This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
by Frithjof Schuon
Source: Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 12, Nos. 1 and 2. (Winter-Spring, 1978). © World Wisdom, Inc. www.studiesincomparativereligion.com
Many questions arise simply because man lets himself be enticed into the domain where questions lie, instead of keeping firmly to the domain of certainty, If a man is confused by something, he should first of all come back to the certainty that it is not this world as such which is important, but the next world, and above all that God is Reality; and he should say to himself: in the face of this truth, which in principle is the solution to all questions, this or that question just does not arise; it is enough if he has the Answer of answers. And then God will give him a light also for what is earthly and particular. * * *
The Prophet said: “Guard yourself against suspicion, for the devil seeks to arouse discord amongst you,” or something of the kind. One ought never to brood, if only because the unintelligible or the absurd belongs to the stuff of which the world is made. One should say to oneself in the face of some apparently insoluble difficulty: first of all everything, every occurrence, „has a cause, whether we know it or not; our ignorance takes nothing from it and adds nothing to it. Secondly: this cause makes no difference to the truth that God is Reality; what is, is, and what is not, is not. A man sometimes lets himself be overcome by bitterness, because he has allowed the corresponding spiritual possibility—that of sobriety—to be altogether crowded out by his dreams and pleasures; but he who meets his fellow men with magnanimity and at the same time maintains a certain coolness towards the world—a kind of anticipation of all disillusionment, a foreknowledge of the nothingness of all that is earthly, a refusal to dream—will not be taken unawares by some unexpected bitterness breaking in upon him and will not be despoiled of the irreplaceable good of love. Know man and know thyself; only God is good. It often surprises me how deeply most men are sunk in phenomena, how much they identify themselves with their own everyday world of appearances, and how little strength of imagination they have; this surprised me even as a child, in so far as I was capable of noticing it; I did notice it without any doubt, for otherwise I should not so often have felt myself to be as one standing outside, disinterested, as it were an onlooker. For the contemplative man the experience of vastly different worlds—the West, Islam, the Red Indians—can and must have a particular spiritual significance; the forms become transparent; they act as supports, yes, but they are no longer confining. What is distraction for one can for another be soaring flight. * * *
All else is indifferent. Caesar was divine. of which I was very conscious. they are struck down on account of the bad they contain. We may not know whether we be good or bad. Be surprised at nothing. and that only God is God. it is unconditional. We must not let the absurdity of the world sap our blood so that we are turned away from our surrender to God. This holds good for all dealings with forms. Secondly. and judge the world from the standpoint of this surrender. we must take refuge in the all-truth that God is Reality. And scarcely anyone can do it. Thus there are many confusions. or even call it in question—the truth that God is Reality. but survive the blow because they are good and divine. Therefore. we must find our joy in God. penetration. from the human point of view. not in the world. So is it with civilizations also: they are at the same time good and not good. misunderstandings and false presumptions: man often thinks he is absolutely good because in his genius he manifests something divine. It would indeed be strange if we knew and understood all possibilities from the outset. Our surrender may not. the way to oneself. when we are somewhere or another. For there is nothing that could infringe this truth. depending only on the Truth of truths. it would be a waste of time. the liberating miracle. Men are forever swaying to and fro between the consciousness of being divine manifestation and the command—or the necessity—to submit to God. who it is that is there. * * * We men have no scale of measurement such as would permit us to know what we are. an “exteriorization with a view to interiorization”. then we know that God is there—that He is there where we are. * * * If one really knew that God is God. he forgets that man as such is always man. cannot depend on our understanding all riddles.What is distraction for one can for another be recollectedness. But when God resounds in our Heart. Thirdly. we must not forget that the evil enemy provokes absurdity in order to bewilder us and turn us away from God. On the plane of phenomena—which is also the plane of darkness and therefore of contradiction—to see through all the artifices of Mâyâ on this plane from the outset would simply not be human. but we know for certain that God is God. In my youth I used to call this standpoint. it ends in the sacred if we grasp it aright and so to speak think it out to the end. The quintessence of all values is the sacred. and yet a man. then one would know everything else. * * * In the spiritual life one must jump over one‟s own shadow. that is. In a word: Whatever we may love. it follows from this that we must not be disappointed if we do not find our joy in the world. however hard it may be for us to take this standpoint. whenever the juggling tricks of the world cause doubts about this or that to arise in us. we do not know. Surrender to God was there . we must surrender ourselves to God. Firstly.
