[“In God Love is Light, and Light is Love.”]

“What is ‘love’ at the outset will appear finally as ‘Knowledge’; and what is ‘knowledge’ at the outset will appear finally as ‘Love’.

Perfect Love is ‘luminous’, and perfect knowledge is ‘warm’, or rather it implies ‘warmth’ without being identified with it.”

“The spiritual man of an affective temperament knows God because he loves Him.

The spiritual man of an intellective temperament loves God because he knows Him, and in knowing Him.

The love of the affective man is that he loves God.

The love of the intellective man is that God loves him; that is, he realizes intellectively—not simply in a theoretical way—that God is Love.

The intellective man sees beauty in truth whereas the affective man does not see this a priori. The affective man leans upon truth; the intellective man lives in it.”

“‘God is Light’ (1 John 1:5)—hence Knowledge—even as He is ‘Love’ (1 John 4:8). To love God is also to love the knowledge of God. Man cannot love God in His Essence, which is humanly unknowable, but only in what God ‘makes known’ to him.

In a certain indirect sense God answers knowledge with Love and love with knowledge, although in another respect—in this case direct—God reveals Himself as Wise to the wise and as Lover to the lover.”

“In God Love is Light, and Light is Love. It is irrelevant in this case to object that one divine quality is not another, for here is is not a question of qualities—or ‘names’—but of the divine Essence itself.

God is Love, for by His Essence He is ‘union’ and ‘gift of Self’.”

Source: Frithjof Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives & Human Facts, pp. 158-60

[“Man becomes aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane.”]

  • “That is sacred which in the first place is attached to the transcendent order, secondly, possesses the character of absolute certainty and, thirdly, eludes the comprehension and control of the ordinary human mind. Imagine a tree whose leaves, having no kind of direct knowledge about the root, hold a discussion about whether or not a root exists and what its form is if it does: if a voice then came from the root telling them that the root does exist and what its form is, that message would be sacred. The sacred is the presence of the center in the periphery, of the immutable in the moving; dignity is essentially an expression of it, for in dignity too the center manifests outwardly; the heart is revealed in gestures. The sacred introduces a quality of the absolute into relativities and confers on perishable things a texture of eternity.” — Frithjof Schuon, Understanding Islam
  • To deny the root is to deny the sacred, to alienate oneself from oneself, to separate oneself from the universe, to be cast out into the barren deserts of time and space.
  • Tradition: Know thyself (to actualize one’s given nature; to become what one essentially is; to remember; to reconnect with a principle that is beyond the contingent events of time and space)
  • Modernity: Construct thyself (to be deprived of one’s essence; to become what one is not; to forget; to degenerate into materialism)
  • The traditional worldview seeks to harmonize human will with Nature, without intermediary.
  • The modern worldview seeks to dominate Nature through the intermediary of technology and other gods.
  • “What then is the sacred in relation to the world? It is the interference of the uncreate in the created, of the eternal in time, of the infinite in space, of the supraformal in forms; it is the mysterious introduction into one realm of existence of a presence which in reality contains and transcends that realm and could cause it to burst asunder in a sort of divine explosion. The sacred is the incommensurable, the transcendent, hidden within a fragile form belonging to this world; it has its own precise rules, its terrible aspects and its merciful qualities; moreover any violation of the sacred, even in art, has incalculable repercussions. Intrinsically the sacred is inviolable, and so much so that any attempted violation recoils on the head of the violator.” — Frithjof Schuon, Language of the Self
  • Desacrelization ultimately leads to destruction.
  • Man’s role is crucial in the actualization of the sacred.

Source: Title from Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion: The Significance of Religious Myth, Symbolism, and Ritual within Life and Culture (1961), translated from the French by William R. Trask, [first published in German as Das Heilige und das Profane (1957).

Glossary of Terms Used by Frithjof Schuon, Compiled and Edited by Deon Valodia, http://www.frithjof-schuon.com/Glossary%20Schuon%20Revised.pdf

[Reza Shah-Kazemi: “Seeing God Everywhere”]

Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi writes on a range of topics from metaphysics and doctrine to contemplation and prayer. He is presently a Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, where, amongst other projects, he has been working on a new, annotated translation of Nahj al-Balagha, the discourses of Imam ‘Ali. Dr. Shah-Kazemi is also the founding editor of the Islamic World Report. His degrees include International Relations and Politics at Sussex and Exeter Universities, and a PhD in Comparative Religion from the University of Kent in 1994. He later acted as a consultant to the Institute for Policy Research in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

Dr. Shah-Kazemi has authored and translated several works, including Paths of Transcendence: Shankara, Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart on Transcendent Spiritual Realization (World Wisdom Books, 2006), Doctrines of Shi‘i Islam (I. B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2001), Avicenna: Prince of Physicians (Hood Hood, 1997) and Crisis in Chechnya (Islamic World Report, 1995). Reza Shah-Kazemi has edited several books, including Algeria: Revolution Revisited (Islamic World Report, 1997). He has also published numerous articles and reviews in academic journals.

[Falling Man]

“Taoism regards the actual dichotomy between man and his primordial nature in terms of a disequilibrium. Vedanta starts from the perspective of illusion, while Buddhism speaks of the same thing in terms of ignorance. Judeo-Christianity teaches that man is in a state of fall, whereas Islam describes it from the point of view of rebellion.

