About The Term “Traditional Authors” by Róbert Horváth

Authentic representatives of spiritual traditions have indeed been paying more attention to adequate teaching for contemporary Westerners lately, since the number of qualified Eastern disciples is also rapidly diminishing. Undisputedly this must be even more so in the future – the more authentic an Eastern representative is, the more so. The question is, however, whether the intensity and mode of this attention will be appropriate. For example concerning the commentaries and teachings by venerable Sogyal Rinpoche or Namkhai Norbu, in many instances we could repeat what we said earlier about Dilgo Khyentse. A person who really possesses the ability to teach should be careful about using expressions as “unprejudicedness” or “equality,” which have a non-spiritual sense in the Western world and like “compassion” or “non-discrimination” simply have a different meaning with antispiritual connotations. Familiarity with the actual conditions and mastery of the possible approaches, i.e. their appropriate application, are closely connected to the authenticity of teaching. This is the first (I) major key point why the most prominent earlier and present “perennialists” can be rightly called traditional authors and heirs of the wisdom of the former traditional spiritual authors. In the times we are living, commentaries are required even for the commentators.
Even personal encounters with extremely rare authentic representatives do not become effective spiritual encounters unless doctrinal preparations of the widest possible range are made. Actually, the importance of 20th and 21st century traditional authors partly stands in the adequate doctrinal preparations they make and prompt to be made. This is the second (II) major key point. We do not want to say that their role is reduced to commenting the commentators. The scope of spiritual preparations is much wider. In addition to explaining traditional teachings in ways that are appropriately articulated for the contemporary man, they also include (1) an overall understanding, feeling, and adoption of the mentality of traditional cultures and their characteristics. Similarly, they include (2) formulating an outlook that represents the essence of all spiritual traditions and is fundamentally consistent with each of them, meaning that we look at the world, experience situations in our lives, and see ourselves in accordance with their teachings. Moreover, (3) the most important traditional authors have always paid special attention to and focused on the highest, esoteric and metaphysical class of spiritual teachings.
It is very important that in the works of more or less contemporary traditional authors, like in the case of early traditional authors, there is an almost tangible spiritual autonomy beside the above mentioned four (I+II = I+3) key aspects, the presence of the principle of spiritual sovereignty, which – in addition to the principle of respecting spiritual authorities – was always evident in the greatest traditional works. This is the third (III) major key point. This autonomy, accompanied by intense participation, identification, vivid understanding, and freedom from intellectual superstitions and stereotypes, is regarded by witless scholars and sectarian traditionalists (those only committed to a single tradition) as unauthenticity and personal mysticism. However, we must not care about this. These are the opinions of people who are not familiar with the complete work of the authors concerned.
Concerning doctrinal and spiritual preparations, it must be noted that these require the personal acquisition of several qualities (4). The works of contemporary traditional authors indicate that they possessed a range of qualities of basic importance. The artistic and logical qualities, rational reasoning, and exact presentation – precise articulation – are clearly present, as well as intuition and a spiritual intellect capable to identify with high-order realities. These all appear in explanations, expositions, and phrasing that on the whole are the most appropriate for the contemporary man, not only for the purpose of purely doctrinal but also for wider spiritual preparations.
It is well known that the workings of the mind of modern man are incredibly intense – but not in their quality – and unsettled. They are so intense that generally and practically, the mental level cannot be simply overpassed or transcended unless thinking becomes qualitative. Due to the nature of his thoughts and the amorphousness of his thinking, modern man must first establish order and bring about a qualitative transformation in these areas before he can transcend the mind (and must also break free from the suggestive influences of modern civilization producing similarly profane, worthless, and incoherent thoughts). At this point – still in the area of doctrinal and spiritual preparations – there is another argument in favour of contemporary traditional authors (5).
On our part, we find it ridiculous when well-educated Western people with minimal doctrinal and spiritual preparations seek personal relationships leading to initiation while they are not capable to read through the lines of a book and steadily, assiduously interpret their meaning. Of course literacy has not always been a prerequisite of acquiring higher knowledge, but in the case of a contemporary person who otherwise reads regularly and has some ideas about e.g. “correct” political views, the lack of the capacity of conscious reading and thinking is absurd. Today not only we have to address the importance of extensive doctrinal preparations, but we must also speak of the importance of the thorough and detailed reading and understanding of the works of the traditional authors of our times. Actually, articles should be written on how to acquire the quality of clear understanding through intense reading. Without the latter, contemporary Western man’s aspiration for relationships leading to initiation is practically frivolous.

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3 Comments

  1. Shantia said:

    I really liked your essays and especially your review on Sadgwick book.It was excellent!!
    Now may ask you to give me your e-mail address that in case I can ask you more about your essays?
    Bests
    Shantia Yarahmadian
    Indiana University
    Bloomington,Indiana
    USA

  2. No enterprise is a bit more prone to succeed than one concealed from your enemy until it is ripe for execution.
    We reach your goals in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we succeed in people that can also make use of our defects.

  3. Rai Munir said:

    An appreciable effort to brush away certain notions about the traditionalists. But the most important thing is the traditionalists’s expansion-istic views about spiritual and religious authentic verdicts. It seems more than interesting when each and every traditionalist roars that there’s an intellectual and metaphysical chaos, but LOOK! WE ARE HERE TO REJUVENATE! Moreover, majority of the current day traditionalists are in reality just Schuonians and Guenonians, no more. Wisdom is not the sole property of traditionalists. True sufi masters do not talk, they realize and make other realize. Knowing is not seeing. Seeing is not having. Having is not tasting. Tasting is not being. Being is not not-being. Not-being is not the BEING. While traditionalists are far behind. Make much noise. But their efforts to counter modernistic cults are matchless.

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  • Ben Zoma said, “Who is wise? He that learns from every man; for it is said, ‘From all my teachers I gat understanding’ (Ps. cxix. 99). Who is mighty? He that subdues his nature; for it is said, ‘He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city’ (Prov. xvi. 32).”

     

    - Pirqe Aboth (4:1-2)