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Spiritual Anthropology

Every religious system comprises within its foundation a characteristic anthropology--both limitative and operative--in the sense that it is founded upon a given aspect of human nature, and that it attributes to this aspect an absolute importance by taking the part for the whole.

Thus for Christianity man is, de facto, essentially a sinner, whereas for Islam he is essentially a slave. The results, respectively, are a sacrificial asceticism and a legalistic obedientialism, whose points of departure--necessarily legalistic--take no account of the inamissible deiformity of man, hence of the sufficient reason of the human possibility.

Now it is this deiformity--by definition intellective--that esoterism properly so called takes as its starting point, and it is upon it that a purely metaphysical tradition such as Advaita Vedanta is founded. Metaphysics could not give rise to a voluntaristic, individualistic, moralistic and sentimental anthropology; rather, it is plainly founded upon that specifically human prerogative that is the intelligence; it could never be contrary to the normal hierarchy of the human faculties and make intelligence depend upon the will, let alone sentiment.

"There is something in the soul that is uncreated and uncreatable, and it is the Intellect": this saying of Eckhart's indicates the esoteric transcending of the fragmentary and insufficient anthropology of the exoterisms. Similarly, in Islam there is this Sufic saying: "The Sufi is uncreated."

For the exoterisms, the effects of the "fall" are quasi-absolute, whence the absolute necessity of the means of grace of the given religion. For esoterism, on the contrary--and strictly speaking there is only one esoterism--the effects of the loss of Paradise could only be relative, otherwise man would cease being man, hence cease being deiform. Now to say that he is deiform--"made in the image of God"--means that in principle he bears within himself the Logos, the Revelation, the Redemption, the Sacraments. We say "in principle", for it is all too clear that this virtuality is very seldom actualized, owing to the fall precisely; whence the necessity, for those who are called to this actualization, of an esoterism that is both doctrinal and methodical, which permits man to rebecome himself; to become fully what he is.