The Transfiguration of the Human Being

The Transfiguration of the Human Being
by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos


[M]en die but live again in the real world of Wakan-Tanka [Great Spirit], where there is nothing but the spirits of all things; and this true life we may know here on earth if we purify our bodies and minds, thus coming closer to Wakan-Tanka, who is all-purity.
Black Elk


[Y]our glory lies where you cease to exist.
Ramana Maharshi


While living / Be a dead man.
Bunan Zenji


The kingdom of God is for none but the thoroughly dead.
Meister Eckhart


He has died to self and become living through the Lord.
Rumi

Perhaps the most beneficial way to prepare for death is to recognize that we are in fact going to die. Although we cannot deny this fact, we can selectively defer thinking about death; yet the dilemma is that the overarching reality of death is always there side-by-side with life itself. Despite this ubiquity, ‘Man was created alone and he dies alone.’

Since the most remote times there has been a practice of continuously living with the awareness of death in one’s consciousness. The words of the adage Memento mori, Latin for ‘Remember that you are mortal’, encapsulate this practice. All the saints and sages speak in unanimity of identification with the empirical ego or separate self as the source of all human suffering.

As Sri Ramakrishna (1836–1886), the Paramahamsa of Dakshineshwar, a spiritual luminary, powerfully expressed the need to die to our lower nature: ‘When “I” is dead, all troubles cease.’An essential element in the world’s religions is the injunction that finds expression, for instance, in the well-known words of the Prophet of Islam: ‘Die before ye die’ (mutu qabla an tamutu).

Correspondingly within the Hindu tradition there is the concept of being ‘twice-born’ (dvija): our initial birth into terrestrial existence is one type of birth, the second birth that the religions refer to is an initiation into the spiritual path. This alchemical and transformative psycho-spiritual process of dying before dying reoccurs in a myriad diverse forms and descriptions throughout the spiritual traditions, yet we can observe the myriad points of convergence.
Just how universal this transformative process is has been underscored by the philosopher Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998): ‘every complete tradition postulates in the final analysis the “extinction” of the ego for the sake of the divine “I.” The French metaphysician René Guénon (1886–1951) also confirms the universal nature of the doctrine of mystical death and resurrection: ‘[T]he idea of a “second birth”, understood in a purely spiritual sense, is indeed common to all spiritual doctrines.’

At the heart of every integral psychology or ‘science of the soul’ is the recognition of psycho-spiritual transformation or metanoia, which is inseparable from metaphysics and integral spirituality. This perennial psychology that is an application of the perennial philosophy discerns between the horizontal dimension consisting of the empirical ego, and the vertical dimension that pertains to the transpersonal Self.

The horizontal and vertical dimensions are interdependent, and are both required for the human realm and the realm of the Spirit. However, it is essential to bear in mind that the vertical dimension precedes the horizontal and that the horizontal is reliant on the vertical dimension and not the other way around. As we recall, ‘To deny the spiritual is to deny the human.’

In what follows, we will explore psycho-spiritual integration and the symbolic meaning behind
mystical death and resurrection, as found in the universal and timeless wisdom found around the world.
Human consciousness is always ruminating on eschatological questions about our final ends, whether we are aware of it or not.
What does it mean to be born, to live, and to die? And who is it that is born, lives, and dies? These questions, although asked since time immemorial, hold as much importance today as they did in the past and remain equally perplexing because they illuminate the mystery of
existence and the limits of human knowledge. Whitall N. Perry (1920– 2005) writes:

There are two historical moments in the life of every person on earth which are inexorably real and yet totally outside the reach of empirical consciousness: the moment of birth, and the moment of death. These two decisive events occur moreover exactly once, over the entire lifespan of the individual, and scarcely enter into his reflections at all—everything else considered.

At the intersection of the horizontal and vertical dimensions, time and the temporal are juxtaposed with the timeless and Eternal. Through metaphysics we can make sense of the strange and enigmatic logic of death and dying and its transformative process.
While birth and death occur at opposite ends of a human lifetime, they are inextricably interconnected and intersect each other. They are both fundamentally linked to the sacred and originate from this common transpersonal source.

Chuang Tzu makes a thought-prvoking observation about the phenomenon of birth and death, alluding to what is beyond them both: ‘Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end.’14 it has been affirmed: ‘From the “point of view of eternity” birth and death are one.’15 The interconnected essence of birth and death has been recognized everywhere since the most
remote past: ‘Life and death, then, are considered not as two separate stages of completing mankind’s temporal and post-earthly existence, but as complementary phases in an ever-recurring cycle.’16
For this reason, the well-known teacher of Zen Buddhism, Shunryu Suzuki (1904–1971), clarifies: ‘Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.’17

Roshi Philip Kapleau (1912–2004) asserts a similar point: ‘Living is thus dying, and dying living. In fact, with every inhalation you are being reborn and with each exhalation you are dying.’18 Seen in the light of Ultimate Reality or the Absolute, as articulated through the doctrine of non-duality, both birth and death are unreal and therefore illusory, as even these dichotomies need to be transcended.

The Tibetan Buddhist tradition maintains that: ‘Ultimately, there is nothing that dies, since neither self nor mind have true existence.’This is exemplified in the Heart Sutra (Prajñaparamita-hr. daya-sutra): ‘Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form is not other than emptiness.’
The mutual interconnectedness of all phenomena applies not only to the world of appearances of samsara, but also to the mutuality of samsara and nirvana and life and death—akin to the Taoist metaphysical and cosmological concept of yin-yang where all dualism is nonexistent.
At the core of this psycho-spiritual transformation which provides integral health and well-being in divinis is not a socially adjusted ego but rather what transcends the empirical ego itself.

The secret of the Prophetic Tradition that is affirmed by Muhammad’s injunction ‘Die before ye die’ is a call for self-effacement before the Divine in order to be reabsorbed in the Divine. The spiritual path requires detachment from worldliness and sentimentality, ‘[I]n order to “live” inwardly one must “die” outwardly.’

By dying to the outer limitations, the human being is born into the unlimited and transpersonal dimension: ‘[T]he Divine requires both a ritual and moral preparation whereby the aspirant learns to “die” spiritually.’
Hence, it is essential to position oneself in this very life and to localize oneself in this ontological and existential context, to face one’s mortality and examine one’s life. Through this process, we can see and understand human existence in its most expansive and complete context:

The experience of death is rather like that of a man who has lived all his life in a dark room and suddenly finds himself transported to a mountain top; there his gaze would embrace all the wide landscape; the works of men would seem insignificant to him. It is thus that the soul torn from the earth and from the body perceives the inexhaustible diversity of things and the incommensurable abysses of the worlds which contain them; for the first time it sees itself in its universal context, in an inexorable concatenation and in a network of multitudinous and unsuspected relationships, and takes account of the fact that life has been but an ‘instant’, but a ‘play’. Projected into the absolute nature of things, man will be inescapably aware of what he is in reality; he will know himself, ontologically and without any deforming perspective, in the light of the normative proportions of the Universe.

Cave of Plato

Through this ontological and existential positioning that continually keeps death in the foreground of consciousness, the attachment to the world of appearances gradually loosens its hold and gives way so that the reliance on the Divine alone can occur.

Think often of death with attention, bringing to mind everything which must then happen. If you do this, that hour will not catch you unawares. . . . Men of this world flee from the thought and memory of death, so as not to interrupt the pleasures and enjoyments of their senses, which are incompatible with memory of death. This makes their attachment to the blessings of the world continually grow and strengthen more and more, since they meet nothing opposed to it.
But when the time comes to part with life and all the pleasures and things they love, they are cast into excessive turmoil, terror and torment.

Every moment of our earthly sojourn is to be valued and cherished and in no way taken for granted and squandered, as behind the passing hourglass of time is the Eternal:
[I]t is very remarkable, that God who giveth plenteously to all creatures . . . hath scattered the firmament with stars . . . yet in the distribution of our time God seems to be straight-handed, and gives it to us, not as nature gives us rivers, enough to drown us, but drop by drop, minute after minute, so that we never can have two minutes together, but He takes away one when He gives us another. This should teach us to value our time; since God so values it. . . .

Read here : The Dance of Death: A warning for our Times


The phenomena of death and the afterlife have had profound metaphysical and symbolic implications amongst the many ancient and diverse civilizations and societies of the world. There are numerous sacred texts on these themes such as Per-t Em Hru (‘The Book of
Going Forth by Day’), often known as The Book of the Dead, from Egypt; and the Bardo Thödol (‘Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State’), often known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead; and also the European genre of the ars moriendi (‘art of dying ). There are
also other sacred texts both written and oral known within Hinduism, the First Peoples religions and their shamanic traditions, and in Islam.
They are intended to provide guidance to human beings in their posthumous states, in order to find their way to a better or superior ontological status in the afterlife. Read the paper here

Oikosophia: From the Intelligence of the Heart to Ecophilosophy

Why «Oikosophia», and what does this new and yet archaic word mean? Sophia in Greek means Wisdom, a knowing, or intelligence, which once used to be called “of the heart”: that is to say, an inherently relational, inborn way of being in unison with the totality of the living world, rather than the analytical approach of a discriminating intelligence that reifies. Oikos in Greek is the communal home, and this word has generated the prefix of both «eco-logy» and «eco-nomy».

This collection of essays argues that, in order to regain a meaningful connection to our “communal home”, just “caring for the environment” is simply not enough: rather, we need to recover the vision and inner presence that allows us to feel, and to inwardly know, how radically we belong to this home of ours. The wisdom necessary to achieve such a sense of interbeing —our only true being, in fact — is now urgently calling upon us, yet it comes from afar. From ancient Egypt to the Hermetic, Pythagorean, Presocratic, mysteric, Neoplatonic wisdom traditions, the vestiges of this knowing are traceable all along the history of the Indo-mediterranean world. During the first half of the twentieth century people such as G.R.S. Mead, C. G. Jung, R. Schwaller de Lubicz, and H. Corbin clearly saw, and proclaimed, that without a reclaiming of the Intelligence of the Heart there is no future for humanity, nor for our communal home. They therefore promoted the need for an epistemological shift in our perception of reality. Today, indigenous traditions weave this same ancestral message into the ecological discourse, with the same goal of endowing environmentalism with its necessary wisdom-based foundations; hence, their voice too has been included in these pages.

Oikosophia: For we need a home where we may once again speak the language of the soul, and a language of the soul that may take us home.

…To awaken the Functional Consciousness is to be Love, to be Unity. Qualification separates you from the water of the sea, from the stone, from the earth, from vegetation, from the amorous turtle dove, from the ferocious beast, from all human races; but all that appears outside of you is functionally within you, man of the end of a Time.

Qualification shows you a Moslem separate from a Jew, a Buddhist, a Brahman, a Taoist, a Christian; it discusses endlessly their “philosophies” and their merits. What is your criterion, you who do not know the revelation of Knowledge? Everything in its own fashion tells you the Truth, while only Truth speaks to you openly of Redemption.

Redemption is within us, provided we awaken the Consciousness of the function which unifies, and renders all discussion null and void. Is not Knowing more precious than seeking Learning?

…Sophia, then: the wisdom language that unites, rather than divides. For the time of homecoming has come. At long last. Read the complete paper Oikosophia  by Daniela Boccassini

The Juggler of Notre Dame for our times

  • The story of the Juggler of Notre Dame goes back to at least the 12th century in France as one of the “miracle plays” of the medieval period in which God rewards devout commoners through acts of wonder.

The Juggler of Notre Dame tells how an entertainer abandons the world to join a monastery, but is suspected of blasphemy after dancing his devotion before a statue of the Madonna in the crypt; he is saved when the statue, delighted by his skill, miraculously comes to life.

Le Jongleur de Notre Dame is a religious miracle story by the French author Anatole France, first printed in a newspaper in 1890, and published in a short story collection in 1892. It is based on an old medieval legend, similar to the later Christmas carol The Little Drummer Boy. The title character is a monk who was formerly a carnival performer. The other monks all have made beautiful works in honor of the Virgin Mary: hymns, icons, stained glass windows, and so on. But he has no such craft. So one night he goes into the chapel and performs his best juggling tricks before the statue of the Virgin. The other monks see this and would punish him for blasphemy, but the statue comes to life and blesses the juggler for his gift. Read here

  • In this gripping, heart-warming contemporary version from Paulist Productions, Barnaby ekes out a bare existence juggling in the street for coins. He is broken-hearted over the death of his wife and best friend. Barnaby drifts aimlessly until he stays in a small community where he is treated kindly. As Christmas approaches, all are making special gifts for the Lord. Barnaby despairs over having nothing to offer until he discovers a most profound truth about the meaning of Christmas and giving:
  • The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity.

A ambitious and vivid study in six volumes explores the journey of a single, electrifying story, from its first incarnation in a medieval French poem through its prolific rebirth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Juggler of Notre Dame tells how an entertainer abandons the world to join a monastery, but is suspected of blasphemy after dancing his devotion before a statue of the Madonna in the crypt; he is saved when the statue, delighted by his skill, miraculously comes to life.

Jan Ziolkowski tracks the poem from its medieval roots to its rediscovery in late nineteenth-century Paris, before its translation into English in Britain and the United States. The visual influence of the tale on Gothic revivalism and vice versa in America is carefully documented with lavish and inventive illustrations, and Ziolkowski concludes with an examination of the explosion of interest in The Juggler of Notre Dame in the twentieth century and its place in mass culture today.

The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity is a rich case study for the reception of the Middle Ages in modernity. Spanning centuries and continents, the medieval period is understood through the lens of its (post)modern reception in Europe and America. Profound connections between the verbal and the visual are illustrated by a rich trove of images, including book illustrations, stained glass, postage stamps, architecture, and Christmas cards.

Presented with great clarity and simplicity, Ziolkowski’s work is accessible to the general reader, while its many new discoveries will be valuable to academics in such fields and disciplines as medieval studies, medievalism, philology, literary history, art history, folklore, performance studies, and reception studies.

“This ambitious and vivid study in six volumes explores the journey of a single, electrifying story, from its first incarnation in a medieval French poem through its prolific rebirth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Juggler of Notre Dame tells how an entertainer abandons the world to join a monastery, but is suspected of blasphemy after dancing his devotion before a statue of the Madonna in the crypt; he is saved when the statue, delighted by his skill, miraculously comes to life.
Jan Ziolkowski tracks the poem from its medieval roots to its rediscovery in late nineteenth-century Paris, before its translation into English in Britain and the United States. The visual influence of the tale on Gothic revivalism and vice versa in America is carefully documented with lavish and inventive illustrations, and Ziolkowski concludes with an examination of the explosion of interest in The Juggler of Notre Dame in the twentieth century and its place in mass culture today.
The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity is a rich case study for the reception of the Middle Ages in modernity. Spanning centuries and continents, the medieval period is understood through the lens of its (post)modern reception in Europe and America. Profound connections between the verbal and the visual are illustrated by a rich trove of images, including book illustrations, stained glass, postage stamps, architecture, and Christmas cards.
Presented with great clarity and simplicity, Ziolkowski’s work is accessible to the general reader, while its many new discoveries will be valuable to academics in such fields and disciplines as medieval studies, medievalism, philology, literary history, art history, folklore, performance studies, and reception studies.”

