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Prayer Fashions Man
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Prayer Fashions Man: Frithjof Schuon on the Spiritual Life
Prayer Fashions Man: Frithjof Schuon on the Spiritual Life
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Author(s): 
Subjects(s): 
Comparative Religion
Inspirational
Metaphysics

Price:  $18.95

ISBN:  0-941532-65-8
Book Size:  6" x 9"
# of Pages:  296
Language:  English



Description
The great 20th century metaphysician Frithjof Schuon was also a spiritual master familiar with the spiritual struggles of modern seekers. He once wrote, “To be a human being means to be connected with God; life has no meaning without this.” This “human vocation” means that until we find a personal connection with God we are not able to connect with the innermost being that lies locked up within the human heart.

James S. Cutsinger, author and editor, has collected into this volume some of the most memorable writings on prayer and the spiritual life by this great 20th century spiritual figure. Prayer Fashions Man includes an appendix of excerpts from letters and other writings which have not been published before. Thus, previous readers of Schuon will rejoice in this wonderful collection of many of his best writings on prayer and the human vocation, as well as seeing some materials they have never seen before. Readers new to Schuon will find, as countless others have, insights on spirituality that call to their innermost being in a universal language that all people of all times and all religions can, and indeed must, understand. Prayer Fashions Man includes a foreword by Philip Zaleski.
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Detailed Description of Prayer Fashions Man

The great 20th century metaphysician Frithjof Schuon was also a spiritual master familiar with the spiritual struggles of modern seekers. He once wrote, “To be a human being means to be connected with God; life has no meaning without this.” This “human vocation” means that until we find a personal connection with God we are not able to connect with the innermost being that lies locked up within the human heart.

James S. Cutsinger, author, editor, and scholar, has collected into this volume some of the most memorable writings on prayer and the spiritual life by this great 20th century spiritual figure. Prayer Fashions Man includes an appendix of excerpts from letters and other writings which have not been published before. Thus, previous readers of Schuon will rejoice in this wonderful collection of many of his best writings on prayer and the human vocation, as well as seeing some materials they have never seen before. Readers new to Schuon will find, as countless others have, insights on spirituality that call to their innermost being in a universal language that all people of all times and all religions can, and indeed must, understand.

In his very clear and helpful introduction to the book, Cutsinger writes:
Our aim in this anthology is to give the reader some sense of the range and variety of Schuon’s writings on prayer and the spiritual life, though the full scope of his doctrine on these momentous subjects can by no means be covered in a single volume. In a sense everything Schuon wrote was on the subject of prayer. Asked in a series of interviews during the last years of his life what his advice would be for people in general, he consistently replied by stressing the importance of prayer. “If you understand what is essential and what is absolute,” he said, “you want to assimilate it; otherwise one is a hypocrite.…We may think that God is God: Brahma satyam. But it is not enough to think it; we must assimilate it—we must ‘eat’ it, just as the Christians eat the body of Christ and drink his blood.…And in order to assimilate the truth of the Absolute, you must pray.…
Whether a passage illuminates for us the place of humankind in the cosmos, or the origin of evil, or the errors of the modern world, or any number of other considerations, Schuon's final advice to us is always the same. We must pray in order to become all that we really are by the grace of God.

Prayer Fashions Man includes a foreword by Philip Zaleski.


About the Author(s)

James Cutsinger

James S. Cutsinger is an author, editor, and teacher whose writings focus primarily on Perennialism and the theology and spirituality of the Christian East. He is professor of Theology and Religious Thought at the University of South Carolina. Prof. Cutsinger has edited a series of new editions of books by Frithjof Schuon (click here to see the list of books). His other contributions to World Wisdom's books include:
Editor of:   Contributed:
 

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Philip Zaleski

Philip Zaleski is an author and editor of works on spirituality, with a particular focus on prayer and the practice of spiritual life. He is the author of The Recollected Heart and Gifts of the Spirit: Living the Wisdom of the Great Religious Traditions, and coauthor (with his wife Carol) of Prayer: A History. Mr. Zaleski is the editor of The Best Spiritual Writing series, and is a senior editor at Parabola magazine. He teaches religion at Smith College and has been a visiting lecturer in literature at Wesleyan University. His writing on religion and culture regularly appears in national publications including The New York Times, Parabola, First Things and Reader’s Digest.

Mr. Zaleski's insightful remarks can be found in the forewords to the following World Wisdom books:


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Reviews of Prayer Fashions Man

“In this finely selected anthology the editor takes us to the very heart and soul of Schuon’s message, bringing to light the ‘categorical imperative’ of prayer that underlies the whole corpus of Schuon’s works and without which those works would remain merely theoretical. To read this book is to feel the irresistible attraction of prayer, Schuon’s reflections on the spiritual life being suffused with an alchemical power that can arise only from a consciousness rooted in the Object of prayer. What Schuon has experienced he conveys, and in so doing galvanizes our own aspirations for ‘the one thing needful’.”

