F RITHJOF   S CHUON   A rchive

Skip Navigation Links

Selected Books by
Frithjof Schuon

Français | English | Deutsch

A Resource On Frithjof Schuon's Life & Teachings

Extract from a letter from Frithjof Schuon dated 27-28 July 1984.

Guénon was right to specify that the Vedānta is the most direct and in a certain respect the most assimilable expression of pure metaphysics; no non-Hindu traditional affiliation could oblige us to ignore this or pretend to ignore it. Within the Semitic monotheistic religions there is an esoterism “in fact” and another “by right”; now it is the second that is equivalent to Vedantic wisdom; de facto esoterism results from what has been said or written—with the veilings and detours at times required by a given theological framework and above all by a given religious upāya. Doubtless it was in thinking of de jure esoterism that certain Cabalists were led to say that if wisdom were lost the sages could reconstitute it.

The monotheistic Scriptures each manifest an upāya, a religious perspective that is particular and characteristic by definition, and hermeneutics in general is affected accordingly; this is not the case for the fundamental formulations or symbols of the religions, which in themselves are not limitative in any way. For example, the Shahādah—“the most precious thing I have brought to the world”, according to the Prophet—expresses total metaphysical truth in a most direct and limpid manner; in Hindu terms I would say it is at once an Upanishad and a Mantra; and the second Shahādah is the complement of the first, which means that the mystery of immanence is joined to the mystery of transcendence. In Christianity the Patristic formula of saving reciprocity is a priceless jewel: “God became man that man might become God”; it is a revelation in the full sense, at the same level as the Scriptures; this may seem surprising, but it is a “paracletic” possibility, examples of which can be found—very rarely, it is true—in all traditional worlds. The sentence anāʾl-Haqq of al-Hallaj is a case of this kind; it is the Sufic equivalent as it were of the Vedic aham Brahmāsmi; al-Hallaj himself affirmed the possibility of post-Koranic sayings situated at the level of the Koran, something for which other Sufis did not pardon him, at least not in his time.

But there are not only formulas; there are also theophanies. Christ, understood as universal symbol and regarded from the point of view of esoteric application, represents first of all the Logos in itself and then the immanent Intellect—aliquid est in anima quod est increatum et increabile—which at once illuminates and liberates; the Holy Virgin personifies the soul in a state of sanctifying grace or this grace itself. There is no theophany that is not prefigured in the very constitution of the human being, for man is “made in the image of God”; now esoterism aims at actualizing the divine content that God places in this mirror of Himself called man. Meister Eckhart spoke of immanent sacraments; analogous natural or “congenial” things may serve as sacramental supports, he said, for the same reason as sacraments in the proper sense of the word.

Thus one must distinguish between an esoterism that is more or less founded on a given theology and bound up with the speculations provided de facto by the traditional sources—and it goes without saying that these doctrines or insights may be of the greatest interest—and another esoterism resulting from the truly fundamental elements of the religion and for this reason from the simple nature of things; the two dimensions may of course be combined, and in fact they often are; but it is a question of emphasis, and it is obviously to the second dimension that our perspective pertains a priori.

© World Wisdom, Inc / For Personal Use Only

Skip Navigation Links

© 2010 - 2015