as if turned inside out. whereas in fact this Truth is our real Being. and God‟s logic—if one may use such a term—transcends that of man and sometimes shatters it. eternal Being. there is something . * * * We look forward to something with joy. silver silence and he would see his ego as something quite small. and also with all His bliss-imparting Beauty. but the world is far from purely logical. and so in a certain sense re-create it. In other words. but also a movement from oneself to oneself. once it is awakened. Behind the veil of things His pure Being lies hidden like a golden sound. * * * If only it were easier for a man to do what most people are incapable of doing. every journey leads to the holy shrine of the Heart. as something strangled. one must overcome it. Otherwise it would be as if we had doubts about the Truth of truths. in this way every journey is a pilgrimage. In the ego there is something which invites the diabolic. That is why one cannot find a definitive modus vivendi with God on the basis of this wavering ego. seething and noisy. it must be stronger than all absurdity. on whether we overcome something which in reality is not “ourself” at all. namely to step outside himself and to see himself from outside—an outside that is in reality the inside! Then he would be standing in a vast. it is our deep. so as not to slip into a false and unstable existential plenitude. What makes spiritual realization so difficult is that the ego is inverted. but to step out of this invertedness into the open—that is difficult. we enter into it. then someone comes and spoils our joy. pure Being. a stranger to Reality. Whether or not a journey is a success depends not so much on whether we achieve this or that as on whether we overcome ourself and leave behind us a piece of the lower self. pure Inwardness. why one cannot complacently hang onto God by a thread. refuses to draw back and seeks to submerge and utterly consume everything. in the ego—in so far as it is not actively penetrated by God—there is something diabolic. * * * A journey is not merely a movement from one place to another. Within this inversion it is not so difficult to chase after mirrorreflections of Reality. One must constantly see afresh through the ego— this impermanent. One must always be aware of the relativity of the ego. There is something vengeful and self-destructive in man which. We do not create it. The ego would like to have a definitive and wholly logical relation-ship to God and the world. Our trust in God must protect us from doubts about the world. humanly speaking. Pure Truth. if the corresponding gifts are there. That should not be. and before we ourselves existed. absurd fabric—and in seeing through it.before the existence of the world. for God is always present with all His liberating Truth and all His redeeming Goodness.
and that is the complement to greed. noisy everyday trivialities. that we must bow. far from contemplative recollectedness and far from all unity. But in a certain sense only God can be wholly right.—but behind all that stands God. not in being. who wishes to put our faith. which would shatter a life for the sake of a “yes” or a “no”. * * * There is something diabolic in the dream-stuff of the world. on God. Before God man always has enough sin within him to enable him to retain his consciousness of guilt. but chatter or clatter. we cannot make a divinity out of revenge because of some unrecognized right or some unrecognized truth and take vengeance on the world and on ourselves. Thus man remains in dividedness. The key to all this is the quite simple but immeasurable and inexhaustible Truth of truths. Next comes the evil of sloth. if we sometimes have to bow to men and magnanimously meet them half-way— not by renouncing justice and truth. man lets him-self be tossed about by the world and never achieves rest or release except in sloth which wants to know nothing about God and Eternity and kills the soul. and against this the Prayer takes its stand like a cooling. the inability to separate oneself from form and movement and to take hold of being. hardness is cold and shuts itself off. Men have greed and hardness in them. and this holds also for the evil of mediocre. the ego thinks. such a soul is not music.Luciferian in the vengefulness. We have already said above that thinking does not step outside the ego. in short. indeed on existence in general and so. and no further. in form. the evil of haste. now we say that in the case of the outward man the inner-most Self can only be grasped by thinking. persistence in doing. in “I and world”. but this thinking does not enlighten the ego. extinguishing and at the same time unshakeable strength. our consistency . not to men. even when he has suffered an injustice. restlessness. There is also the evil of superficiality or outwardness: the in-capacity to be. and the same