New Thought Editorials > Paradise Enow
It was just too tempting to resist. Nearly every speaker at the recent Congress held in Paradise Valley, Arizona had to ask the audience, "Are we in Paradise?", and get greeted by an overwhelming "YES!", accompanied by laughter. But there was a certain genuineness to it, far more than the customary banter between speaker and audience. There were "loaves of bread" and "jugs of wine" aplenty, and a well-manicured golf course ringed by those ruggedly beautiful brown Arizona mountain peaks to represent "wilderness," not to mention an abundance of "Thous" beside me singing in it, accompanied by an outstanding array of musicians. Beautiful sights and sounds, tastes and feelings. Exquisite food and service from a first-class hotel. If Paradise is a state of mind as well as a valley outside of Phoenix, we were unquestionably in it, both ways. And nobody was a stranger in Paradise for more than thirty seconds after arrival, greeted as we were with comfort and cookies still warm from the oven. Who cared if it was 110 degrees outside? We were in Paradise, and we belonged there. Eat your heart out, Omar Khayyam!
The very repetition of the "Paradise now" message tended to make it stick. The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary defines paradise as "pleasure grounds, Elysium, region of surpassing beauty, Garden of Eden." It continues, "It is a place in which all the elemental forces of Being are at the disposal of the soul that believes in the supremacy of the good." Only when we in our Adam and Eve states of mind—body and soul, intellect and feeling natures—eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil do we leave Paradise, ejected by our own free-will choice to concentrate on something other than the good. "If we entertain both good and evil thoughts, trouble will come to us," wrote New Thought minister Emmet Fox. "The trouble lies in the mixed fruit. It is the mixture of good and evil in our thinking that brings about our downfall." But the flaming sword and the cherubim guard the tree of life, not the way back into the garden. We can go back to Paradise by turning our attention to the good, by recalling what it was like to be in that state of peace. It doesn’t have to be some time in the future, unless we say that it does. We can have Paradise now or keep ourselves out of it, based on what we choose, consciously or unconsciously, habitually. Do we choose the Paradise consciousness and keep choosing it long enough for it to manifest in our lives?
"The world thinks," Fox continues, "that by analyzing evil, studying it, filling our minds with it, we shall obtain power over it . . . Of course, the opposite is the truth. The only way to overcome evil is to refuse to touch it mentally—or, if we have already done so, to un-know it." Those of us who spent a week in Paradise could easily have spent a week in Gehenna by concentrating on the outside temperature! Instead, we rejoiced in the air conditioning, stepping out into the blast-furnace heat now and then to enjoy the contrast. We "lifted our eyes unto the hills" as we enjoyed a cooked-to-order breakfast or dinner in the lovely dining room overlooking the golf course, where "mad dogs and Englishmen" teed off, indifferent to the thermometer reading. We could have stewed over the problems we had left back home and missed the joy of communing with infrequently-seen friends, or laughing over a good story, or being carried away by the beauty of a singer’s new interpretation of an old favorite. We could have remained stuck in our old beliefs, instead of opening our minds and hearts to new, fresh ideas. We would have had our knowledge of good and evil, our worldly-wise preparedness. But we would have missed Paradise now. "Eating the forbidden fruit—believing in limitation—is the fall of man, and by it we are driven out of Paradise and must remain outside until the false belief is relinquished. The law of harmony prevents the holder of a false belief from getting into Paradise, no matter from what direction he may try." But, as Paul reminds us, "we have the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16). The Christ-mind, also known as God’s initial aim, is available to us in each moment. Fox concludes, "Adam and Eve drove themselves our of Paradise through accepting fear and doubt, but Christ reopens that eastern gate and restores them." "Paradise enow" was at the Congress, and Paradise now is available as well, if we turn our attention to the good and say yes to God’s perfect possibilities.