Paradise Found

Paradise Found

I have a beaten up copy of The Norton Anthology of Poetry which I treasure, it must be about 20 years old and I have found reliable refuge between its well thumbed pages during numerous dark nights. In Miltons epic poem Paradise Lost, we encounter Adam and Eve’s traumatic expulsion from the Nirvanic garden of Eden. It occurred to me, while re-reading it recently, that the ultimate rejection of the lovers from this idyllic paradise may in fact have been a quite a good thing. Let me elaborate…

There are few things as distressing to humans as entering into what often feels like mortal combat with those we love. It never ceases to amaze me how someone we have shared our deepest secrets or most pinnacle life experiences with, can instantly transform into a raging, fanged, horned beast who , at times, can appear to threaten our very selfhood. During these raging conflicts, our antiquated defenses rush to our aid and very often, in an attempt to protect the ego, inflict grievous injuries not only on our partners but ultimately, on ourselves.

Barbed words are expertly wielded to penetrate through the toughest defenses our lover can muster in an effort to make them feel the pain we too are experiencing. A predictably destructive spiral of recrimination ensues, during which both parties lose. So, what I hear you say, could possibly be the upside to this agonizing exit from the Edenic state many of us aspire to in relationship?

Perhaps this expulsion, this separation from the intimate, tranquil, resonant space, echoes the separations we have all encountered in various ways, the progressive separation from the Cosmic Soul, from our mothers, our parents, our home, our friends, jobs, lovers…eventually we are forced to separate out from life itself… as everyone before us has had to. Perhaps these ruptures in the relational field are merely practice, a reminder that while we constantly seek Union, essentially we are here on our own…and that’s ok.

Not only do separations teach us to be more than that we project onto others, they teach us to cultivate our own resources, to trust that we will survive in a bewildering world and finally, they offer us an opportunity to connect with our core essence in a very profound way, which ultimately enlarges our capacity for true, loving Union.

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