“Scientific truth is marvelous, but moral truth is divine and whoever breathes its air and walks by its light has found the lost paradise.” Horace Mann
Paradise is often described as a “higher place”, the holiest place, in contrast to this world, or underworlds such as hell. In paradise there is only prosperity, peace and happiness, but it is not necessarily luxurious.
In the Bible the word paradise is used to describe the Garden of Eden. This garden is a real place where the first human couple, Adam and Eve, lived free of disease and death (Genesis 1:27, 28). Because they disobeyed God, they were expelled from Paradise. However, many Bible prophecies describe a future in which humans will enjoy Paradise if faithful worshippers act in certain ways to gain God´s approval.
Many times the word Paradise is used as a synonym for heaven. It is the place of blessing where the righteous go after death. Some do distinguish between paradise and heaven, like Irenaeus, a Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, who in the 2nd century AD wrote in Against Heresies that only those deemed worthy would go to heaven, while others would enjoy paradise and the rest in Jerusalem. God decides who is worthy to live in heaven.
Others like the early Christian theologian Origen describe paradise as being a place on earth, while heaven is the place where God resides. Paradise prepares the righteous dead for their ascent through the celestial spheres to heaven.
In the Quran paradise is described as a place different to this world with every good thing available to a degree that surpasses our imagination. In paradise all blessings have been created perfectly and people will have everything their souls and hearts desire. They will be far away from anxiety and sadness, sorrow and regret, want and need. God has prepared these blessings as a gift and will be offered only to those with whom he is pleased.
The difference between the delights in this world and those in paradise is that people in this world experience suffering as well. All causes of sorrow, pain and suffering, like unfulfilled desires, difficulties in personal relationships and disease and death, will be absent in paradise. Everybody will live eternally and there will be no hatred and ill-feelings.
In Ancient Greece Elysium or the Elysian fields is a place like paradise where originally heroes who were granted immortality by the gods were sent. Later, it also those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic were included. It was a place where they would continue to live after death, living a blessed and happy life. In Homer’s works Elysium was a land of perfect happiness at the end of the earth, on the banks of the river the Oceanus.
In Hinduism there are two views on heaven. Some say that this earth is both heaven and hell at the same time. It is up to mankind to make the earth a beautiful place through collective responsibility and effort. There is no such thing as sensual pleasures without negative effects. Thus, attainment of sensual pleasures should not be our goal. The ultimate goal in Hinduism is Moksha, the state when an enlightened human being is freed from the cycle of death and rebirth and comes into a state of completeness. He then becomes one with the Supreme Brahman.
In a lifetime people build up good and bad karma, based on their actions within that lifetime. This karma affects their future lives and existences. People must take responsibility for their actions either within this lifetime or the next. Moksha is achieved by overcoming ignorance and desires. Obtaining Moksha a paradox in the sense that overcoming desires also includes overcoming the desire for moksha itself.
1. a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect
2. a place that is perfect for a particular activity or for a person who enjoys that activity
3. a state of complete happiness (source: Merriam Webster).
The English word paradise, Dutch paradijs, Spanish paraíso and Italian paradiso come from from Late Latin paradisus, from Greek παράδεισος (paradeisos), park/paradise, Garden of Eden, from an Iranian source similar to Avestan pairidaeza enclosure/park, from pairi- , around, + diz, to make, form (a wall).
The first element is similar to Greek peri-, around/about, the second is from Proto Indo European root *dheigh-, to form/build (source: etymonline.com)
Paradise in other languages:
Dutch: het paradijs
Spanish: el paraíso
Italian: il paradiso
Picture: ´Adam and Eve in the Earthly Paradise´by Peter Wenzel (1745-1829) in the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani), Vatican City.