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Frithjof Schuon

Life and Teachings

Jean-Baptiste Aymard, Patrick Laude, Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Publication Year: 2004

The first book in English devoted to the religious philosopher Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998) to appear since his death, this biography also provides an analysis of his work and spiritual teachings. Relying on Schuon’s published works as well as unpublished correspondence and other documents, the authors highlight the originality of Schuon’s life and teachings in terms of his consistent focus on esoterism, defined as the inner penetration of sacred forms and spiritual practices vis-à-vis the religio perennis, the eternal wisdom that lies at the core of all sacred paths. Schuon’s life, they argue, is a quest for the inner meaning of religious experience, as is indicated by his connections to Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Native American Shamanism. Spiritual seekers from all backgrounds will appreciate this comprehensive study of this towering figure of comparative religion.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title page, copyright page

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pp. ix-xii

Frithjof Schuon is without doubt one of the major intellectual and spiritual figures of the twentieth century and yet little is known about his life in the English-speaking world. During his lifetime, despite the wide dissemination of his writings in many languages throughout the world, he remained intentionally completely outside of the public limelight and was not easily accessible except to those in quest of spiritual guidance. Furthermore, those who knew him well ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

The authors wish to express their deep gratitude to all who collaborated on the translation and editing of this book. Chapter 1 (written by Jean-Baptiste Aymard) was translated from French by Gillian Harris and William Stoddart, chapter 2 (Jean-Baptiste Aymard) was translated by John Monastra and Helen Komen, and chapter 4 (written by Patrick Laude) was translated by Deborah Casey. Appendix 1 (1939) was translated by John Monastra, Appendix 2 by ...

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pp. 1-4

As a rich corpus of metaphysics and spiritual teachings, Frithjof Schuon’s writings provide reflective and circumstantiated answers to the questions of modern man, who today finds himself disarmed in the face of the all-conquering certitudes of science, and the prevailing relativism. However, Schuon was not a bookish metaphysician but first and foremost a man of inspired meditation and prayer, and, to borrow the expression he used with regard to René Guénon, a ...

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CHAPTER ONE. A Biographical Approach

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pp. 5-54

At the beginning of the twentieth century the Schuon family, of Germanic origin but of Valaisan stock, had been living in Basel for some years. Paul Schuon, whose parents were Swabian, first emigrated to Alsace, after it had become German in 1870, following the Franco-Prussian war. There he married Margarete Boehler, who was Alsatian on her mother’s side, but whose father was originally from the Rhineland. They had two sons. The first, Erich, born on ...

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CHAPTER TWO. A Spiritual Portrait

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pp. 55-78

Having sketched a biography of Frithjof Schuon in the previous chapter, we would like to devote ourselves here to describing the contours of the complex spiritual personality of this extraordinary man. If one perceives throughout his written work the exceptional scope of the metaphysician, one also senses, as the Thomist writer Bernard Kelly emphasized ...

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CHAPTER THREE. Esoterism and Tradition

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pp. 79-106

The definition and scope of esoterism remains an ambiguous and disputed matter, as is clearly apparent from a variety of reactions to Frithjof Schuon’s presentation of the concept of religio perennis. In one of his later books, Schuon indicates his preference for this term on the basis of its operative implications, while considering himself as a spokesman of the sophia perennis, thereby allowing

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CHAPTER FOUR. Metaphysical and Spiritual Aesthetics

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pp. 107-126

Frithjof Schuon was above all a metaphysician, or “philosopher” in the Platonic sense of the term, manifesting himself as an artist only secondarily and as through over abundance.1 Through its amplitude and profundity, his written opus, such as it is given in his works, suffices unto itself. Moreover, he himself claimed for his work a deep unity and homogeneity outside all effort of extrinsic ...

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pp. 127-128

Upon completion of his first reading of one of Schuon’s works, a scholar spontaneously compared his perception of the author to that of an eagle who, after having majestically and repeatedly circled the sky, would come and land right before him, summoning him with piercing eyes to jump into the void of anabyss of unknowing. The imaginal relevance of this perception is striking. The eagle, who is akin to the symbolism of lightning, is undoubtedly the animal that ...

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APPENDIX 1. Frithjof Schuon: General Considerations on Spiritual Functions1

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pp. 129-132

The spiritual function par excellence, which is essentially one of transmission, that is, the function of Revealer, whose prototype is the Word (Logos), manifests itself, at the dawn of each new adaptation of the Primordial Tradition, not only by the great Revealer himself, but also by men who represent more particularly one aspect or another of the revealing function, therefore as many secondary functions of it. These secondary functions are determined as such by the ...

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APPENDIX 2. Frithjof Schuon: Christian Gnosis1

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pp. 133-136

Christianity is that “God made Himself what we are, in order to make us what He is” (St. Irenaeus); it is that Heaven became earth, so that earth might become Heaven. Christ retraces in the outward and historical world what has taken place, from the beginning of time, in the inward world of the soul. In man, the Pure Spirit becomes ego, in order that the ego may become Pure Spirit; the Spirit or Intellect (Intellectus, not mens or ratio) becomes ego by incarnating Itself ...


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pp. 137-184

Bibliography of Works by Frithjof Schuon

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pp. 185-190


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pp. 191-196

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484487
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791462058
Print-ISBN-10: 0791462056

Page Count: 210
Illustrations: 6 b/w photographs
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 62386538
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Frithjof Schuon

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Subject Headings

  • Religion -- Philosophy.
  • Schuon, Frithjof, 1907-1998.
  • Spiritual life.
  • Tradition (Philosophy).
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