Greetings of Peace. This blog contains selections from my correspondence and other sources on a variety of subjects related to religion, philosophy, and spirituality. I hope that they may be of benefit to the interested reader. Concerning the title of the blog, read this entry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Ancient and Ever-Present Tradition




References to the Primordial Tradition may sometimes appear ambiguous, particularly if clarification is not made of the two forms or manifestations of primordiality, that which relates to temporal origination and that which relates to eternal presence. The latter especially pertains to the Primordial Tradition considered singularly and the former to multiple historical traditions sharing similar characteristics which William Stoddardt called forms of Hyperborean Shamanism.

The Primordial Tradition is the religion of Adam or of the Platonic Androgyne, the first man, considered not necessarily as an historical person, but rather as the archetype of the perfected human soul in relation to the Divine Reality. It exists symbolically at the center of the world in illo tempore, "at that time" or "in the beginning" to borrow the mythological expression of Mircea Eliade or again in the beautiful phraseology of Nasr, "in that 'now' which is the ever-present 'in the beginning.'" According to this perspective, the Primordial Tradition is like the eternal tree of the Katha Upanishad, with its roots in heaven, and its many branches, the various historical religions, reaching down to the earth.

Now, some of the historical religions are themselves often designated primordial in accordance with the first signification of the term mentioned above, chiefly due to their ancient establishment, a temporal origination sometimes lost to history. Within these traditions, often given the designation shamanistic, special emphasis is placed upon the theophanic quality of the natural world and this for two primary reasons related to the cosmological and anthropological qualities present within the world at the that time. As has been conveyed to us through traditional doctrines, the intellect was more externalized and accessible to primitive man than is the case in later ages where it is more internalized and inaccessible. Similarly the material world was less "dense" such that its theophanic qualities were more immediately visible and accessible. Within the Islamic Tradition, the allegory of Hayy Ibn Yaqzan provides us with something of a glimpse into this primordial anthroposcosmic vision while the vestiges of the Native American traditions continue to perpetuate it into the present day though in an essential and somewhat adaptive form.

By way of concluding comments it may be pertinent to identify the perspective of the Theosophists, with which Rene Guenon was once associated but against whom he revolted. They acknowledge the existence of the Primordial Tradition but give to it a temporal origination as the wisdom of the Lemurian civilization which subsequently went underground with the emergence of Atlantis. From within the Atlantean Mystery schools it was then perpetuated and preserved among the initiated throughout history. Religions, according to Theosophy, are aberrations and corruptions of the Atlantean mystery teachings espoused by their founders working in concert with a planetary intelligence rather than so many branches of the primordial tree wherein God has spoken in languages intelligible to the civilizations in which He reveals Himself.