- Series: The Library of Traditional Wisdom
- Publisher: World Wisdom Books; First Edition edition (March 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0941532054
- ISBN-13: 978-0941532051
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,082,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Christianity/Islam: Essays on Esoteric Ecumenicism (The Library of Traditional Wisdom) Paperback – March, 1985
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"Intellectually rigorous in the highest degree ... There is no other voice like that of Schuon." -- Arthur Versluis, Michigan State University
"Recommended for scholars.... Appropriate for graduate students and upper-division undergraduates." -- T.M. Pucelik, Bradley University
"Schuon should be required reading for all for whom philosophy and religion are vital concerns." -- Sheldon R. Isenberg, Dept. of Religion, University of Florida
"This additon to the prolific and impressive collection of Schuon's writings is best read in conjunction with his earlier works." -- Lance Beizer, Gnosis Magazine
He feeds my soul ... as does no other living religious writer. -- Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions and Why Religion Matters
[There is] no better comparison of the two religions around for the intellectual reader. -- Jay Bail, The Book Reader
About the Author
Frithjof Schuon is best known as the foremost spokesman of the religio perennis and as a philosopher in the metaphysical current of Shankara and Plato. Over the past 50 years, he has written more than 20 books on metaphysical, spiritual and ethnic themes as well as having been a regular contributor to journals on comparative religion in both Europe and America. Schuon's writings have been consistently featured and reviewed in a wide range of scholarly and philosophical publications around the world, respected by both scholars and spiritual authorities.
Schuon was born in 1907 in Basle, Switzerland, of German parents. As a youth, he went to Paris, where he studied for a few years before undertaking a number of trips to North Africa, the Near East and India in order to contact spiritual authorities and witness traditional cultures. Following World War II, he accepted an invitation to travel to the American West, where he lived for several months among the Plains Indians, in whom he has always had a deep interest. Having received his education in France, Schuon has written all his major works in French, which began to appear in English translation in 1953. Of his first book, The Transcendent Unity of Religions (London, Faber & Faber) T.S. Eliot wrote: "I have met with no more impressive work in the comparative study of Oriental and Occidental religion."
The traditionalist or "perennialist" perspective began to be enunciated in the West at the beginning of the twentieth century by the French philosopher Rene Guenon and by the Orientalist and Harvard professor Ananda Coomaraswamy. Fundamentally, this doctrine is the Sanatana Dharma--the "eternal religion"--of Hindu Vedantists. It was formulated in the West, in particular, by Plato, by Meister Eckhart in the Christian world, and is also to be found in Islam with Sufism. Every religion has, besides its literal meaning, an esoteric dimension, which is essential, primordial and universal. This intellectual universality is one of the hallmarks of Schuon's works, and it gives rise to many fascinating insights into not only the various spiritual traditions, but also history, science and art.
The dominant theme or principle of Schuon's writings was foreshadowed in his early encounter with a Black marabout who had accompanied some members of his Senegalese village to Switzerland in order to demonstrate their culture. When the young Schuon talked with him, the venerable old man drew a circle with radii on the ground and explained: "God is in the center, all paths lead to Him."
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In a sense the most interesting ones are the ones on Christianity, since Schuon seldom deals with the Christian perspective on its own, without relevance to other religions. The essays there deal with various things, such as the use of liturgical languages, Francis of Assisi, and the Evangelical (i.e., Lutheran) tradition.
The essays on Islam are a bit more obscure to the general reader, and require some familiarity with early Islamic history and the divergences between Sunni and Shiite doctrine. Indeed, the essay entitled "The Problems of Scholasticism" - Islamic Scholasticism, that is - is abstruse indeed and requires a level of familiarity with Islamic theology that borders on the specialist. The Islamic essays also tend to be more broad brush in topic than the ones on Christianity, but nonetheless they are rewarding reading for a better understanding of Islam and its demands on the believer. The "Intermediary Problems" are attempts to correlate Christian and Islamic thought, and consequently raise issues that are very close to Schuon's heart; he is certainly at his best in this section.
Note that the book is a collection of essays, and at best the relationship between them is thematic. Bearing this in mind, if you find Schuon's writings rewarding in general you will be happy with this book.