Guide The Fullness of God: Frithjof Schuon on Christianity (Library of Perennial Philosophy)

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And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom. It is the number of total unfolding: the creation was completed in six days, and the fundamental metaphysical or mystical perspectives, the darshanas, are—and must be—six in number, according to Hindu tradition. This is what space demonstrates: it has three dimensions, but the introduction of a subjective principle of alternative or opposition gives it six directions; this structure retraces the totality of the Universe.

The North is divine Purity and human renunciation, vacare Deo; the South is Life, Love, Goodness, and, in human terms, trust in God or hope; the East is Strength, Victory, and, on the human side, spiritual combat; the West is Peace, Beatitude, Beauty, and, in human terms, spiritual contentment, holy quietude. The Zenith is Truth, Loftiness, Transcendence, and thus also discernment and knowledge; the Nadir is the Heart, Depth, Immanence, and thus also union and holiness. The foregoing considerations enable us to extend our analysis of the Solomonian number even further, at the risk of becoming involved in a digression that would raise fresh problems; but this does not matter, since further precisions may be useful.

The number three evokes in fact not absoluteness itself, as does the number one, but the potentiality or virtuality which the Absolute necessarily comprises. The Blessed Virgin as Series Sapientiae personifies this merciful Wisdom, which descends towards us and which we too, whether we know it or not, bear in our very essence; and it is precisely by virtue of this potentiality or virtuality that Wisdom comes down upon us.

The immanent seat of Wisdom is the heart of man. This ostracism is logically surprising when one is aware of the complexity of the issue at stake. The decisive argument is that these two orders, the created and the Uncreated, share no common measure and that nothing that is merely natural—whatever its distant cause may be—can oppose itself to the Presence of God.

According to a hadith, Jesus and Mary were the only human beings the devil did not touch at birth with his claw, and who therefore did not utter a cry. To the objection that esoterism also belongs to the formal order, one must respond that esoterism is aware of this and that it tends to transcend the accidentality of its own form, whereas exo- terism is totally and heavily identified with its form.

However, the possibility at issue here—of which Honorius I is not at all an example—can occur in so severe a degree only under utterly abnormal circumstances, which the twentieth century in fact affords; there would still be the question whether the pope who might be incriminated was a legitimate pope with regard to the conditions of his election. Some of these differentiations may seem a gratuitous luxury, but they are nonetheless unavoidable and finally opportune, collective 4.

To this it must be added that a sacred book, like the Gospel for example, which seems to speak to sinners, at least at the outset, really addresses any man insofar as he sins; this confers upon the notion of sin the widest significance possible—that of a centrifugal motion, whether compressive or dispersing—even when there is properly speaking no objective transgression.

Sacred language, even if directed at first to specific men, is finally directed to man as such. In considering the most general factors of the issue, we shall say that Semitic dogmatisms, as well as Hindu darshanas like Ramanujan Vishnuism, pertain to the chivalrous and heroic spirit, 7 which necessarily tends toward voluntarism and individualism, and thus toward a moralizing anthropomorphism.

The fact that Ramanuja was a brahmana and not a kshatriya is no grounds for objection, since all castes—inasmuch as they are particular predispositions—are reflected or repeated in each single caste, so that a brahmana of a kshatriya type is individually equivalent to a kshatriya of a brahmana type.

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Such an adjective is not a pleonasm, for a metaphysical axiom itself can also have a dogmatic character, practically speaking, but without therefore having to exclude formulations diverging from it. The problem of the two natures of Christ can be reduced, in the last analysis, to the relationship between the relative and the Absolute: if Christ is the Absolute entered into relativity, it follows, not only that the relative should return thereby to absoluteness, but also and 9.

