“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
“We have spoken of those who are on the right, that is, the saved. What of those on the left, the damned? Hell might seem to need some explanation because on the one hand the Quranic descriptions of the sufferings of Hell are unsurpassably terrible, yielding nothing in this respect to the Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian descriptions of Hell, but on the other hand the Qur’an insists that whereas every good deed is rewarded ten-fold each sin is punished only with its equivalent (6:160). How then is it possible to deserve Hell? But before trying to answer this question we must first interrogate ourselves. We may think we are capable of assessing sinful acts such as murder or theft, and we hear not infrequently today of crimes so appalling and indicative of such a horrible state of the soul that we might say no punishment but Hell is bad enough for this, until we remember that Hell is not just for a day or a week but seemingly endless. We will come back later to this question of duration; but are we capable of assessing the gravity of sins which are states lived without respite from one year’s end to another like the sin of atheism to which we may add agnosticism? The Creator says in the Qur’an: I did not create jinn and men except that they should worship Me (51:56). What makes man human is that he should reach beyond this world. The man who fails to worship is subhuman—not merely that, as the Qur’an points out, but even lower than the animals (25:44). In short, man was created as representative of God on earth endowed with immense privileges such as no other earthly creature enjoys. In a very early Meccan revelation the Qur’an affirms: We created man in the fairest rectitude. Then cast We him down to be the lowest of the low, except for those who believe and who do the good deeds that piety demands (95:4-6).
The greatest of God’s gifts to man at his creation is his power to conceive the Transcendent, nor does it begin in this life. The Qur’an stresses that at the creation of Adam every human being later to be born into this world was imbued with the knowledge of the Divine Lordship. In other words every human being has in the depth of his nature a sense of the Absolute. According to the Qur’an the sin of sins is turning one’s back on the Transcendent in order to give all one’s attention to this world, not as the representative of God but as a parody of God, a would-be independent tyrant out for an unrestrained and undirected exploitation of all the resources of the earthly state. This is the great betrayal of trust, and if Hell seems to have a touch of the Absolute it is because this betrayal is in relation to the Absolute. But Hell is not Absolute and cannot be Eternal for that is the prerogative of the Hidden Treasure alone. It is true that the Qur’an speaks of the people of Hell as abiding therein forever, but this forever has to be understood in a relative sense, for there is one very explicit passage in which a double limitation is put on the everlastingness of Hell (11:103-8). Its inmates are described as abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure except as God wisheth. Verily God is ever the doer of what He will. The first of the two limitations, so long as the heavens and the earth endure, can be interpreted ‘until the Creator reabsorbs the created universe back into Himself.’ As to the second limitation, it clearly refers to the possibility of Divine intervention, and this is explained in a well-known saying of the Prophet that after the Judgement, when the wretched are in Hell and the blessed are in Paradise, God will call together the Angels and the Prophets and the believers and bid them intercede for those in Hell, and in consequence a multitude of souls are released until finally He orders the release of all those in whom there is any good so that only those who have no good to their credit are left in Hell. Then He will say: ‘The Angels have interceded and the Prophets have interceded and the believers have interceded and none is left to intercede save the Most Merciful of the Merciful.’ And He will take out of Hell all who are left and will throw them into the River of Life at the entrance to the Gardens of Paradise.
The passage in the Qur’an on which this is a commentary goes on to describe the blessed in Paradise as abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure except as God wisheth. Apparently there is the same double limitation on the everlastingness of Paradise as on that of Hell, but this is not so, for Paradise, unlike Hell, is as it were open to the Absolute, in virtue of the highest Paradise, that of the Essence, which is the Absolute Itself. Thus in the Qur’an immediately after what we have quoted there comes the reassuring promise in the definition of Paradise as a gift that shall not be taken away. The Prophet’s explanation of this whole Quranic passage continues: “After the last people have been taken out of Hell God will turn to the people of Paradise and say: ‘Are ye content?’ And they will say: ‘How should we not be content?’ and He will say: ‘I will give you better than this.’ And they will say: ‘What thing, O Lord, is better?’ and He will say: ‘I will enfold you in My Ridwan (God’s good pleasure).'”
This is something which the highest Saints already know as we have seen. But the lower Paradises belong to the created universe which in the end also returns to the Creator on the day when We shall roll up the heavens as at the rolling up of a written scroll (21:104). So Paradise is a gift that shall not be taken away because although in fact it is taken away it is replaced by the incomparably greater felicity of the Supreme Paradise which is no less than the Infinite Eternal Beatitude of the Hidden Treasure from which all creation proceeds and to which it all returns.
In Christianity we can recall the words of Christ when he appeared to St. Juliana of Norwich who was greatly troubled by thoughts of the sufferings in Hell: ‘But all shall be well’ to which, when he saw that she was not altogether satisfied he added: ‘All manner of thing shall be well.’
It could not be otherwise, for it must always be remembered that man is made in the image of God, and this means that it is not legitimate to attribute to Divine Providence anything that violates the God-given human sense of values, which includes the sense of responsibility. God knows that the worst sinner in Hell are totally innocent of one thing, namely their own existence, for which He alone is responsible. Thus the Qur’an continually affirms that everything finally will be brought back to Him. In other words He is bound to reabsorb into the indescribable Felicity of His Own Essence everything which He manifested from it. God’s is the Sovereignty over the heavens and the earth; and unto God is the ultimate becoming (24:42).”
