[Crown]

“The essential meaning of the crown is derived from that of the head, with which it is linked—unlike the hat—not in a utilitarian but in a strictly emblematic manner. By reference to level-symbolism, we may conclude that the crown does not merely surmount the top of the body (and of the human being as a whole), but rises above it and therefore symbolizes, in the broadest and deepest sense, the very idea of pre-eminence. That is why a superlatively successful achievement is spoken of as a ‘crowning achievement’. Hence the crown is the visible sign of success, of ‘crowning’, whose significance reaches beyond the act to the person who performed it.

The metal crown, the diadem and the crown of rays of light, are symbols of light and of spiritual enlightenment. In some books of alchemy there are illustrations showing the planetary spirits receiving their crown—that is, their light—from the hands of their king—that is, the sun. The light they received from him is not equal in intensity but graded, as it were, in hierarchies, corresponding to the grades of nobility ranging from the king down to the baron. Books on alchemy also stress the affirmative and sublimating sense of the crown. In Margarita pretiosa, the six base metals are first shown as slaves, with their uncovered heads bowed low towards the feet of the ‘king’ (that is, gold); but, after their transmutation, they are depicted wearing crowns on their heads. This ‘transmutation’ is a symbol of spiritual evolution whose decisive characteristic is the victory of the higher principle over the base principle of the instincts. That is why Jung concludes that the radiant crown is the symbol par excellence of reaching the highest goal of evolution: for he who conquers himself wins the crown of eternal life.”

Source: J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, p. 72

[“Valor is the conquest of one’s self.”]

“We must suppose that those who secretly wrestle with us abide in another great world which, in its nature, is akin to the natural powers of our soul. For the three princes of evil, in their fight with spiritual strugglers, attack the three powers of our soul, and if a man has failed in something or does not strive at something, they overcome him in this very thing. Thus, the dragon—the prince of the abyss—rises in arms against those who keep attention on their heart, as one whose ‘strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly’ (Job xl. 16). He sends the lust-loving giant of forgetfulness against them with his clouds of fiery arrows, stirs up lust in them like some turbulent sea, makes it foam and burn in them and causes their confusion by flooding them with torrents of insatiable passions. The prince of this world, who is charge of warfare against the excitable part, attacks those who follow the path of active virtue. Using the giant of laziness, he encompasses them with all kinds of witchery of the passions and wrestles with those who always put up a courageous resistance. Thus he either vanquishes or is himself vanquished and so he gains them either crowns or shame before the faces of the angels. The prince of high places attacks those who exercise themselves in mental contemplation, by offering them fantasies; for, in company with the spiritual wickedness in high places, his task is to affect the thinking and rise on high, darkens and frightens it, introducing into it vague fantastic images of spirits and their metamorphoses and producing phantoms of lightning and thunder, tempests and earthquakes. Thus each of the three princes, impinging upon the corresponding powers of the soul, wages war against it, conducting his attacks against the particular part allotted to him.”

St. Gregory of Sinai

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians VI. 11, 12)

“The dragon is thy sensual soul: how is it dead? It is (only) frozen by grief and lack of means.

If it obtain the means of Pharaoh, by whose command the water of the river would flow,

Then it will begin to act like Pharaoh and will waylay a hundred (such as) Moses and Aaron.

That dragon, under stress of poverty, is a little worm, (but) a gnat is made a falcon by power and riches.

Keep the dragon in the snow of separation; beware, do not carry it into the sun of ‘Iraq.

So long as that dragon of thine remains frozen, (well and good); thou art a mouthful for it, when it gains release.

Mortify it and become safe from (spiritual) death; have no mercy; it is not one of them that deserves favours;

For (when) the heat of the sun of lust strikes upon it, that vile bat of thine flaps its wings.

Lead it manfully to the spiritual warfare and battle: God will reward thee with access (to Him)…

Dost thou hope, without using violence, to keep it bound in quiet and faithfulness?

How should this wish be fulfilled for any worthless one? It needs a Moses to kill the dragon.”

