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

Famous quotes containing the word paradise:

    It is only for a little while, only occasionally, methinks, that we want a garden. Surely a good man need not be at the labor to level a hill for the sake of a prospect, or raise fruits and flowers, and construct floating islands, for the sake of a paradise. He enjoys better prospects than lie behind any hill. Where an angel travels it will be paradise all the way, but where Satan travels it will be burning marl and cinders.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    But ‘twas beyond a mortal’s share
    To wander solitary there:
    Two Paradises ‘twere in one,
    To live in Paradise alone.
    Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)

    A fool’s paradise is a wise man’s hell!
    Thomas Fuller (1608–1661)