24 septembre 2016

Frithjof Schuon, The Play of Masks (note de lectură)

We live in a world wherein the abuse of intelligence replaces wisdom.

Prerogatives of the Human State
- total intelligence: to know the Truth;
- free will: to will the Good;
- sentiment capable of disinterestedness: to love the Beautiful.
The effects of the “Fall” weaken the prerogatives of human nature, but they cannot abolish them without abolishing man himself.
Every man is endowed with “religious instinct”.
The Truth:
- horizontally – the cosmic (phenomenal) order;
- vertically – the metaphisical (principial) order;
The Good:
- practical, secondary, contingent;
- spiritual, essential, absolute.
The Beauty:
- outward;
- sacred art, traditional crafts.

Man is Intelligence, Strenght and Virtue.
Fear of God – resignation to the Divine Will.
Love of God – trust in Mercy.
Fear and Love towards God becomes respect and good will towards the neighbor.
“Sincere love is not a roundabout way of loving oneself; it is founded upon an object worthy of admiration, of adoration, of desire for union; and the quintessence of every love, and even of every virtue, can only be the love of God.” (p. 2)
“The idea of the Absolute implies on the one hand that of the relative and on the other that of relationships between the two, namely the prefiguration of the relative in the Absolute and the projection of the Absolute in the relative; the first relationship gives rise to the personal God, and the second, to the supreme Angel.” (p. 3)
Metatron of the Kabbalah = Ruh of the Koran = Buddhi (Trimurti) of the Vedanta = Holy Ghost of the Christian doctrine.
We know and love, not what we will, but rather we will what we know and love; it is not the will that determines our personality, it is intelligence and sentiment.
God (beauty) => piety (virtue)
myself (beauty) => humility (virtue)
others (beauty) => charity (virtue)
piety – the sense of the sacred, of the transcendent, of profundity;
holiness – joy through God and peace in Him;
humility – awareness of our metaphysical nothingness;
charity – awareness of the divine immanence in beings and in things;
the substance of the soul – the unconscious search for a lost Paradise.
The normal and non-perverted man cannot live without beauty.
rigourous virtues – courage, incorruptibility
Every virtue, be it combative or adamantine, is connected directly or indirectly with the love of God, otherwise it could not be a virtue.
piety (virtue) – impiety (vice)
humility (virtue) – pride (vice)
charity (virtue) – egoism (vice)
Goodness is integral only in condition of being combined with strenght.
The effort toward virtue is a kind of virtue if the intention is sincere.
Beauty is the substance, ugliness the accident.
Love is the substance, hate the accident.
Good is the substance, evil the accident.
The essence of intelligence can only be union, synthesis, not analysis, or contemplation, not discrimination.
The essence of the will is the choice of the good and the actualization of this choice.
The essence of the sentiment is nonetheless love, because the essence of the Real is beauty, goodness, beatitude.
“Brahman is Reality” – “the world is merely appearence” – “the soul is not different from Brahman”.
“God alone is” – “there is no other divinity” – “Muhammad is the Messenger of God”.
“In the doctrinal message of Islam as well as in the Hindu message, the affirmation of transcendence is defined extrinsically by means of a relativizing negative affirmation, which in its turn is surpassed by a compensatory affirmation of immanence.” (p. 9)
Definition: Integral and primordial man is the Intellect and the consciousness of the Absolute.
Man is faith and the idea of God; immanent Holly Spirit on the one hand, and transcendent truth on the other.
intelligence + will = “capability” of the individual
sensibility + will = “character” of the individual
intelligence + sensibility = “scope” of the individual
Virtue is the touchstone of our sincerity. Without it, Truth does not belong to us and the Way eludes us.
The Truth is what we must know.
The Way is what we must do.
The Virtue is what we must love, become and be.
Truth – doctrine
Way – method
Virtue – qualification.
Platon: “Goodness is the splendor of the true.”
The difference between animals and men is absolute and at the same time relative: it is absolute with respect to the specifically human prerogatives, and relatives with respect to the faculties as such.
Truth – meditative comprehension
Way – operative concentration
Virtue – psychic conformity
Reason has to have a positive aspect, it is inseparable from language.
Reason becomes an infirmity only in the case of abusive speculation by the ignorants who pretends to knowledge.
Man knows he must die, whereas animals do not.
Without religion a human collectivity cannot survive in the long run; that is, it cannot remain human.
Supreme Reality = Sovereign Good
Every reality as such bears witness to the Supreme Reality.
The contemplative dimension of the intellect coincides with the ineffable.
Each of the prerogatives of the human state comprises 2 poles, an active and a passive:
- intelligence: discernment and contemplation/certitude and serenity;
- will: decision and perseverance;
- soul: fervor and faithfulness.
If metaphysical knowledge remains purely mental, it is worth practically nothing.

