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Archive for the ‘Garden of Paradise’ Category

Paradise Remembered, part 2: The Garden of Eden

“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he placed the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:8)

Most of us today are awake sufficiently and quite able to bear the “many things” the Master Jesus had to share with his disciples but could not due to their limitations of consciousness.  After all, we’ve experienced more than two-thousand years of awakening in consciousness and spiritual maturity since then. What I’m about to share, then, concerning Man’s origins should not disturb anyone, and may even free some from limiting beliefs. Just for one, that it was Eve, tempted by the “serpent,” who then tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden to disobey God’s command that they not partake of “the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” thereby initiating the “Fall” that resulted in the loss of Paradise for them and their progeny.

Contrary to this belief, it was Adam, Divine Man, created in the image and likeness of God, a son of God, enamored by the beauty of the forms they had co-created with God, who acted contrary to the Law governing Creation by reversing his polarity with the Creator and polarizing his outer mind in Eve and in Creation itself, and then proceeding to judge the forms, no doubt with Eve’s full participation, as the forms were evolving toward becoming good and complete.  (I take writer’s license here in spelling the word “evil” as “evol,” as it is a habit we humans seem to have inherited of judging and interfering with the Creative Process, thereby creating something evil.)  And their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked, which apparently they didn’t think was a good thing, seeing as how they covered their nakedness with leaves. I’ll pick up on this later on.  First I would like to give thought to the two different versions of the creation of Man as recorded in the first and second chapters of Genesis. 

In chapter one, on the sixth day of Creation, God created Man.

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion . . . over all the earth. . . .  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” 

Now, a “day” of Creation was a lot longer than an Earth day of 24 hours. Some 25,872 years longer, as author and biblical historian Grace Van Duzen explains in her epic work and legacy, THE BOOK OF GRACE — A Cosmic View of the Bible:

Cycles of time have been recognized, such as an “age,” consisting of 2,156 years; a “solar age” of 25,872 years; and a “universal age” of 310,464 years. The solar age is made up of 12 ages, and the universal age of 12 solar ages. It is the solar age that is referred to in the Book of Genesis as a “day,” with the seven days of Creation totaling 181,104 years. 

The word us in this passage indicates that God, the Creator, was not a single entity but more like a conclave of Creator Beings. Grace offers a more precise explanation:

The word us in this text, “Let us make man in our image,” is derived from the word Elohim, plural of the ancient word for God, El—a designated number of God Beings under the focus of One, El.  A term used later, and consistently, in the Bible story, will be LORD of Lords, referring to this same Being. Elohim was a group, or body of divine Beings who created a body of human beings, for the purpose of indwelling in physical form to continue God’s work on this planet, His image and likeness. Other derivations of the word El have come through varying religions, as for example, Allah, designating the supreme God or ultimate point of focus for the universe.  

In chapter two of Genesis, we find this version of the same creation of Man, male and female: 

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested. . . . 

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in  the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. . . .

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2: 1-7)

A question one might rightly ask, then, is “Why was there a need for a ‘man’ to till the ground if the Garden of Eden yielded up food for foraging literally upon demand?” What’s going on here?

We find a fascinating answer to this question in Grace Van Duzen’s book, and further historical details in Richard Heinberg’s.  So, between these two authors, I think we will come away with a deeper and more vital understanding of our origins in Genesis, and what caused the “Fall” and the expulsion of our first parents from the Garden of Eden. This will take several posts, so stay with me.

The Garden of Eating

So many legends and myths tell of a time when Man lived in a Garden of Eden before agricultural practices of tilling the ground to plant seeds for food became vogue.  Food was plentiful in the Garden.  And yet, reading the second version of the creation of Man from the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, supposedly written by Moses, one is left asking, “Why was a ‘man’ needed to till the ground?”   