holds true for Being. in other words. but by surmounting the offence as such and acting in terms of love of our neighbor—this is above all because we owe it to God. but there is already as it were a wrong in the ego. woolly and uncontemplative thought. being without unifying warmth and liberating beauty and love. People think as far as they like to think. which like a beast of prey is ever insatiably on the prowl for new victims for its lusts. a demonic something that sets pitfalls for us and would like to bring us down or would like to push us into the whirlpool of self-destruction. and it is to Him. for prejudice and illogicality. for the incapacity to distinguish the true from the false and the essential from the unessential. in a fashion. and then. it is selfishness toward one‟s neighbor and indifference towards God. or in other words. dissipating curiosity and constrictive tension. as though there were no greater pleasure than the feeling that one has been wronged. A man may be right. it does not step outside it and show it its nothingness. because we are not nearly good enough to lay a total claim to our rights. not in content. The root of all evil lies in man‟s unwillingness to rise above himself. namely: there is no divinity except the One God. as a natural complement. Whereas greed is hot and aggressive. instead of merely acting and thinking. Only God is good. and in a certain sense one can do absolute and total wrong only to God. it is the lukewarmness and greyness of the worldly man whose soul fritters itself away in petty. the neglect of God and of the last things.
they no longer repose in pure being. All evil ultimately comes from men‟s having forgotten their beings. Man cannot assert his rights without putting himself slightly in the wrong—at some level or other—since God alone is totally in the right. how foolish he is will depend on how foolish we are. but His Right. from the standpoint of truth and with as much indulgence as possible. the meaning is: judge as you yourself would wish to be judged. but are completely yoked to their doing and let things pull them and push them this way and that. that is an essential distinction. but we owe it certainly to God. but justice is. to put each thing in its proper place. we cannot look after our own little rights better than He does. to possess them completely. for love of one‟s neighbor must never be allowed to falsify the truth. to God. . still less do they know what lies in the centre of their souls. for what is. namely the Kingdom of Heaven and the Glory of God. above all. this does not mean that we should not use our God-given powers of discrimination to judge things aright. but not that he should reproach the world for the existence of imperfection. then there must also be follies. This too can be said: God looks after our rights. and if there are fools. in one way or another. It can moreover happen that through some inward folly we provoke our neighbor to some outward folly. must be. a human right can be a divine right. To be sure. whether we suffer wrong on this account or not. God does not primarily want our right to prevail. but merely that we should not let ourselves be led by passion into unjustly condemning them. if His Right comes thereby all the more powerfully into its own. Men do not even know any longer what existence is. they are no longer conscious of it. for our souls belong to Him alone. and that they have only to go through a door to escape from the noise of the ego and the world and to be in a golden quietness. It is God‟s right to possess our souls. For indeed our right can have meaning only if it is His. * * * It is quite natural that the more perfect should sometimes suffer at the hands of the less perfect. His Will is that we should achieve victory over ourselves. ours can well be scanted. to take them into account would be to con-fuse different planes.and our integrity to the test and who does not withhold His Grace from us so long as we are open to it.‟ insofar as God‟s Truth and God‟s Honor are at stake. There are also extenuating circumstances which are too general to have any weight. nor do they know that they carry a skeleton about with them and that they are locked up in the prison of their five senses. We must give a folly its true name. that is. When it is said: “Judge not that ye be not judged”. but we cannot reasonably wonder at the existence of fools. I do not say: with all indulgence. Once again: that we should sometimes forego a little of our own right in order to help our neighbor to his feet is something that we may not necessarily owe to our neighbor. God‟s right is that which brings us. We may and must see the extenuating circumstances which are there—which means that they are in the very nature of things—but we have no right to invent such circumstances. There are not words enough to describe all of this exhaustively.
