The Transcendent Unity of Religions

[Photo is of Mount Damavand in Iran]

The subject is borrowed from the book of the same title, The Transcendent Unity of Religions, by Frithjof Schuon, the principal exponent of the Traditionalist School of comparative religion. The transcendent unity of religions comes from the fact that there is one truth behind all revealed traditions, and that this truth reveals itself within diverse forms so to address the diverse modes of understanding and communication proper to various cultures: The Absolute becomes the relative so that the relative becomes the Absolute. This is the metaphysical mystery of which Perennial Philosophy speaks; it articulates the intrinsic relationship between the Principle and its Manifestation: The Principle being absolute must be transcendent and nondual; being Infinite it must manifest in diverse forms, and hence be at once immanent within its own manifestation. Thus, as the manifestation is always already prefigured in the Principle, the principle too is always reflected in the manifestation. It is from this metaphysical insight that revealed traditions, though diverse, are outward forms of one and the same inward truth: All radii of a circle diverge only in their outward motion but converge to one and the same point in their inward journey toward the center where radii is no more. The goal of religion is not to be a distinguished radius, for all radii are the same relative to the center; the goal is to point toward the center and realize that all radii, being means to an end, exist only insofar as we are not at the center.

The following quote from Lord Northbourne in the book The Underlying Religion is indicative of the immanent diversity and the transcendent unity of religions and emphasizes the necessary function of such diversity.

Paths that lead to a summit are widely separated near the base of the mountain, but they get nearer together as they rise. The wise climber takes the path on which he finds himself and does not worry too much about people on other paths. He can see his path but cannot see theirs properly. He will waste an enormous amount of his own time if he keeps on trying to find another and better path. He will waste other people’s time if he tries to persuade them to abandon theirs, however sure he is that his is the best.

7 thoughts on “The Transcendent Unity of Religions

  1. Thank you again, T-Rex. All of it I will likely ruminate for days. And that lovely quote paired with the beautiful image you chose helps me to breathe a sigh of relief. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In Buddhism we learn that the teching takes different forms appropriate for the understanding of the student.

    On another subject – Are you familiar with the Sri Yantra? I’ve had one on my desktop and last night after meditation, I saw it for the first time and now I continue to really see it in all of its multimple dimensions – it is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the idea is central to traditional wisdom and also perennial philosophy.
      About the Yantra I have seen the image and read only a little about it. I too had one on desktop but removed it because of its too heavy presence. It is a fascinating symbol.

      Liked by 1 person

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