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Insights into the early Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers
The Writings of Frithjof Schuon
Exploring "Timeless in Time" - a biography of Sri Ramana Maharshi
Who was Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa)?
What is Sacred Art?
Martin Lings: Video Clips on his Early Spiritual Influences
Quranic perspective on the nature of man: Video clips of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
The Universal Spirit of Islam: Keys for Interfaith Understanding
Spiritual Masters - East & West Series
Treasures of the World's Religions
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  Every Branch in Me — Who are we as "human" beings? Back to the List of Slideshows
    
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It is the saint who knows more fully than anyone else who he or she truly is before death. Upon death, this great mystery will be unlocked for all. The author of the classic The World's Religions , Huston Smith, turns our attention to ultimate realities in his essay "Hope, Yes; Progress, No" (1).  The message is clear:  Discover the life within your hidden 'branches' in this life, rather than the next.

Body dies, but the soul and spirit that animate it live on. At death man is ushered into the unimaginable expanse of a reality no longer fragmentary but total. Its all-revealing light shows up his earthly career for what it truly was, and the revelation comes at first as judgment. The pretenses, rationalizations, and delusions that structured and warped his days are now glaringly evident. And because the self is now identified with its Mind or vital center rather than its Body, Mind’s larger norms, to which the embodied ego paid little more than lip service, now hold the balance. It is thus that in hell man condemns himself; in the Koran it is his own members that rise up to accuse him. Once the self is extracted from the realm of lies, the falsities by which it armored itself within that realm become like flames and the life it there led like a shirt of Nessus.(2) When the flames have consumed these falsities—or to use other language, when truth has set the distortions of terrestrial existence in perspective—the balance is restored and the distortions, too, are seen to have had their place. This is forgiveness.



(1)  Taken from pages 321-322 of Every Branch in Me,  this chapter is also found in Huston Smith's book Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition, Harper Collins Books, copyright 1976, pages 118-145.

(2)  “The experience of death resembles that of a man who has lived all his life in a dark room and suddenly finds himself transported to a mountain top; there his gaze would embrace all the wide landscape; the works of men would seem insignificant to him. It is thus that the soul torn from the earth and from the body perceives the inexhaustible diversity of things and the incommensurable abysses of the worlds which contain them; for the first time it sees itself in its universal context, in an inexorable concatenation and in a network of multitudinous and unsuspected relationships, and takes account of the fact that life had been but an ‘instant’, but a ‘play’. Projected into the absolute ‘nature of things’ man is inescapably aware of what he is in reality; he knows himself ontologically and without deforming perspective in the light of the normative ‘proportions’ of the Universe.” F. Schuon, Understanding Islam (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 1998), p. 92.

           Huston Smith
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