duality and not unison. Yes and no. For the inward is the anticipation of all answers and solutions. the inward man lives in the One. escape from being and severance from being. nor any trace of aridity. The outward man would like to involve the inward in his doubt and restlessness. Live inwardly and trust in God. somewhere in the world someone is dreaming of success. useful and good—and to trust in God. The play of thoughts is joy in this or that. harmful and evil—while at the same time accomplishing what is meaningful. not essence. not joy in being nor in the centre. Rest in Being: not in doing. not pure consciousness. every man. breathing in symbolizes inwardness. it is pure . but form and outwardness. has no scales of measurement for it. quite unconditionally and without his asking why. and trust in God. The outward man lives in the multiple. Rejoice in Being and in the inward: not in doing and in the outward. yesterday a Zen monk swept the floor-boards in Kyoto.Rest in Being and trust in God. the creature. the innermost. not in forms. not outwardly. quite near. Breathing out symbolizes consciousness of Being. Rejoice in Being and in the inward. and in a certain sense: absolutely not! I have seen venerable men in whom one could perceive no trace of being locked into a dreamworld. One might object that every being. in a dream. Live inwardly. only be determined by the Infinite. But with God is pure Being which reconciles all opposites. they looked as if they had experienced everything that can be experienced and as if they were conscious of all possible limits and of the Unlimited. whence and whither. Or again: the harmony between consciousness of Being and inwardness is joy. in a picture-book. a cricket chirps in the grass. * * * The inward man stands timelessly before God. The world is mad. just as they veil the innermost Self with the ego and with things. but the inward man must nonetheless determine the outward. not innermost witness. A hundred years ago some poet racked his brains over some worthless play. Men flee from Being and Self. not centre. the finite. For these scales of measurement could only come from Mercy. not in change. This equilibrium can only proceed from the Infinite. is so completely locked into a narrow world of experience. they veil pure Being with existence and action. joy in things. not joy in Joy. hardening and scission. for him there are no questions and no problems other than standing before God and waiting for God. The play of thoughts is not what is innermost. It is the outward man‟s duty to abstain from what is meaningless. and today. * * * Man‟s customary play of thoughts is not being but doing and existing. cannot find the equilibrium. a statesman is greedily absorbed in some petty project. it is movement. We have to realize an equilibrium between finite and Infinite.
* * * In a certain sense man is always in danger from God on account of his hypocrisy. the more the gulf is bridged between I and not I. yet infinitely more wonderful. The absurd lies in the fabric of the world side by side with the intelligible. Bitterness cannot take us by surprise when it is already anticipated in our attitude towards the world. but in its proper place. turn unto the One! Sometimes God lets things happen which for the moment are incomprehensible to us. and does not act in us. This is because everything earthly wavers. . He who does not depend on what is pleasant is likewise independent of what is unpleasant. because only God is God. or else: since the world is so injurious. It also means: the rift from which all oppositions arise closes only in the Inward. For things and events either say: even so is the One. because in it good and evil are too interwoven. when it is nonacquiring. claims to be or to know some-thing which in his actions he belies. man. The more we repose in pure Being and partake of pure Being. a losing each other only to find each other once again. in it there is no hesitation and no dividedness. not an expecting. “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. sometimes shows him. non-pleasureseeking. then all is well. hold to pure Being. with regard to what he pretends to believe or to know. too finely interspun. when it is no true bitterness but merely a just appraisal of the limited and the ephemeral.” * * * This is essential in the spiritual life: that our attitude towards the world and our neighbor should be a giving and not a taking. a game between appearance and reality. then. If God is not in us. that he neither believes nor knows it? Be in God. what wonder is it. and when it is balanced by giving and willingness to give. then God will give us such understanding of things as we need. it is so made that everything outward be-comes for it a way to the Centre and to the One.answer. too ramified—we know that only God is good. the Forbearing. if God. and if we seek our refuge in God. The Inward transforms everything outward into a victory. that He may be in us. he who masters the one also masters the other. “Love thy neighbor as thyself”: that means. And if we saw all the beauties of the world: what could we find in the world more beautiful and more delightful than we have already found in God? And what disappointment can be greater than that which we have already experienced in being separated from God? And again: what right have we to happiness in the world if we do not already have our happiness in God? Between God and man there is a kind of game of hide-and-seek. in order that in one fashion or another they may become for us a path to the Inward. only in the Self. because he. that is because we are not in God. God alone is the Meaning. A journey only has meaning when it is a journey to God: and when it is that. when it is already there from the outset. Even if we do not understand the world.
