The Garden of Afflictions:

My book (The Garden of Afflictions, 1995) starts by talking about the Garden of Epicurus, the garden of delights, and ends with a discussion about the modern state, totalitarianism, genocide, and things like that. Now, how does one topic end up becoming those others? What is the guiding thread throughout all that? We start with the Garden of Epicurus, which is a place where the Greek philosopher used to meet with his disciples, usually people from the upper class who fled the word in order to meditate.

Their meditation, however, consisted in ignoring the world and taking refuge in the world of their own thoughts. This topic of living in a world of thought makes us go further back to another garden, the Garden of Eden, where the serpent tempted Adam and Even with a proposal that is somewhat similar to that of Epicurus: they should abandon the Tree of Life and embrace the Tree of Knowledge (which is obviously a purely mental reality) because if they did that, they would become like God.

Now, they had already been made after the image and likeness of God, which means they were already like God. After the Fall, they were expelled from Paradise, and that was the beginning of the civilizational process. Before the Fall, where was Adam and Eve’s home? The whole universe was their home. In the next stage, with the civilizational process going on, there was already the idea of isolating, controlling, and managing things.

The salvation of mankind came to depend on things being controlled by someone, and since then all the control attempts have always ended up badly, in endless wars, revolutions, genocide, disillusionment, and disappointment. This succession of countless crimes and sins makes us think of a third garden: the Garden of Gethsemane. There, all the sin, crime, bloodshed, and universal evil were concentrated on the back of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, in short, this is the path that has been followed by mankind: to live in a world of thought, to reject the presence of the real universe, and to seek to live in an artificially constructed world. This is also, in the end, the origin of all evil, which is the main theme of my book, where I explain how Epicurus’ Garden of Delights become the Garden of Afflictions.” (Olavo de Carvalho)

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