this secret too. He said, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Medieval thinkers used the phrase, “Memento Mori – Remember your death” as similar inspiration.
Life coaches recommend we develop our “Future Self”, and I understand the intention. Goal setting and visioning are critical life disciplines.
But I would offer one essential condition. Please bear in mind that your ultimate Future Self is a corpse!
Our present self is that grain of wheat Jesus spoke about. Filled with life and generative potential, we thwart our destiny if we cling to self preservation above sacrifice.
We are designed to die with all other seeds so that our species, our children and their children’s children may continue the cycle of life, death, germination, fruitfulness and harvest.
Paradise is forever lost and we cannot go back. Life in this present is all we have.
It is our greatest legacy, well worth living for, and then, worth dying from when our time is complete.
Ultimate fruitfulness is to live sacrificially for the future, but in this moment.
That’s the true, accessible paradise.