Studies In Religious Imagination & Symbolism
Symbolic thinking is not the exclusive privilege of the child, of the poet or of the unbalanced mind: it is consubstantial with human existence, it comes before language and discursive reason. The symbol reveals certain aspects of reality?the deepest aspects ?which defy any other means of knowledge. Images, symbols and myths are not irresponsible creations of the psyche; they respond to a need and fulfil a function, that of bringing to light the most hidden modalities of being. Consequently, their study enables us to reach a better understanding of man?of man ?as he is?, before he has come to terms with the conditions of history. Every historical man carries on, within himself, a great deal of prehistoric humanity. But today we are beginning to see that the non-historical portion of every human being does not simply merge into the animal kingdom, as in the nineteenth century so many thought it did, nor ultimately into ?Life?; but that, on the contrary, it bifurcates and rises right above life. Dreams, waking dreams, the images of his nostalgias and of his enthusiasm, etc., are so many forces that may project the historically-conditioned human being into a spiritual world that is infinitely richer than the closed world of his own ?historic moment?.
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