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Form and Substance in the Religions
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Form and Substance in the Religions
Form and Substance in the Religions
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Author(s): 
Subjects(s): 
Comparative Religion
Eastern Religion
Islam
Metaphysics

Price:  $17.95

ISBN:  0-941532-25-9
Book Size:  5 1/2" x 8 1/2"
# of Pages:  264
Language:  English



Description

This book, according to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “is the second work of Schuon (following The Transcendent Unity) which is devoted primarily to comparative religion. Beginning with two essays on the distinction between truth and presence and form and substance in religions, the author then turns to major metaphysical studies of the most subtle nature concerning the distinction between Atma and maya and subject and object. He devotes several studies to specifically Islamic themes including Islamic understanding of Christ and Mary and two essays on Buddhism. The work concludes with another set of chapters which treat some of the most difficult theological and religious problem such as the question of theodicy, difficulties in sacred texts, paradoxes of spiritual expression, the effect of the human margin in revelation, and certain eschatological issues.”

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Detailed Description of Form and Substance in the Religions

This book, according to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “is the second work of Schuon (following The Transcendent Unity) which is devoted primarily to comparative religion. Beginning with two essays on the distinction between truth and presence and form and substance in religions, the author then turns to major metaphysical studies of the most subtle nature concerning the distinction between Atma and maya and subject and object. He devotes several studies to specifically Islamic themes including Islamic understanding of Christ and Mary and two essays on Buddhism. The work concludes with another set of chapters which treat some of the most difficult theological and religious problem such as the question of theodicy, difficulties in sacred texts, paradoxes of spiritual expression, the effect of the human margin in revelation, and certain eschatological issues.”

At the level of ideas, Schuon is an unsurpassable expositor of first principles. Included here are seminal chapters such as Atma-Maya and Truth and Presence. Schuon's fluency in so many "languages" of the spirit is widely acclaimed. There are gems here from the traditional worlds of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. These essays definitively establish that the Sacred has not only the first but also the final word.


About the Author(s)

Frithjof Schuon

Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998) is best known as the foremost spokesman of the “Traditionalist” or “Perennialist” school and as a philosopher in the metaphysical current of Shankara and Plato. He wrote more than two dozen books on metaphysical, spiritual, artistic, and ethnic themes and was a regular contributor to journals on comparative religion in both Europe and America. Schuon’s writings have been consistently featured and reviewed in a wide range of scholarly and philosophical publications around the world, respected by both scholars and spiritual authorities. Besides his prose writings, Schuon was also a prolific poet (see a listing of Schuon's poetry books) and a gifted painter of images that always portrayed the beauty and power of the divine, and the nobility and virtue of primordial humanity.

World Wisdom features a series titled "The Writings of Frithjof Schuon", which includes many new editions of classic books by Schuon in new translations and with additional materials. Our online Library contains many articles and poems written by Frithjof Schuon, allowing readers to see a representative sample of his remarkable body of work.

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Reviews of Form and Substance in the Religions

"Schuon offers metaphysical ideas as a practical instrument for leading men back to the traditions in their purity.... In Schuon's writings...an idea that seems functional only within one particular religious system is stunningly linked to general metaphysical principles that apply not only to all the known traditions but to all of reality as we can conceive it.

Readers...will certainly find in the writings of Schuon...completely new perspectives in every aspect of religious thought."

- Jacob Needleman in the Foreword to The Sword of Gnosis



"No other work by F. Schuon is more conducive to our fathoming the Prophetic Message in its essence and the Mystery of the Avataric Nature. F. Schuon is miraculously attuned to the spiritual realities he describes. Of special interest is the light he sheds on Sayyidatnâ Maryam as the figure of Quintessencial Esotericism whose influence extends over to India and Tibet through Tara and Prajanparamita. [Form and Substance is as] effulgent as truth itself.…"

- Patricia Reynaud, Miami University in Ohio, and co-founder of Religioperennis.org



Table of Contents for Form and Substance in the Religions

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Truth and Presence
  • Form and Substance in the Religions
  • Atmâ-Mâyâ
  • Substance, Subject, and Object
  • The Five Divine Presences
  • The Intersection of Time and Space in Koranic Onomatology
  • Insights into the Mohammedian Phenomenon
  • The Koranic Message of Seyyidnâ Aïssâ
  • The Virginal Doctrine
  • Synthesis of the Pâramitâs
  • A Note on the Feminine Element in Mahâyanâ
  • The Mystery of the Two Natures
  • The Question of Theodicies
  • Some Difficulties of Sacred Texts
  • Paradoxes of Spiritual Expression
  • The Human Margin
  • Remarks on a Problem of Eschatology
  • The Two Paradises
  • Index


Excerpts from Form and Substance in the Religions

The following excerpt is taken from the first chapter of Form and Substance in the Religions .

