Roots of the Human Condition
Frithjof Schuon (1990)


Part One: Principles and Roots
On Intelligence
The Veil of Isis
Problems of Space-Time
The Enigma of Diversified Subjectivity
Traces of Being, Proofs of God
Saving Dimensions

Part Two: Fundamental Perspectives
Man in the Face of the Sovereign Good
Outline of the Christian Message
Outline of the Islamic Message
Pillars of Wisdom
The Twofold Discernment

Part Three: Moral and Spiritual Dimensions
Cosmic Shadows and Serenity
Virtue and Way
On Love


No empiricism in metaphysics
What is rationalism?
Rationalism and Descartes
Love and knowledge coincide

Part One: Principles and Roots
On Intelligence

Definition of Intelligence
Distinctions between functions and aptitudes
Mental effort and perception of the real
"Horizontality" of transformism evolutionism
How do we understand the word emanation?
Regarding the ambiguous phenomenon of naivety
Intelligence makes us aware of a superiority, is it a fault?
The ambiguity of the notion of "intelligence" in religion
Is it better to have intelligence or a good character?
Awareness of death and quality of life
Is Aristotelianism representing a monopoly of intelligence?
A few words about Gnosis
Pseudo-gnostic satanism and anti-gnostic Satanism
The three adverse forces against esoterism
Esoterism as the way of intellection
Regarding the abuse of intelligence
"civilized" and "barbarian" peoples
Is mankind effectively intelligent?
Difference between primordial man and fallen man

The Veil of Isis
The scientists, indefinite explorers
Three subjectivities, three modes of certitude
"No one hath ever lifted my veil"
Hostility of the world of atoms and galaxies to human beings
The two points to consider in created things, appearance and mechanism
Is the mechanism of the world purely deterministic or purely arbitrary?
Is there a reason for seeking the cause of a phenomenon on the plane where it is produced?
Anatomy and beauty
Regarding the simultaneous presence of the immanent metaphysical cause within the order of physical causes
Physicists should try to understand the traditional ontocosmological doctrines
Is metaphysics an attempt to raise the veil of Isis?
What does mean: to raise the veil of Isis?
The Goddess Herself lifts her veil
Considerations on the notions of objectivity and subjectivity
Counterpart of "subjectivity" as sentimentality in "objectivity" as abusive preoccupation of the external world
There is a "veil of Isis" on both sides
Isis is Atma, the Veil is Maya

Problems of Space-time
Physics and metaphysics
Principle of relativity versus Principle of absoluteness
An application of the "relatively absolute"
Regarding the almost universal cult of the sun
Enigmas of space, enigmas of time
Regarding the cosmogonic "explosion"
Integral physics cannot be dissociated from integral metaphysics

Meaning of the term shakti
Shakti as energy: the two poles of this energy
Two enigmas in the movement of heavenly bodies, rotation and revolution
Kundalini, the sleeping snake
Aspects of All-Possibility
Shakti and tantrism
Clarifications about tantric amoralism
Does it mean that asceticism is not a fully valid method?
The power of the mantra
Kwan-Yin and Tara
Sita and Radha
Mary and Fatimah
Allah and Rahman
Sakinah and Barakah
The sacral promotion of sexuality in Islam
Hiya and Huwa, Ibn Arabi
Shari'ah and Tariqah
"Woman, Perfume and prayer"
The rite of the Calumet
Symbolism of smoke and flowers
The quality of shakti in woman

The Enigma of Diversified Subjectivity
Contradiction of multiple subjectivity
What is the worth of these contingent subjects?
Example, in Islam, of the imperfection of contingency
Terrestrial and celestial contingent subjects
Is, then, everything relative?
The transpersonal subjectivity
God, the only and perfect Subject
Platonism and Aristotelianism
Particular subject, particular ambiance, particular destiny

Traces of Being, Proofs of God
The split between belief and reasoning
How do phenomena prove or manifest divine Reality?
The perceiving subjectivity is also a "proof of God"
The divine "signs"
The world is a fabric of theophanies
Regarding two spontaneous reactions of the contemplative when perceiving a sign-proof of God
Wisdom is to perceive the symbolism of things
Necessity of the sense of forms and properties
Virtues as traces of Heaven

