The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion Paperback – Feb 1 2001
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Eliade wastes no time trying to explain or define the experience of the sacred in terms of other disciplines (for instance, the sacred as psychological experience (Campbell) or the sacred as sociological phenomenon (Burkert)). Instead, he examines the sacred as sacred.
Eliade shows how sacred space and sacred time are supremely REAL space and time, permanent and eternal in opposition to the fluid space and time of the profane world. Homo religiosus re-enacts the primordial deeds of the gods in his rites and, indeed (unlike modern man), in all his acts, because only those primordial acts are truly real. Likewise, irruptions of sacred phenomena into profane space create sacred space, space which is created, which is eternal, which is real.
Read this book before undertaking any serious study of comparative religion. Read this book along with other classics about thought. Read this book and consider your own experience of the sacred. But whatever you do, read this book.
The chief point of the book is "to show in what ways religious man attempts to remain as long as possible in a sacred universe, and hence what his total experience of life proves to be in comparison with the experience of the man without religious feeling, of the man who lives, or wishes to live, in a desacralized world."
Eliade begins with hierophany, the event of the sacred manifesting itself to us, the experience of a different order of reality entering human experience. He presents the idea of sacred space, describing how the only "real" space is sacred, surrounded by a formless expanse. Sacred space becomes the point of reference for all other spaces. He finds that people inhabit a midland, between the outer chaos and the inner sacred, which is renewed by sacred ritual and practice. By consecrating a place in the profane world, cosmogony is recapitulated and the sacred made accessible. This becomes the center of the primitive world. Ritual takes place in this sacred space, and becomes a way of participating in the sacred cosmos while reinvigorating the profane world.
Next, Eliade considers sacred time and mythology. While "profane time" is linear, sacred time returns to the beginning, when things were more "real" than they are now.Read more ›
The "Sacred and the Profane" is divided into four chapters dealing with space, time, nature, and man. To these is appended a "Chronological Survey Of the History of Religions as a Branch of Knowledge."
In CHAPTER ONE Eliade explores the "variety of religious experiences of space". Modern man tends to experience all space as the same. He has mathematsized space, homogenizing it by reducing every space to the equivalent of so many units of measurement. What differences there are between places are usually due only to experiences an individual associates with a place not the place itself, e.g. my birthplace, the place I fell in love, etc.
But religious man does not experience space in this way. For him some space is qualitatively different. It is sacred, therefore strong and meaningful. Other space is profane, chaotic, and meaningless.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Years ago, I was assigned this book in one of my university classes. I number it in my most memorable and personally influential works that I have ever read. Read morePublished on April 22 2008 by Tami Brady
This a very interresting book for anyone interrested in religion and the structure that sustaines time . Read morePublished on July 29 2003
Eliade was among the first to realize that our world is in danger. Because our science advances the world but in the same time demolishes it. Read morePublished on March 12 2003
Before Huston Smith, Mircea Eliade was probably THE writer on religion. His writings are deep and beautiful, exploring what is profane and what is sacred particularly through the... Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2001 by Robert Kall
If you are interested in modern religious studies this book might be a must. But if you have a sincere, non-scholarly interest in religion, you might better try something like... Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2000
I first discovered this book in college and it has become one of the most influential pieces of writing in my life. Read morePublished on July 28 2000 by firstname.lastname@example.org
This eminently readable introduction to cross-cultural religious studies is one of the gems of my personal library. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 1999