Frithjof Schuon Quotes
“When people want to be rid of Heaven it is logical to start by creating an atmosphere in which spiritual things appear out of place; in order to be able to declare successfully that God is unreal they have to construct around man a false reality, a reality that is inevitably inhuman because only the inhuman can exclude God. What is involved is a falsification of the imagination and so its destruction.”
“If Mohammed had been a false prophet. there is no reason why Christ should not have spoken of him as he spoke of Antichrist but if Mohammed is a true Prophet the passages referring to the Paraclete must inevitably concern him - not exclusively but eminently - for it is inconceivable that Christ, when speaking of the future, should have passed over in silence a manifestation of such magnitude. The same reasoning excludes a priori the possibility that Christ. when making his predictions, intended to include Mohammed under the general denomination of'' false prophets", for in the history of our era Mohammed is in no sense a typical example among others of the same kind, but on the contrary, a unique and incomparable apparition(1). If he had been one of the false prophets announced by Christ he would have been followed by others and there would exist in our day a multitude of false religions subsequent to Christ and comparable in importance and extension to Islam. The spirituality to be found within Islam from its origins up to our days is an incontestable fact. and "by their fruits ye shall know them." Moreover, it will be recalled that the Prophet in his doctrine has testified to the second coming of Christ without attributing to himself any glory. unless it be that of being the last Prophet of the cycle and history proves that he spoke the truth, no comparable manifestation having followed after him.”
“Many people of our time reason along the following lines: The religions—or the differing spiritual perspectives within a given religion—contradict one another, therefore they cannot all be right; consequently none is true. This is exactly as if one said: Every individual claims to be "I," thus they cannot all be right; consequently none is "I." This example shows up the absurdity of the antireligious argument, by recalling the real analogy between the inevitable external limitation of religious language and the no less inevitable limitation of the human ego. To reach this conclusion, as do the rationalists who use the above argument, amounts in practice to denying the diversity of the knowing subjects as also the diversity of aspects in the object to be known. It amounts to pretending that there are neither points of view nor aspects; that is to say, that there is but a single man to see a mountain and that the mountain has but a single side to be seen. The error of the subjectivist and relativist philosophers is a contrary one. According to them, the mountain would alter its nature according to whoever viewed it; at one time it might be a tree and at another a stream.
[No activity without Truth] - Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 3, No. 4. (Autumn 1969)”
“A civilization is integral and healthy to the extent [that] it is founded on the "invisible" or "underlying" religion, the religio perennis, that is, to the extent [that] its expressions or forms are transparent to the Non-Formal and tend toward the Origin, thus conveying the recollection of a lost Paradise, but also - and with all the more reason - the presentiment of a timeless Beatitude. For the Origin is at once within us and before us; time is but a spiral movement around a motionless Center.”
“Relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself. Fundamentally it consists in propounding the claim that there is no truth as if this were truth or in declaring it to be absolutely true that there is nothing but the relatively true; one might just as well say that there is no language or write that there is no writing. In short, every idea is reduced to a relativity of some sort, whether psychological, historical, or social; but the assertion nullifies itself by the fact that it too presents itself as a psychological, historical, or social relativity. The assertion nullifies itself if it is true and by nullifying itself logically proves thereby that it is false; its initial absurdity lies in the implicit claim to be unique in escaping, as if by enchantment, from a relativity that is declared to be the only possibility.”
“Il est un côté de la « culture bourgeoise » qui en dévoile toute la petitesse, c'est son aspect de « roulement » conventionnel, de manque d'imagination, bref d'inconscience et de vanité : on ne se demande pas un instant « à quoi bon tout cela » ; aucun auteur ne se demande s'il vaut la peine d'écrire une nouvelle histoire après tant d'autres histoires ; on semble en écrire simplement parce que d'autres en ont écrit, et parce qu'on ne voit pas pourquoi on ne le ferait pas et pourquoi on ne gagnerait pas une gloire que d'autres ont gagnée. C'est un perpetuum mobile que rien ne peut arrêter, sauf une catastrophe ou, moins tragiquement, la disparition progressive des lecteurs ; sans public point de célébrité, nous l'avons dit plus haut. Et ceci est arrivé dans une certaine mesure : on ne lit plus d'anciens auteurs dont le prestige paraissait assuré ; le grand public a d'autres besoins, d'autres ressources et d'autres distractions, fussent-elle des plus basses. La culture c'est, de plus en plus, l'absence de culture : la manie de se couper de ses racines et d'oublier d'où l'on vient.