- Reza Shah-Kazemi, Institute of Ismaili Studies, author of Justice and Remembrance: An Introduction to the Spiritual Ethos of Imam Ali



"Schuon’s writings may be compared to a dance around the axis of contemplative silence, from which arises true prayer. This new anthology brings out the primacy of prayer in his message by collecting chapters from books as well as private texts and correspondence, thereby providing us with the quintessence of Schuon’s operative teachings."

- Patrick Laude, Georgetown University, co-author of Frithjof Schuon: Life and Teachings



"Frithjof Schuon’s importance as a master of mystical theology and metaphysics continues to grow. Professor Cutsinger has composed an outstanding introduction and supplied some of Schuon’s most lucid and penetrating writings on the spiritual life. For those longing for a deeper understanding of prayer and its ontological foundations, this collection will prove to be illuminating and invaluable."

- Robert Fastiggi, Sacred Heart Major Seminary



"With this new book, James Cutsinger shows he is an authority and teacher of the first rank on the work of Schuon. Professor Cutsinger has a kind of genius for organization, for discovering an ordering principle in the author’s work and using that principle to guide his own decisions. His editorial hand in the choice of texts and the notes is sure and unobtrusive, letting the master speak for himself while opening pathways of understanding for readers of all levels."

- Vincent Rossi, Director of Education for the Jerusalem Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church



"In this remarkable book Schuon, attentive doctor of the soul, exposes the soul’s sophisms and denounces its weaknesses while honoring all the modalities of the inner life, from the simplest to the most vibrant, from personal prayer to the most elevated form of quintessential orison."

- Patricia Reynaud, Miami University



"In the words of Marco Pallis, any religion is doomed to more or less rapid disintegration [without]…the dimension of spiritual, intellectual, and physical integration [that is so well articulated in] Prayer Fashions Man."

- Brian Keeble, author of Art: For Whom and For What?



"No one knows Schuon’s mind—nor his incomparable gift for transporting attentive readers into their own spiritual depths—better than Cutsinger. In this superb volume he masterfully presents Schuon’s most magisterial passages on the interior life and the soul’s relation to God. His inclusion of previously unpublished letters is a coup that reveals another side of Schuon, a tenderness that places the sage’s adamantine intellectual style in a surprising new light."

- Philip Novak, Dominican University of California, and author of The World’s Wisdom



"This extraordinary book is sui generis. Lean, lucid, and graceful in style, Prayer Fashions Man offers profound and pivotal views the likes of which have not appeared in the western world since the times of Meister Eckhart and Dante Alighieri."

- Alvin Moore, Jr., editor of Selected Letters of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy



"This new collection makes Schuon’s work more accessible than ever, which is a great boon to those prepared to contemplate religion in universal terms. Here Schuon the metaphysician speaks as a spiritual master, placing the focus on the essential method of the spiritual life—prayer. His exposition of the dimensions and depths of prayer is traditional in the strictest sense, yet by no means confined to archaic forms. New readers will discover what experienced ones already have: that to read Schuon is not only to understand prayer anew, but to be drawn into it."

- Carl N. Still, St. Thomas More College



"…This book represents an anthology of fundamental texts, a basis for reflection and a practical manual."

- Jean Biès, author and poet




Table of Contents for Prayer Fashions Man

 

Foreword by Philip Zaleski

Introduction by James S. Cutsinger

Chapter 1:  Dimensions of Prayer

Chapter 2:  Fundamental Keys

Chapter 3:  Prayer and the Integration of the Psychic Elements

Chapter 4:  Modes of Prayer

Chapter 5:  Trials and Happiness

Chapter 6:  What Sincerity Is and Is Not

Chapter 7:  Dimensions of the Human Vocation

Chapter 8:  Microcosm and Symbol

Chapter 9:  Meditation

Chapter 10:  The Servant and Union

Appendix: A Sampling of Letters and Other Previously Unpublished Materials

Editor’s Notes

Sources

Glossary of Foreign Terms and Phrases

Index

Biographical Notes



Excerpts from Prayer Fashions Man

 

The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 2 of
Prayer Fashions Man, “Fundamental Keys”:

Meditation, concentration, prayer: these three words epitomize the spiritual life, while at the same time indicating its principal modes. Meditation, from the standpoint here adopted, is an activity of the intelligence in view of understanding universal truths; concentration for its part is an activity of the will in view of assimilating these truths or realities existentially, as it were; and prayer in turn is an activity of the soul with respect to God.

