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  Every Branch in Me — Who are we as "human" beings? Back to the List of Slideshows
            Mark Perry
slide 15 of 19

Mark Perry, in his essay "The Forbidden Door," (1)  undertakes the important task of warning us of the many pitfalls that can block our paths as we seek to discover our many 'branches.' In speaking of character and getting back to essentials, he points out the fundamental human elements that must always be made whole before spiritual (and even societal) security can be assured:

To be born a man is to be endowed with the divine gifts of will, love, and intelligence. And these attributes, if they are to be properly developed, Deo juvante, find their fulfillment respectively, as expressed by the Neoplatonists, in the good, the beautiful, and the true. Practically speaking, this means—to paraphrase Schuon—that man is meant to will the good, to love the beautiful, and to know the truth.(2) The pursuit of happiness is inconceivable without a proper understanding and integration of these elements whose absence opens up onto the subhuman. And what characterizes traditional man and, by extension, a whole traditional civilization whose architectural summit is a Chartres, the Temple of Heaven, a Taj Mahal, or the Dome of the Rock, is the crystallization of these tripartite faculties into modes of dress, behavior, and art that surrounds man in both a protective and liberating mold which prevents him from either forgetting or escaping the Divine.(3)

(1)  Taken from page 253 of Every Branch in Me,  this chapter is also found in the journal Sophia: The Journal of Traditional Studies, Winter 2001, copyright 2001, pages 139-185.

(2)  In this delineation, we are following a trinity whose leitmotif is found in all of the great traditions, most notably in the Vedanta, Neo-Platonism (including its ramifications in Christian gnosis), and Sufism, and, recently, magisterially expounded and crystallized anew in the works of Frithjof Schuon.

(3)  For a full development of this perspective, which is as far from the arbitrary as one can imagine, see Frithjof Schuon’s Light on the Ancient Worlds or Titus Burchhardt’s Sacred Art in East and West. Both works explain the inherently intellective nature which constitutes the basis of a sacred civilization. The celebrated historian Arnold Toynbee, on a far more discursive level, himself recognizes
that the genesis of the main civilizations originates each in a divine revelation.

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