Man in the Cosmogonic Projection
The entire world is Maya, but Maya is not entirely the world.
To say infinitude is to say All-Possibility and consequently the overflowing of the divine potentialities.
Metaphysical necessity is not constraint any more than liberty is arbitrariness.
The productions of the creative radiation are both successive and simultaneous.
The end result of the manifesting trajectory is not a given substance-container but the form-content, namely the thing created, the more or less distant reflection of a given divine archetype.
The “privative accident” – the projection directly expresses the movement away from the divine Source.
“Reintegration mode” – a mode that compensates and in a certain sense overcome the phenomenon of evil. The circle of Maya closes in the heart of deified man.
“Avataric mode” – intrinsically central mode, the “divine Descent”, the Incarnation.
Animality can manifest modes of fall as well as modes of perfection, but the animal species cannot fall.
Whether he wills it or not, man is “condemned” to transcendence.
Altogether close to pride are doubt, bitterness and despair.
The great evil for man is not only to move away from God, it is also to doubt in His Mercy.
Human body as a theophany: man being imago Dei, his body necessarily symbolize a liberating return to the divine origin and in this sense it is remembrance of God.
Universal correspondences are not limited to fundamental images but also include the secondary aspects of the key-symbols.
God sees things in all the relationships involving them and consequently evil for God is only a fragmentary, provisional, and altogether extrinsic aspect of a good which compensates and ultimately annuls it. In other words, God perceives evil only in its metaphysical indispensable context.
The great pitfall of the monotheistic theologies is the de facto confusion between the personified Divinity and the suprapersonal Divinity. There is no “God” which in one and the same respect is Being and Beyond-Being, Personne and Essence, Gott and Gottheit, Ishvara and Baramatma; a personal will is one thing, All Possibility is another.
Atma become Maya so that Maya become Atma (the phamous formule of St. Ireneus, paraphrased in Vedantic terms).

The Play of Masks
The meaning of the Eckhartian distinction between the “inner man” and the “outer man”: the latter identifies passively with his experience, whereas the former may enjoy or suffer in his temporal humanity, while remaining impassible in his immortal kernel which coincides with his state of union with God.
Analogicaly speaking and with all due proportion, every pneumatic is “true man and true God”.
The saint is detached because he does not identify with the accidents; and he is good-willed because he could be neither egoistic nor petty.
There are three main types of human beings: pneumatic, psychic and hylic.
In ordinary language, the word “mask” is synonymous with “false appearance”, hence with insincerity. But symbolism acts like a mask toy: it transmits the heavenly Message and at the same time dissimulates the provisionally inassimilable mystery.
the veil – it expresses, affirms, manifests;
the mask – it dissimulates
the veil – it is used to appear “less than one is”
the mask – it is used if someone wishes to appear to be “more than one is”
For the contemplative man, pleasure does not inflate the individuality; on the contrary, it invites to a transpersonal dilation, so that the “sensible” consolation gives rise to un upward opening and not to a downward inflation.
Similar way of acting can hide dissimilar intentions.
There are sages whose sole duty is to attract souls towards the “within”, and this is the rule. There are others who add to this function that of creating sensible supports, and this is the exception (ex: St. Luke painted the first icon of the Blessed Virgin, and this way the Christianity obtained its entire artistic dimension; Jalal ad-Din Rumi introduced music and dance into Sufism, not out of invention, but through inspiration).
The good manifests qualities, the bad on the contrary manifests privations; but both alike are subject to the vicissitudes of existence.
Our profound identity is our relationship with God; our mask is the form that we must assume in the world of forms, of space, of time.