– The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity:

Volume 1: The Middle Ages – Read here

Volume 2: Medieval Meets Medievalism – Read here

Volume 3: The American Middle Ages – Read here

Volume 4: Picture That: Making a Show of the Jongleur

Volume 5: Tumbling into the Twentieth Century

Volume 6: War and Peace, Sex and Violence

Oikosophia: From the Intelligence of the Heart to Ecophilosophy

Why «Oikosophia», and what does this new and yet archaic word mean? Sophia in Greek means Wisdom, a knowing, or intelligence, which once used to be called “of the heart”: that is to say, an inherently relational, inborn way of being in unison with the totality of the living world, rather than the analytical approach of a discriminating intelligence that reifies. Oikos in Greek is the communal home, and this word has generated the prefix of both «eco-logy» and «eco-nomy». This collection of essays argues that, in order to regain a meaningful connection to our “communal home”, just “caring for the environment” is simply not enough: rather, we need to recover the vision and inner presence that allows us to feel, and to inwardly know, how radically we belong to this home of ours. The wisdom necessary to achieve such a sense of interbeing —our only true being, in fact — is now urgently calling upon us, yet it comes from afar. From ancient Egypt to the Hermetic, Pythagorean, Presocratic, mysteric, Neoplatonic wisdom traditions, the vestiges of this knowing are traceable all along the history of the Indo-mediterranean world. During the first half of the twentieth century people such as G.R.S. Mead, C. G. Jung, R. Schwaller de Lubicz, and H. Corbin clearly saw, and proclaimed, that without a reclaiming of the Intelligence of the Heart there is no future for humanity, nor for our communal home. They therefore promoted the need for an epistemological shift in our perception of reality. Today, indigenous traditions weave this same ancestral message into the ecological discourse, with the same goal of endowing environmentalism with its necessary wisdom-based foundations; hence, their voice too has been included in these pages.

  • Oikosophia: For we need a home where we may once again speak the language of the soul, and a language of the soul that may take us home.

…To awaken the Functional Consciousness is to be Love, to be Unity. Qualification separates you from the water of the sea, from the stone, from the earth, from vegetation, from the amorous turtle dove, from the ferocious beast, from all human races; but all that appears outside of you is functionally within you, man of the end of a Time.

Qualification shows you a Moslem separate from a Jew, a Buddhist, a Brahman, a Taoist, a Christian; it discusses endlessly their “philosophies” and their merits. What is your criterion, you who do not know the revelation of Knowledge? Everything in its own fashion tells you the Truth, while only Truth speaks to you openly of Redemption.

Redemption is within us, provided we awaken the Consciousness of the function which unifies, and renders all discussion null and void. Is not Knowing more precious than seeking Learning?

…Sophia, then: the wisdom language that unites, rather than divides. For the time of homecoming has come. At long last. Read the complete paper Oikosophia  by Daniela Boccassini

The End of Quantum Reality: A Conversation with Wolfgang Smith

In this wide-ranging interview, conducted on the occasion of the release of a new film addressing the implications of his thought, the physicist and metaphysician Wolfgang Smith speaks about the need to integrate science with reality in a way that affirms the lived experience of humanity, and preserves the archetypal and qualitative dimensions that give it meaning. He is critical of scientific fundamentalism and its overreaching tendencies, of the false premises of Darwinian evolutionism and of the limitations of Einsteinian physics and quantum reality. Physics, on its own terms, he claims, must affirm, on pain of absurdity, the metaphysical dimension of reality and of the corporeal existence that it informs.

Wolfgang Smith is the Founder of the Philos-Sophia Initiative Foundation. In January 2020, a full-length film was released on the life and work of Professor Smith, entitled The End of Quantum Reality  (Producer: Richard DeLano; Director: KTEE Thomas). This interview,  which was conducted at Wolfgang Smith’s home in Camarillo, California on November 29, 2019, focuses on the long-awaited release of this epochal film and Professor Smith’s legacy.

Samuel Bendeck Sotillos:  If you were asked to give a brief synopsis of your film, The End of Quantum Reality  how would you articulate this for audiences unfamiliar with your work?

 Wolfgang Smith:  What we hope to accomplish is to deliver the audience from an erroneous worldview imposed upon us in the name of science, and in so doing deliver them from a chronic state of schizo-phrenia which is a consequence of this worldview.Physics has long claimed—on supposedly solid scientific grounds—that all things are simply composites of so-called fundamental particles.  What we have proved—on the basis of quantum theory itself—is that such is not in fact the case: the world in which we live, and move, and have our being does not   in fact reduce to mere particles! This means that the world we normally perceive by means of our five senses is not after all illusory, as we have been taught to believe since the Enlightenment.

SBS:  You have accomplished a remarkable feat in exposing the fundamental errors of contemporary science in an unparalleled fashion. Your findings fundamentally challenge the presiding ideology of our times and are considered “heretical” because they deconstruct the ideology as idolatry. How did this insight or process occur?

Read more here

Ye Shall Know the Truth

Ye Shall Know the Truth: Christianity and the Perennial Philosophy

To expound in a new key the spiritual, philosophical, and artistic patrimony of the Christian tradition in its intellectually challenging dimension— as well as to consider its future possibilities —this, in a nutshell, is what Ye Shall Know the Truth: Christianity and the Perennial Philosophy intends.

Behind it lies the belief that one of the main factors responsible for the contemporary decadence, lack of vigor, and indeed tragic crisis, in traditional religion is the indifference, and even suspicion, that is shown towards its sapiential or “knowledge” dimension.

Religion in general aims at addressing all men without distinction, with a view to providing them with the means of salvation, but not necessarily with a view to providing explanations regarding pure Truth and the fundamental nature of things— and this despite the fact that these explanations are also provided, at least symbolically, for those with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear.”

In the case of Christianity, especially in its Western form, this loss has been particularly apparent since the time of the so-called “Renaissance” of the 15th and 16th centuries, a veritable revolution which signified not a “rebirth,” but the death of many crucial things, notably Medieval art, as represented, for example, by Romanesque abbeys, Gothic cathedrals, Byzantine icons, and also by such a masterpiece as the Divine Comedy— and, above all, by the intangible spiritual kernel of these manifestations.

This spiritual, or rather, intellectual, dimension is not to be identified with mere quantitative information, cerebral ability, or bookish study, since it is much more profound, and comprises, on the contrary, qualitative dimensions that involve the whole being of man, and not merely his mental capacity.

Wisdom makes man think clearly, and live well, in accordance with the nature of things. Since the time when the influence and insights of sages such as Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) and Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) in the West, and Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) in the Christian East, began to wane, a more and more emotional and conventional kind of faith has predominated, leading to a sentimental view of things which is situated at a level well below the capacity and the needs of the human mind.

Despite its importance in the total scheme of things, this “sentimental faith”—or “fideism” —unaccompanied by an intellectual component, constitutes only a part of the integral religious message of Christianity. Too often, intelligence has been envisaged as a manifestation of spiritual—or intellectual—pride, without its being realized that this is a contradiction in terms, pride being at the antithesis of spirituality or intellectuality.

True intelligence is characterized by the capacity to see things as they really are, and therefore by an implacable objectivity, which excludes pride, precisely. Nowadays, most of the usual arguments advanced in favor of religion have, as Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998) has shrewdly pointed out, become “psychologically outworn”; considerations of a superior order have been relegated to a sort of limbo. In this connection, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1887-1947) has observed: “Today religion is presented in such a sentimental manner that it is not surprising that the best of the new generations rebel. The solution is once again to present religion in its intellectually challenging form.“-Mateus Soares de Azevedo . Read here Free download

Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power

The present work complements Guénon’s East and West, The Crisis of the Modern World, and The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, for whereas the latter detail the West’s gradual movement away from traditional values, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power focuses by contrast on what Guénon believed to be the normal relationship between the spiritual and the temporal implied in a healthy traditional civilization, that is, the supremacy of knowledge over action, of the sacerdotal over the royal caste. Touching first on India and the medieval West, Guénon then illustrates his point by citing quarrels over investiture and disputes of certain French kings with the papacy as evidence of a deviation in Christianity. In his preface Guénon refers to recent ‘incidents’ that had drawn attention to this general question, and although he says that his deliberations are not meant to deal directly with them, it may be of interest to note that the events concerned centered on a confrontation in 1926 between the political organization Action Française and Pope Pius XI. Read Here

Monarchies are Supported by Heavens,

Pope Benedict XVI asking to be free

This remarkable book grew out of a conference headed by René Guénon, the sinologist René Grousset, and the neo-Thomist Jacques Maritain on questions raised by Ferdinand Ossendowski’s thrilling account in his Men, Beast and Gods of an escape through Central Asia, during which he foils enemies and encounters shamans and Mongolian lamas, whose marvels he describes. The book caused a great sensation, especially the closing chapters, where Ossendowski recounts legends allegedly entrusted to him concerning the ‘King of the World’ and his subterranean kingdom Agarttha. The present book, one of Guénon’s most controversial, was written in response to this conference and develops the theme of the King of the World from the point of view of traditional metaphysics. Chapters include: Western Ideas about Agarttha; Shekinah and Metatron; The Three Supreme Functions; Symbolism of the Grail; Melki-Tsedeq; Luz: Abode of Immortality; The Supreme Center concealed during the Kali-Yuga; and The Omphalos and Sacred Stones . Read Here

Plato’s cave and the madness of democracy

  • Plato’s Allegory of the Cave Explained

An Athenian philosopher living in ancient Greece, Plato is famous in part for penning the Socratic dialogue The Allegory of the Cave, one of the most significant pieces of work in literary history.

– What Is an Allegory?

The word ‘allegory’ comes from the Latin ‘allegoria,’ meaning speaking to imply something else. An allegory represents a larger point about society or human nature through a simple story, in which different characters may represent real-life figures. Sometimes, situations in the story may echo stories from history or modern-day life without ever explicitly stating this connection.

Allegories are similar to metaphors in that both illustrate an idea by making a comparison to something else. However, allegories are complete stories with characters, while metaphors are brief figures of speech.

– What Is The Allegory of the Cave?

The Allegory of the Cave is a Socratic dialogue recorded by Greek philosopher Plato. Plato was a student of Socrates, and one of the few people to write down some of his many teachings, which were eventually compiled into their own books. The Republic is one such book, containing The Allegory of the Cave, a dialogue between Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon. As presented by Plato, Socrates’s allegory of the cave imagines a group of people chained together inside an underground cave as prisoners. Behind the prisoners there is a fire, and between the prisoners and the fire are moving puppets and real objects on a raised walkway with a low wall. However, the prisoners are unable to see anything behind them, as they have been chained and stuck looking in one direction—at the cave wall—their whole lives.

As they look at the wall before them, they believe the shadows of objects cast by the moving figures are real things—and the only things. Their visible world is their whole world. The narrative goes on to ponder about what would happen if one of the prisoners were forced to leave. What would they see? How would they adjust? Would they believe what they saw outside? What would happen to them if they returned to the cave? Would they be able to see the same things they saw before? The narrative assumes the freed prisoner would return and try to liberate their fellow prisoners, now knowing how much more of the world exists outside the cave. However, in its conclusion, Socrates and Glaucon agree that the other prisoners would likely kill those who try to free them, as they would not want to leave the safety and comfort of their known world.

– What Does The Allegory of the Cave Mean?

Plato uses the cave as a symbolic representation of how human beings live in the world, contrasting reality versus our interpretation of it. These two ideas reflect the two worlds in the story: the world inside the cave, and the world outside. For the prisoners in the cave, the shadows on the wall created by firelight are all they know to be real. If one of the prisoners breaks free and witnesses the outside world, they will come to understand that as the true reality. However, when the freed prisoner returns to the darkness of the cave, their eyes will have now been blinded by the light of the sun, and their fellow prisoners still inside the cave will believe that it is the outside world that is harmful; to them, that truth is not worth seeking.

The allegory delves into the philosophical thought of truth, and how those with different experiences or backgrounds may perceive it. The shadows on the wall of the cave are constantly changing, so there is no stability or consistency offered for those who bear witness to them—only a false reality. They have no knowledge that the real world exists outside of their dark cave, or even that there is a real world other than their own. Meanwhile, the person who has left the cave will not be able to exist as they once did. In fact, they may even come to pity or feel superior to those who remain in the cave. The allegory essentially demonstrates the conflicts between knowledge and belief and what happens to a person once they’ve been enlightened. It is an examination on the nature of humanity, and fear of the unknown.

The Influence of The Allegory of the Cave

Plato’s cave allegory has influenced philosophy as well as media and filmmaking, whether directly or indirectly. References to Plato’s allegory of the cave appear in works such as:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953): In this famous dystopian novel, fireman Guy Montague burns books for a living, until a new acquaintance forces him to reconsider his values. Through literature, Montague discovers the outside world.
  • Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells (1904): In this Plato-esque story, a man with sight stumbles into a land of the blind, where all the villagers lost their sight due to a disease. However, not only can they not see, but they also don’t believe anyone else can. The man fails to prove to the villagers that he can see, and in the end, he is unable to save them from an impending rock slide.
  • The Matrix (1999): This popular film follows Neo (Keanu Reeves) as he discovers that the world he has been living in is actually a simulated reality. Neo decides to leave his comfortable existence and learn the truth.
  • The Truman Show (1998): In this movie about a TV show, Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) lives a “fake” life that is used purely for the entertainment of others. Slowly, he begins to chip away at the facade, even though everyone else around him refuses to admit he’s right.
  • Room by Emma Donoghue (2010): Author Emma Donoghue has acknowledged the influence of the Socratic allegory in her novel, Room, which is told from the perspective of a young boy who has never left the room where he was born.

Read here the Allegory of the cave by Plato

– Why Platonic Philosophy can help us Understand Islam

It is without a doubt that Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is one of the most thought-provoking and fascinating parables ever told. It is intriguing to the extent that many have devoted their entire careers, if not lives, to trying to fully grasp its true essence and meaning. The Allegory of the Cave has infinite interpretations, which have added to its beauty over time, creating multiple platforms for discussion, debate and abysmal philosophical analysis. This short tale by Plato not only depicts the journey of a ‘prisoner’ out of a dark cave and into the world of the Good, rather; it illustrates a story concerning the soul, the importance of knowledge and the true meaning of liberation.
It is only when one has closely read and analyzed ‘The Republic‘ by Plato that he/she is able to summarize the three ways through which a person is able to make the celebrated turn. It this turn that transforms the person from being a regular individual who lives in the world of shadows and is preoccupied with non-concrete things, into a philosopher; a person who has experienced what lies outside the cave and is able to see “the true light of the Good.” According to Plato’s Republic, the three ways are: divine intervention or ‘divine irruption’ into the human dimension, education of the individual through the muses and gymnastics (which is supervised by the philosophers) and what is known as ‘dialectic’.

The Allegory of the Cave can be categorized as an example of divine irruption, the first of the three above-mentioned methods. The motive for such an assumption lies in the wording of the allegory itself narrated by Socrates. Socrates begins his renowned narration by instructing Glaucon to imagine a cave. In this imaginary cave, Socrates speaks of prisoners who have been firmly tied up and chained since their childhood, all facing the same direction: “Imagine further that since childhood the cave dwellers have had their legs and necks shackled so as to be confined to the same spot. They are further constrained by blinders that prevent them from turning their heads; they can see only directly in front of them.” (Plato, 209) What this description suggests is that the only reality, the only thing that the prisoners are familiar with, are the shadows that are projected on the cave’s wall. Everything else is obscure and unknown to them.