Rumi

Source: Whitall N. Perry, The Spiritual Ascent: A Compendium of the World’s Wisdoms, pp. 397, 400

[Some indications on the scope and limits of disbelief in oneself and of complete trust in God]

“Since all the strength by which our enemies are overcome is born in us from disbelief in ourselves and from trust in God, it is necessary for you, my brother, to acquire exact knowledge of this, in order always to have this strength and to preserve it with the help of God. Know then, and never forget, that neither all our capacities and good features, whether natural or acquired, nor all the gifts freely given us, nor the knowledge of all the Scriptures, nor the fact that we have for long worked for God and have acquired experience in these labours, nor all this together will enable us to do God’s will rightly, if at every good deed pleasing to God, which we are about to undertake, at every affliction we wish to avoid, at every cross we have to bear according to God’s will, if, I say, on all these and similar occasions a special divine help does not inspire our heart and does not give us strength to accomplish it, as the Lord said: ‘Without me ye can do nothing’ (John xv. 5). So for the duration of our life, every day and at every moment, we must keep unchanged in our heart the feeling, conviction and disposition, that on no occasion can we allow ourselves to think of relying on ourselves and trusting ourselves.

As regards trust in God, I will add the following to what I have said in the third chapter: know that nothing is easier for God than to give you victory over your enemies, whether they be few or many, whether they be old and strong or new and weak. Yet He has His own time and order for everything. Therefore if a soul be overburdened with sins, if it be guilty of all the crimes in the world, if it be defiled beyond imagination;—if, at the same time, to the extent of its desire and strength, it uses every means and endeavour to become free of sin and turn to the path of good, but cannot get stable in anything right, however small, and, on the contrary, sinks ever deeper and deeper into evil; even if it is all that, it must not weaken in its trust of God or fall away from Him. It must not abandon its spiritual weapons and strivings but must fight and fight, struggling with itself and with its enemies with all its courage and untiring efforts. For know and under- stand, that in this unseen war all are losers except a man who never ceases to struggle and keep his trust in God; for God never abandons those who fight in His armies, although at times He/ lets them suffer wounds. So fight, everyone, and do not give ground; for the whole thing is in this unceasing struggle. /God is always ready with remedies for those struck down by the enemies and with help for overcoming them, which He sends to His warriors in due time, if they seek
Him and firmly hope in Him. At some’ hour when they least expect it they will see their proud enemies vanish, as is written: ‘ The mighty men of Babylon have forborn to fight’ (Jer. li. 30).”

Source: St. Theophan the Recluse, Unseen Warfare, Chapter 6, p. 10

[Descent into Hell]

“Christ’s soul must needs descend into hell, before it ascended into heaven. So must also the soul of man. But mark ye what manner this cometh to pass. When a man truly perceiveth and considereth himself, who and what he is, and findeth himself utterly vile and wicked, and unworthy of all the comfort and kindness that he hath ever received from God, or from the creatures, he falleth into such a deep abasement and despising of himself, that he thinketh himself unworthy that the earth should bear him, and it seemeth to him reasonable that all creatures in heaven and earth should rise up against him and avenge their Creator on him, and should punish and torment him; and that he were unworthy even of that. And it seemeth to him that he shall be eternally lost and damned, and a footstool to all the devils in hell, and that this is right and just and all too little compared to his sins which he so often and in so many ways hath committed against God and his Creator…Whilst a man is thus in hell, none may console him, neither God nor the creature, as it is written, ‘In hell there is no redemption.’ …

Now God hath not forsaken a man in this hell, but He is laying his hand upon him, that the man may not desire nor regard anything but the Eternal Good only, and may come to know that that is so noble and passing good, that none can search out or express its bliss, consolation and joy, peace, rest and satisfaction. And then, when the man neither careth for, nor seeketh, nor desireth, anything but the Eternal Good alone, and seeketh not himself, nor his own things, but the honour of God only, he is made a partaker of all manner of joy, bliss, peace, rest and consolation, and so the man is henceforth in the Kingdom of Heaven.

This hell and this heaven are two good, safe ways for a man in this present time, and happy is he who truly findeth them.

For this hell shall pass away,

But Heaven shall endure for aye.”

