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Martin Lings: Video Clips on his Early Spiritual Influences
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World Wisdom's Spiritual Classics series
A Definition of the Perennial Philosophy
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How can we understand Native American traditions?
  Light on the Ancient Worlds: A classic book by F. Schuon Back to the List of Slideshows
An excerpt from
the second chapter of
Light on the Ancient Worlds,
"Fall and Forfeiture,"
written by Frithjof Schuon
slide 2 of 10

Chapter 2:   Fall and Forfeiture

In antiquity man was “objective,” being “little disposed to grant a determining role to psychological contingencies.” The fall to a subjective outlook had disastrous consequences for man’s ability to discern the real from the illusory, placing him outside of tradition and thus jeopardizing his ability to attain his ultimate (spiritual) goal.
When the modern world is contrasted with traditional civilizations, it is not simply a question of looking on each side for what is good and bad; since good and evil are everywhere, it is essentially a question of knowing on which side the lesser evil is to be found. If someone tells us that such and such a good exists outside tradition, we respond: no doubt, but it is necessary to choose the most important good, and this is necessarily represented by tradition; and if someone tells us that in tradition there exists such and such an evil, we respond: no doubt, but it is necessary to choose the lesser evil, and again it is tradition that contains it. It is illogical to prefer an evil that involves some benefits to a good that involves some evils.

Certainly, to confine oneself to admiring the traditional worlds is still to stop short at a fragmentary point of view, for every civilization is a “two-edged sword”; it is a total good only by virtue of those invisible elements that determine it positively. In certain respects, every human society is bad; if its transcendent character is entirely removed—which amounts to dehumanizing it since the element of transcendence is essential to man though always dependent upon his free consent—then at the same time society’s entire reason for being is removed.… (Excerpted from page 32.)

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