Seeking The Garden Of Eden

by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna


In their quest for a relationship that will fulfill them, many men are driven
by an unquenchable thirst to return to the Garden of Eden.

Nothing less will do. When a situation falls short of that, these men have
no choice but to say good-bye. Some say these men are lost in dreams,
that long ago we were expelled from the Garden of Eden and can never
hope to return. Others have had an experience of returning, of finding a
soul mate and tasting blissful reunion, oneness and delight at just
being alive. These individuals can then spend the rest of their lives
seeking this peak experience again, longing to be planted in their
original home, back in the Garden once again.

Manuel, a beautiful, slender, intense man in his late thirties , has spent
most of his time in relationships with women seeking this state of
oneness. He sought unconditional love from every woman he met and
was even granted a taste of it, for a short time, with his second wife,
Carmella. "Carmella was Colombian, a very beautiful, temperamental,
manic-depressive woman. When I saw her in her manic phase we had
the best time – even sexually, it was amazing. But then she would
change suddenly. She would be looking at me in a very critical, morbid
way, as if a dark shadow was there, a cold wind blowing from her. It was
particularly upsetting too, because the day before she was believably
exciting and then I wanted to unite with her completely.”

This sense of being madly in love, high, ecstatic, and then a sudden
separation, kept Manuel tied to this intoxicating woman. Finally, the two
of them went on a trip together to Europe and North Africa. This exotic
setting was a perfect backdrop for an altered experience of reality, giving
the heightened sense of romance and oneness both of them craved.

“We fell in love on this trip. Carmella was continuously on a high, though
there were times she became depressed and once, in Naples, I found
her sitting on the edge of a hotel room window, about to jump. But most
of the time it was beautiful, and maybe the drama of these sudden falls
and darkness of some days made other days seem more brilliant.”

Manuel experienced being in paradise with Carmella and then being
suddenly expelled from it into hell. The fluctuations and danger of losing
their ecstasy made the time in Eden all the more precious. The danger
provided more challenge as well.

“We spent most of our time in bathtubs and hotel rooms. We were in
love with the whole world, but mostly with each other. We both had
wings, we were so united. Then suddenly I became depressed. After
months of this bliss I realized it was over. It just happened suddenly. I
couldn’t sustain this peak.”

For a period of time the small ego and sense of separate self had been
gone for both of them. They had merged into one another and the
experience of love. This time of great exaltation and oneness could not
be sustained without uniting not only with each other, but with the
“Absolute.” Regarding this condition, the Sufi in the Company of Friends
says: “Only the Beloved has the key to the inner door of the heart which
connects the soul with God. Opening this door, He activates the heart of
hearts with the energy of his call.”

Unless we open the door of the soul, sooner or later we are forced to
leave the Garden of Eden and stand as a separate individual in the
everyday world. The despair of leaving, of separation, can be enormous,
especially after feeling such all-encompassing love.

“We ran out of money, too,” said Manuel. “We had been on a high and I
knew I had to keep moving. I felt if I stayed something would get me. And
so I kept running away from something. From depression. Because I
was on the move, the depression didn’t get me.”

Manuel had projected his own feelings of despair onto a force outside
himself that he had to continuously run from. Of course, when his own
feelings became strong enough, nothing would be able to distract him
from them anymore. Some run from depression into the arms of love,
feeling that this will prevent them from having to come face-to-face with
what is going on inside. But it never will in the long run. Manuel’s
experience of being in love must be differentiated from “doing love,”
which in many ways is the exact opposite and involves moment-to-
moment acceptance and recognition of where we are now, who we are
with, of each moment as it arises. “Doing love,” includes the ability to be
just where you are, taste life as it is, and, as God did in the Bible, declare
everything Good.

“After the joy ended,” Manuel continued, “everything became grey. We
went back to Paris and stayed in the same hotel we were happy in
before, just to recapture that experience. But the more you try to
recapture it, the more forced and fake it becomes.”

Once the original bliss is tasted, a person can spend his or her entire
life trying to get that experience back. But, the more you chase it, the
further away it flies. Nothing can be recaptured or possessed. We can
only say thank you and move ahead towards a fresh experience of now.

For Manuel, falling in love and experiencing what felt like a return to the
Garden of Eden with his partner did not mean that either of them knew
each other or themselves or understood the true nature of love. In a
sense, their experience of love was counterfeit. It brought not happiness,
but despair and discontent, in its wake.

Manuel craved a sense of oneness almost as one craves a drug.
Pursuit of the high ultimately became an escape from what he was
feeling about himself, his depression; it became an avoidance of
everyday life. It was a demand that life be other than it is. When he
realized that, not matter how exalted he felt, reality remained to be dealt
with, depression set in. Ecstatic love that is not based upon knowing the
other can quickly turn to rage when needs are not met.

It can be said that man has to leave the Garden of Eden in order to learn
how to really love and thereby find his true way back. The process of
returning itself teaches us the truth.

Manuel said, “I feel like I still haven’t found the woman in my life. I’m
always keeping my eyes open for that ultimate person, the soul mate.”

A danger exists in thinking that once we meet our soul mate we will then
be continually in union and bliss and no longer have to face the reality of
the other person. Even if the perfect soul mate does appear, the human
need remains to communicate clearly and work things through. Both our
uniqueness and oneness are precious. Each soul needs to
communicate who they uniquely are.

When Manuel was asked if he and Carmella ever worked on their
relationship, he said, “No. The love came as a state of grace and then
went away. We didn’t know how to get it back. We were hoping for a state
of grace to bring it back. How do you bring it back? I don’t know.”

Some might say that a state of grace, or taste of heaven, is given to help
two individuals grow. They then have to learn how to talk to each other,
forgive each other and perhaps even sacrifice some personal needs
and wants. No matter how close two are in their spirits, they must
always recognize and respect the differences between them as well.
Real love is being able to accept all moments, not clinging to the
beautiful ones, or dreading moments that are dark or grey. When we can
take all as it comes and be grateful for it, we will arrive at the state
described by the great Zen Master Ummon, who declared that “Every day
is a good day.” The Garden of Eden then is always right where we are.

TOUCHSTONES TO REMEMBER

The Garden of Eden is entered by unconditional acceptance and love,
true communication and real respect for differences as well as
similarities. Don’t confuse being in bliss for being permitted to stay in
the garden. Bliss is an emotional state that does not last. It is often
followed by depression.To remain in the Garden it is necessary to give
up the small, demanding, judging self. We must be willing to see, taste,
and acknowledge life as it is, and find it good.

"Know that when you learn to lose yourself you will reach the Beloved.
There is no other secret to be learned. And more than this is not known
to me."

Comments?
Dr. Shoshanna is a
psychologist, relationship
expert on i.village.com,
speaker, and has run over
500 workshops on all
aspects of relationships
and fulfilling your
potential. She is the
author of many books,
including Zen And The Art
of Falling In Love, (Simon
and Schuster), Why Men
Leave (Putnam), What He
Can’t Tell You And Needs
To Say, (Putnam) and
many others. You can
contact her at
topspeaker@yahoo.com.
Her personal website is:
http://www.
brendashoshanna.com/
Discover the surprising
truths about love that will
save your relationship, by
working with the unique
program in Dr.
Shoshanna’s new e-book
Save Your Relationship
(21 Basic Laws of
Successful
Relationships).
http:
//www.truthaboutlove.com
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