Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 43 Barbora Čaputová but above all it frees us from the mundane life. It is available to every person; we just need to decide on a way of perception. When we open ourselves up to this sacred reality, we do not have to belong to any religious organization (Ferrier and Lannes 1998, 58). When Eliade talks about religion, we can perceive that he expresses its universal aspects. He is convinced that by means of a multidimensional comparison of spiritual phenomena we can understand the actions and feelings of people in general. Religion represents the intentional reality of consciousness, which, as it is, never identifies with itself, but always exists in an overlap to a new being (Horyna 1994, 109). For Eliade, religion means a certain organization of life, which arises on the basis of a deep life experience with the sacred in its variety of forms and in a clear and complete connection with the environment in which a person lives. According to him, religion does not necessarily refer to belief in God, gods, or supernatural beings, but refers to the experience of the sacred and thus also to the ideas of being, meaning, and truth (Eliade 1984). We can say that in Eliade’s concept, the religion in a certain sense takes on the contours of what we call spirituality of today, which does not refer to any specific tradition “and as a concept enabled the inclusion of a variety of traditions under the rubric of universal morality without the baggage of competing religious institutions and their authoritative boundary maintenance” (Van der Veer 2009, 1106). Strictly speaking, the sacred–profane dichotomy does not quite apply to Eliade because sacrum is present in profane, which gives rise to coincidentia oppositorum – the “coincidence of opposites”, or the “perfect unity of opposites”. So it is not about the internal contradiction of the object or state, but about its integrity and uniformity. Such a holistic vision of the world is natural for a person. Eugen Fink expressed it similarly when he asked himself the question of whether the forest consists of trees or was the forest before the trees. He thus returns to the world its being, which, according to him, was already “taken away” since the time of Parmenides (Jedličková 2022), which creates a long period of ontological nihilism and deprives the world of God much earlier than Nietzsche caught it, or as Durkheim named it. According to Eliade, such a holistic perception of the world was natural to the so-called archaic people, and homo religiosus also masters it. However, perceiving the world and being as a whole requires the ability to imagine. Imagination appears in Eliade’s approach as a key moment, through which the interpretation process can occur. Because Eliade was also a professional writer, the ability to reveal the meanings of images came naturally to him. Finally, it led him to understand various religious and philosophical texts and myths. It was precisely his idea of the function of imagination as a creative approach for research of the spiritual phenomena that was highly criticized by his critics. However, Eliade’s critic Adriana Berger (1986, 142) defends imaginativeness in scientific methodology: “The imagination, far from being the mere fantasy we usually take it to be, is the active and creative scene of encounters with other worlds through which understanding is achieved… Imagination thus appears as both a means of knowledge and a modality of being, and in that sense it bears a philosophical (existential) dimension.” In Eliade’s understanding, imagination also assumes the function of a mediator, which allows the interpreter to mediate meanings between seemingly incompatible worlds: the world of archaic societies and the world of modern Western society, the world of human consciousness, which perceives the world of symbols, and the world of man, whose consciousness can be emptied of symbols. According to Eliade, the world as such is not without meaning, but the meaning is hidden in the world. We can reveal it by accepting the “game” of symbols and opening the mind to imagination. Eliade interprets the meaning of the word imagination according to his etymological interpretation. Based on the word imago – “image” or “imitation”, and imitor – “to imitate”, “to reproduce”, he remains faithful to his own worldview and connects the meaning of this word with the inner meaning of religious phenomena, the core of which lies in the archetype of eternal return. “The imagination ‘imitates’ the exemplary models – the images – reproduces, reactualises, and repeats them without end. To have imagination is to see the world in its totality, for the power and the mission of the Images is to show all that remains refractory to the concept: hence the disfavour and failure of the man ‘without imagination’; he cut off from the deeper reality of life and from his own soul.” (Eliade 1961, 20). The phenomenological reference stands out most in Eliade’s belief that a certain connection between the subject (researcher) and the object of observation arises when investigating sacred realities. The meaning of the observed is then also resent in the researcher and becomes an ontological and existential construct that confirms being. Searching for meaning is therefore a creative (not just a rational) act at a certain moment, since meaning has an immanent character and must be discovered (guessed). According to Eliade, the study of religions through the study of myths and symbols is carried out as a “total analysis” (total hermeneutics) of the “creative spirit” (creative hermeneutics) of humanity in an embodied existential situation in the profane world (Rennie 1996, 54). According to him, this type of religious studies can clearly mediate the meaning and signifi-