Thoughts & Insights

In Search of the Fountainhead of our Longing for the Lost Paradise

Perhaps paradise hasn’t been the dream of all peoples at all times throughout history. But it is certainly one of humanity’s oldest and most enduring dreams.

When did the dream of paradise first enter the consciousness of our ancestors? Who dreamed this dream for the very first time? From what fountainhead of inspiration did this idea first spring many thousands of years ago into the minds of our ancestors? Was it a flash of sudden inspiration on the part of one single person, was it indeed a process that anything to do with individuals or was it more a slowly dawning collective realization that brought forth this idea?

Or is this dream wired into our genome? Is it part and parcel of the genetic makeup of Homo sapiens? Did the Neanderthals, our earlier ancestors, also have a dream of this kind? And if they did, did they dream of something quite different or was it the same dream as ours?

All the evidence seems to indicate that this dream first arose some twenty to thirty thousand years ago in the dawning awareness of an irredeemable loss. Christian Scriptures speak of a loss of innocence and the expulsion from Paradise as the punishment for having tasted the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, the first original sin. What a martial and truly terrifying scenario this is and how fitting to warn people away from the desire to explore and discover and the joy that knowledge can bring. An insidious scenario that almost incidentally sends the message that it was Eve, the woman, who couldn’t resist temptation and whose frailty brought woe into the world.

In actual fact it seems much more likely that this particular awareness was first created by powerful evolutionary forces – whether this happened in a blinding flash or as the result of incremental irreversible change. Human beings arrived at a new level of awareness of the world and their place in it by developing a consciousness of their own existence as something separate from that of the world of nature and the cosmos. Such a realization gave a tremendous thrust of revolutionary transformational power to the course of further development on our planet – and possibly to the development of life far beyond it. Here are where the roots lie of our race as sentient beings who observe, forage, inquire, measure, calculate and prove, beings who experience nature and the cosmos as distinct and separate entities which they believe they can rationally understand and dominate.

This evolutionary leap has always been of fundamental importance for individuals throughout history and continues to be so to the present day. Because awareness of life also brings with it awareness of death – the certainty that at some inevitable point your life will reach its end. At least your physical life on this earth as the individual person you are at this point in time. Death entered human consciousness and became the major marker against which the feeling for life could be measured.

What could it have been like before this transformation took place and human consciousness was born? Living from one day to the next, gathering and hunting what you needed in a simple world of the continuous present without knowledge and awareness of your own mortality? Is this the memory of paradise that has remained in the sedimentary folds of our sub-consciousness as an unfulfillable yearning of which we still dream today? Or is it life without end in itself that we yearn for when we now dream of paradise?