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oldmeadow_youngandeliade.pdf

oldmeadow_youngandeliade.pdf

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Published by: R.s. Warts on Oct 26, 2013
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C.G. JUNG & MIRCEA ELIADE:C.G. JUNG & MIRCEA ELIADE:C.G. JUNG & MIRCEA ELIADE:C.G. JUNG & MIRCEA ELIADE:C.G. JUNG & MIRCEA ELIADE:PRIESTSPRIESTSPRIESTSPRIESTSPRIESTSWITHOUTWITHOUTWITHOUTWITHOUTWITHOUTSURPLICESSURPLICESSURPLICESSURPLICESSURPLICES?????Reflections on theReflections on theReflections on theReflections on theReflections on thePlace of Myth, Religion and Science inPlace of Myth, Religion and Science inPlace of Myth, Religion and Science inPlace of Myth, Religion and Science inPlace of Myth, Religion and Science inTheirTheirTheirTheirTheirWoWoWoWoWorkrkrkrkrk
*****
 Harry Oldmeadow 
The decisive question for man is: Is he related to somethinginfinite or not? That is the telling question of his life.Carl Jung
1
.the history of religions reaches down and makes contact with thatwhich is essentially human: the relation of man to the sacred. Thehistory of religions can play an extremely important role in thecrisis we are living through. The crises of modern man are to alarge extent
religious 
ones, insofar as they are an awakening of hisawareness to an absence of meaning.Mircea Eliade
2
...the scientific pursuit of religion puts the saddle on the wronghorse, since it is the domain of religion to evaluate science, and notvice verse.Whitall Perry
3
1.1.1.1.1.TheTheTheTheTheLife andLife andLife andLife andLife andWoWoWoWoWork of Mircea Eliaderk of Mircea Eliaderk of Mircea Eliaderk of Mircea Eliaderk of Mircea Eliade
The academic study of religion over the last half-centuryhas been massively influenced by the work of Mircea Eliade.His scholarly
oeuvre 
is formidable indeed, ranging fromhighly specialized monographs to his encyclopedic andmagisterial
 A History of Religious Ideas 
, written in threevolumes over the last decade of his life.
4
He was recognizedthroughout the world, elected to many different Academies,
 
showered with honours. Eliade’s erudition was imposing: hisown library ran to something over 100,000 volumes and hewas certainly not one to buy books for decorative purposes.(I’m told that it is possible in America to buy books by theyard and by colour!) Looking back we get a sense, as we dowith Carl Jung, of a life of intellectual heroism, of indefati-gable labours and prodigious output. Both Jung and Eliadewere pioneers who changed, respectively, the theoreticallandscapes of psychology and comparative religion.Eliade’s attitude to autobiography was much less ambiva-lent than Jung’s and we have to hand four volumes of personal journals and a two-volumed autobiography. Withthe journals particularly, one sometimes shares the senti-ments of the schoolboy who opened his review of a book onelephants with the words, ‘This book told me more than Iwanted to know about elephants.’ Eliade was born in Roma-nia in 1907 and died in Chicago in 1986. His Romaniannationality was a decisive factor in his life and work; froman early age he felt he had one foot in the Occident, the otherin the Orient, reflected in the title of the first volume of hisautobiography
Journey East, Journey West 
. He developed anearly interest in folklore, mythology and religion, and learntEnglish in order to read Max Muller and J.G. Frazer. Atuniversity he mastered Hebrew, Persian and Italian andembarked on a postgraduate study of the influence of Hermeticism and the Kabbalah on Italian Renaissancephilosophy. Whilst visiting Italy he read Dasgupta’s famouswork 
The History of Indian Philosophy 
. So deeply affected
 
was he by this work that he soon left for Calcutta to studyIndian philosophy and spirituality under Dasgupta. InCalcutta he immersed himself in Sanskrit and classicalIndian philosophy, and developed an interest in the psycho-spiritual disciplines of yoga and tantra. He spent six monthsat the holy city of Rishikesh, at the foot of the Himalayas,under the guidance of Swami Shivananda. After more thanthree years in the sub-continent he returned to Romaniawhere he took up teaching and writing. Apart from a shad-owy interlude during the war when he carried out diplomaticwork in Lisbon, Eliade devoted the rest of his life to writingand teaching about religious phenomena. After the Sovietseizure of Romania he settled in Paris and over the nextdecade moved from one temporary post to another, living arather hand-to-mouth existence. The Communist takeover of Romania left him in an exile that was to be permanent. Hiswork was denounced in Romania itself as being
obscuran-tist
,
mystic
and
fascist
.
5
(Decoded these words mightsignify an interest in the past and in religion, and a hostilityto Communist totalitarianism.) In the late 40s and early 50she produced several works which quickly established hisinternational reputation:
Patterns in Comparative Religion,The Myth of the Eternal Return, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy 
and
Yoga: Immortality and Freedom 
.In 1956 Eliade was invited to the University of Chicago as avisiting professor. He was to remain there for the rest of hislife. When he took up a chair in the History of Religions atChicago it was one of very few such chairs; within 15 years

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