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  Every Branch in Me — Who are we as "human" beings? Back to the List of Slideshows
William Stoddart
slide 11 of 19

It is evident that humans learn in a way that is quite different from any other kind of being. Our capacity is, clearly, much beyond our actual attainment. Is it there to provide a 'one-way' outlet to the external world, to permit endless absorption of external data? Or are we providentially provisioned with capacity and means to learn in order to come to a new level of awareness of truths locked within the human spirit itself?

The Perennialist writer, editor, and translator William Stoddart has written an article "The Role of Culture in Education" (1)  to examine how a process of education can lead us to further discovery of our many 'branches' and 'buds':

The spiritual life has been described as the “interiorization of the outward” (khalwah) and the “exteriorization of the inward” (jalwah) (2). Education is an aspect of the latter process; the very etymology of the word (e-ducare, “to lead out”) is an indication of this. As a “leading-out”, education is a rendering explicit of the immanent Intellect (Intellectus or Nous), the seat of which, symbolically speaking, is the heart. As Frithjof Schuon has said more than once: “The Intellect can know everything that is knowable”. This is because “heart-knowledge” (gnosis) is innate, and thus already fully present within us, in a state of virtuality. This virtuality (3) has to be realized, and this realization is education. This corresponds to the Platonic doctrine of “recollection” (anamnesis), which in the last analysis is the “remembrance of God” (memoria Dei). “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”

(1)  Taken from page 197 of Every Branch in Me,  this chapter is also found in the journal Studies in Comparative Religion, Volume 17, copyright 1985, pages 19-23.

(2)  These “alchemical” definitions come from Frithjof Schuon. In Arabic, khalwah  means “spiritual retreat” and jalwah  means “spiritual radiance”, the former being logically prior to the latter. The two processes are symbolized respectively by the colors black and gold.

(3)  Examples (immediately apparent, and built into the human substance) of this innate and objective knowledge are our sense of logic, our capacity for arithmetic, our sense of justice, and our sense of right and wrong.

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