Here are a few excerpts from Heinberg. (I will share excerpts from Grace’s book in the next post):

Somewhere down in the underworld we were created by the Great Spirit, the Creator. We were created first one, then two, then three. We were created equal, in oneness living in a spiritual way, where life is everlasting. We were happy and at peace with our fellow men.  All things were plentiful, provided by our Mother Earth upon which we were placed. We did not need to plant or work to get food. Illness and troubles were unknown.  (Hopi Elder Dam Katchongva)

Under the subheading The Golden Race there is this: 

The third-century B.C. Neoplatonist Porphyry said that the Greek philosopher Dicaearchus, of the late fourth century B.C., spoke of

men of the earliest age, who were akin to the gods and were by nature the best men and lived the best life, so that they are regarded as a golden race in comparison with the men of the present time … of these primeval men he says that they took the life of no animal. … Dicaearchus tells us of what sort the life of that Age of Cronus was: if it is to be taken as having really existed and not as an idle tale, when the too mythical parts of the story are eliminated it may by the use of reason be reduced to a natural sense. For all things then presumably grew spontaneously, since the men of that time themselves produced nothing, having invented neither agriculture nor any other art. It was for this reason that they lived a life of leisure, without care or toil, and also—if the doctrine of the most eminent medical men is to be accepted-without disease …. And there were no wars or feuds between them; for there existed among them no objects of competition of such value as to give anyone a motive to seek to obtain them by those means. Thus it was that their whole life was one of leisure, of freedom from care about the satisfaction of their needs, of health and peace and friendship. Consequently this manner of life of theirs naturally came to be longed for by men of later times who, because of the greatness of their desires, had become subject to many evils …. All this, says Dicaearchus, is not asserted merely by us, but by those who have thoroughly investigated the history of early times.

The classical Roman authors Ovid, Cratinus, Pausanias, Tibullus, Virgil, and Seneca expanded freely on Hesiod’s story of the original golden race, always emphasizing those qualities that characterize the benefits of the simple, primitive life—freedom, self-sufficiency, and lack of dependence on technology and complex social organization. Ovid’s Metamorphoses was for centuries standard fare in all Euro­pean schools, and his description of the Golden Age in Book I became the definitive form of the myth for the Middle Ages and the Renais­sance: 

The first age was golden. In it faith and righteousness were cherished by men of their own free will without judges or laws. Penalties and fears there were none, nor were threatening words inscribed on unchanging bronze; nor did the suppliant crowd fear the words of its judge, but they were safe without protectors. Not yet did the pine cut from its mountain tops descend into the flowing waters to visit foreign lands, nor did deep trenches gird the town, nor were there straight trumpets, nor horns of twisted brass, nor helmets, nor swords. Without the use of soldiers the peoples in safety enjoyed their sweet repose. Earth herself, unbur­dened and untouched by the hoe and unwounded by the plough­share, gave all things freely …. Spring was eternal … untilled the earth bore its fruits and the unploughed field grew hoary with heavy ears of wheat.

Elsewhere, Ovid speaks of the peaceful amity of Nature herself, before the degeneration of humankind. “That ancient age,” he writes, to which we have given the name of Golden, was blessed with the fruit of trees and the herbs which the soil brings forth, and it did not pollute its mouth with gore. Then the birds in safety winged their way through the air and the hare fearlessly wan­dered through the fields, nor was the fish caught through its witlessness. There were no snares, and none feared treachery, but all was full of peace.

Under the subheading Paradise of the East there is this Indian legend in the Vaya Purana:

In the Krita age human beings appropriated food which was produced from the essence of the earth …. They were character­ized neither by righteousness nor unrighteousness; they were marked by no distinctions. They were produced each with authority over himself. They suffered no impediments, no susceptibilities to the pairs of opposites (like pleasure and pain, cold and heat), and no fatigue. They frequented the mountains and seas, and did not dwell in houses. They never sorrowed, were full of the quality of goodness, and supremely happy; they moved about at will and lived in continual delight …. Produced from the essence of the earth, the things which those people desired sprang up from the earth everywhere and always, when thought of. That perfection of theirs both produced strength and beauty and annihilated disease. With bodies which needed no decora­tion, they enjoyed perpetual youth …. Then truth, content­ment, patience, satisfaction, happiness and self-command prevailed …. There existed among them no such things as gain or loss, friendship or enmity, liking or dislike.”

