11/15/15Quiz 3 Quiz 3: Question 1Mircea Eliade was born March 9, 1907 in Bucharest Romania. Between the years 1925-1928 Eliade attended the University of Bucharest to study philosophy. He then went to Calcutta to study under a philosopher named Surendranath Dasgupta .He finally returned to the University of Bucharest in 1932 and submitted his analysis of Yoga as his doctoral thesis. In 1958 he was appointed the chair of the History of Religion department at the University of Chicago. He remained at this position until he died in 1986. In 1954 Eliade writes In Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return and tries to distinguish religious humanity and non-religious humanity. He says that religious humanity is the people who perceive time as heterogeneous. He says they perceive time as sacred and profane. Eliade is trying to say these people create religion and things associated with it, like all the religious myths and rituals and symbols, just to make themselves feel comfortable with the current world around them, their history and the purpose of people existing. . Eliade says religious humanity protects itself against the “terror of history” and against the idea that human existence is basically pointless and will eventually end in oblivion. Eliade says non-religious humanity is the people who perceive time a homogenous, or all time and things, now and in the past, as being simply the same. Later in 1957, Eliade proceeds to write Sacred and Profane. In this book Eliade writes about the Archaic Man. Eliade claims this man was a tribal human who lived life in both the sacred and profane. This is where Eliade gets pretty confusing. He writes that the sacred is real but is a structure of human consciousness. I guess this means humans make it up, but then it does seem real to them? Eliade also defines a lot of terms as part of his philosophy. He says sacred is a source of significance, meaning, power and being. Eliade then comes up with three forms of sacred, the idea of Hierophanies (physical representation of the holy), Cratophanies (physical representation of power) and Ontophanies (physical representation of being.) He claims the location of hierophany becomes the axis mundi. The axis mundi is the world center, or the connection between Heaven and Earth. Eliade also talks a lot about symbols like water and trees and stones and crosses and their role in religion. Finally Eliade pulls this all together and talks about how religion uses all of these factors to create a structure for people’s lives and cultures. Eliade said “Religious man sought to live as near as possible to the Center of the World”
Knowing about Eliades teachings and theories, we can think of examples of places and religions that match his ideas. The place that seems to stand out the most as an example of being sacred, and includes all the forms of sacred as Eliade discussed, including axis mundi, is Jerusalem. Interestingly, it would seem Jerusalem could be the axis mundi for 3 different religions; the Jewish people, Christians and the Muslims. For the Jews , Jerusalem is clearly the center of their religious world for a variety of reasons. Let’s start off with the fact that the Jews have been living there for over 4000 years! The Bible is clear, Psalm 125:2 “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore”. Basically, this scripture defines Jerusalem as axis mundi, the center of the world and connection with heaven and earth. The biblical history of the Jewish people begins when Abraham is told to travel to the Promised Land, Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Then later when Abraham’s grandson Jacob, who was later renamed Israel when he encounters God on Mount Moriah which will eventually become where a Temple would stand, Temple Mount which is still a holy site in Jerusalem. Jerusalem began to fulfill the function of a spiritual and national capital for the Jews in the 10th century BC. In this year King David?OR King Solomon had the idea to build a Temple being the permanent house of God. Unfortunately in 586 the Babylonians destroyed the city and the Temple. The second Temple wasn’t built until the fifth century BC; this temple became one of the wonders of the ancient world. Unfortunately again in 70CE the Romans destroyed the Temple. Another vital structure in Jerusalem is the Western Wall, which was an ancient retaining wall that protected the Temple. Now it is also referred to as the “Wailing Wall” where the Jewish people go and pray and cry over the destruction of the Temples. This also relates to Eliade because Eliade talks about symbols and how they change. For the Jewish population the Temples in Jerusalem are their changing symbol. The Temple was destroyed, rebuilt and ultimately became the center of Jewish prayer at the Western Wall.