Tag Archives: Mircea Eliade

Review: A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms


A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms
A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third volume of “A History of Religious Idea – From Muhammed to the Age of Reforms” by Mircea Eliade covers the vast religious area between:
• Religions of Ancient Eurasia including shamanism, paganism, and the “Celestial God”
• Christian Churches in the eighth and ninth century
• Muhammed and the unfolding of Islam
• Western Catholicism from Charlemagne to the start of the Reformation
• Judaism in the Middle Ages
• Zwingli, Calvin and the Catholic Reformation
• Tibetan Religions

Similar to the first two volumes, this vast area of religious ideas is described in a considerable depth in this third volume, although experts will certainly notice significant major omissions at once; e.g. the Reformation in Holland is not covered.

Although I have the impression that Mircea Eliade could not finish this third volume: highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Review: A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity


A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity
A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second volume of “A History of Religious Idea – From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity” by Mircea Eliade covers the vast religious area between:

  • The ancient religions in China (Taoism and Confucianism),
  • Brahmanism and Hinduism,
  • Buddhism,
  • Roman religions,
  • Celts and Germans,
  • Judaism,
  • The Hindu Synthesis: The Mahabharata including the Bhagavad Gita,
  • Iranian Synthesis,
  • Paganism,
  • The Birth of Christianity and
  • Christianity as official Religion of the Roman Empire.

This vast area of religious ideas is described in a considerable depth, although experts will certainly notice significant omissions at once; e.g. the Upanishads and the Mahabharata deserve more attention.

This volume ends with “Deus Sol Invictus”; a religious idea taken by the Roman Emperor Aurelius (270 – 275 AC) from Egypt as uniting monotheistic Sun-God principle in the Roman Empire, before his successor Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity a preferred religion within the Roman Empire. The name Sunday – the day of God – originates from “Deus Sol Invictus” or Sun-God in the Roman Empire.

Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Review: A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries


A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries
A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In volume I of “A History of Religious Ideas”, Mircea Eliade opens on page 5 with explanation of a ritual of “mystical solidarity” from the Stone Age, that I have not read anywhere else.
In this ritual hunter-gatherers see the blood of the prey as similar in every respect to their blood; and by killing the prey they identify themselves with their prey for two reasons. They seek redemption for the sin of killing their prey, and they identify with their prey to maintain their unique system of survival for both hunter and prey. This ritual – altered, revalorised and camouflaged – is still within our modern society.

This paragraph shed a different light on the many kinds of charity that captains of industry perform in the later part of their life.

This first volume continues with an abundance of religious developments of mankind in the Indo-European society until the Dionysiac festivals.

A must read to get an overview of the religious ideas with one remark: ideas unknown to me are covered in depth, but religious ideas that I have studied before, are described more superficial; but this remark says more about me as a reader than about the content of the book.

Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Five common realities – facts and logic 5


Carla, Man and the Narrator are sitting in a restaurant for their dinner. They have received their drinks and menu map.

“Cheers, on the progress of our quest. Are you happy so far?”, says Man.

“Partly. The All-encompassing One – and also the binding between the other with the All-encompassing – are well discussed, but the “other” as entity remains underexposed. Maybe we can give more attention to the other”, says Narrator.

“I may have put too much emphasis on the “All-encompassing One” due too many forced separations during my life. The last years I gave much – maybe too much – attention to all kind of links between events in my life. What do you think, Carla?”, says Man.

“During my introduction to the ordered chaos I will pay attention to the other; this is necessary in an overview of the development in science in a nutshell. Please add information from your background and conceptual framework. Let us first order our meal”, says Carla.

Carla, Man and the Narrator make their choice from the menu and they ordering their diner.

“An overview of the development of science – which in our time accumulated in an ordered chaos – can be given in many ways . There are many books with excellent introductions to the origin of logic, mathematics, physics, astronomy and other sciences. My introduction is a personal one and is certainly susceptible to criticism; a characteristic of science according to Popper and Kuhn [1]. In my opinion science had started when people began to consciously pay attention to their living environment so that they could increase their survival by getting grip on conditions and tangible things [2]. Probably people had initially tried to give interpretation to their environment by means of rituals such as hunter-gatherers had identified with their prey via rituals [3], pastoralists via the cattle-cycle [4] and via worshipping the golden calf in the Old Testament to maintain and enhance their cattle, and farmers via timing with corresponding rituals to determine the moment for sowing and harvesting during the year. At the same time people have also given magical powers to rituals whereby rituals could accomplish the desired circumstances. This creative act of giving meaning and perceiving meaning [5] by rituals was a first revolution in the scientific development of people; remnants of this revolution we can still see today in current rituals within our society, for example at rituals during major changes in personal and public life and at the year celebrations.

