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 “Virtue, a Requisite of the Truth and the Way”

Our Character is our personality, and it is what we love in the depth of ourselves; it includes our tendencies, which influence the operation of our Intelligence and Will, though without producing them. Intelligence and Will are also part of our personality, but in themselves they are of an impersonal nature; they are faculties that do indeed belong to us, but it is our Character that is a priori our self.

And it is in the Character that the Virtues reside, these being fundamentally Sincerity, Fidelity, Gratitude, and Generosity. Sincerity tends toward the intellectual in the sense that it is inspired by Truth; Fidelity tends toward the existential in the sense that it refers to the Origin and to primordial Perfection. Gratitude is equivalent to Humility and is the consciousness of our dependence on something greater than ourselves; and Generosity is derived from our Liberty: it is Charity that loves to radiate.

By influencing the Intelligence, Sincerity induces it to draw all the conclusions implied in discernment: knowing the world is only an appearance, man must detach himself from it; applying Discernment to the macrocosm, he must also apply it to the microcosm, hence to himself, for self-knowledge is the necessary consequence of knowledge of the Real as such. Gratitude prompts the Intelligence to an awareness of its dependence and thus cuts short all temptation to luciferian rationalism; to know is to submit to the Intellect. In a similar manner Fidelity, by influencing the Will, endows it with the quality of perseverance; Generosity for its part gives it a sense of moderation, averting the temptation to excessive selfishness. Thus the Virtues, though they are not able to determine the Intelligence and Will with regard to their capacities, can nonetheless determine their style or operations.

It is obvious that the fundamental Virtues are to varying degrees lacking in the man who bears the stamp of the Fall, the loss of Paradise—inward as well as outward—though without being entirely lost; their sufficient presence, however, is the conditio sine qua non of the Way, along with a discriminating and contemplative Intelligence and an efficient and persevering Will.

In principle the Intelligence does not need the Virtues in order to draw all the conclusions of which it is capable, but in fact it is far from being able to do so without constraint; similarly the Will should without difficulty be inspired by the directives emanating from the Intelligence, but in fact these directives are not necessarily enough for it, and it is Virtue that must come to its aid.

Obviously a child is not in full possession of his potential Intelligence or Will, but his personality may nonetheless be endowed with a thirst for the True, a sense of the Sacred, a love of Beauty, and an instinct for the Essential, hence for Greatness; and it is this above all that matters.

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