It is when Socrates mentions to Glaucon that one of the prisoners is freed that we sense an interference from the divine, a greater source of power that commands the liberation of the prisoner: “One prisoner is freed from his shackles. He is suddenly compelled to stand up, turn around, walk and look toward the light.” (Plato, 210) The language used in the previously cited phrase, particularly the words freed and compelled suggest the external intercession of an unmentioned player. The phrases: “Again, let him be compelled to look directly at the light” and “then let him be dragged up by force” both reiterate the interference of an external force”. What can be inferred from this extended metaphor is that it is only with the presence of a divine player, that the ordinary person can make the turn towards the light of the good. One can also interpret the allegory of the cave as being a justification for the proper transformation of the soul once it has been provided the precise sort of education. Hence, the person who pursues true education and seeks knowledge, continuously clarifying his doubts, will be able to attain the title of a philosopher if he strives to do so.
When the ‘chosen prisoner’ is released and let out to the real world, his eyes gradually begin to adjust to the new environment that surrounds him. He instantaneously apprehends that everything that was once familiar to him i.e. the shadows, are in truth, factions and obscurities compared to what is actually existent—what is truer than reality as we know it. But, when the possibility of the prisoner returning back to the cave is presented to Glaucon, it is agreed that he will be mocked and ridiculed on his claim of seeing a ‘truer world’ than the world of shadows. The reason for this is that the other prisoners, who have never experienced life outside the cave, will find it impossible to believe a different insight on reality than the one they have known during the course of their lives: the faded shadows on the wall.

The Similarity of Plato’s Cave and the Story of the Prophet

One must closely encapsulate the allegory of the cave on its own terms before making any comparisons and associations that could further enhance one’s own understanding of this legendary fable. It was almost impossible to avoid connecting the Allegory of the Cave, and the ascent of ‘the chosen prisoner’, to the period of revelation in Prophet Muhammad’s life—peace and blessings be upon him. It was during the Holy month of Ramadan when God communicated with the Prophet Muhammad, who was retreating in a cave, through archangel Gabriel. A noticeable similarity between Plato’s allegory and the story of Muhammad’s first revelation in Islam lies in the first verse, or first word to be more precise, that was revealed to Muhammad by Gabriel:
Read in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, who created—created man out of a mere clot of congealed blood. Read! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He who taught [the use of] the pen. He taught man that which he knew not.” (Qur’an, Surat Al-`Alaq 96:1-5)

Why We Need to Educate Ourselves

Education. Education is one of the most prominent parallels that can be found in both of the two accounts. It is with knowledge that one is able to transcend towards a higher class—that of philosophers. The allegory of the cave depicts the elevation process of one’s mind by education through the ascent of the ‘chosen prisoner’ to witness the true world of reality. Similarly, the first word revealed to Prophet Muhammad —read— stresses the importance of seeking knowledge and uplifting one’s intellectual capacity to the next domain. Henceforth, education is framed as a marvelous gift, whether it was through Plato’s thought (which is eventually sourced to the Creator), or directly from God through Gabriel, it is agreed upon that it holds great power and ability to transform what is ordinary to being extraordinary.

The Prophet Mohammed as the Liberated Man in Plato’s Allegoy

Apart from education, there are several other similarities between Muhammad’s experience with revelation and what is styled by Plato in the Allegory of the Cave. One main resemblance is the flow of events in each of the two accounts; the idea of a ‘chosen prisoner’ by a divine power, the adjustment that was required by the prisoner to his new surroundings, and then, the anticipated mockery that awaited the prisoner upon his return to the cave. All of these instants that Plato depicted in the fable narrated by his teacher, Socrates, can be found in the account of Prophet Muhammad’s first revelation.

Upon his sudden encounter with the archangel, Muhammad was unable to familiarize with what was happening around him and he hurried out of Cave Hira’a and down Jabal Al Nour (Mountain of Light). Gabriel then called out to Prophet Muhammad, seeing that he was running away from him, saying: “O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allah and I am Angel Gabriel.” Upon hearing this, the Prophet Muhammad stopped, and at that moment in time, anywhere he turned his head to he saw Gabriel. (Al Banna, 26) .

What we can infer from this is that Muhammad was specifically chosen by God to see the light of the Good and experience the real truth, this is similar to the prisoner who was liberated from his shackles and was compelled to ascent outside of the cave; it was he who was chosen out of all the others.

To conclude, the two versions that have been analyzed in this essay aim to further develop and bridge the gap between Platonic philosophy and one of the most significant stories in Islam. The Allegory of the Cave is not limited to philosophical aspects of the human life, rather; it can be extended further to religious and spiritual traits of our lives. In Islamic view; God is the source of all the Good in our world, He is the One that grants each of us His due of light and goodness: “God wishes to purify you completely…to lead you out of darkness into light”.

Note: Read also Goethe, the “refugee” and his Message for our times

see also Research Goethe Message for the 21st century

  • A Comparison of the Philosopher-Kings in Plato’s Republic and Al-Farabi’s The Attainment of Happiness – An Essay by Daniel Joshuva 

Plato and Abu Nasr Al-Farabi 

Al-Farabi (872-950 A.D.) was an Islamic Philosopher who lived during the Golden Age of Islam in the Abbasid Caliphate. He studied and wrote much on the ancient works by the Greeks, especially Plato and Aristotle. This essay will cover much on the ideals of Happiness for a city’s population, and the the basis on what makes a good ruler; that is the Philosopher-King.  See here more: Al-Farabi’s Humanistic Principles and “Virtuous City” and The City of Life, Visions of Paradise

Introduction

The ideas of Plato’s Republic have both influenced and antagonized philosophy from cultures all over the world ever since it was written in the 4th century BC. Specifically, the philosopher-kings of his Republic have been debated and interpreted in so many ways, it’s hard to imagine anything new being said. However, in the 9th century AD, the brilliant Islamic philosopher Abu Nasr Al-Farabi (AD 870-950) would do just that. His breadth of knowledge and understanding of both Greek and Muslim thought is impressive, even by today’s standards. His originality is also seen in his attempts to synthesize the two traditions. In this essay, I would like to explore two things.

First, what are the similarities and differences between the philosopher-kings of Plato and the philosopher-kings of Al-Farabi? If there are any, what changes did Al-Farabi make to Plato’s theory?

Second, what can the modern-day reader learn from a comparison of these two thinkers that come from vastly different contexts? 

Plato

Although the Republic is large and covers a variety of issues; for the purposes of this essay, the main discussion will come from books 5,6, and 7. As mentioned in the introduction above, the philosopher-kings of Plato have been interpreted in many ways since thetextwas written over 2 millennia ago. One of the more popular interpretations is that the philosopher-kings described by Plato are meant to stay in an idealistic context. This is important because many people have dismissed the concept of Plato’s philosopher-king on grounds that they are not a practical solution to any real political situation. Whereas this very well be true, Plato in this section is philosophizing on his ideal city, a city that he most likely doesn’t see coming to fruition in any real sense. As he tells Glaucon in Book V

Let me, as if on a holiday, do what lazy people do who feast on their own thoughts when out for a solitary walk. Instead of finding out how something they desire might actually come about, these people pass that over, so as to avoid tiring deliberations about what’s possible and what isn’t. They assume that what they desire is available and proceed to arrange the rest, taking pleasure in thinking through everything they’ll do when they have what they want, thereby making their lazy souls even lazier. (Republic 458a)

As Plato tells us, he is writing under the assumption that the aims of his ideal city arealready assumed possible. He does this to “avoid tiring deliberations about what’s possible and what isn’t.” Instead, he wants to talk about all the necessary parts that would be required for his ideal city, if the ideal city is already assumed to be possible. In this sense, the philosopher-kings are truly an idealist notion. Dr. Robin Barrow describes Plato as, “a poet”, with, “a touch of the mystic about him and more than a touch of imagination” (Barrow 209). In my opinion, it is important to remember this aspect of Plato’s thought when discussing his theory of philosopher-kings in his ideal city. 

It is towards the end of Book V, after his discussion on the role of women and the family in his ideal city, that Plato states his controversial thesis that has caused debates ever since.

Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils, Glaucon, nor, I think, will the human race. And, until this happens, the constitution we’ve been describing in theory will never be born to the fullest extent possible or see the light of the sun. It’s because I saw how very paradoxical this statement would be that I hesitated to make it for so long, for it’s hard to face up to the fact that there can be no happiness, either public or private, in any other city. (Republic 473c-e)

As he admits in the last sentence, Plato does not believe that a city can find happiness unless the rulers of the city become “philosopher-kings”.  So, what are they? 

Plato, through Socrates, spends the rest of Book V establishing what is means for a ruler to be a philosopher. When Glaucon asks Socrates who the true philosophers are, he responds “Those who love the sight of truth” (Republic 475e). “The outcome of the whole discussion”, as Cross and Woozley explain in their commentary of the Republic, “is that the latter does not possess knowledge, does not really know anything, but has only belief (doxa), is a philodoxos, i.e. a lover of belief, whereas the genuine philosopher possesses knowledge, is able to apprehend the truth, and thus alone merits the name of philosopher” In Book V, Socrates establishes that the philosopher-kings he is about to discuss further are those that possess true knowledge, as opposed to those that rely on “doxa” or belief. 

Although much more time could be spent on what Plato understands as knowledge, which is a true understanding of his theory of Forms, for the purposes of this discussion it is better to move on to Book VI.  It is in Book VI that Plato begins to give the specific qualities that should be seen in his ideal philosopher-king. After establishing again that the philosopher-king, in his nature, has, “a love for the truth” (Republic 485c); he then lists more specific characteristics associated with this nature. Wooley and Cross summarize these characteristics as, “a good memory, he is quick to learn, magnanimous, gracious, a friend and kinsman of truth, courage, justice and temperance” .It is these characteristics that Plato believes will be visible in the nature of every philosopher-king. 

For the purposes of this essay, the other important takeaway from Book VI comes from Plato’s discussion about what the best constitution should be in relation to these guardians of the city. As he states, if we, “were to find the best constitution, as it is itself the best, it would be clear that it is really divine and that other natures and ways of life are merely human” (Republic 497d). It is here that Plato acknowledges the importance of laws and lawmakers in relation to his ideal city.  He understands that true knowledge of the forms is not enough; the rulers must also use this knowledge in the making of the laws in the city. As Wooley and Cross state, “There must, as is said at 497d, be some authority in the state with the same idea of its constitution, the same understanding of it, as Glaucon and Plato, the original legislators. That is, the rulers must have knowledge, must in fact be philosophers” . The ideal rulers of Plato’s city must not only be philosophers, they must also be legislators. 

Only if the rulers of Plato’s city also become philosophers and legislators will the happiness of Plato’s ideal city come to fruition. It must be remembered that the philosopher-kings Plato imagines only exist to create and maintain happiness in his ideal city. They do not have any selfish motives of their own. The rest of Books VI and VIII are Plato trying to explain how and what the education of these philosopher-kings might look like. He highlights this process with three different allegories: Allegory of the Sun, Allegory of the Divided Line, and the Allegory of the Cave. These allegories represent the process guardians are supposed to go through to obtain true knowledge. As described by Narges Tajik, “Philosophers pass through the steps of their own education, whether physical or mental, in the city. They, after training in music and literature as a preliminary education, learn mathematical disciplines-arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and harmonics” . It is through this process of education, as the infamous allegory of the Cave shows us, that the philosopher-kings ascend from darkness to light. Plato summarizes the goal of this process in Book VII, “But our present discussion, on the other hand, shows that the power to learn is present in everyone’s soul and that the instrument with which each learns is like an eye that cannot be turned around from darkness to light without turning the whole body… education is the craft concerned with doing this very thing, this turning around, and with how the soul can most easily and effectively be made to do it” (Republic 518c-d). Is it through this process of ascent that the philosopher-kings learn the Good, which is what is necessary for the ideal city. 

As Plato makes clear, however, learning about the truth is not enough. Those that learn must not be allowed, “to do what they’re allowed to do today”, which is, “To stay there and refuse to go down again to the prisoners in the cave and share their labors and honors, whether they are of less worth or of greater” (Republic 519d). The guardians must go back and educate the rest of the city. Glaucon then asks if it is wrong to force these guardians to live a worse life when they could live a better one by not going back. As Socrates then reminds Glaucon, the philosopher-kings only exist in the first place for the happiness of the whole city. “The law produces such people in the city, not in order to allow them to turn in whatever direction they want, but to make use of them to bind the city together” (Republic 520a). The guardian that returns to Plato’s city is not only ruler, but now a philosopher and legislator as well. Happiness for the city and for themselves is only found when they use their newfound knowledge for this purpose. 

Al-Farabi

Although he was largely known in the medieval Islamic world for his expertise on Aristotle, even known as the “Second Master” because of this, the influence of Plato on Islamic philosopher Al-Farabi’s thought is also undeniable. However, the influence of Plato on Al-Farabi is largely, “an un-Platonic interpretation of Plato, at least of Plato as seen by the Hellenistic traditions” (Mahdi, Philosophy and Political Thought 17). The importance of Plato on Al-Farabi’s thought is largely a political one, while viewing the other-worldly aspects of Plato as “accidental” (Mahdi, Philosophy and Political Thought 17). This is noticeable when one sees the special importance Al-Farabi places on both Plato’s Republic and Laws in his political works. In this context, The Attainment of Happiness is especially important, because according to Mahdi, “it is here that he gives an account of the theoretical foundation on the basis of which those other works should be understood, and of the philosophic principles that are applied in the other works” (Mahdi, Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle 9). A comparison between the philosopher-kings of Plato and Al-Farabi becomes insightful when viewed through this light. 

Before Al-Farabi arrives at his discussion of what philosopher-kings should be in his The Attainment of Happiness, he splits the books into two sections. He first discusses “the human things through which nations and citizens of cities attain earthly happiness in this life and supreme happiness in the life beyond are of four kinds: theoretical virtues, deliberative virtues, moral virtues, and practical arts” (Al-Farabi, Attainment of Happiness 13). Of these the theoretical virtues are most important because, “[It] is primary knowledge. The rest is acquired by meditation, investigation and inference, instruction and study” . After telling us what each of these are, he tells us that theoretical perfection is comprised with the knowledge of these four things (25). He then goes on to discuss in depth the methods by which one can attain knowledge in each of these things. Although much more could be said on this section of the book, Al-Farabi arrives at the conclusion that knowledge comes to be understood by man through one of two ways: philosophy or religion. As Mahdi points out, “The main argument of the Attainment of Happiness is so constructed as to lead inevitably to a view of the relation between philosophy and religion” (Mahdi, Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle 9). As we will see, the ruler of Al-Farabi’s ideal city becomes a different variation of Plato’s when this is fully understood. 

Al-Farabi finally states the central thesis of his philosopher-kings towards the end of the book when he says

So let it be clear to you that the idea of the Philosopher, Supreme Ruler, Prince, Legislator, and Imam is but a single idea. No matter which one of these words you take, if you proceed to look at what each of them signifies among the majority of those who speak our language, you will find that they all finally agree by signifying one and the same idea. (Al-Farabi, The Attainment of Happiness 46)

It is clear from reading this that his idea of philosopher-kings is very similar to Plato’s. The rulers described by both authors are those that work for a single idea: the happiness of the city. To begin, let us compare the first four categories that are almost identical to Plato’s: Philosopher, Ruler, Legislator, and Prince. 

The philosopher that Al-Farabi describes is almost identical to the role the philosopher plays in Plato’s Republic. The philosopher, like Plato’s, is someone that understands the truth of being at deeper level than the rest of the city. For Al-Farabi, this is someone that is knowledgeable in the “theoretical virtues”, which as mentioned earlier is described as “primary knowledge”. Knowledge is not enough however, because, “To be a truly perfect philosopher one has to possess both the theoretical sciences and the faculty for exploiting them for the benefit of all others according to their capacity” (Al-Farabi, The Attainment of Happiness 43). Just like the example from Plato’s cave, the philosopher cannot stand idly by after learning truth, he must go back into the city. His philosophy must not only be theoretical, but practical as well. He goes as far as to say that those that isolate themselves with the theoretical alone practice a “defective philosophy” . 