Ex Nihilo, In Deo
Creation “comes from” an origin, not from a cosmic, hence “created” substance, but from a reality pertaining to the Creator. In this sense, it can be said that the creation is situated in God.
Everything in fact “contains” on the one hand Being, and on the other a given Archetype or “Idea”. The divine “content” is ipso facto also the “container”, since God is Reality as such. But things are “outside God” in respect of contingency, hence in respect of the concrete phenomena of the world.
With the intention of resolving the problem of evil, some have maintained that evil does not exist for God, and consequently that for Him everything is a good, which is inadmissible and ill-sounding. What ought to be said is that God sees the privative manifestations only in connection with the positive manifestations that compensates for them; thus evil is a provisional factor in view of a greater good.
There are two “ontological regions”: the Absolute and the Relative. The first consists of Beyond-Being, and the second, of both Being and Existence, of the Creator and Creation.
We may envisage two other “regions”, the Principial and the Manifested. The first category comprises Beyond-Being and Being – this is the “Divine Order” – and the second, Existence, the Universe, the world.
The celestial world is Atma only by analogy, in the sense that it is the reflection of the Principle within Manifestation, and this confers upon it, in relation to the world of imperfection and impermanence, a quasi-divine function.
In saying that “God alone is good”, Christ meant to specify, not that the angels and the blessed are deprived of goodness, but that only the Principial Order is situated beyond even the accidental possibility of imperfection.
“God became man that man might become God.” – The Essence limited itself by form so that the form might be liberated by the Essence.

In the Face of Contingency
What makes us happy are the phenomena of beauty and goodness and all the other goods that existence borrows from pure Being. What adds shadows to them is contingency.
We are situated in the contingency, but we live by the reflections of the Absolute, otherwise we could not exist.
Agents of contingency: space, time, form, number, matter, individuality.
The contingency plunges us into a climate of relativity, ambiguity, indefiniteness, and inflicts upon us temptations of incertitude and ingratitude.
Wisdom is not only to see the archetype through the form or the heavenly in the earthly, it is also to be resign to contingency; we must indeed be someone and be someplace, even if we are aware of the possibility of being someone else and of being somewhere else, that is, of experiencing a given element of happiness in another form.
Two fundamental virtues to realize:
a) resignation to contingency;
b) assimilation of the celestial message.
“[...] for everything lies in discovering that ontologically we bear within ourselves that which we love and which in the final analysis constitutes our reason for being.” (p. 44)
Metaphysical comprehension ought to be accompanied by a sense of beauty at every level; conversely, there is no interiorization of the beautiful without a parallel metaphysical knowledge.
Why something is deemed beautiful?
Subjectivists: it is because it pleases us.
Every beautiful thing communicates to us beauty as such, namely the Harmony of the Sovereign Good.
Beauty has something pacifying and dilating in it something consoling and liberating, because it communicates a substance of truth, of evidence and of certitude, and it does so in a concrete and existential mode.
Matter is spiritually transparent and it can concretely be the vehicle of the celestial message, but it can also be the door towards that which is below and it has even subjugated humanity by impurity, sickness, old age and death, so that its domain will always be an exile for man.
Some people think that the word is a production for our mind, whereas our mind is capable neither of creating nor of preventing the existence of an object. True, the world is a dream, but this dream is not ours since we are contents of it; the absolute subject escapes us as much as does the absolute Object, hence as much as their supreme indistinction.
- relativity;
- absoluteness.
The principle of relativity – things appear other than what they are in fact.
The principle of absoluteness – things are symbolically adequate.
If one looks at the universe exclusively with the eyes of relativity, one will see only relative things and the universe will be reduced to an inextricable absurdity. If one seesn it with the eyes of absoluteness, one will essentially see manifestations of the Supreme Principle and images making explicit the relationships between Atma and Maya.
Relativity is a projection of the Absolute, or it is nothing.
Contingency is always relative, but relativity is not always contingent.
That is relative which is either “more” or “less” in relation to another reality; that is contingent which may or may not be, hence which is merely possible.
In geometric symbolism, the radii indicate the celestial archetypes or the “ideas”; and the concentric circles, the orders of contingency.
Descartes said: “I think, therefore I am.” He should say: “I am, therefore Being is.”
In any event, the foundation of metaphysical certitude is the coincidence between truth and our being; a coincidence that no ratiocination could invalidate.
Universal truths draw their evidence not from our contingent thought, but from our transpersonal being, which constitutes the substance of our spirit and guarantees the adequacy of intellection.
We must maintain the balance between:
- temporal disturbances and eternal values;
- the beauties of this world and those of the other;
- the terrestrial projections and the celestial archetypes.

