On Intellectual Militancy in the Latter Days: Ten Questions
By Charles Upton
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall the sword sleep in my hand….
Anyone who “buys” This World now, in the late Kali Yuga, is dead—dead to thought, because all thinking opposed to the world’s pattern is forbidden; dead to feeling, because to feel the agony of our true situation is intolerable without spiritual help; and dead to the Spirit, because all the “principalities and powers” of This World deny that Spirit, replacing it with the delusive fascinations of psychic magic, and materialism’s awesome despair.
But the Spirit never dies. Those who call upon It will be given knowledge; those who can bear knowledge will reawaken to feeling; and those who can feel again will be moved to action. The Truth is eternal; the breakthrough of Truth into passing time is apocalypse, or revelation: this is how the Divine Peace sends its shockwaves through all the worlds, calling every hidden and latent contradiction to declare itself on the field of battle. To ruthlessly expose the psychic darkness, mental delusion and moral evil of the latter days is not a call not to religious or political fanaticism, but to spiritual awakening, and all the unexpected actions that must flow from it.
Metaphysical truth is eternal and perennial, but its application changes with the times. In our time, when all spiritual traditions are under the gun, suffering from both external oppression and internal corruption, and when counterfeit spiritualities abound, the need for hard-edged critique in the name of Truth becomes ever more pressing; this is why we see ourselves, in some sense, as “war correspondents” in the battle between Tradition and the modern world. René Guénon spoke of the “Counter-Initiation,” the dark shadow of true spirituality which is moving, in these latter days, to pervert all true God-given spiritual forms and replace them with satanic counterfeits. And those shadowy forces which Guénon discovered operating in the obscure secret societies of his time have now stepped out upon the global stage, and taken their place in the full light of day as agents and engineers of the New World Order—an Order whose power is only promoted and consolidated by the terroristic reactions against it, whether actual or contrived.
In these times, a prideful attachment to the outward trappings of Tradition is in many ways counter-productive, since it may produce a deadly complacency which is nothing but a cloak for despair. What is required is that we come to a concrete, factual understanding that any expression of true spirituality that is not under active persecution in these times will still be in danger of infiltration by agents of the emerging global empire, or of patronage and co-optation by these same forces. In light of this, all those who espouse Tradition, whatever religious revelation they may follow, must understand themselves as a remnant: as persecuted survivors who, by virtue of their very marginalization in worldly terms, represent a concentration of the deepest spiritual potentials of End Times. It is our duty to hold not to the mere accidents of Tradition, and all the shallow sentimentalities and aestheticisms that such attachment implies, but to the center of Tradition, with all our might—no easy task, since, in the words of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, “to keep your grasp on true religion in the latter days will be like trying to hold in your hand a burning coal.”
It takes Light to face the darkness; conversely, the analysis and rejection of error in itself posits Truth. And when the Truth is told, the dead—including the living dead—rise from their graves. Sophia Perennis is dedicated to serving the rejection of error and the awakening to Truth in the lives of all who feel called to this battle. In the words of William Blake, “When a man rejects error and embraces truth, a Final Judgement passes upon that man”; in the words of Ali ibn Abi Talib, “Paradise is beneath the shadow of the swords”.
The Ten Questions:
What of Traditionalism and Christianity?
It is obvious that the “ecumenism” of the popes since Vatican II is inseparable from a betrayal of the Christian tradition. Can a Christian be a Traditionalist without participating in this betrayal? Can the uniqueness and orthodoxy of the Christian tradition be preserved without denying the validity of God’s other great revelations to humanity?
What of Traditionalism and Islam?
Can Traditionalism be legitimately seen as a “school” within Islam, or is it something that necessarily embraces all the revealed religions, something that cannot be limited to a single tradition without losing its character?
What of Traditionalism and Globalism?
Traditionalism/Perennialism is beginning to be recognized and patronized by various well-established globalist figures and institutions. Are such connections likely to help or hurt Traditionalism’s spiritual mission?
What of Traditionalism and Spiritual Ecology?
Frithjof Schuon often spoke of “Virgin Nature” as a theophany, a theme picked up and developed by Lord Northbourne and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. What might a Traditionalist spiritual ecology look like, in both theory and practice? How could such an ecology be developed without falling into neo-Paganism and worship of the earth, or the various anti-traditional and anti-human agendas of the “Green” movement?
What of Traditionalism and Folklore?
Ananda Coomaraswamy and René Guénon touched upon folklore as a vehicle for metaphysics, but never made an extensive study of it. What would it take to mount a truly Traditionalist study of the metaphysical aspects of world folklore and myth?
What of Traditionalism and Psychology?
Traditionalist writers such as Titus Burckhardt and Whitall Perry, following the lead of Frithjof Schuon, produced telling critiques of the modern psychological systems of Freud and Jung respectively. Are there other forms of psychology that are compatible with a traditional spiritual Path?
What of Traditionalism and Interfaith?
Frithjof Schuon and other of the earlier Traditionalists, as well as Seyyed Hossein Nasr, have warned us against the anti-traditional aspects of ecumenism. Yet many Traditionalists are now participating in interfaith dialogue. Has the interfaith world changed since those warnings were issued so that it no longer presents the same dangers? Or is it the worldview of the Traditionalists that has changed?
What of the Neglected Traditions?
Traditionalism has become largely a “movement” of Christians and Muslims, with Muslims predominating. Are there presently any Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish authorities today who are both entirely traditional and possibly open to a “perennialist” perspective?
What of Traditionalism and Spiritual Romance?
One of the major areas largely neglected by the earlier Traditionalist writers is that of spiritual Romance, best represented in the Islamic world by Jami, Nizami and Hafiz, and in the Christian one by Dante Aligheri, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and “the Poet of the Pearl”. Titus Burckhardt wrote a wonderful essay entitled “Because Dante is Right”, and Rene Guenon dealt briefly with the theme in The Esoterism of Dante and . How can romance be seen in truly Traditional terms? What is its role in the spiritual Path?
What of Traditionalism and Eschatology?
René Guénon and Martin Lings made it clear that we are living in the last days of the present cycle of manifestation—yet we have heard little about the apocalyptic quality of our times from the Traditionalists in recent years. Why is this? How might the last days of “this world” work themselves out? What spiritual dangers and opportunities do they bring with them? And how would a full recognition of the lateness of the hour affect our own spiritual lives?