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Audiatur altera pars

Throughout his life, Frithjof Schuon has encountered misunderstandings, suspicions, betrayals and even calumnies on the Web and elsewhere. His work itself, and in a sense, his heritage, have also been subjected to more or less conscious limitations, when they have not been distorted or "hijacked." First of all, this should not be a matter of great surprise since many spiritual figures of an exceptional scope have met with their Judas or their Brutus; moreover, such attacks can only confirm the spiritual greatness and exceptional scope of Schuon's personality and perspective. In a world that is founded on the reign of abnormality, nothing is more abnormal than the spiritual and primordial norm; the perspective of the Intellect and the nature of things must only shock pettiness, whether the latter thrives on malevolence and pride, or is simply the result of confessional limitations, moralistic blindness or mental passion.

However, for those who might be troubled by these interferences and might experience difficulties in reaching a clear understanding amidst the dark fog of the princeps hujus mundi, we have gathered a number of quotations excerpted from Schuon's books, in the hope that these lines will help them to exercise their judgment and sharpen their discernment in all lucidity and justice. As Schuon has written, "we live in an age of confusion when the advantages of communication take precedence over those of secrecy"; now, this precedence cannot  manifest itself without its lot of negative reactions and trials.

Scandalmongering and Calumnies | Suspicion | Moralistic blindness
Stupidity, weakness and wickedness | Pride | Vices

For confessional limitations, see the entire work by Frithjof Schuon

For more details about the calumnies F. Schuon had to endure: Extract from biography


On Some Vices Found in Human Societies

Life in human society favors the appearance of social vices, but this is not a reason for not resisting them, quite to the contrary. Victory over the vices is owed to the men around us as well as to God who observes us and who will judge us.

First of all there is pride: it is to overestimate oneself while underestimating others; it is the refusal to accept humiliation when the nature of things requires it; and it is ipso facto to take for a humiliation every attitude that simply reveals our limits.

Next there is egoism it is to think only of one's own interest and thus to forget that of others. It is in this sector that egocentrism and narcissism are situated, without forgetting touchiness.

Stupidity: is the lack of discernment between the essential and the secondary and, as a result, that moral ugliness which is pettiness; it is also the lack of sense of proportions, hence of priorities.

Wickedness: is the will to harm another-, in one fashion or other; it is especially slander, calumny and spite.

Hypocrisy: consists in practicing all the vices while practicing spiritual exercises, which in this context become sacrileges.

To return to pride and egoism: one has to beware of the reflex of self-defense and the reflex of accusing others.

As for slander, and above all calumny, it implies the following faults: firstly, saying too much, hence exaggerating and falsifying things; secondly, telling only half the story--which again amounts to falsifying what one intends to relate--or telling things outside their context; thirdly, projecting false intentions onto others; fourthly, arbitrarily generalizing particular facts; fifthly, quite simply inventing non-existent things, which constitutes calumny properly so called.

The vices lead to hell. We do not have God's measures; a misdeed that seems small to us may be great in God's eyes.

Man is free and he has the capacity to overcome all vice. He can conquer the vices through effort, through intelligence and through prayer; also through the sense of beauty. "Heaven helps those who help themselves." Text 243.

Scandalmongering and Calumnies

"Scandalmongering is an evil because one who is absent cannot defend himself and because the divulging of an unfavorable fact may injure him, and also because by his nature man tends to overestimate his own power of judgment. From the point of view of simple logic it is normal that a man should report facts that surprise him or make him suffer, since in principle he always has the right to ask for advice and to assure himself of the correctness of his own feeling; but this is conditional upon the accuracy of the facts and the impartiality of the witness and also the moral dignity of the interlocutor, quite apart from the safeguarding of those who are absent. Now in practice there is no means of guaranteeing that these conditions are always completely filled, and indeed in nine cases out of ten it will not be the case. Consequently the moral law, in so far as it concerns the collectivity, is obliged to sacrifice the exception to the rule and the particular truth to the general expediency.

As for calumny, it consists in spreading around inaccurate and unfavorable facts and in interpreting unfavorably things that are susceptible of a favorable meaning, making no distinction between what is certain, probable, possible, doubtful, improbable and impossible. Calumny is not a matter of accidental mistakes, but of systematic passion."

Frithjof Schuon
Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, page 188

For more details about the calumnies F. Schuon had to endure: Extract from biography


"A tendency to suspicion is no more a normal mode of intelligence (1) than is guile. If suspicion is legitimate when it arises incidentally - and exceptionally - from a just impression, it is illegitimate as soon as it becomes a tendency and a kind of principle, for it then engenders a sickness of the soul that is incompatible with virtue and with spirituality.

