Mircea Eliade on Religion

Topics: Religion, God, Supernatural Pages: 5 (1830 words) Published: November 28, 2011
Mircea Eliade On Religion
Several people find Mircea Eliade’s view on religion similar to Emile Durkheim’s, but in truth, it is similar to Tylor and Frazer’s. One of Eliade’s major works was The Sacred and the Profane. In his writings he explains that his understanding of religion are two concepts: the sacred and the profane. The profane consists of things that are ordinary, random, and unimportant, while the sacred is the opposite. The sacred “is the sphere of supernatural, of things extraordinary, memorable, and momentous” (Pals 199). When Durkheim mentioned the sacred and the profane, he was concerned about society and its needs. In Eliade’s view, the concern of religion is with the supernatural. To Eliade, the profane doesn’t hold as much meaning as the sacred. He describes profane as vanishing and fragile, while the sacred as eternal and full of substance. He does not try to explain away religion and reject all reductionist efforts. Eliade only focuses on “timeless forms.” He says they reoccur in religions all over the world, but he ignores their specific context and dismisses them as irrelevant. He also ties religion to archaic people whom he defines as, “those who have lived in the world of nature,” (Pals 198) or those who have hunted, fished, and farmed routinely. Archaic people want to live life in the model of the divine because they have a deep longing for paradise, and to be close to God. Also, Eliade is an admirer of how myths tell the stories of not only gods but also on the struggles of life. He says that humanity is forming a new belief system in which the belief is of whether or not there really is a God. Eliade states that because of this theory, we must learn to live without the sacred. Eliade certainly has an interesting approach on religion.

Eliade certainly had an interesting approach to religion He almost made it important to clarify that there are two different planes of life, the profane which is the ordinary and often chaotic part of daily life and the sacred which is the supernatural and extraordinary which consists of order and perfection. If we think about certain tribes, even to this day we can still see the same traits. They go about their day routinely and separate this from the sacred or the holy. He agrees with Rudolf Otto saying that people having encounters with divine beings makes one feel inferior to the supernatural or as he said, “…. Feel that they themselves are nothing, no more than “dust and ashes” as the Bible puts it…” This to me makes a lot of sense because knowing and experiencing something that you cannot really explain can take a psychological toll on you. That is why archaic people felt inferior and emotionally distraught.  

I do like how he said that we have a yearning for returning to perfection or going home and home is with the sacred and a spiritual world. This feeling is the biggest heartfelt ache in the soul for archaic peoples. The oral traditions provide a spiritual connection with the gods and nature as well. Eliade wanted people to know that he felt that no other symbol of divine life and the savior-god is the one who suffered as a human, Jesus Christ.  

He then continues in saying that now, I was kind of thrown off by this because not everyone is going to follow the same type of theism. It would be quite difficult for archaic people (who are usually in secluded parts of jungles or even deserts) to understand this because they have not fallen or grown to the modernizations of society. I believe that with the world becoming more science oriented we are really pushing out ideas of any possible divinity. He says that modern forms of rituals or religions are sports. Now days I can see why he related these two. For any sports fan, you know that you idolize the talent on the field of play. People really do make sports their obsession.  

Overall I think he made some pretty good points but I’m not too sure if I like what he had to say. He does provide an...
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