Une des raisons subjectives de ce que nous pouvons appeler le « roulement culturel » est que l'homme n'aime pas se perdre tout seul, qu'il aime par conséquent trouver des complices pour une perdition commune ; c'est ce que fait la culture profane, inconsciemment ou consciemment, mais non innocemment car l'homme porte au fond de lui-même l'instinct de sa raison d'être et de sa vocation. On a souvent reproché aux civilisations orientales leur stérilité culturelle, c'est-à-dire le fait qu'elles ne comportent pas un fleuve habituel de production littéraire, artistique et philosophique ; nous croyons pouvoir nous dispenser à présent de la peine d'en expliquer les raisons.”
“Such was also the case with Nietzsche, a volcanic genius if ever there was one. Here, too, there is passionate exteriorization of an inward fire, but in a manner that is both deviated and demented; we have in mind here, not the Nietzschian philosophy, which taken literally is without interest, but his poetical work, whose most intense expression is in part his ‘Zarathustra’. What this highly uneven book manifests above all is the violent reaction of an a priori profound soul against a mediocre and paralyzing cultural environment; Nietzsche’s fault was to have only a sense of grandeur in the absence of all intellectual discernment. ‘Zarathustra’ is basically the cry of a grandeur trodden underfoot, whence comes the heart-rending authenticity – grandeur precisely – of certain passages; not all of them, to be sure, and above all not those which express a half-Machiavellian, half-Darwinian philosophy, or minor literary cleverness. Be that as it may, Nietzsche’s misfortune, like that of other men of genius, such as Napoleon, was to be born after the Renaissance and not before it; which indicates evidently an aspect of their nature, for there is no such thing as chance.”
“In our day everyone wants to appear intelligent, one would prefer to be accused of crime than of naiveté if the accompanying risks could be avoided. But since intelligence cannot be drawn from the void, subterfuge are resorted to, one of the most prevalent being the mania for "demystification", which allows an air of intelligence to be conveyed at small cost, for all one need do is assert that the normal response to a particular phenomenon is "prejudiced" and that it is high time it was cleared of the "legends" surrounding it; if the ocean could be made out to be a pond or the Himalayas a hill, it would be done. Certain writers find it impossible to be content with taking note of the fact that a particular thing or person has a particular character or destiny, as everyone had done before them; they must always begin by remarking that "it has too often been said", and go on to declare that the reality is something quite different and has at last been discovered, and that up till now all the world has been "living a lie". This strategy is applied above all to things that are evident and universally known, it would doubtless be too naive to acknowledge in so many words that a lion is a carnivore and that he is not quite safe to meet.”
“The differences between religions are reflected very clearly in the different forms of sacred art: compared with Gothic art, above all in its “flamboyant” style, Islamic art is contemplative rather than volitive: it is “intellectual” and not “dramatic”, and it opposes the cold beauty of geometrical design to the mystical heroism of cathedrals. Islam is the perspective of “omnipresence” (“God is everywhere”), which coincides with that of “simultaneity” (“Truth has always been”); it aims at avoiding any “particularization” or “condensation”, any “unique fact” in time and space, although as a religion it necessarily includes an aspect of “unique fact”, without which it would be ineffective or even absurd. In other words Islam aims at what is “everywhere center”, and this is why, symbolically speaking, it replaces the cross with the cube or the woven fabric: it “decentralizes” and “universalizes” to the greatest possible extent, in the realm of art as in that of doctrine; it is opposed to any individualist mode and hence to any “personalist” mysticism.
