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Wilhelm Danca. I start with the discussion about the efforts of the young Eliade to understand what religion means, and about his debt to the friends and teachers he had before World War II. I am convinced that the mystical perspective of Romanian spirituality influenced the researchers of the young Eliade, who wanted to engage Romanian culture in dialog with other, larger cultures.
Looking after the common ground of all religions, Eliade found and improved the concept of natural experience of the sacred. The same things were emphasized when he spoke about Spanish or German mystics.
Homo religious, according to Mircea Eliade, is the mystical human being in his or her natural mode everywhere and from any time. This study has three parts: 1 Romanian mysticism for Nae Ionescu; 2 The primacy of the spiritual for Mircea Eliade; 3 The language of mystical experience. As a historian of religions, Mircea Eliade was formed in the framework of his own time.
It is obvious that his interest in religions must have had to do with the wave of religious renewal that had made itself felt in Western Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and had reached Romania after World War I. At the same time, the effects of the war on Romanian society in the twenties could not fail to impress him. These themes, which circulated in and were taken up again in , reappeared in the writings of historians and politicians who, consciously or unconsciously, cultivated the ambiguity between religious factors Orthodoxy and political ones.
During the entire period between the two world wars, the confusion between religion and politics was axiomatic. He was highly suspicious of the ecumenical openings effected by the Church of England in the early twenties. In this paper I am tracing the genesis of the concept of mysticism for Mircea Eliade against 1 S. The consequence of this attitude of derealization of reality and therefore of self-deception was the political blindness demonstrated by Nae Ionescu, Nichifor Crainic, Emile Cioran, Eliade and many others.
Handoca , vol. Definitio sacri, His point of view was eternal Prelegeri de filosofia religiei That is, it takes religious phenomena out of space and time in order to study them in their own essence and not in their immediate realization, for he treats empirical phenomena as types before he looks at them Prelegeri de filosofia religiei VI VI 56 , through a feeling of brotherhood and a specific conception about love.
As for the mystical manifestations of his time, Nae Ionescu saw them as expressing a desire for something else. In this sense, the way towards Romanian mysticism can only be opened by eliminating Cartesian rationalism, although mysticism is not contrary to true rationalism.
To the students attracted by the ethical dimension of Christianity as preached by the English missionaries Ionescu presented a stern, asocial Christianity, completely oriented towards the hereafter, a metaphysical Christianity that lived only by the liturgical contemplation of an ecstatic God Nae Ionescu For Ionescu, Christian 4 According to M.
Diaconu, Ionescu delivered the following courses of lectures on the philosophy of religion. Finally, it is worth adding that Nae Ionescu was first of all a logician.
The permanent subject of his academic activity was the teaching of logic 5—a philosophic discipline, which is empirical and formal at the same time. For him, experience, that is the direct living of reality, constitutes the fundament of knowledge. But this experience is individual and ineffable. In order to be shared, it has to be formulated and the instrument for this purpose is logic. Although his teaching had a realistic touch, Ionescu thought that the virtual was more full of existence, more real than the actual, that passing from potentiality to action was a loss and not an increase in being.
Nae Ionescu also spoke of an Orthodox logic, in which the fact of knowing would explicitly refer to the Fall and to the Incarnation. In other words, the attempts of the human mind to formulate truth are affected by the Fall of the whole universe and therefore incapable of surpassing its weaknesses without contradiction.
Therefore, the effort of the human mind towards the truth shares in the whole pining of the world for God, while the correction of the mind has more to do with prayer and with the saving work of God than with the natural process of mathematizing rationalization and of moralizing universalization through act, which Descartes, Spinoza and Kant had substituted for holiness.
The same magical perspective is to be found in the new trend of thought prevailing in America and England—in freemasonry, in Rosicrucianism, in the Jewish Kabala, in democracy, in liberal individualism: in short, in all the activities which aim at strengthening the personality, at better defining individuality and which recognize the existence of divine forces in cosmic reality.
For Mircea Eliade, magical beliefs represent a stage in the evolution of human spirit and they coexist or survive alongside religious beliefs. Their existence is confirmed by metapsychic research.
Alchemy was a mystical operation, a therapeutic for perfecting the human individual, while magic was a technique for transforming reality external to the individual. Therefore, alchemy differs from magic. In this field what interests him are the occult faculties, which are put to use by theosophy.
While through rationalistic means we seize the exterior, formal aspect of things by means of our senses , through occult means we can get into contact with reality directly without the help of our senses. Eliade points out that theosophy should not be confused with the Theosophical Society founded by Blavatski and Olcott.
Last but not least, Eliade distinguishes between the inferior forms of manifestations of mysticism in magic and occult sciences and true mystical experience. In the first case one speaks of the so-called every-day irrationalism, that is, of the metapsychic phenomena, which assert the possibility of religion as a self-sufficient reality, while mystical experience, the functional actualization of religious reality, is the only effective one.