Delineations of Original Sin
The venial sins become serious when they are habitual, for then they are vices.
There is in our soul a tendency to “outwardness” and “horizontality” which constitutes, if not original sin properly called, at least the hereditary vice that is derived therefrom.
To affirm that every man is a “sinner” does not amount to saying that no man is capable of abstaining from evil actions, but it certainly means that all men – with the rarest exception – succumb to the temptation of “outwardness” (concupiscence) and “horizontality” (impiety).
If the requirement of the supreme Commandment is to “love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind”, it follows that the contrary attitude is the supreme sin.
To be “horizontal” is to love only terrestrial life, to the detriment of the ascending and celestial path.
To be “exteriorized” is to love only outer things, to the detriment of moral and spiritual values.
Horizontality is to sin against transcendence, to forget God and consequently the meaning of life.
Outwardness is to sin against immanence, to forget our immortal soul and consequently its vocation.
Primordial perfection was made of “verticality” and “inwardness”, as is attested by those distinctive characteristics of man which are vertical posture and language.
Transcendence = metaphysical Truth and saving Divinity;
Immanence = transpersonal Intellect and divine Selfhood.
The forbidden tree was that of the discernment between “good” and “evil”. This discernment pertains to the very nature of Being, its source could not be in the creature. To claim it for oneself is to wish to be equal to the Creator, and that is the very essence of sin.
The great ambiguity of the human phenomenon resides in the fact that man is divine without being God.
The fall was the rupture between reason and Intellect, the ego and the Self.

On Intention
One and the same action may be good or bad according to the intention, whereas the inverse is not true: an intention is not good or bad according to the action.
To excuse a blameworthy action or production by arguing that the intention was good, is meaningful only in the following cases:
a) when the negative result is contrary to what the agent willed;
b) when there are serious reasons for supposing that the badness of the action or production is due only to an accidental lack of skill;
c) when there are valid reasons for supposing  that the intention of a person well known to be imperfect or bad was good in the given case;
d) when the agent is substantially incapable of executing his project in a satisfactory manner;
e) when an act of an extrinsically paradoxical, or even blamesworthy, work is comprehensible only in the light of its spiritual intention.
The idea that the argument of intention is a panacea has become so habitual that too many people abuse it without reflecting.
To be “sincere” is to show oneself “as one is”, unconditionally and cynically, hence counter to any effort to be what one ought to be.
humility + hypocrisy = egalitarian and demagogic humility
charity + hypocrisy = humanistic and bitter charity
sincerity + hypocrisy = cynical sincerity
There are false virtues whose motives are basically to demonstrate to oneself that one has no need of God. In this case, the virtues are imaginary, since pride perverts them.
“Metaphysical discernment first of all, then concentration that is sincere – because conformity to discernment – and quasi-permanent : this is the very foundation of operative spirituality, whatever might be its modes or degrees.” (p. 66)
Man has the right to be legitimately traumatised only by monstruosities.
To the sincerism in fashion, secrecy is something hateful, since, from that point of view, to be sincere is to hide nothing, and to hide something is to be dishonest or hypocritical.
For the mentality of “our times”, sincerity is vulgarity.
Intention essentially comprises two dimensions: firstly, the good ought to be done, and secondly, it ought to be well done.

