Metaphysics and the Perennial Philosophy

Now, another quotation of truth from Schuon:

The usual religious arguments, through not probing sufficiently to the depth of things, and more over not having previously had any need to do so, are psychologically somewhat outworn and fail to satisfy certain requirements of causality. If human societies degenerate on the one hand with the passage of time, they accumulate on the other hand experiences in virtue of old age, how ever intermingled with errors they may be. This paradox is something that any pastoral teaching intended to be effective, should take account of; not by drawing new directives from the general error, but by using arguments of a higher order; intellectual rather than sentimental.

An example of these errors of what pastoral teaching should not do – which is continually been done – the arguments previously used of course, like “there is only one religion”. Each religion claims to be the only one; the only effective religion. That is now outworn simply because man has accumulated, by old age, a certain wisdom; the collective has accumulated a certain wisdom, and it will not accept things like that, which were accepted in the Middle Ages. They were true in a sense, because if a person is practicing one religion faithfully in a concentrated manner, it is for him the only religion. There is a saying in Sufism: “If a person wants to find water he will dig in one place”. He won’t start digging in one place and then go somewhere else; he won’t find water, but if he continues to dig in one place he will in the end find water. Today such an argument works in a different manner; – it is a good argument; it hasn’t lost its goodness – it doesn’t work as regards there being only one religion, because people now, in contact with many other religions they see that there must be more than one true religion; God cannot have deceived most of humanity, and then drawing directives from the general error.
Significantly, the other day when the Pope announced that he saw nothing in the teachings of Teilhard de Chardin, that were contrary to religion. Now, its ironical, the Church has always been a little behind the times, and now when more and more scientific books are being written and published; proving scientifically that the doctrine of Evolution is false, and that all scientific evidence is more on the side of Genesis than on the side of Darwin, the Vatican has to come in – in order to be “up-to-date” – at this late hour and say a good word for Teilhard de Chardin. That is an example of existing error. Schuon goes on to say, speaking of basic human values: “Where does a man’s spiritual work lie? Is it in his intelligence, his discernment, his metaphysical knowledge? Obviously not, if this knowledge is not combined with a realizing Will, and with an inclusive Virtue or with virtues that at least is sufficient. Is it his realizing Will, which constitutes his worth; his power of concentration? No, if this is not combined with the necessary minimum of doctrinal knowledge and with Virtue. And spiritual worth likewise does not consist in Virtue, if this is not accompanied with a doctrinal understanding that is at least sufficient, and by an equivalent realizing effort. Obviously, the most brilliant intellectual knowledge is fruitless in the absence of the corresponding realizing initiative and in the absence of the necessary virtue. In other words, knowledge is nothing if it is combined with spiritual laziness, and with pretension, egoism, hypocrisy. Likewise, the most prestigious power of concentration is nothing if it is accompanied by doctrinal ignorance and moral insufficiency. Likewise again, natural virtue is but little without the doctrinal truth and spiritual practice, which operated with the view to God, and which thus restored to it the whole point of its being”. He says, as regards to spiritual effort: “Remove the rust from the Heart and the Intellect will be released”. That is, as I said, the central concern of all spirituality, especially at the beginning; the Eye of the Heart, which is veiled. In some traditions, in Islam, in Sufism for an example, they speak of the “rust over the Heart; remove the rust from the Heart”. That means that the Eye will be able to see and the Intellect will be released. He goes on to say: “This release is strictly impossible; we must insist upon it without the cooperation of a religion; an orthodox; a traditional esoterism, with all that this implies. Now, let me end my talk with just mentioning that the existence of such writing as this, places a very great responsibility upon us. We are all, whatever our years, old, because we are living at the end of the cycle. You might say: What is the difference between us and the Middle Ages; what is 500 years in a cycle, which consists of many thousands of years? The answer is, that in the Middle Ages, that old age of the cycle was overlaid by the youth of Christianity and the youth of Islam. Both Christianity and Islam are clearly in their old age; there is no youth to rejuvenate this old age, and that is why everybody today is old, wether they are young in years or old in years; they all have a certain old age and with everybody the question arises: Which aspect of old age are we to choose? The positive aspect or the negative aspect? The fact is that the vast majority of people, without realizing it, have chosen the negative aspect, which is senility. We have the possibility of choosing the positive aspect of old age, which is wisdom. Each one of us, theoretically speaking, has that possibility. So, let us reflect on this and make our choice! Well, that is all I have to say…

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  • Suppose that thou hadst up to this day lived always in honors and delights, what would it all avail thee if thou wert doomed to die at this instant? All therefore is vanity, except to love God and serve Him only.

     

    - The Imitation of Christ, 1:24