One cannot lose sight of the fact that, in all climates, the same causes produce the same effects—in highly diverse proportions—and that India is no exception; the quarrels of sectarian Vishnuism are a case in point. It goes without saying that the classical period—with its grave intellectual and artistic deviation—and its recurrence at the time of the Renaissance are patent examples of warrior or knightly, and hence kshatnya. Luciferianism; however, we do not have in mind here deviations as such since, on the contrary, we are speaking of normal manifestations, which are acceptable to Heaven; otherwise there could be no question of voluntarist and emotional updyas.

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In order to be as clear as possible, it is necessary to insist on the following principle: there is no possible relationship between the Absolute as such and relativity; for such a relationship to exist there must be something relative in the Absolute and something absolute in the relative. For one of two things: either the world is explained starting from God, in which case there is in God prefiguration and creative act, and thus relativity; or else there is in God no relativity, in which case the world is unexplainable and is placed on a level with God.

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The first mystery is the Incarnation; the second is the Redemption. However, just as the Word, in assuming flesh, was already in a sense crucified, so too man, in returning to God, must participate in both mysteries: the ego is crucified to the world, but the grace of salvation is made incarnate in the heart; sanctity is the birth and life of Christ in us. This mystery of the Incarnation has two aspects: the Word, on the one hand, and its human receptacle, on the other: Christ and the Virgin-Mother. It is the appropriate devotion of Christians. The novelty of the Name can offend only those who do not know its real sense: and Saint Dominic, who is regarded as the The Fullness of God: Frithjof Schuon on Christianity Maria is the purity, beauty, goodness, and humility of the cosmic Substance; the microcosmic reflection of this Substance is the soul in a state of grace.

This purity—the Marian state—is the essential condition, not only for reception of the sacraments, but also for the spiritual actualization of the Real Presence of the Word.


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By the word ave, the soul expresses the idea that, in conforming to the perfection of Substance, it places itself at the same time into harmony with it, while imploring the help of the Virgin Mary, who personifies this perfection. Gratia plena : primordial Substance, by reason of its purity, its goodness, and its beauty, is filled with the divine Presence. Dominus tecum: this Substance is not only filled with the divine Presence in an ontological or existential manner, in the sense that it is imbued with it by definition, that is, by its very nature, but it is also constantly communicating with the Word as such.

The soul filled with grace will see God. And again: the soul submissive to God by its purity, its goodness, and its beauty seems to give birth to God, according to appearances; but God, being thus born in it, will transmute and absorb it, as Christ transmutes and absorbs his mystical body, the Church, which from being militant and suffering becomes triumphant. But in reality, the Word is not born in the Substance, for the Word is immutable; it is the Substance that dies in the Word. Jesus: it is the Word that determines Substance and reveals itself to it.

Purity: the soul is empty of all desire.

It is immortality that excludes all corruption. It is in the perfect equilibrium of its possibilities that the universal Substance realizes its beauty. In this perfection, the soul gives up all dissipation in order to repose in its own substantial, primordial, ontological perfection. Goodness: the mercy of the cosmic Substance consists in this, that, virgin in relation to its products, it comprises an inexhaustible power of equilibrium, of setting aright, of healing, of absorbing evil, and of manifesting good; being maternal towards beings who address themselves to it, it in no way refuses them its assistance.

Humility: the Virgin, despite her supreme sanctity, remains woman and aspires to no other role; the humble soul is conscious of its own rank and effaces itself before what surpasses it. It is thus that the Materia Prima of the Universe remains on its own level and never seeks to appropriate to itself the transcendence of the Principle. The mysteries—-joyful, sorrowful, and glorious—of Mary are so many aspects of cosmic reality on the one hand and of the mystical life on the other. The nature of Christ appears in four mysteries: incarnation, love, sacrifice, divinity; and in these the human soul must participate in diverse ways.

