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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 August 1979

You ask whether I meant to say in one of my books that “intelligence cannot discern truth without reference either to esoterism, on the one hand, or the Revelation and its commentators, on the other, beginning with the Prophet Muhammad”. What I meant to say is the following: in principle pure intelligence—the Intellect—can know all that is knowable; in principle it can know this on its own without the intervention of an outward teaching. But in fact it is much more likely that even the most gifted mind cannot draw all of metaphysics from itself; if Shankara had grown up in total ignorance, never having heard of the Veda, Ātmā, Māyā, can it be affirmed with certainty that he could have drawn these notions out of himself? Revelation, whether Vedic or otherwise, not only communicates key ideas to us, but also—and above all—awakens or actualizes the latent knowledge we bear within ourselves. You say: “But the Muslim philosophers, like their predecessors in Greece, talked about many things not mentioned by the Prophet and the early notables of Islam.” Of course, for the Prophet—or the Koran—gave no more than the impulsion; the Greek philosophers themselves also needed certain traditional stimuli. Every man has parents, and parents always have ideas; I am thinking now of Antiquity. Once the impulsion is given—Koranic and Hellenist for the Arabs—metaphysical and mystical authors can have completely original ideas, whether from inspiration or simply reflection.

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