For the philosopher, the “practical virtues” in Al-Farabi’s system are the virtues used to bring the rest of the city happiness. For the city, it is not enough that the philosopher understands truth, he must be able to apply what he knows towards the benefit of the city. And because of the belief that Plato and Al-Farabi have that not all citizens can learn truth the same way the philosophers do, other “practical” methods must be used. It is for this reason that Al-Farabi declares that the philosopher must be a “supreme ruler” as well . The philosopher needs this authority so that he may apply practically what he knows how to demonstrate theoretically. Therefore, when someone considers, “the case of the true philosopher, he would find no difference between him and the supreme ruler. For he who possesses the faculty for exploiting what is comprised by the theoretical matters for the benefit of all others possesses the faculty for making such matters intelligible as well as for bringing into actual existence those of them that depend of the will” (Al-Farabi, The Attainment of Happiness ). In short, the supreme ruler brings about practically, through will, what the philosopher theoretically demonstrates as truth. 

As was discussed above, the legislator aspect of Plato’s philosopher-king is an acknowledgement by Plato that knowing the truth is not enough, the rulers must also be able to create laws so that this same truth can be realized in the city. Al-Farabi understands the legislator role in a very similar way. He states that, “to bring the actual existence of intelligibles”, the philosopher also needs to, “prescribe the conditions that render possible their actual existence” (Al-Farabi, The Attainment of Happiness 45). Once the conditions to bring about truth are considered, the philosopher becomes legislator in creating laws to bring his knowledge to the city. “Therefore the legislator is he who, by the excellence of his deliberation, has the capacity to find the conditions required for the actual existence of voluntary intelligibles in such a way as to lead to the achievement of supreme happiness” . Al-Farabi’s legislator, just like the philosopher and supreme ruler, has one goal: achievement of supreme happiness. Al-Farabi reminds us that the legislator must be a philosopher first for this very reason. He believes that it is impossible for the legislator to find the conditions necessary for supreme happiness unless he experiences this happiness first with his own intellect . He then emphasizes the inverse as well: the philosopher that understands the theoretical virtues but cannot bring them about practically “has no validity” .

The Prince category that Al-Farabi mentions is also heavily inspired by Plato’s thought. Al-Farabi believes that humans have different “natural virtues”, or in other words, different humans have different natural states of character. It is only after this natural virtue is “coupled with deliberative virtue” that moral virtues can be formed by the will (Al-Farabi, The Attainment of Happiness 33). For Al-Farabi, it follows from this that, “some men who are innately disposed to a [natural moral] virtue that corresponds to the highest [human moral] and that is joined to a naturally superior deliberative power, others just below them, and so on… Therefore the prince occupies his place by nature and not merely by will”. It is important for Al-Farabi that it is not only outside things that give the prince power, he must also show innate ability to understand truth. In fact, he tells us the name prince itself is supposed to signify, “sovereignty and ability” (46). And just like the other categories, the perfect prince exists only for the attainment of supreme happiness. “If his ability is restricted to goods inferior to supreme happiness, his ability is incomplete and he is not perfect” . 

After Al-Farabi mentions the Philosopher, Supreme Ruler, Prince, and Legislator, he mentions the last category that truly separates him from Plato: The Imam. The ingenuity that Al-Farabi shows in synthesizing the Imam with the philosopher-king is incredible. It is this synthesis that has lead scholars like Farouk A. Sankari to state that it is, “Alfarabi’s great contribution to political philosophy” . So, what exactly does Al-Farabi’s Imam represent? He tells us that the idea of the Imam in Arabic, “signifies merely the one whose example is followed and who is well received: that is, either his perfection is well received or his purpose is well received” (Al-Farabi, The Attainment of Happiness 46). In short, the Imam represents someone that brings the truth to the people through religion. 

It is the incorporation of religion in Al-Farabi’s theory of philosopher-kings that separates him from Plato. Religion is important for Al-Farabi because, aside from philosophy, it is the other way that man can assent to truth. Philosophy, as discussed above, is when truth can be demonstrated by the intellect, when the philosopher shows proficiency in the “theoretical virtues”. Religion, on the other hand, knowing the same truth as the philosopher, persuades not through demonstration but through imitation. In fact, it is these “popular, generally accepted, and external [philosophical]” methods of persuasion through imitation that Al-Farabi understands as religion. “In everything of which philosophy gives an account based on intellectual perception or conception, religion gives an account based on imagination” (Al-Farabi, The Attainment of Happiness ). The divine revelation of religion for Al-Farabi is symbolic imitation, meant to persuade those that cannot understand the demonstrative methods of the philosopher. In this context, the Imam becomes important because he translates the demonstrated truth of the philosopher into symbols so that the rest of the city may be persuaded to truth through imagination. 

In Al-Farabi’s own time, this religion was Islam. The bold claim that religion and philosophy ascend to the same truth by merging the Imam with the philosopher-king is what makes Al-Farabi stand out from Plato. As Ali and Qin state, “Unlike Plato’s philosopher king, the ruler of Alfarabi’s virtuous city is a philosopher prophet who receives divine revelations. Revelation as his source of knowledge differentiates him from the ruler of Plato’s The Republic and associates him with the prophet Muhammad, rightly guided Sunni caliphs and Shia Imams who received guidance from God through revelation” . Al-Farabi’s Imam, someone that receives divine truth and translates it into images for the benefit of the people, is clearly modeled after the prophet Muhammad. Religion can be the link that reveals truth to those that cannot understand the universal truths passed down through philosophy. For Al-Farabi, if philosophy is universal, then religion is cultural.  As he states, “Philosophy gives an account of the ultimate principles (that is, the essence of the first principle and the essences of the incorporeal second principles), as they are perceived by the intellect. Religion sets forth their images by means of similitudes of them taken from corporeal principles and imitates them by their likeness among political offices. It imitates the divine acts by means of the functions of political”. Philosophy only gives an account of truth; it is religion that imitates this truth in the real world by the formation of political offices that try to bring this truth to reality. Ali and Qin go on to conclude, “Although Alfarabi makes a distinction between the knowledge of a philosopher and the nonphilosophers, he, nonetheless, seeks perfection for ‘all the people of the excellent city’, and argues that all of them ‘ought to’ have the basic knowledge about everything. While Plato either excludes or expels imperfect natures, Alfarabi’s policy towards them seems to be that of reformations through the knowledge they can grasp which is religion, the symbolic imitation of philosophy” . Al-Farabi links the Imam to the philosopher-king of Plato so that “ultimate principles” can be understood by all, even if this understanding must come through symbolic images created by religion to imitate the “ultimate principles” of the philosophers. 

Takeaways for the Modern-Day Reader

When it comes to comparing philosophers with the magnitude and breadth of knowledge that Plato and Al-Farabi showed throughout their work, the hardest part comes in narrowing down what can be learned. The beauty of these great intellectuals for the modern-day reader is that they can continue to inform and expand our thinking in so many ways, even thousands of years later. The philosopher-kings of both writers is just one example of a jumping off point in a comparison between these two. However, in doing research for this comparison, there was a theme that is continually seen throughout both works that I believe is still relevant for any student of political philosophy. The theme is in the title of Al-Farabi’s work that has been discussed, sa adah in the Arabic, or in the English translation: happiness. 

In my view, the philosopher-kings of both Plato and Al-Farabi cannot be critically examined unless the emphasis on happiness that both authors display is understood fully. This happiness, however, is different than what many people think of when they think of happiness in the 21st century. For most people in the modern world, happiness starts on the individual, personal level. This understanding of happiness never usually escapes the realm of feelings; feelings that change as consistently as the seasons. Some may go a little further, and extend this understanding of happiness not only to themselves, but to those they care about as well. However, for Plato and Al-Farabi, this is almost the exact wrong way to look at it. For them, happiness only exists when the city is happy. Everything they theorize for their ideal cities is always viewed through this lens, especially in relation to philosopher-kings. For both authors, it is not that the philosopher-kings come first, followed by ideal happiness. For them, it is that ideal happiness already exists, and it is the philosopher-kings that come to learn this truth to benefit the overall happiness of the city. It is why Plato’s philosopher-king must return to the cave, because his existence in the first place is only for that purpose. As Tajik reminds us, “Plato believes that the philosopher ought to return to the city, because if he does not promote the citizens towards the happiness, his own happiness will not be perfect” . Al-Farabi reminds us of this “supreme happiness” as well, which is seen in how he continually emphasizes both the theoretical and practical knowledge that rulers must have to properly govern a city. In these theoretical cities, every individual lives for the happiness of the city, and it is this happiness that comes back to then be experienced by the individual. Even the philosopher-kings, in their quest for ultimate truth, only exist in the end for this purpose. 

Another takeaway that branches off this overall theme of happiness, is the significant impact that religion plays in the role of Al-Farabi’s city when compared to Plato’s. Al-Farabi, by looking at the world around him, knew that philosophy was not enough in bringing everyone to understand happiness in the same way as the philosophers did. His proof was not only the Islamic world around him, but also the other religions of the past. He understood the power religion could play in helping so many people come to understand happiness. Like Plato, Al-Farabi believed that because different people have different natures, not everyone could come to understand truth in the same way. Whereas Plato seems to leave behind those that cannot understand the truth of philosophy, Al-Farabi tries to bring them back in through religion. By imitating philosophy, religion tries to bridge gap between the philosophers and non-philosophers. Al-Farabi wants everyone to know the truth of the philosophers, even if they must come to understand this truth through methods of persuasion instead of methods of demonstration (Al-Farabi, The Attainment of Happiness). 

Conclusion

As mentioned previously, the attempt to compare writers with the level of stature of these two was a difficult task. However, it has also been an extremely rewarding one. On the most basic level, having to dive deeper than I ever have into two different philosophers has greatened my interest not only in their philosophical contexts, but in their historical contexts as well. More specifically, Plato’s concept of philosopher-kings was what I found most interesting reading through the Republic earlier this semester, so getting to learn a little more about how it has been understood over time has also been rewarding. In my opinion, Plato’s philosopher-kings remind us that his ideal city was one in where every citizen lived for the happiness of the entire city. This means that the rulers are not only included in this, but that in his ideal city, the rulers would not even exist outside of this. Al-Farabi then takes this concept from Plato and expands on it brilliantly. In his attempt to synthesize the concept of Plato’s philosopher-king with the Imam of Islam, Al-Farabi displays great respect for the philosophy of the past without ignoring the people of his own historical context. If there is an overarching lesson to be drawn from Plato and Al-Farabi, it is this one. Plato’s philosopher-kings serve to remind us that the knowledge of existence outside the cave is useless unless one goes back in. Al-Farabi’s addition of religion is his acknowledgment that this knowledge should be known by all, not only the rulers.  Although Plato and Al-Farabi both agree that philosophy contains truths that are eternal, it is Al-Farabi that reminds us that these truths can be understood in more than one way. If Plato’s emphasis on philosophy reminds us of universal truths, it is Al-Farabi’s addition of religion that reminds us that these truths are always being told in new eras, in new places, to new people. 

  • Plato’s idea of democracy

Plato finds democracy next to tyranny. Why does he think so low of democracy? Explain your position towards his criticism. Can his argumentation be applied to contemporary democracies?

This essay seeks to address the above questions. First it explains Plato’s concept of democracy, which shapes his attitude towards this form of government. Then it discusses my position towards Plato’s criticism of democracy, provides a definition of contemporary democracy, and finally shows how Plato’s argumentation can be applied to present day democracies.

Plato’s idea of democracy which was conceptualized in around 300 B.C is quite different from the present day understanding of democracy. According to Plato, democracy originates “when the poor win, kill or exile their opponents, and give the rest equal civil rights and opportunities of office, appointment to office being as rule by lot” . In another word, for Plato only philosopher kings were entitled to rule a society and apart from them ordinary people were perceived as barbaric and not worthy of governing. Plato’s perception of democracy was shaped by his aristocratic background. For him only the elite which were described as “gold” had the right to rule the regular people who according to Plato were destined to be ruled. In Plato’s word elite is a person who born with capacity and ability of being “gold”. He doesn’t want the people to take power and hold office.

Plato believed that anyone who did not have exceptional gifts could not grow into a good man unless he was brought up from childhood in a good environment and trained in good habits. Plato asserts that “ democracy with a complicated gesture sweeps all this away” and doesn’t mind what the habits, and background of its politician are; provided they profess themselves the people’s friends, they are duly praised.

The main reasons why Plato doesn’t want people to be in power are the following: first, he says that “people are free, there is liberty and freedom of speech plenty, and every individual is free to do as he likes” . Therefore, people will abuse ultimate freedom and this will lead the state to chaos and instability. Plato refers to democracy as “an agreeable anarchic form of society” with lots of variety, which considers all people as equal, whether they are equal or not. In an anarchic society there is no protection of people’s basic rights and complete chaos. In such a society without law and order, violence would be rampant and inevitably lead to oppression and tyranny.

Second, in Plato’s point of view, a democratic society is a place for “constitution hunting” where a multitude of constitutions based on individuals’ interests are available. Plato says “it’s a shop in which one finds plenty of models to show” . In Plato’s word, model means constitutions mean the laws that people created by themselves and using that according to their own interests. He warns against leaving people with their own interests. Therefore, we can conclude that according to Plato finally it leads to anarchy and tyranny in a state. In an anarchic society there is no law, and the powerful person is the leader. He has his own law and he accommodates it on people. He does “what pleases him best”, and becomes a tyrant. In order to prevent a society from becoming anarchy, we should have regulation on that society.

I think there is need for regulation within the rule of law in a democratic society, but Plato defines it differently. In my opinion, every citizen of a state has equal rights and responsibilities toward his country similar to the elite (philosopher king) part of society. In contemporary democracy, unlike Plato’s time, the whole power belongs to people. However, Plato wants the state to be ruled only by the “philosopher king” therefore denying the rights of other citizens of the state; this is not practical in contemporary democracy. Read more here

Big Fish eats always little fishes
  • Why Democracy Doesn’t Work:

Democracy is the closest we’ve gotten to a form of government that offers equal representation and rights to all people and provides an avenue for everyone to contribute to society’s development. But it is no secret that Plato, one of the greatest ancient Greek philosophers, did not like democracy. He believed that democracy doesn’t work. Or as is precisely stated in The Republic, “Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequal alike“. Furthermore, in The Republic, he proposes what he envisioned an ideal government should resemble. Although all of Plato’s suggestions are not ideal or applicable in a democracy, there are definitely a few that can be learned and adapted to improve our governments’ status. Due to the recent developments across the globe, it should be self-evident that we haven’t managed and taken care of our democracies very well. So what faults did Plato find in democracy as a form of government? Why did one of the greatest philosophers our planet has ever known, living in one of the most ancient democracies in humanity’s history, not like democracy? And more importantly, what lessons can we take away from Plato and his Republic? —-

  • Why Plato Hated Democracy

The Republic’s clues about modern leaders and their popularity

Ancient Greece is famed for both it’s democracy and philosophy. Despite this, the seminal Greek philosopher Plato was much opposed to his city’s democratic governance.

Plato’s ‘Republic’ is widely acknowledged as the cornerstone of Western philosophy and the first great examination of political life. Written around 375bc, ‘The Republic’ still holds insights into ethics and political life that can teach the modern world many a lesson. Such has been the impact of Plato on Western thought that Alfred North Whitehead claimed:

“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato”.