To express ourselves in geometrical terms, we could say that a point which seeks to be unique, and which thus becomes an absolute center, appears to Islam—in art as in theology—as a usurpation of the divine absoluteness and therefore as an “association” (shirk); there is only one single center, God, whence the prohibition against “centralizing” images, especially statues; even the Prophet, the human center of the tradition, has no right to a “Christic uniqueness” and is “decentralized” by the series of other Prophets; the same is true of Islam—or the Koran—which is similarly integrated in a universal “fabric” and a cosmic “rhythm”, having been preceded by other religions—or other “Books”—which it merely restores. The Kaaba, center of the Muslim world, becomes space as soon as one is inside the building: the ritual direction of prayer is then projected toward the four cardinal points.
If Christianity is like a central fire, Islam on the contrary resembles a blanket of snow, at once unifying and leveling and having its center everywhere.”
“Man is made of thought, of will and of love: he can think truth or error, he can will good or evil, he can love beauty or ugliness. Now thought of the true — or knowledge of the real — demands on the one hand willing of the good and on the other love of the beautiful, hence virtue, for virtue is none other than beauty of soul; that is why the Greeks, who were aesthetes as well as thinkers, included virtue within philosophy. Without beauty of soul, all willing is sterile, it is petty and closes itself to grace; and in an analogous manner: without effort of will, all spiritual thought ultimately remains superficial and ineffectual and leads to pretension. Virtue coincides with a sensibility proportioned — or conformed — to the Truth, and that is why the soul of the sage soars above things and thereby above itself, if one may put it thus; whence the disinterestedness, nobleness and generosity of great souls. Quite clearly, the consciousness of metaphysical principles cannot go hand in hand with moral pettiness, such as ambition and hypocrisy : "Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
“To believe with certain "neoyogists" that "evolution" will produce a superman "who will differ from man as much as man differs from the animal or the animal from the vegetable" is not to know what man is: it is one more example of a pseudo-wisdom that deems itself vastly superior to the "separatist" religions but in fact shows itself more ignorant than the most elementary catechism. For the most elementary catechism does know what man is: it knows that by his qualities, and as an autonomous world, he stands opposed to the other kingdoms of nature taken together; that in one particular respect--that of spiritual possibilities and not of animal nature--the difference between a monkey and a man is "infinitely" greater than that between a fly and a monkey. For man alone is able to leave the world; man alone is able to return to God; and this is the reason he cannot be surpassed by a new earthly being in any way. Man is central among the beings of the earth; this is an absolute position; there cannot be a center more central than the center if definitions have any meaning.
This neoyogism, like other similar movements, pretends that it can add an essential value to the wisdom of our ancestors; it believes the religions are partial truths that it is called upon to paste together after centuries or millennia of waiting and then to crown with its own naive little system.”
“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 power of investigation of the ordinary human mind...The sacred is the presence of the centre in the periphery, of the motionless in the moving; dignity is essentially an expression of it, for in dignity too the centre manifests at the exterior; 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.”
“And this leads us to a further consideration: if there are different religions — each of them by definition speaking an absolute and hence exclusive language — this is because the difference between the religions corresponds exactly, by analogy, to the differences between human individuals. In other words, if the religions are true it is because each time it is God who has spoken, and if they are different, it is because God has spoken in different “languages” in conformity with the diversity of the receptacles. Finally, if they are absolute and exclusive, it is because in each of them God has said “I.”
“The mentality of today seeks in fact to reduce everything to temporal categories: a work of art, a thought, a truth have no value in themselves and independently of any historical classification, but only as a result of the time in which they are rightly or wrongly placed; everything is considered the expression of a “period”, not of a timeless and intrinsic value, and this is entirely in conformity with modern relativism and with a psychologism or biologism that destroys essential values . This philosophy derives a maximum of originality from what in effect is nothing but a hatred of God; but since it is impossible to abuse directly a God in whom one does not believe, one abuses Him indirectly through the laws of nature , and one goes so far as to disparage the very form of man and his intelligence, the intelligence with which one thinks and abuses. But there is no escaping immanent Truth: “The more he blasphemes,” says Meister Eckhart, “the more he praises God.”
