The Creator: What's He Really Like?
Ironically, although the school founded by Schuon is called "traditionalist," it is precisely those who are most traditional who are likely to reject his ecumenical but non-synthesist approach.
That is, Schuon insisted that all of the authentic revelations were correct -- i.e., more or less adequate to disclose valid and operative knowledge of God and Salvation -- even though the individual practitioner is unlikely to regard his tradition as just one of many. Schuon addressed this issue in a number of subtle and sophisticated ways, but there again, I would guess that the passionate believer in the One True Faith would consider Shuon's handling of the matter as "too clever by half."
Still, there are ways around the problem. For example, it probably makes no sense to say that one religion is absolutely correct while all the others are absolutely in error. Therefore, there can be degrees of religious truth, so to speak. For example, Ann Coulter was recently attacked by irreligious bigots for essentially saying just this: that Christianity represents the "perfection" of Judaism, not its annulment. Naturally, a Jew believes no such thing, but no one accuses the Jew of being a religious bigot because he believes Jesus was just a confused or grandiose rabbi.
In fact, Jews and Christians can live harmoniously because they share a core set of values, but differ on their theological expression. Thus, Coulter was in no way suggesting that Judaism was "absolutely wrong," but only relatively so in light of what she regards as the "perfection" of Christianity. Schuon would probably say that both religions are relatively absolutely true, but anyone is still free to think their religion is the "most adequate."
In point of fact, one cannot practice a religion and not think it is absolute, for the very reason that one of its purposes is to convey a sense of the Absolute, and you cannot understand the Absolute in terms of the relative.
Then again -- and here is where a bit of confusion arises -- we can only understand the Absolute in terms of the relative, so long as we are alive and living in this relative world: You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live. This is really just another way of saying "no one can know me absolutely on this side of death." Even Jesus agrees: Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
Therefore, we must use "analogues" to try to comprehend a God who always transcends our categories, which is the deeper meaning of As above, so below, Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness, and God became man that man might become God. Other animals were created according to their kind, meaning that they are based upon their own platonic archetype. Only man was ultimately fashioned from the divine archetype (although not only from this archetype; you might say that it is the "ruling" or "solar" archetype that transcends, subtends, and potentially harmonizes all the others).
So, we may use analogy in a certain way in order to understand the Divine Mind. For example, being that we are in the image of the Creator, we are as different from the other animals as God is from us. And we are not just different in terms of some scientific quantity, i.e., more intelligent or more self-aware.
Rather, we are qualitatively (which is to say, vertically) different in ways that are absolutely unbridgeable (because vertical) by biology. All other animals are trapped in their subjectivity, unable to stand outside it. But human beings are precisely capable of objectivity, which is "the capacity to step outside of our subjectivity and thus to transcend ourselves; this is precisely what characterizes the intelligence and will of man" (Schuon). In turn, this is why Man is a doorway to the Absolute and can know objective Truth.
The human intellect has two capacities that work in harmony to create the possibility of growth or "evolution" toward our own divine archetype. First, we may discern -- which is to say "separate" -- reality and appearances, "the Absolute and the contingent, the Necessary and the possible, Atma and Maya" (Schuon). But this discernment is "joined, complementally and operatively" with the capacity to unite or synthesize differences; which is why it is said that "science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity," and that "to know much, you must know little."
The typical secular intellectual knows everything about nothing (i.e., the relative) but nothing about Everything (i.e., the Absolute). And yet, he still necessarily elevates the relative to the Absolute, which is a sort of backhanded tribute to the unity of the One, an ideal unity that is the ground and sponsor of all knowledge. If there were no Absolute, we could truly know nothing, which is an absurdity.
In order for there to be a cosmos at all, there must be a separation, or division, between knower and known, subject and object, interior and exterior, infinite and finite. Thus, the first act of creation is to make this primordial division between Beyond Being and Being. This can be expressed in diverse ways.
For example, Genesis posits a realm of primal watery chaos; it is dark, void, and without form. So the first act is to divide light from darkness, the waters above from the waters below, the vertical from the horizontal. The appearance of the dry land is none other than the finite within the infinite, or you might say (k) from O. Or, you could say that it is an ego, or individual subject, won from the formless infinite unconscious void.
Here is some analogue language to flesh out where we are at this point:
The essentially creative act is the dissociation of subjectivity and objectivity out of the primal unity. Self and not-Self then come into being, though not into independent being, for each is bound to the other by the unity of which both are polar aspects (Sri Krishna Prem)
The fiat lux of the first day of creation and the fiat lux of the awakening of faith in the soul are of the same essence. In both cases it is a question of the creative act of "Let there be light! (Meditations on the Tarot).
Sparks of holiness are imprisoned in the stuff of creation. They yearn to be set free, united with their Source (Lawrence Kushner).
That there should be physics is a miracle (James Cronin).
Nothing comes into existence unless the divine spark of consciousness, no matter how faint or dim, lies at its center (Richard Smoley).
There is no greater love than that of the sacrifice of eternity for the limitations of existence in the transient moment (Meditations on the Tarot).
When the divine plenty is manifested in its complete fullness there is no room for the existence of anything else. A world can exist only as a result of the concealment of its Creator (Adin Steinsaltz).
Eternity is another word for unity.... Time is eternity broken into space, like a ray of light refracted in the water (Abraham Heschel).
In the incarnation humanity is the "boundary" or "frontier" between the visible and the invisible, the carnal and the spiritual, like a mediator between creation and creator (Olivier Clement).
Eternal, he assents to Fate and Time / Immortal dallies with mortality / The All-Conscious ventured into Ignorance / He whose transcendence rules the pregnant Vasts / Prescient now dwells in our subliminal depths / The Absolute, the Perfect, the Alone / Has entered with his silence into space / He has made this tenement of flesh his own (Sri Aurobindo).
Or, if you prefer an unassailable digital redoubt, "The One emerged from the Zero and proceeded to create the 1 and 0, which evolved and transcended themselves in the Cosmic 3."
To be continued....