feiten en logica 51[6]

The second revolution in the scientific development of mankind consisted of a shift of attention from obtaining desired conditions or tangible things through the provision of rituals to an understanding  – and research – of human life on earth; the self/Self became subject of research. In the Western world a temporary cohesive peak was achieved in the Medieval Scholasticism, in which its philosophy – at that time directly connected to the theology – completely stated (an gave interpretation to) the entire human environment; life was in service of God, his creation, and the afterlife (preferable in heaven or in hell after a bad life). In India around 600 BC, this attention resulted in the Upanishads with emphasis on “self/One” as oneness [7]; and life became subject of meditation.

feiten en logica 52[8]

The third revolution in the scientific development of mankind consisted of the shift in attention from the central ”Self/One”– or God within the Medieval Scholasticism in which everything was directly connected with God in one way or another – to a self-awareness of the individual and to “the other” which consisted of the other people, the setting, the circumstances and the tangible things. In the Western world, science – and later philosophy – were separated from religion so scientific research could develop open-minded, (value) free from dogmas and focused on facts and logic. In the Renaissance, mankind initially depicted science like a clockwork in which the mutual movement of wheels and links had to be discovered, from which the living environment and the way things worked could be explained [9]. Thereafter scientists tried to find mathematical equations for everything [10]. The first developments were so impressive that mankind still uses the equations of the classical mechanics [11] to send spacecraft extremely precise through space.

feiten en logica 53[12]

After a while, the knowledge about solving mathematical equations became an inhibiting factor: a number of linear (differential) equations were relatively easy to solve. Science tried to describe the living environment under ideal conditions – without friction, headwind and all the unknown factors were summarized in constants – in linear equations whose solution was known, just like our world is only arranged as cultivated French gardens.

feiten en logica 54[13]

Until more than a hundred years ago the development of science was so promising that only a few small imperfections – like how gravity is transferred and whether light is composed of particles or of waves – need to be solved. The first cracks in this expectation arose after it became clear that light consists at the same time of particle and of light waves, that in quantum mechanics the speed and location of particles cannot be determined at the same time, and that results in the theory of relativity are dependent on the way of perceiving.

These cracks grew with the observation that our everyday environment largely consists of non-linear differential equations that cannot be solved and often only can be approximated. Furthermore, even simple models – like the three-body-problem [14] in space – are extremely complex and can only be solved in simple special circumstances. In addition simple models – such as a double rod pendulum [15] – showed chaotic characteristics where the outcome considerably differs over time with minor differences in the initial state. I see that our meal will be served. I’ll continue later”, says Carla.

“Upon hearing your introduction, it stikes me that the Mahābhārata caused a similar revolution compared to the Upanishads which focus on the One/All-encompassing. In the Mahābhārata, the attention shifted to the other/self in relation to the One/Self, wherein nothing can be understood independent of the rest. The Self is a being in relationship with itself and at the same time the Self is itself a being in respect to the other and herewith One’s/one’s own life is connected to the life of the other [16]. The way – in which attention is shifted in the Mahābhārata – is more focused on explaining and describing life and less focused on control and grip on the living environment”, says Narrator.

“During your introduction, I am reminded of the title of a collection of poems by Rutger Kopland:

Who finds something,

has badly sought. [17]

and of a statement of Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen during his lectures at Delft University of Technology:

“To prove” is compellingly letting know in order that the other has to kneel.

Maybe something to think about during the continuation of our quest”, says Man.

“Interesting thoughts; I will come back on “compellingly letting know” at the mind of the warrior, but first let us enjoy our meal”, says Carla.

“Enjoy your meal”, say Man and Narrator.


[1] See also: Nārāyana, Narrator, Carla Drift – An Outlier, A Biography. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 34

[2] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A Survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 103. See also: Calvin, William H., The River That Runs Uphill: A Journey from the Big Bang to the Big Brain. New York: Macmillan, 1986

[3] See also: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume I, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982, p. 5 and Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A Survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 111 – 112

[4] Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A Survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 33 – 34 en 94 – 95

[5] See also for the creative act of giving meaning and perceiving meaning: Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phénoménologie de la perception. Paris: Gallimard, 1945

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouden_kalf_(Hebreeuwse_Bijbel)

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholastiek

[9] See also: Stewart, Ian, Does God Play Dice? London: Penguin Books, 1992², p. 5 – 8

[10] See also: Stewart, Ian, Does God Play Dice? London: Penguin Books, 1992², p. 18 – 33

[11] Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_mechanics

[12] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watch

[13] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_formal_garden

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-body_problem

[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

[16] See also: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 530

[17] Source: Kopland, Rutger, Verzamelde gedichten. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij G.A. van Oorschot, 2010, p. 103

Five common realities – facts and logic


On our contemporary Odyssey to “Who are you” we arrived for our fourth stage “facts and logic” in Florence.

