44 Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 cance of religious phenomena to a modern person. This helps him understand the world, himself, and ultimately contributes to a deeper knowledge of man in general. In Eliade’s vision, similar knowledge will inevitably lead to the enrichment of humanity’s consciousness, which could give rise to phenomena such as a second renaissance or a new humanism (Sládek 2002). Eliade compares the modern man trapped in his history to Nietzsche’s myopic librarian who cannot free himself from his suffering position; he can only comment on it. “Nietzsche’s librarian is a modern man who, according to the German philosopher, can only comment. Whereas I believe in scholarship link with creative hermeneutics. Because it is by studying this number of texts that we can – or will be able to – lay the foundations of new values.” (Ferrier and Lannes 1998, 61). Knowing how to read spiritual texts as symbolic forms the basis of a universal understanding that unites people across traditions. A person can use these spiritual texts in his own situation and answer his own questions to the extent that he is interested in basic existential problems related to his “immersion” in time and history. Ultimately, the ability to imagine is important “for the very health of the individual and for the balance and richness of his inner life” (Eliade 1961, 19). Here we can observe parallels with the approach of Gaston Bachelard, who claims that imagination creates a different world, “differently perceptible” by humans (Karul 2006, 47). Naive immediate realism is overcome by imagination: a person enters the depth of being, and when he emerges from it into the area of everyday experience, he sees the world from a new point of view and transforms it anew (Karul 2006, 47). Imagination is a creative means that touches what is beyond man, but at the same time is man’s own. It is a return to the revival of pre-reflective thinking and the associated perception of the symbolism of the world, but it is also a return to oneself, to one’s own inner universe, which inevitably communicates with the world. As Bachelard (1954) argues, “imagination has often been thought of as a secondary ability, as an opportunity for detachment, as a means of escape. We are still not entirely clear about what it is: namely, a very important dynamic function of the human psyche. The normal person is primarily inclined towards the function of the real; but how will a person create if he does not test himself, if he does not feel what can be called the function of possibility? In order to act, we must first imagine.” 3 Homo Religiosus Throughout Eliade’s work, we can observe how the ideas he promotes touch his own experience (Cave 1994, 14). As we have already mentioned, based on phenomenology, he was convinced that the phenomenon of the sacred is available only to those people whose consciousness has at least once in their life touched a moment of deep spiritual experience. Therefore, we can only interpret any religious, sacred, spiritual phenomenon if we have ever known such an experience. From his point of view, there is no such thing as an “objective”, disinterested interpretation of spiritual phenomena. Intellectually, he meets Dilthey in that life itself carries universal meanings, and therefore we are able to understand different thought forms through our own life, our own experiences, and vice versa. Through signs that are external and visible, we are able to understand processes that are hidden and internal. Imagination helps us in this. The very nature of human existence represents a universal basis that does not change either through cultural diversity or historical influence. For Eliade, this unity of the human spirit is represented by the concept of a religious person who understands the world using symbols – homo religiosus (Cave 1993, 17). Homo religiosus is an archetypal category that determines man’s original relationship to reality. It represents the way in which we truly grasp ourselves in life and life itself, and at the same time it is the most authentic form of existence in the world. By knowing himself, homo religiosus acquires general knowledge about the world as a whole: “Whatever the historical context in which he is placed, ‘homo religiosus’ always believes that there is an absolute reality, ‘the sacred’, which transcends this world but manifests itself in this world, thereby sanctifying it and making it real. He further believes that life has a sacred origin and that human existence realizes all of its potentialities in proportion as it is religious – that is, participates in reality.” (Eliade 1959, 202) A spiritual person will always maintain a certain “openness” to the world of transcendent realities. At the same time, it is the world of absolute values “capable of guiding man and giving a meaning to human existence” (Eliade 1963, 139). Eliade contrasts the homo religiosus to the modern, i.e. non-religious man, who “assumes a new existential situation; he regards himself solely as the subject and agent of history, and he refuses all appeal to transcendence” (Eliade 1959, 203). “Modern man is incapable of experiencing the sacred in his dealings with matter; at most he can achieve an aesthetic experience. He is capable of knowing matter as a ‘natural phenomenon’. But we have only to imagine a communion, no longer limited to the