Christian Perspective of Myths and Rituals
With Special Reference to Eliade
Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati
Christian perspective of myths and rituals, as commonly believed, is that they awaken the sacred in persons. They are commonly united as parts of its religious practices. For Mircea Eliade “one important function of myths is to provide an explanation for ritual practices”. Hence, Christian scholars hold that myths do not stand by themselves but are somehow tied to rituals.
Mircea Eliade time and again felt that “modern non-religious persons form themselves by a series of denials and refusals, but continues to be haunted by the realities they have refused and denied”, thereby bringing one closer to God. For him the longing of the spirit has to be engaged. Recital of myths and enactment of rituals are two different means to remain in sacred time and space.
Secular identity do not deliver the hoped for panacea of freedom and enlightenment. Paul Hillman says in the foreword of the book Eco-psychology by Theodore Rozak, that human consciousness has to awaken itself to one of the most ancient truths: that we cannot be cured apart from the planet and the cosmos. This has been constantly asserted by Eliade in his writings. Just as the psyche (soul) speaks through pathology and disease and is discovered through symptoms, we are faced with the discovery of the soul-in-the-world through ecological illnesses. For Mircea Eliade: “The sacred is an element in the structure of consciousness, not a stage in the history of consciousness”, which we must be awakened to. It is this sacred experience, and the spiritual sense that will nourish and ground us so that we do not get lost and get besieged by the anxiety, hell and panic of our postmodern secularised world of meaninglessness.
This calls us to a struggle towards a wholeness of response, a spirituality which seeks reason to free it from the burden of the irrational, to release the deep source of inspiration that quicken the mind, restore enthusiasm and personal motivation through the spirit. This spirit brings to life the inner core of the person and relate to the task of living.
In this article this idea of the “Sacred” of Eliade is elaborated for the precise reason that religions, religious traditions and spiritualities are much more than a cultural phenomenon. They are the vehicles of the most profound and precious truths that cannot be forgotten, if so it will be at the cost of our own peril. For the Christian the most precious vehicle of the profound is the incarnation that took place in history since the “advent of Christ which marks the highest manifestation of the sacred in the world—the Christian can save himself only within the concrete, historical life, the life that was chosen and lived by Christ”.