‘Where are you?’ is the first question that is asked in the Bible (Gen. 3:9). This seems a remarkable beginning. The First Landscaper has just laid out a heavenly garden with all the trimmings and decides to start an experiment in it called human being. Would he forget the place of such a fragile and new experiment in his own garden and suddenly not know where Adam and Eve are?
I once laid out a garden myself. When the job is done, you know perfectly well where everything is! In the places in the garden where you have hidden some seeds, you even put a card in the ground to remember that place. The latter also in case someone else would think that where nothing can be seen nothing is alive.
The Garden of Eden’s Landscaper does not ask who you are or why you are here, he asks where you are. Perhaps, he didn’t want to know where Adam and Eve were in the literal sense. Otherwise, Adam would surely have shouted: ‘We’re here!’ But that is not Adam’s answer.
‘Where are you?’ is not only the first question, but may also be the most important question. When you realise where you are, you don’t have to think very long about why you are there and what you have to do. Just try it when you are, for example, in the supermarket.
The echo of this first question still reverberates via social media. When I put my ear to the ground while travelling in bus or train, I fancy myself among gardeners in a modern-day Garden of Eden. A mobile phone rings, somebody answers the phone, listens and asks: ‘Where are you?’. Several times a day we answer to this first and foremost question. If you have activated your ‘show location’ button, you can let everybody know where you are all the time. Just as a drop of water doesn’t excavate a stone with force, but by continuous falling (as Ovid once wrote), we might, through the perpetual confrontation with this first question, start to realise where we are.
Looking at this question in this way, we live in a heyday of spiritual geography. Everything is a question of place. Where are you in relation to yourself, to the other and most of all, where are you in relation to the world? Where are you in your imagination and where are you in ethical and spiritual sense? It is indeed only this one question in countless disguises, over and over again. You cannot find the answer to this question; you can only give your answer. In fact, every time you dare to give your answer to this timeless question, you are in your place.
Diederik van Rossum is a renowned psychosynthesis teacher and clinical psychologist.
He is the director of the Dutch Institute of Psychosynthesis.
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