The Great Triad
Guénon’s The Great Triad was the last book to appear during his lifetime. Even for his regular readers, this book contained largely new material. The author here refers especially to the Chinese tradition, principally in its Taoist form (though touching on Confucianism as well), in which the ‘Great Triad’ is defined as Heaven-Man-Earth. It is as much a cosmological as a metaphysical doctrine that is implied in this ternary of the ‘three worlds’. In spite of its Taoist title, however, the work draws heavily on Hermetic teachings, Hindu and Buddhist metaphysics, and Masonic symbolism, not to mention doctrines from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is also Guénon’s most comprehensive exposition of the science of Alchemy.
The classical Triad of the Chinese tradition is Heaven-Man-Earth. Guénon here places this ternary in the context of universal metaphysics by identifying Heaven with Essence and Earth with Substance, the mediator between them being Man, whose cosmic function is to embody spirit (Heaven) while simultaneously spiritualizing matter (Earth). Exploring Chinese cosmology further, Guénon sheds light on such archetypal polarities as Heaven and Earth, Yin and Yang, Solve et Coagula, Celestial and Terrestrial Numbers, the Square and the Compass, the Double Spiral, and the Being and the Environment, while pointing to their synthetic unity in terms of ternaries, such as the Three Worlds, Triple Time, Spiritus, Anima, and Corpus, Sulfur, Mercury and Salt, and God, Man, and Nature. Perhaps more completely than in any other work, Guénon demonstrates in The Great Triadhow any integral tradition is both a mirror reflecting universal themes found in all other intact traditions and an entire conceptual cosmos unto itself, unique and incomparable.
Table of Contents
Ternary and Trinity—Different Types of Ternary—Heaven and Earth—Yin and Yang—The Double Spiral—Solve et Coagula—Questions of Orientation—Celestial and Terrestrial Numbers—The Son of Heaven & Earth—Man and the Three Worlds—Spiritus, Anima, Corpus—Sulphur, Mercury, Salt—The Being and its Environment—The Mediator—Between the Square and the Compasses—The Ming T'ang—Wang: The King-Pontiff—True Man and Transcendent Man—Deus, Homo, Natura—Distortions in Modern Philosophy—Providence, Will, Destiny—Triple Time—The Cosmic Wheel—The Triatna—The City of Willows—The Middle Way
If during the last century or so there has been even some slight revival of awareness in the Western world of what is meant by metaphysics and metaphysical tradition, the credit for it must go above all to Guénon. At a time when the confusion into which modern Western thought had fallen was such that it threatened to obliterate the few remaining traces of genuine spiritual knowledge from the minds and hearts of his contemporaries, Guénon, virtually single-handed, took it upon himself to reaffirm the values and principles which, he recognized, constitute the only sound basis for the living of a human life with dignity and purpose or for the formation of a civilization worthy of the name.
Philip Sherrard, Christianity: Lineaments of a Sacred Tradition
Guénon is an unsurpassed master of the science of symbolism.
Martin Lings, The Eleventh Hour