The Transcendent Unity of Religions

Conscious knowledge is then differentiated from unconscious knowledge by the fact that the former is garnered through the faulty senses and ever-changing perceptions of the body, whereas the former is actually rooted in perennial mystical and spiritual methods and sources. Freud was known to have been rooted in the Jewish mystical tradition, although Freud had disavowed himself of organized or formal religion. But mysticism is neither Jewish nor Islamic. It can also be Christian, Greek, Hindu, and Asian. As a result, there is a “transcendent” or underlying unity between all the world’s major religions which is overlooked by the “exoteric” differences or formal and surface differences, and this unity is fostered largely by unconscious knowledge. Both the Jewish Kabbalah, for instance, and the Islamic Quran have content or “signs” which direct the seeker towards such knowledge and in turn unveil and open the path to unconscious knowledge for those who seek it. 

Freud’s levels of consciousness or unconsciousness, for instance, relate in large part to the mystical concept of reality and how reality has degrees and gradations. As Frithjof Schuon wrote: “Reality affirms itself by degrees, but without ceasing to be ‘one,’ the inferior degrees of this affirmation being absorbed, by metaphysical integration or synthesis, into the superior degrees.” Moreover, the mystical and spiritual path has both an ‘exoteric’ dimension and an ‘esoteric’ dimension. Whereas the ‘exoteric’ dimension of this path divides people based on religious affiliation of a formal and organized nature, it is the ’esoteric’ aspect of this path which underlies all intellectual, philosophical, and religious traditions. As Schuon argued:

“Exoterism cannot…admit either this unreality of the world or the exclusive reality of the Divine Principle, or above all, the transcendence of Non-Being relative to Being or God. In other words, the exoteric point of view cannot comprehend the transcendence of the supreme Divine Impersonality of which God is the personal affirmation; such truths are of too high an order, and therefore too subtle and too complex from the point of view of simple rational understanding, to be accessible to the majority or formulated in a dogmatic manner.”

Morality, intellectualism, and spirituality all converge towards a single aim or goal on the esoteric path which transcends the exoteric differences of the various world religions, and that aim or goal is “the reintegration of man in the Divinity, of the contingent in the Absolute, of the finite in the Infinite.” Only a few or a handful of individuals are selected for the esoteric path at any given point and time in history, and in the various religious traditions these individuals are known as “The Elect.”

Intellectual prowess, prolific literary production, and spiritual power are some of the characteristics and hallmarks of these individuals. In sum, behind the “unreality of the world” is the reality of the soul. As Carl Jung wrote: 

“Like a tired wanderer who had sought nothing in the world apart from her, shall I come closer to my soul. I shall learn that my soul finally lies behind everything, and if I cross the world, I am ultimately doing this to find my soul. Even the dearest are themselves not the goal and end of the love that goes on seeking, they are symbols of their own souls.” 

In a sense, to give oneself or to give one’s soul to a symbolic love is to give oneself or to give one’s soul to an even higher love which requires a journey or path in order to attain and comprehend. Thus, it is love which is the underlying principle that fosters the transcendent unity of the various religions. 

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