William Stoddart

Thomas

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A notable perennialist, William Stoddart, passed in November last year; he was 98 years old.

Born in Carstairs, Scotland. Raised a Protestant, he discovered Eastern spirituality through his father, who traveled to India. He developed an interest in religions, once saying: "It never for a moment entered my head that these religions could be false. I knew instinctively that they were true, but had no idea at the time just how much the doctrine of 'the transcendent unity of the religions‘ was going to mean for me in later life. I should add that this intuition of the validity of the non-Christian religions in no way weakened my attachment to Christianity."

Aged 20, Stoddart discovered the writings of Ananda Coomaraswamy and through him learned about René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon and Titus Burckhardt.

He recognised the many advocates of the philosophia perennis, but himself would assert that these were the most significant. He constantly reminded serious seekers that one needed to read and re-read the writings of Schuon in particular as a way to recognise the supra-formal truth at the heart of all religions. He retired in 1982 from a career in medical research and relocated to America to live near his spiritual mentor, Frithjof Schuon.

Stoddart was an award-winning author and editor. He was assistant editor of Studies in Comparative Religion, a British journal dedicated to publishing writings on the perennial philosophy. He was a board member in the early days of the Matheson Trust, which promotes the philosophical, metaphysical, cosmological, and aesthetic study of all traditions. One of Stoddart‘s gifts was his capacity to distill complex and voluminous information into direct and succinct language, for which reason he was regarded as a master of synthesis.

In paying tribute to the life and work of the English Catholic writer Bernard Kelly, Stoddart recalls a telling statement about Kelly that could just as easily have applied to himself: – There are some of us who can‘t rightly pray without a pen in our hands.

Stoddart saw that it was not enough to simply affirm diverse religious manifestations and their unity, but that we needed to pursue a salvific path whole-heartedly: We must be capable of the cardinally important intuition that every religion, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam, comes from God and every religion leads back to God.

The wide range of Stoddart‘s writings include Sufism, Hinduism and Buddhism. He translated several traditionalist works from the original French and German: Esoterism as Principle and as Way and Sufism: Veil and Quintessence as well as over 3000 poems by Schuon. He also translated Titus Burckhardt: Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul, and Mirror of the Intellect: Essays on Traditional Science and Sacred Art as well as editing The Essential Titus Burckhardt: Reflections on Sacred Art, Faiths, and Civilizations.

He never tired of reminding people that, in Schuon‘s opus, there was everything necessary to sustain our spiritual journey back to the Divine, yet we needed first and foremost to be rooted in one of the authentic revealed spiritual traditions that have been bequeathed to humanity. It is through the doorway of tradition that we may apprehend the unanimity to be found among all the great religions.

Verily we belong to God and unto Him we shall return (Qurʼān 2:152)

(Précis of In Memoriam by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos, from "Transcendent Philosophy: An International Journal for Comparative Philosophy and Mysticism" essay here)
 
He never tired of reminding people that, in Schuon‘s opus, there was everything necessary to sustain our spiritual journey back to the Divine, yet we needed first and foremost to be rooted in one of the authentic revealed spiritual traditions that have been bequeathed to humanity. It is through the doorway of tradition that we may apprehend the unanimity to be found among all the great religions.

Verily we belong to God and unto Him we shall return (Qurʼān 2:152)

(Précis of In Memoriam by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos, from "Transcendent Philosophy: An International Journal for Comparative Philosophy and Mysticism" essay here)
Mmm .. we will all return to our Maker .. and He will judge between us at the appointed time.
 
I think the Perennialist distinction is between an active or passive returnee.
 
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