Metaphysics. Cosmology. Tradition. Symbolism studies in comparative religion

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1   Editor’s Note: First published in La Gnose, No. 4, April, 1911. The Introduction and English translation are by Farid Nur ad-Din.

2   Erik Hellerström, Släkt och Hävd, edited by Genealogiska Föreningen (Stockholm: Alfa Boktryckeri, 1964), no. 1, p. 18.

3   Axel Gauffin, Ivan Aguéli: Människan, Mystikern, Målaren (Stockholm: Sveriges Allmänna Konstförening, 1940-1941), vol. 1, p. 61.

4   Ibid., vol. 1, p. 73.

5   Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 75-76.

6   Ibid., vol. 1, p. 123.

7   Ibid., vol. 1, p. 103.

8   Ibid., vol. 2, p. 143.

9   Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 19-20.

10   Kurt Almqvist (ed.), I Tjänst hos det Enda: ur René Guénons Verk (Stockholm: Natur och Kultur, 1977), p. 18.

11   Gauffin, Ivan Aguéli, vol. 2, p. 94.

12   Almqvist, I Tjänst hos det Enda, pp. 18-19.

13   Paul Chacornac, The Simple Life of René Guénon (Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2004), p. 34.

14   Gauffin, Ivan Aguéli, vol. 2, p. 189.

15   Viveca Wessel, Ivan Aguéli: Porträtt av en Rymd (Stockholm: Författarförlaget, 1988), p. 80. In The Simple Life of René Guénon, p. 35, Paul Chacornac mistakenly states that the year 1429 AH, given by Guénon in his Introduction toThe Symbolism of the Cross, corresponds to the 1912 AD; whereas, as Wessel points out, 1429 AH corresponds to 1911 AD. This was also noted G. Rocca in his Foreword to Écrits pour La Gnose, (Milan: Arché, 1988), p. xix, n. 13.

16   Almqvist, I Tjänst hos det Enda, p. 18, n. 1.

17   Gauffin, Ivan Aguéli, vol. 2, p. 250.

18   Ibid., vol. 2, p. 255.

19   Ibid., vol, 2, p. 287.

20   Ibid., vol. 2, p. 288.

21   Translator’s Note: Abdul Hadi is referring to his previously published article “Pages Dedicated to the Sun”.

22   See the Yi-King, as interpreted by Philastre (vol. 1, p.138; the 6th Koua; Song § 150): “The word destiny signifies the very reason for being of things; to neglect the precise reason for being of things constitutes what one calls ‘contravening ones destiny’; also submission to destiny is considered a return. To contravene is not to conform with submission.” (The traditional commentary of the Tsheng) “Destiny or the celestial mandate, is the true and accurate reason for being of each thing.” (The commentary entitled “Primitive sense.”)

I further add that in Chinese, Muslims are called “Hweï-Hweï”, those who return, obeyingly, to their destiny. Muslim tradition states that Allah calls unto Him all things in order that they may come, willingly or unwillingly. Nothing can ignore this call. This is why all things in general are considered to be Muslim. Those beings who go unto Him willingly are called Muslims in the true sense of the word. Those who do not go unto Him—that is to say those who do not follow their destiny but are forced, despite themselves—are the infidels.

23   See La Gnose, 2nd year, No. 2, p.65. [Translator’s Note: Abdul Hadi is referring to his article “Pages Dedicated to the Sun.”]

24   According to Warrain, La Synthèse concrètet, p. 169.

25   Translator’s Note: Abdul Hadi is most likely referring to the Akbariyah Tariqah, which he may have encountered on his journey into South India in 1899. See G. Rocca’s Foreword to Écrits pour La Gnose, p. xxiii.

26   Editor’s Note: Tartarin is a character from the 1872 novel of the same name by Alphonse Daudet. It tells the burlesque adventures of Tartarin, a local hero of the town of Tarascon in southern France, whose imaginary heroism and bravery as a hunter lead him to travel to Algiers in search of lions. The word tartarinade has been forged in French to refer to burlesque boastfulness. The attribution of “satanism” to the Jesuit is no doubt to be taken as a “shocking” hyperbole, in conformity with aspects of the malāmatiyyah spirit extolled by Aguéli. It may allude to the increased worldliness of too many representatives of the Society of Jesus in Western history, i.e. a “satanic” inversion of Jesuit ideals.

27   Translator’s Note: Abdul Hadi was a keen reader of the bawdy French Renaissance writer François Rabelais, and at one point attempted to translate his works into Arabic. See Gauffin, Ivan Aguéli, vol. 2, p.119. [Editor’s Note: Aguéli’s expression “Saint Rabelais” can be taken as a profound allusion in the form of a joke.]

28   Translator’s Note: This sentence was quoted by Frithjof Schuon in his Sufism: Veil and Quintessence(Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2006), p. 88, n. 26. [Editor’s Note: It bears adding that Schuon’s quoting of Abdul Hadi does not amount to an endorsement of Abdul Hadi’s entire perspective or all of the ideas presented by the Swedish Sufi. Abdul Hadi’s references to Buddhists in a latter part of this article is, among other examples, a clear indication of this, when compared with Schuon’s profound recognition of the spiritual truths of Buddhism.]

29   Translator’s Note: This sentence is quoted on two occasions by Schuon, once in The Transcendent Unity ofReligions (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1984), p. 157, and once in Sufism: Veil and Quintessence, p. 88.

30   Translator’s Note: Abdul Hadi harbored a great dislike of Western Orientalists. He was one of the first to comment upon their misapprehension of Ibn ‘Arabī, Islam, and Sufism, stating, for example, in 1917: “Our Orientalists do not know Muhyiddin’s true place in Sufism, nor Sufism’s place in Islam” (quoted in Gauffin, Ivan Aguéli, vol. 2, p. 282).