European political thought became dominated by appraisals to democratic values in the 20th century, as democracy swept the continent. But this is not quite what the great philosopher had in mind. Plato uses The Republic to deliver a damning critique of democracy that renders it conducive to mass ignorance, hysteria, and ultimately tyranny.

Democracy in Ancient Athens

Plato witnessed democracy begrudgingly in his city of Athens. Ancient Athenian democracy differs from the democracy that we are familiar with in the present day. Athens is a city-state, while today we are familiar with the primary unit of governance operating nationwide. Consequently, governance of a smaller population enabled more ‘direct’ forms of democracy rather than the ‘representative’ forms accorded by contemporary constitutions.

All citizens (with the pertinent qualification of their being free men) were permitted the opportunity of equal political participation: Important decisions were made by the assembly, where each citizen had the right to speak and the majority of offices were assigned by lot.

Professional prosecutors and judges did not exist in Ancient Athens. Instead, it was left to the ordinary citizen to bring indictments, act as jurors, and deliberate on the outcome of trials.

Nineteenth-century painting by Philipp Foltz depicting the Athenian politician Pericles delivering his famous funeral oration in front of the Assembly.

The Death of Socrates

Socrates, another of Ancient Athens’ great philosophers, was Plato’s respected mentor and friend. Plato’s Republic is written in a series of dialogues in which Socrates is given a starring role — Socrates himself never wrote his work down. As a result, there is some ambiguity as to whose opinions are being posited in the Republic but it is commonly thought to be Plato’s.

Socrates was largely a nonentity in Athenian public life but he was an enthralling character who dedicated his life to conversations with promising young men and leading intellectuals. But it was not only his life that had an extraordinary impact on Plato; but also his death.

In 399bc Socrates was put on trial by a small group of fellow citizens acting as democratic citizen-prosecutors. He was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and introducing new gods, neglecting those of the city, which existed as an object of civic patriotism. Socrates was convicted of these charges, before being imprisoned and finally executed. Plato was repulsed by his city’s failure to benefit from Socrates and the execution influenced his conclusion that democracy is antithetical to philosophy.

Democracy — Rule by the Ignorant

Plato believed that expertise is the critical attribute of a leader; He criticizes democracy of seldom producing such characters. Rather, it elects popular spinsters who are effective in manipulating popular opinion.

To depict this, Plato uses an analogy of ship navigation in Book VI of ‘The Republic’. He contests that in order to select the appropriate captain, a popular vote is ineffective because people can be swayed by characteristics as irrelevant as their appearance. Instead, we should seek out only the most knowledgeable candidate as it is he who holds the required expertise.

Plato illustrates the ignorance that democracy yields in producing a captain:

… the true navigator must study the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds, and all the other subjects appropriate to his profession if he is to be really fit to control the ship…[the electorate] think that it’s quite impossible to acquire the professional skill needed for such control and that there’s no such thing as the art of navigation.

Ship of Fools by Hieronymus Bosch see also Praise of Folly by Erasmus

Plato, therefore, believed that philosophers should rule — philosopher kings. A true philosopher is someone that is in love with knowledge and the search for true reality. Those who seek reality are those best qualified to guide as they have the greatest knowledge at their disposal.

‘Philosophy’ can be interpreted from Greek as the love of wisdom, thus a true philosopher is a person who seeks pleasure purely of the mind. According to Plato (in Book VII), this unencumbered love of wisdom negates the possibility of the love of falsehoods, physical pleasures, material pleasures, meanness, and cowardice. All desires and tendencies that threaten to corrupt leadership.

In a democracy, however, leaders are prone to ignoring the inconvenient truths. During the Brexit campaign, a leading UK politician Michael Gove refused to name any economists who back Britain’s exit from the European Union, saying that “people in this country have had enough of experts”. In different sections of Plato’s Republic, this hostility towards philosophy (true knowledge) is predicted.

In his famous Allegory of the Cave (Book VI), Plato illustrates a moment in which a man discovers the reality of the world is different than perceived by prisoners in a cave. As he returns to the cave to reveal this, he is met with violent rage. As well as being symbolic of Athens’ treatment of Socrates, it suggests that knowledgeable leadership cannot survive in democracy as it will be ‘warped and estranged’ by the need to remain popular.

Democracy is Hysterical

The excitability and emotion of people and their mass mobilization incites democracy to acts of hysteria according to Plato. The whimsical nature of public support defies sound reason and produces fatal inconsistency over time.

The ‘Mytilenian Debate’ in Athens, 427bc, stands as a flagrant example of this hysteria. Reported in Thucydides’ book the History of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenian assembly, scared of further revolt, hastily sentenced all of the male citizens of the rebellious city-state Mytilene to death, while the women and children would be sold into slavery. Realizing the unprecedented brutality of their decision, it was overturned the very next day.

Aside from inconsistency, Plato also insists that the hysteria of democracy leads to its demise in other ways:

An excessive desire for liberty at the expense of everything else is what undermines democracy and leads to the demand for tyranny”

In this society awash with liberty, there is no distinction between citizens, immigrants, and aliens. Teachers fear pupils, the young do no respect the old. Everything is full of the spirit of liberty and even animals walk the streets with rights. Aspects of the liberal society illustrated here are today celebrated. In fact, Plato’s apparent denunciation of immigrants holding citizenship and animal right appears draconian in the setting a present-day liberal-democracies. But rather than denunciating these substantive realities, the great philosopher was concerned this society would cause a greater conflict; a political conflict yielding hunger for a single, strong leader — a tyrant.

Incredibly, issues that Plato mentioned 2,400 years ago are very much still topical — often sources of political dispute. Across the Western political discourse, immigration and citizenship remain a source of political tension. Donald Trump’s ascent to power appears indicative of this revolt against libertarian politics that yearns for strong leadership, in light of these insights in Book VIII of ‘The Republic’.

Historically, the most famous demise from a democracy into tyranny happened in Germany between the First and Second World Wars. At the end of the First World War, a condition for armistice decreed that Kaiser Wilhelm was to give up his monarchy. The German Reichstag assumed the responsibility and offered to usher in a democracy, fearful of the rising communist appetite. Here became the Weimar Republic.

When the Weimar Republic was formed in 1919, there were hopeful signs that democracy would take root in Germany. The new democratic constitution with its expanded bill of rights was one of the most progressive in the world. Historians have offered a number of explanations as to why it failed. Among them is the punitive nature of the Treaty of Versaille, burdening generations of Germans with economic scarcity and so-called “guilt clause” attributing sole responsibility of the war to Germany.

German football supporters giving the Nazi salute during the international match against England in 1935.

The guilt and economic collapse enraged the German population, feeling it a huge mark of shame on national pride. Such emotion, a Platonic viewpoint may claim, is conducive to political hysteria enabling a well-timed tyrant to capitalize on the will for strong leadership and violent retribution. We all know what happened next.

Criticism of the Plato’s Ideal State

In Plato’s ideal state, groups are divided into their social utilities such as a warrior population and an agricultural population, without the ability to willfully change professions. With this system of functional specialization, there is little possibility of any full development of human personality. Suggesting that the state should wield such control over the livelihoods of its citizens is an affront to human liberty as we understand it now.

Plato fails to condemn the institution of slavery and regard it as fundamental evil, which reflects the social construct in neighboring Sparta — a militaristic oligarch with a large serf populous. His careful organization of society by a detached philosopher-king rids his ideal state of the self-determination that provides human liberty in a democracy. A final irony is that Plato’s advocacy of censorship of art, poetry, and bad characters (Books III and X) could perhaps prohibit The Republic from existing in his own ideal state.

Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher who was a student and admirer of Plato, criticized his teacher’s purely theoretical approach. Aristotle pursued political knowledge with a historical appreciation and practical sensibilities which reflected the epistemological divide between the two great thinkers — Plato a rationalist and Aristotle an empiricist.

Ignoring the lower class population was dangerous according to Aristotle, and likewise, notions such as a frequently idle warrior population were simply impractical. Kings should take advice from philosophers and they should also benefit from the advice of their citizenry. This mode of the constitution is thought to bring more unity than one preventing political dialogue between the ruled and their rulers.

While there have been instances of tyranny arising from democracy, as noted in the previous chapter, democracy has been widely successful. An article from the Economist claims that populations have turned on autocrats for good reason:

“Democracies are on average richer than non-democracies, are less likely to go to war and have a better record of fighting corruption. More fundamentally, democracy lets people speak their minds and shape their own and their children’s futures. That so many people in so many different parts of the world are prepared to risk so much for this idea is testimony to its enduring appeal”.

The affluence, liberty, and peace arising from the spread of democratic values in the 20th century would afflict damage to Plato’s testimony for what appears to be an autocratic rule of dissonant philosophy.

But while Plato may have sought to heal tyranny with medicine that tastes a lot like the disease, The Republic still carries its important messages. In 2018, Freedom in the World recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region including long-standing democracies like the United States.

There is a lot we can learn from Plato and his work in The Republic. Perhaps where democracies are concerned, we must remain wary of the ignorance and hysteria that Plato forewarned us of, to halt regression into tyrannical practice.

Look Friends; This we have always knouw: that the big fishes eat the little ones

Tyranny of the stock Market:

– Why do the rich get richer — even during global crises?

Every 30 hours, the pandemic spawned a new billionaire, while pushing a million people into poverty. Here’s why.Somesh Jha 26-12-2022

Death and devastation are not the only calling cards COVID-19 will be remembered by. The pandemic has also drastically widened inequalities across the globe over the past three years.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, 131 billionaires more than doubled their net worth during the pandemic. The world’s richest person, Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault, was worth $159bn on December 27, 2022, up by around $60bn compared with early 2020. Elon Musk, the planet’s second-wealthiest man, boasted a $139bn fortune — it was less than $50bn before the pandemic. And India’s Gautam Adani, third on the index, has seen his wealth increase more than tenfold in this period, from approximately $10bn at the start of 2020 to $110bn at the end of 2022.

At the same time, close to 97 million people — more than the population of any European nation — were pushed into extreme poverty in just 2020, earning less than $1.90 a day (the World Bank-defined poverty line). The global poverty rate is estimated to have gone up from 7.8 percent to 9.1 percent by late 2021. Now, skyrocketing inflation is affecting real wage growth, eating into the disposable incomes of people around the world.

To curb rising prices, central banks are reducing the flow of money into the economy by increasing interest rates and withdrawing excess liquidity. But that has again boomeranged on workers, with companies — from tech firms like Amazon, Twitter and Meta to banks like Goldman Sachs — announcing layoffs at the end of an already tumultuous 2022.

Al Jazeera spoke to economists to understand why the rich keep getting richer even amid crises and whether that is inevitable each time there is an economic slowdown.

The short answer: Many countries adopt policies such as tax breaks and financial incentives for businesses to boost economies amid crises like the pandemic. Central banks flood the economy with money to make it easier to lend and spend. This helps the wealthy grow their money through financial market investments. But widening inequality is not unavoidable.

During economic crises, governments take measures to boost financial markets, like the New York Stock Exchange seen here, in turn helping the wealthy with major investments multiply their fortunes .

Stock market boom

When the pandemic began, central banks across the world swung into action to protect financial markets that took a severe beating as governments started imposing lockdown restrictions.

To save the economy from collapsing, central banks slashed interest rates, thereby lowering borrowing costs and increasing the supply of money. They also pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets with the aim of encouraging companies to invest in the economy. Major central banks have infused more than $11 trillion into the global economy since 2020.

These interventions triggered a boom in the value of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments — but the rise in asset prices wasn’t accompanied by an increase in economic production.

“Instead of leading to more economic output, a bulk of the sudden infusion of money into the financial system led to a dramatic rise in asset prices, including stocks, which benefitted the rich,” Francisco Ferreira, director of the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE), told Al Jazeera.

A year into the pandemic, capital markets had risen $14 trillion, with 25 companies — mostly in the technology, electric vehicles and semiconductors segment — accounting for 40 percent of the total gaiBillionaires saw their fortunes increase as much in 24 months as they did in 23 years, according to Oxfam’s “Profiting from Pain” report released in May this year. Every 30 hours, while COVID-19 and rising food prices are pushing nearly one million more people into extreme poverty, the global economy is also spawning a new billionaire.ns, according to an analysis of stock performance of 5,000 companies by consulting firm McKinsey.

“The result is that this pandemic period has seen the biggest surge in billionaire wealth since the records began,” Oxfam America’s Director of Economic Justice Nabil Ahmed told Al Jazeera. “And we are still coming to terms about how extraordinary that rise has been.”

Billionaires saw their fortunes increase as much in 24 months as they did in 23 years, according to Oxfam’s “Profiting from Pain” report released in May this year. Every 30 hours, while COVID-19 and rising food prices are pushing nearly one million more people into extreme poverty, the global economy is also spawning a new billionaire.

Pre-pandemic factors

To be sure, both income and wealth inequalities have been on the rise since the 1980s when governments across the world began deregulating and liberalising the economy to allow more private sector participation. Income inequality refers to the gulf in the disposable income of the rich and the poor whereas wealth inequality deals with the distribution of financial and real assets, such as stocks or housing, between the two groups.

Among other things, the post-liberalisation period also resulted in declining bargaining power of workers. At the same time, companies increasingly started turning to financial markets to borrow money for their investments, Yannis Dafermos, a senior lecturer in economics at SOAS University of London, told Al Jazeera.

“It is the financialisation of the economy in particular that generated a lot of income for the rich, who invest in financial assets,” Dafermos said. “And whenever an economic crisis strikes, the central banks’ response is to save the financial market from collapsing because it is so much interlinked with the real economy. This helps stock and bond markets to thrive creating more wealth and inequality.”

This is what major central banks did during the global financial crisis in 2008-09 — injecting liquidity into the market through various tools and lowering interest rates to encourage companies to borrow and invest.

“The easy money policy that began after the global financial crisis led to really low to negative interest rates and big liquidity in the financial system,” Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Al Jazeera. “So, in the past 15 years, corporations chose to reinvest the money into buying more financial assets chasing high returns, rather than increasing their production.”

The pandemic accelerated those structures of inequality – be it liberalisation of the labour market, surge in monopoly power or erosion of public taxation – Oxfam’s Ahmed said. One example is that 143 of 161 countries analysed by Oxfam froze tax rates for the rich during the pandemic, and 11 countries reduced them.

Inflation hits lower-income nations worst

As countries started easing COVID-19 restrictions, a sharp rise in consumer demand coupled with supply shocks contributed to global inflation touching record levels.

That has forced central banks to wind up their policies of allowing access to easy money. They have also announced sharp interest rate rises. Their aim now is to reduce demand so that prices soften and, in advanced economies like the United States, to also cool down the jobs market.

To preserve their earnings in the wake of this policy shift, major companies have now started announcing job cuts, even as inflation bites the poor with low savings.

“Even when inflation has increased, the profit margins of firms have not declined,” Dafermos said. Large companies are retaining profits to give dividends to their shareholders rather than increasing wage incomes, even as smaller companies suffer due to a lack of investments by bigger firms, he said.

Interest rate increases have increased borrowing costs, also affecting the ability of low-income and developing countries to spend more on welfare schemes as they have high levels of public and private debt.

“Because of the way the global financial system works, there will be a lot of pressure on developing countries to implement austerity measures,” Dafermos said. “That can create more inequalities and for me, this is perhaps more significant because it limits their capacity to provide social protection to the poor.”

According to Oxfam, lower-income countries spent approximately 27 percent of their budgets in repaying their debts – twice the money spent on education and four times that on health.

