Certain People Still Cherish False Hopes in Islam

(from “The Path of Cinnabar”)


The realistic point of view I felt the need to adopt in Ride the Tiger has lately led to my polemical confrontation with certain people who still cherish false hopes with regard to the current potential of 'traditional residues'. For instance, I discussed certain matters with Titus Burckhardt, who pointed to remnants of Tradition in areas outside Europe. I felt compelled to ask Burckhardt whether he was willing to acknowledge the fact that these areas, too, will fall subject to 'cyclical laws' - in which case, any emphasis on places where devolution has yet to reach the level it has reached in the West seems rather irrelevant. Burckhardt also mentioned the existence of 'spiritual influences that, albeit often invisible, by far surpass all of the material powers of humanity', and which are exercised by surviving 'initiatory' centers. While stressing the fact that I do not deny the possibility that similar influences might exist, I remarked that it is likely that those centers capable of exerting them might have received the order not to do so, in such a way as to not interfere with the general process of devolution. Otherwise, what should we make of a place like Tibet, which is being invaded and profaned by the Chinese Communists? Or of the Japanese kamikaze, who in most cases were decimated like flies by the massive firepower of terrified anti-aircraft crews, and were never allowed to draw near to the enemy so as to activate 'the wind of the gods'? And while some Sufi initiatory centers certainly exist within Islam, their presence hardly prevents the Arab world from 'evolving' at an increasing speed in a modernist, progressive and anti-traditional direction. To these, many other examples might be added. (I returned to such matters in a chapter of the second edition of my book, The Bow and the Club, entitled 'Initiatory Centers and History'.)

The world, therefore, appears to be left to its own resources. In other words, the general process of 'solidification' and deconsecration of the world limits the influence of the aforementioned powers - powers which are also difficult to measure without taking account of the sphere of action, as well as that of pure knowledge. Once again, the impression one gains is that the cycle is drawing to a close.






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