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 28 January 1956.

Concerning the question of the “formal” and “informal” or the “letter” (which may kill) and the “spirit” (which vivifies), I would like to note that there is always, or nearly always, an intermediate region between exoterism and esoterism, a barzakh, which appears both as an esoterized exoterism and an exoterized esoterism; Christianity is nothing else, whence its paradoxical character, and with regard to Islam we find this barzakh in the ritualism of a Ghazzali and in popular Sufism, but also throughout the collective forms of Tasawwuf. Between exoterism and esoterism there always exists a ritualistic and moral karma-yoga; now this yoga, by the very fact of its individualistic nature—for action and merit necessarily belong to the individual—is opposed to the metaphysical perspective as well as to the way of the saving Name. The rationalizing individualism of Muslim piety is as non-metaphysical as the sentimental individualism of Christians. There is a marked tendency toward a transcendence of forms in any esoterism inasmuch as this viewpoint is directly affirmed—on the doctrinal plane, where every formulation becomes an upāya, an “unavoidable artifice”, as well as on the methodical plane, where concentration and its direct supports absorb most of the exterior rites; to deny this tendency is to go against the nature of things.

The whole emphasis must be placed on metaphysical truth and the divine Name; this is a “religion” that runs through all traditional forms just as the thread runs through the cloth. Starting from a source of doctrinal, hence intellectual, evidence, one must realize faith and find—in and by the Name—inner certitude, which is our very being.

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