Paradise

Paradise is a religious term for a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the supposed miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and idleness. Paradise is often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, in contrast to Hell.

Paradisaical notions are cross-cultural, often laden with pastoral imagery, and may be cosmogonical or eschatological or both. In eschatological contexts, paradise is imagined as an abode of the virtuous dead. In Christian and Islamic understanding, Heaven is a paradisaical relief, evident for example in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus tells a penitent criminal crucified alongside him that they will be together in paradise. In old Egyptian beliefs, the otherworld is Aaru, the reed-fields of ideal hunting and fishing grounds where the dead lived after judgment. For the Celts, it was the Fortunate Isle of Mag Mell. For the classical Greeks, the Elysian fields was a paradisaical land of plenty where the heroic and righteous dead hoped to spend eternity. In the eastern religions there is no concept of a heaven. The Vedic Indians as well as Buddhist, Sikh and Jain teachings held that the physical body was destroyed but soul can may re-united with the Universe in a state of bliss without any re-births, upon reaching self-enlightenment. In the Zoroastrian Avesta, the "Best Existence" and the "House of Song" are places of the righteous dead. On the other hand, in cosmological contexts 'paradise' describes the world before it was tainted by evil. So for example, the Abrahamic faiths associate paradise with the Garden of Eden, that is, the perfect state of the world prior to the fall from grace, and the perfect state that will be restored in the World to Come.

The concept is a topos' in art and literature, particularly of the pre-Enlightenment era, a well-known representative of which is John Milton's Paradise Lost. A paradise should not be confused with a utopia, which is an alternative society.

Read more about Paradise:  Etymology and Semasiology

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Famous quotes containing the word paradise:

    To lose sensibility, to see what one sees,
    As if sight had not its own miraculous thrift,
    To hear only what one hears, one meaning alone,
    As if the paradise of meaning ceased
    To be paradise, it is this to be destitute.
    Wallace Stevens (1879–1955)

    I should have no use for a paradise in which I should be deprived of the right to prefer hell.
    Jean Rostand (1894–1977)

    Only add
    Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith;
    Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,
    By name to come called charity, the soul
    Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loath
    To leave this Paradise; but shalt possess
    A paradise within thee, happier far.
    John Milton (1608–1674)