We have spoken of universal truths; by this term we mean principles which determine everything that is. The first function of the intelligence, from the point of view considered here, is to distinguish between the Absolute and the relative; its second function will then be, on the one hand, to perceive relativity intellectually insofar as it seemingly enters into the domain of the Absolute[1] and, on the other hand, to perceive the Absolute as it is reflected in the relative.

Let it be said once again—since the context requires it—that the “pure Absolute” is “the Essence of Essences” or Beyond-Being; as for the relative, it includes both Being and its central reflection in the world, and then the world itself; Being—or the personal God, the Creator—is the “relative Absolute”, if for want of a less problematical term one may thus speak of it.

We may therefore distinguish four degrees in the total Universe: Beyond-Being, God-Being, Heaven, and Earth, the last term designating symbolically and comprehensively all that is situated below the celestial Summit. Or again: Beyond-Being and Being taken together—if one may so express it—constitute the divine Principle, while Heaven and Earth constitute universal Manifestation, Heaven being able to be conceived as including Being and Beyond-Being, as is suggested by the phrase “Our Father who art in Heaven”.

But the total Universe is not only made up of degrees, for there are modes as well; the degrees are disposed in a “vertical” order, whereas the modes are in a “horizontal” order and situated in the appropriate manner at each of the four degrees. There is first of all a duality: an “active” and divinely “masculine” pole, and a “passive” and divinely “feminine” pole;[2] then there comes a trinity: Power, Consciousness, and Felicity.[3] Finally, we may distinguish a quaternity: Rigor, Gentleness, Activity, and Passivity; in other words, Purity or Sacrifice, Goodness or Life, Strength or Light—or victorious Act—and Beauty or Peace; herein is to be found the origin of all the Qualities, divine and cosmic.[4]

After meditation, which pertains to Truth and intelligence, comes concentration, which pertains to the Way and the will; there is no Truth that does not have its prolongation in the Way, and there is no intelligence that does not have its prolongation in the will; the authenticity and totality of the values in question require this.

Concentration in itself—apart from its possible contents—ultimately pertains to the “deiformity” of the planes constituting the human microcosm: man is like a tree whose root is the “heart” and whose crown is the “forehead”. Now our mental space—the substance or energy containing or producing thought—is in itself consciousness of the divine Reality; the mind emptied of all coagulations “thinks God” by its very substance, in “holy silence”, man being “made in the image of God”.

The same is true of our bodily substance—or more precisely our consciousness of this substance—actualized in perfect immobility: the moment we do nothing but “exist” we are virtually identified with Being, beyond all cosmic coagulations. Concurrently with bodily consciousness, there is vital, energetical consciousness—in short, life and movement—which, as sacred dances testify, can be a vehicle for our participation in cosmic rhythms and universal life, at all the levels accessible to us by virtue of our nature and through Grace.

This leaves, in the human microcosm, the consciousness of self—namely, the “heart”—which can likewise be the support of an existential “remembrance of God” on the basis of intellectual, ritual, and moral conditions that guarantee the legitimacy and efficacy of such an alchemy. Whatever the case, the psychosomatic analogies we have just called to mind convey teachings that concern all men: every human being must, out of love for God, strive to “be what he is”—to disengage himself from the artificial superstructures which disfigure him and which are none other than traces of the fall—in order to become once again a tree whose root is made of liberating certitude and whose crown is made of beatific serenity. Human nature is predisposed toward the unitive knowledge of its divine Model.…



Notes:

1.   Or insofar as it appears mysteriously within that which, seen from the standpoint of contingency or manifestation, is still the Absolute—a paradox that can be explained despite the clumsiness of the language, though not in a few words.
2.   Purusha and Prakriti at the level of Being, Îshvara; but these poles are also reflected at other levels, beginning with the supreme Paramâtmâ, in which they necessarily have their root.
3.  Sat, Chit, Ânanda, which enter into all existence, although in Vedantic parlance these terms designate only the “dimensions” of Âtmâ as such.
4.   Hindu mythology, like every other, designates these root Qualities by the names of numerous divinities, the quaternity being moreover an opening to indefinite differentiation. With the American Indians, the four universal Qualities are manifested mythically by the cardinal points.



Selection from our Library about Prayer Fashions Man
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2Subject WW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
What Sincerity Is and Is NotStudies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 9, No. 4. (Autumn, 1975); also in the book "Prayer Fashions Man"Schuon, Frithjof Spiritual Life
Foreword to Prayer Fashions ManPrayer Fashions Man: Frithjof Schuon on the Spiritual LifeZaleski, Philip Metaphysics, Perennial Philosophy
Dimensions of PrayerPrayer Fashions Man: Frithjof Schuon on the Spiritual LifeSchuon, Frithjof Metaphysics
Introduction to Prayer Fashions ManPrayer Fashions Man: Frithjof Schuon on the Spiritual LifeCutsinger, James Metaphysics
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