Inequality is a political choice

After World War II, countries started following progressive taxation policies and took steps to address monopoly power, Ahmed said. And while many nations reversed that approach during the pandemic, a few bucked the trend. Costa Rica increased its highest tax rate by 10 percent and New Zealand by 6 percent in order to redistribute wealth.

“There are examples of countries doing the right thing. And it reminds us that inequality is not inevitable. It’s a policy and a political choice,” Ahmed said.

If left unaddressed, on the other hand, wealth inequality gives power to the rich to influence policies in their favour, which can further deepen the income divide, independent of the boom-and-bust nature of economic cycles. “Higher wealth tends to be associated with capture of government and state institutions by the elite,” Ferreira at the London School of Economics said.

This, he said, can take different forms in different democratic contexts. But the result is the same. “The bargaining power of the rich increases due to various tools they use such as lobbying,” he said. “Policies end up benefitting the wealthy and that again creates a cycle. But, this time it’s a political cycle”

  • Tyranny against Nature and Truth:

I can’t Breathe”: Crisis of the modern world

Deepfakes and the infocalypse :    Are we moving towards a world without truth?

  • A Mirror for the Sons of our Times

Mirrors for princes (Latin: specula principum), or mirrors of princes, form a literary genre, in a loose sense of the word, of political writing during the Early Middle Ages, Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and are part of the broader speculum or mirror literature genre. They occur most frequently in the form of textbooks which directly instruct kings or lesser rulers on certain aspects of rule and behaviour, but in a broader sense the term is also used to cover histories or literary works aimed at creating images of kings for imitation or avoidance. Authors often composed such “mirrors” at the accession of a new king, when a young and inexperienced ruler was about to come to power. One could view them as a species of self-help book – a sort of proto-study of leadership before the concept of a “leader” became more generalised than the concept of a monarchical head-of-state. see more here

Today Anno 2020 these self-help book can be used by any young man to form his heart and mind. Read here A Mirror for the Sons of our Times

  • Thomas More and Islam: Utopia (1516)

Sir Thomas More, by Hans Holbein

An odd case in early 16th century literature on tolerance is the work of Erasmus’s personal friend Thomas More. In his Utopia of 1516, More pictures an ideal society where different religions co-exist. He not only allows the diversity of Islamic society to enter the stage, but also the fact that the wise majority regards God as ‘above all our apprehensions’:

There are several sorts of religions, not only in different parts of the island, but even in every town; some worshipping the sun, others the moon, or one of the planets. Some worship such men as have been eminent in former times for virtue or glory, not only as ordinary deities, but as the Supreme God; yet the greater and wiser sort of them worship none of these, but adore one eternal invisible, infinite, and incomprehensible Deity, as a being that is far above all our apprehensions, that is spread over the whole universe, not by its bulk, but by its power and virtue; him they call the Father of all.

Utopus, the king of the Utopians, ‘made a law so that every man might be of what religion he pleased, and might endeavour to draw others to it by the force of argument’. Islam’s teaching on truth shared by different religions shows as Utopus ponders ‘whether those different forms of religion might not all come from God, who might inspire men differently, He being possibly pleased with a variety in it’. 

The stress on philosophy and argument suggests that More, rather than the Ottoman, had the Moorish Empire in mind; the Medieval center of philosophy and science which had been surrendered to Catholic rule only years before. This viewpoint may be substantiated by the story of the Utopian who converted to Christianity. He commenced preaching ‘with more zeal than discretion’, crying out against the Utopians ‘as impious and sacrilegious persons, that were to be damned to everlasting burnings’. Despite the fact that it was ‘one of [the Utopians] ancientest laws, that no man ought be punished for his religion’, the Christian is punished, ‘not for having disparaged their religion, but for his inflaming the people to sedition’. This reminds of the story of Eulogius and the martyrs of Cordoba, suggesting stories reached Thomas More from that quarter.

Illustrative the fact that early in the 16th century, the ideas imported from Islam were only appreciated as experiments, is that despite the apparent comprehensiveness of the teachings on tolerance in Utopia, Thomas More would only 15 years later forget about his own book and vehemently persecute heretics as Chancellor under king Henry. Read here I N S E A R C H OF U T O P I A: A R T A N D S C I E N C E I N T H E E R A O F T H O M A S M O R E

  • The Ottoman Legacy: 600 years of how to maintain a balance between religious ideology and secular politics and how to promote fairness and equality among citizens in a multicultural society. Read also: Platonism in Islamic philosophy

While many still equate the Ottomans with the decadence of Istanbul–extravagant architecture, harems, and hookahs–they are unaware that the secrets of Ottoman success lay in a disciplined bureaucracy and a standing army that both awed and seduced its opponents. The Ottomans harnessed the talents of their diverse populations and quickly buttressed the crumbling edifice of Byzantine Christianity. Their dynamism and resilience helped fuse the cultures of Asia, Europe, and Africa, from the Himalayas to the Sahara, absorbing whatever impressed them, from Mongol armor to Persian tile work. Alongside their essential rigor, they enjoyed the finer aspects of life: in music, cuisine, and art, unafraid, even as rugged fighters, to display their love of flowers and gardens, especially tulips and roses. Behind the fine robes, carpets, and ceramics on display today in their great architectural monuments, Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, lie centuries of migration, trade, and struggle. Read more here

Look also: When The Moors Ruled In Europe and Another look on History along with Science In A Golden Age

  • King Charles : Harmony – A New Way of Looking at Our World

Read more Here

Monarchies are Supported by Heavens,

Pope Benedict XVI asking to be free

  • Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power

The present work complements Guénon’s East and West, The Crisis of the Modern World, and The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, for whereas the latter detail the West’s gradual movement away from traditional values, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power focuses by contrast on what Guénon believed to be the normal relationship between the spiritual and the temporal implied in a healthy traditional civilization, that is, the supremacy of knowledge over action, of the sacerdotal over the royal caste. Touching first on India and the medieval West, Guénon then illustrates his point by citing quarrels over investiture and disputes of certain French kings with the papacy as evidence of a deviation in Christianity. In his preface Guénon refers to recent ‘incidents’ that had drawn attention to this general question, and although he says that his deliberations are not meant to deal directly with them, it may be of interest to note that the events concerned centered on a confrontation in 1926 between the political organization Action Française and Pope Pius XI. Read Here

This remarkable book grew out of a conference headed by René Guénon, the sinologist René Grousset, and the neo-Thomist Jacques Maritain on questions raised by Ferdinand Ossendowski’s thrilling account in his Men, Beast and Gods of an escape through Central Asia, during which he foils enemies and encounters shamans and Mongolian lamas, whose marvels he describes. The book caused a great sensation, especially the closing chapters, where Ossendowski recounts legends allegedly entrusted to him concerning the ‘King of the World’ and his subterranean kingdom Agarttha. The present book, one of Guénon’s most controversial, was written in response to this conference and develops the theme of the King of the World from the point of view of traditional metaphysics. Chapters include: Western Ideas about Agarttha; Shekinah and Metatron; The Three Supreme Functions; Symbolism of the Grail; Melki-Tsedeq; Luz: Abode of Immortality; The Supreme Center concealed during the Kali-Yuga; and The Omphalos and Sacred Stones . Read Here

Acedia vs Pre-Eternity : Trauma of our times

  • The Acedia virus is spreading rapidly among people

Many people have a feeling of stress and overload, of lethargy and a lack of motivation, of fear and uncertainty about the future. The word Acedia is used for that complex feeling. Acedia is not new. The Greek poet Homer already used the word to mean ‘neglect, lack of care’. Later on, acedia also came to mean ‘listlessness’, ‘sluggishness’ and ‘inertia’.

If you look at our life, you notice that you mainly end up in the 1D and 2D living level due to this Acedia virus. Your life becomes straightforward and superficial. Your self-made boundaries are coming at you more and more. Your inner freedom is getting smaller and smaller. This is because we are fighting against our own nature. Because we want to save people at all costs, we end up in an unnatural downward spiral. This is not the natural intent. The Corona virus is a message to people. It will not disappear and dissolve until we follow our own nature. By clinging to the unnatural thinking, doing and making system of humanity, we will have to deal with much more natural resistance. If we really listen to this resistance, we will find out that nature has what is best for us.

So many people are now stuck in their 1D and 2D lives, causing an extreme unnatural deformity and skewed growth. Only humans are capable of this on this planet, because we have the consciousness to deviate from the natural path. We have abused this gift enormously. Humanity has started to think, act and make in deviations. We do not use the deviations to create a new natural path, but to fight the natural path. Because we do not make use of a natural creation process in all our thinking, doing and making, we are becoming increasingly distant from ourselves and nature. We see and experience all the nasty consequences of this, but we also try to combat it by fighting even harder against nature and ourselves. All faith in natural existence has been broken by ourselves. You can fix this again by starting the natural creation process. It all has to do with our imagination. Our imagination determines the path we follow. It is necessary to direct this imagination with our consciousness. This does not require a 3D living level, but a natural 4D living level. At a 4D living level you live from the center of consciousness. Through everything who you are comes together. By disconnecting your consciousness from your imagination, a tension arises between the two. The first step towards natural shaping of yourself and your environment is to feel this field of tension. Only when you feel this can you ensure a natural balance.

The Acedia virus is the most contagious virus. The leaders of the unnatural deformed system make decisions that create even more deformities and chaos. They don’t know any better. The Acedia virus is a persistent virus, because it is invisible and unnoticeable to many. So it does not exist in the eyes of the masses who are in charge. It is only a matter of time before humanity realizes that things have to change completely. This is a natural need such as needing to breathe, eat and drink. If humanity is to win, it must defeat itself. Man has become his own worst enemy because of the Acedia virus. If we do not realize this, then the emptiness, nature will continue to force itself more and more violently until we give up this unnatural struggle and start shaping everything again and naturally.

  • The Acedia virus as Afternoon Devil

Not only St Antony, many desert fathers were busy fighting off demon attacks: bearded devils, venomous snakes with a human head, seductive women who turned into crocodiles or masturbating apostles. Presumably all those images were projections, and/or due to chemical reactions in the brain, caused by sleep deprivation and extreme fasting periods.

The most dangerous demon was the so-called midday devil, who tried to seduce the hermits into spiritual dullness and eventually abandon their way of life. Especially when they lived alone, the ascetics often became miserably stressed and fell into dejection, restlessness, and a psychotic aversion to their filthy dens and lonely caves. Their state of mind, which arose mainly around noon, in the heat of the day, was accurately described in the writing Praktikos , or The Monk, composed in the fourth century by the desert father Evagrius . For the malaise he uses the Greek word akèdeia , which means something like ‘indifference’ or ‘listlessness’ (in Latin: acedia ; in English the word accidie derived from it still exists , in Italian accidia ).

  • Melancholy

In later times the acedia breaks away from the midday devil and manifests itself under other names: melancholy, taedium vitae (aversion to life), nostalgia, apathy, Weltschmerz, ennui , frustration,” nausée” ( Sartre’s Nausea), boredom and finally depression, that modern container concept. In the Renaissance, the body replaces God. Melancholy means black bile, which is one of the four bodily fluids necessary for good, balanced health. Those who have too much black bile become sad and depressed. In the modern phase, the acedia becomes medicalized, giving rise to “a strange amalgam of depression and doubt of the benevolence of reality”). The same goes for drug use.

Boredom is the fundamental mood of contemporary society. The psychiatrists and psychotherapists are busy with the resulting depressions. The entire modern entertainment industry lives by man’s need for stimuli that (temporarily) relieve him from everyday boredom. A very special form of the phenomenon is the dromomania or morbid wanderlust. Dromomania literally means: mania for locomotion. It mainly affects wealthy elderly people who can afford to take a quick look at all the wonders of the planet just before saying goodbye. One cruise is not yet over or the suitcases for the other are already ready. Finally, the boredom of the nursing home also awaits them.

  • The salvation of yourself

The instability has to do with the fact that you are always looking for distraction. Even if that is in the form of a different education or hobby, you suffer from Acedia . Being too busy with your health is also less positive than we think. It can also mean that you are only disciplining your body and totally neglecting your mind. Poor compliance with rules means as much as not fulfilling your obligations. Not only cutting corners, but working too hard can be a sign of a general feeling of discouragement or desolation. Acedia eventually even makes you doubt your state of life or your calling. You feel like you’re never going to achieve what you need to achieve and that, in short, it’s all pointless. You have no inner strength left and so you flee into laziness, working too hard, or doing nothing. It takes some getting used to this. We’ve all learned to pathologize our gloomy feelings. We use phrases like “I’m depressed” or “I’m so autistic about that”. Would a broader definition of apathy give a more truthful picture of humanity? Not being able to push yourself to anything can be a signal that there’s more to it than you think. Apathy is actually the opposite of persistence.

Persistence when you’re despondent may sound tough, but it’s pretty simple. By staying true to your life as it is, the duties you now have to do, you can overcome your sense of malaise. By sticking to your daily tasks like a stairway to heaven and by climbing in faith, you can overcome even the most severe despondency and grow as a person.

So the next time you’re despondently putting things off, and you realize that your time on social media isn’t bringing you any live contacts, maybe read this quote from the desert monk Arsenius (4th century). “Go to your room, eat something, sleep and do no work for a while, but don’t leave your room under any circumstances!”

The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Times a book by Jean-Charles Nault, OSB

The noonday devil is the demon of acedia, the vice also known as sloth. The word “sloth”, however, can be misleading, for acedia is not laziness; in fact it can manifest as busyness or activism. Rather, acedia is a gloomy combination of weariness, sadness, and a lack of purposefulness. It robs a person of his capacity for joy and leaves him feeling empty, or void of meaning

Abbot Nault says that acedia is the most oppressive of demons. Although its name harkens back to antiquity and the Middle Ages, and seems to have been largely forgotten, acedia is experienced by countless modern people who describe their condition as depression, melancholy, burn-out, or even mid-life crisis.

He begins his study of acedia by tracing the wisdom of the Church on the subject from the Desert Fathers to Saint Thomas Aquinas. He shows how acedia afflicts persons in all states of life— priests, religious, and married or single laymen. He details not only the symptoms and effects of acedia, but also remedies for it. Here a summary:

3 Definitions of Acedia

#1: “Spiritual lack of care.” – Evagrius of Pontus

  • Evagrius of Pontus (345-399), who was the first to present a coherent doctrine on acedia, adapted the original Greek understanding of acedia as a physical “lack of care” (specifically with regard to not arranging a funeral for your deceased family members) into a spiritual “lack of care” (with regard to your own spiritual life). Evagrius personified acedia, calling it “the noonday devil” (cf. Ps 90:6) and the “most oppressive of all the demons” because acedia is able to conceal itself from the one who experiences it.
  • “Acedia is the temptation to withdraw from the narrowness of the present so as to take refuge in what is imaginary; it is the temptation to quit the battle so as to become a simple spectator of the controversy that is unfolding in the world”

#2: “Sadness about spiritual good.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

  • Aquinas says that acedia is a negative reaction (sadness) about participating in God’s life (spiritual good) because we are unwilling to renounce a particular carnal, temporal, limited, apparent good that stands in the way of our true good.

With acedia, we are discouraged, spiritually depressed, and fall into despair. We choose to live in mediocrity, usually manifest through little everyday infidelities. “We are unable to believe in the greatness of the vocation to which God is calling us: to become sharers in the divine nature”

#3: “Disgust with activity.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

  • Since “our acts are like steps that either bring us closer to the vision of God or else distance us from it, depending on whether they are good or bad” 4), an interior, spiritual disgust (weariness, sloth, boredom) with activity is, therefore, an obstacle to beatitude.
  • This definition of acedia is rooted in John Cassian’s (360-433) presentation of acedia as a lack of impetus to work.
  • We feel a constant need to change, to move, an inability to accomplish any task, rooted in a self-sufficiency that presents itself as a false humility in not striving for greatness.
  • “I have discovered that all human misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to remain quietly in one room” (Blaise Pascal).