” In life we may indeed seek refuge in the great. abandoning things to the Divine Wisdom and Goodness. inward repose in God. which in itself offers no solution. but understand why it is the petty and why it is there and must be there. In the All-Holy Truth and in pure Prayer there is no narrowness and no bitterness. him will God protect in the world. Greatness we have only from God and in God. but only breadth and soft. and through veracity. the futile assails you. and the other is taking up one‟s abode in God. as if we would compel it to give what it cannot give. Be inwardly with God. which shows you once again that worldly things are petty and futile. outward reliance upon God. but take things by their root. precisely because it is the world? There are two way of dying: one is natural death. Do not try to puzzle things out on their own meaningless level. in so far as you can grasp it. When the petty. do not be petty and futile yourself. make the ego perfect through fear and love. In reliance upon God there lies a great mystery or miracle. joy and sorrow. and on this basis meditate on the not-I. . in Him alone lie our refuge from the mortal pettiness of the world and our answer to the petty. do not seek to compel what is meaningless to have a meaning and do not be meaningless yourself. and submit your case to God. do not contend with the petty. and give your neighbor greatness where you can. why do we remain rooted in the world and bear it a grudge for not giving us what it does not possess? Why do we strive with it. remember what greatness is. for everything truly great is so through God. good and evil. It is be-cause they come from the Evil One that they are what they are. which lies in your own self. * * * The world as such cannot make us happy. day and night. we should place our cares in His hands and take out rest in Him like a carefree child. but be great through thanking God for this experience. and in so far as it is given you to do so. The difficult thing is to step outside the dream-stuff of the world --a stuff that is as immeasurable as starry space itself—into the golden silence. In this dream-stuff all opposites are contained. the perpetual remembrance of Him. cooling peace. persevere in rightly oriented recollectedness. and at the same time it is itself night in the face of the One Eternal Day. for every being is bound up with God and so has greatness in him. Even so the Prophet said: “Whoso protecteth God in his heart. pettiness is only a darkening cloud and an outward din. without tormenting yourself with questions. The realization of the not-I cannot take place without the I. to entice man into its own narrowness. we run the risk of answering it with pettiness: for this is its very nature. activity and trust. This is the key to spiritual unfolding. when it wounds us. but again and again find ourselves face to face with pettiness and. Who is not of this world.* * * There are dissonances in life which we find unintelligible and unbearable because they have the Evil One for author. and He will be outwardly with you.
* * * I and world: the one needs the other. and there is only one Joy. it is in its nature to do everything it can to keep alight the fire of the ego. or. for all its images that attach us to itself testify to That which it is not and which is infinitely more than it. And that is why we should be surprised at nothing that the cosmos dazzles us with. there is only one Witness. showers down in a thousand forms and movements. (Editor‟s Note). which reposes in Itself and at the same time in a profusion of Self-giving. and on the other hand. and in the measure that it is willed by Divine Providence. At the same time the dream-stuff “world” is already in a sense undone from within. and is insatiable in its craving to be experienced. to prevent our escaping from its play. he has to discriminate rightly between things. and give his neighbor his due. Man fluctuates. in the measure that it has in fact the power to grasp it. There is only one Being. solve those problems which need to be solved. but also the world is incapable of doing without its complement. and as it were set it aside. at the same time our spirit has a right to all that it can really grasp. between spiritual pretension and spiritual right. for it wants to be experienced. That which it would like to hide. in short. 1963. but for the ego—the “I” whose contradictory repetition in countless living creatures is the best evidence that only the Self has Reality and that only in the Self are we what we are in Reality. and yet must reveal. to maintain the ice of the ego in its coldness and hardness. Not only does the ego need the world as content and means of nourishment. within the dream-stuff. on pain of having no existence. one Beholder. moreover. differently considered.And this dream-stuff could not harm us. The difficult thing for the spiritual man is that he has to live on two planes: on the one hand he has to recognize the dream-stuff—in which he himself as “I” is inwoven—for what it is. it is loathsome to overreach oneself in prating about things with which one has no real God-given connection. . NOTES  These are extracts from a diary written during a journey in North America. it would be nothing at all.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.