‘If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us’ (I. John, I. 10). ‘Manifestation by definition implies imperfection, as the Infinite by definition implies manifestation; this ternary ‘Infinite, manifestation, imperfection’, constitutes the explanatory formula for all that can seem ‘problematic’ to the human mind in the vicissitudes of existence’ (Schuon; De l’Unité transcendante, p. 66). ‘Deem not strange the occurrence of afflictions as long as thou art in this perishable abode, for verily it has begotten nothing except what merits its appellation—and inevitable is this designation’ (Ibn ‘Ata’illah: Hikam, no. 34). Likewise Boethius: ‘Thou hast yielded thyself to fortune’s sway; thou must be content with the conditions of thy mistress’ (Consolat. Philosoph., II. i). No individual as such in time and space is free from the conditions thereof. ‘The man who has found reality, as well as the man who is still in the coils of the phenomenal, is like one travelling over a flooded road’ (Hônen, p. 610); bearing in mind, however, ‘that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’ (Romans, VIII. 28). ‘Therefore if thou suffer persecution, wretchedness, and other dis-eases, thou hast that which accords to the place in which thou dwellest’ (Richard Rolle: The Fire of Love, I. viii). ‘It is not the world then that deceives men,’ says Hermes (‘De Castigatione Animae’; Hermetica, IV, p. 289); ‘but men deceive themselves, and so bring themselves to ruin. They think their happiness consists in the goods which this world gives, and think that these goods will last for ever, forgetting that life in this world is an alternation of good and bad.’

Source: Whitall N. Perry, The Spiritual Ascent: A Compendium of the World’s Wisdom, Book One, Part I, “Separation — Sin”, pp. 53-4

The Qur’an reminds us of the primeval event of awareness for every human soul in the Chapter The Heights. God asked each soul about its self: “When your Lord made them testify concerning themselves: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yea! We do testify!'” (7:172).

Each soul bore witness to their Lord and declared their devotion and servitude. The human soul which, according to the Qur’an, had existed prior to its emergence into this world, was untainted, pure potential before its separation from God.

“So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: ‘Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you?'” (7:22)…Then, God told them: “We said: ‘Get ye down all from here (the Garden); and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.'” (2:38)

Perhaps one way to look at the fall of Adam and Eve, and by extension all of Mankind, is to consider the fact that man’s potential, or his self, can only develop and be known through experience. That is, man discovers himself as a consequence of his alienation and separation from God. It is a seeming separation, however, for in reality, separation brought about by rebellion and consequently, the fall,  is but illusion, disequilibrium, and ignorance.

[Surface Contradictions]

“[E]very evil is by definition a ‘part’, never a ‘totality’; and negations or fragmentary privations, which are the various forms of evil, are inevitable since the world, not being God and unable to be Him, is of necessity situated outside of God. But with regard to their cosmic function as necessary elements of a total good, evils are in a certain way integrated into this good, and this point of view makes it possible to affirm that metaphysically there is no evil; the notion of evil presupposes in fact a fragmentary vision of things, characteristic of creatures, who are themselves fragments; man is a ‘fragmentary totality’.

As we have seen, evil is in the world because the world is not God; now from a certain point of view—of which the Vedantists are especially aware—the world is ‘none other than God’; Maya is Atma, Samsara is Nirvana; from this point of view evil does not exist, and this is precisely the point of view of the macrocosmic totality. This is suggested in the Koran by means of the following antimony: on the one hand it declares that good is ‘from God’ and evil is ‘from yourselves’, and on the other hand that ‘all is from God’ (Surah ‘Women’ [4]:78, 79), the first idea having to be understood on the basis of the second, which is more universal, hence more real; it is the difference between fragmentary vision and total truth. The fact that the two maxims nearly follow each other—the more universal coming first—proves moreover the lack of concern in sacred dialectic for surface contradictions and the importance attached to penetration and synthesis.

And this brings us back to our more general subject, the question of antinomic expressions in the Koran; an example that has become classic is found in the following verse: ‘Nothing is like unto Him (God), and He it is that hears, that sees’ (Surah ‘Counsel’ [42]:11). The flagrant contradiction between the first assertion and the second—the second drawing a comparison, precisely, and thereby proving that an analogy between things and God does exist—has the function of showing that this evident analogy, without which not a single thing would be possible, in no way implies an imaginable resemblance and does not abolish in the least the absolute transcendence of the divine Principle.”

Source: Frithjof Schuon, Sufism: Veil and Quintessence, pp. 13-14

[Intellectual Superficiality]

“Most ‘intellectuals’, to speak without euphemism, are not intelligent enough to understand writers like Saint Anselm or Saint Thomas Aquinas, that is to say to understand them in depth and to find there evidence of God. The darkening of our world – whether we mean the West properly so called or its ramifications in the East and elsewhere – appears patently in the fact that an extreme mental dexterity goes hand in hand with a no less excessive intellectual superficiality; it has become habitual to treat concepts as if they were playthings of the mind, committing one to nothing, in other words everything is touched on and nothing is assimilated; ideas no longer bite into the intelligence, which slides over concepts without taking time to really grasp them. The modern mind moves ‘on the surface’, all the time playing with mental images, while not knowing their possibilities and role; whereas the traditional mind proceeds in depth, whence come doctrines, which may seem dogmatist, but are fully sufficient and effectual for those who know what a doctrine is. Twentieth century man has lost the sense of repose and contemplation; living on husks, he no longer knows what fruit is like.”

Source: Frithjof Schuon, Stations of Wisdom, pp.x-xi