Thursday 15 September 2022

Our memories of paradise...

The paradise-imago - or myth, or story - is the symbol par excellence

I imagine that is why it is so universal and why it has so many ramifying significances. 

Paradise is the symbol of symbols; because it symbolizes, not so much any single non-physical archetype, but non-physical existence in general - non-physical existence as such

You will never understand symbols until you have grasped that pre-historic man in his unconscious goes back - not to the animal kingdom, as the nineteenth century fondly imagined - but to a paradisal state where there was no death; because there was no matter.

Edited from page 124 of Worlds Apart by Owen Barfield (1963)

This passage, put into the mouth of "Sanderson", describes a key assumption of Owen Barfield's metaphysics - which he derived from Rudolf Steiner and which I learned from him; which is an inversion of the usual assumption that matter precedes spirit. Barfield instead regards matter as 'condensing' from spirit; as a 'concentrated' form of spirit. 

And Barfield also assumes that we (and all physical Beings) all existed as spirit, before we incarnated - before we transformed into bodies. This is part of Mormon theology (thus preceding Steiner). 

In this mortal incarnation; bodies bring death - and indeed this physical world is a world of death (of entropy). 

But we have memories of having lived in a past world without death - a world of spirit: we have memories of 'paradise', and these are widely manifested in many symbols, myths, and nostalgia for a Golden Age. 

And Christians have faith in the hope of living in a future world without death; which is a world of resurrection. A world where we (and other Beings) are incarnated in bodies that do Not die: bodies and physical forms that are everlasting, immortal, eternal.  


ben said...

Knowledge of Good and evil as incarnate men is maybe the main point of incarnation in this world, but leaving the garden was assumed to be a negative, and the devil is cast as a tempter to replace God as the bringer of development in the story.

No wonder, if many people have gone from immersion in the awareness of a loving, massively Good being, to mortal life with its greater evil and distance from God.

But its an atavistic craving, not the real deal. Which I imagine is inter alia an even greater degree of solidification, made viable by the absence of evil in Heaven.

By the way, I would think of spirithood as not non-physical, but less physical. God brought the offer of greater concentration, not a completely novel state of material existence, but a *more* material state.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ben - I don't find it hard to realise why quite a lot of people seem to have this 'atavistic' desire to revert to the immersive bliss of the spirit state - but strictly it means that this mortal life is a miserable waste of time; and anyway is not possible (since we have already transformed): but only a delusional simulacrum of it (which, nonetheless, God may allow to those who sincerely want it).

God's hope for us is that we work toward becoming like him - loving creative agents; and this mortal life is a necessary step towards that - as evidenced by the path taken by Jesus Christ.

Alexeyprofi said...

How are memories of a pre-embodied state of being possible? This would mean that consciousness is somehow different from the brain, because the brain is material and cannot remember anything but this life experience. I watch the channel "Mathematical Metaphysics", the author explains CTMU in a video. He says that before incarnation, we see the probabilities of certain life events, relationships, and the like, and we negotiate with other spirits. Therefore, when we meet another person, we already knew that this could happen even before birth. And I was wondering if it was possible to access these memories, and I came to a negative conclusion.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ap - Well, if the memories are real, then they are possible - and the difficulties in explaining 'how' are metaphysical.

The difficulties in devising an explanation arise because we moderns have absorbed assumptions (concerning the basic nature of reality) that make such memories impossible.

Another example is free will - which is something we experience but which modern people cannot explain, therefore deny. Real-objective morality is another such.

This is why we all need to discover and explicate our our basic assumptions; and seek others that *are* able to explain such experiences.