The incarnation: this is manifested, as principle, in every positive divine act, such as creation, or within creation in various divine affir- Christie and Virginal Mysteries mations, such as the Scriptures. In the soul, it is the birth of the Divine—grace—but also gnosis, which transforms man and gives him salvation; likewise, it is the divine act of prayer of the heart, the Name of God made incarnate in the soul as an invincible force. Christ, as pure divine affirmation, enters the world—and the soul— with the force of lightning, of the drawn sword; all natural imagery of the soul appears then as a passivity or an indulgence toward the world, a forgetfulness of God out of weakness and negligence.

The incarnation is, in the soul, the victorious—and ceaselessly renewed—presence of divine Miracle. Love: God is love, infinite life. The ego, on the contrary, is a state of death, comparable, in its congenital egoism, to a stone, and also, in its vain pettiness, to sterile and shifting sand. It is thus that the ego must be annihilated, in a perfect void, before the exclusive Reality of God.

Divinity: what corresponds to this in the soul is pure spirituality, that is, permanent union with God. We are here alluding to the well-known Buddhist formula: Orn mani padme hum. He contains it, as it were; he is a second creation, which purifies and redeems the first. He assumes, with the cross, the evil of Existence; to be able to assume this evil, it was necessary that God should become Existence.

The cross is everywhere because creation is of necessity separated from God; Existence affirms itself and blossoms out through enjoyment, but enjoyment becomes sin to the extent that God is not its object, although all enjoyment contains a metaphysical excuse in the fact that it is directed to God by its existential nature; every sin is broken at the foot of the cross.

Jesus is not only the new Adam, but also the new Creation. The old is totality and circumference; the new, unicity and center. At the root of all that exists, there is the cross.

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The ego is a downward path drawing man away from God; the cross is a halting of that path. The cross brings the latter back to the former and in so doing permits us to overcome Existence. And that is why enjoyment in the shadow of the cross is conceivable and even inevitable; to exist is to enjoy, even though it be at the foot of the cross. Suffering and death are none other than the cross reappearing in the cosmic flesh; Existence is a rose signed with a cross. Every sin is that of Adam and Eve, and every human being is Adam or Eve; 2 the first act of justice will therefore be to forgive our neighbor.

Suggestion comes from the devil, pleasure from the body, and consent from the will. To hate another is to forget that God alone is perfect and that God alone is Judge.

The cross is the divine fissure through which Mercy flows from the Infinite. The victory that devolves upon man has already been won by Jesus; for man nothing remains but to open himself to this victory, which thus becomes his own. He is as if drunk, but with a drunkenness that is cold and pure; his whole life is henceforth like an echo repeating a thousand times that single instant at the foot of the cross. In Christianity, pure esoterism answers these questions: in which respect does Christ represent Atma or Maya, and in which respect does the Holy Virgin represent Maya or Atma?

And also: how does the Holy Trinity represent Atma? Christianity is the perspective of divine Manifestation. This is the universal, hence esoteric, meaning of the saying. But let us not forget that the Persons are eminently present in pure Atma ; otherwise they could not actu- The Fullness of God: Frithjof Schuon on Christianity alize themselves within Maya.

In this sense, the hypostatic Persons are above Relativity; they are intrinsic aspects of the Absolute: Sat, Chit, Ananda. This explains the possibility of the invocation of their Names Tqoou Maptap or Jesu Maria ; by invoking them, man invokes God, and at the same time assimilates their respective mysteries. If you have any difficulty with the practice of invocation, you can always write to me.

And I shall pray for you, as you requested. They are six in number: 1. Presumption overestimating oneself, in principle or in fact ; 2. Attack against the known truth; 4. Obstinacy in evil, intellectual or moral ; 6. Final Impenitence in the face of death. Faqr is the quality that excludes these sins.

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There is no valid dhikr without faqr. A sin wrongs God, or ourselves, or our neighbor; in the last case it is grievous, not only insofar as the evil committed is so, but also insofar as the neighbor represents God. You know that pure metaphysics is 1. You mention in your letter the man who is convinced he saw Christ; not having heard his story, I cannot express an opinion.