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SPIRITUALITY

The loss of the sense of the sacred in modern society has led to a moral and aesthetic drift downwards unfortunately

The classic Greek saying “good and virtue” was nothing more than an analysis of what makes a man happy – EUDAIMONIA – here on earth, but always in relation also to the Heavens.

The sense of the sacred was conceived not as a contrast but as a complement to science – we moderns have separated these two different aspects, and, ever since, one without the other, science without philosophy has crippled our every thought.

The Ancient Greeks existed in a world where the antithesis was a norm.

To the Greeks, the beauty of a leaf, of a face, the melody of things were sacred, everything else was the domain of science: there is no stronger tendency towards the sacred and at the same time towards the scientific claim than in the dialogues of Plato.
One of the greatest evils of our age, on which much of our grief and passivity depends, is the fact that we no longer believe in anything great, The future has ceased to be an invitation and a surprise, and life has become a slow march, without inner supports, until the last day of our lives.

I am not referring to religion, i.e. the codified worship of a deity: despite the extremists on the one hand, and the crisis of religiosity on the other, everyone individually has the freedom to choose to worship or deny their god. BUT the loss of the sense of the sacred in modern society, the consequence of which is an aesthetic and moral drift downwards -for the worse- and in general a collective agony that leads to superficial and dangerous substitutes.

Sacred is anything that opposes the profane, but its meaning is not strictly religious. Sacred is, for example, the fact that we loved for a long time someone who did not love us. Sacred is the fact that we are moved, without knowing why, by the wonderful spectacle of spring, which arrives steadily every year, Sacred is every life that begins, and every life that ends.

Sacred is the instinct to believe that, behind every manifestation of existence, there is a meaning and a purpose. What meaning we give it, that is the mission of religion. But to perceive that meaning has always been man’s mission. The search for the sacred in all its manifestations is today treated with scepticism and derision: it is impossible, indeed scandalous, to believe in ancient superstitions, pagan rituals, outdated traditions and ignorant rumours. But words matter; respecting them and being precise is another way of honouring the mystery: the sacred does not exist to be believed – it is not religious, it is not divine – but to be felt.

It is said that the desecration of the sacred and the secularization of existence is the consequence of positivism and the domination of science over naivety: being armed with data and machines, only the most inexperienced and illiterate can still believe that a flower contains infinity within the finitude of its atoms. But science is not a religion either: its job is to prove, not to preach. Trust in the scientific method is not an act of faith, but an exercise of compelling and rational calculation. Science demonstrates how and why a particular phenomenon occurs, it is a detailed commentary on existence; but explaining who designed the rules of the game is something else entirely; and behold, inexplicable scientific phenomena like Higgs’ boson can be called the “God particle”.

Today, instead of the sacred, we have the data trying to explain this purpose which some consider divine, and others simply too sublime for our brain capabilities to grasp. However, this substitution has not brought the expected relief, the liberation of man from his mystery, but has made our lives even more exhausting, almost unbearable: since the given has replaced the sacred, we feel as if we are drowning in a dark sea of numbers, analyses, models in which we are imperatively commanded to believe. Technology, born to free man from the necessity of fate, is becoming a religion: one is concerned with the salvation of souls, the other with the preservation of data in the cloud of the Internet. Artificial intelligence is the last oracle of this technocracy, from which we ask for a response that recognises its superiority.

At the same time, since the human need for faith cannot be suppressed, we see a strange sense of the sacred spreading, completely imported (often for commercial purposes). The ancient Greeks called anything we believe without knowing why “secret”, initiated into occult knowledge. Mysticism, which at that time belonged to a spiritual dimension alien to formal religion (the religion of Zeus and Athena of Dionysus and all of Olympus), was everywhere, in every word and in every blade of grass, because everything was sacred without ever being dogmatic. From Homer’s first verse, this sense of expectation, of philosophical consolation, of human beauty, which created a vast repertoire of traditions, gestures and poems, was not respected because it was real. But because it was necessary to live free, fulfilled. Perhaps even happy: a sanctity in which we, moderns, must believe again.

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