Monday, November 19, 2007

Schuon resolved to not live in the Islamic world because of its stifling cultural milieu, but as a religious form, he fully accepted it

Anonymous said... 11/18/2007 10:42:00 AM
Great post! Very open, and sincere, Bob. I don't think your spiritual research would have to stop once you've entered the Church, if you did. I think we've been "told" by general society that this is the case, and it may appear that way to many people, but if you think of some of the greatest saints and minds in the Church (Augustine or Aquinas, say), they were ones who set about to unpack more of the Truth in their times which had not yet been known in those respects, but which the Church came to recognize because they were true. Like you said, though, there are certains Truths that are non negotiable. But this isn't just a Christian ideal or narrowness, but true of of our universe with regards to mathmatics, physics, etc...

Anonymous said... 11/18/2007 02:34:00 PM

On the question of Schuon's "fitting the major religious traditions into a Procrustean bed to fit his universal theory", this seems to be more of an appropriate critique of Rene Guenon, than Schuon.
Schuon's key idea is that there is an underlying religion, a religio perennis, that is the essence of all the revelations of God. For him, this key idea was fundamental to a deepening coherence of Reality. In other words, how does one account for the clear evidence that there is sanctity, beauty, piety, metaphysical genius, etc. in so many different religions? How can one, in the face of Shankara, Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Sidartha, St. John of the Cross, and on and on, imagine that only one religion (insert here) is authentic? It simply defies credulity. This religio perennis is not an ancient religion, and, in fact, has never been on the planet. Guenon, on the other hand, posited a "primordial tradition" that existed and then transformed into the various religions. Any movement that did not fit his preconceived paradigm was discounted--like Buddhism, for example.
One should not see Schuon's Sufism as clouding his view of Islam. It is one thing to simply disagree with someone, but there is no point to imagining that Schuon was clouded about Islam. He was simply right or wrong. He lived for short times and travelled fairly extensively in Islamic worlds, had native Muslim disciples, etc. He was certainly critical of aspects of manifestations of Islam (as with all religions), but he absolutely understood it inside and out and simply recognized it as salvific. His "Sufism" was simply a question of initiatic possibilities and access. While it is true that most of the Islamic world would consider his views heretical, Islam has no "pope", so it is really a mute point.
If he had become a Catholic for the sake of his initiatic need, that would have been a very different story indeed, as he would have been speedily excommunicated. In fact, he considered Islam useful for his for much of the same reasons Bob suggests embracing Catholicism would place express limits on his quest. Since Islam has no real authoritative body, every person is free (if he can fun fast enough) to interpret his religion however he may. Now, quite clearly, Schuon resolved to not live in the Islamic world because of its stifling cultural milieu, but as a religious form, he fully accepted it, as with all the major religions. Of course, one is free to interpret, reject, accept, etc. any or all of his teachings. One does wonder, though, how could he be so right in so many areas, and, yet, be so wrong about something quite fundamental to his message.

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