Saving Dimensions
Karma and kripa
Predestination and freedom
Regarding transmigration
Justice and Mercy in God
Gnosis as third saving dimension
What is a jnani?
Difference between the three margas, karma, bhakti and jnana
Masculine and feminine poles of the divine
Are they irreconcilable?
Radiation and unfolding in Relativity

Part Two: Fundamental Perspectives
Man in the Face of the Sovereign Good

What is man?
What are animals?
Meaning of the expression "The Sovereign Good"
What are the three relationships through which man can approach Divine Reality?
Transcendence and Immanence
Man has two connections with God
Advaitic Immanentism, religious transcendentisms and theosophisms
Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism
Which hypostatic mode or ontological degree is involved in the confrontation between God and man?
Regarding the metaphysical (not the theological) Trinity
When we pray, to which "divine level" should we address ourself?

Outline of the Christian Message
"God became man that man might become God"
Ontological foundation of Incarnation and Redemption
Christianity compared to Judaism
Communion and prayer
Meaning of bread and wine in the eucharistic rite
Eucharist and Nourishment, the Word of God
The mystery of the Icon
Mystery of Jesus and mystery of Mary
Where is Christian, non-Hellenized, metaphysics? (in the Gospel of St. John)
Passion, Resurrection, Redemption

Outline of the Islamic Message
The enigma of lightning-like expansion of Islam
Bedouin mentality and religion as such
The Testimony of Faith, exoteric and esoteric meaning
The Testimony and Prayer are unconditional
Fast, Tithe, Pilgrimage, Holy War
The meaning of Pilgrimage
The "Great Holy War" and the "Remembrance of God"
Iman, Islam, Ihsan

Pillars of Wisdom
What a priori does characterize the difference between exoterism and esoterism?
Regarding the two exigencies of metaphysical discernment
Virtue is part of Wisdom
The permanent awareness of the Sovereign Good
"Inwardness": to adore God "in spirit and in truth"
The vedantic key to Inwardness
Faith versus formalistic and legalistic servitude
Comprehension and concentration
Equilibrium between inwardness and outwardness
Is outwardness always a vice?
Beauty in exoterism and in esoterism
Alchemical hermeticism and knightly initiation
Existence of an "average" esoterism unaware of its true nature
Regarding the two poles of human soul: the empirical self and the intellect
Relationship between sacred art and esoterism
Is pious subjectivity alone efficacious?
Positive aspect of sentiment
What is the Sophia Perennis?
To know the Truth, to will the Good, to love Beauty
Place of Rigor
Intelligence is what defines man

The Twofold Discernment
Two discernment, that of principles and that of facts
The loss of religion is a disaster for a human society
How are explained many "holy absurdities"?
Example of the oasis of Fadak
Is "good sense" sufficient to resolve all real or apparent problems?
What is lacking in contemporary traditional milieus
Analysis and synthesis
Facts and symbols for the symbolists mentality
Shankara and Krishna, a desert Father and David or Solomon
About the Guenonian theory of "descending realization"

Part Three: Moral and Spiritual Dimensions
Cosmic Shadows and Serenity

What does mean "God doeth what He wills"?
Is nothing evil because everything that happens is "willed by God"?
God "allows" evil
How does evil participate in the good?
Is Satan situated at the same level as God?
The opposition between spirit and matter, "spirit" and "flesh"
Regarding the predominance of psychism over the intelligence
What is true serenity?
What is dignity? Man as a pontifex
Seven arguments to be used in the case of encounters with evil

Virtue and Way
Veracity and sincerity
Is there a way without virtue?
Metaphysical basis for humility
Balance between effacement and dignity
Humility for pious sentimentality
The quintessence of humility is the awareness of our nothingness in the face of the Absolute
Virtue and Beauty

On Love
To love the accidents is to love the Substance
How does love the spiritual man?
To say love is to say beauty
Bhakti and Jnana
Tutti miei pensier parlan d'amore

To buy this book: World Wisdom Books