By Frithjof Schuon
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Many proverbs testify to a popular wisdom that doubtless has nothing Aristotelian about it, but which by way of compensation comes close to the angelically simple and concrete language of the Bible. * * * The ideal for homo sapiens is the combination of a perfect intelligence with a perfect character, and this is the proper meaning of the word "wisdom"; it is the ideal represented by gnosis, which a priori is attached to the restoration of the primordial perfection of man. 49 The "subject" of esoterism is the Intellect and its "object" is 49 It is far from being the case that all historical esoterism is esoterism pure and simple; an exegesis colored by confessional bias, or overly involved in mystical subjectivism is far from 52 ipso facto total Truth, namely — expressed in Vedantic terms — the doctrine of Ātmā and Māyā; and he who says Ātmā and Māyā thereby says Jnāna, direct knowledge, intellectual intuition.
43 To be concrete, we would say that Lincoln is a perfect example of the Dinaric type; and Washington, of the Nordic type. Napoleon furnishes us with the classical image of the Mediterranean type; Beethoven of the type termed Alpine. As for the Oriental type — this adjective having here a particular meaning — it is that of an `Abd al-Qadr or of a Ramakrishna; the superior Dravidian type being represented by a Ramana Maharshi. " To return to the European sub-races — Nordic, Medterranean and others — nowhere do they coincide with peoples; all the European peoples include all the racial types enumerated above, with more or less strong predominances according to region.
Intelligence that is not accompanied by virtues gives rise to an as it were planimetric knowledge: it is as if one were to grasp but the circle or the square, and not the sphere or the cube. * * * To grasp the sphere or the cube — symbolically speaking — is to have the sense of immanence, and not merely of transcendence; and the condition of this plenitude is to know oneself, that is, to apply discernment to one's own ego, concretely and operatively since knowledge commits both will and sentiment.