Source: Martin Lings, A Return to the Spirit: Questions and Answers, Chapter 6, pp. 74-77
“”The account of the levels of Being which separate the Creator from material universe, while at the same time uniting them, is similar in all the revealed traditions and in the works of many mystical philosophers. But it is never identical, since whatever can be made explicit has already entered the world of relativity. True metaphysical doctrines are vastly more stable, articulate, intelligible and concrete than anything in the material and psychic worlds. But even though the Absolute emanates them, they cannot contain the Absolute; they can only indicate it.
Being is manifested on different levels, but it also appears in terms of different qualities occupying the same level. Levels are vertical; each higher level is the cause of the levels below it, and contains all that is in these lower levels in a higher form. Likewise each lower level is a manifestation or expression—a symbol—of all that is above it; in René Guénon’s words, ‘the effect is a symbol of the cause.’ Modes of Being, on the other hand, are horizontal; they differ in quality and function, but not in degree of reality; they are mutually-defining, polarized manifestations of a single level of Being.
The distinction between modes and levels can be illustrated in the realm of gender. In vertical terms, man, considered as a reflection of the creative Logos, is higher than woman, considered as a reflection of universal receptive Substance. Viewed from the opposite perspective, however, woman, when taken as a symbol of the Divine Essence or Beyond Being, is higher than man, when seen as a symbol of the particularizing thrust of the Logos whose ontological limit is the material world as perceived by the human ego. But in horizontal terms, man and woman are polarized as complementary opposites, on the same level of Being. The right hand is not more real than the left hand; because they are complementary, they are equal. But equality in this sense has nothing to do with sameness or identity. The right hand still maintains its symbolic connection with the higher realms of Being, with truth and the ‘right’, while the left or ‘sinister’ hand retains its affinity with the lower realms. On the other hand—pun deliberately intended—the right hand is also connected with the outer conscious ego and the left hand with inner Truth, as Jesus implied when he recommended that, in charity, one should not let his right hand (conscious ego) know what his left hand (inner spiritual impulse) is doing. [NOTE: Whoever meditates on the famous Yin/Yang sign will see in it a visual representation of this paragraph.]”
Source: Charles Upton, The System of Antichrist, pp. 95-6
“There is no more unpopular concept today than hierarchy. In most people’s vocabulary it means no more or less than ‘established, therefore, arbitrary power.'” Modernity has a distaste for hierarchy, as if it has become synonymous with oppression and antithetical to ‘democracy’. And so the modern revolutionist desires to liberate himself from the dictates of what he perceives to be an arbitrary authority.
No doubt history has produced hierarchies that confer power and status on people unequally, and that this power has often been abused. “And when in a particular place and time it became degenerate, it stood as the worst form of idolatry. Instead of functioning as a transparent symbol of the Hierarchy of Being, it became a counterfeit of that Hierarchy, a veil over the face of spiritual realities.”
The question of how to prevent hierarchies from becoming brutal, despotic regimes is a most serious one, but trying to solve the problem of unjust authority by attacking hierarchy per se is erroneous, even dangerous. Dangerous because the degeneration of the concept of hierarchy in the modern mind results in a false image of reality.
“In both the Old Testament and the Koran, the prime symbol of such falsification of spiritual hierarchy is the Pharaoh of Egypt. According to the Koran, the Pharaoh literally believed he was God—and this is exactly what happens when an elaborate royal or ecclesiastical structure begins to worship its own knowledge and magnificence instead of the God it exists to serve. True hierarchy, like the ladder in Jacob’s dream upon which angels were constantly ascending and descending, is there to provide an ongoing ‘two-way communication’, so to speak, between manifest existence and its transcendent Source. The universe itself is just such a hierarchy.”
Hierarchy is integral to the nature of Being. For the ancients, social hierarchies provided a concrete image and reminder of the true ontological hierarchy, the Great Chain of Being.
True hierarchy unifies. Unification is an ordering. Order brings about harmony, allowing the parts to function together as an integrated whole.
Inverted, false hierarchies are a symptom of social dysfunction. To be fully human is to exist in wholeness, yet, the mechanics of the Kali Yuga, the Age of Confusion, sow discord and disorder…”the world of evil is a chaotic world.”
“In other words, there is a hierarchy of the real. The manifold world of our everyday experience is real with a relative reality that is, on its own level, unquestionable; but this relative reality has its being within and because of the absolute Reality, which, on account of the incommensurable otherness of its eternal nature, we can never hope to describe, even though it is possible for us to directly apprehend it.” – Aldous Huxely, The Perennial Philosophy
“Moses, by God’s grace and power, was called to ascend Mt. Sinai, symbol of the Hierarchy of Being, to receive the Torah. Those who denied the reality of that Hierarchy, who wanted to relate to God through His Immanence alone while denying His Transcendence, remained below to worship the Golden Calf.”
Source: Charles Upton, The System of Antichrist, pp. 94-5
“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).
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.