The Truth is too high to receive the least insult.
It is unfortunate that we don’t have Evola’s letter to Guenon, although we can surmise what it contained. We see in this dialog, that Guenon is always the master. We have to agree with Guenon that Evola misunderstands certain principles that discolor his work in unfortunate ways. As for the inability to clearly distinguish the esoteric, or metaphysical/initiatic aspects from the religious/exoteric, Evola has created confusion in those whose understanding of Tradition is limited to Evola. It is not a matter of choosing or preferring one exoteric form over another. Hence, there are the mindless debates of paganism vs Christianity that are pervasive in counter-Traditional circles; the very fact of debating itself is an indication of the counter-Tradition.
It also makes Evola’s understanding of the Middle Ages quite confused, since he admires that period as Traditional, yet fails to adequately grasp its spiritual foundation. Yet Evola makes it very clear that what is required is an inner transformation, so this corrective would not radically alter his overall project.
Evola apparently wasn’t clear about the distinction between mysticism and the ascetic or initiatic path, although he referred often to it. For Guenon, they belong to different spheres, so there is not point to criticize mysticism, if that path is proper for a given person. This is also related to the distinction between salvation, which is meant for the majority, and liberation which is restricted to the few. Again, there is no value to disputing this question.
In practice, Evola’s choice seems to lead to a dead end, viz. to “ride the tiger”. Yet that is not at all the goal of an ascetic, heroic, or initiatic path. Rather, it seems to me, a man should devote his efforts toward Liberation, the Supreme Identity, that is, an overcoming of the modern world, rather than an uneasy accommodation to it. The rest of the letter speaks for itself, although I do not know who “P. A.” is.
23 February 1934
Forgive me once again for being so late in responding to your letter that I received with pleasure after such a long silence. But I have suffered from an acute eyesight weakness, and your letter reached me exactly at the moment when I was able to read it only after a very long time. The quantity of things of every type that had accumulated while I found myself in that impossible situation of working is such that, ever since, I have not yet succeeded in freeing myself from it and to regain that lost time.
I thank you for all your appreciations in regard to my works; and I think that in effect we can find ourselves in agreement, at least, on what concerns the conditions of the current world and the necessity of a return to the tradition and spirituality, if indeed it is still possible for the West, at the point in which things have currently reached.
As far as living far from Europe, I cannot perhaps precisely take into account certain tendencies; I must confess that I do not excessively trust in a “renewal” that, as much as I know of it, remains up to this point very superficial and somewhat confused: above all, except for rare exceptions, it is about vague and poorly defined aspirations, and it is very difficult to say what will result from it. But what is certain, is that we notice in very general lines how the people are no longer so satisfied with their own modern “civilization”, and that some begin to doubt the “progressive” pretense: as far as that goes, it is insufficient, nevertheless it is already at least something …
Regarding the problems brought up in your letter, permit me to tell you with great frankness that these difficulties appear to me especially to derive from the fact that you do not make a very clear distinction between the religious point of view of the one hand, and the metaphysical or initiatic, on the other. Whatever their relationships might be in certain respects, it is never necessary to confuse or mix them, since they refer to totally different domains, and they cannot consequently interfere with each other. The domain that defines religious truth belongs to what Hindu doctrine calls “non-supreme” knowledge; it is sufficient to put everything in its place and in its order because there is no conflict possible. Above all, it is necessary not to forget that mysticism belongs totally to the religious ambit; any comparison is therefore not possible between mysticism and metaphysics.
The two ways, without considering the very relevant differences of their modalities, are not, in reality, absolutely marked out to reach the same goal; and the “mystical union” is not the jivan-mukta, no longer that which “salvation” is not “Liberation”.
Everything that is religious, including mysticism, concerns individual possibilities, in the indefinite extension of which they are susceptible and does not go beyond them; on the other hand that is its reason for being. On the contrary, the reason for metaphysical realization is to proceed beyond [individual possibilities]; and this is why the one can serve as the base of the other. Nor was it the case for Christian esoterism of the Middle Ages, as it was always for Islamic esoterism; and, in this regard, I cited this aphorism that seems to me to be perfectly adapted to the argument: “As long as a man desired Paradise or has fear of Hell, he will not be able to aspire to the least grade of initiation”.
I must moreover bring to your attention the fact that the religious point of view is necessarily tied to certain historical contingencies, while the metaphysical point of view refers exclusively to the order of principles. To speak of “multiple avatars”, is to stick to the domain of appearances; nevertheless, in absolute reality, they are “the same thing”; the Christ principle is not multiple, whatever it can be made of its terrestrial manifestations or other types. The “Mediator”, according to all traditions, is the “Universal Man”, which is also the Christ; whatever the name by which he is called changes nothing, and I do not see what difficulty there can be in regard to this.
The “ascetic” way would be, in its type, more comparable to the initiatic way of what is not mysticism, if only in that it implies a method and a positive effort. Mysticism, for its part, is instead totally the opposite because of it passive character. The ascetic way can therefore be a preparation for a realization of another order, much more that the mystical way, which would even seem even incompatible with that goal.
But I do not think on the other hand that we can assert that some of what passes beyond elementary religion is open to all; asceticism belongs only to some, and mysticism to some other. As to what is beyond the religious domain, it is obvious that it concerns a much more restricted number of persons. Whoever finds his fulfillment at a certain level would make a very great error to try to pass beyond it. That concerns the question of a necessary hierarchy, against which all sophisms of democratic egalitarianism are impotent, though many of Catholics themselves today unfortunately are affected by it: and there are perhaps still a few of them who even suspect it.
In regard to your objection inherent to the domain of pure intellectuality, is it quite certain that it is even what it has as a goal? In that case it is still necessary to make an essential distinction: the texts that you cite are revolts against profane knowledge, not against sacred knowledge; and we absolutely do not confuse what is simply rational with what is purely intellectual. When I speak of profane knowledge, I understand by it, naturally, everything that is philosophy; the less the spirit is blocked from all those things, the better, certainly, and from the initiatic point of view even more than the religious. It would be necessary perhaps to include also a good part of theology, in so far as it contains many useless subtleties and is of a still quasi-philosophical nature. In any case, everything that is discussion and controversy is of a purely profane spirit. That said, it is necessary to add that pure intellectuality eludes on the other hand the religious domain; this is another thing and it stands to reason that sentiment and action have their part in it; yet again, it is necessary to put everything in the place that belongs to them, without allowing them any influence over a domain that is not their own.
Finally, pure intellectuality is in the same way indifferent in regards both to pride and humility, two opposed notions that are of a sentimental order in the same manner; those who pretend the contrary show clearly in that case that they do not have the least idea of what is truly intellectuality.
I see that you consider as valuable the incomprehension of P. A.; it would be somewhat difficult to find a more limited spirit than his; and, in truth, what a fine way of defending Christianity than by continuing to deny that its doctrine reaffirms a higher meaning to the nonsense of moral and social character than what one admits to often see in it! I don’t see in what a similar vulgarity would presuppose the intervention of a superhuman principle; fortunately, I have for my part a better idea of Christianity than his.
It is sad to see how persons of this type look to diminish all that is higher than them … The Truth is too high to receive the least insult.
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