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Frithjof Schuon

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Marginalia in a letter from a correspondent concerning the Book of Genesis, October 1975

Either we understand something through intellection or inspiration, or by rational deduction if the subject permits, and then we can formulate it, or else we do not understand it, and then we must give up trying to do so; for reason must not seek to breach the gates of Heaven. If we understand only half of something, we must have the greatness of soul—and the realism—to let go of the “missing link”; otherwise there is a risk of going around in circles from the effects of mental māyā. If it is a question of exegesis, then the importance of the thing becomes quite relative, and it is highly probable that we shall lack sufficient facts in many cases; a syllogism is possible only when the premises are complete.

Several interpretations of the Biblical account of creation are possible. Biblical language is never systematic. One notes that the Koran is also filled with irregularities, anachronistic enumerations, and so forth. In any case, the first man is not the principial archetype; he is its manifestation. But why does it matter to us what this or that Biblical word may mean in a given relationship as long as we know the essentials of the cosmogonic process? In any case it is inappropriate to claim that a given metaphysical or cosmological explanation of Genesis is exclusively valid and obligatory. Better to leave the interpretation of the Bible to the cabalists!

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