Frithjof Schuon


So it goes ...
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In Europe and America, and in the modern world in general, people frequently desire spirituality without tradition, which is an entirely false attitude, since the first condition of a serious spiritual development is the restoration of a traditional mind. Westerners want to "try" everything instead of commencing on the basis of metaphysical certainty. Truth is beauty, and beauty comes only through tradition. Okakura Kakuzo and Ananda K. Coomaraswamy understood this well.

– Frithjof Schuon, from a Letter to Sohaku Ogata, abbot of Chotokuin Monastery, Kyoto, February 1958
From an essay on T.S.Eliot's "Four Quartets"-

Eliot feels no compunction in alluding to the Bhagavad Gita in one section of the poem and Dante's Paradiso in the next. He neither asserts the rightness nor wrongness of one set of doctrines in relation to the other, nor does he try to reconcile them. Instead, he claims that prior to the differentiation of various religious paths, there is a universal substratum called Word (logos) of which religions are concretions. This logos is an object both of belief and disbelief. It is an object of belief in that, without prior belief in the logos, any subsequent religious belief is incoherent. It is an object of disbelief in that belief in it is empty, the positive content of actual belief is fully invested in religious doctrine.
I'd just like to add that Tradition is lauded throughout Dogen's "Shobo Genzo" (The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye". I now carry this mighty tome around with me and dip into it at random times.

I have just finished a long essay where the Kashaya (the Buddhist robe) is revered.


The pearl hidden inside the robe is beyond the understanding of those who count letters.

Yet in Dogen's thought such is far from the "transmission outside of scripture" so often associated with Zen or any watering down of tradition.

Myself, I am purely secular. But I have to admire Dogen, who seems to be able to have his cake and eat it at the same time.