The Importance of Acedia

Acedia is both the most forgotten topic of modern morality nd perhaps the root cause of the greatest crisis in the Church today. Acedia is not only “the monastic sin par excellence” but also “the major obstacle to enthusiastic Christian witness”

Remedies for Acedia

#1: Joyful perseverance

  • “The strategy to be deployed against the devil of acedia can be summarized in the phrase: joyful perseverance” (
  • We must resist, stand fast, remain faithful to our routine and rule of life, and persevere in God’s sight.
  • “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Ps 51:12). This is the prayer that must dwell in our hearts on days of acedia. It sums up perfectly our spiritual attitude when confronted by temptation. We are radically saved, restored to life with Christ: our sadness has definitively been changed into joy (Jn 16:20). This gaudium resulting from the Resurrection of Christ is something that we must show; we must witness to it. We are called to a marvellous work: to help others – to the merger extent that we can, in other words, by our excellent actions – to walk toward our perfect fulfillment in Christ. Now this requires magnanimity, greatness of soul” ).

#2: Be faithful in the little things

  • We must live the present moment in all its spiritual intensity, knowing that it is an opportunity to encounter the Lord.
  • We must be faithful in the very little things (Lk 16:10; 19:17; Mt 25:21), especially in ora et labora, that is, prayer and work.

#3: Use the Word of God

  • Use a verse from Scripture to confound the devil. We must “raise our eyes toward heaven, toward Him who waits to see us fight” (136): “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me” (Ps 69).
  • St. Benedict (480-547) situated acedia within the context of lectio divina, prescribing praying with the Word of God as the true antidote against acedia: “When evil thoughts come into one’s heart, to dash them against Christ immediately” (St. Benedict).

#4: Meditate on death

  • This gives meaning to passing time and helps you fight against self-love:  “keep death daily before one’s eyes” (St. Benedict).
  • “Make me know the shortness of my life, that I may gain wisdom of heart” (Ps 90).
  • “Someone asked an old man: “What do you do to avoid falling into acedia?” He replied: “Every day I wait for death.”
  • ————————————————————-
  • Note: Mutiny of the Soul
  • Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are an essential part of a process of metamorphosis that is unfolding on the planet today, and highly significant for the light they shed on the transition from an old world to a new.
  • When a growing fatigue or depression becomes serious, and we get a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or hypothyroid or low serotonin, we typically feel relief and alarm. Alarm: something is wrong with me. Relief: at least I know I’m not imagining things; now that I have a diagnosis, I can be cured, and life can go back to normal. But of course, a cure for these conditions is elusive.
  • The notion of a cure starts with the question, “What has gone wrong?” But there is another, radically different way of seeing fatigue and depression that starts by asking, “What is the body, in its perfect wisdom, responding to?” When would it be the wisest choice for someone to be unable to summon the energy to fully participate in life?
  • The answer is staring us in the face. When our soul-body is saying No to life, through fatigue or depression, the first thing to ask is, “Is life as I am living it the right life for me right now?” When the soul-body is saying No to participation in the world, the first thing to ask is, “Does the world as it is presented me merit my full participation?” Read More Here

The “Dulle Griet” as “whore of Babylon” ,  in the land of Ignorance by Brueghel

Dulle griet is the representation of the  Whore of Babylon living in a land of Ignorance.

The Whore of Babylon in the The Apocalypse Tapestry of Angers

The Whore of Babylon or Babylon the Great is a symbolic female figure and also place of evil mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Her full title is stated in Revelation 17 (verse 5) as Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth.

The word “Whore” can also be translated metaphorically as “Idolatress“.[1] The Whore’s apocalyptic downfall is prophesied to take place in the hands of the image of the beast with seven heads and ten horns. There is much speculation within Christian eschatology on what the Whore and beast symbolize as well as the possible implications for contemporary interpretation.

Look also: Bruegel: the Apocalypse Within

Dulle Griet is the model of modern man’s  Rebellion  against his soul and  Anger against it. How can Dulle Griet find  a way to calm her anger?

She can looks in  the mirror and see herself,making more “selfies”, so  seeing more anger as the portait of vanity of Hans Memling shows us:. The lady see only more vanity .

The message of Memling is in his Triptych of Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation  focuses on the idea of “Memento mori,” a Latin phrase that translates to “Remember your mortality.” Memling’s triptych shockingly contrasts the beauty, luxury and vanity of the mortal earth with images of death and hell. In the time of Breughel and in our times  the message is  that  Vanity is not the solution. see: Nothing Good without Pain: Hans Memling”s earthly Vanity and  Divine Salation

All Is Vanity by Charles Allan Gilbert (September 3, 1873 – April 20, 1929)

The phrase “All is vanity” comes from Ecclesiastes 1:2 (Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

Don’t change the world in hopes of changing yourself,

change yourself so the world changes because of you.

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  • Praise of folly

“The supreme madness is to see life as it is and not as it should be, things are only what we want to believe they are ...”

Jacques Brel

Read more here

  • Allegory of the cave

The Allegory of the Cave, or Plato’s Cave, is an allegory presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work Republic (514a–520a) to compare “the effect of education (παιδεία) and the lack of it on our nature“. It is written as a dialogue between Plato’s brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates, narrated by the latter. The allegory is presented after the analogy of the sun (508b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line (509d–511e).

In the allegory “The Cave,” Plato describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality, but are not accurate representations of the real world. The shadows represent the fragment of reality that we can normally perceive through our senses, while the objects under the sun represent the true forms of objects that we can only perceive through reason. Three higher levels exist: the natural sciences; mathematics, geometry, and deductive logic; and the theory of forms.

Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are actually not the direct source of the images seen. A philosopher aims to understand and perceive the higher levels of reality. However, the other inmates of the cave do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life.[1]

Socrates remarks that this allegory can be paired with previous writings, namely the analogy of the sun and the analogy of the divided line.

– The principle of verticality

The principle of verticality, which is a fundamental principle of traditional wisdom, is based on the affirmation of transcendence as an aspect of a comprehensive and integrated reality that is Absolute.

According to this understanding, reality has both a transcendent Origin and an immanent Center, which are one, rather than being reduced to the merely horizontal dimension of its existential or quantitative elements.

Verticality implies both Heaven and Earth, a worldview in which meaning and purpose are defined principally by both height and depth,and secondarily by breadth – that is, principally by man’s relationship to God, who is simultaneously ‘above’ and ‘within’ creation, and who there-fore governs all creaturely relationships – rather than by breadth alone –that is, solely in terms of the relationship between the subject and the world.

It also implies that the horizontal is subordinate to the vertical,that is to say, the relationship between man and the world is premised on the primary relationship between God and man: to restate this in Christian terms, the love of one’s neighbor is premised on one’s love for God. According to the traditional worldview, existence is transcended by a supreme reality, which, whether expressed in theistic or non-theisticterms, is Absolute, and which, without derogating from its unity, is si-multaneously (at the level of the primary hypostasis) expressed by the horizontal ternary, Truth or the Solely Subsistent Reality, Goodness or the Perfection and Font of all Qualities, and Beauty or Abiding Serenity and the Source of its Radiant Effulgence: in Platonic terms, the True, the Good and the Beautiful.

All creation is prefigured in this supreme reality,which projects existence out of its own Substance into a world of form (hence etymologically, ex-stare, to stand out of, or to subsist from, as the formal world of existence stands out of, and subsists from, the Divine Substance) through a vertical ternary comprising, first, the Essential or Principial Absolute (which is Beyond-Being), second, the Relative-Absolute Source of Archetypes (which is the primary hypostasis of Being), and third, the realm of Manifestation (which is Existence).

The world itself,and its creatures, including man, as such, are therefore of derivative significance and are accidental in relation to the supreme reality, which alone is substantial. The world is transient, ephemeral and illusory.

The Divine Substance alone is permanent and real. This view of the transcendent, supreme and substantial reality of the Absolute (which, according to the principle of verticality, is described in terms of its elevation orperfection in relation to creation) finds its expression in all religious traditions.

The Sufi Master Sheikh Nazim al Haqqani al Rabbani says: We change Reality by changing our Perception of it.There is much to be learn about Eternity by living in Time and There is much to be learn about Time by living in Eternity

So it is time to look at eternity:

What is time and pre-eternity?

We change Reality By changing our perception of it

There is much to be learn about Eternity by living in Time

There is much to be learn about time by living in Eternerty

What is our Destiny:

Tthe sacred Tradition as Sufism an Islam  explains the most important cause for misunderstanding the issue of qadar (destiny) is confusion about the concepts of “time” and “pre-eternity” and misinterpreting them.

People live in time and place and so they evaluate every event according to time and they make a mistake by assuming “pre-eternity” as the beginning of “time”.  Misunderstanding qadar is the result of this wrong comparison.

Time is an abstract concept. It starts with the creation of the universe and many events happen in it. Time is divided into three parts: Past, present and future. This division is for creatures. Namely, the concepts such as century, year, month, day, yesterday, today, tomorrow are in question for creatures.

Pre-eternity does not mean before the beginning of the time. In pre-eternity, there is no past, present and future. Pre-eternity is a station where all times are seen and known at the same moment. Now, we will try to understand God’s attribute of pre-eternity through some examples from Sufism and Islam:

Suppose that this picture is our timeline. The middle is the present, that is, now; the left side is the past and the right side is the future. Now, we are holding a mirror on the time scheme. The mirror is close to the floor; so, only the present time is reflected on the mirror. The past and the future are not included. Now, we will lift the mirror a bit and in this position, the present time and a part of the past and the future are reflected on the mirror. When we lift the mirror a little more, the remaining part of the past and the future that are not seen in the previous position are also reflected on the mirror. That is, as we lift the mirror, the time period which appears on the mirror expands. Now, we will lift the mirror to the highest point.

At this point, the mirror encompasses the present, past and future as a whole. This point is called the point of pre-eternity, which sees all of the three times as a whole at the same moment. When we say, “Allah is pre-eternal”, we mean that Allah sees and knows all times and places at the same moment and that He is timeless.

The Metaphysics of Trauma

Trauma, which has become a hallmark of everyday life in the modern world, forms part of the broader mental health crisis that afflicts society today. It also, arguably, reflects a lost sense of the sacred. Throughout humanity’s diverse cultures, suffering is understood to be intrinsic to the larger fabric of life in this world; trauma, therefore, is a direct consequence of not being able to properly integrate suffering into one’s life. However, this is not to simply equate suffering with trauma, or trauma with illness. The prevalence of acute traumatic suffering has always been a major cause of disbelief in religion. Yet the increased weakening of faith in the modern world has provoked a particularly severe spiritual crisis, which could be dubbed the “trauma of secularism.” Through recourse to traditional metaphysics, we can begin to understand the transpersonal dimension of this phenomenon and thus accurately assess, diagnose and provide adequate treatment. It will be argued that healing and wholeness cannot take place outside the purview of a “sacred science,” the spiritual dimension of which transcends the limitations of mainstream psychology and its profusion of profane therapies. Read here

  • The Symbolism of the Cross

The Symbolism of the Cross is a major doctrinal study of the central symbol of Christianity from the standpoint of the universal metaphysical tradition, the ‘perennial philosophy’ as it is called in the West. As Guénon points out, the cross is one of the most universal of all symbols and is far from belonging to Christianity alone. Indeed, Christians have sometimes tended to lose sight of its symbolical significance and to regard it as no more than the sign of a historical event. By restoring to the cross its full spiritual value as a symbol, but without in any way detracting from its historical importance for Christianity, Guénon has performed a task of inestimable importance which perhaps only he, with his unrivalled knowledge of the symbolic languages of both East and West, was qualified to perform. Although The Symbolism of the Cross is one of Guénon’s core texts on traditional metaphysics, written in precise, nearly ‘geometrical’ language, vivid symbols are necessarily pressed into service as reference points-how else could the mind ascend the ladder of analogy to pure intellection? Guénon applies these doctrines more concretely elsewhere in critiquing modernity in such works as The Crisis of the Modern World and The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, and invokes them also to help explain the nature of initiation and of initiatic organizations in such works as Perspectives on Initiation and Initiation and Spiritual Realization. Read here

The Multiple States of the Being

The Multiple States of the Being is the companion to, and the completion of, The Symbolism of the Cross, which, together with Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta, constitute René Guénon’s great trilogy of pure metaphysics. In this work, Guénon offers a masterful explication of the metaphysical order and its multiple manifestations-of the divine hierarchies and what has been called the Great Chain of Being-and in so doing demonstrates how jñana, intellective or intrinsic knowledge of what is, and of That which is Beyond what is, is a Way of Liberation. Guénon the metaphysical social critic, master of arcane symbolism, comparative religionist, researcher of ancient mysteries and secret histories, summoner to spiritual renewal, herald of the end days, disappears here. Reality remains. look here

The secularity of the society in which we live must share considerable blame in the erosion of spiritual powers of all traditions, since our society has become a parody of social interaction lacking even an aspect of civility. Believing in nothing, we have preempted the role of the higher spiritual forces by acknowledging no greater good than what we can feel and touch.” Vine Deloria Jr

The perspective of modernity where Western Man as the egolatrous being is placed at the top of existence for all others to look towards for recognition.

The pyramidal construction of Man from an Islamic perspective shifts our understanding of the seriousness of placing the egolatrous Man above God in constructing reality, while simultaneously allowing us to imagine what would be necessary in creating a transmodern critique in constructing the Human.

Read here:

THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF HUMAN PERFECTION

Rumi: A Disclosure of Wisdom  for our Time

Sufism is the way of purifying the heart from bad manners and characteristics under the guidance of a Sheikh.

Thomas a Kempis: A Beautiful Model for Moral imitation for our Time

What does a fifteenth-century devotional book have to do with modern education?

Thomas à Kempis, or van Kempen, was a German-Dutch priest of the early fifteenth century. He was associated with the Brethren of the Common Life, an informal religious movement that fostered the devotio moderna, a form of popular piety that concentrated on humility and charity as cornerstones of the Christian life, in contrast to the doctrinal focus of Scholasticism. The proponents of devotio moderna did not consider learning a bad thing by any stretch—they influenced such luminaries as Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, and St. Ignatius de Loyola—but their focus was on simple piety as the animating force of all activities, including study.

À Kempis himself was a prolific copyist and author. He made at least four complete copies of the Bible, one of which has been preserved to this day in the German city of Darmstadt, as well as writing several collections of sermons and biographies of devotio moderna founders. But his most famous work, whose original manuscript now resides in the Bibliothèque Royale in Brussels, is the Imitation of Christ. Arguably the single most influential religious work in Europe after the Bible, the Imitation has won an audience not only among Christian minds (crossing the Catholic-Protestant divide), but even in other faiths: Swami Vivekananda, a nineteenth-century Hindu ascetic and lecturer, constantly carried both the Bhagavad Gītā and the Imitation of Christ with him, and produced a translation of his own in 1899.

The work is intensely single-minded. All pretensions of the ego are given short shrift: from wealth to scholarship to good repute, everything is subordinated to Christ. À Kempis is a mystic, but he is anything but airy and abstract; one gets the impression that the simple daily affairs of the Brethren of the Common Life wore through any head-in-the-clouds tendencies. He often drily throws out caustic prompts to humility like “Learn to be patient with the defects of others, whatever they may be, because you also have plenty of flaws that others have to put up with.” Yet the work is written with such sweetness that the effect of these remarks is tonic rather than gloomy, and the reader comes away with an appetite for more.