“The distinction, in God, between a trans-ontological and transpersonal Essence on the one hand, and an already relative auto-determination on the other--this last is Being or the Person--marks the whole difference between the strictly metaphysical or sapiential perspective on the one hand and cataphatic and ontologistic theories in so far as they are explicit on the other. Let us remember at this point that the Intellect--which is precisely what makes evident to us the absoluteness of the Self and the relativity of 'objectivations'--is only 'human' to the extent that it is accessible to us, but it is not so in itself; it is essentially *increatus et increabile* (Eckhart), although 'accidentally' created by virtue of its reverberations in the macrocosm and in microcosms; geometrically speaking, the Intellect is a ray rather than a circle, it 'emanates' from God rather than 'reflecting' Him. 'Allah is known to Himself alone' say the Sufis; this saying, while it apparently excludes man from a direct and total knowledge, in reality enunciates the essential and mysterious divinity of pure Intellect; formulae of this kind are only fully understandable in the light of the often quoted hadith: 'He who knows his soul knows his Lord.”
“I am completely against ecumenism as it is envisaged today--with its ineffective "dialogues" and gratuitous and sentimental gestures amounting to nothing. Certainly an understanding between religions is possible and even necessary, though not on the dogmatic plane, but solely on the basis of common ideas and common interests. The common ideas are a transcendent, perfect, all-powerful, merciful Absolute, then a hereafter that is either good or bad depending on our merits or demerits; all the religions, including Buddhism--Buddhist "atheism" is simply a misunderstanding--are in agreement on these points. The common interests are a defense against materialism, atheism, perversion, subversion, and modernism in all its guises. I believe Pius XII once said that the wars between Christians and Muslims were but domestic quarrels compared to the present opposition between the world of the religions and that of militant materialism-atheism; he also said it was a consolation to know that there are millions of men who prostrate themselves five times a day before God.”
“Le relativisme réduit tout élément d'absoluité à la relativité, en faisant une exception parfaitement illogique avec cette réduction même. Il consiste en somme à déclarer qu'il est vrai qu'il n'y a pas de vérité, ou qu'il est absolument vrai qu'il n'y a que du relativement vrai ; autant dire qu'il n'y a pas de langage, ou écrire qu'il n'y a pas d'écriture. Bref, toute idée se trouve réduite à une relativité soit psychologique, soit historique, soit sociale ; l'assertion s'annule du fait qu'elle se présente elle-même comme une relativité psychologique, historique, ou sociale, et ainsi de suite. L'assertion s'annule, si elle est vraie, et en s'annulant logiquement, prouve qu'elle est fausse ; son absurdité initiale, c'est la prétention implicite d'être seule à sortir, comme par enchantement, d'une relativité déclarée seule possible.”
- Date of birth: June 18, 1907
- Died: May 05, 1998
- Born: in Basel, Switzerland.
- Description: Frithjof Schuon was a native of Switzerland born to German parents in Basel, Switzerland. He is known as a philosopher, metaphysician and author of numerous books on religion and spirituality.
Schuon is recognized as an authority on philosophy, spirituality and religion, an exponent of the Religio Perennis, and one of the chief representatives of the Perennialist School. Though he was not officially affiliated with the academic world, his writings have been noticed in scholarly and philosophical journals, and by scholars of comparative religion and spirituality. Criticism of the relativism of the modern academic world is one of the main aspects of Schuon's teachings. In his teachings, Schuon expresses his faith in an absolute principle, God, who governs the universe and to whom our souls would return after death. For Schuon the great revelations are the link between this absolute principle--God--and mankind. He wrote the main bulk of his metaphysical teachings in French. In the later years of his life Schuon composed some volumes of poetry in his mother tongue, German. His articles in French were collected in about twenty titles in French which were later translated into English as well as many other languages.