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  Light on the Ancient Worlds: A Brief Survey of the Book by Frithjof 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 8 of 10

Chapter 8:   The Universality and Timeliness of Monasticism

Expounding on the metaphysical roots of monasticism, Schuon reflects on hermits and society, in the past and in the present:
A monk will certainly never blame anyone simply for living in the world; this is self-evident, given the existence of secular clergy and lay saints; what is blameworthy is not living “in the world”, but living in it badly and thus in a certain sense creating it. When anyone reproaches a hermit or a monk for “fleeing” the world, he commits a double error: first, he loses sight of the fact that contemplative isolation has an intrinsic value independent of the existence of a surrounding “world”; second, he pretends to forget that there are forms of flight which are perfectly honorable: if it is neither absurd nor shameful to do one’s best to escape an avalanche, it is no more so to run away from the temptations or even simply the distractions of the world, or from our own ego to the extent it is rooted in this vicious circle.…It is metaphysically impossible to give oneself to God without this resulting in something good for the environment; to give oneself to God—though it were hidden from all—is to give oneself to man, for this gift of self has a sacrificial value of an incalculable radiance.

From another point of view, to work for one’s own salvation is like breathing, eating, sleeping; one cannot do these things for anyone else nor help anyone else by abstaining from them. Egoism is taking away from others what they need; it is not taking for oneself something of which they know nothing or for which they have no desire. (Excerpted from page 102)

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