Pure Intellect in the face of the Absolute

It is the case that mysticism is often associated with faith or spiritual experience rather than reason and intellect. Many mystics have condoned intellect as a means of attaining to the truth. The way of the mystic is understood to be alien to the way of the intellect. But!

But if it has happened that for millions of mystics the intellect has not pointed toward truth, we should not be hasty in putting the blame on the intellect; it can very well be that the failure did not originate from the intellect but rather from their intellect.

In accusations against the intellect the first misunderstanding comes from confusing reason with intellect. Reason is that faculty which works on the data given to it from the outside, thus reason works indirectly; the task of reason is to infer and conclude based on those inferences. The intellect, on the contrary, is a direct means of knowledge; it intuits its object as it is. Thus, intellect can be compared to light; and it is often spoken of as the light of the intellect. A true mysticism can’t function without the intellect. In fact it is intellect and only intellect that can guide the aspirant toward the goal, for intellect is that part of man that belongs to truth, thus the intellect naturally tends to take man home; it is its intended function.

It is the intellect that sees and intuits the truth at the end of the path of knowledge. Esoteric traditions that consider faith as an obstacle in the way of the truth are all aware of the supreme role of the intellect in its function of bringing knowledge. In such traditions intellect, or intelligence, is considered to be the only aspect of human that is divine, the only component that is capable of grasping the absolute and the infinite.

No esoteric path can go closer to truth than the path of the intellect. Faith always belongs to the exoteric aspect of divine life. The intelligence the man of faith stands in sharp contrast with that of the man of knowledge. The whole of religious tradition as a body of forms and rituals is suited to the man of faith, for he cannot transcend forms and thus the idea of a personal god.

The man of knowledge, on the other hand, cannot accept forms though he is conscious that all forms reflect the absolute. The personal god of religion is a childish toy for the man of knowledge who has chosen the path of the intellect.

Considering the finite and contingent nature of all names and forms, the face of truth is never intended to be disclosed to the man of faith, for he is emotionally and spiritually invested in forms and names, thus he is essentially incapable of handling the truth. Truth must be veiled due to its incapacitating power.

The face of truth can be seen only by those whose intellect has attained the perfection and detachment necessary to stand the piercing gaze of an impersonal, absolute, and the infinite truth.

“Knowledge of truth is the fire that burns up all hopes and desires.” Only the intellect can attain such knowledge and survive it.