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PARADISE REGAINED

Here's a statistic: There are more African Americans behind bars today than there were slaves in 1850. That's crazy. Has the emancipation proclamation gotten us anywhere or has the monster merely changed its shape?

My question is, what about us honkies? (I consider myself Afro, since I am descended from the first man who they tell me was born in Africa, but I'll include myself among you Europeans, the only ones who read this, for empathy's sake - or is it sympathy? I always get those two terms confused.) Is the life you lead anything more than comfortable servitude? Do you like what you do for a living, or is it burdensome and laborious and engaged in perforce - because you have to, to pay bills or feel useful or merely because your bitch nags you or to get out of your own head?

The Genesis story about Adam and Eve is pertinent here. God created the first couple, Adam from the Earth, Eve from Adam's rib, and they lived in harmony with nature, husbanding the animals and enjoying all the fruits and vegetables they desired. What an idyllic life! Then came Satan, and that cursed tree, you know the one: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God forbade Adam and Eve to eat of said tree, or else they would die. Tempted by Satan, who said by eating from the tree Eve could become like God, Eve tasted of the fruit. Then she shared some with her pal, and Adam ate.

You probably know how it turns out. They were conscious of their nakedness and banished from Eden, where they would toil among the brambles, give birth to children in pain, suffer disease, and die.

My question: Can't we return to the Garden? Hasn't this exile been long enough. Christ came and "died for our sins." That was 2000 years ago. We are still wearing clothes, eating burgers and working as cashiers and janitors. Help!

Milton wrote Paradise Lost. How about we live his Paradise Regained? What does the tree symbolize? What is good and evil? Is it not duality? Does not the desire to be like God symbolize the ego and the vanity of humanity in attempting like the technologists to develop a supercomputer which knows everything and which can be downloaded into us, or we into it? If you're not familiar with the subject of the Singularity, read Kurzweil. On second thought don't, unless you become like that first couple and know your nakedness, cover it, give birth in pain, toil laboriously, suffer, become ill, and croak. But alas, you are already doing some of these things. Me too. It's called the human condition. But it doesn't have to be.

Returning to paradise does not have to mean traveling to some luxuriant geographical location where fruit grows free on trees. I've been to Hawaii. It's humid, the locals hate tourists, and the plane ride is a real drag. Regaining paradise can happen with you sitting on your couch. It means taming the ego which seeks to gratify itself with more (fill in the blank: knowledge, possessions, power, fame, etc.). More, more always more, says the lower self! Knowledge is never wisdom. And besides, the knowledge of good and evil is false knowledge. Because there is no good and evil ("but thinking makes it so" - that's Shakespeare). All is one. And when you stop differentiating and see God in all things, listen to God's voice resound in your heart of hearts, you have re-entered Eden and can make friends with the wild animals, rather than hunt them, enjoy fresh food rather than that sugared cardboard you call breakfast cereal, work at something that you really love, which is more like play than work, or Bridges' worlay. And you can toss the fig leaf or whatever you happen to be wearing to conceal your genitals - just be prepared to raise a brow or too. When it comes to change, society can be slow to change.

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