To this day, the influence of the Imitation can be felt across the world.

Given the our stated goal of reuniting knowledge and virtue, it is interesting to reflect on what St. Thomas à Kempis would think of our world today. A shallow reading of his work might prompt people to think he would reject our interest in learning; yet he once remarked himself, “In omnibus requiem quaesivi, sed non inveni, nisi in angulo cum libro“—that is, “I have looked everywhere for peace, but never found it, except in a corner with a book.”

  • Thomas a Kempis:

He was a member of the Modern Devotion, a spiritual movement during the late medieval period, and a follower of Geert Groote and Florens Radewyns, the founders of the Brethren of the Common Life.

Thomas was born in Kempen in the Rhineland. His surname at birth was Hemerken (or Hammerlein), meaning the family’s profession, “little hammer,” Latinized into “Malleolus.”] His father, Johann, was a blacksmith and his mother, Gertrud, was a schoolmistress.] Although almost universally known in English as Thomas à Kempis, the “a” represents the Latin “from” and is erroneously accented. In his writings he signed himself “Thomas Kempensis” or “Thomas Kempis”

In 1392, Thomas followed his brother, Johann, to Deventer in the Netherlands in order to attend the noted Latin school there. While attending this school, Thomas encountered the Brethren of the Common Life, followers of Gerard Groote’s Modern Devotion. He attended school in Deventer from 1392 to 1399.

After leaving school, Thomas went to the nearby city of Zwolle to visit his brother again, after Johann had become the prior of the Monastery of Mount St. Agnes there. This community was one of the Canons Regular of the Congregation of Windesheim, founded by disciples of Groote in order to provide a way of life more in keeping with the norms of monastic life of the period. Thomas himself entered Mount St. Agnes in 1406. He was not ordained a priest, however, until almost a decade later. He became a prolific copyist and writer. Thomas received Holy Orders in 1413 and was made sub-prior of the monastery in 1429.

His first tenure of office as subprior was interrupted by the exile of the community from Agnetenberg (1429). A dispute had arisen in connection with an appointment to the vacant See of Utrecht. Pope Martin V rejected the nomination of Bishop-elect Rudolf van Diepholt, and imposed an interdict. The Canons remained in exile in observance of the interdict until the question was settled (1432). During this time, Thomas was sent to Arnhem to care for his ailing brother. He remained there until his brother died in November, 1432.

Otherwise, Thomas spent his time between devotional exercises in writing and in copying manuscripts. He copied the Bible no fewer than four times,[8] one of the copies being preserved at Darmstadt, Germany, in five volumes. In its teachings he was widely read and his works abound with biblical quotations, especially from the New Testament.

As subprior he was charged with instructing novices, and in that capacity wrote four booklets between 1418 and 1427, later collected and named after the title of the first chapter of the first booklet: The Imitation of Christ. Thomas More said it was one of the three books everybody ought to own.] Thirteen translations of the Imitatio Christi and three paraphrases in English seem to have been published between 1500 and 1700.] Thomas died near Zwolle in 1471. There is a legend that he was denied canonization some 200 years after his death by the Catholic Church due to the presence of scratch marks on the interior of his coffin lid, which supposedly disqualifies him from sainthood as it would mean he did not peacefully embrace death. However, there is scant evidence to support that he was buried alive or the idea that the Church would have denied him sainthood if they did discover he died in this manner.

Kempis’s 1441 autograph manuscript of The Imitation of Christ is available in the Bibliothèque Royale in Brussels (shelfmark: MS 5455-61).

He also wrote the biographies of New Devotion members—Gerard Groote, Floris Radewijns, Jan van de Gronde, and Jan Brinckerinck. His important works include a series of sermons to the novices of St. Augustine Monastery, including Prayers and Meditations on the Life of Christ, Meditations on the Incarnation of Christ, Of True Compunction of Heart, Soliloquy of the Soul, Garden of Roses, Valley of Lilies, and a Life[14] of St. Lidwina of Schiedam.

Quotations

The following quotes are attributed to him:

“Without the Way, there is no going, Without the Truth, there is no knowing, Without the Life, there is no living.”

“If thou wilt receive profit, read with humility, simplicity, and faith, and seek not at any time the fame of being learned.”

“At the Day of Judgement we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done.” — The Imitation of Christ, Book I, ch. 3

“For man proposes, but God disposes” — The Imitation of Christ, Book I, ch. 19

“If, however, you seek Jesus in all things, you will surely find Him. ” — The Imitation of Christ, Book II, ch. 7

  • Contents Imitatio Christi:

The Imitation of Christ is divided into four books which provide detailed spiritual instructions.

Book One

Book One of the Imitation is titled “Helpful Counsels of the Spiritual Life”. The Imitation derives its title from the first chapter of Book I, “The Imitation of Christ and contempt for the vanities of the world” (Latin: “De Imitatione Christi et contemptu omnium vanitatum mundi”). The Imitation is sometimes referred to as Following of the Christ, which comes from the opening words of the first chapter—”Whoever follows Me will not walk into darkness.” Book One deals with the withdrawal of the outward life—so far as positive duty allows and emphasizes an interior life by renouncing all that is vain and illusory, resisting temptations and distractions of life, giving up the pride of learning and to be humble, forsaking the disputations of theologians and patiently enduring the world’s contempt and contradiction.

Kempis stresses the importance of solitude and silence, “how undisturbed a conscience we would have if we never went searching after ephemeral joys nor concerned ourselves with affairs of the world…” Kempis writes that the “World and all its allurements pass away” and following sensual desires leads to a “dissipated conscience” and a “distracted heart” (Chap. 20). Kempis writes that one should meditate on death and “live as becomes a pilgrim and a stranger on earth…for this earth of ours is no lasting city” (Chap. 23).On the Day of Judgement, Kempis writes that a good and pure conscience will give more joy than all the philosophy one has ever learned, fervent prayer will bring more happiness than a “multi-course banquet”, the silence will be more “exhilarating” than long tales, holy deeds will be of greater value than nice-sounding words (Chap. 24).

Kempis writes one must remain faithful and fervent to God, and keep good hope of attaining victory and salvation, but avoid overconfidence. Kempis gives the example of an anxious man who, oscillating between fear and hope and with grief went to the altar and said: “Oh, if only I knew that I shall persevere to the end.” Immediately he heard the divine answer, “What if you knew this? What would you do? Do now what you would do then, and you will be very safe.” After this the man gave himself to God’s will, and his anxiety and fear of future disappeared (Chap. 25).

Book Two

Book Two of the Imitation is “Directives for the Interior Life”. The book continues the theme of Book One, and contains instructions concerning “inward peace, purity of heart, a good conscience—for moderating our longings and desires, for patience, for submission to the will of God, for the love of Jesus, for enduring the loss of comfort, and for taking up the Cross.”[34] Kempis writes that if we have a clear conscience God will defend us, and whomever God chooses to help no man’s malice can harm.] Kempis writes that when a man humbles himself, “God protects and defends him…God favors the humble man… and after he has been brought low raises him up to glory” (Chap. 2).Kempis stresses the importance of a good conscience—”The man whose conscience is pure easily finds peace and contentment … Men only see your face, but it is God who sees your heart. Men judge according to external deeds, but only God can weigh the motives behind them” (Chap. 6). Kempis writes we must place our faith in Jesus rather than in men and “…Do not trust nor lean on a reed that is shaken …All flesh is grass, and all its glory shall fade like the flower in the field” (Chap. 7).Kempis writes that false sense of freedom and overconfidence are obstacles for spiritual life. Kempis writes that “Grace will always be given to the truly grateful, and what is given to the humble is taken away from the proud” (Chap. 10).

Kempis writes that we must not attribute any good to ourselves but attribute everything to God. Kempis asks us to be grateful for “every little gift” and we will be worthy to receive greater ones, to consider the least gift as great and the most common as something special. Kempis writes that if we consider the dignity of the giver, no gift will seem unimportant or small (Chap. 10). In the last chapter, “The Royal Road of the Cross”, Kempis writes that if we carry the cross willingly, it will lead us to our desired goal, but on the other hand if we carry our cross grudgingly, then we turn it into a heavy burden and if we should throw off one cross, we will surely find another, which is perhaps heavier. Kempis writes that by ourselves we cannot bear the cross, but if we put our trust in the Lord, He will send us strength from heaven (Chap. 12).

Book Three

Book Three, entitled “On Interior Consolation”, is the longest among the four books. This book is in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and the disciple.

Jesus says that very few turn to God and spirituality, since they are more eager to listen to the world and desires of their flesh than to God. Jesus says that the world promises things that are passing and of little value, which are served with great enthusiasm; while He promises things that are most excellent and eternal and men’s hearts remain indifferent (Chap. 3). Jesus says that the “man who trusts in Me I never send away empty. When I make a promise I keep it, and I fulfill whatever I have pledged—if only you remain faithful…unto the end” (Chap. 3).

Jesus says that spiritual progress and perfection consists in offering oneself to the divine will and not seeking oneself in “anything either small or great, in time or in eternity” (Chap. 25). Jesus says not be anxious about future—”Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus advises the disciple that all is not lost when the result is not as planned, when one thinks he is farthest from Jesus, it is then that Jesus is nearest, when one thinks that all is lost, it is then that victory is close at hand. Jesus says not to react to a difficulty as if there were no hope of being freed from it (Chap. 30).

Joseph Tylenda summarizes the central theme of the third book with the teaching in Chapter 56, “My son, to the degree that you can leave yourself behind, to that degree will you be able to enter into Me. Just as desiring nothing outside you produces internal peace within you, so the internal renunciation of yourself unites you to God.” Jesus gives his important teaching, “Follow Me…I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the Way, there is no going; without the Truth, there is no knowing; without Life, there is no living. I am the Way you are to follow; I am the Truth you are to believe; I am the Life you are to hope for” (Chap. 56).

Book Four

Book Four of the Imitation, “On the Blessed Sacrament”, is also in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and the disciple.[33] Kempis writes that in this Sacrament spiritual grace is conferred, the soul’s strength is replenished, and the recipient’s mind is fortified and strength is given to the body debilitated by sin (Chap. 1).[55]

Jesus says that the sooner one resigns wholeheartedly to God, and no longer seeks anything according to one’s own will or pleasure, but totally places all in God’s hands, the sooner will one be united with God and be at peace.[56] Jesus continues, “Nothing will make you happier or please you as much as being obedient to the divine will” (Chap. 15).[56] Jesus also delivers his “changeless teaching” — “Unless you renounce all that you have, you cannot be my disciple” (Chap. 8).[57]

To receive the Sacrament, Jesus says “make clean the mansions of your heart. Shut out the whole world and all its sinful din and sit as a solitary sparrow on a housetop and, in the bitterness of your soul, meditate on your transgressions” (Chap. 12). Jesus says that there is no offering more worthy, no satisfaction greater, for the washing away of sins than to offer oneself purely and completely to God at the time the Body of Christ is offered in the Mass and in Communion (Chap. 7).

“What would Jesus do?”

That’s the primary question Thomas à Kempis answers in his universally acclaimed work, The Imitation of Christ. In 114 short chapters organized into four simple parts, this handbook on the spiritual life offers guidance on dozens of topics such as resisting temptation, avoiding hasty judgments, putting up with others’ faults, remembering God’s many blessings, self-surrender, minding our own business, and performing humble works.

Read here The Imitation of Christ

  • Tte “Soliloquy of the Soul

Although the world wide popularity of the “Imitation of Christ” has somewhat thrown into the shade the other works of Thomas à Kempis, no apology is needed for the publication of a revised edition of the “Soliloquy of the Soul.” Its authorship has never been disputed, and internal evidence—perhaps the best amid the interminable disputes on the subject—unhesitatingly decides that the “Soliloquy” and the “Imitation” are by one and the same hand. They are, as Dean Milman observed, more than kindred in thought and language. The same spirit of exalted piety and of fervent devotion, making use of the sublime imagery of the inspired writers of the Old Testament, is conspicuous in both works. Read Here

The Improvement of Human Reason: “Alive son of Awake”

Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān (ي بن يقظان, lit. ‘Alive son of Awake’) is an Arabic philosophical novel and an allegorical tale written by Ibn Tufail (c. 1105 – 1185) in the early 12th century in Al-Andalus.] Names by which the book is also known include the Latin: Philosophus Autodidactus (‘The Self-Taught Philosopher’); and English: The Improvement of Human Reason: Exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdhan. Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān was named after an earlier Arabic philosophical romance of the same name, written by Avicenna during his imprisonment in the early 11th century, even though both tales had different stories. The novel greatly inspired Islamic philosophy as well as major Enlightenment thinkers. It’s the most translated text from Arabic, after the Quran and the One Thousand and One Nights.

It was “discovered” in the West after Edward Pococke of Oxford, while visiting a market in Damascus, found a manuscript of Hayy ibn Yaqdhan made in Alexandria in 1303 containing commentary in Hebrew. His son, Edward Pococke Jr. published a Latin translation in 1671, subtitled “The Self-Taught Philosopher.”George Keith the Quaker translated it into English in 1674, Baruch Spinoza called for a Dutch translation, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz championed the book in German circles, and a copy of the book went to the Sorbonne Daniel Defoe (c. 1660 – 1731), author of Robinson Crusoe, was heavily influenced by the work as well as by the memoir of the Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk. In the Muslim world, the book is an honored Sufi text.

The story revolves around Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, a little boy who grew up on an island in the Indies under the equator, isolated from the people, in the bosom of an antelope that raised him, feeding him with her milk. Ḥayy has just learned to walk and imitates the sounds of antelopes, birds, and other animals in his surroundings. He learns their languages, and he learns to follow the actions of animals by imitating their instinct.

He makes his own shoes and clothes from the skins of animals, and studies the stars. He reaches a higher level of knowledge, of the finest of astrologists. His continuous explorations and observation of creatures and the environment lead him to gain great knowledge in natural science, philosophy, and religion. He concludes that, at the basis of the creation of the universe, a great creator must exist. Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān lived a humble modest life as Sufi and forbade himself from eating meat.

Once 30 years old, he meets his first human, who has landed on his isolated Island. By the age of 49, he is ready to teach other people about the knowledge he gained throughout his life.

Hayy ibn Yaqdhan is an allegorical novel in which Ibn Tufail expresses philosophical and mystical teachings in a symbolic language in order to provide better understanding of such concepts. This novel is thus the most important work of Ibn Tufail, containing the main ideas that form his system.

Ibn Tufail was familiar with the differences in the ideas of Al-Ghazali and those of the “Neoplatonizing AristotelianistsAl-Farabi and Ibn Sina. In Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, Ibn Tufail sought to present “a conciliating synthesis of the Islamic speculative tradition with al-Ghazālī’s Sufi-influenced recasting of Islamic mysticism and pietism.” Ibn Tufail borrows from Ibn Sina, using the title of one of his allegories and drawing inspiration from his Floating Man thought experiment, but transforming the subject’s sensory deprivation to social isolation.

With this novel, Tufail focuses on finding solutions to the three main problems discussed during his period:

  1. Humans, on their own, are able to reach the level of al-Insān al-Kāmil by merely observing and thinking of the nature, without any education.
  2. The information that is obtained through observation, experiment, and reasoning, does not contradict with revelation. In other words, religion and philosophy (or science) are compatible, rather than contradictory.
  3. Reaching the absolute information is individual and simply any human being is able to achieve that.

Read here: Hayy ibn Yaqdhan