Remarks on Charity
Charity is goodness in action, beneficial action in relation to those who need it.
Charity – to be considerate of others’ feelings.
Elementary virtue has always required that charity be done as modestly as possible.
Charity is to freely, and really, help those who need and deserve it.

No Initiative without Truth
We don’t need false technologies, what must be done is to counter false ideologies with the truth that has been always been and that we could never invent, since it exists outside us and above us.
What is lacking in today’s world is a penetrating and comprehensive knowledge of the nature of things; the fundamental truths are always accessible, but they could not be imposed on those who refuse to take them into consideration.
Tradition speaks to each man the language he can understand, provided he be willing to listen; this reservation is essential for tradition cannot become bankrupt.
The humanism is a “pre-atheism”, since it prepared the ground for atheism properly called.
“The internal contradiction of Marxism is that it wants to build a perfect humanity while destroying man; which is to say that militant atheists, more impassioned than realistic, wish to overlook that religion is so to speak an ecological question. Assuming that religion comprises an element of “opium” – not only “for the people” – this element is “ecologically” indispensable for the human psychism; in any case, its absence brings about incomparably worse abuses than its presence, for it is better to have good dreams than to have nightmares. Be that as it may, only religion, or spirituality, offers that integral meaning and happiness anchored in man’s deiform nature without which life is neither intelligible nor worth living.” (p. 78)
An easy argument against religions is the following: the religions and denominations contradict one another, hence they cannot all be right; consequently none is true. It is as if one were to say: every individual claims to be “I”, hence they cannot all be right; consequently, no one is “I”. All of which amounts to asserting that there is but one single man to see the mountain and that the mountain has but one single side to be seen.
He who is capable of becoming a saint but neglects to become one cannot save anyone; it is hypocrisy pure and simple to hide one’s own weakness and lukewarmness behind a screen of good works.

Being Conscious of the Real
The purpose of human intelligence, and consequently the purpose of man, is the consciousness of the Absolute, beyond but also within the consciousness of contingencies.
Faith is the intuition of the transcendent; unbelief stems from the layer of ice that covers the heart and excludes intuition.
Accepting the will of Heaven means that we have to resign ourselves to that which cannot but be, and resist all temptation to revolt against destiny and against the nature of things. To the quality of resignation is joined that of trust.
Egoism is the bias of not being able to bear any injustice.
“Discernment and contemplation; concentration and perseverance; resignation and trust; humility and charity. Spirituality is what man is: being made of intelligence, will and sentiment – all three faculties having the principal quality of objectivity on pain of not being human – spirituality has as its constitutive elements the Truth, the Way and Virtue; Virtue give rise to the two complementary poles of humility and charity, precisely. The Way is attached to the Truth; Virtue is attached to both the Truth and the Way.” (p. 85)

The Liberating Passage
From the standpoint of transcendence, there is quite evidently a discontinuity between the Divine Principle and its manifestation; but from the point of view of immanence, there is continuity.
When there is discontinuity, we distinguish between the Essence and the form; when there is continuity, we distinguish between the Substance and the accident.
The accident is a “mode” of the Substance, whereas the form is a “sign” of the Essence.
The masculine pole refers to essentiality and to transcendence, and the feminine pole to substantiality and to immanence.
A priori and grosso modo, Truth pertains to Rigor and to Justice, and Path, to Gentleness and to Mercy.
In loving woman, man essentially loves Infinitude and Goodness; woman, in loving man, essentially loves Absoluteness and Strength.

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