In China, we again find the Paradise myth flavored somewhat according to local cultural sensibilities, but nevertheless characterizing humankind’s earliest condition as one of ease, plenty, and free­dom. Taoist philosophy, profoundly and often sardonically primitivist, has permeated Chinese thought for at least the last two and a half millennia. According to the earliest Taoist sages, Lao Tzu and Chuang
Tzu, it is Nature herself who is wise, and the intelligent man knows better than to impose on her creative rhythms. “Profound intelli­gence,” according to Lao Tzu, “is that penetrating and pervading power to restore all things to their original harmony.” (Emphasis mine)

I will take up from this last paragraph in my next post—and share some of  Grace Van Duzen’s perspectives from THE BOOK OF GRACE. Until then, 

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com 

Paradise Remembered

“Myth is the history of the soul”  

William Erwin Thompson penned those words. The Paradise myth, along with all the legends and stories about the “First People” handed down through the ages, are vivid and haunting reminders of our origins.  Who among us does not have a deep desire to live in Paradise—or for Paradise to be restored here on Earth?  It’s the unconscious impetus in our quest for the American Dream: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  It’s what we seek and hope to find in most of our endeavors to make a comfortable and happy life for ourselves and for our families—and why we go to the wilderness and camp out in the forests and national parks.  We want to be in Paradise, if only for a few days and nights filling our eyes and hearts with “Kodak moments,” camping out under the stars, and sitting by a stream of cool, clear water drinking in the golden silence and peaceful beauty of the Natural World. 

Ken Burns has performed an outstanding service bringing the pristine peace and beauty of the natural world to the television for all to enjoy with his documentaries on the National Parks and Monuments airing on PBS again this weekend. Thanks primarily to John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, thousands of square miles of undeveloped lands and mountain ranges have been preserved and set aside for us and our progeny to visit and be nourished by and reminded of the Paradise our planet Earth still is—inspired even to do our parts in keeping it that way.

VISIONS and MEMORIES of PARADISE

I’ve been reading my friend Richard Heinberg’s MEMORIES and VISIONS of PARADISE for the second or third time since it came into my hands many years ago, and my longing for Paradise has been quickened once again, this time with even deeper yearning.  Reading some of the stories about a once Golden Age when we were more angelic than human, and we spoke with the animals who “spoke” with us, I can almost taste the clean, fresh air and feel the pristine, magical Eden atmosphere. Here are a few memories from Richard’s book of what our ancestors, the “First People,” were like in the mythical Garden of Paradise:

The myths and traditions of the ancients do not portray Eden as the sort of technological Paradise that our present civilization tends to project into the future. If the Golden Age really existed, it must instead have been, as the Chinese describe it, an Age of Perfect Virtue—an age in which

they were upright and correct, without knowing that to be so was righteousness; they loved one another, without knowing that to do so was benevolence; they were honest and leal-hearted with­out knowing that it was loyalty; they fulfilled their engagements, without knowing that to do so was good faith; in their simple movements they employed the services of one another, without thinking that they were conferring or receiving any gift. There­fore their actions left no trace, and there was no record of their affairs.” *

They were kind and affectionate:

“The ability of human beings and animals to understand one another resulted in a condition, according to fifth-century B.C. philosopher Empedocles, ‘All were gentle and obedient to men, both animals and birds, and they glowed with kindly affection towards one another.'” *

They were radiant and could fly:

“According to virtually all accounts, human beings in the paradisal age were possessed of qualities and abilities that can only be called miraculous.