Thus religion—but not the essence of mysticism—can be attained following roundabout ways: reason, metaphysics, logic, metapsychics. After his Indian experience, Eliade insists even more upon the role of consciousness. The use of the word morals in this text shows that Eliade did not want to separate morals from religion as the Renaissance had done.
For him, morality is not lay, an active morality is a religious one, it is the actuation of spiritual values and urges. According to Maine de Biran, it is possible to sustain a phenomenology of the concrete human being, divided into three parts: animal life, human life, spiritual life. Accepting the spiritual life, which surpasses human life, Maine de Biran explores the value of interior experience concerning the problem of cognition.
Maine de Biran attempted to maintain an equal distance between ontologism and psychologism. To work on consciousness means to get into direct contact with life, to remain in the concrete. Eliade also shows that the history of the matrixes of Yoga is the history of the conflict between mystic and asceticism, between contemplation and meditation.
In fact, the conflict between the magic structure and the mystical structure, between asceticism and prayer, between meditation and contemplation is a permanent conflict of human spirituality cf.
Thus, for Eliade, the term mystical has multivalent significations and therefore it is analogical, but it always refers to transcendence, to something beyond. Mystical forms can be divided into impure and pure ones. The former are inferior because they reflect a magical, self- centered attitude: alchemy, theosophy, anthroposophy, occult sciences in general, Yoga techniques.
The pure forms mirror a theocentric attitude and they express the natural necessity of the consciousness to have a relationship with the divine. We do not know an outside reality by means of our rational faculties, but we feel God, we melt into a being that transcends our senses.
Mystical experience turns the subject who lives it into an actual presence. However, this living does not mean simply to let oneself be carried away by the equilibrium of life, which are always variable, contingent and therefore limited. When you let yourself be carried away, you no longer live, but are lived, at random. Davy, Enciclopedia doctrinelor mistice , vol.
The formula in itself does not contain the religious fact, but if, starting from the formula, one imposes a religious attitude upon oneself, one makes the same experience. Among these formulae, Eliade prefers the symbol because it is something more than a sign of reality: it is its essence. Therefore, through the symbol, the consciousness that knows identifies itself with the object to be known.
Through this integration into the transcendent, into the whole, one becomes truly free. He can really know human life. He can become complete. In this case, love means loss of self and living in God alone. If here love is a self-effacement in the divine, contemplation is a spiritual exercise, an instrument of knowledge through which humanity gets to know certain realities beyond his senses. It reflects itself in the usual consciousness, transfigures it, gives it a different structure.
The ineffable character of mystical experience is noticeable also in the way humanity has envisioned God, as a totality of attributes, as a sum in which all contraries coincide. How can this merging between the human and the divine be achieved, be it only for a single moment? Obviously, this rupture of plane occurs according to certain norms, rituals, which are mythical or metaphysical. However, the archaic theory of the archetype and of participation comes near the platonic theory of Ideas, and Plato, the Pythagoreans and Aristotle have neglected to state what such a participation or imitation actually consists in.
In the West, except for the Spanish mystics, religious experience takes place outside the theological divine and becomes psychism, vitalism, moralism, Christian science, Gidism, religious pragmatism, theosophy etc. Plato, Parmenides, e; Aristotle, Metaphysics, b His act of adoration has always been profoundly religious, even if its object was not divine.
We are interested in the act of adoration itself—that is, in the act of total surrender of man before an invisible power, his act of subordinating himself to a divinity. It is out of this act of subordination that prayer was born. The term mystical has an analogical meaning and mainly refers to the search for the divinity or for what one identified as divine. In its pure or impure forms, mysticism always implies the experience of an unspeakable link with what lies beyond, with the transcendent.
At the same time, it reflects a spiritual attitude and a particular mentality, historically and anthropologically important. Being a fact of life, mysticism cannot be understood without the concepts of experience and symbol, the latter having a function of communication.
Within mystical experience, Eliade lays stress upon the consciousness of the religious subject, upon the individual character of the relationship between humanity and divinity, leaving aside the problem of the irruption of ultimate sense in human consciousness. That is why he says that the final expression of mysticism is prayer. But Mircea Eliade did not distinguish between mysticism and magic as did Ionescu.
For Ionescu, mysticism has a theocentric character, while magic is egocentric. For Eliade, religious beliefs coexist in humanity; thus he gives to understand that there is a common tradition shared by the whole of mankind. However, his relationship with the environment of his formation and with his own Christian tradition remains constant and has grown deeper. From the Oriental Christian doctrine of Platonic-Augustinian-Dionysian inspiration, he excerpts a few elements that are characteristic of the mystical, religious mentality and with their help he considers other beliefs and spiritual techniques that are not Christian.
The theory of the archetype and of the symbol, the rupture of plane, the coincidence of opposites, the ineffable subjective aspect of religious experience are some of the elements with which Eliade wants to demonstrate that everywhere the supreme experience of human consciousness is the experience of seeking God.
Mircea Eliade bibliography