This past summer I have been reflecting extensively on the meaning of the spiritual (religious world) and the secular (scientific world). In these reflections, a great catalyst for insight has come from the great 20th century mythologist Mircea Eliade’s idea that these two worlds can be thought of as constituting the “sacred” and the “profane”. For Eliade, the profane world (the scientific, secular, naturalist world) can be thought of as “temporal, relative, chaotic, neutral and finite”; and the sacred world (the religious, spiritual, other world) can be thought of as “eternal, absolute, ordered, oriented, and infinite”. This is (perhaps) an ultimate historical determination of opposites.
However, the interesting thing about Eliade’s idea is that these two opposites ways of conceptualizing worlds were not dependent on two “objective” worlds “out there”, but rather as two “objective” worlds that were constituted by different modes of historical subjectivity. For Eliade, the ancient or pre-modern human spontaneously accepted that our natural (profane) world was interconnected or overlapping with a spiritual (sacred) world which gave the temporal an eternal dimension, the relative an absolute, the chaotic an order, the neutral an orientation, the finite an infinite. We could understanding spiritual or religious ceremonies and rituals as enacted by this type of subjectivity. But the modern or contemporary human, for Eliade, instead conceptualizes itself as only living in a temporal, relative, chaotic, neutral and finite world. We could understand the emergence evolutionary theory, general relativity, chaos theory, and other mathematical models as proof or produce of this form of human subjectivity.
The question that captures my mind now is if there is a way to synthesize these two modes of subjectivity. Clearly there is good reason to be skeptical of the traditional spiritual or religious world and mode of being. Can we really be sure that there is this “eternal absolute” world? Do we not live in a world of “temporal relative” appearances without a pre-given direction that would allow us to develop an ethic and morality? In some ways we may think of the whole of modern philosophy as battling with these metaphysical questions, from Spinoza’s Ethics to Hegel’s Phenomenology to Heidegger Being and Time. However, perhaps, what philosophy has not been able to adequately resolve in the abstract, must be resolved in the historically mediated concrete.
This brings us to why I like the idea of helping others via Live Coaching. I like the idea of helpings others via Live Coaching because I want to bring the tools of science, religion, philosophy and psychoanalysis into the problems of our everyday lives. What are the subtle and invisible presuppositions that colour how we interpret and act in the world? Are we enacting Eliade’s sacred world? Are we enacting Eliade’s profane world? And what about developing a way to think of their interaction in a new way? How would that bring a new meaning and coherence and direction to our lives? We are all on some level beings that contemplate these naive and elementary metaphysical questions. I think that for anyone struggling with or reflecting on these questions I would be and have proven myself to be someone who can help, even if just as an other to bounce ideas off of or to share a new insight.
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