“They were wise, all-knowing, and able to communicate easily not only with one another but with other living things; moreover, they could fly through the air, and they shone with visible light.” *

They were wise and godlike in appearance:

“In contrast to the contemporary view of early humans as dull and brutish, the myths speak of them as sages. In Jewish folklore, Adam is described as being so wise and so beautiful to behold that the creatures of the Earth mistook him for the Creator and, together with the angels of Heaven, bowed down and chanted, ‘Holy, holy, holy.’ It is also said that God revealed the whole of the future to Adam, as well as the geography of the entire Earth. In these respects, Adam resembled Adapa, the Babylonian First Man, who ‘was equipped with vast intelligence …. His plane of wisdom was the plane of heaven’” The ancient Mayans similarly described the four First People as wise and all-knowing. According to the Popul Vuh, the Mayan book of lore and customs, the people of the first age were so perceptive that when ‘they lifted up their eyes … their gaze embraced all; they knew all things; nothing in heaven or earth was concealed from them.’ These created ones rendered thanks, saying,“‘Truly, thou gavest us every motion and accomplishment! We have received existence, we have received a mouth, a face; we speak, we understand, we think, we walk; we perceive and we know equally well what is far and what is near; we see all things, great and small, in heaven and upon the earth. Thanks be to you who created us, 0 Maker, 0 Former!'”*

AN AGE OF INNOCENCE 

The Golden Age was an age of innocence; its inhabitants simple and childlike—much like the late and memorialized Mr. Rogers as portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” With Richard’s permission, I will share a few excerpts from his thoroughly researched and captivating book, with little if any commentary from me.  I invite you to just read the stories and let the magic they still hold enchant your heart as you ponder them deeply in your imagination.  They may even trigger up memories of Paradise from out of the collective unconscious, as they did for me, and quicken in you an inspiration to live as though in Paradise.  Perhaps the adage “To become, act as if” may apply in our shared work of creating a heavenly home for our Creator here on Earth. Legends tell of a time when the Creator lived with his Creation and walked with Man in the Garden of Eden.  Listen to these stories.

ONCE UPON A TIME all human beings lived in friendship and peace, not only among themselves but with all other living things as well. The people of that original Age of Innocence were wise, shining beings who could fly through the air at will, and who were in continual communion with cosmic forces and intelligences. But a tragic disruption brought the First Age to an end, and humanity found itself estranged from both Heaven and Nature. Ever since then we have lived in a fragmented way, never really understanding ourselves or our place in the Universe. But occasionally we look back, with longing and regret, and dream of a return to the Paradise we once knew. . . .

The tribes of central and southern Africa preserved myths of an original time when the celestial God and human beings were friends, before the separation of Heaven and Earth. It was an age that was typified in the saying of the Ngombe tribe of Zaire: “In the beginning there were no men on earth. The people lived in the sky with Akongo and they were happy.” Ethnologist Paul Schebesta recorded the following tradition from the Bambuti Pygmies of central Africa:

After God had created the world and men, he dwelt among them. He called them his children. They gave him the name of father. … He showed himself a good father to men for he so placed them in this world that they could live without much effort and were above all free from care and fear. Neither ele­ments nor animals were inimical to man and foodstuffs grew ready to his hand. In short, the world was a paradise as long as God dwelt among men. He was not visible to them but he was in their midst and spoke to them.”

Summarizing African myths about the First Age, folklorist Herman Baumann wrote:

In the view of the natives, everything that happened in the primal age was different from today: people lived forever and never died; they understood the language of animals and lived at peace with them; they knew no labor and had food in plenitude, the effortless gathering of which guaranteed them a life without care; there was no sexuality and no reproduction—in brief, they knew nothing of all those fundamental factors and attitudes which move people today’

It was only when the people set themselves against the other creatures that God was driven away and the original harmony of Nature was destroyed.

And that will be the consideration of my next post in this series. Until then,

Be love. Be loved

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com

Credits: 

* Richard Heinberg, MEMORIES and VISIONS of PARADISE — Exploring the Universal Myth of a Lost Golden Age. 

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