“The so-called 'Left-Hand Path' - that of Kaulas, Siddhas and Viras - combines the... Tantric worldview with a doctrine of the Übermensch which would put Nietzsche to shame... The Vira - which is to say: the 'heroic' man of Tantrism - seeks to sever all bonds, to overcome all duality between good and evil, honor and shame, virtue and guilt. Tantrism is the supreme path of the absolute absence of law - of shvecchacarī, a word meaning 'he whose law is his own will'." ― Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar.

“It is necessary to have “watchers” at hand who will bear witness to the values of Tradition in ever more uncompromising and firm ways, as the anti-traditional forces grow in strength. Even though these values cannot be achieved, it does not mean that they amount to mere “ideas.” These are measures…. Let people of our time talk about these things with condescension as if they were anachronistic and anti-historical; we know that this is an alibi for their defeat. Let us leave modern men to their “truths” and let us only be concerned about one thing: to keep standing amid a world of ruins.” ― Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order in the Kali Yuga.

“We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who died at his post during the eruption of Vesuvius because someone forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one that can not be taken from a man.” ― Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Evola in Relation to the Traditionalist School

In response to this paragraph from the Sophia Perennis website:

Baron Julius Evola was an Italian Traditionalist, a close associate of Rene Guenon, and a writer of many brilliant books on various aspects of traditional culture, religion, and esoterism, only a few of which have been translated into English. He was a bit more “Nietzschian” than the other Traditionalists, however, and entertained certain “hopes” for Mussolini and Hitler, though he also criticized them, and was never a member of the Fascist Party. (These hopes were ultimately disappointed.) Though he worked and wrote on a much higher level than most “occultists,” his practice of what he termed “magic” and his lack of personal commitment to a single revealed religion are among the things that led Frithjof Schuon, and most of his followers, to largely reject him. He nonetheless retains a large following in Europe, and is one of the philosophical ancestors of the “intellectual Goths.”

I could assemble a bullet-list of quotations from most of the leading names of the “Traditionalist School” (so-called, not a term Guénon or Evola were comfortable with), every bit as anti-democratic and almost as racially charged as anything culled from Evola. Where the substantial (in my opinion) controversy enters regarding the “Traditionalists” vs. Evola, aside from the question of the Kshatriya/Brahman hierarchical order, is in the evaluation of the survival of authentic initiatory circuits within any or all of the surviving religious traditions, east or west.

Schuon and his followers are the most “liberal” in advocating alignment with existing “traditional/revealed” religions, as such, with an awareness and application of their esoteric aspects, basically “making the best of it.” Guénon was more skeptical and “conservative” in his evaluation of the probability of any surviving initiatory circuits in the western traditions, conceding the possibility of vestigial survivals within traditional (lower-case 't') Catholicism, and some very specific orders of esoteric masonry, but ultimately pursuing his path in esoteric Islam. Most followers of Guénon and Schuon consider affiliation with one of the great exoteric religious traditions an imperative. Evola considered most of these traditions, all of them in the west, as decadent, essentially hollow shells devoid of any authentic initiatory content and entirely bourgeoisie in nature. For Evola, anyone of a genuinely rarified nature attuned to Tradition, affiliation with the empty forms of once-traditional spiritual currents would likely be more spiritually distractive if not regressive.

Regarding the Kshatriya/Brahman question, In Guénon’s lifetime, he and Evola diverged on the issue of Spiritual vs. Temporal power, or the hierarchical relation between Brahman and Kshatriya functions in the Traditional order. Evola was explicit in emphasizing his message was not for everyone, but for a very differentiated action-oriented Kshatriya-type, for whom the path of “bhakti” or contemplation such as advocated by Guénon and Schuon is completely inappropriate (or at least inadequate in itself). Evola’s assessment of the condition of the modern world determined an active approach to initiation more valid than a contemplative approach, thus his assessment of Tantra and Magic as valid spiritual disciplines for this type of person. Followers of Guénon and Schuon for the most part are inclined to elevate contemplation and prayer as the optimal orientation.

Paradoxically, being more “conservative” regarding the existence of authentic Tradition and initiatory circuits as and within existing religions, as well as questioning the Guénonian conception of strictly “bureaucratic” models of initiation, places Evola in the position of being “radical” or “experimental” by having to take the position that transcendence (initiation) is only available to a very specific differentiated type, born to the role, and forced more or less to reconstruct his own ladder of ascent from vestigial remnants of Tradition to be found, such as (in Evola’s case) the Hermetic Tradition, Tantra, and Magic (in Evola’s specific conception, more akin to Theurgy). I use the term "radical" here not only in the sense of "going to the root or origin" insofar as Evola agreed that the principals were anterior and superior to any specific manifestation, thus "going to the root or origin," but also "radical" in the sense of operating outside of specific formal “bureaucratic” manifestation of initiation (by circumstance or choice). Evola’s assertion of the differentiated “Kshatriya” path, of effecting alignment with God by becoming God rather than by “submission,” is what qualifies his way as the “Left Hand Path.” From the now-dominant perspective of the Schuon “school,” with its emphasis on attainment through contemplation/devotion/bhakti, this is very much “off the reservation.” Thus the controversy.

I happen to agree with Evola on these points because I think he is correct about the present conditions, not because he is a "rock star" as seems to be the case with some of the would-be "traditionalist" journalists kicking around. Although in all fairness the personality cult surrounding Schuon probably dwarfs that surrounding Evola. Particular foibles of secondary human in-group/out-group psychology doesn't detract from the actual value of either of their works. 

These specific points aside, it is evident that Evola regarded the works of Schuon highly. He quotes from them with tacit approval in Ride the Tiger, The Path of Cinnabar, etc. Schuon may be second only to Guénon in the quality and quantity of his work on pure Traditionalist Metaphysics.

JDS

Ps. The above commentary is not an attack on the Sophia Perennis website or anyone writing for it, they provide an invaluable resource and are greatly appreciated.

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