31   Translator’s Note: These sentences were quoted by Frithjof Schuon in his Sufism: Veil and Quintessence, p. 88, n. 26.

32   Translator’s Note: Abdul Hadi’s fascination with Islam was its very universality, and its ability as a spiritual language to form bonds between different nations and peoples. Indeed the concept of a universal language was what he had been seeking from his earliest youth. In a letter from the Mazas Prison in 1894, the young seeker wrote the following line to a friend: “You, on your part seek a religion. I, a language” (Gauffin, Ivan Aguéli, vol. 1, p. 151).

33   Translator’s Note: Frithjof Schuon quotes this and parts of the paragraph above and below in his TheTranscendent Unity, pp. 157-158, n. 1.

34   Translator’s Note: René Guénon would be inspired by this last sentence in the fourth chapter of his Man and his Becoming According to the Vedanta (London: Luzac & Co, 1945), p. 39.

35   Editor’s Note: Literally “that which can be known”, the “knowable.”

36   Translator’s Note: An optical system that involves both the reflecting and refracting of light, in order to reduce aberration. Life is ordered in accordance with lex talionis, according to a hadīth.

37   Editor’s Note: In typically “provocative” fashion, Aguéli clearly points to the limits of individualistic and sentimental “humility,” while alluding to the real “metaphysical” humility based on the consciousness of our “naught-iness.”

38   Translator’s Note: Although a great admirer of the arts and cultures of China and Japan, Abdul Hadi had a problematic relationship with the Buddhism he encountered on Ceylon. Having originally intended to travel to Tibet and visit a Buddhist monastery, it was during his stay in Ceylon in 1899 that he was drawn into the rivalry between the Buddhist Singhalese majority and the Muslim and Hindu minorities. As a Muslim, he was often harassed by his Buddhist neighbors, whose wild dog on numerous occasions broke into his home, defiling his sacred texts and attacking his favorite cat Mabruka (see note 45 below). Although René Guénon’s early antipathy towards Buddhism was mostly rooted in his Hindu sympathies, his initial uncompromising stance may also have been influenced by Abdul Hadi’s biases.

39   La Gnose, 2nd Year, No. 2, p.64, and No.3 p.111. [Translator’s Note: “Pages Dedicated to the Sun”.]

40   Here I am not addressing the Ibsenian concept of “living one’s life”. Those who do not dare, who do not restrain their pleasures, are all too unprepared to be addressed with an esoteric concept. Ibsen, Tolstoy, Nietzsche etc. are very respectable as individuals, I do not dispute that, but they are of no traditional value whatsoever. They are moralists with a local influence and hence they fail to gain our interest, as they are like small provincial prophets.

41   Translator’s Note: This is quoted by Ananda K.Coomaraswamy in his The Living Thoughts of Gotama the Buddha(London: Cassell, 1948), p. 36.

42   Translator’s Note: Here one can perhaps make out Abdul Hadi’s reasoning for having shot the matador.

43   Translator’s Note: Compare to Mevlana Rumi in his Divani Shamsi Tabriz: “If thou art Love’s lover and seekest Love, take a keen poniard and cut the throat of bashfulness. Know that reputation is a great hinderance in the path.” Translated by Reynold Nicholson, Selected Poems from the Divani Shamsi Tabriz (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1999), p. 3.

44   Translator’s Note: Abdul Hadi, whose original Swedish name was John Gustaf Agelii, nearly always wrote articles under pseudonym. This was not only to guard his anonymity, but also to keep his pride in check.

45   Translator’s Note: While living in Colombo in 1899, Abdul Hadi found a starving, one-eyed, toothless, and pregnant street-cat which he adopted and named Mabruka (“the blessed one”). Becoming his constant companion, he took her with him on his journeys to South India, where he readily adapted his travel plans to suit her requirements. When leaving Colombo, Abdul Hadi refused to abandon her, and instead took her with him to Paris. At almost every stage of Abdul Hadi’s life, be it in Paris or Cairo, he nearly always had a number of streetcats in his care.

46   Islamic tradition states that wild animals did not begin avoiding mankind until after Cain’s fratricide. Before this event, they sought man’s nearness in order to be comforted and protected by the great peace that emanated from him.

47   Translator’s Note: Compare to Mevlana Rumi in his Mathnawi III: 3901: “I died to the inorganic state and became endowed with growth, and (then) I died to (vegetable) growth and attained to the animal. I died from animality and became Adam (man): why, then should I fear? When I have become less by dying? At the next remove I shall die to man, that I may soar and lift up my head amongst the angels. And I must escape even from (the state of) the angel: everything is perishing except His Face.” Translated by Reynold Nicholson, The Mathnawi of Jalauddin Rumi(London: Gibb Memorial Trust, 1990), vol. 3, p. 219.

48   Translator’s Note: A term used by Abdul Hadi, not to indicate Jewish Kabbalah in particular, but rather esoterism as a whole.

49   All impersonal and anonymous crimes are, a priori, collective crimes.

50   Translator’s Note: Here Abdul Hadi is possibly inspired by one of his favorite poets, Charles Baudelaire. See Poem 51 of Les Fleurs du Mal: “Je suis la plaie et le couteau! Je suis le soufflet et la joue! Je suis les membres et la roue, et la victime et le bourreau!” (“I am the wound and the knife! I am the blow and the cheek! I am the limbs and the wheel, and the victim and the torturer!”). Translation by Carol Clark, Charles Baudelaire: Selected Poems (London: Penguin Books, 2004).

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