Nostalgia and Grace, by Carolyn Lee (page 19)

Instruction on the Crisis in Western Music (continued)

As I read these words, I felt Adi Daís extraordinary Compassion and Sacrifice as well as His depth of historical insight. From His point of view this critical transition from sacred to secular that took place in eighteenth-century Europe was not just a fact of history, something to be cool and objective about in the textbook manner. It was actually a tragedy, a cultural degeneration that increasingly denied to Westerners their right of access to the sacred dimension of existence. It was the reason for His Divine Birth.

Like most Westerners, I grew up without any perspective on the propaganda of secularism, no idea of where it came from, or how recent and local it is in the history of humankind. I just had the sense of the denial of a birthright, of being cheated out of something, and this was at the bottom of my whole search to reclaim the sacred, a search that could not be satisfied, but which had been brought to an end by Adi Da Samrajís most Graceful Intervention. His Words spurred me to take a closer look at eighteenth-century ideas.

Human history, as the eighteenth-century modernists saw it, was an unfolding drama or gradual progression of the human spirit coming to know itself and to master the natural world. Man, in their eyes, was no longer just a “miserable sinner”, whose life on earth was merely for the purpose of attaining salvation and heavenly beatitude after death. Man was a miracle, the pinnacle of nature, and capable of greatness in himself.

This grand and optimistic vision was not altogether new. It was already taking form in the Renaissance, in writings such as Oration on the Dignity of Man (Giovanni Pico della Mirandola), in the anatomical studies of Leonardo di Vinci, and in the glorification of the individual artist (Vasari, Lives of the Artists), who in earlier times had simply been the servant of church and community. But even the Renaissance was not the origin of this point of view. Western humanism was reborn during the Renaissance, but its roots lay in ancient Greece, in the Athenian maxim that “Man is the measure of all things”.

To an eighteenth-century experimental scientist or empirical philosopher, God was something like a watch maker who had put an intricate mechanism together, set it ticking, and then retired. Small wonder that by the time I was growing up in the second half of the twentieth century, it was widely presumed even in religious circles, that God was “dead”! But the very notion of having to “prove” the existence of God is absurd, as Avatar Adi Da has pointed out. Such a thing could only be suggested in a culture where a tangible sense of the sacred was already lost.