Suspicion does not only feed on subjective illusions: it also lives on objective appearances, which are just as illusory but none the less rooted in facts. Indeed suspicion, which essentially ignores the laws of coincidence and paradox, often finds itself corroborated by appearances which the environment seems to create quite wantonly - and this is not one of the least of the aspects of the cosmic illusion; these possibilities - accumulations of coincidences, of appearances contrary to a reality which they hide - are necessary applications of the principle of contradiction which is included in universal Possibility. Sometimes the paradox is intentional on man's part, as is shown by the classic example of Omar Khayyam, whose wisdom clothed in frivolity is opposed to phariseeism clothed in piety; if religious hypocrisy is possible, the contrary paradox must equally be so."

(1) A hadith says: "Keep yourselves from suspicion, for suspicion is the most deceitful thing which the soul can hold out as an enticement to man." Another says: "Do not make investigations and do not spy". The police mentality is in fact closely linked with a suspicion and corrosive moralism, with a certain persecution mania.

Frithjof Schuon
Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, page 191

Moralistic blindness

"If 'Beauty is the splendor of the true', then it can be said that moralism consists in cutting beauty off from truth. Without truth beauty cannot subsist and this explains the ugliness associated with moralism. It replaces knowledge of the true by idolatry of a 'good' that is often arbitrary and restricted.

In the very nature of things moralism is ignorant both of truth and of beauty: it cannot avoid being hypocritical in relation to the former and caricatural in relation to the latter.

One of the most salient criteria of moralism is calumny of the object as a function of the corruptibility of the subject.

The inverse error - that of intellectualism - consists in cutting truth off from beauty - not per se, which is sufficient unto itself, but truth as it is reflected in us and transmitted by us. The question of beauty does not arise for pure truth, but it does arise fro the human receptacle, for the substance it lends to the lighting flashes of the spirit."

Frithjof Schuon
Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, page 195


"The relativity of moral conceptions and of the association of ideas belonging to them appears in a striking way in the false generalizations of the moralism of dress which has decimated many tribes; people worry about "morals"-- with or without ulterior commercial motives -- and are incapable of seeing the immoral character of that kind of universal degradation spread with certain forms of clothing. This official and "civilized" moralism seems to prefer the clothed adulterer to virgin nudity; among peoples nude by tradition, it readily has a meaning of pedantry, greed, even maleficence.

Let us add that sacred nudity, in Hinduism, is not unrelated to the purifying quality of the air which, being an element, is simple, and hence incorruptible, a fact that Jains express in prescribing the "wearing of the air as a garment".

Frithjof Schuon
Stations of Wisdom, page 118, note 1

Stupidity, weakness and wickedness

"The ignorance that is the fundamental condition of transgression is of quite a different order from simple theoretical ignorance: it is effective ignorance whose root is in the heart and not in the reason or the memory; and it is this ignorance which the monotheistic Scriptures call, with great accuracy, "hardness of heart." Ignorance is manifested in three principal ways: stupidity, weakness and wickedness; these are respectively the privations of Divine Wisdom, Divine Power and Divine Mercy or Beauty, the corresponding human qualities being intelligence, strength and goodness. Stupidity is the inability to discern the essential from the accidental: it consists in attaching oneself to mere facts and in considering them simply in themselves, that is, without the least induction; weakness is abandonment to illusions and lack of intellectual penetration with regard to appearances, and hence a lack of inward homogeneity and consequently of resistance; finally, wickedness, which is by far the gravest "nonconformity" -- for it is eminently "active" and "conscious" -- is an abstraction which is the reverse of that brought about by the intelligence: whereas the intelligence permits one to see the inner relationship of things, wickedness represents an expressly limitative, negative and destructive tendency. Before transgressing, man deceives himself; in order temporarily to falsify his judgment, he develops arguments which, depending on the case or the individual, are characterized either by stupidity, weakness or wickedness: the stupid man dissolves his discernment in a sort of torpor; the weak man abandons it before illusion; the wicked man breaks it with violence. One might say further that transgression by stupidity is action -- or omission -- deprived of sufficient reason; and insofar as it is a reaction, it responds merely to a fact. Transgression by weakness is characterized by an illusory sufficient reason; it proceeds essentially from a reaction to appearance. Finally, transgression by wickedness has as sufficient reason none other than the malefic tendency to negation, in other words, hatred of what appears as an affirmation of the Divine Norm. "

Frithjof Schuon
The Eye of the Heart, p. 100-101


Pride consists in taking ourselves for what we are not and disparaging others. Self-respect is knowing what one is and not allowing oneself to be humbled. Self-respect does not prevent a man from humbling himself before what surpasses him; it is far from being the opposite of true humility, whatever the more superficial moralists may say.

Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, page 205

According to St. Augustine, 'the other vices are attached to evil, in order that it may be done; pride alone is attached to the good, in order that it may perish.'

According to Boethius, 'all the other vices flee from God; pride alone rises up against Him.' ".

Frithjof Schuon
Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, page 205