The Return to Paradise

In a forum about the philosophy of collapse, a colleague asked this question:

“Why do humans treat the living earth as a mere storehouse and sewer? Because humans see themselves as separate and apart from nature. How did that happen?”

My Answer

It is inherent in human nature. The very existence of “consciousness” implies a journey into “separateness.”

Is consciousness not itself a “separation” of the knower from the known? The land, plants, and animals “know” nothing; they simply exist in the flow of nature. Humans view their own existence from a mysterious remove, evaluating and anticipating, finding “meaning,” indulging in art, giving “reasons” for how they behave, and judging those reasons as “good” or “evil.”

The “fall of Man” (in Western mythology) was the origin of consciousness. Acquiring “the knowledge of good and evil” is coincident with the expulsion from paradise (the realm of the land, plants, and animals). It is the expected result that fallen Man will destroy the earth – and himself – by his bad conduct, having usurped what belongs rightly only to God. (I don’t believe in this mythology, but it is illustrative.)

So what do we do? How do we heal the separation of humans from nature, and regain paradise? The answer must be to give up consciousness! To surrender the distinctions between “good” and “evil.” To rejoin our kindred land, plants, and animals in the flow of nature.

One could say this is the purpose of meditation, wherein the agitated mind is allowed to become calm, emotions are allowed to drift across the surface of awareness like clouds across a pond, and judgement is suspended. By voluntary surrender, the separated mind is submerged in stillness, to the point where it vanishes, and the return to paradise is accomplished. ⭐️

Photo: Brueghel-Rubens: Adam & Eve, circa 1615. Flickr.

One Reply to “The Return to Paradise”

  1. It occurs to me that all of Christianity is an attempt to answer the question: “How do we heal the separation of humans from nature, and regain paradise?” In some traditions, the union with Christ is conceived of as giving up consciousness, or at least the individual consciousness, by surrendering to “the Will of God.”

    This is the meaning of “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:39)

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