F RITHJOF   S CHUON   A rchive

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Selected Books by
Frithjof Schuon

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A Resource On Frithjof Schuon's Life & Teachings

Extract from a letter from Frithjof Schuon dated 7 July 1969.

What always surprises me with people discussing spirituality is that they are not aware of the essential or else lose sight of it, and in the absence of the one center they get lost in the many-sided periphery. One would like to interrupt them every time with the question, “What is the issue?” and then remind them that what matters first of all is discernment between the world and God, the transitory and the Permanent, the relative and the Absolute, the illusory and the Real, and then union—by means of a quasi-permanent orison—with what is known to be Absolute, hence Real. All the rest is but a question of means or outward covering.

What is essential in this context is the extrinsic as well as intrinsic virtues, such as patience, trust, gratitude, generosity—in short, humility and charity; I mean real humility and charity, not their childish counterfeits. For truth remains sterile in us without the beauties of the soul, and it becomes impossible for us not only to pray from time to time but to pray all the time, and with fruits. What counts in prayer is the fact of praying and that one prays with sincerity, and what makes life finally worth living—what allows one to live with trust and without despair—is the quasi-permanence of a sincere orison. There is also what one might call the sacramental quintessence of prayer: the divine Names, bearers in themselves of a certain saving Presence; the names of Jesus and Mary have this function within Christianity, and the same applies to the Hebrew Names of God, those one is allowed to pronounce; in the final analysis any traditional and liturgical Name of God constitutes a sufficient orison. This of course does not mean that one cannot speak to God as to a man when one feels the need or that canonical prayers—the scriptural ones—do not have a role to play.

In a certain sense the entire message of Christ is in these words: “The kingdom of Heaven is within you.” To pray is to remain “within”, in “holy inwardness”, something presupposing “holy silence”. Quintessentially speaking, to live from prayer is to remain blessedly enclosed in the Name of God.

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