— Theologia Germanica, XI

Source: Whitall N. Perry, The Spiritual Ascent: A Compendium of the World’s Wisdoms, p. 367

[The Compellor]

An Islamic Prophetic tradition (hadith):

“It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: ‘We (the believers) said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, will we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?’ He (Prophet Muhammad) said, ‘Do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon when the sky is clear?’ We said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘So you will have no difficulty in seeing your Lord on that Day, just as you have no difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon (in a clear sky).

 …Then the bridge (sirat) will be laid across Hell.’ We said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! What is the bridge?’ He said, ‘It is a slippery (bridge) on which there are clamps and (hooks like) thorns which are wide at one side and narrow at the other and have bent ends. A plant with such thorns is found in Najd and is called al-Sa’daan. Some of the believers will cross the bridge as quickly as the wink of an eye, some others as quick as lightning, a strong wind, or fast horses or she-camels. So some will be safe without any harm; some will be safe after receiving some scratches, and some will fall down into Hell (Fire). The last person will cross by being dragged (over the bridge). You cannot be more pressing in claiming from me a right that has been clearly proved to be yours than the believers in interceding with Almighty Allaah for their brothers on that Day, when they see themselves safe.  ‘They will say, ‘O Lord, our brothers used to pray with us and fast with us and do good deeds with us.’ Allah will say, ‘Go, and whoever you find with a dinar’s-weight of faith in his heart, bring him forth, and Allah will forbid their bodies to the Fire.’ So they will go, and some of them will be sinking into the Fire up to their feet or shins, and they will bring forth those whom they recognize. Then they will come back, and He will say, ‘Go, and whoever you find with half a dinar’s-weight of faith in his heart, bring him forth.’ So they will go and bring forth those whom they recognize. Then they will come back, and He will say, ‘Go, and whoever you find with an atom’s-weight of faith in his heart, bring him forth.’ So they will go and bring forth those whom they recognize.’ Abu Sa’eed said: ‘If you do not believe me, then read the verse interpretation of the meaning:

Surely, Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a small ant), but if there is any good (done), He doubles it, and gives from Him a great reward [Qur’an, 4:40].

[The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:] ‘So the Prophets, the angels and the believers will intercede, and the Compellor (Allah) will say, ‘There remains My intercession.’ Then He will take a handful from the Fire and bring forth some people whose bodies have been burnt and throw them into a river at the entrance to Paradise that is called the Water of Life.
They will grow on its banks, as a seed carried by a flood grows. You have seen how it grows beside a rock or beside a tree, and how the side facing the sun is usually green while the side facing the shade is white. They will come out like pearls, and necklaces will be placed around their necks. Then they will enter Paradise, and the people of Paradise will say, ‘These are the people emancipated by the Most Merciful. He has admitted them into Paradise without them having done any good deeds and without them having sent forth any good (for themselves).’ Then it will be said to them, ‘You will have what you have seen and the equivalent thereof.'”

(Narrated by al-Bukhari in Kitab al-Tawheed (The Book of Unity), no. 7440)

Al-Jabbar (the Compellor)

“He is the repairer of the broken, the completer of the lacking, the one who can enforce His will without any opposition.

Hadrat Ali used to pray, Ya Jabbira kulli kasirum wa ya masahilla kulli ‘asirin—’O Jabbar (the Compellor), who puts together all that is broken and brings ease to every difficulty.’

At the same time al-Jabbar is the one who is able to enforce His will at all times and places without any opposition. This forcefulness makes submission a necessity. His forcefulness is within the destiny of all His creation. The sun cannot say, ‘I will not rise again.’ The wind cannot say, ‘I will not blow again.’ Yet the human being is given a choice. We are also given the wisdom to know what is right and what is wrong. We are given freedom yet the purpose of our creation is to know Allah, to find Allah, and to become the servant of Allah. But this is not enforced on us. Allah has left it to our wish.

We find al-Jabbar by knowing that the only place to go to repair our broken hopes, to find peace in the confusion in which we find ourselves, is to Allah. On those unhappy occasions of disobedience and revolt, if we run to take refuge in Allah’s mercy before the coming of His punishment (from which no force can save us and from which there is nowhere to hide), we will find in this moment the recollection of Allah in His capacity as the Forceful One.”

Source: Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti, The Name & the Named: The Attributes of God, pp. 61-2


[“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