Truth and Presence

     The saving manifestation of the Absolute is either Truth or Presence, but it is not one or the other in an exclusive fashion, for as Truth It comprises Presence, and as Presence It comprises Truth. Such is the twofold nature of all theophanies; thus Christ is essentially a manifestation of Divine Presence, but he is thereby also Truth: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” No one enters into the saving proximity of the Absolute except through a manifestation of the Absolute, be it a priori Presence or Truth.
         In Christianity, the element Presence takes precedence over the element Truth: the first element absorbs, as it were, the second, in the sense that Truth is identified with the phenomenon of Christ; Christian Truth is the idea that Christ is God. From this arises the doctrine of the Trinity, which would not make sense if the point of departure in Christianity were the element Truth, that is, a doctrine of the Absolute, as is the case in Islam where God presents Himself in paramount fashion as the One Real, or in the measure allowed by a Semitic exoterism.(1)
         Islam is thus founded on the axiom that absolute Truth is what saves, together of course with the consequences this entails for the will; the exoteric limitation of this perspective is the axiom that Truth alone saves, not Presence. Christianity, on the contrary, is founded on the axiom that the Divine Presence saves; the exoteric limitation here is the axiom on the one hand that only this Presence, not another, saves, and on the other hand that only the element Presence can save, not the element Truth in Itself.(2)
         To say with Islam that it is Truth that saves—since it is the Truth of the Absolute—means that all the consequences of Truth must be drawn and that It must be accepted totally, namely, with the will and the sentiments as well as with the intelligence. And to say with Christianity that it is Presence that saves—since it is the presence of Divine Love—means that one is to enter into the mold of this Presence, sacramentally and sacrificially—and let oneself be carried towards Divine Love. It is necessary first to love, then to will, and then in due course to know—to know in relation to the love of God; whereas in Islam first one must know, then will, and in due course one must love—to love in relation to this knowledge of God, if such a schematic way of presenting these matters is allowed.

*
*     *

          A priori or exoterically, the element Truth in Christianity is, as we have said, the axiom that Christ is God, and that Christ alone is God; but a posteriori or esoterically, the Christic Truth means, on the one hand, that every manifestation of the Absolute is identical with the Absolute and, on the other, that this manifestation is at once transcendent and immanent. Transcendent, it is Christ above us; immanent, it is Christ within us; it is the Heart, which is both Intellect and Love. To enter the Heart is to enter into Christ, and conversely; Christ is the Heart of the macrocosm as the Intellect is the Christ of the microcosm. “God became man that man might become God”: the Self became Heart that the Heart might become the Self; and this is why “the kingdom of God is within you”.
         It is in this gnosis that Islam and Christianity meet, for the Heart is the immanent Koran or the immanent Prophet, if the emphasis is placed on the active and inspiring function of the Intellect. This amounts to saying that in Islam the element Presence is represented by the Koran on the one hand and by the Prophet on the other; to give full value to this element Presence—with respect to the element Truth, which is the point of departure in Islam—is to become identified sacramentally and eucharistically with the Koran,(3) and it is also to be identified with the Prophet by entering the Muhammadan mold, which is none other than the “primordial norm”, the Fitrah. One enters into this mold by enclosing oneself in the Sunnah, the body of rules of conduct prescribed by the Prophet, and personified by him; now these rules are “horizontal” as well as “vertical”: they concern material and social as well as spiritual life.
         The Koran itself, too, is both Truth and Presence: it is Truth by its doctrine, which teaches that there is but one Absolute, and it is Presence owing to its theophanic or sacramental quality, which is the origin of Dhikr, the quintessential prayer.




1.  This reservation means that the theological point of view, by the very fact of its devotional and voluntarist perspective, cannot avoid a certain dualism.

2.  The saving Truth of Islam is “Truth”—not “such and such” a Truth—for it concerns the Absolute and not a phenomenon.

3.  There are Muslims who spend their life reciting the Koran, and there are non-Arab Muslims who chant the Koran even if they do not understand it.


Selection from our Library about Form and Substance in the Religions
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2Subject WW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
Some Difficulties Found in Sacred ScripturesForm and Substance in the ReligionsSchuon, Frithjof Comparative Religion, Metaphysics, Perennial Philosophy
Form and Substance in the ReligionsStudies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 8, No. 3. (Summer, 1974); also in the book "Form and Substance in the Religions"Schuon, Frithjof Christianity, Comparative Religion, Esoterism, Islam, Metaphysics, Perennial Philosophy, Tradition
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