Why do we start our stage “facts and logic” in Florence?

The emergence of the first facts and logic in people is shrouded in mystery [1]. How did mankind for the first time become consciously aware of a fact? When using a stone as a melee weapon or during love feelings for descendants? How did mankind for the first time consciously notice a logical link? When consciously eating plants with specific properties or on foreseeing pregnancy after sexual intercourse? We do not know.

200px-Venus_von_Willendorf_01[2]

At this fourth stage, we wish to avoid the world of religion [3] – or where people fall back upon when interpretation should be given to the unknown, because at other stages during our quest we will address religion adequately.

IMG_1408 (1)[4]

Due to time constraints, we also ignore the genesis and further development of philosophy in ancient times [5].

Our fourth stage “facts and logic” starts at the transition from the medieval Scholasticism [6] to the Renaissance. Both philosophies have attempted to consider the world as deterministic, that is: when the principles and the internal rules are known, then the past, the present and the future are determined. Both philosophical currents had made every effort to determine the order and the internal rules to get grip and insight into our world centred around God [7] within the Scholasticism, or around mankind and human reason within the ruling elite in the Renaissance [8].

From the beginning, Christianity has never stopped to debate the relationship between truth revealed from God in the Holy Scriptures and the continuous discovery of truth and facts by human reason – also seen as a gift of God within the Christian faith [9]; these debates reached their peak in expansion and complexity during the heyday of Scholasticism.

At the beginning of the Renaissance in and around Florence the origin for the discovery of the actual reality permanently shifted from the revelations by God in the Holy Scriptures to human reason centred around mankind. According to the Old Testament the earth – founded by God – will never move [10], but around 1600 AD Copernicus [11] and Kepler had conclusively shown that the earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo Galilei had defended this factual discovery in 1632 AD in his writing Dialogo sopra i due Massimi Sistemi di Galileo Galilei del Mondo Tolemaico e Copernicano (Dialogue from Galileo Galilei over the two main world systems, the Ptolemaic and Copernican) in front of the Church Inquisition. The Christian Church had sentenced him in 1633 AD to house arrest and permanently banned the Dialogo. Over 100 years later – in 1737 AD – Galilei was reburied from a humble graveyard to a tomb in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. In October 1992 AD the name of Galilei was finally purified by the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II [12].

graftombe galilei[13]

The continuum of the transition of Scholasticism into the Renaissance is perceived at our visit to the Santa Maria del Carmine [14] and in it the Cappella Brancacci located in Piazza del Carmine [15] in Florence.

Santa Maria del Carmine[16]

The following post will include the report of this visit.


[1] For interested readers: a small corner of the veil over the early emergence of facts and logic is lifted in: Arsuaga, Juan Luis, Het halssieraad van de Neanderthaler – Op zoek naar de eerste denkers. Amsterdam: Wereldbibiotheek: 1999; in: Lewis-Williams, David & Pearce, David, Inside the neolitic Mind. London: Thames & Hudson, 2009; and in: Beyens, Louis, De Graangodin – Het ontstaan van de landbouwcultuur. Amsterdam: Atlas, 2004

[2] Image of the Venus of Willendorf estimated to have been made more than 20,000 years BCE. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf

[3] For the emergence and development of religious ideas, we refer to the studies: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982; Johnston, Sarah Iles (ed.), Religions of the Ancient World – a Guide. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004;  Mallory, J.P. & Adams, D.Q., The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007

[4] Stone circles in the Middle of England. Source image: Marieke Grijpink

[5] There are several standard works on the history of philosophy.

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism

[7] For example: the Five arguments for the existence of God in de Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas

[8] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

[9] See also: MacCulloch, Diarmond, Christianity – The first three thousand Years. New York: Viking, 2010 p. 141

[10] See amongst others: Psalms 93:1, 96:10, 105:5 and 1 Chronicles 16:30

[11] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaas_Copernicus

[12] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[13] Tomb of Galileï in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence

[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brancacci_Chapel

[16] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence