Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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George Gurdjieff
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/5/19



George Gurdjieff
Gurdjieff between 1925 and 1935
Born George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, 1866–1877, Alexandropol, Russian Empire (now Gyumri, Armenia)
Died: 29 October 1949 (aged 71–83), Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
School: Fourth Way (the "Gurdjieff Work")
Main interests: Psychology, perennial philosophy
Notable ideas: Fourth Way, Fourth Way enneagram, Centers, Self-remembering
Influences: Not all known; but according to his Meetings with Remarkable Men: his childhood and adult teachers and his father; his book Beelzebub's Tales also mentions Mullah Nassr Eddin;[1] Max Müller (according to modern research)[2]
Influenced: P. D. Ouspensky, Olga de Hartmann, Thomas de Hartmann, Jane Heap, John G. Bennett, Alfred Richard Orage, Jean Toomer, Maurice Nicoll, Frank Lloyd Wright, P. L. Travers, Peter Brook, René Daumal, Katherine Mansfield, Keith Jarrett, James Moore, Philip Mairet, Henry Miller, Barry Long, Arnaud Desjardins, John Anthony West

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (/ˈɡɜːrdʒiɛf/, Russian: Георгий Иванович Гурджиев; 31 March 1866/14 January 1872/28 November 1877 – 29 October 1949[3]) was a mystic, philosopher, spiritual teacher, and composer of Armenian and Greek descent, born in Alexandrapol (now Gyumri), Armenia.[4] Gurdjieff taught that most humans do not possess a unified consciousness and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic "waking sleep", but that it is possible to awaken to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. Gurdjieff described a method attempting to do so, calling the discipline "The Work"[5] (connoting "work on oneself") or "the System".[6] According to his principles and instructions,[7] Gurdjieff's method for awakening one's consciousness unites the methods of the fakir, monk and yogi, and thus he referred to it as the "Fourth Way".[8]


Early years

Gurdjieff[9] (Russian: Гео́ргий Ива́нович Гурджи́ев, Greek: Γεώργιος Γεωργιάδης, Armenian: Գեորգի Գյուրջիև) was born to a Caucasus Greek father, Ἰωάνης Γεωργιάδης (Yiannis Georgiades),[10] and an Armenian mother, Evdokia (according to biographer Paul Beekman Taylor), in Alexandropol (now Gyumri), Armenia, then part of the Russian Empire in the Transcaucasus.[11] The name Gurdjieff represents a Russified form of the Pontic Greek surname "Georgiades" (Greek: Γεωργιάδης).[9] The exact year of his birth remains unknown; conjectures range from 1866 to 1877. Some authors (such as James Moore) argue for 1866. Both Olga de Hartmann, the woman Gurdjieff called "the first friend of my inner life", and Louise Goepfert March, Gurdjieff's secretary in the early 1930s, believed that Gurdjieff was born in 1872. A passport gave a birthdate of November 28, 1877, but he once stated that he was born at the stroke of midnight at the beginning of New Year's Day (Julian calendar). Although the dates of his birth vary, the year of 1872 is inscribed in a plate on the gravemarker in the cemetery of Avon, Seine-et-Marne, France, where his body was buried.[12]

Gurdjieff spent his childhood in Kars, which, from 1878 to 1918, was the administrative capital of the Russian-ruled Transcaucasus province of Kars Oblast, a border region recently captured from the Ottoman Empire. It contained extensive grassy plateau-steppe and high mountains, and was inhabited by a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional population that had a history of respect for travelling mystics and holy men, and for religious syncretism and conversion. Both the city of Kars and the surrounding territory were home to an extremely diverse population: although part of the Armenian Plateau, Kars Oblast was home to Armenians, Russians, Caucasus Greeks, Georgians, Turks, Kurds and smaller numbers of Christian communities from eastern and central Europe such as Caucasus Germans, Estonians and Russian sectarian communities like the Molokans, Doukhobors, Pryguny, and Subbotniki. Gurdjieff makes particular mention of the Yazidi community. Growing up in a multi-ethnic society, Gurdjieff became fluent in Armenian, Pontic Greek, Russian and Turkish, speaking the last in a mixture of elegant Osmanlı and some dialect.[13] He later acquired "a working facility with several European languages".[11] Early influences on him included his father, a carpenter and amateur ashik or bardic poet,[14] and the priest of the town's Russian church, Dean Borsh, a family friend. The young Gurdjieff avidly read Russian-language scientific literature.[15] Influenced by these writings, and having witnessed a number of phenomena that he could not explain, he formed the conviction that there existed a hidden truth not to be found in science or in mainstream religion.

Seeker of truth

In early adulthood, according to his own account, Gurdjieff's curiosity led him to travel to Central Asia, Egypt, Iran, India, Tibet and Rome before he returned to Russia for a few years in 1912. He was always unforthcoming about the source of his teachings. The only account of his wanderings appears in his book Meetings with Remarkable Men. Most commentators[16] leave his background unexplained, and it is not generally considered to be a reliable or straightforward autobiography.[17][18] Each chapter is named after an individual "remarkable man"; many are putatively members of a society of "seekers of truth".

After Gurdjieff's death, J. G. Bennett researched his sources extensively and suggested that these characters were symbolic of the three types of people to whom Gurdjieff referred: No. 1 centred in their physical body; No. 2 centred in their emotions and No. 3 centred in their minds. He asserts that he has encounters with dervishes, fakirs and descendants of the extinct Essenes, whose teaching had been, he claimed, conserved at a monastery in Sarmoung. The book also has an overarching quest narrative involving a map of "pre-sand Egypt" and culminating in an encounter with the "Sarmoung Brotherhood".[19]


Gurdjieff wrote that he supported himself during his travels with odd jobs and trading schemes (one of which he described as dyeing hedgerow birds yellow and selling them as canaries[20]). On his reappearance, as far as the historical record is concerned, the ragged wanderer had transformed into a well-heeled businessman. His only autobiographical writing concerning this period is Herald of Coming Good. In it, he mentions acting as hypnotherapist specialising in the cure of addictions and using people as guinea pigs[21] for his methods. It is also speculated that during his travels, he was engaged in a certain amount of political activity, as part of The Great Game.[22]

In Russia

From 1913 to 1949, the chronology appears to be based on material that can be confirmed by primary documents, independent witnesses, cross-references and reasonable inference.[23] On New Year's Day in 1912, Gurdjieff arrived in Moscow and attracted his first students, including his cousin, the sculptor Sergey Merkurov, and the eccentric Rachmilievitch. In the same year, he married the Polish Julia Ostrowska in Saint Petersburg. In 1914, Gurdjieff advertised his ballet, The Struggle of the Magicians, and he supervised his pupils' writing of the sketch Glimpses of Truth. In 1915, Gurdjieff accepted P. D. Ouspensky as a pupil, and in 1916, he accepted the composer Thomas de Hartmann and his wife, Olga, as students. Then, he had about 30 pupils. Ouspensky already had a reputation as a writer on mystical subjects and had conducted his own, ultimately disappointing, search for wisdom in the East. The Fourth Way "system" taught during this period was complex and metaphysical, partly expressed in scientific terminology.

In the midst of revolutionary upheaval in Russia, Gurdjieff left Petrograd in 1917 to return to his family home in Alexandropol. During the Bolshevik Revolution, he set up temporary study communities in Essentuki in the Caucasus, then in Tuapse, Maikop, Sochi and Poti, all on the Black Sea coast of southern Russia, where he worked intensively with many of his Russian pupils. Gurdjieff said, "Begin in Russia, End in Russia".

In March 1918, Ouspensky separated from Gurdjieff, settling in England and teaching the Fourth Way in his own right. The two men were to have a very ambivalent relationship for decades to come.

Four months later, Gurdjieff's eldest sister and her family reached him in Essentuki as refugees, informing him that Turks had shot his father in Alexandropol on 15 May. As Essentuki became more and more threatened by civil war, Gurdjieff fabricated a newspaper story announcing his forthcoming "scientific expedition" to "Mount Induc". Posing as a scientist, Gurdjieff left Essentuki with fourteen companions (excluding Gurdjieff's family and Ouspensky). They travelled by train to Maikop, where hostilities delayed them for three weeks. In spring 1919, Gurdjieff met the artist Alexandre de Salzmann and his wife Jeanne and accepted them as pupils. Assisted by Jeanne de Salzmann, Gurdjieff gave the first public demonstration of his Sacred Dances (Movements at the Tbilisi Opera House, 22 June).

In Georgia and Turkey

In 1919, Gurdjieff and his closest pupils moved to Tbilisi. There, Gurdjieff's wife Julia Ostrowska, the Stjoernvals, the Hartmanns, and the de Salzmanns gathered the fundamentals of his teaching. Gurdjieff concentrated on his still unstaged ballet, The Struggle of the Magicians. Thomas de Hartmann (who had made his debut years ago, before Czar Nicholas II of Russia), worked on the music for the ballet, and Olga Ivanovna Hinzenberg (who years later wed the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright), practiced the ballet dances.[24] In 1919, Gurdjieff established his first Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man.

In late May 1920, when political conditions in Georgia changed and the old order was crumbling, his party travelled to Batumi on the Black Sea coast and then traveled by ship to Istanbul.[25] Gurdjieff rented an apartment on Koumbaradji Street in Péra and later at 13 Abdullatif Yemeneci Sokak near the Galata Tower.[26] The apartment is near the kha'neqa'h (monastery) of the Mevlevi Order (a Sufi Order following the teachings of Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi), where Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Thomas de Hartmann witnessed the sema ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes. In Istanbul, Gurdjieff also met his future pupil Capt. John G. Bennett, then head of British Military Intelligence in Constantinople, who describes his impression of Gurdjieff as follows:

It was there that I first met Gurdjieff in the autumn of 1920, and no surroundings could have been more appropriate. In Gurdjieff, East and West do not just meet. Their difference is annihilated in a world outlook which knows no distinctions of race or creed. This was my first, and has remained one of my strongest impressions. A Greek from the Caucasus, he spoke Turkish with an accent of unexpected purity, the accent that one associates with those born and bred in the narrow circle of the Imperial Court. His appearance was striking enough even in Turkey, where one saw many unusual types. His head was shaven, immense black moustache, eyes which at one moment seemed very pale and at another almost black. Below average height, he gave nevertheless an impression of great physical strength

Prieuré at Avon

In August 1921 and 1922, Gurdjieff travelled around western Europe, lecturing and giving demonstrations of his work in various cities, such as Berlin and London. He attracted the allegiance of Ouspensky's many prominent pupils (notably the editor A. R. Orage). After an unsuccessful attempt to gain British citizenship, Gurdjieff established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man south of Paris at the Prieuré des Basses Loges in Avon near the famous Château de Fontainebleau. The once-impressive but somewhat crumbling mansion set in extensive grounds housed an entourage of several dozen, including some of Gurdjieff's remaining relatives and some White Russian refugees.

New pupils included C. S. Nott, René Zuber, Margaret Anderson and her ward Fritz Peters. The generally intellectual and middle-class types who were attracted to Gurdjieff's teaching often found the Prieuré's spartan accommodation and emphasis on hard labour in the grounds disconcerting. Gurdjieff was putting into practice his teaching that people need to develop physically, emotionally and intellectually, hence the mixture of lectures, music, dance, and manual work. Older pupils noticed how the Prieuré teaching differed from the complex metaphysical "system" that had been taught in Russia.[27] In addition to the physical hardships, his personal behaviour towards pupils could be ferocious:

Gurdjieff was standing by his bed in a state of what seemed to me to be completely uncontrolled fury. He was raging at Orage, who stood impassively, and very pale, framed in one of the windows.... Suddenly, in the space of an instant, Gurdjieff's voice stopped, his whole personality changed, he gave me a broad smile—looking incredibly peaceful and inwardly quiet— motioned me to leave, and then resumed his tirade with undiminished force. This happened so quickly that I do not believe that Mr. Orage even noticed the break in the rhythm.[28]

During this period, Gurdjieff acquired notoriety as "the man who killed Katherine Mansfield" after Katherine Mansfield died there of tuberculosis under his care on 9 January 1923.[29] However, James Moore and Ouspensky[30] argue that Mansfield knew she would soon die and that Gurdjieff made her last days happy and fulfilling.[31]

First car accident, writing and visits to North America

Starting in 1924, Gurdjieff made visits to North America, where he eventually received the pupils taught previously by A.R. Orage. In 1924, while driving alone from Paris to Fontainebleau, he had a near-fatal car accident. Nursed by his wife and mother, he made a slow and painful recovery against medical expectation. Still convalescent, he formally "disbanded" his institute on 26 August (in fact, he dispersed only his "less dedicated" pupils), which he explained as an undertaking "in the future, under the pretext of different worthy reasons, to remove from my eyesight all those who by this or that make my life too comfortable".[32]

After recovering, he began writing Beelzebub's Tales, the first part of All and Everything in a mixture of Armenian and Russian. The book was deliberately convoluted and obscure, forcing the reader to "work" to find its meaning. He also composed it according to his own principles, writing in noisy cafes to force a greater effort of concentration.

Gurdjieff's mother died in 1925 and his wife developed cancer and died in June 1926. Ouspensky attended her funeral. According to Fritz Peters, Gurdjieff was in New York from November 1925 to the spring of 1926, when he succeeded in raising over $100,000.[33] He was to make six or seven trips to the US, where he alienated a number of people with his brash and impudent demands for money. Some have interpreted that in terms of his following the Malamatiyya technique of the Sufis, he was deliberately attracting disapproval.[34]

A Chicago-based Gurdjieff group was founded by Jean Toomer in 1927 after having trained in Prieuré for a year. Diana Huebert was a regular member of the Chicago group, and documented the several visits Gurdjieff made to the group in 1932 and 1934 in her memoirs on the man.[35]

Despite his fund-raising efforts in America, the Prieuré operation ran into debt and was shut down in 1932. Gurdjieff constituted a new teaching group in Paris. Known as The Rope, it was composed of only women, many of them writers, and several lesbians. Members included Kathryn Hulme, Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson and Enrico Caruso's widow, Dorothy. Gurdjieff became acquainted with Gertrude Stein through Rope members, but she was never a follower.[36]

In 1935, Gurdjieff stopped work on All and Everything. He had completed the first two parts of the planned trilogy but only started on the Third Series. (It was later published under the title Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Am'.) In 1936, he settled in a flat at 6, Rue des Colonels-Renard in Paris, where he was to stay for the rest of his life. In 1937, his brother Dmitry died, and The Rope disbanded.

World War II

Although the flat at 6 Rue des Colonels-Renard was very small for the purpose, he continued to teach groups of pupils throughout World War II. Visitors recalled the pantry, stocked with an extraordinary collection of eastern delicacies, which served as his inner sanctum, and the suppers he held with elaborate toasts to "idiots"[37] in vodka and cognac. Having cut a physically impressive figure for many years, he was now distinctly paunchy. His teaching was now far removed from the original "system", being based on proverbs, jokes and personal interaction, although pupils were required to read, three times if possible, copies of his magnum opus Beelzebub's Tales.

His personal business enterprises (he had intermittently been a dealer in oriental rugs and carpets for much of his life, among other activities) enabled him to offer charitable relief to neighbours who had been affected by the difficult circumstances of the war, and it also brought him to the attention of the authorities, leading to a night in the cells.

Final years

After the war, Gurdjieff tried to reconnect with his former pupils. Ouspensky was reluctant, but after his death (October 1947), his widow advised his remaining pupils to see Gurdjieff in Paris. J. G. Bennett also visited from England, the first meeting for 25 years. Ouspensky's pupils in England had all thought that Gurdjieff was dead. They discovered he was alive only after the death of Ouspensky, who had not told them that Gurdjieff was still living. They were overjoyed to hear so, and many of Ouspensky's pupils including Rina Hands, Basil Tilley and Catherine Murphy visited Gurdjieff in Paris. Hands and Murphy worked on the typing and retyping of the forthcoming book All and Everything.

Gurdjieff suffered a second car accident in 1948 but again made an unexpected recovery.

" was looking at a dying man. Even this is not enough to express it. It was a dead man, a corpse, that came out of the car; and yet it walked. I was shivering like someone who sees a ghost."

With iron-like tenacity, he managed to gain his room, where he sat down and said: "Now all organs are destroyed. Must make new". Then, he turned to Bennett, smiling: "Tonight you come dinner. I must make body work". As he spoke, a great spasm of pain shook his body and blood gushed from an ear. Bennett thought: "He has a cerebral haemorrhage. He will kill himself if he continues to force his body to move". But then he reflected: "He has to do all this. If he allows his body to stop moving, he will die. He has power over his body".[38]

[i]The body of Gurdjieff, lying in state, France. 'Every one of those unfortunates during the process of existence should constantly sense and be cognizant of the inevitability of his own death as well as of the death of everyone upon whom his eyes or attention rests'.

After recovering, Gurdjieff finalised plans for the official publication of Beelzebub's Tales and made two trips to New York. He also visited the famous prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux, giving his interpretation of their significance to his pupils.

Gurdjieff died at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. His funeral took place at the St. Alexandre Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral at 12 Rue Daru, Paris. He is buried in the cemetery at Avon (near Fontainebleau).[39]


Although no evidence or documents have certified anyone as a child of Gurdjieff, the following seven people are believed to be his children:[40]

• Cynthie Sophia "Dushka" Howarth (1924–2010); her mother was dancer Jessmin Howarth.[41][42][43] She went on to found the Gurdjieff Heritage Foundation.[43]
• Sergei Chaverdian; his mother was Lily Galumnian Chaverdian.[44]
• Andrei, born to a mother known only as Georgii.[44]
• Eve Taylor (born 1928); the mother was one of his followers, American socialite Edith Annesley Taylor.[40]
• Nikolai Stjernvall (1919–2010), whose mother was Elizaveta Grigorievna, wife of Leonid Robertovich de Stjernvall.[45]
• Michel de Salzmann (1923–2001), whose mother was Jeanne Allemand de Salzmann; he later became head of the Gurdjieff Foundation.[46]
• Svetlana Hinzenberg (1917–1946), daughter of Olga (Olgivanna) Ivanovna Hinzenberg and a future stepdaughter of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.[47][48]

Gurdjieff had a niece, Luba Gurdjieff Everitt, who for about 40 years (1950s-1990s) ran a small but rather famous restaurant, Luba's Bistro, in Knightsbridge, London.[49]


Gurdjieff claimed that people cannot perceive reality in their current condition because they do not possess a unified consciousness but rather live in a state of a hypnotic "waking sleep".

"Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies."[50] As a result of this each person perceives things from a completely subjective perspective. He asserted that people in their typical state function as unconscious automatons, but that a person can "wake up" and become a different sort of human being altogether.[51]

Self-development teachings

Main article: Fourth Way

Gurdjieff argued that many of the existing forms of religious and spiritual tradition on Earth had lost connection with their original meaning and vitality and so could no longer serve humanity in the way that had been intended at their inception. As a result, humans were failing to realize the truths of ancient teachings and were instead becoming more and more like automatons, susceptible to control from outside and increasingly capable of otherwise unthinkable acts of mass psychosis such as World War I. At best, the various surviving sects and schools could provide only a one-sided development, which did not result in a fully integrated human being.

According to Gurdjieff, only one dimension of the three dimensions of the person—namely, either the emotions, or the physical body or the mind—tends to develop in such schools and sects, and generally at the expense of the other faculties or centers, as Gurdjieff called them. As a result, these paths fail to produce a properly balanced human being. Furthermore, anyone wishing to undertake any of the traditional paths to spiritual knowledge (which Gurdjieff reduced to three—namely the path of the fakir, the path of the monk, and the path of the yogi) were required to renounce life in the world. Gurdjieff thus developed a "Fourth Way"[52] which would be amenable to the requirements of modern people living modern lives in Europe and America. Instead of developing body, mind, or emotions separately, Gurdjieff's discipline worked on all three to promote comprehensive and balanced inner development.

In parallel with other spiritual traditions, Gurdjieff taught that a person must expend considerable effort to effect the transformation that leads to awakening. The effort that is put into practice Gurdjieff referred to as "The Work" or "Work on oneself".[53] According to Gurdjieff, "...Working on oneself is not so difficult as wishing to work, taking the decision."[54] Though Gurdjieff never put major significance on the term "Fourth Way" and never used the term in his writings, his pupil P.D. Ouspensky from 1924 to 1947 made the term and its use central to his own teaching of Gurdjieff's ideas. After Ouspensky's death, his students published a book titled The Fourth Way based on his lectures.

Gurdjieff's teaching addressed the question of humanity's place in the universe and the importance of developing latent potentialities—regarded as our natural endowment as human beings but rarely brought to fruition. He taught that higher levels of consciousness, higher bodies,[55] inner growth and development are real possibilities that nonetheless require conscious work to achieve.[56]

In his teaching Gurdjieff gave a distinct meaning to various ancient texts such as the Bible and many religious prayers. He claimed that such texts possess meanings very different from those commonly attributed to them. "Sleep not"; "Awake, for you know not the hour"; and "The Kingdom of Heaven is Within" are examples of biblical statements which point to a psychological teaching whose essence has been forgotten.[57]

Gurdjieff taught people how to increase and focus their attention and energy in various ways and to minimize daydreaming and absentmindedness. According to his teaching, this inner development of oneself is the beginning of a possible further process of change, the aim of which is to transform people into what Gurdjieff believed they ought to be.[58]

Distrusting "morality", which he describes as varying from culture to culture, often contradictory and hypocritical, Gurdjieff greatly stressed the importance of "conscience".

To provide conditions in which inner attention could be exercised more intensively, Gurdjieff also taught his pupils "sacred dances" or "movements", later known as the Gurdjieff movements, which they performed together as a group. He also left a body of music, inspired by what he heard in visits to remote monasteries and other places, written for piano in collaboration with one of his pupils, Thomas de Hartmann.

Gurdjieff also used various exercises, such as the "Stop" exercise, to prompt self-observation in his students. Other shocks to help awaken his pupils from constant daydreaming were always possible at any moment.


"The Work" is in essence a training in the development of consciousness. Gurdjieff used a number of methods and materials, including meetings, music, movements (sacred dance), writings, lectures, and innovative forms of group and individual work. Part of the function of these various methods was to undermine and undo the ingrained habit patterns of the mind and bring about moments of insight. Since each individual has different requirements, Gurdjieff did not have a one-size-fits-all approach, and he adapted and innovated as circumstance required.[59] In Russia he was described as keeping his teaching confined to a small circle,[60] whereas in Paris and North America he gave numerous public demonstrations.[61]

Gurdjieff felt that the traditional methods of self-knowledge—those of the fakir, monk, and yogi (acquired, respectively, through pain, devotion, and study)—were inadequate on their own and often led to various forms of stagnation and one-sidedness. His methods were designed to augment the traditional paths with the purpose of hastening the developmental process. He sometimes called these methods The Way of the Sly Man[62] because they constituted a sort of short-cut through a process of development that might otherwise carry on for years without substantive results. The teacher, possessing consciousness, sees the individual requirements of the disciple and sets tasks that he knows will result in a transformation of consciousness in that individual. Instructive historical parallels can be found in the annals of Zen Buddhism, where teachers employed a variety of methods (sometimes highly unorthodox) to bring about the arising of insight in the student.


Gurdjieff's music divides into three distinct periods. The "first period" is the early music, including music from the ballet Struggle of the Magicians and music for early movements dating to the years around 1918.

The "second period" music, for which Gurdjieff arguably became best known, written in collaboration with Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann, is described as the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music.[63][64] Dating to the mid-1920s, it offers a rich repertory with roots in Caucasian and Central Asian folk and religious music, Russian Orthodox liturgical music, and other sources. This music was often first heard in the salon at the Prieuré, where much was composed. Since the publication of four volumes of this piano repertory by Schott, recently completed, there has been a wealth of new recordings, including orchestral versions of music prepared by Gurdjieff and de Hartmann for the Movements demonstrations of 1923–24. Solo piano versions of these works have been recorded by Cecil Lytle,[65] Keith Jarrett[66] , Frederic Chiu[67].

The "last musical period" is the improvised harmonium music which often followed the dinners Gurdjieff held at his Paris apartment during the Occupation and immediate post-war years to his death in 1949. In all, Gurdjieff in collaboration with de Hartmann composed some 200 pieces.[68] In May 2010, 38 minutes of unreleased solo piano music on acetate was purchased by Neil Kempfer Stocker from the estate of his late step-daughter, Dushka Howarth. In 2009, pianist Elan Sicroff released Laudamus: The Music of Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, consisting of a selection of Gurdjieff/de Hartmann collaborations (as well as three early romantic works composed by de Hartmann in his teens).[69] In 1998 Alessandra Celletti released "Hidden Sources[70]" (Kha Records) with 18 tracks by Gurdjieff/de Hartmann.


Main article: Gurdjieff movements

Movements, or sacred dances, constitute an integral part of the Gurdjieff Work. Gurdjieff sometimes referred to himself as a "teacher of dancing" and gained initial public notice for his attempts to put on a ballet in Moscow called Struggle of the Magicians.

Films of movements demonstrations are occasionally shown for private viewing by the Gurdjieff Foundations and one is shown in a scene in the Peter Brook movie Meetings with Remarkable Men.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:16 am

Part 2 of 2


Gurdjieff wrote a unique trilogy with the Series title All and Everything. The first volume, finalized by Gurdjieff shortly before his death and first published in 1950, is the First Series and titled An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man or Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson. At 1238 pages it is a lengthy allegorical work that recounts the explanations of Beelzebub to his grandson concerning the beings of the planet Earth and laws which govern the universe. It provides a vast platform for Gurdjieff's deeply considered philosophy. A controversial redaction of Beelzebub's Tales was published by some of Gurdjieff's followers as an alternative "edition," in 1992. [See Paul Beekman Taylor's' Gurdjieff's Worlds of Words (2014) for an informed account.] On his page of Friendly Advice facing the first Contents page of Beelzebub's Tales Gurdjieff lays out his own program of three obligatory initial readings of each of the three series in sequence and concludes, "Only then will you be able to count upon forming your own impartial judgement, proper to yourself alone, on my writings. And only then can my hope be actualized that according to your understanding you will obtain the specific benefit for your self which I anticipate."

The posthumous second series, edited by Jeanne de Salzmann is titled Meetings with Remarkable Men (1963) and is written in a seemingly accessible manner as a memoir of his early years, but also contains some 'Arabian Nights' embellishments and allegorical statements. His posthumous Third Series, written as if unfinished and also edited by Jeanne de Salzmann (Life Is Real Only Then, When 'I Am') contains an intimate account of Gurdjieff's inner struggles during his later years, as well as transcripts of some of his lectures. There is an enormous and growing amount written about Gurdjieff's ideas and methods but his own challenging writings remain the primary sources.

Reception and influence

Opinions on Gurdjieff's writings and activities are divided. Sympathizers regard him as a charismatic master who brought new knowledge into Western culture, a psychology and cosmology that enable insights beyond those provided by established science.[56] At the other end of the spectrum, some critics assert he was a charlatan with a large ego and a constant need for self-glorification.[71] Gurdjieff had significant influence on some artists, writers, and thinkers, including Walter Inglis Anderson, Peter Brook, Kate Bush, Darby Crash, Muriel Draper, Robert Fripp, Keith Jarrett, Timothy Leary, Dennis Lewis, James Moore, A. R. Orage, P. D. Ouspensky, Maurice Nicoll, Louis Pauwels, Robert S de Ropp, George Russell, David Sylvian, Jean Toomer, Jeremy Lane, Therion, P. L. Travers, Alan Watts, Colin Wilson, Robert Anton Wilson and Frank Lloyd Wright.[72]

Gurdjieff's notable personal students include P. D. Ouspensky, Olga de Hartmann, Thomas de Hartmann, Jane Heap, Jeanne de Salzmann, Willem Nyland, Lord Pentland (Henry John Sinclair), John G. Bennett, Alfred Richard Orage, Maurice Nicoll, and Rene Daumal.

Gurdjieff gave new life and practical form to ancient teachings of both East and West. For example, the Socratic and Platonic emphasis on "the examined life" recurs in Gurdjieff's teaching as the practice of self-observation. His teachings about self-discipline and restraint reflect Stoic teachings. The Hindu and Buddhist notion of attachment recurs in Gurdjieff's teaching as the concept of identification. His descriptions of the "three being-foods" matches that of Ayurveda, and his statement that "time is breath" echoes jyotish, the Vedic system of astrology. Similarly, his cosmology can be "read" against ancient and esoteric sources, respectively Neoplatonic and in such sources as Robert Fludd's treatment of macrocosmic musical structures.

An aspect of Gurdjieff's teachings which has come into prominence in recent decades is the enneagram geometric figure. For many students of the Gurdjieff tradition, the enneagram remains a koan, challenging and never fully explained. There have been many attempts to trace the origins of this version of the enneagram; some similarities to other figures have been found, but it seems that Gurdjieff was the first person to make the enneagram figure publicly known and that only he knew its true source.[citation needed] Others have used the enneagram figure in connection with personality analysis, principally with the Enneagram of Personality as developed by Oscar Ichazo, Claudio Naranjo and others. Most aspects of this application are not directly connected to Gurdjieff's teaching or to his explanations of the enneagram.

Gurdjieff inspired the formation of many groups after his death, all of which still function today and follow his ideas.[73] The Gurdjieff Foundation, the largest establishment organization influenced by the ideas of Gurdjieff, was organized by Jeanne de Salzmann during the early 1950s, and led by her in cooperation with other pupils of his. Other pupils of Gurdjieff formed independent groups. Willem Nyland, one of Gurdjieff's closest students and an original founder and trustee of The Gurdjieff Foundation of New York, left to form his own groups in the early 1960s. Jane Heap was sent to London by Gurdjieff, where she led groups until her death in 1964. Louise Goepfert March, who became a pupil of Gurdjieff's in 1929, started her own groups in 1957 and founded the Rochester Folk Art Guild in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Independent thriving groups were also formed and initially led by John G. Bennett and A. L. Staveley near Portland, Oregon.


Gurdjieff's notable pupils include:[74]

Peter D. Ouspensky (1878–1947) was a Russian journalist, author and philosopher. He met Gurdjieff in 1915 and spent the next five years studying with him, then formed his own independent groups at London in 1921. Ouspensky became the first "career" Gurdjieffian and led independent Fourth Way groups in London and New York for his remaining years. He wrote In Search of the Miraculous about his encounters with Gurdjieff and it remains the best known and most widely read account of Gurdjieff's early experiments with groups.

Thomas de Hartmann (1885–1956) was a Russian composer. He and his wife Olga first met Gurdjieff in 1916 at Saint Petersburg. They remained Gurdjieff's close students until 1929. During that time they lived at Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man near Paris. Between July 1925 and May 1927 Thomas de Hartmann transcribed and co-wrote some of the music that Gurdjieff collected and used for his Movements exercises. They collaborated on hundreds of pieces of concert music arranged for the piano. This concert music was first recorded and published privately from the 1950s to 1980s; then first issued publicly as the Music of Gurdjieff / de Hartmann, Thomas de Hartmann, piano by Triangle Records, with 49 tracks on 4 vinyl disks in 1998, then reissued as a 3-CD set in containing 56 tracks in 1989. A more extensive compilation was later issued as the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann Music for the Piano in 4 printed volumes by Schott between 1996 and 2005, and as audio CDs under the same title in four volumes with nine discs recorded with three concert pianists, by Schott/Wergo between 1997 and 2001. Olga de Hartmann (née Arkadievna, 1885–1987) was Gurdjieff's personal secretary during their Prieuré years and took most of the original dictations of his writings during that period. She also authenticated Gurdjieff's early talks in the book Views from the Real World (1973). The de Hartmann's memoir, Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff (1st ed, 1964, 2nd ed, 1983, 3rd ed 1992), records their Gurdjieff years in great detail. Their Montreal Gurdjieff group, literary and musical estate is represented by retired Canadian National Film Board producer Tom Daly.

Jeanne de Salzmann (1899–1990). Alexander and Jeanne de Salzmann met Gurdjieff in Tiflis in 1919. She was originally a dancer, Dalcroze Eurythmics teacher. She was, along with Jessmin Howarth and Rose Mary Nott, responsible for transmitting Gurdjieff's choreographed movements exercises and institutionalizing Gurdjieff's teachings through the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York, the Gurdjieff Institute of Paris, London's Gurdjieff Society Inc and other groups, she established in 1953. She also established Triangle Editions in the US, which imprint claims copyright on all Gurdjieff's posthumous writings.

John G. Bennett (1897–1974) was a British intelligence officer, polyglot (fluent in English, French, German, Turkish, Greek, Italian), technologist, industrial research director author and teacher, best known for his many books on psychology and spirituality, particularly the teachings of Gurdjieff. Bennett met both Ouspensky and then Gurdjieff at Istanbul in 1920, spent August 1923 at Gurdjieff's Institute, became Ouspensky's pupil between 1922 and 1941 and, after learning that Gurdjieff was still alive, was one of Gurdjieff's frequent visitors in Paris during 1949. See Witness: the Autobiography of John Bennett (1974), Gurdjieff: Making a New World(1974), Idiots in Paris: diaries of J. G. Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett, 1949 (1991).

Alfred Richard Orage (1873–1934) was an influential British editor best known for the magazine New Age. He began attending Ouspensky's London talks in 1921 then met Gurdjieff when the latter first visited London early in 1922. Shortly thereafter, Orage sold New Age and relocated to Gurdjieff's institute at the Prieré and in 1924 was appointed by Gurdjieff to lead the institute's branch in New York. After Gurdjieff’s nearly fatal automobile accident in July 1924 and because of his prolonged recuperation during 1924 and intense writing period for several years, Orage continued in New York until 1931. During this period, Orage was responsible for editing the English typescript of Beelzebub's Tales (1931) and Meetings with Remarkable Men (1963) as Gurdjieff' assistant. This period is described in some detail by Paul Beekman Tayloy in his Gurdjieff and Orage: Brothers in Elysium (2001).

Maurice Nicoll (1884–1953) was a Harley Street psychiatrist and Carl Jung's delegate in London. Along with Orage he attended Ouspensky's 1921 London talks where he met Gurdjieff. With his wife Catherine and their new-born daughter, he spent almost a year at Gurdjieff's Prieuré institute. A year later, when they returned to London, Nicoll rejoined Ouspensky's group. In 1931, on Ouspensky's advice he started his own Fourth Way groups in England. He is best known for the encyclopedic six volume series of articles in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (Boston: Shambhala, 1996, and Samuel Weiser Inc., 1996).

Willem Nyland (1890–1975) was a Dutch-American chemist who first met Gurdjieff early in 1924 during the latter's first visit to the US. He was a charter member of the NY branch of Gurdjieff's Institute, participated in Orage's meetings between 1924 and 1931 and was a charter member of the Gurdjieff Foundation from 1953 and through its formative years. In the early 1960s he established an independent group in Warwick NY, where he began making reel-to-reel audio recordings of his meetings which became archived in a private library of some 2600, 90 minute audio tapes. Many of these tapes have also been transcribed and indexed, but remain unpublished. Gurdjieff Group Work with Wilhem (sic-Willem) Nyland (1983) by Irmis B. Popoff, sketches Nyland's group work.

Jane Heap (1883–1964) was an American writer, editor, artist, and publisher. She met Gurdjieff during his 1924 visit to New York, and set up a Gurdjieff study group at her apartment in Greenwich Village. In 1925, she moved to Paris to study at Gurdjieff’s Institute, re-established her group in Paris until 1935 when Gurdjieff sent her to London to lead the group C. S. Nott had established and which she continued to lead until her death. Jane Heap's Paris group became Gurdjieff's 'Rope' group after her departure and contained several notable writers including, Margaret Anderson, Solita Solano, Kathryn Hulme and others who proved helpful to Gurdjieff while he was editing his first two books.

Kenneth Macfarlane Walker (1882–1966) was a prominent British surgeon and prolific author. He was a member of Ouspensky's London group for decades and after the latter's death in 1947 visited Gurdjieff in Paris many times. As well as many accessible medical books for lay readers, he wrote some of the earliest informed accounts of Gurdjieff's ideas, Venture with Ideas (1951) and A Study of Gurdjieff's Teaching (1957).

Henry John Sinclair, 2nd Baron Pentland (1907–1984) was a pupil of Ouspensky's during the 1930s and 1940s. He visited Gurdjieff regularly in Paris in 1949, then was appointed as President of the Gurdjieff Foundation of America by Jeanne de Salzmann when she founded that institution at New York in 1953. He established the Gurdjieff Foundation of California in the mid 1950s and remained President of the US Foundation branches until his death. Pentland also became President of Triangle Editions when it was established in 1974.


Louis Pauwels, among others,[75] criticizes Gurdjieff for his insistence on considering people as "asleep" in a state closely resembling "hypnotic sleep". Gurdjieff said, even specifically at times, that a pious, good, and moral person was no more "spiritually developed" than any other person; they are all equally "asleep".[76]

Henry Miller approved of Gurdjieff, not considering himself holy but, after writing a brief introduction to Fritz Peters' book Boyhood with Gurdjieff, Miller wrote that people are not meant to lead a "harmonious life" as Gurdjieff claimed in naming his institute.[77]

Critics note that Gurdjieff gives no value to most of the elements that compose the life of an average person. According to Gurdjieff, everything an average person possesses, accomplishes, does, and feels is completely accidental and without any initiative. A common everyday ordinary person is born a machine and dies a machine without any chance of being anything else.[78] This belief seems to run counter to the Judeo-Christian tradition that man is a living soul. Gurdjieff believed that the possession of a soul (a state of psychological unity which he equated with being "awake") was a "luxury" that a disciple could attain only by the most painstaking work over a long period of time. The majority—in whom the true meaning of the gospel failed to take root[79]—went the "broad way" that "led to destruction."[80]

In Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson (see bibliography), Gurdjieff expresses his reverence for the founders of the mainstream religions of East and West and his contempt (by and large) for what successive generations of believers have made of those religious teachings. His discussions of "orthodoxhydooraki" and "heterodoxhydooraki"—orthodox fools and heterodox fools, from the Russian word durak (fool)—position him as a critic of religious distortion and, in turn, as a target for criticism from some within those traditions. Gurdjieff has been interpreted by some, Ouspensky among others, to have had a total disregard for the value of mainstream religion, philanthropic work and the value of doing right or wrong in general.[81]

Gurdjieff's former students who have criticized him argue that, despite his seeming total lack of pretension to any kind of "guru holiness," in many anecdotes his behavior displays the unsavory and impure character of a man who was a cynical manipulator of his followers.[82] Gurdjieff's own pupils wrestled to understand him. For example, in a written exchange between Luc Dietrich and Henri Tracol dating to 1943: "L.D.: How do you know that Gurdjieff wishes you well? H.T.: I feel sometimes how little I interest him—and how strongly he takes an interest in me. By that I measure the strength of an intentional feeling."[83]

Louis Pauwels wrote Monsieur Gurdjieff (first edition published in Paris, France in 1954 by Editions du Seuil).[84] In an interview, Pauwels said of the Gurdjieff work: "... After two years of exercises which both enlightened and burned me, I found myself in a hospital bed with a thrombosed central vein in my left eye and weighing ninety-nine pounds... Horrible anguish and abysses opened up for me. But it was my fault."[85]

Pauwels claimed that Karl Haushofer, the father of geopolitics whose protegée was Deputy Reich Führer Rudolf Hess, was one of the real "seekers after truth" described by Gurdjieff. According to Rom Landau, a journalist in the 1930s, Achmed Abdullah told him at the beginning of the 20th century that Gurdjieff was a Russian secret agent in Tibet[citation needed] who went by the name of "Hambro Akuan Dorzhieff" (i.e. Agvan Dorjiev), a tutor to the Dalai Lama.[86] However, the actual Dorzhieff went to live in the Buddhist temple erected in St. Petersburg and after the Revolution was imprisoned by Stalin. James Webb conjectured that Gurdjieff might have been Dorzhieff's assistant Ushe Narzunoff (i.e. Ovshe Norzunov).[87]

Colin Wilson writes about "Gurdjieff's reputation for seducing his female students. (In Providence, Rhode Island, in 1960, a man was pointed out to me as one of Gurdjieff's illegitimate children. The professor who told me this also assured me that Gurdjieff had left many children around America)."[88]

In The Oragean Version, C. Daly King surmised that the problem that Gurdjieff had with Orage's teachings was that the "Oragean Version," Orage himself, was not emotional enough in Gurdjieff's estimation and had not enough "incredulity" and faith. King wrote that Gurdjieff did not state it as clearly and specifically as this, but was quick to add that to him, nothing Gurdjieff said was specific or clear.[citation needed]

According to Osho, the Gurdjieff system is incomplete, drawing from Dervish sources inimical to Kundalini. Some Sufi orders, such as the Naqshbandi, draw from and are amenable to Kundalini.[89]


Three books by Gurdjieff were published in the English language in the United States after his death: Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson published in 1950 by E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., Meetings with Remarkable Men, published in 1963 by E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., and Life is Real Only Then, When 'I Am', printed privately by E. P. Dutton & Co. and published in 1978 by Triangle Editions Inc. for private distribution only. This trilogy is Gurdjieff's legominism, known collectively as All and Everything. A legominism is, according to Gurdjieff, "one of the means of transmitting information about certain events of long-past ages through initiates". A book of his early talks was also collected by his student and personal secretary, Olga de Hartmann, and published in 1973 as Views from the Real World: Early Talks in Moscow, Essentuki, Tiflis, Berlin, London, Paris, New York, and Chicago, as recollected by his pupils.

Gurdjieff's views were initially promoted through the writings of his pupils. The best known and widely read of this is P. D. Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, which is widely regard as a crucial introduction to the teaching. Others refer to Gurdjieff's own books (detailed below) as the primary texts. Numerous anecdotal accounts of time spent with Gurdjieff were published by Charles Stanley Nott, Thomas and Olga de Hartmann, Fritz Peters, René Daumal, John G. Bennett, Maurice Nicoll, Margaret Anderson and Louis Pauwels, among others.

The feature film Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979), loosely based on Gurdjieff's book by the same name, ends with performances of Gurdjieff's dances taught known simply as the "exercises" but later promoted as movements. Jeanne de Salzmann and Peter Brook wrote the film, Brook directed, and Dragan Maksimovic and Terence Stamp star, as does South African playwright and actor, Athol Fugard.[90]


• The Herald of Coming Good by G. I. Gurdjieff (1933, 1971, 1988)
• All and Everything trilogy:
o Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson by G. I. Gurdjieff (1950)
o Meetings with Remarkable Men by G. I. Gurdjieff (1963)
o Scenario of the Ballet: The Struggle of the Magicians ISBN 978-0957248120 by G. I. Gurdjieff
o Transcripts of Gurdjieff's Meetings 1941–1946 ISBN 978-0955909054
o Life is Real Only Then, When 'I Am': All and Everything... ISBN 978-0140195859 by G. I. Gurdjieff (1974)
• Views from the Real World gathered talks of G. I. Gurdjieff by his pupil Olga de Hartmann(1973)

See also

• In Search of the Miraculous


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2. Josephson-Storm, Jason (2017). The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences. University of Chicago Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-226-40336-X.
3. James Webb, The Harmonious Circle, Thames and Hudson 1980 pp. 25–6 provides a range of dates from 1872, 1873, 1874, 1877 to 1886.
4. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Edited by Michael Pittman. G. I. Gurdjieff: Armenian Roots, Global Branches. During the early period after Gurdjieff’s arrival in Europe in 1921 he gained significant notoriety in Europe and the United States... In October of 1922, Gurdjieff set up a school at the Prieuré des Basses Loges at Fontainebleau-Avon, outside of Paris. It was at the Prieuré that Gurdjieff met many notable figures, authors, and artists of the early twentieth century, many of whom went on to be close students and exponents of his teaching. Over the course of his life, those who visited and worked with him included the French author René Daumal; the renowned short story author from New Zealand, Katherine Mansfield; Kathryn Hulme, later the author of A Nun's Life; P. L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins; and Jean Toomer, the author of Cane, whose work and influence would figure prominently in the Harlem Renaissance... Numerous study groups, organizations, formal foundations, and even land-based communities have been initiated in his name, primarily in North and South America and Europe, and to a lesser extent, in Japan, China, India, Australia, and South Africa. In 1979, Peter Brook, distinguished British theater director and author, created a film based on Meetings with Remarkable Men.
5. Ouspensky, P. D. (1977). In Search of the Miraculous. pp. 312–313. ISBN 0-15-644508-5. Schools of the fourth way exist for the needs of the work... But no matter what the fundamental aim of the work is... When the work is done the schools close.
6. Nott, C.S. (1961). Teachings of Gurdjieff : A Pupil's Journal : An Account of some Years with G.I. Gurdjieff and A.R. Orage in New York and at Fontainbleau-Avon. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London and Henley. p. x. ISBN 0-7100-8937-6.
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12. ... rticle1949
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16. J.G.Bennet 'Gurdjieff – Making a New World'
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18. "T. W. Owens, Commentary on Meetings with Remarkable Men". 2000-04-01. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
19. Mark Sedgwick, "European Neo-Sufi Movements in the Inter-war Period" in Islam in Inter-War Europe, ed. by Natalie Clayer and Eric Germain. Columbia Univ. Press, 2008 p. 208. ISBN 978-0-231-70100-6
20. Gurdjieff, G.I: "The Material Question", published as an addendum to Meetings with Remarkable Men
21. Gurdjieff, G.I.: Herald of Coming Good, p22
22. Moore, pp 36–7
23. "James Moore, Chronology of Gurdjieff's Life". Archived from the original on 2015-02-19. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
24. Moore, James (1999). Gurdjieff. Element Books Ltd. p. 132. ISBN 1-86204-606-9. What name would you give such an Institute?
25. Thomas de Hartmann, Our Life With Mr. Gurdjieff (1962), Penguin 1974 pp.94–5.
26. "In Gurdjieff’s wake in Istanbul" Archived 2006-10-31 at the Wayback Machine, Gurdjieff Movements, March 2003.
27. "R. Lipsey: ''Gurdjieff Observed''". 1999-10-01. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
28. Fritz Peters, Boyhood with Gurdjieff.
29. Moore, James (1980). Gurdjieff and Mansfield. Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 3. ISBN 0-7100-0488-5. In numerous accounts Gurdjieff is defined with stark simplicity as "the man who killed Katherine Mansfield".
30. Ouspensky, In search of the Miraculous, chapter XVIII, p. 392
31. Fraser, Ross. "Gabrielle Hope 1916–1962". Art New Zealand. Art New Zealand. 30 (Winter).
32. Life is Only Real then, when 'I Am'
33. Taylor, Paul Beekman (2004). Gurdjieff's America. Lighthouse Editions Ltd. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-904998-00-6. What Gurdjieff was doing during the winter of 1925–1926...
35. Faidy, Diana. Diana Faidy - Reminiscences of My Work with Gurdjieff. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
36. Rob Baker, "No Harem: Gurdjieff and the Women of The Rope", 2000. Accessed 10 March 2013.
37. "J. G. and E. Bennett ''Idiots in Paris''". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
38. Perry, Whitall: Gurdjieff in the Light of tradition, quoting J. G. Bennett.
39. James Moore (1993). Gurdjieff – A Biography: The Anatomy of a Myth.
40. Paul Beekman Taylor, Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer (Red Wheel, 1998), p. 3.
41. Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman, The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship (Harper Collins, 2007), page 424
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46. Paul Beekman Taylor, Gurdjieff's America: Mediating the Miraculous (Lighthouse Editions, 2005), page 211
47. That Svetlana is considered to be a daughter of Gurdjieff by all his other identified children is cited in Paul Beekman Taylor, Shadows of Heaven: Gurdjieff and Toomer (Red Wheel, 1998), page 3
48. Friedland and Zellman, The Fellowship (2006 edition). P.18, citing Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography. "In the winter of 1919, humoring a friend, she (Olgivanna) left her apartment to see a visiting Armenian-born mystic, a man who was said to teach dances that could develop the will. She was, she recalled, 'looking for something beyond the limits of my senses.'"
49. Planet, Lonely. "Thorn Tree - Luba's". Retrieved 2019-02-04.
50. P.D. Ouspensky (1949), In Search of the Miraculous
51. Jacob Needleman, G. I. Gurdjieff and His School Archived 2003-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
52. P.D. Ouspensky (1949), In Search of the Miraculous, Chapter 2
53. "Gurdjieff International Review". Retrieved 2014-03-02.
54. Gurdjieff, George. Views from the real world. E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc. p. 214. ISBN 0-525-47408-0.
55. P. D. Ouspensky (1949). In Search of the Miraculous Chapter 2
56. P. D. Ouspensky (1971). The Fourth Way, Chapter 1
57. Wellbeloved, Sophia (2003). Gurdjieff: the key concepts. Routledge. p. 109. ISBN 0-415-24897-3. ...different psychological terms in which the teaching of the Institute was presented...
58. P. D. Ouspensky (1949). In Search of the Miraculous, Chapter 9
59. "Gurdjieff's teachings were transmitted through special conditions and through special forms leading to consciousness: Group Work, physical labor, crafts, ideas exchanges, arts, music, movement, dance, adventures in nature ... enabled the unrealized individual to transcend the mechanical, acted-upon self and ascend from mere personality to self-actualizing essence." Archived 2008-06-20 at the Wayback Machine, Book review of Gary Lachman. In Search of the Miraculous: Genius in the Shadow of Gurdjieff.
60. P. D. Ouspensky (1949). In Search of the Miraculousm Chapter 1,
61. G.I. Gurdjieff (1963) Meetings with Remarkable Men, Chapter 11
62. See In Search of the Miraculous
63. Petsche, Johanna (2015). Gurdjieff and Music: The Gurdjieff/de Hartmann Piano Music and its Esoteric Significance. Leiden: Brill. pp. 1–279. ISBN 9789004284425. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
64. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (18 December 1999). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 60–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
65. Lytle, Cecil. "Cecil Lytle – List of Recordings". Archived from the original on 25 August 2011. Retrieved 30 May2011.
66. Jazz Discography Project. "Keith Jarrett Discography". Retrieved 30 May 2011.
67. "Hymns and Dervishes Album at AllMusic". AllMusic. Centaur Records. February 12, 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-04.
68. Archived August 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
69. Sicroff discography at AllMusic
70. "Hidden Sources". Archived from the original on 2016-05-21. Retrieved 2017-11-25.
71. Michael Waldberg (1990). Gurdjieff – An Approach to his Ideas, Chapter 1
72. Friedland and Zellman, The Fellowship, pp. 33–135
73. Seymour B. Ginsburg Gurdjieff Unveiled, pp. 71–7, Lighthouse Editions Ltd., 2005 ISBN 978-1-904998-01-3
74. Gurdjieff: an Annotated Bibliography, J. Walter Driscoll and the Gurdjieff Foundation of California, Garland, 1985.
75. Lachman, Gary (2003). Turn off your mind. The Disinformation Co. p. 13. ISBN 0-9713942-3-7. ... a hostile book on... Gurdjieff.
76. Taylor, Paul Beekman (2001). Gurdjieff and Orage. Samuel Weiser. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-609-25311-0. ...Orage revealed Gurdjieff's views of drugs and alcohol as conducive to 'insanity'[permanent dead link]
77. Miller, Henry (1984). From Your Capricorn Friend. New Directions Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 0-8112-0891-5. What I intended to say...
78. Ginsburg, Seymour (2005). Gurdjieff unveiled. Lighthouse Editions Ltd. p. 6. ISBN 1-904998-01-1. Without any doubt the human psyche and thinking are becoming more and more automatic.
79. See The Parable of the Sower
80. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7, 13–14.
81. Ouspensky, P. D. (1977). In Search of the Miraculous. Harcourt Brace & Co. pp. 299–302. ISBN 0-15-644508-5. G. invariably began by emphasizing the fact that there is something very wrong at the basis of our usual attitude towards problems of religion.
82. Archived November 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
83. Henry Tracol, The Taste For Things That Are True, p. 84, Element Books: Shaftesbury, 1994
84. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke Black Sun, p. 323, NYU Press, 2003 ISBN 978-0-8147-3155-0
85. Bruno de Panafieu/Jacob Needleman/George Baker/Mary Stein Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teachings, p. 166, Continuum, 1997 ISBN 978-0-8264-1049-8
86. Gary Lachman Turn Off Your Mind, pp. 32–33, Disinformation Co., 2003 ISBN 978-0-9713942-3-0
87. Gary Lachman Politics and the Occult, p. 124, Quest Books, 2004 ISBN 978-0-8356-0857-2
88. Colin Wilson G. I. Gurdjieff/P.D. Ouspensky, ch. 6, Maurice Bassett, 2007 Kindle Edition ASIN B0010K7P5M
89. Osho, Kundalini Yoga: In Search of the Miraculous, volume I, p. 208, Sterling Publisher Ltd., 1997 ISBN 81-207-1953-0
90. Panafieu, Bruno De; Needleman, Jacob; Baker, George (September 1997). Gurdjieff. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 28–. ISBN 978-0-8264-1049-8. Retrieved 14 April 2011.

External links

• International Association of Gurdjieff Foundations
• Gurdjieff Reading Guide compiled by J. Walter Driscoll. Fifty-two articles which provide an independent survey of the literature by or about George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and offer a wide range of informed opinion (admiring, critical, and contradictory) about him, his activities, writings, philosophy, and influence.
• Writings on Gurdjieff's teachings in the Elizabeth Jenks Clark Collection of Margaret Anderson Papers at Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
• Howarth Gurdjieff Archive at The New York Public Library
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:00 pm

Part 1 of 2

Letters from Rene Guenon to Julius Evola
by (Liber esse, scientiam acquirere, veritatem loqui)
Accessed: 11/9/19



Posted on 2012-07-16 by Cologero
We have 11 letters from Rene Guenon to Julius Evola in the span from 1930 to 1951. In earlier letters to Guido de Giorgio, we saw Guenon’s frustration with some of Evola’s views. Here, Guenon confronts Evola directly, although more politely than in his letters to de Giorgio. Evola claims to have read all of Guenon’s books; nevertheless, it seems he either misunderstood or rejected some significant aspects of Guenon’s view. I believe there is some of both.

For example, Evola does not seem to understand Guenon’s notion of the Intellect and thus shows little interest in ideas like the Supreme Identity. On the other hand, Evola is committed to his own philosophical system which differs from Guenon’s metaphysical writings in important ways. In a letter to Mircea Elide, as we will soon see, Evola points out indeed that his doctrine is contained in his philosophy of the Absolute Individual.

The first of the letters follows:

24 August 1930
Cairo, Egypt

You must have thought that I would not respond to your letter, which reached me in Paris a little more than a year ago.

The truth is that at that time I was quite ill and, subsequently, different unforeseen difficulties and commitments of every type made me always delay every correspondence that was not absolutely urgent. Time flew by quickly and I never succeeded in doing everything I wanted to. I’m taking advantage of the fact that I am close to a little stable in this residence to finally write you, asking you to excuse this excessive delay.

I have to tell you how little I was able to understand at all the interest that you showed in the reading of my books.

Obviously, the point of view you are assuming is quite distinctive and certainly cannot be mine, but I am pleased to see that that has not prevented you from getting rid of the anti-Oriental prejudice that, by your own admission, you used to hold. I wish that many others in the West would have the same attitude and come to understand the ancient doctrines of the Orient.

You ask me about [Jacques] Maritain; notwithstanding everything, I have always had friendly relations with him; as to ideas, we are in agreement especially on a negative point of view, that is, on “anti-modernity”. Apart from that, even he, disgracefully, is full of prejudices against the Orient; at least he was, because it seems that those prejudices since a short time ago have been attenuated; but, something strange, it is fed by a type of fear in the face of what one does not know, and it is a disagreeable thing, because it prevents him from broadening his own point of view.

But permit me to point out to you, from the moment that you read all my books that, after The Crisis of the Modern World, there is another, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, what was published last year.

Currently, I am working on The Symbolism of the Cross that will definitely be published toward the end of this year.

Excuse the briefness of my letter; I would like to be able to more or less get up to date with our correspondence.


Posted on 2012-07-22 by Cologero
The Truth is too high to receive the least insult.

It is unfortunate that we don’t have Evola’s letter to Guenon, although we can surmise what it contained. We see in this dialog, that Guenon is always the master. We have to agree with Guenon that Evola misunderstands certain principles that discolor his work in unfortunate ways. As for the inability to clearly distinguish the esoteric, or metaphysical/initiatic aspects from the religious/exoteric, Evola has created confusion in those whose understanding of Tradition is limited to Evola. It is not a matter of choosing or preferring one exoteric form over another. Hence, there are the mindless debates of paganism vs Christianity that are pervasive in counter-Traditional circles; the very fact of debating itself is an indication of the counter-Tradition.

It also makes Evola’s understanding of the Middle Ages quite confused, since he admires that period as Traditional, yet fails to adequately grasp its spiritual foundation. Yet Evola makes it very clear that what is required is an inner transformation, so this corrective would not radically alter his overall project.

Evola apparently wasn’t clear about the distinction between mysticism and the ascetic or initiatic path, although he referred often to it. For Guenon, they belong to different spheres, so there is not point to criticize mysticism, if that path is proper for a given person. This is also related to the distinction between salvation, which is meant for the majority, and liberation which is restricted to the few. Again, there is no value to disputing this question.

In practice, Evola’s choice seems to lead to a dead end, viz. to “ride the tiger”. Yet that is not at all the goal of an ascetic, heroic, or initiatic path. Rather, it seems to me, a man should devote his efforts toward Liberation, the Supreme Identity, that is, an overcoming of the modern world, rather than an uneasy accommodation to it. The rest of the letter speaks for itself, although I do not know who “P. A.” is.

23 February 1934
Cairo, Egypt

Forgive me once again for being so late in responding to your letter that I received with pleasure after such a long silence. But I have suffered from an acute eyesight weakness, and your letter reached me exactly at the moment when I was able to read it only after a very long time. The quantity of things of every type that had accumulated while I found myself in that impossible situation of working is such that, ever since, I have not yet succeeded in freeing myself from it and to regain that lost time.

I thank you for all your appreciations in regard to my works; and I think that in effect we can find ourselves in agreement, at least, on what concerns the conditions of the current world and the necessity of a return to the tradition and spirituality, if indeed it is still possible for the West, at the point in which things have currently reached.

As far as living far from Europe, I cannot perhaps precisely take into account certain tendencies; I must confess that I do not excessively trust in a “renewal” that, as much as I know of it, remains up to this point very superficial and somewhat confused: above all, except for rare exceptions, it is about vague and poorly defined aspirations, and it is very difficult to say what will result from it. But what is certain, is that we notice in very general lines how the people are no longer so satisfied with their own modern “civilization”, and that some begin to doubt the “progressive” pretense: as far as that goes, it is insufficient, nevertheless it is already at least something …

Regarding the problems brought up in your letter, permit me to tell you with great frankness that these difficulties appear to me especially to derive from the fact that you do not make a very clear distinction between the religious point of view of the one hand, and the metaphysical or initiatic, on the other. Whatever their relationships might be in certain respects, it is never necessary to confuse or mix them, since they refer to totally different domains, and they cannot consequently interfere with each other. The domain that defines religious truth belongs to what Hindu doctrine calls “non-supreme” knowledge; it is sufficient to put everything in its place and in its order because there is no conflict possible. Above all, it is necessary not to forget that mysticism belongs totally to the religious ambit; any comparison is therefore not possible between mysticism and metaphysics.

The two ways, without considering the very relevant differences of their modalities, are not, in reality, absolutely marked out to reach the same goal; and the “mystical union” is not the jivan-mukta, no longer that which “salvation” is not “Liberation”.

Everything that is religious, including mysticism, concerns individual possibilities, in the indefinite extension of which they are susceptible and does not go beyond them; on the other hand that is its reason for being. On the contrary, the reason for metaphysical realization is to proceed beyond [individual possibilities]; and this is why the one can serve as the base of the other. Nor was it the case for Christian esoterism of the Middle Ages, as it was always for Islamic esoterism; and, in this regard, I cited this aphorism that seems to me to be perfectly adapted to the argument: “As long as a man desired Paradise or has fear of Hell, he will not be able to aspire to the least grade of initiation”.

I must moreover bring to your attention the fact that the religious point of view is necessarily tied to certain historical contingencies, while the metaphysical point of view refers exclusively to the order of principles. To speak of “multiple avatars”, is to stick to the domain of appearances; nevertheless, in absolute reality, they are “the same thing”; the Christ principle is not multiple, whatever it can be made of its terrestrial manifestations or other types. The “Mediator”, according to all traditions, is the “Universal Man”, which is also the Christ; whatever the name by which he is called changes nothing, and I do not see what difficulty there can be in regard to this.

The “ascetic” way would be, in its type, more comparable to the initiatic way of what is not mysticism, if only in that it implies a method and a positive effort. Mysticism, for its part, is instead totally the opposite because of it passive character. The ascetic way can therefore be a preparation for a realization of another order, much more that the mystical way, which would even seem even incompatible with that goal.

But I do not think on the other hand that we can assert that some of what passes beyond elementary religion is open to all; asceticism belongs only to some, and mysticism to some other. As to what is beyond the religious domain, it is obvious that it concerns a much more restricted number of persons. Whoever finds his fulfillment at a certain level would make a very great error to try to pass beyond it. That concerns the question of a necessary hierarchy, against which all sophisms of democratic egalitarianism are impotent, though many of Catholics themselves today unfortunately are affected by it: and there are perhaps still a few of them who even suspect it.

In regard to your objection inherent to the domain of pure intellectuality, is it quite certain that it is even what it has as a goal? In that case it is still necessary to make an essential distinction: the texts that you cite are revolts against profane knowledge, not against sacred knowledge; and we absolutely do not confuse what is simply rational with what is purely intellectual. When I speak of profane knowledge, I understand by it, naturally, everything that is philosophy; the less the spirit is blocked from all those things, the better, certainly, and from the initiatic point of view even more than the religious. It would be necessary perhaps to include also a good part of theology, in so far as it contains many useless subtleties and is of a still quasi-philosophical nature. In any case, everything that is discussion and controversy is of a purely profane spirit. That said, it is necessary to add that pure intellectuality eludes on the other hand the religious domain; this is another thing and it stands to reason that sentiment and action have their part in it; yet again, it is necessary to put everything in the place that belongs to them, without allowing them any influence over a domain that is not their own.

Finally, pure intellectuality is in the same way indifferent in regards both to pride and humility, two opposed notions that are of a sentimental order in the same manner; those who pretend the contrary show clearly in that case that they do not have the least idea of what is truly intellectuality.

I see that you consider as valuable the incomprehension of P. A.; it would be somewhat difficult to find a more limited spirit than his; and, in truth, what a fine way of defending Christianity than by continuing to deny that its doctrine reaffirms a higher meaning to the nonsense of moral and social character than what one admits to often see in it! I don’t see in what a similar vulgarity would presuppose the intervention of a superhuman principle; fortunately, I have for my part a better idea of Christianity than his.

It is sad to see how persons of this type look to diminish all that is higher than them … The Truth is too high to receive the least insult.


Posted on 2012-07-30 by Cologero

Here we find Rene Guenon admitting the existence of initiatic organizations in the West, whether derived from Masonry or the Christian Hermetism of the Middle Ages. He himself was “initiated” in a Western form. These organizations may not be known, but it is not out of the question for them to reveal certain things from time to time.

Obviously, Julius Evola was interested in the four men discussed (Eliphas Levi, Meyrink, Bo Yin Ra, and Kremmerz), all of whom Guenon dismisses. I will offer the following comment here, not necessarily as a matter of fact, but as a matter of possibility, and not necessarily to be applied to those men. Guenon is not taking into account that Hermetists are often tricksters, with a cultivated public persona that may be quite different from their real understanding. Esoteric writings are couched in symbols and often contain deliberate contradictions and hyperboles. This was often necessary, in fact, when there was danger of crossing political and religious authorities, to hide the true meaning from outsiders, while being understood by initiates.

As for “speculative” masonry and Hermetism: if they are indeed residues of authentic initiations, there can be value in understanding their doctrines, being cautious of the potentials for misunderstanding without the corresponding “operative” teachings.

See Guenon/Evola Letter 7 Introduction for a more complete introduction.

18 April 1949
Cairo, Egypt

About what you say in regards to Schuon’s book, I don’t see exactly how the affirmation of the metaphysical identity of the possible and the real could be an “error”, actually just the opposite. Nevertheless, if there is anyone to whom this should be attributed, it was I and not he, since, long before him, I devoted a whole chapter (the second) of the Multiple States of Being to this problem.

As to the esoteric character of early Christianity, of which later Christianity was only an exteriorization (i.e., no longer having anything initiatic about it); we have no doubt about that, all the more since the Islamic tradition asserts it explicitly, claiming that Christianity, in its origins, was tariqa [way] and not sharia [law]; and the absence of sharia is in fact evident from the moment that, later, it had to supply it through an adaption of Roman law (whence “canon law” was derived), therefore with the contribution of something that was completely unrelated to Christianity (and it is necessary to note in this regard that the word in Arabic aqnun is still used today, in contrast to sharia, to define every law that is not integrated in the tradition).

After my latest books (especially the Perspectives on Initiation and the Reign of Quantity, since in the Great Triad I only used two or three articles), only there currently remain very few of my articles, as you noted, that have not yet been republished, at least among those that were intended to be copied in Ur. As for the articles on the Fedeli d’Amore, I must say that I had the intention for a long time to include them in a new edition of the Esoterism of Dante; I was not able to find the time to systematize it, but I did not abandon them and moreover it is likely that the edition is about to go out of print very quickly.

On the problem of Masonry, I believe that it will truly be very difficult for us to agree; but there are a few things that astonish me about what you say in this question. First of all, you make me say (without any qualification, for I had made quite clear that it concerned only the West) that “the only initiatic traditional organizations existing are the Compagnonnage and Masonry, and then you assert that I should not logically write that some Masons would seem to not take into account Oriental initiatic organizations, that otherwise exist and among which some have more or less numerous members in Europe itself. It stands to reason that it can at least write also for them. I add, to finish with this subject once and for all, that my writings can furnish to some people, unless they are associated with an initiatic organization, a theoretical knowledge of traditional doctrine that in itself is not unimportant and that otherwise it is unlikely that those, who are truly interested in it and have understood certain thing, do not then seek to obtain an initiation on the one hand or on the other (and, among the letters the I receive, there are many of them that demonstrate how in fact things go in this way). As to the Masons, they have had in this circle, in recent times, many more results than I myself had hoped.

Another thing: I said that in the Western world itself there still survive certain organization tied to Christian Hermetism and dating from the Middle Ages; if I have not stressed this more strongly, it is because they are so closed (one of those that I knew more in depth restricted its membership to just twelve) that the possibility of being admitted is in practice not even to be considered.

I come to another problem; if you make Masonry to be considered , or rather its origin, as an idea similar to what you express, I ask myself how you could have once had, as you had told me some time ago, the intention of developing a work on the rituals aimed at eliminating its anti-traditional elements that were introduced into it. Under these conditions it would be a totally useless task, and there is in that, I confess, something that is absolutely incomprehensible to me. [Before he was injured in Austria, Evola had been doing research on a book on Masonic rituals.]

However, what I would like you to take notice is this: the date of 1717 does not mark the origin of Masonry, but the beginning of its degeneration, something that is quite different; furthermore, because we can speak of a utilization of “psychic residues” in this time, it would be necessary to suppose that operative Masonry had then ceased to exist, something not true, from the moment that it subsists still today in different countries, and that in England, between 1717 and 1813, it participated effectively to complete certain things and to straighten up others, at least in the measure in which that was still possible in a Masonry reduced to being only speculative. In reality, the schism of 1717 involved just four Lodges, while there still existed a number of much higher Lodges that did not take part in it. On the other hand, where a regular and continuous filiation exists, the degeneration did not interrupt the initiatic transmission; it only reduced its efficacy, at least in general lines, because in spite of everything there could always be exceptions. As to the anti-traditional action of which you speak, it would be necessary in this regard to make some precise distinctions, e.g., between the Anglo-Saxon and Latin Masons; but, in any case, that only proves the incomprehension of the great part of the members of one or another Masonic organization, simply a question of fact and not of principle. Fundamentally, what could be said is that Masonry was the victim of infiltrations of the modern spirit, as in the exoteric order even the Catholic Church is in its current state even to a greater degree.

Of course, it is that I do not want at all to attempt to persuade you or anybody, only to make you see that the problem is much more complex than what you seem to believe.

Regarding the “initiatic strains” you mention, without denying at all their existence (and what I just said of certain existent Hermetic groups could otherwise be connected to them), I have to say that, for many reasons, I am very skeptical in the great number of cases, and that even the examples you cited are among those that seem to me to be more than dubious. Eliphas Levi was a Mason, and certain English circles with which he was in relationship were, to summarize, study groups, without a proper initiatic character, and were reserved exclusively to Masons; apart from that, I never found the least proof that he had received any other regular initiation, and all the stories that some have told about this can only be placed in the category of occultist fables.

Meyrink was certainly in the current of very numerous traditional ideas, especially of a Jewish source; but, not to mention that this presupposes precisely an initiation (I do not think that he was able to receive a truly Cabalistic initiation, the only thing without doubt to be taken in consideration in a case of the type), the burlesque manner and caricature with which he often presented these ideas leaves a truly sinister impression (a shame that I cannot tell you by letter all the efforts that I made to remediate certain detrimental consequences of The Green Face). Besides, his relations with the school of Bo Yin Ra (whose true origin I am probably the only one who knows, because I noticed that his own disciples did not know it) are not certainly a very favorable indication.

As for Kremmerz, there would be much to say, and it would require too much time. But what I saw of his writings and even certain rituals that were too clearly “fabricated”, gave me the impression of something of rather scant consistency, and that recalls the worst parts of Eliphas Levi’s work; in any case, the different groups into which his disciples split give the impression of not knowing absolutely how to direct themselves, and some admit to finding themselves at a true impasse.

I will add that, every time that it concerned self-styled Egyptian organizations, there were more serious reasons to be suspicious of them, because nothing authentic is found there and not even, quite often, of any consistency. As for an initiation received outside of the ordinary way of joining a known organization, if there are certainly some examples of them, but in these cases it was a question of extremely rare exceptions, and no one can be confident of finding himself in a similar condition to avoid a normal tie; to think of it differently would be self-delusion in a very serious way. As for me, since the age of 22 or 23, I was attached with some initiatic organization both Oriental and Western, from which you can take account that the supposition you advanced could not in any way be applied to my situation.

The doctrinal question that you speak about at the end of your letter is, fundamentally, less difficult than what it seems at first view: every “true man” has instead realized all the possibilities of the human state, but each one following a way that is congenial to him and thanks to which he differentiates himself from the others. Moreover, if it were not so, how could be there be a place here, in our world, also for other beings that have not reached this level? The same thing can also be applied, at another level, for the “transcendent man” or the jivan mukta; but then it is a matter of the totality of the possibilities of all the states.

Only, what is real, as weird as it can seem, is in fact that beings who have reached the same level can then be, in a certain sense, “indistinguishable” from the outside, even as far as it concerns the corporeal appearance; it happens in effect that they encompass a “type” that no longer has any individuality, and that occurs above all for those who carry out certain special functions: the ”type” is then that of the same function, something can make one believe that it is always the same being to exercise it over the course of a period of several centuries, while the reality is something completely different.


Posted on 2012-08-06 by Cologero

Letter VII repeats the same topics discussed in Letter VIII. I’m sure that Evola’s letters would be more interesting, but they are unavailable, presumably because Guenon’s family was not forthcoming about releasing his personal papers. We still see Guenon’s often curt and condescending tone in addressing Evola.

Evola still does not grasp the notions of the possible and the real; this will need to be explored. We see that Evola was still interested in certain marginal figures (from Guenon’s point of view). Curiously, Evola was interested in Eliphas Levi. Equally curious is Guenon’s admission about the existence of Hermetic organizations and his own “Western” initiation (Letter VII); in East and West, Guenon denied any existence of initiation in the West. My guess is that Evola was fishing for such organizations, but Guenon was not forthcoming on the grounds that (1) he does not give personal advice and (2) his own experience is of no interest to anyone else. Yet, it strains credulity to believe there were only 12 Hermetists in Europe.

Once again, I have omitted discussions about publishing, etc.

13 June 1949
Cairo, Egypt

[Discussions about publishing, etc. omitted]

As you imagine, it’s been quite some time since I had a chance to read your Revolt against the Modern Word. I will therefore make an effort to reread it when I can find some free time, in order to see if there are some points to make as you requested.

NOTE: Evola, at that time, was revising Revolt to be republished in a new edition.

[More discussions about publishing, etc. omitted]

According to what you explained to me this time, it seems that you consider the words “possible” and “real” in the sense of “non-manifested” and “manifested”; if that were so, one could say that it is merely a question of terminology and that, in spite of this expressive difference, we are basically in agreement on the point in question. However, such a use of the words “possible” and “real”, in a sense much different from how we use it, does not seem to be acceptable, because the non-manifested is not only just as real, but even more real than the manifested.

What I said last time regarding my ties with initiatic organizations (even though I don’t really like to speak of these things that ultimately can be of interest to no one outside of myself) was in response to what you wrote: “most often out of that secret society those capable of greater comprehension with respect to initiatic things were found, something that perhaps was verified in your own situation.”

That made me think you gave yourself the idea that, in my case, it could be a question of one of those pretended initiations without any regular ties, which, in my opinion, I could consider only purely imaginary. By the way, I will point out to you that, in Perspectives, I dedicated an entire chapter to explain the reasons why the word “secret society” is absolutely unacceptable in cases of the type of those which you referred to.

You think that, in Perspectives, we do not speak of Christian Hermetic organizations; but to the contrary, I expressly mentioned them even in the note to which you referenced and, if I didn’t talk about it more, it is because those whose existence I was able to come to know admits such a restricted number of members that they can be considered as inaccessible for all practical purposes. I also see that you have not well understood in what sense I spoke of “complex problems”. I only wanted to say with what in reality they have many more elements than what can be known through a study made “from the outside”; it is therefore totally contrary to something that could be defined as you thought.

As for the source itself of the question concerning Masonry, I clearly mean that I do not at all claim to convince you, and that otherwise you would have no interest in it. You say that in that case, it is a question for you only of the truth, but it is also the same even for me. You know moreover that I have never been concerned to entice anyone to join one or another organization, no more than to distance him from them. I only said in a very clear way that what could not be my role. I never had the time nor the interest to be concerned with individual cases and I always refused to give particular advise to anyone, for this thing as for any other. That said, I must however make two or three observations on what you tell me this time, and first of all on what concerns the other grades, since the true nature of the relationship between those and Masonry seems to elude you. When I speak of Masonry without further clarifications, it is always about Masonry properly called, including only the three grades of Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, to which can only be added the English grades of Mark and Royal Arch, totally unknown in “continental” Masonry.

Regarding the many other grades like those you refer to, it is obvious that internally there are some things of a quite different character, and that the connection which you wanted to establish between the different “systems” is completely artificial. I am furthermore less inclined to question what I myself wrote formally in a recent article; but, as that is the way with which all these things ended up by agglomerating themselves around Masonry, they do not form an integral part of it to any qualification and consequently it is not what is in question. Another point on which I would like to bring your attention is that when you say that the Lodges that had not adhered to the “speculative” schisms were not able to do anything to stop or rectify its consequences, it seems that you do not take into account things that nevertheless cover a certain importance, like the reestablishment of the grade of Master, totally unknown by those of 1717, or the action of the “Ancients’ Great Lodge”, whose independent existence continued up until 1813. To say so frankly, I have the impression that you always think only of what Masonry became at a certain period in Italy and France, and that you have no idea at all what concerns Anglo-Saxon Masonry.

To move on to other issues, I confess that I do not understand at all what realizations you mean concerning Eliphas Levi; in fact, like his filiation (or rather like drawing inspirations in his writings, since he himself died before that), there was nothing other than the occultist French movement of the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX, on whose insignificance I think we find ourselves in agreement.

For Kremmerz, I know well that a very unclear story is concealed underneath, but that it gives rise to many doubts, at least because I was never able to find any proof about the real existence of the organization to which he would have belonged. In any case, even if he had personally received an authentic initiation, that would still demonstrate nothing for the organization he founded, insofar as there were other cases of the same type (e.g., that of Inayat Khan, who belonged to a regular tariqa in India, but whose self-styled “Order of Sufis” corresponded absolutely to nothing); everything that I can say, is that his rituals are more or less “Egyptian” like those of Cagliostro!

There could nevertheless be certain realizations totally within that circle, as you say, but they do not go beyond the psychic domain, something that entails nothing of the truly initiated. I add that, after Kremmerz’ death, the different groups into which his organization divided appear absolutely not to know where to turn. I notice that, concerning Eliphas Levi, I forgot to cite the use of his works by Albert Pike; but in that case it is a matter of an influence exercised (otherwise indirectly) on the interpretation of the other grades of the Scottish Rite, something that does not proceed even in the direction you have seen.

There are certainly cases in which an influence of the counter-initiation is quite visible, and among them, it is necessary to include those in which traditional information is present in a manner of a willful parody; this is above all Meyrink’s case, something that, well intended, does not mean that he was perforce conscious of the influence that was exercised over him. Here is why I am amazed that you seem to have a certain esteem in regard to Meyrink, and all the more than he had besides belonged to Bo Yin Ra’s movement, for which you clearly had no regard.

NOTE: As long ago as 1924, Evola reviewed some of Bo Yin Ra’s works. Although Evola did not render a fully positive judgment, he conceded that his doctrine had some interesting points.

In this regard, it is necessary on the other hand for me to make a rectification: certainly there was in Bo Yin Ra a little bit of charlatanism and mystification, but there was at least still more to him, because he was connected with a very strange organization that had its own headquarters in parts of Turkestan and represented a more or less deviant type of Tantrism. About that, I can certainly be certain (and perhaps I am the only one), at the time when the future Bo Yin Ra was still called Joseph Schneider and studied painting in Paris, some members of the organization in discussion made it known to me one day that he was the only European to be a part of it. Later, I also saw the portrait that Bo Yin Ra had made of his “Master” and that it was perfectly recognizable for me; in such occasions, I was able on the other hand to question whether even his most intimate disciples knew absolutely anything at all about that, and I was very aware of letting them in on what I myself knew of it.

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:27 pm

Part 2 of 2

Posted on 2012-08-13 by Cologero

Main points:

The two correspondents agree to disagree about Masonry
Guenon gets a little snarky about the possible and the real
Guenon considers Inayat Khan to be absurd
Guenon teaches Evola about Islam, including role of Melchizedek, the coming Imam, and the meaning of infallibility and impeccability
Guenon had high regard for Mircea Eliade.
Guenon believed in witches and sorcerors
He tells a strange story about a spell cast on Leon de Poncins. We will have more to say about the latter at some other point.
Guenon tells an even stranger story about a Jewish lawyer, but we are left hanging.
Guenon explains why he never allows photos to be taken of him.
Since Evola neither knew Guenon’s age nor had ever seen a photograph of him, it proves that they had never met each other in person … no matter what others might claim.
2 August 1949
Cairo, Egypt

[Discussions about publishing, translations, and the proofs of Revolt omitted]

Regarding Revolt, you are doubtlessly correct: it will be simpler if you send me the proofs and I send back my observations after reading them, because otherwise you may have already modified something that I had noted.

Inayat Khan, whom I also knew, was regularly associated with the tariqah Chishtiya, one of the most widespread in India and totally orthodox; something that did not prevent the organization he founded to be completely the fruit of his fantasy and lacking any value; the name, “order of Sufis” that he gave it is also truly absurd.

As for the Masonic question, I think like you that it is useless to revisit it again. I only point out that as you say yourself this time, it is good to understand how is not possible to speak of “Masonry” meaning a type of global entity, that in reality does not exist, or rather, if you prefer, exists only in the line of principle and which one cannot attribute it to any more or less exterior action: the refusal by some of its branches to recognize others whose deviations they criticize sufficiently proves on the other hand that there does not exist in this regard any unity.

The problem of the possible and the real seems very simple and obvious to me, but, of course, under the condition of examining it from the metaphysical point of view; it is obvious that, from the philosophical point of view, one can always think anything whatsoever and discuss a problem endlessly without ever reaching a conclusion; it is even what characterizes profane speculation, and I have never been able to entertain any interest for those so-called “problems” that fundamentally have only a verbal existence.

Melchizedek corresponds, in Islamic esoterism, to the function of the Qutb, as I have otherwise explained in King of the World; to the contrary, El-Khider is the Master of the Afrad, which are found outside the jurisdiction of the Qutb and is said that they are not even known by it; in this regard, the Koranic story of the meeting between El-Khidr and Moses (Surat El-Kalif) is otherwise very significant. The way of the Afrad is something absolutely exceptional, and no one can choose it on his own initiative; it is about an initiation received beyond the ordinary means and belongs in reality to another chain (perhaps you can find an article of Abdul-Hadi in which he deals with these two chains, even if his definitions are not perhaps very clear).

In the Jewish Kabbalah, the same distinction is found expressed through the duality of Metatron and Sandalphon.

The invisible Imam is something completely different: those who admit his existence generally think that it is he who has to appear as the Mahdi; he is on the other hand defined as “el-Muntazer”, that could mean, the “expected one”, but that is interpreted almost always as “he who waits”.

Doctrinal infallibility belongs to whoever exercises legitimately a traditional function, naturally within the limits of that same function.

The issue of “impeccability” is quite different, and it is usually considered, at least in orthodox tradition, as reserved to the Prophet: if it happens that he sometimes performs some acts that could seem reprehensible from an exterior point of view, it is only a question of an appearance, and such actions should in reality justify for the reason that elude the understanding of ordinary men.

I can provide yew some news about Mircea Eliade: he published, as you might know, three articles from his journal Zalmoxis, the last of which in 1942; after that, he spent the rest of the war in Portugal, and subsequently he returned to Paris where he still is today. He has had many items published recently: Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, the Myth of the Eternal Return, and the History of Religious Ideas (which I have not yet had time to read), without mentioning the many important articles in the Revue de l’Histoire des Religions. I don’t have his address, but I think I can easily find it out and will then let you know.

As for Leon de Poncins, it is a matter of a rather unpleasant story: shortly before the war, a certain Eve Louguet was his secretary who took part in a group of dangerous sorcerers. He himself was a victim of these people and concerning the people who by chance saw him again around 1940, they reported to me that he seemed to have undergone a true collapse. I never knew what became of him since, but, in such conditions, I have many doubts that he can still be alive. [He actually outlived both Guenon and Evola. ~ ed.]

What is strange is that in the same period, one of the individuals in question tried to start a correspondence with me for some reason. At that time I did not know what it was about, but very soon the affair appeared suspicious to me, so that I immediately gave him a clean break.

I recently had the chance to speak about you with Mr. M., who has for more than a year been representing Argentina in Cairo and he informed me that he had known you at one time.

He intends to translate Man and his Becoming into Spanish; up until now, only the General Introduction has been translated into that language, in a version published in Buenos Aires during the war.

Since you asked me my age, I am 62 years old; I knew that you had to be younger than I, but I didn’t think that the difference was so great. [Evola was 51 at the time.] As for my photograph, I am sorry that I cannot satisfy your request, but the truth is that I don’t have any, and for many reasons. In fact, first of all what could be called a matter of principle that commits me, as you say, to give no importance to anything that is of a simply individual character. But, beyond that, I am also cautious that it could present some danger: about 15 years ago, I was informed that a certain Jewish lawyer was poking all around here to procure one of my photographs, claiming to be willing to pay any price. I never knew what he truly wanted to do with it, but what is certain in any case is that his intentions were not at all benevolent. Since one never knows where a photograph can end up, I concluded from the episode that it was much more prudent to not take one.


Posted on 2012-08-20 by Cologero

Guenon explains more about impeccability
Guenon expands on the powers of sorcerers and that no one is safe from their spells
Guenon offers opinions on Thomas Palamidessi, Carl Jung, Meher Baba, the Golden Dawn, and Aleister Crowley
29 October 1949
Cairo, Egypt

I received your letter of 4 September about eight days ago; I wonder if you were able to reach Eliade, although I rushed to send you his address in Capri. A short time after I wrote you, I knew that he had already returned to Paris; it seems that he did not take a very long vacation.

[Discussions and complaints about publishing and editors omitted]

Abdul-Hadi’s article, which I spoke about, entitled Pages dedicated to Mercury, was republished in “Etudes Traditionnelles”, but I realized that occurred only after the war, which explains the reason why you aren’t familiar with him.

As for “impeccability”, it goes without saying that it must belong equally to all who have reached a certain spiritual level. But, excluding the case of the prophetic mission, the possession of such a state concerns only that same person who received it, and no one else can speak on its merit or care about it, hence the absence of every explicit affirmation in this regard in orthodox doctrine.

If I learn something about Leon de Poncins, I will let you know, but I still don’t know what happened to him. I believed, I no longer know exactly why, that he had to retreat to Switzerland during the war, but I was not able to confirm that.

Regarding evil spells, there is a great difference between true sorcerers like those with which he had to deal with and simple occultists. The latter, notwithstanding all their pretenses, never reach any effective result. There have often been some of them who attempted to do something against me and, also like you, I never heard anything about it at all.

On the other hand, when you think that things of that type should not be able to strike those who have a true spiritual vocation (but I don’t think however that can be said to have been that the case of Leon de Poncins), it is also necessary to make a distinction: if you want to speak of the psychic and mental side, you are absolutely correct, but things are quite different from the corporeal point of view and anyone can always be struck in this regard. Furthermore, since it has been passed down that some sorcerers succeeded in sickening the Prophet himself, I don’t even see who could boast of being secure from their attacks.

Thomas Palamidessi, whose writings you inserted into you letter, is again obviously another charlatan of the type of those who currently abound everywhere. But what is astonishing is that he again appropriated ideas found in your and other’s books, to use them in a way that can only discredit them; in such conditions, the works the he publishes should not require much effort to write.

I heard about Meher Baba in the past and his vow of silence, which does not seem to prevent him from responding in other ways to the questions that are asked of him, but I did not know that he has reappeared in recent times. I do not know if he ever was associated with any regular initiatic organization, but it seems dubious to me because he is a Parsi. Nothing of the type seems to exist among the Parsis of India, who moreover have conserved only rather incomplete fragments of their tradition (I speak of the Parsis of India, because those of central Asia have quite other knowledge, even if they keep it hidden).

I am quite astonished about how much you tell me in regards to Karoly Kerenyi, because I remember that in the past he had spoken very favorably about me; it had to be in 1939 or 1940, and at that occasion he had sent me his book Religion in Antiquity. On the other hand I reviewed it, but because of the suspension of “Etudes Traditionnelle”, I was able to publish it only after its resumption.

As for Carl Jung, his influence unfortunately is gaining ground everywhere, in France as in Italy and Switzerland, and he seems to me still more dangerous than Freud because of his pseudo-spiritual pretense. Recently I had to write an article about the deformations of the very idea of Tradition provoked by his theory of the “collective unconscious”.

The Golden Dawn was a self-styled Hermetic organization that fundamentally did not seem to have a very serious character, because it was from its beginnings an authentic mystification. It is true that this could serve to conceal some rather suspect things. Internally, the principle role was developed by MacGregor and his wife (Bergson’s sister). Only much later was Crowley introduced to it, as he also did in many other things. Even when it was not about rather insignificant pseudo-initiations (perhaps he was not at all the case for the Golden Dawn), his involvement introduced truly sinister influences into it, if from making of it something much more dangerous. The Golden Dawn has ceased to exist, following a misunderstanding among its members, but a part of them followed it up under the name of Stella Matutina.

To come back to Aleister Crowley, what you told me reminds me of the story that turned up in 1931 (I believe at least that was the exact date): while he was in Portugal, he suddenly disappeared. They found his clothes on the border of the sea, something that made them believe he had drowned. But it was only a simulated death, since they were no longer concerned about him and did not try to find out where he had gone. Actually, he went to Berlin to play the role of secret adviser to Hitler who was then at his beginning. It is probably this that had given rise to certain tales about the Golden Dawn, but in reality it was only about Crowley, because it does not seem that a certain English colonel named Etherton, who was then his “colleague”, had ever had the least relationship with that organisation.

A little later, Crowley founded the Saturn-Lodge in Germany; have you ever heard of it? There he called himself Master Therion, and his signature was to mega Therion (the Great Beast), something that in Greek gives exactly the numeric value 666.

"You are my Creator, but I am your Master — Obey!" [Mary Shelley, Frankenstein]

In the Saturn Lodges a definite connection was made between the subject of 'artificial astral beings' and Vampire mythology. The égregore and its incarnate 'tenant', the possessor of the highest degree in the FS, were fuelled by the vital sexual powers of all the lodge members. Both the FS and its successor the Ordo Saturni deliberately tried to create a form of astral vampire, which they hoped eventually to incarnate as a being of flesh and blood. It was a reversal of the Christian Eucharist, where the congregation consumes the supposed flesh and blood of God, in the form of bread and wine. If one believes that Gods are the creation of Man, then it follows that an order-egregore is also a God. To successfully create a Golem might therefore mean that with the Golem even a God could be vicariously destroyed; a dream of omnipotence realised. In the FS the office of Gotos permits a personality to be united with GOTOS UTUIT itself; the Outer Head of the Order (OHO) becomes the Inner Head of the Order (IHO). Deus est Homo - Homo est Deus, as was stated similarly (but unconnectedly) in Reuss and Crowley's Liber Agapé.

In the FS's magical system, the libido during sexual intercourse was transferred from the sexual partner to the astral égregore. In concrete terms, this meant all that heterosexual and homosexual activity was conducted with the use of wordshells/euphemisms (Holy, Logos, Saturn, etc.) to feed the égregore's vitality. These efforts to identify the Saturn Order with an (at least) astral Golem, a Homunculus, an image or statue brought to life, or else some other form of android to build up power, is quite different from the practises of other O.T.O. groups, who are effectively engaged in a quest for the 'Elixir of Life' in the form of psychosexual secretions to gain self-empowerment, or to contact spirits. Nonetheless, this has not prevented some membrs of the so-called 'Caliphate' O.T.O. from joining the Ordo Saturni; in the Saturn lodges this 'elixir' was mostly used for anointing the statue of the GOTOS.

-- Nosferatu's Baby (Much Too Much) Too hot To Handle, by Peter-R. Koenig


Political Platonism
by Cologero
Posted on 2019-11-05

The philosophical background of Guenon and his followers’ traditionalism is extremely close to the Platonic tradition … In other words, traditionalism can be taken as radical Platonism. ~ Alexander Dugin, Political Platonism.

Dugin’s purpose seems to be to make Tradition academically palatable, by couching it in Platonic language. Obviously, as we shall demonstrate, unlike Dugin, there are certainly correspondences with Plato. However, Guenon probably refers to Aristotle and the Scholastics more than to Plato, so we shall also rely on them in developing a “Platonic” political system. Unfortunately, Dugin makes this rather strange assertion:

Traditionalism offers the entire necessary philosophical, ideational, conceptual, and sociological apparatus [to oppose globalization].

Au contraire, Guenon rejected philosophy as now understood; a fortiori, he had no intention of creating any such apparatus, since it would be a symptom of modernity, not its cure. That is because Dugin presumes that Guenon created a “school” called “Traditionalism”. That would make his project just one opinion among many. Now Guenon anticipated that; this is what he wrote about “Traditionalism”:

[“traditionalists” refer] to people who only have a sort of tendency or aspiration towards tradition without really knowing anything at all about it; this is the measure of the distance dividing the “traditionalist” spirit from the truly traditional spirit, for the latter implies a real knowledge … ~ See The Absurdity of Traditionalism

I hate to sound harsh, but those are Guenon’s words. Dugin is not alone; even Charles Upton refers to a “School of Traditionalism”. And they are hardly alone in promoting that misunderstanding. Reputations are built on the ignorance of readers.

Since we are on the topic of Platonism, we must understand the distinction he made between opinion and real knowledge. Guenon is not interested in opinion, since opinions can be mistaken. Most thinkers are, since it is more fun to debate. On the other hand, knowledge is of Being or Reality and cannot be mistaken. Guenon calls the transition from opinion to knowledge as an “intellectual conversion” or “metaphysical realization”. For the soi disant Traditionalists, such knowledge is simply invisible to them, beyond their intellectual horizon, so they fail to understand it, and, worse, don’t even seek it.

Structure of Man and Society

We begin a Platonic political system with an understanding of the Being of man, who is constituted by the three soul forces, and united by a Self:

• Concupiscence (eros)
• Irascibility (thumos)
• Intellect (nous)
• The I

This is not a matter of opinion, but rather true knowledge of man’s Being. When this is applied to political life, we get the idea of castes:

• Workers and producers
• Those holding political power
• Those wielding spiritual authority
• The (one) leader, chief, king, emperor, etc.

Georges Dumezil documented the same socio-political structures in Traditional societies. Hence, those structures are not at all arbitrary, but follow from the Real structure of man and society. Alternative political systems are simply deformations of this. Usually, the political powers and spiritual authorities are not explicitly acknowledged but are illicitly smuggled in.

Being and Thought

As Thomas Aquinas points out in De Principiis Naturae, generation, or Being, requires three principles:

• being in potency which is matter (Prime Matter, or what Dugin calls Chaos)
• non-existence in act which is privation
• that through which something comes to be in act which is form (or essences)

That is, Existence is generated by essences imposing themselves on prime matter. We experience existence, but know essences. Modern dualistic philosophies separate existence and essence. However, there is no duality, even though the modern mind has trouble discerning essences. Spiritual vision must be developed in order to intuit the essences the generate phenomena.

Privation, which is the negation of form, adds a level of difficulty. Privation is known in Thought, but confused in Being. Therefore, care must be taken to distinguish the part of a being that is the manifestation of the form from privation which is the inability of the form to completely manifest itself. Only in God is there no privation, since His existence and essence are identical.

Struggle for Existence

Although some still hope for some Utopian time of peace, the struggle for Existence is part of the fabric of nature. Even in Eden, Adam was expected to work. That means he was incomplete, subject to privation, and still needed to manifest all his possibilities.

Moreover, there was temptation in the Garden in the form of the forbidden fruit and the serpent. Therefore, Adam still had to face the Greater Battle against his lower nature.

There is a persistent idea that the animals had a different nature from what we see now. However, the naming of the animals means that Adam understood their true nature. The beasts are wholly natural beings, with no supernatural graces, so the lions were certainly not dining on Impossible Burgers. Thomas Aquinas offers this rationale:

In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard to man, but also in regard to other animals. But this is quite unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man’s sin, as if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon. ~ Summa Theologica, 1 Q 96

Inasmuch as Man shares in the nature of animals, Man is involved in the Lesser Struggle against material forces and enemies. Work, temptation, and struggle are permanent aspects of life.

Since Traditional political arrangements deal with reality, not speculative thought, the horizontal struggle involves the battle to protect and defend man’s natural life. This includes the family, clan, tribe, and, of course, the City.

For a background on Guenon and Neoplatonism, see There is no God but God


There is no God but God
by Cologero
Posted on 2011-11-06

In Introduction to the Study of Hindu Doctrines, Rene Guenon includes a chapter on the relationship between theology and metaphysics. He writes:

The theological point of view is but a particularization of the metaphysical point of view … it is an application of it to contingent conditions, the mode of adaptation being determined by the nature of the conditions to which it must respond … From this it follows that every theological truth, by means of a transposition dissociating it form its specific form, may be conceived in terms of the metaphysical truth corresponding ot it, of which it is but a kind of translation.

Since everything has a reason for its existence, so does theology. In particular, man as he is a contingent being, will respond and understand theological language, while finding metaphysical language abstract and unapproachable. The other more important factor, de-emphasized or ignored by Guenon, is that metaphysical doctrine itself is secondary and derivative. Specifically, in a book dedicated to the six orthodox schools of Hinduism, which claim to be based on the Vedas, there is no mention of the contents of the Vedas themselves.

The authority of the Vedas derives from their claim to be a revelation from a higher source to rishis or seers in a state of higher consciousness. The Vedas consist of poems, prayers, descriptions of sacrificial rites and rituals, incantations, laws and so on, all things that Guenon might dismiss as “sentimental” when they are actually foundational.

As an example we can consider the metaphysical doctrine “Being is” and its theological equivalent, “God exists“. This equivalence was certainly known in the Middle Ages as we seen from Thomas Aquinas. Since what is Not Being, isn’t, the clear corollary is that there is only one God. Hence, a commitment to monotheism, provided it is properly formulated and understood, is necessary to tradition.

Guenon explicates the metaphysics of Being and non-being most fully in The Multiple States of the Being. Anyone with a logical mind and sufficient powers of concentration can follow his presentation; a fortiori, there is no requirement to be in a state of higher consciousness. For Guenon, Being is not the Infinite, which contains all possibilities. Being consists of all possibilities that are manifested. Non-being, then, consists of non-manifested possibilities as well as possibilities of non-manifestation.

Now Guenon is somewhat inconsistent in his various works. On the one hand in Hindu Doctrines, he makes the rather racist claim that “Westerners, including even those who were true metaphysicians up to a certain point, have never known metaphysic in its entirety.” Yet, he also claims that the Middle Ages knew Tradition and had true initiates. In particular, he writes that Western Neo-Platonism did indeed understand the Infinite. As Gornahoor has pointed out, the intellect of the Middle Ages was formed by the Neo-Platonists Plotinus, Augustine, and Boethius.

If God is the principle of Being, then how can God also be Infinite? Augustine understood the issue at stake. For Augustine, the possibilities in the Infinite are precisely what Plato means by ideas. Then, Augustine places these ideas in the mind of God. Plato, and even Guenon, assume the ideas subsist in a domain of their own. This solution poses a dual conundrum. First of all, their metaphysical status is unclear. For Guenon, unmanifested possibilities do not “exist”, otherwise they would be manifested possibilities. Hence, there is no way to “know” them, although he does claim to know them. Augustine recognizes this problem and solves it by putting the Ideas in the mind of God, so that they appear in consciousness but not in the world of manifestation. Hence, for Augustine God is beyond Being and is identical with the Infinite.

The other conundrum is more subtle and cannot be resolved by doctrine alone. One of the objections to Plato’s philosophy is the lack of an adequate explanation as to how the ideas become real or manifested. This is a question we discussed in our interpretation of Evola’s The Individual and the Becoming of the World. This requires the Will, a conclusion that Augustine also reached; the will is not amenable or reducible to any verbal or intellectual theory.

A final point to be made is the status of the possibilities of non-manifestation. Once, again, we see a complete understanding in the West of these, under the concept of privation. Rather than the trivial examples given by Guenon, Augustine relates this to the concept of “evil”, which, he claims, cannot have a real existence, but is really a privation of the Good. As for Guenon’s examples, the ideas of the Void and of the Silence are certainly known in the West.

Next we will discuss how we can know Being or God.
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Aleister Crowley as Political Theorist, Part 1
by Kerry Bolton
Counter-Currents Publishing
September 2, 2010



No, it is not Winston Churchill. It is somebody far less evil.

Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), who styled himself the “Great Beast 666,” is an enduring presence both in the occult subculture and contemporary popular culture. He is hailed by some as a philosopher, magician, and prophet. He is condemned by others as a depraved egomaniac. But, for the most part, he is merely consumed for his shock value and diverting eccentricities.

Yet not much is known about Crowley as a social and political theorist who addressed the problems of industrialism, democracy, and the rise of mass man and society. Crowley’s social and political theory is grounded in a Nietzschean critique of morality and a metaphysical critique of modernity that often parallels the Traditionalism of René Guénon and Julius Evola.

The influence of Nietzsche is evident in Crowley’s aim of creating a new religion that would replace the “slave morality” inherent in the “Aeon of Osiris,” represented in the West as Christianity. A new Aeon of “force and fire,” the Aeon of Horus, “the Crowned and conquering child,” would be predicated on a new “master morality” expressed in Crowley’s new religion of “Thelema,” meaning “Will,” to be understood in Nietzschean terms as “Will to Power”: an endless upward striving to higher forms, individual and collective.

Crowley and Traditionalism

It may be surprising to group Crowley with Evola and Guénon as part of the counter-current to the leveling creeds of materialism, rationalism, and liberalism. Crowley, after all, is generally thought to have emerged from initiatic societies like Freemasonry and the Illuminati that promoted liberal humanism as a new “rationalist” religion, much as communism became a religion with its own saints, martyrs, holy wars, dogmas, rituals, and liturgies, despite its materialistic intentions.[1] Crowley, for instance, included Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Illuminati in his list of “saints” for his Thelemite Gnostic Mass.[2] The vast bulk of Crowley’s followers, moreover, are liberal humanists as well.

Guénon dubbed the attempts to promote liberalism and materialism in the guise of Tradition the “counter-tradition.”[3] In the words of the well-known 19th Century authority on occultism Eliphas Lévi,[4] a former Freemason[5] and socialist propagandist turned Catholic:

Masonry has not merely been profaned but has served as the veil and the pretext of anarchic conspiracies. . . . The anarchists have resumed the rule, square and mallet, writing upon them the words Liberty, Equality, Fraternity—liberty, that is to say, for all the lusts, Equality in degradation and Fraternity in the work of destruction. Such are the men whom the Church has condemned justly and will condemn forever.[6]

To this day, the French Revolutionary slogan “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is the motto of the French Grand Orient lodge of Freemasons. These anti-initiatic secret societies were engaged in an occult war, with political, social, moral, and economic manifestations.

But this is not the whole story.

Even within these Masonic and illuminist movements, genuine occultists sought a return to the mythic and the re-establishment of the nexus between the earthly and the divine.[7] Pre-eminent among them was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in Britain, where Crowley entered his magical apprenticeship. The Golden Dawn was closely associated with Freemasonry, but it seems likely that its leadership such as Mathers and Westcott identified with a traditionalist and un-profaned form of Masonry.[8] W. B. Yeats’ membership in the Golden Dawn also counts as evidence of a traditionalist current (even though Yeats was in bitter conflict with Crowley).

Surprisingly, Evola himself concedes that Crowley was, at least in part, a genuine initiate. Evola claims that the Golden Dawn, with which Crowley was involved, was “to some extent” a successor “to those of an initiatic character.”[9] Evola also granted that Crowley’s system of “magick” was drawn from traditional initiatic practices: “It is certain that in Crowleyism the inoculation of magico-initiatic applications is precise, and the references or orientations of ancient traditions are evident.”[10] (Given that Evola was writing of Crowley at a time when the world was in political ferment, and Evola was himself very much involved with that ferment as a critical supporter of Fascism, it is notable that even Evola did not explore the social and political implications of “Crowleyism,” especially given that Crowley’s expressed views were largely in accord with Evola’s.[11])

Crowley, therefore, despite some of his associations, should not be counted among the counter-tradition. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” were repugnant to him, and it was frankly absurd for him enroll Weishaupt[12] among the Telemite “saints.” Crowley’s inclusion of Weishaupt can perhaps be explained not by what he was for, but by what he was against. For Wesihaupt directed much of his conspiratorial energy against the Catholic Church, which on a very superficial level might have prompted Crowley’s admiration.

The initiatic Tradition championed by Evola and Guénon is fundamentally and frankly elitist and aristocratic. In Traditional society, “magick” was an integral part of life, a means of harmonizing human life with the cosmos. Thus there is no foundation for equality and democracy, as Lévi writes:

Affirmation rests on negation; the strong can only triumph because of weakness; the aristocracy cannot be manifested except by rising above the people. . . . The weak will ever be weak . . . the people in like manner will ever remain the people, the mass which is ruled and which is not capable of ruling. There are two classes: freemen and slaves; man is born in the bondage of his passions, but he can reach emancipation through intelligence. Between those who are free already and those who are as yet not here is no equality possible.[13]

Crowley rejected democracy for the same reasons as Lévi, Evola, and Guénon. In the Thelemic ‘bible’ The Book of the Law, Crowley writes of democracy: “Ye are against the people, o my chosen;”[14] about which Crowley commented: “The cant of democracy condemned.”[15]

Having rejected democracy and other mass movements as innately alien to the “Royal Art,” Crowley sought to develop the political and social aspects of Thelema, writing an uncharacteristically clear commentary on his ‘bible,’ The Law is for All: An Extended Commentary on the Book of the Law.

The Book of the Law

After Crowley predictably fell out with the leadership of the Golden Dawn, he spent several years traveling. In 1904 Crowley and his wife Rose were in Egypt, where according to Crowley, an event occurred that was of “Aeonic” significance. Crowley claims to have received a scripture for the “New Aeon,” channeled from the “Gods” through a supernatural entity called Aiwas from whom Crowley claimed to have received Liber Legis via automatic writing.[16] What was written by Crowley over the course of three days became the bible of Thelema, a Greek word meaning Will, which the Liber Legis proclaims as the name of the doctrine.[17]

Liber Legis reads in parts like a mystical rendering of Nietzsche, with a strident rejection of herd doctrines including Christianity and democracy. (Crowley lists Nietzsche as a “saint” in his Gnostic Mass.[18])

Under Thelema all doctrines and systems that restrict the fulfillment of the “will” or the “True Will,” whether social, political, economic, or religious, are to be replaced by the Crowleyite religion in a new aeon, the Aeon of Horus, “The Conquering Child.”[19] “Will” is the basis of Nietzschean evolution, and it becomes clear that Crowley was attempting to establish a Western mystical system of self-overcoming along the lines of ancient yogic practices of self-overcoming to achieve higher states of Being.

“Do what thou wilt” is the foundation of Thelema.[20] It does not mean a nihilistic “do what you want,” but “do your will” that is, your “true will,” which must be discovered by rigorous processes. Crowley states that the dictum “must not be regarded as individualism run wild.”[21]

Reflecting the individual “true will,” Thelemic doctrine describes “every man and every woman [as] a star.”[22] That is, each individual is a part of the cosmos but with his or her own orbit;[23] or what one might call an individual life-course.

Liber Legis states, “the slaves shall serve.”[24] Again this is Nietzschean in the sense that many individuals, probably the vast majority, do not have the will to discover and fulfill their “true will.” While everyone is a “star,” some shine brighter than others. In The Star Sponge Vision,[25] an astral revelation, Crowley explained this inequality as reflecting the “highly organized structure of the universe” which includes stars that are of “greater magnitude and brilliance than the rest.”[26] The mass of humanity whose natures are servile and incapable of what Nietzsche called “self-overcoming”[27] will remain as they are, their true wills being to serve the followers of—again in Nietzschean terms—a “master morality,”[28] those whom Liber Legis describes as being “Kings of the Earth,” those whose starry wills are that of rulers.[29] (If some of the prose supposedly dictated to Crowley by Aiwaz sounds remarkably similar to Eliphas Lévi, it might be because Crowley claimed to be reincarnated from, among many sages from ancient to recent times, Lévi himself![30])

Such a doctrine while individualistic is not anarchistic, nihilistic, or even liberal. It is the revival of castes. More here is implied than classes, which are an economic and materialistic debasement; castes reflecting a metaphysical order where each individual fulfils his function according to his true will—or duty, dharma—as manifestation of the cosmic order. To followers of the Perennial Tradition, caste is a manifestation of the divine order and not merely a some economic division of labor for crass exploitation.[31]

Crowley (or Aiwaz) does explain the fundamental anti-democratic and anti-egalitarian doctrine of Thelema in these terms, again reminiscent of Nietzsche:

We are not for the poor and sad: the lords of the earth are our kinsfolk. Beauty and strength, leaping laughter, and delicious languor, force and fire are of us . . . we have nothing to do with the outcast and unfit. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings; stamp down the wretched and the weak: this is the law of the strong; this is our law and the joy of the world.[32]

This hierarchical social order, while in accord with the perennial tradition, postulates a new aristocracy, the old having become debased and beholden to commerce. (Crowley himself was of bourgeois origins, so he ennobled himself with the title of “Sir Aleister Crowley.”[33]) Under the “Aeon of Horus”[34] the new aristocracy would consist of Nietzschean self-overcomers. Crowley specifically refers to the influence of Nietzsche in explaining the Thelemic concept: “The highest are those who have mastered and transcended accidental environment. . . . There is a good deal of the Nietzschean standpoint in this verse.”[35]

However, in contrast to Nietzsche as well as Guénon and Evola, Crowley also draws on Darwinism. After referring to the “Nietzschean standpoint” Crowley states in Darwinesque terms:

It is the evolutionary and natural view . . . Nature’s way is to weed out the weak. This is the most merciful way too. At present all the strong are being damaged, and their progress being hindered by the dead weight of the weak limbs and the missing limbs, the diseased limbs and the atrophied limbs. The Christians to the lions.[36]

Crowley saw an era of turmoil preceding the New Aeon during which the masses and the elite, or the new aristocracy, would be in conflict. Crowley wrote of this revolutionary prelude to the New Aeon: “And when the trouble begins, we aristocrats of freedom, from the castle to the cottage, the tower or the tenement, shall have the slave mob against us.”[37]

Crowley describes “the people” as “that canting, whining, servile breed of whipped dogs which refuses to admit its deity . . . ”[38] The undisciplined mob at the whim of its emotions, devoid of Will, is described as “the natural enemy of good government.” The new aristocracy of governing elite will be those who have discovered and pursued their “true will,” who have mastered themselves through self-overcoming, to use Nietzsche’s term. This governing caste would pursue a “consistent policy” without being subjected to the democratic whims of the masses.[39]



[1] Note for example the embalming of Lenin and his entombment at an edifice reminiscent of the stepped pyramids of ancient priest-kings.

[2] Aleister Crowley, Magick (Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1984), p. 430.

[3] Guénon, René, The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times (New York: Sophia Perennis, 2002).

[4] Pen name for Alphonse Louis Constant.

[5] Lévi makes an allusion to having taken the oath of the “Rosy Cross,” indicating he had been initiated into the quite high degree of Rosicrucian in Freemasonry. Eliphas Lévi, The History of Magic (London: Rider, 1982), p. 286.

[6] Eliphas Lévi, p. 287.

[7] Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1995).

[8] In this writer’s opinion in regard to Freemasonry, it is all a bunch of scabrous bastardy, which should be treated with suspicion, whether in its Grand Orient, “irregular” or United Grand Lodge forms. Westcott, founder of the Golden Dawn, for example regarded the “true religion” of Freemasonry to be Cabbalism. R. A. Gilbert, The Magical Mason: Forgotten Hermetic Writings of William Wynn Westcott, Physician and Magus (Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press, 1983), Westcott, “The religion of Freemasonry illuminated by the Kabbalah,” ch. 21, pp. 114–23.

[9] Julius Evola, “Aleister Crowley,” Mask and Face of Contemporary Spiritualism, (Bocca, 1932), chapter IX, ... r-crowley/

[10] Julius Evola, “Aleister Crowley.”

[11] The most comprehensive examination of Evola’s political and social views available in English translation is Men Among the Ruins, (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1992).

[12] Robison John, Proofs of a Conspiracy (Boston: Western Islands, 1967).

[13] Eliphas Lévi, The History of Magic, (London: rider, 1982), p. 44.

[14] Crowley, Liber Legis (“The Book of the Law”), (Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1976), 2: 25.

[15] Crowley, The Law Is For All (Arizona: Falcon Press, 1985), p. 192.

[16] Crowley was also however to call Aiwaz his own “Holy Guardian Angel,” or in mundane psychological terms his unconscious; therefore Liber al Legis could be regarded as an example of automatic writing, a likely explanation given that the writing styles of Aiwaz and Crowley are remarkably similar.

[17] For an account of Crowley’s occult career and the so-called “Cairo Working” where Liber Al Legis was written, see Colin Wilson, Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast, (Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press, 1987).

[18] Crowley, Magick (Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1984), p. 430.

[19] Part 3 of Liber Legis is the revelation of Horus as the God of the New Aeon , which aeonically follows that of Isis (matriarchy), and the present Aeon of Osiris, the religions of the sacrificial god, including Christianity. Horus is described as the god of war and vengeance. (Liber Legis 3:3).

[20] “There is no law beyond do what thou wilt.” Liber Legis 3: 60.

[21] Crowley, The Law is for all, p. 321.

[22] Liber Legis, 1: 3.

[23] The Law is for all, pp. 72–75.

[24] Liber Legis 2: 58.

[25] Crowley, The Law is for all, pp. 143–45.

[26] Crowley, The Law is for all, pp. 143–45

[27] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1969), pp. 136–38.

[28] “There is a master morality and slave morality…” Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1984), p. 175.

[29] Liber Legis 2:58.

[30] Magick, p. 430. Other “Thelemic saints” listed in the Gnostic Mass from whom Crowley claimed to be reincarnated included Mohammed and Swinburne. Thankfully, Weishaupt is not among the lineage.

[31] Evola, The Hermetic Tradition (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1995), pp. 89–100.

[32] Liber Legis 2: 17–21.

[33] Crowley, Magick, “Gnostic Mass,” “The Saints,” p. 430.

[34] “I am the Hawke-headed god of silence and of strength.” (Liber Legis 3:70).

[35] The Law is for all, p. 175.

[36] The Law is for all, p. 175.

[37] The Law is for all, p. 192.

[38] The Law is for all, p. 192.

[39] The Law is for all, p. 193.


Part 2 of 2.

The Thelemic State

Aleister Crowley, 1875-1947

The form of Thelemic government is vaguely outlined in Liber Legis, suggesting the type of corporatism: “Let it be the state of manyhood bound and loathing: thou has no right but to do what thou will.”[1] Contrary to the anarchistic or nihilistic interpretation often given Thelema’s “do what thou wilt,” Crowley defined the Thelemic state as a free association for the common good. The individual will is accomplished through social co-operation. Individual will and social duty should be in accord, the individual “absolutely disciplined to serve his own, and the common purpose, without friction.”[2]

Crowley emphasized his meaning so as not to be confused with anarchism or liberalism. While his Liber Oz (“Rights of Man”)[3] seems to be a formula for total individual sovereignty devoid of social restraint, Crowley stated: “This statement must not be regarded as individualism run wild.”[4]

In what might appear to be his own effort at a “papal encyclical” on good government, Crowley explains:

I have set limits to individual freedom. For each man in this state which I propose is fulfilling his own True Will by his eager Acquiescence in the Order necessary to the Welfare of all, and therefore of himself also.[5]

Crowley’s rejection of democracy and anything of what might be termed a “slave morality”[6] necessitated a new view of the state. Like others of his time, including fellow mystics such as Evola and Yeats,[7] Crowley was concerned with the future of culture under the reign of mercantilism, materialism, and industrialism. He feared that an epoch of mass uniformity was emerging. He saw equality as the harbinger of uniformity, again drawing on biology:

There is no creature on earth the same. All the members, let them be different in their qualities, and let there be no creature equal with another. Here also is the voice of true science, crying aloud: “Variety is the key of evolution.” Know then, o my son, that all laws, all systems, all customs, all ideals and standards which tend to produce uniformity, being in direct opposition to nature’s will to change and develop through variety, are accursed. Do thou with all thou might of manhood strive against these forces, for they resist change which is life, and they are of death.[8]

This biological rather than metaphysical approach was emphasized by reference to differences among humanity being caused by “race, climate, and other such conditions. And this standard shall be based upon a large interpretation of Facts Biological.”[9]

Referring to the passage in Liber Legis that states: “Ye are against the people, o my chosen!”[10] Crowley explained:

The cant of democracy condemned. It is useless to pretend that men are equal: facts are against it. And we are not going to stay dull and contended as oxen, in the ruck of humanity.”[11]

Thelema and Corporatism

The democratic state as a manifestation of equality and consequent uniformity was to be replaced by what is often termed the “organic state” or the “corporatist state.” This state conception may be viewed both biologically as in the organism of the body (hence “corporatist”) with the separate organs (individuals, families, crafts, etc) functioning according to their own nature while contributing to the health of the whole organism (society), with the state playing the role of the “brain,” the organ that coordinates the separate parts. In England corporatism was called “guild socialism,” among the Continental Left “syndicalism.”

Corporatism also had a metaphysical aspect, being the basis of social organization in traditional societies, including the guilds of Medieval Europe and the corporations of ancient Rome. In traditional societies, guild or corporatist social organization was, like all else, seen as a terrestrial manifestation of the cosmic order, the divine organism, and castes were primarily spiritual, ethical, and cultural organs, as distinct from the economic “classes” of debased secular societies. Hence, corporatism was advocated by Evola as the traditionalist answer to class society.[12]

Crowley’s conception of an organic state is described in De Ordine Rerum:

In the body every cell is subordinated to the general physiological Control, and we who will that Control do not ask whether each individual Unit of that Structure be consciously happy. But we do care that each shall fulfill its Function, with Contentment, respecting his own task as necessary and holy, not envious of another’s. For only mayst thou build up a Free State, whose directing will shall be to the Welfare of all.[13]

Hence Crowley, far from being a misanthrope, was concerned with freeing the individual from being part of a nebulous mass and providing sustenance for his material and thereafter cultural well-being as far as his nature allows. The deliberate cultivation of his image as “evil” must be viewed primarily as a perverse quirk, and in particular a result of his perverse sense of humor, his narcissistic personality, and his strict upbringing among the Plymouth Brethren, where he was delighted to have a mother who called him the Anti-Christ, which seems to have had a lasting effect on his thoughts and deeds throughout his life.

Leisure, the Basis of Culture

Crowley addressed himself to a major problem for unorthodox economic and social theorists, that of the reduction of working hours when a new economic system had secured physical abundance for all, and freed humanity from the economic treadmill.

Once the obligations to the social order had been met, there should be “a surplus of leisure and energy” that can be spent “in pursuit of individual satisfaction.”[14] Sufficient amount of leisure time free from strictly material pursuits is the basis of culture, and a flowering of culture in the Medieval era for example was a product of this, coupled with the spiritual basis of society.

Crowley, like the Social Crediters and certain non-Marxian socialists or social reformers, wished to change the economic system to reduce working hours. His comments about the role of money are astute. Like the Social Crediters, Crowley believed that a change in the role of money is necessary for changing the social and economic system. He was certainly aware of A. R. Orage’s New Age magazine, where the minds of Social Crediters, guild socialists, and literati met. (Crowley referred to the journal in another context in his autobiography.[15]) Crowley rather perceptively set out his economic and financial policy:

What IS money? A means of exchange devised to facilitate the transaction of business. Oil in the engine. Very good then: if instead of letting it flow as smoothly and freely as possible, you baulk its very nature; you prevent it from doing its True Will. So every “restriction” on the exchange of wealth is a direct violation of the Law of Thelema.[16]

Once the material welfare of the citizen is secured, then the energy expended on economic necessities can be turned to the pursuit of culture. Under the Thelemic state the citizen would be directed by the ruling caste to pursue the higher aspects of life leading to the flowering of culture: “And because the people are oft-time unlearned, not understanding pleasure, let them be instructed on the Art of Life.”[17] From this regime would follow a high culture in which each citizen would have the capacity to participate or at least appreciate: “These things [economic welfare] being first secured, thou mayst afterward lead them to the Heavens of Poesy and Tale, of Music, Painting and Sculpture, and into the love of the mind itself, with its insatiable Joy of all Knowledge.”[18]

Under the Thelemic state every individual would be given the opportunity to fulfill his true will. Crowley maintained, however, that most true wills or “stars” would be content with a satisfying material existence, having no ambition beyond “ease and animal happiness,” and would thus be content to stay where they are in the hierarchy. Those whose true will was to pursue higher aims would be given opportunities to do so, to “establish a class of morally and intellectually superior men and women.” In this state, while the people “lack for nothing,” their abilities according to their natures would be utilized by the ruling caste in the pursuance of a higher policy and a higher culture.[19]

Crafts and Guilds

Crowley also addressed the problem of industrialization and the role of the machine in the process of dehumanization, or what might also be termed by Traditionalists desacralisation,[20]:

Machines have already nearly completed the destruction of craftsmanship. A man is no longer a worker, but a machine-feeder. The product is standardized; the result, mediocrity. . . . Instead of every man and every women being a star, we have an amorphous population of vermin.[21]

Consistent with his advocacy of an organic state and with the re-sacralization of work as craft, Crowley expounded the guild as the basis of a Thelemic social organization. The guild was the fundamental unit of his own esoteric order, Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO):

Before the face of the Areopagus stands an independent Parliament of the Guilds. Within the Order, irrespective of Grade, the members of each craft, trade, science, or profession form themselves into a Guild, making their own laws, and prosecute their own good, in all matters pertaining to their labor and means of livelihood. Each Guild chooses the man most eminent in it to represent it before the Areopagus of the Eighth Degree; and all disputes between the various Guild are argued before that Body, which will decide according to the grand principles of the Order. Its decisions pass for ratification to the Sanctuary of the Gnosis, and thence to the Throne.[22]

This guild organization of the OTO thus represents society as a microcosm as the ideal social order that Crowley would have established under a Thelemic regime: “For, in True Things, all are but images one of another; man is but a map of the universe, and Society is but the same on a larger scale.”[23]

In Crowley’s blueprint of the corporatist state, each self-governing profession is represented in a “parliament of guilds.” This corporatist system was widely supported as an alternative to both capitalism and Marxism and was advocated by Evola and D’Annunzio, syndicalists, and Catholic traditionalists. It was embryonically inaugurated under Mussolini. Ironically from a Crowleyan perspective, Dollfuss’ Austria and Salazar’s Portugal embraced corporatism as applications of Catholic social doctrine.

The Hierarchy of the Thelemic State

Crowley calls the mass of people under his system of governance “the Men of the Earth” who have not yet reached a stage of development to participate in government, and would be represented before the Kingly head of state by those who are committed to service.[24] The governing caste comprises a Senate drawn from an Electoral College,[25] those individuals committed to service through personal “renunciation,” including the renunciation of property and wealth, having taken a “vow of poverty.”[26] Of course the universal franchise has no place in the selection of Thelemic government:

The principle of popular election is a fatal folly; its results are visible in every so-called democracy. The elected man is always the mediocrity; he is the safe man, the sound man, the man who displeases the majority less than any other; and therefore never the genius, the man of progress and illumination.[27]

The Electoral College is selected by the King from volunteers who must show acumen in athletics and learning, a “profound general knowledge” of history and the art of government and a knowledge of philosophy.[28]

This corporatist and monarchical system was designed to “gather up all the threads of human passion and interest, and weave them into a harmonious tapestry . . .” reflecting the order of the cosmos.[29]

Crowley and Fascism

The Italian poet and war veteran D’Annunzio might have come closest to the Thelemite ideal with his short-lived Free City of Fiume, a regime governed by the arts that attracted numerous rebels, from anarchists and syndicalists to nationalists.[30] Crowley does not mention D’Annunzio in his autobiography, even though Crowley was in Italy in 1920, and D’Annunzio’s enterprise ended in December of that year.[31]

As for the Italian Fascists, Crowley wrote: “For some time I had interested myself in Fascismo which I regarded with entire sympathy even excluding its illegitimacy on the ground that constitutional authority had become to all intents and purposes a dead letter.”[32] Crowley saw the Fascisti in a characteristically poetic way, describing the blackshirts patrolling the railway as “delightful.” “They had all the picturesqueness of opera brigands.” As for the “March on Rome,” Crowley stated that he thought the behavior of the Fascisiti “admirable.”

Crowley quickly became disillusioned, however, and regarded Mussolini as a typical politico who compromised his principles for popular support. The mass nature of Fascism caused suspicion among many of the literati who had originally supported it, such as Wyndham Lewis and W. B. Yeats. Crowley observed developments in Rome for three days, and was disappointed with Mussolini’s compromises with the Catholic Church, which Crowley regarded as Mussolini’s “most dangerous foe.”[33] Of course such criticisms are common among observers of events rather than participants. Critics from afar can afford the luxury of theorizing without having to test their theories, and themselves, in the practicalities of office.

Crowley moved to Cefalu where he established his “Abbey of Thelema” in a ramshackle house. The death of follower Raoul Loveday resulted in Crowley’s expulsion from Italy in 1923, by which time he had become an embarrassment to the Fascist regime.[34]

However, one eminent individual who must have discerned a proto-fascist element in Thelema, before himself becoming one of the more significant spokesmen of Sir Oswald Mosley’s British fascism was J. F. C. Fuller, who achieved fame as the architect of modern tank warfare and as a military historian. Fuller had heard of Crowley in 1905, and was therefore one of Crowley’s earliest devotees. He was, like Crowley, a Nietzschean with occult interests who regarded socialism as a leveling creed: “the scum on the democratic cauldron.” His opposition to Christianity was likewise Nietzschean.[35]

Fuller met Crowley in London in 1906 and wrote Crowley’s first biography, The Star in the West, which was the winner (and only entrant) of a competition to promote Crowley’s poetry. Although Fuller’s interest in the occult and mysticism was life-long, he had broken with Crowley in 1911, embarrassed by Crowley’s escapades that drew blazing headlines from the tabloid press.

In 1932 Fuller was still writing in Nietzschean terms of socialism and democracy as products of Christianity. Joining the British Union of Fascists and becoming Mosley’s military adviser, Fuller remained a lifelong Mosleyite, even after World War II, but refused any further contact with Crowley.

* * *

While Fascists (particularly “clerical-fascists”), guild socialists, Social Crediters, Distributists, syndicalists et al. attempted to resolve the problems of the machine age, and Evola offered something of a practical plan in his Men Among the Ruins, Crowley’s Thelemic social conceptions remained as otherworldly as his mysticism, and few of his followers seem to have given much attention to the political implications or implementation of Thelema.

Crowley, a poet and a mystic, not an agitator or a politician, had his own conception of historical cycles, albeit somewhat limited, in which the Aeon of Horus, a the new age of “force and fire,” would emerge with Crowley as its “prophet.” As Marx assured us that the victory of communism was the end of an inexorable historical process, Crowley thought the Thelemic world order would arise as a product of inexorable cosmic laws. Nonetheless, like Marx who called upon socialists to become active agents of this historical process, Crowley envisioned that the ordeals demanded by his Holy Order would give rise to Thelemic Knights who would wage jihad against all old creeds:

We have to fight for freedom against oppressors, religious, social or industrial, and we are utterly opposed to compromise, every fight is to be a fight to the finish; each one of us for himself, to do his own will, and all of us for all, to establish the law of Liberty. . . . Let every man bear arms, swift to resent oppression . . . generous and ardent to draw sword in any cause, if justice or freedom summon him.[36]



[1] Liber Legis, 1: 42.

[2] The Law is for all, p. 101.

[3] The Law is for all, p. 321 Liber Oz.

[4] The Law is for all, p. 321

[5] Crowley, The Book of Wisdom or Folly (Maine: Samuel Weiser., Maine 1991), clause 39, Liber Aleph Vel CXI.

[6] Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1991), p. 175.

[7] K. R. Bolton, Thinkers of the Right (Luton: Luton Publications, 2003).

[8] The Law is for all, p. 228.

[9] The Law is for all, p. 228.

[10] Liber Legis 2: 25

[11] The Law is for all, p. 192.

[12] Evola, Men Among the Ruins, pp. 224-34

[13] The Law is for all, pp.251-52

[14] The Law is for all, p. 230.

[15] Crowley, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul,1986), p.544.

[16] Crowley, Magick Without Tears (Arizona: Falcon Press, 1983), p. 346

[17] The Law is for all, p. 251

[18] The Law is for all, p. 251

[19] The Law is for all, p.227

[20] Evola, Men among the ruins (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2002), p. 224

[21] Crowley, The Law is for all, p. 281.

[22] Crowley, Liber CXCIV, “O.T.O. An Intimation with Reference to the Constitution of the Order,” paragraph 21, The Equinox, vol. III, no. 1, 1919.

[23] An Intimation, paragraph 1.

[24] An Intimation, paragraph 5.

[25] An Intimation, paragraph 9.

[26] An Intimation, paragraph 30.

[27] An Intimation, paragraph 10.

[28] An Intimation, paragraph 12 and 13.

[29] An Intimation, concluding remarks.

[30] Anthony Rhodes, The Poet As Superman – D’Annunzio (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1959).

[31] Rhodes, p. 221

[32] Crowley, Confessions, p.911

[33] Crowley, Confessions, p. 911

[34] Wilson, Aleister Crowley: The Nature of the Beast, p.133

[35] Anthony Trythall, Boney Fuller: The Intellectual General (London: Cassell, 1977).

[36] The Law is for all, p. 317
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Inoue Enryo
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/9/19



I arrived at Calcutta and lodged at the Mahābodhi Society’s rooms, where I found many priests from Ceylon and Burma as my fellow-lodgers and conversational companions. One or two days after my arrival, I called on Mr. Kōjun Omiya, one of my fellow-students in Japan, who was now staying here for a long time for the study of Samskrt. He had not the slightest notion of my being in the same town, and I was dressed in Tibetan clothes when I called on him. Being informed by his servant that he was in the parlor, I entered the room without being announced. Owing to the total disuse of Japanese for many years, it was some while before I could utter a single word in that language, so I simply bowed to him a little and stared at him. My old friend, who was also staring at me and undoubtedly feeling offended by the intrusion of a strange man in a Tibetan dress, addressed me in Hindustani: “Whence have you come?”

I could not help laughing to hear him say this, but at the same time the words in Japanese came back to me and I said: “Are you not Omiya?”

He did not yet recognise me, and asked in Japanese: “You are a Japanese who knows me? But who are you?”

I replied: “I am Kawaguchi.”

He was of course much surprised by so great a change in me that I could easily have passed for a Tibetan. I was soon shown to his room, which was kept very neat, and we talked about our own country. Mr. Omiya is a priest of the Tendai Sect and a very agreeable companion, and from this time I shared his room. On the evening of December 14th, Dr. E. Inouye, the president of the Tetsugakkwan[678] in Tokyo (where we were instructed) came to Calcutta and called on us. I need not describe here how delighted our kind teacher was to see me back safe from the Forbidden Land.

Next morning, about three o’clock, I waked up Dr. Inouye, and guided him to the Tiger Hill near Darjeeling, the best place from which to see the Himālayas; for though it was the best season of the year to see the loftiest mountains in the world, it was generally impossible to get a good view after nine or ten o’clock in the morning. With the noblest work of Nature before us, our poetical interest was aroused and we made several poems. After short trips here and there, on the 23rd of the month I returned to Calcutta with Dr. Inouye, and on the same night we had to start on a pilgrimage to Buddhagayā. Pilgrimage was not my sole object in going to Buddhagayā; I wished to go to Delhi to see Lieutenant-General Oku of Japan, who was to be present at the Durbar in honor of the coronation of the King of England and Emperor of India, and to apply to him for a letter of introduction to the King of Nepāl, through whose influence I intended to make my appeal to the Tibetan Pope. So I had first to go to Buddhagayā, and then to the holy land of Benares, where I had to part with Dr. Inouye, he going to Bombay and I to Delhi. We got into a train and the next afternoon we arrived at Bankipur. Here we had to stay some five hours to change cars for Buddhagayā. Dr. Inouye went to send a telegram and I remained at the station; there was a Hinḍū there also, who could speak English. He approached me and asked: “Are you a Tibetan?”

“No, I am not.”

“Are you a Nepālese then?”

“I am not that either?”

“Do you not come from Tibet?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Do you say you have come from Tibet, and yet are not Tibetan?”

“It does not necessarily follow that I am a Tibetan, though I came from Tibet.”

While I was thus talking, one man whose presence I did not notice came running to me. Turning to the man, I found my old acquaintance the Rev. Fujii Sensho. Extending his hand to me, he expressed his joy at the unexpected meeting, and congratulated me on my safe return from Tibet.

“But what are you waiting for in such a place?” said he.

“I am going to Buddhagayā with Dr. Inouye.”

“Then our destination is the same. I am going to call on the Rev. Otani Kozui, who is staying at Gayā.”

We despatched a telegram to Mr. Otani telling him that we should arrive by the next train, and we three then entered the train which took us to Gayā, where we found a carriage sent by Count Otani to meet us. When we arrived at the Dak bungalow, we enjoyed a conversation with the Honorable Count Otani and his suite. After various questions and answers, His Highness asked me where I was going. I replied that I was going to Nepāl. Mr. Fujii, whom I had not had an opportunity of telling my object, was much surprised to hear it now, and asked me what I wanted there.

“I have two things to do there,” said I; “one is to bring back my books, which I left with a certain person in that country. The other is more serious. Many of my acquaintances and friends in Tibet are now suffering in prison for having been friendly towards me. So though it is doubtful whether I shall succeed, I am going to Nepāl to get help from its Government to save them.”

Mr. Fujii rebuked me, saying, “You are no more Kawaguchi of college life. Your fellow-countrymen are anxious to see you come back and to hear of the strange land you have visited. Therefore give up that idea of going to Nepāl, where you can expect nothing but attacks of fever or wild beasts or robbery, of which you have already had plenty of experience; I tell you you had better prepare to start home.”

Dr. Inouye, from whom I had heard such advice very often, but who found me unpersuadable, now said to Mr. Otani: “What is the opinion of Your Highness about the matter of Kawaguchi?”

His Highness, who was listening to our discussion with interest, spoke now: “I can but praise your courage,[681] Mr. Kawaguchi; with such courage only you could enter and return from the closed country. But think of your personal position; you must not expose yourself to useless danger.”

I was again obliged to expound my motive and intention to go to Nepāl, and said:

“All that has been said is very true. But if I follow the advice of you all, where is ‘the Japanese righteousness?’ I am a servant of Buddha, and my duty is to save any one from misery, though he should have no personal relations with me. But here are a great many men, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude, by whose help I accomplished my escape. They are suffering in jail; while I am enjoying myself in a warm and comfortable room, what pains are they suffering? I can see them shivering with cold in the unlighted prison of Lhasa. In the day-time they are flogged, and the only food given them is a small quantity of parched barley once a day. Knowing them to be in such a condition, how should I abandon them, and start for home, even though my life is very precious to me?”

-- Three Years in Tibet, by Shramana Ekai Kawaguchi

Inoue Enryō
Born March 18, 1858
Japan Niigata
Died June 6, 1919 (aged 61)
Other names 井上 円了
Occupation philosopher, Buddhist reformer, educator, and royalist
In this Japanese name, the family name is Inoue.

Inoue Enryō (井上 円了, March 18, 1858 – June 6, 1919) was a Japanese philosopher, Buddhist reformer, educator, and royalist. A key figure in the reception of Western philosophy, the emergence of modern Buddhism, and the permeation of the imperial ideology during the second half of the Meiji Era. He is the founder of Toyo University and the creator of Tetsugaku-dō Park 哲学堂公園 (Temple Garden of Philosophy) in Tokyo. His Mystery Studies opposing superstition made him known as Ghost Doc or Doctor Specter お化け博士.


Early Years 1858-1881

Born in a village close to Nagaoka in today's Niigata Prefecture, he was ordained as a priest in the Ōtani Branch 大谷派 of Shin Buddhism 真宗 at the age of 13. As the oldest son, he was brought up to inherit the ministry of his father's parish temple. His early education included the Chinese classics and Western subjects like geography and English. In 1878, his Buddhist order sent him to Tokyo in order to study at Japan's first modern university. Before entering Tokyo University in 1881 Inoue received additional secondary education in English, history, and mathematics in the university's Preparatory School.

Establishment 1881-1888

Registering for philosophy as single major at Tokyo University first became possible in 1881. Inoue was the first and only student in 1881 to do so. As a student, Inoue initiated Japan's first Society of Philosophy (1884). On the occasion of his graduation in 1885, he created a Philosophy Ceremony 哲学祭 that commemorated Buddha, Confucius, Socrates and Kant as the Four Sages of world philosophy. In 1887, he set up a Philosophy Publishing House 哲学書院, edited the first issue of the Journal of the Philosophy Society『哲学会雑誌』and founded the Philosophy Academy 哲学館, the predecessor of today's Toyo University 東洋大学. His early works Epitome of Philosophy『哲学要領』(1886/86) and Outline of Ethics『倫理通論』(1887) are the first Japanese introductions to philosophy in East and West.

Besides establishing and popularizing philosophy, Inoue dedicated himself as a lay scholar to the critique of Christianity and the reform of Buddhism. The latter project he announced in the Prolegomena to a Living Discourse on Buddhism『仏教活論序論』(1887), which is the introduction to a tripartite work that aimed to give Buddhism a new doctrinal foundation for the modern world. In the Prolegomena Inoue first proclaimed his lifelong slogan "Protection of Country and Love of Truth" 護国愛理. Inoue attempted to demonstrate Buddhism's consistency with philosophical and scientific truth and its benefit to the modern Japanese nation state.

Leadership 1889-1902

In 1888, Inoue departed on his first of three world tours. The nationalist spirit he observed in the Western imperial countries and the promulgation of the Imperial Rescript on Education (1890) after his return, gave Inoue's maxim of the Protection of Country concrete meaning. The spread of the Education Rescript as the moral foundation of the rising Japanese Empire became one of his main objectives for the rest of his life.

In his lectures at the Philosophy Academy, Inoue pioneered several academic fields. Inoue's lecture records which were published as textbooks for the Academy's distance learning program cover subjects like Psychology, Pedagogy, Religious Studies, Buddhist Philosophy and the original science Inoue called Mystery Studies 妖怪学. In a large-scale project, he recorded, categorized and rationally explained every kind of folk belief and superstition he heard about in Japan. This ambitious program made him famous among his contemporaries as Doctor Specter お化け博士.

Inoue managed the Philosophy Academy as an institution that promoted the revival of Eastern scholarship. Most pioneers of modern Buddhist studies were lecturing in the Academy. Inoue interpreted his role as a lobbyist for Buddhism in the capital and worked to consolidate the position of private education with the Ministry of Education. In 1896, Inoue was the first to be awarded a Doctor of Letters by submitting a thesis to the Faculty of Literature of Tokyo Imperial University.

Crisis 1903-1906

While Inoue was on his second world tour, the so-called Philosophy Academy Incident 哲学館事件 (1903/04) took its course. Inspectors from the Education Ministry became aware that one student received a full score in the ethics examination for answering that regicide under certain circumstances could be legitimate. The ministry threatened to close down the Academy, demanded that the responsible teacher resign and withdrew the Academy's right to grant certificates for teaching in public schools.

In the years after the Philosophy Academy Incident several factors played together which eventually led to Inoue's resignation from the Academy in 1905/06: (1) internal differences about the Academy's management, (2) estrangement from other Buddhist leaders, (3) health problems.

During the same period, Inoue started two new projects that became seminal for his late activities: the foundation of the Morality Church 修身教会 (1903) and the building of the Philosophy Shrine 哲学堂 (1904).

Independence 1906-1919

Starting in 1890, lecture tours were important for Inoue to raise funds for the Philosophy Academy. After 1906, the fund raising served to create the Temple Garden of Philosophy around the Philosophy Shrine in today's Nakano District in Tokyo. Inoue started his lecture tours during his late period in the name of the Morality Church initiative, which aimed at establishing Sunday schools in shrines and temples all over the country. In 1912, he renamed the organization into the Society for the Spread of Civic Morality 国民道徳普及会. The venue of his lectures moved away from temples into primary schools. The main objective however stayed the same, namely teaching national morals and spreading the Imperial Rescript on Education. It was Inoue's ambition to lecture literally everywhere in Japan. During his late life, he extended his radius to the new Japanese colonies in Korea, Manchuria, Hokkaidō, Sakhalin, Okinawa, Taiwan, and China.

Inoue died on June 6 1919 after giving a lecture in Dalian, China.


Below is a list of Inoue's monographs. Not included are travel diaries, lecture records, texts in Chinese, primary school textbooks, and essay collections. The listed works are accessible via the Inoue Enryo Research Database.

• 1886/87 Epitome of Philosophy『哲学要領』(2 vols.)
• 1886/87 An Evening of Philosophical Conversation『哲学一夕話』(3 vols.)
• 1886/87 The Golden Compass of Truth『真理金針』(3 vols.)
• 1887 Dark Tales of Mysteries『妖怪玄談』
• 1887 Prolegomena to a Living Discourse on Buddhism『仏教活論序論』
• 1887 Living Discourse on Buddhism: Refuting the False『仏教活論本論:破邪活論』
• 1887 Fundamentals of Psychology『心理摘要』
• 1887 Outline of Ethics『倫理通論』(2 vols.)
• 1888 A New Theory of Religion『宗教新論』
• 1889 Treatise on Religion and the State in Japan『日本政教論』
• 1890 Living Discourse on Buddhism: Disclosing the Right『仏教活論本論:顕正活論』
• 1890 Record of an Imaginary Tour of Other Planets『星界想遊記』
• 1891 Fundamentals of Ethics『倫理摘要』
• 1891 A Morning of Philosophical Conversation『哲学一朝話』
• 1892 Prolegomena to a Philosophy of the True School『真宗哲学序論』
• 1893 Living Discourse on Loyalty and Filial Piety『忠孝活論』
• 1893 Discussing the Relationship between Education and Religion『教育宗教関係論』
• 1893 Proposal in Japanese Ethics『日本倫理学案』
• 1893 Prolegomena to a Philosophy of the Zen School『禅宗哲学序論』
• 1893/94 Lectures on Mystery Studies『妖怪学講義』
• 1894 Fragment of a Philosophy of War『戦争哲学一斑』
• 1895 Prolegomena to a Philosophy of the Nichiren School『日宗哲学序論』
• 1897 The Heterodox Philosophy『外道哲学』
• 1898 Outline of Indian Philosophy『印度哲学綱要』
• 1898 The Pedagogical World-view and Life-view, or About the Educator's Mental Peace『教育的世界観及人生観:一名教育家安心論』
• 1898 Refuting Materialism『破唯物論』
• 1898/1900 One Hundred Mysterious Stories『妖怪百談』(2 vols.)
• 1899 Theory of the Immortality of the Soul『霊魂不滅論』
• 1899 A Quick Primer to Philosophy『哲学早わかり』
• 1901 Philosophical Soothsaying『哲学うらない』
• 1902 The Hidden Meaning of the Rescript『勅語玄義』
• 1902 Proposal for the Reform of Religion『宗教改革案』
• 1903 Goblin-Theory『天狗論』
• 1904 The Dissolution of Superstition『迷信解』
• 1904 Psychotherapy『心理療法』
• 1904 Dream of New Reform Devices『改良新案の夢』
• 1909 New Proposal in Philosophy『哲学新案』
• 1912 Japanese Buddhism『日本仏教』
• 1912 Living Buddhism『活仏教』
• 1913 A Glance at the World of Philosophy『哲界一瞥』
• 1914 The True Nature of Specters『お化けの正体』
• 1914 Life is a Battlefield『人生是れ戦場』
• 1916 Superstition and Religion『迷信と宗教』
• 1917 Philosophy of Struggle『奮闘哲学』
• 1919 The True Mystery『真怪』

Influence and Evaluation

During his lifetime, Inoue was a widely read author, of whom more than ten books were translated into Chinese. His works were influential in spreading the terminology of modern East Asian humanities. Due to his prolific writing, the distance learning program of the Philosophy Academy and his lectures tours, Inoue probably had a larger audience than any other public intellectual before the First World War. He must have contributed considerably to the decline of superstition and the spread of the imperial ideology during the late Meiji period.

His prominence during his lifetime stands in stark contrast to the minimal attention paid to his work after his death. His uncritical speculative metaphysics and his ethics being based solely on imperially decreed virtues, make any future affirmative philosophical reception unlikely.[citation needed] Japanese Buddhist studies have passed over Inoue, because his Buddhist scholarship was not yet based on Sanskrit philology. Any philosophical discussion about the doctrinal foundations of Buddhism will nonetheless have to acknowledge Inoue's pioneering work.

Toyo University, Tokyo University's Society of Philosophy, and the Temple Garden of Philosophy are Inoue's lasting institutional heritage.

Further reading

• Bodiford, William. "Inoue Enryo in Retirement: Philosophy as Spiritual Cultivation," International Inoue Enryo Research 2 (2014): 19‒54. [1]
• Godart, Gerard R. Clinton. "Tracing the Circle of Truth: Inoue Enryo on the History of Philosophy and Buddhism," The Eastern Buddhist 36 (2004): 106‒133.
• Josephson, Jason Ā. "When Buddhism became a «Religion»: Religion and Superstition in the Writings of Inoue Enryō," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 33 (2006): 143‒168. [2]
• Miura Setsuo 三浦節夫. "Inoue Enryo's Mystery Studies," International Inoue Enryo Research 2 (2014): 119‒154. [3]
• Toyo University, pub. The Educational Principles of Enryo Inoue (2012, jap. 1987).
• Schrimpf, Monika. "Buddhism Meets Christianity: Inoue Enryō's View of Christianity in Shinri Kinshin," Japanese Religions 24 (1999): 51‒72.
• Schulzer, Rainer. "Inoue Enryo Research at Toyo University," International Inoue Enryo Research 2 (2014): 1-18. [4]
• Schulzer, Rainer. Inoue Enryo: A Philosophical Portrait (SUNY Press 2019).
• Staggs, Kathleen M. "«Defend the Nation and Love the Truth»: Inoue Enryo and the Revival of Meiji Buddhism," Monumenta Nipponica 38 (1983): 251‒281.
• Takemura Makio 竹村牧男. "On the Philosophy of Inoue Enryo," International Inoue Enryo Research 1 (2013): 3-24. [5]

External links

• Inoue Enryo Research Database
• International Association for Inoue Enryo Research
• Inoue Enryo Research Center, Toyo University (Japanese)
• Temple Garden of Philosophy (Japanese)
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:47 am

Ernest Fenollosa
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/9/19



Fenollosa in 1890

Title page of Cathay, poems by Ezra Pound, 1915, based on translations by Fenollosa.

Fenollosa's grave

Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (February 18, 1853 – September 21, 1908) was an American art historian of Japanese art, professor of philosophy and political economy at Tokyo Imperial University. An important educator during the modernization of Japan during the Meiji Era, Fenollosa was an enthusiastic Orientalist who did much to preserve traditional Japanese art.


Fenollosa was born in 1853 as the son of Manuel Francisco Ciriaco Fenollosa, a Spanish pianist,[1] and Mary Silsbee. He attended public schools in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts before studying philosophy and sociology at Harvard College, where he graduated in 1874.

He studied for a year at the art school of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, during which time he married Elizabeth Goodhue Millett. In 1878 he was invited to Japan by American zoologist and Orientalist Edward S. Morse. Fenollosa taught political economy and philosophy at the Imperial University at Tokyo. There he also studied ancient temples, shrines and art treasures with his assistant, Okakura Kakuzō.

During his time in Japan, Fenollosa helped create the nihonga (Japanese) style of painting with Japanese artists Kanō Hōgai (1828–1888) and Hashimoto Gahō (1835–1908).
In May 1882 he delivered a lecture on "An Explanation of the Truth of Art", which was widely circulated and quoted.[2]

After eight years at the University, Fenollosa helped found the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and the Tokyo Imperial Museum. He served as director of the latter in 1888. In this period, he helped to draft the text of a law for the preservation of temples and shrines and their art treasures.[3]

Deeply influenced by living in Japan, Fenollosa converted to Buddhism
; he was given the name Teishin. He was also granted the name Kano Eitan Masanobu, placing him in the lineage of the Kanō school, who had served as painters to the Tokugawa shoguns. While resident in Japan, Fenollosa conducted the first inventory of Japan's national treasures. This resulted in the discovery of ancient Chinese scrolls, which had been brought to Japan by traveling monks centuries earlier. He was able to rescue many Buddhist artifacts that would otherwise have been destroyed under the Haibutsu kishaku movement. For these achievements, the Emperor Meiji of Japan decorated Fenollosa with the Order of the Rising Sun and the Order of the Sacred Treasures.

Fenollosa amassed a large personal collection of Japanese art during his stay in Japan. In 1886, he sold his art collection to Boston physician Charles Goddard Weld (1857–1911) on the condition that it go to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 1890 he returned to Boston to serve as curator of the department of Oriental Art. There Fenollosa was asked to choose Japanese art for display at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He also organized Boston's first exhibition of Chinese painting in 1894.
In 1896, he published Masters of Ukiyoe, a historical account of Japanese paintings and ukiyo-e prints exhibited at the New York Fine Arts Building.

But he divorced his wife. His immediate remarriage in 1895 to writer Mary McNeill Scott (1865–1954) outraged Boston society. Fenollosa was dismissed from the Museum in 1896.

He returned to Japan in 1897 to accept a position as Professor of English Literature at the Tokyo Higher Normal School at Tokyo. Lafcadio Hearn considered Fenollosa a friend; and Hearn almost believed that he visited the professor's home too often.[4]

In 1900, Fenollosa returned to the United States to write and lecture on Asia.
His 1912 work in two volumes concentrates on art before 1800. He offers Hokusai's prints as a window of beauty after Japanese art had become too modern for his own taste: "Hokusai is a great designer, as Kipling and Whitman are great poets. He has been called the Dickens of Japan." Arthur Wesley Dow said of Fenollosa that "he was gifted with a brilliant mind of great analytical power, this with a rare appreciation gave him an insight into the nature of fine art such as few ever attain".[5]

After his death in London in 1908, Fenollosa's widow entrusted his unpublished notes on Chinese poetry and Japanese Noh drama to noted American poet Ezra Pound. Together with William Butler Yeats, Pound used them to stimulate the growing interest in Far Eastern literature among modernist writers. Pound subsequently finished Fenollosa's work with the aid of Arthur Waley, the noted British sinologist.[6]

Fenollosa's body was cremated in London. By his request, his ashes were returned for burial to the Hōmyō-in chapel of Mii-dera (where he had been tonsured), high above Lake Biwa. His tombstone was paid for by the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.[7]


At a Harvard lecture of 2011, Benjamin Elman refers to the Epochs of the Chinese and Japanese Art (1912) where Fenollosa compares "degeneration" of the late imperial Chinese art to that which befell the high antique art of Europe in Byzantium ("the poorest of the Byzantine mosaics"; "the only hope for the hopeless is to perceive itself to be hopeless"). According to Elman, Fenollosa's perception was influenced by the political and military defeats of the Qing empire.[8]

See also

• Modernist poetry in English
• American philosophy
• List of American philosophers
• Imagism


1. Foreword
2. Marra, Michael F. (2002). Japanese hermeneutics, pp. 97–98., p. 97, at Google Books
3. "Ernest F. Fenollosa" in Encyclopædia Britannica
4. Bisland, pp. 412–414.
5. Dow, Arthur Wesley, Composition: A Series of Exercises in Art Structure for the Use of Students and Teachers, Boston: Doubleday, p. 1913
6. "Fenollosa, Pound and the Chinese Character", Yale Literary Magazine 126.5 (1958): 24–36. Reprinted: (2010) [1]
7. "Asleep Under the Maples at Homyo-in", The Detroit Free Press, 30 January 1910, p. 3.
8. Reischauer Lectures, Harvard University 2011 00:52 ff.


• The Masters of Ukioye: a Complete Historical Description of Japanese Paintings and Color Prints of the Genre School, New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1896
• Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art, London: William Heinemann, 1912
• "Noh" or Accomplishment: A Study of the Classical Stage of Japan, with Ezra Pound, London: Macmillan and Co., 1916
• The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry, composed by the Ernest Fenollosa, edited by Ezra Pound after the author's death, 1918.

Further reading

• Bisland, Elizabeth. (1906). The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn. New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company.
• Brooks, Van Wyck, Fenollosa and His Circle, with Other Essays in Biography, New York: Dutton, 1962
• Chisolm, Lawrence W., Fenollosa: the Far East and American Culture, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963
• Fenollosa, Mary McNeill. "Preface." Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art: an Outline History of East Asiatic Design, New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1912. Reprint by ICG Muse, 2000. ISBN 4-925080-29-6
• Kurihara Shinichi, Fuenorosa to Meiji bunka, Tokyo: Rikugei Shobo, Showa 43,1968
• Marra, Michael F. (2002). Japanese hermeneutics: Current Debates on Aesthetics and Interpretation. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 9780824824570; OCLC 237578040
• Tepfer, Diane, "Enest Fenollosa," in The Dictionary of Art, 10: 887
• Warner, Langdon, "Ernest Francisco Fenollosa," in the Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 6. New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1931, pp. 325–26
• Ezra Pound, Cathay: For the Most Part from the Chinese of Rihaku, from the notes of Ernest Fenollosa, and the Decipherings of the Professors Mori and Ariga, London: Elkin Mathews, 1915.

External links

• Works by Ernest Fenollosa at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Ernest Fenollosa at Internet Archive
• Works by Ernest Fenollosa at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Read Fenollosa's Epochs of Chinese & Japanese Art on line
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Nov 10, 2019 7:13 am

Buddhist Revival and Japanese Nationalism, from "Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition"
by Judith Snodgrass



Chapter 6. Buddhist Revival and Japanese Nationalism

Meiji Buddhist revival and Japanese nationalism were united in the work of Inoue Enryo (1858-1919). His widely read and influential book, Bukkyo katsuron joron (1887),1 did much to promote interest in Buddhism among the Western-educated elite of the Meiji Twenties, bringing a new interpretation of Buddhism, the product of two decades of Buddhist reform, out of specialist circles and linking it to the surge in nationalist sentiment of this time. Although Buddhism entered the Meiji period under attack, the foreign heresy against which Shinto was defined, by the 1890s, through the efforts of Inoue and others, it had become a major resource for defining modern, national identity. The apparent paradox is that to promote Buddhism, Inoue gave up his status as a Buddhist priest and took the title of philosopher (tetsugakusha). The word tetsugaku had been introduced into the Japanese language around 1870 by materialist philosopher Nishi Amane. It specifically denoted Western philosophy and carried the post-Enlightenment European connotation of the opposition between religion and philosophy.2 Philosophy was a secular activity.

The previous chapter showed how Buddhist reformers, including Inoue, used the West as a resource in the formation of shin bukkyo [new buddhism]. They adapted the methods of Orientalist scholarship and biblical criticism to their needs. They domesticated Christian institutions in the formation of a local Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA), in instigating a Buddhist marriage ceremony, in using Christianity as a model of the role of religion in modern society. They used Western constructs of scholarship to present Meiji Buddhism as the religion of the modern nation. In Bukkyo katsuron joron, Inoue elaborated on the theme of pro-Buddhist Western scholars who promoted Buddhism as a religion compatible with science and modern thought. He adapted Western philosophical theory to present an analysis of Buddhism. He reinterpreted evolutionary theory to show that Christianity needed Buddhism to reach its full development. This chapter investigates Bukkyo katsuron joron to reveal an additional function of the West in Buddhist revival, Inoue’s deployment of the authority and prestige of Western philosophy in support of Buddhist revival.

Given the reality of Western dominance at this time and the overriding concern to revise Japan’s treaties with the West, Japanese modernity would be measured against the West, and the treaty powers negotiating the terms of revision would be the ultimate assessors of what was acceptable. Consequently, in the battle for the “possession and guidance of social development in the empire,” as the Japan Weekly Mail described the religious debates of the time,3 the important issue was convincing the Western-educated class of Japan of what the Buddhist religion could offer the modern nation. Evidence of this had to stand scrutiny in the terms of the modern West. Inoue used the authority of Western philosophy to argue the case for Buddhism.

By speaking for Buddhism as a philosopher, Inoue assumed the voice of universal rationality. He distanced himself from his Buddhist affiliations and attached the authority of impartial reason (kohei mushi in his terminology) to his speech. He used this claim to unbiased and objective authority to continue the imperatives of Buddhist reform: to denounce Christianity, but also to argue that Japanese Buddhism was the Buddha’s teaching, that Buddhism was not irrational, not otherworldly, not an anachronistic vestige of the past, but the one religion in the world compatible with science and modern thought.[/b]

Because Inoue was a founding member of both the Seikyosha [Society for Political Education]...

Miyake Setsurei (1860-1945), a journalist, was one of the leading nationalists of the late Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa periods. In 1888 he and others founded the Seikyosha [Society for political education], which published a magazine called "Nihonjin". The magazine was renamed "Azia" in 1891 after ceasing publication because of censorship, renamed "Nihonjin" [Japanese] in 1893, and ceased publication again in 1895. It was reincarnated as "Nihon oyobi Nihonjin" [Japan and Japanese] in 1907 and folded in 1944 on the eve of Miyake's death.

-- Becoming Japanese in the Meiji period: Adopted sons, incoming husbands, and naturalization, by William Wetherall

... and the Sonno hobutsu daidodan,....

In 1889, shortly after the founding of the Seikyosha, Inoue Enryo, Ouchi Seiran, Shimaji Mokurai, Ashitsu Jitsuzen, and others concerned about the impact of the constitutional government on Buddhism formed the more specifically Buddhist organization Sonno hobutsu daidodan (The Great Society for Revering the Emperor and Worshiping the Buddha). The society was "a union of all those who wish to protect our land and our religion from the contempt of the foreigner," principally by excluding Christians from public office and installing Buddhists in positions of influence. Its policy statement declared that by "selecting our representatives to the national parliament, to provincial assemblies, to town councils, or local offices, in the distribution of honors, in appointing school teachers, officials of societies and business companies, etc., we pledge ourselves to carefully exclude all those who are disloyal to our Emperor or untrue to Buddhism."66

-- Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition, by Judith Snodgrass

... his work links Buddhist revival with Japanese nationalist sentiment and the political issues of the Meiji Twenties. Most important, the Manifesto, an open letter to the Buddhist community calling for support for the delegation to Chicago, was an echo and a summary of the arguments he presented at length in Bukkyo katsuron joron. The delegation to the Chicago World’s Parliament of Religions emerged from the same stream of Buddhist activity.4 Summarizing Inoue’s arguments can map the field of Buddhist revival discourse at this time. Inoue’s Bukkyo katsuron joron located the various initiatives of revival – the need to win the support of the new generation, the need for Buddhists to undertake social and philanthropic work, the refutation of Christianity, the reestablishment of Buddhism’s links with the state – within the nationalist program for the future of Japan.

Inoue Enryo

Inoue Enryo (1858-1919), born the son of a Jodoshinshu priest, was ordained at an early age and received a Buddhist education. From 1878 until he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Tokyo Imperial University in 1885, his education was funded by the Higashi Honganji as part of its revival program for educating its most able priests. At Tokyo University Inoue studied under the young [url=]American professor Ernest Fenollosa[/url], who taught classes in the history of modern Western philosophy, specializing in Hegel and in Herbert Spencer’s theories of social development and evolutionary sociology.5 Such was the interest in Western philosophy among the Japanese elite at this time that Fenollosa was nicknamed daijin sensei (teacher of great men),6 a recognition that many who attended his classes already held positions of responsibility and others were later to become leaders of the nation. Through his study of philosophy Inoue came into contact with this influential elite, and from 1882 he actively worked to promote contact and understanding between Buddhist and secular intellectuals.

Inoue’s period at Tokyo Imperial University coincided with indications of a growing interest in Buddhism among intellectuals. In 1881, Fukuzawa Yukichi, one of the foremost popularizers of Western studies, declared his support for Buddhism and called upon “priests who were amenable to reason” to defend their religion.7 Two years earlier Fukuzawa’s colleague in the Meirokusha (Meiji 6 society, formed to promote Western learning), Kato Hiroyuki, then president of Tokyo University, had appointed Soto Zen priest Hara Tanzan to lecture on Buddhism, thereby setting the precedent of teaching Buddhism as an academic subject within a secular institution, as a system of thought divorced from its ritual and practice. Buddhist philosophy was extracted from Japanese religion and placed in context with Western philosophy and science as a branch of knowledge. It was endowed with the prestige of university recognition.

Although Westernization continued strongly throughout the 1880s, the beginnings of a change of mood, a swing away from adulation of all things Western, at least among the elite, was evident from the early years of the decade. One sign of this was the immediate and generous response to Fenollosa’s plea in 1882 for the preservation of Japanese art. His speech, delivered to the aristocratic Ryuchikai, apparently crystallized an already existing sentiment. Fenollosa received both financial and official support that allowed him to access and catalog surviving collections and train Japanese to continue the work. The emperor showed his personal support by bestowing official court rank on Fenollosa and awarding him several imperial decorations, including the Order of the Sacred Mirror. By 1886 this promotion of Japanese heritage had been officially sanctioned.8

One of the consequences of this revival was the establishment of the Tokyo Fine Art Academy under the direction of Okakura Kakuzo.9 The art this institute promoted was not the result of a nostalgic revival of the past, but a modern application of long-established Japanese expertise. Traditional styles were studied for their universal principles, and the techniques of past eras were applied to make objects suited to contemporary lifestyles. The revival of art, like that of Buddhism, exemplified the Seikyosha ideal of adapting aspects of Japanese heritage to enhance the modern nation. The movement to revive Japanese art indicated both the changed attitude to Westernization and also the functional value of Western authority in validating and promoting the project. Fenollosa led the campaign testifying to the universal value of Japanese art from the perspective of, and in the vocabulary of, Western aesthetics. Invoking the authority and prestige of Western philosophy and his own academic rank as philosopher was the nearest approximation to this voice of Western authority available to Inoue in his revival of Japanese Buddhism.

Inoue the Philosopher

Inoue had established his identity as a philosopher not only through scholarship but also through his activities at university. The Tetsugakkai, the Philosophy Society (1884), developed out a society Inoue formed in 1882 for the study of Kant, Hegel, and Comte, bringing together progressive leaders of both the Buddhist and secular worlds. Core members of this society included Buddhist reform leaders familiar from the previous chapter (Ouchi Seiran, Shimaji Mokurai, Hara Tanzan, Kitabatake Doryu, Kiyozawa Manshi) and other such prominent Meiji intellectuals as Inoue Tetsujiro, Shiga Shigetaka, Miyake Setsurei, Tanabashi Ichiro, and Kato Hiroyuki. A number of these people would later become prominent in the Seikyosha.10 In 1886 the group began publishing a journal, Tetsugaku zasshi (Philosophy magazine), and in 1887 founded the publishing company Tetsugaku shoin (Philosophy Press). This same year Inoue founded his school of philosophy, the Tetsugakkan (later to become Toyo University), teaching Western philosophy but also Chinese and Japanese thought, resuscitating the “pale shadow of Eastern philosophy.”11 In 1889 Inoue traveled to Europe and America to investigate means of teaching Eastern thought there.12 Inoue diligently cultivated his image as philosopher through this constant repetition of the term in his activities.

Inoue made the decisive statement in 1885 when he gave up his Buddhist robes and distanced himself from institutional Buddhism. This in no way diminished his effort to propagate Buddhism, but from this time he worked as an independent citizen. He thereby became an example of the ideal he espoused in Bukkyo katsuron joron, the educated layman committed to Buddhism as a personal philosophical religion, studying Buddhism in the intellectual pursuit of truth and reviving Buddhism to preserve this truth and defend the nation. He worked without the restrictions of a conservative institutional bureaucracy,13 free to emphasize the nonsectarian aspects of shin bukkyo and to criticize the existing state of Buddhism. The greatest advantage, however, was the authority and objectivity of the title “philosopher.” The author’s preface to Bukkyo katsuron joron explained that as a philosopher his discussion of Buddhism was essentially different from that of a priest. The title allowed him to proclaim that his preference for Buddhism and rejection of Christianity was not based on prejudice but on a rational consideration of the issues. He would “judge on the basis of philosophy which is just and takes no sides.”14 This in no way moderated his criticism. Part 2 of Bukkyo katsuron was entirely devoted to denouncing the “evil religion.” But by denouncing it from the supposedly impartial stance of philosopher, Inoue enlisted the support of an audience beyond Buddhists. He did not simply dismiss it as evil but analyzed it as irrational, conceptually untenable, prescientific, deleterious to Japan.15 By taking the title “philosopher” Inoue was able to promote Buddhism and undermine Christian influence from a pedestal of rationality and objectivity. His arguments were made more palatable, he believed, “because my discussion of Buddhism is based on the impartial judgements of philosophy it is essentially different from the explanations of priests in the world.”16

Hosui, the Paradigmatic Meiji Intellectual

Inoue wrote Bukkyo katsuron joron under the pen name Hosui and opened with an account of his search for truth, which positioned Hosui, the autobiographical subject, as the paradigmatic Meiji intellectual.17 He recalled how, prior to the Restoration of 1868, he, like the nation in general, had followed Buddhism as a matter of course with little knowledge of its doctrines and little commitment, “secretly believ[ing] that there was no truth in Buddhism,” and had seized the opportunity offered by the incoming government’s attack on Buddhism (haibutsu kishaku) to “put aside his clerical robes” and seek truth elsewhere.18 Hosui described how he then turned to Confucianism and even Christianity but this brought him nothing more than the conviction that all the traditional religions were inadequate. Hosui, like so many of the Meiji generation, rejected religion because, as he perceived it then, it was not “in accord with the principles of truth.” He was still at the vanguard of intellectual trends in 1873 when he took up Western learning – 1873 was Meiji 6, the year of the formation of the Meirokusha, the society for the promotion of Western learning – and again in the early 1880s when he rejected religion altogether and came to the conclusion that “[t]he truth that I had been struggling for for over ten years was not in Confucianism or Buddhism, nor was it in Christianity; it could only be found in the philosophy that was being taught in the West.”

Unlike others who had followed this path, however, Hosui did not rest here. He turned again to Japanese Buddhism and, with his mind sharpened by his training in philosophy, was finally able to see and understand the truth he had previously failed to notice. “Having discovered the truth within the world of philosophy, when I made one more review of the various religions of the past, it became increasingly clear that the truth is not within Christianity. It was also easy to prove that the truth is not within Confucianism. Only the Buddhist religion is largely in accord with philosophical principles. Then I reviewed the Buddhist scriptures again, and gradually came to know the truth of their theories; I was overjoyed. Who would have thought that the truth that was the product of thousands of years of study in Europe already existed three thousand years ago in the East.”19

The year of this revelation was 1885, the year of Inoue’s graduation, three years after Fukuzawa’s call for the protection of Buddhism, and the year that Ernest Fenollosa, Inoue’s professor of philosophy at Tokyo University, took Buddhist ordination. Whether this is purely coincidental, Fenollosa’s commitment to Tendai, which he described as offering “all the color and texture that Hegel lacked,” would have reinforced Inoue’s confidence in the appeal of Buddhist philosophy to modern Western intellectuals.20 Bukkyo katsuron joron, the record of Inoue’s discovery of the preeminence of Buddhism, was published in 1887. Inoue’s timing coincided with growing reaction against excessive Westernization, and Hosui’s search for the truth mapped the path for patriotic Meiji intellectuals. Inoue vowed to “reform Buddhism and make it a religion for the enlightened world.”

The realization of the preeminence of Buddhist truth was the cornerstone of Inoue’s project. Buddhism alone was in accord with the teachings of modern philosophy and with modern scientific principles. Inoue argued that the Buddha’s highest teaching, the truth of the Middle Way, existed only in Japan because it had died out in India and China. Consequently Japanese Buddhism is the sole source of the truth that Western philosophy has taken “thousands of years to study” to realize. More than this, Japanese Buddhism contains the truth that Western philosophy is only now approaching but does not yet possess. Inoue therefore believed that Western scholars would now welcome Japanese Buddhism and that Buddhism was the one great and unique contribution Japan could made to the modern world. Because of this Buddhism was a source of national pride and potential international prestige. Together these arguments formed his strategy for the revival of Buddhism by attracting support among the educated elite under the slogan gokoku airi, the defense of the nation through the love of truth.

Gokoku Airi

Gokoku airi united the fundamental sentiments of patriotism, intellectual reverence for the truth, and a Confucian sense of duty. The opening lines of Bukkyo katsuron joron asked, “[W]ho has been born that does not care about his country? Who has studied and does not love the truth?” It was the scholar’s patriotic duty to study became “when a nation has no scholarship it cannot progress”; it was his obligation to study because a scholar owed his existence to the nation. “When a scholar has no nation he cannot sustain his existence.” Because the nation must be independent to produce wisdom and scholarship, Japanese scholars had a duty to work for the preservation of Japan’s independence. Because scholars were also citizens and “it is a citizen’s duty to defend the nation …. it is the duty of scholars to carry out, at the same time, both the great principles of defense of the nation and love of the truth.”21

This apparently secular formulation was transformed into a revitalization of Buddhism by Inoue’s Buddhist definition of truth. His term, shinri no ri, was emphatically not restricted to a positivist, empiricist truth of Western philosophy, which was, in his view, “appropriate for experiential study of concrete objects but useless for the investigation of the intangible truth.”22 The truth for scholars to pursue was not the truth that forms “the basis of the branches of study and the arts … which are allowed to change along with the progress of the world.” It was rather “the unchanging and immutable truth,” “the truth that forms the basis of religion.” It was the truth that is the nature of Buddhism.23 “The underlying principle of the truth is not bounded by the world nor by the universe, and there is nothing in heaven or the cosmos to which it does not penetrate. It is truly ubiquitous, extensive, unfathomable and profound. It is truly without beginning, without end, immeasurable and innumerable. Therefore, to limit all ideas of it to this earth … is … the mistaken view of a scholar”24

The scholar was called upon to defend the nation through the study of Buddhist philosophy because this was the highest expression of truth. Inoue’s formulation of gokoku airi also linked patriotism with the more specifically Buddhist concern of reestablishing the relationship between Buddhism and the state, the concern that led Inoue and his colleagues to form the Sonno hobutsu daidodan (Great Society for Revering the Emperor and Worshiping the Buddha). The interdependence between a scholar and his nation that was basic to this scheme can be read as a reformulation of the traditional relationship between the religion and the state familiar in South and Southeast Asia as the reciprocally beneficial interdependence of the sangha (community of religious specialists) and the state: the security of the nation is essential for the sangha to pursue dharma, and the production of dharma is essential for the prosperity of the state. In Japan the concept was embodied in the expression obo-buppo, the inseparability of imperial law and the Buddha’s law. In Inoue’s scheme the sangha and its pursuit of dharma was replaced by the lay community pursuing philosophic truth. Because this truth was equated with Buddhist truth, the lay community was in effect to take on the duty of the sangha. Gokoku airi was a reformulation of Buddhist polity adapted to a modern democratic and secular state, a polity based on the interdependence of the scholar and the nation rather than of the state and the community of religious specialists.

Deploying Western Philosophy

The study of Western philosophy was not excluded by gokoku airi but seen as essential, if preliminary, training. As Hosui, the authorial subject of Bukkyo katsuron joron confessed, he had initially failed to recognize the truth in Buddhism because “my scholarly abilities were meager then and I was incapable of making that discovery”25 He was only able to recognize the truth that had always existed in Buddhism after the study of Western philosophy had increased his intellectual capability. For Inoue, Western philosophy, unlike Christianity, was a source of truth, but its truth was not as complete or profound as the truth of Japanese Buddhism. It occupied a position similar to the preliminary teachings of the Buddha (hoben), the teachings that provided the mental development that is a necessary prerequisite to understanding the more profound truth.26 Inoue left no doubt that Buddhist thought surpassed Western philosophy. “The only thing in which present day Western philosophy excels is providing theories as a foundation of scientific experimentaion.”27 Proving this was one function of the survey of Western thought and its comparison with the various teachings of the Buddha which constitute the body of the work.28

In Bukkyo katuson joron Inoue summarized the history of Western philosophy, showing how it developed through the dialectical resolution of oppositions. Locke’s empiricism, followed by Leibnitz’s naturalism, had been integrated by Kant; the materialism of Hume and the idealism of Burke had produced Reid’s dualism; Fichte’s subjectivity and Schelling’s objectivity had been harmonized by Hegel’s idealism. Post-Kantian German Idealism and Scottish common sense were reconciled by the Frenchman Cousins. Spencer reconciled intellectual and nonintellectual extremes. Inoue’s point was that the development was not yet complete: “[A]ll these theories contain some sort of excess which would in turn require resolution. Although the scholars have striven to maintain impartiality they have not been able to do so.” The teaching of Sakyamuni, on the other hand, embraced and reconciled these oppositions in the teaching of the Middle Way. “Unlike modern philosophers, Sakyamuni lived three thousand years ago, and yet was aware of the dangers of leaning toward extremes.”29 Because it resolved this excess, the Middle Way is greater than any Western philosophy, “unparalleled in all the world and throughout the ages.”30 The point of the survey of Western philosophy was to prove Buddhist superiority. The various sects of Buddhism contained all the knowledge of Western philosophy, but Western philosophy had not yet reached the stage of evolution of Japanese Mahayana.

Inoue validated this claim by conditionally identifying each of the theories of Western philosophy with the teaching of sects within Buddhism. This “identification” of Western philosophy and Buddhism is exemplified by his discussion of the Hinayana sect, Kusha. Inoue began by equating Kusha with Western materialism on the grounds that it is also based on the constant existence of elements of matter. These are the Five Aggregates (goun in Japanese; panca skandha in Sanskrit), which Inoue explained at some length.31 The explanation then led to the qualification that Kusha was essentially different from materialism because among these five Buddhist elements, only one was matter in the Western sense of the word. The other four were perception, conception, volition, and consciousness, which are classified in the West as mind. Hence, Inoue concluded, Kusha differed widely from materialism. “Seen in this light, it [Kusha] is a philosophical theory of dualism.”32 In the space of a few paragraphs he had overturned his original equation, but the tentative identification had served its purpose by providing an opportunity to expound Buddhist doctrine. He had introduced the reader to a fundamental Buddhist concept. By a similarly qualified and partial identification of the Buddhist concept of “storehouse consciousness” (Japanese araya shiki, Sanskrit alaya vijnana) with the absolute subjectivity of Kant and Fichte, Inoue equated the Hosso sect with Western idealism, and the Tendai concept of ri with Hegel’s absolute reason.

Inoue’s scheme was to present Buddhist thought as both encompassing all of Western philosophy and, following the dialectical pattern of the West, having preceded it to its final development. Unlike Western philosophy, however, Buddhist teaching did not gradually evolve through the trials and error of men. It had all been taught by the Buddha Sakyamuni during his lifetime. According to the Tendai doctrine of goji (Five Periods) the apparently diverse sects of Buddhism are related as graded and partial revelations of the one truth of the Mahayana Middle Way.

The Buddha’s teachings are divided into five periods. In the first, immediately after his Awakening, the Buddha revealed the Middle Way of the Avatamsaka Sutra.33 However, he realized that this was beyond the comprehension of those in his audience. “They simply could not hear what was being explained to them” because they were “clinging to the belief in the distinction of self and non-self.”34 So he then explained the superficial doctrines of the Hinayana, “simply explaining the vanity of believing in the self.” This accomplished, he was then able to teach the Vaipulya sutras and then, by these degrees of the truth adapted to the audience’s ability to comprehend, to progress toward the Mahayana sutras. The message was that the Mahayana teaching of the Middle Way had been his original teaching, his last teaching, and the only complete teaching of his truth. The other teachings were expedients. As such, they were not false but incomplete. They were stepping-stones to the truth. The Middle Way of Japanese Tendai Buddhism was, Inoue explained, a more perfect expression of the conclusions reached thousands of years later by Hegel. By this scheme Inoue not only established Sakyamuni’s priority over Hegel but also answered the charge that the Mahayana was not the Buddha’s teaching.

Throughout the argument, Inoue’s identification of Buddhist concepts with Western philosophical terms was always qualified and, as in the claim of the identity of the teachings of Hegel and Tendai, was always drawn from isolated examples, the coincidence of isolated principles rather than of coherent systems. Nowhere does he give an explication of any Western philosophy. Western names and categories appear rather as signposts within an introductory explication of Buddhist thought – guides to familiarize the territory to his Western-educated audience. Inoue used the prestige of Western philosophy to draw attention to, create interest in, and then expound Japanese Buddhism.

Buddhism and Patriotism

The strong patriotic concern for the welfare and independence of the nation embodied in gokoku airi pervaded Bukkyo katsuron joron. The first step for scholars was to become better equipped to serve the nation through the study of philosophy.35 Next, Inoue called upon them to revive Buddhism because it was the highest form of philosophy. “The doctrines of Buddhism are truly unparalleled in the world and peerless throughout eternity. Should we not offer our strength for this truth? Should we not offer our hearts for the sake of this truth?”36 The intellectual passion for truth was to be justification enough for its preservation. There were, however, more explicitly patriotic reasons for reviving Buddhism, and in 1887, the time of the publication, treaty revision and its implications of Western imperialism were the focus of patriotic concern.

In Bukkyo katsuron joron Inoue introduced the basic Seikyosha premise that defense against Western imperialism depended on developing a strong national spirit. This would win the respect of foreign powers as well as assist in building a strong nation, one that was capable of making a distinctive contribution to international welfare and progress. It was only by maintaining a distinctive national identity that Japan could expect to deal with the world as an equal, and this was the basic aim of treaty revision.

Inoue challenged the belief that adopting Christianity would assist revision with a pragmatic statement of the reality of international relations. Japan’s present inability to establish relations of equality with Westerns was not because of any difference in religion or language but a matter of strength: “If a nation creates both financial solvency and strong military power, the people of that nation will have the necessary strength for instantly forming equal friendships with the West and revising unequal treaties, no matter what religion they are practicing.”37

The role of religion in strengthening the nation lay in its direct relationship with the spirit of man. The advantage of Buddhism was its long connection with Japanese culture. For more than a thousand years, he wrote, it had permeated the hearts and minds of the Japanese. Adopting Christianity would harm the spirit of the country and forfeit the independence of Japan. Progress, he continued, depended on maintaining a balance between heredity and adaptation. Therefore, adapting Japanese Buddhism to modern requirements would be more conducive to progress than following the early Meiji trend of adopting the completely foreign Christianity. “To unseat Buddhism and replace it with Christianity would surely have a negative influence on the spirit of independence.” It would result in “the loss of Japan’s inherited nature, and would unquestionably impair its development”38 He simply could not explain “why anyone believes that by abandoning Buddhism and accepting Christianity we will be obtaining a more satisfactory means for establishing international relations, promoting a national constitution, or realizing the goal of treaty revision”39

The intimate connection between religion and the spirit of man was also an argument against conversion to assist modernization. Because “the West has a nature peculiar to the West,” there was no reason to believe that any benefits that Christianity did bestow on the West would be transferred to Japan.40 Inoue also confronted the assumed association between Western progress and Christianity, arguing that, even within the West, Christianity obstructed progress, it “oppressed men’s spirits and impeded the development of scholarship.”41 Western progress has been achieved in spite of Christianity. Nevertheless, he observed, in Japan Christianity had attracted young men of talent. In a passage of Bukkyo katsuron joron that may well have been addressed to the Doshisha Christians, typical of the talented and ambitious men who converted to Christianity, Inoue wrote: “It is said that the talented men, who should have ambitions for the future, are converted early in life to Christianity …. When I hear about this, I am deeply grieved…. If they have the intention of loving the country how can they not promote their country’s traditional religion? If they know that the clergy’s ignorance and lack of intelligence make it unfit to map out the revival of Buddhism, why do they not plan for the revival of the religion without the clergy?”42

A Secular Sangha

The question Inoue posed was particularly pertinent because these converts rejected all traditional religion equally. The Christianity they had originally adopted was a liberal theology, elaborated upon by their own reading of contemporary criticism. By the late 1880s, the time of Inoue’s publication, they had distanced themselves from missionaries and were developing their own rationalized, demythologized interpretation of the Christian doctrine. Why, Inoue suggested, invoking the reform ideal of koji Buddhism, did they not carry out a similar exercise on Japanese religion? Why not redirect their considerable intellectual effort to making the Japanese religion meet their ideals rather than the foreign one?

Inoue did not attempt to deny that Buddhism as it could be observed in contemporary Japan was in a degraded state and in dire need of reform. Rather, in the mode of all rhetoricians attempting to stir outrage and action, the picture he painted was exaggerated. “Present-day Buddhism is practiced among foolish laymen, it is handed down by foolish clergy, and it is full of depravities; in short it is not free of becoming a barbaric doctrine.”43 This was “nothing intrinsic to Buddhism”; Buddhism simply reflected the “corrupt customs of society.”44 Inoue’s own efforts to effect change included promoting Buddhist philanthropy and campaigning against non-Buddhist superstition, folk belief in ghosts and the supernatural.45

Another passage of Bukkyo katsuron joron that might have been directed at the Doshisha converts confronted the belief of the Min’yusha (Friends of the Nation) that social evolution justified their assiduous Westernization. As they saw it, because social evolution was universally applicable, all societies must pass through the same stages. Therefore, for Japan to outstrip the West it must therefore follow the same path. They believed Japan would be able to overtake the West because of the superiority of the Japanese spirit. Inoue recognized that the intention of “our countrymen in accepting the West and studying English and German is not to make Japan an imitator and follower of other countries, but to make it a competitor and rival that will someday surpass the West.”46 Nevertheless, he warned, Japan would never overtake the West by following in its footsteps, or by discarding its strong points and adopting the shortcomings of the West. This could only be achieved by building a strong national identity, which, as he had already argued, depended on reviving and preserving Buddhism. Buddhism, in spite of its present state, was one of the strengths of Japan. In an argument that paralleled that of his Seikyosha colleague Shiga Shigetaka, Inoue argued that imitation was poor political strategy. It would lead the West to despise the Japanese as lacking energy, strength, and an independent spirit. Imitation was the behavior of slaves and flatterers: “[T]hey may regard us as a vassal state … but never, by any stretch of the imagination, look upon us as equals”47 In the Nihonjin a year later he would be even more explicit. “The best way Japanese can be made Japanese and Japan can remain independent was to preserve and propagate Buddhism.”48

Buddhism and International Prestige

Inoue believed in the necessity of projecting Japanese achievement in indigenous terms, not as an imitation of the West. For him Buddhism was the means by which Japan could gain the respect of the world and contribute to international welfare. Buddhism is Japan’s “special product”, its “strong point,” a source of national identity and international recognition and prestige. The proposal carried the nationalistic appeal of Japanese superiority and offered hope for the practical result of gaining recognition as a “civilized” nation and thereby effecting treaty revision. On top of all this, Inoue offered the altruistic appeal of contributing to the benefit of the world as a whole.

First, he argued Japan’s responsibility to Asia. Buddhism is the basis of Eastern civilization and has greatly influenced its scholarship, language, customs, and even the sentiments of its people.49 However, “the good strain” of Buddhism, the Mahayana, had died out elsewhere; it was virtually extinct in its country of origin and the little that did remain “is only the shallow doctrine of the Hinayana.”50 Japan, therefore, as the sole repository of the Buddha’s highest teaching, had a particular duty to preserve and propagate it. “Only in our country, Japan, do we have these sacred sects and texts, as well as people who know the profundities of the one vehicle [Mahayana]. If this is not maintained in Japan today, and if the people leave, the writings perish, and the sects are destroyed, in what land will Buddhism rise again? This is why the support of Buddhism is our most pressing urgent need today.”51

Inoue did not miss the opportunity to suggest that the survival of the Mahayana teachings in Japan was also evidence of the racial superiority of the Japanese. Mahayana Buddhism had died out elsewhere because of the deterioration of the races. His botanical metaphor of the “strains” of a plant emphasized that, though deriving from a common ancestral seed, the Mahayana Buddhism of India and China was not the same as the Mahayana Buddhism of Japan. The “good strain” was “the special product of the country that nurtured it.” There was, however, “absolutely no reason why it cannot be transplanted to other lands.”52

The next step was a pragmatic recognition of the superiority of Western achievement: that there was very little that Japan could produce that was not already available in the West, that the West was also ahead in its social and public institutions, the model for “government, law, the military system, education, the physical sciences and technology.” The one advantage that Japan had, he argued, was religion, and because “this fine product of ours excels those of other countries”53 it was “the one thing that Japan might transmit to foreign countries and thereby win fame.”54

Inoue then appealed to the sense of duty of his Confucian-educated readers. Just as it is the duty of Japan’s farmers to make agriculture flourish and to export food to foreign countries, and the duty of merchants to increase trade and to compete with the foreigners, it is the scholars’ duty to their country to make learning and religion prosper and to propagate them abroad.55 He assured his readers that the West would welcome Japanese Buddhism. “Western scholars have come to hate Christianity bitterly, and day and night, they are eagerly looking for a religion based upon philosophy.”56 Japanese Buddhism offered the evolutionary completion of Western philosophy, as well as philosophical Buddhism, a religion that accommodated the spiritual needs of the modern world. As a religion based on philosophical truth, far from being in conflict with philosophy as Christianity appeared to be, if offered an introduction to it. The fact that Western scholars studied Buddhism indicated an existing interest in Buddhism in the West, but this interest was not as great as it could be because the West only had very limited and biased access to its truth. Their scholars only investigated the Hinayana, “the most shallow of all Buddhism,” and Western understanding was further hindered by the fact that “the books about Buddhism sent to the West were all written by Christians.”57 Inoue’s message was clear. If the West was to realize the worth of Japanese Buddhism, able Japanese scholars must present it to them.

Fundamental to the whole argument was the evolutionary imperative for competition between species. Not only was Buddhism the most perfect expression of the truth that the Western world had been seeking for centuries, but it would provide the competition with Christianity that was essential if the West was to reach its full evolutionary development. The progress of man depended on competition between different cultures. Japan had a mission – a moral obligation – to develop its distinctive national characteristics to advance world civilization. History demonstrated the need for diversity. The prosperity of the West was a consequence of “competition among all the branches of learning and the arts,” but “when any kind of scholarship or religion is implemented as the sole ideology of that nation, progress is impeded.”58 The West had no religion except Christianity, which carried the additional burden of being “often guilty of obstructing the development of science and philosophy.” Introducing Buddhism would provide the competition essential to stimulate progress without which Christian civilization could not reach its full potential. “This is one more reason why the promotion of Buddhism in Japan is one of the most pressing needs of the day.”59

Though this may seem a particularly beneficent concern, Inoue, like Hirai at the World’s Parliament of Religions, believed that Christianity at its full development – when it had overcome its reliance on myth, mental props such as its concept of Deity, and unscientific doctrines – would not be different from Mahayana Buddhism. It was an expression of generosity not unlike that of the Christian missionaries who came to the East “not to destroy but to fulfill.” Summarizing his argument for the revitalization of Buddhism, Inoue concluded rhetorically, “[I]s it not Buddhism alone that can make our country’s scholarship independent in the East, and supersede that of the West? Is it not Buddhism alone that will make our country’s doctrines overwhelm the world and swallow the globe? Is it not Buddhism alone that can make Japan’s prestige shine throughout the world, and make Japan’s fame resound throughout eternity? Should we not defend this teaching for the sake of the nation? Should we not love this religion for the sake of truth?”60

Taking Buddhism to the West

Whether in response to Inoue’s plea or not, toward the end of the 1880s Japanese Buddhists, led by the Honganji institutions (both Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji), developed international contacts. Although there had been contact from earlier times the initiative was formalized with the founding of the Society for Communication with Western Buddhists (Obei bukkyo tsushinkai) [later reorganized as the Buddhist Propagation Society (Kaigai Senkyo Kai, literally Overseas Missionary Society), under the leadership of Akamatsu Renjo] in 1887 under the leadership of Akamatsu Renjo. Akamatsu, an associate of Inoue, had been one of the first Buddhists to travel to Europe and the first to write on Japanese Buddhism in English. A branch office was opened in London in 1890, and a journal, Bijou of Asia, was published.61 The arguments of Bukkyo katsuron joron explain the essential connection between the propagation of Buddhism overseas and the contest of religions within Meiji Japan. It was at least as much a strategy in the discourse determining the religious future of Japan as a missionary drive for expansion. In this context the invitation to the World’s Parliament of Religions was an outstanding opportunity. The Parliament provided a chance to speak directly to a select audience of religious specialists, to introduce them to Japanese Mahayana, and, moreover, offered the opportunity, through the publication of the proceedings, for the reform representation of Buddhism to enter into Western discourse.


The apparent paradox in Inoue Enryo’s career is that he broke his formal ties with Buddhism in order to promote it. Such was the authority of the West in Japan in the 1880s that even in a time of reaction against excessive Westernization, a time when many Japanese were looking to their indigenous heritage in search of a distinctive national identity, Japanese Buddhism had to be validated in the international currency of Western standards. To do this, Inoue adopted the title of philosopher – a distinctively Western title at that time – and, with it, the claim to speak on behalf of Buddhism with the voice of unbiased reason.

He used this claim to rational, objective authority to establish the superiority of Buddhist thought by comparison with the standards of universal reason. He used Western philosophical theory to present an analysis of Buddhism. He used the names of Western philosophy to attract the attention of the Western-educated elite and the terms of Western philosophy to signpost the less familiar concepts of Buddhist teaching. But Inoue’s identity as a philosopher offered more than this. Just as Fenollosa’s authority on Western art and aesthetics had been crucial in launching the revival of Japanese art, Inoue’s credentials in Western philosophy validated his promotion of Japanese Buddhism. This recourse to Western authority was also a factor in taking Japanese Buddhism to Chicago. Acceptance of Japanese Buddhism in the international, Western, and Christian event – or at least the appearance of acceptance – validated the revivalist project. However, regardless of the importance of Western philosophy in Inoue’s work, there is no question that what he taught in Bukkyo katsuron joron was Buddhism. I suggest that Inoue’s use of Western philosophy is best understood as a deployment of Western authority. What was important in this exercise was the authority that Western philosophy commanded among Inoue’s target audience. The term “deployment” points to a strategic purpose – in this case, Inoue’s related projects of recreating a role for Buddhism in modern Japanese society and establishing a relationship between Buddhism and the new Japanese state.



I. BKJ (Introduction to revitalizing Buddhism).

2. The character for tetsu had been used in Chinese in association with Confucian thought.

3. Japan Weekly Mail, March 1893.

4. This is not surprising considering Inoue's association with delegate Ashitsu Jitsuzen in the formation of the Sonno hobutsu daidodan and the Seikyosha, and the number of Inoue's close associates and colleagues in Buddhist revival who were signatories to the document.

5. Chisolm, Fenollosa, 42.

6. Fenollosa, Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art, 1:xiv.

7. Fukuzawa Yukichi, Chrysanthemum (October 1881): 393, translated by Walter Dening.

8. Chisolm, Fenollosa, 50, describes the Ryuchikai incident. The introductory essay by Mary Fenollosa in Fenollosa, Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art, xviii, lists his imperial honors.

9. The institute, under Okakura's direction, was responsible for the Hooden, the Japanese Pavilion at the Chicago Exposition.

10. Staggs, "Defend the Nation," 258. Shimaji Mokurai and Ouchi Seiran should need no further introduction. Kitabatake Doryu was a Honganji priest recently returned from study overseas, the first Japanese to visit Bodhgaya. Kiyozawa was also a Honganji student studying philosophy and later wrote on Hegel and Buddhism. His Hegelian-inspired lectures on Buddhism were circulated at the Parliament as the book Outlines of the Mahayiina. He was to become the founding president of Otani University. Inoue Tetsujiro studied philosophy in Europe. Miyake, Tanabashi, and Shiga were major Seikyosha spokesmen. Shiga was the editor of their journal Nihonjin.

11. Tsunemitsu, Meiji no bukkyosha, 174.

12. Staggs, "Defend the Nation," 154.

13. Although reform was supported at the highest levels the conservative opposition should not be underestimated. It is apparent in the refusal to endorse officially the delegation to Chicago, and in the absence of Honganji priests in the delegation in spite of the fact that invitations were originally extended to Nanjo, Shimaji, and Akamatsu as the Buddhists most well known overseas. See also Murakami Sensho's resignation from the Honganji over the controversy of his history of Buddhism. Ibid., 295-96. Kiyozawa Manshi mentions the factions in the Honganji, Inoue's institution. See Haneda, December Fan.

14. BKJ, 350 and 360. Part 2 of Bukkyo katsuron was entitled "Destroying Evil."

15. Staggs, "Defend the Nation," 154. The ploy apparently worked. Thelle, Buddhism and Christianity inJapan, 100-101, is generous in his praises for Inoue's rational approach. Inoue's earliest publications were anti-Christian: Haja shmron (A new refutation of Christianity) (1885); Shinri kishin (The guiding principle of Truth) (1886-87). Volumes 1 and 2 were a "point by point refutation of what Inoue deemed the erroneous and irrational tenets of Christianity." Staggs, "In Defence of Japanese Buddhism," 191-202. Inoue's publishing house, Tetsugaku shoin, published numerous anti-Christian works through the 1890s. Inoue warned, however, against taking Christianity too lightly. "It is much more profound than would be indicated by the foolish chattering of the missionaries we hear" (190).

16. BKJ, 350.

17. BKJ, 362-64.

18. In reality, Inoue (1858-1919) would have been only ten years old at this time and, contrary to the implication of this "autobiography," remained a priest until 1885.

19. BKJ, 363-64.

20. Chisolm, Fenollosa, 131. Inoue's Buddhist philosophy was based on Tendai teachings.

21. BKJ, 334-35.

22. BKJ, 397.

23. BKJ, 351 and 361.

24. BKJ, 358-59.

25. BKJ, 364.

26. The Buddhist term hoben (Sanskrit: upaya) refers to provisional truth used as a means of leading beings to greater understanding. It relates to the Buddha's skill in teaching according to the ability of the audience to comprehend. See the subsequent account of the Five Periods of the Buddha's teachings.

27. BKJ, 397.

28. BKJ, 397-98. Staggs's thesis provides a detailed analysis of this, "In Defence of Japanese Buddhism," 248-72.

29. BKJ, 398.

30. BKJ, 398-99·

31. BKJ, 399. See Inagaki, A Dictionary of Japanese Buddhist Terms, 83, for a definition of goun.

32. BKJ, 402.

33. Japanese Kegonkyo. This is a Mahayana sutra. For Inoue's account of this, see BKJ, 426- 28. The five periods are Kegonji, when Sakyamuni taught the Avatamsaka-sutra; the Agonji, when he taught the Agama-sutras; the Hodoji, when he taught the Vaipulya-sutras; the Hannyaji, when he taught the Prajnaparamita-sutras; and Hokeji or nehanji, when he taught the Saddharma-pundarika-sutra and Mahaparinirvana-sutra. The periods take their names from the Japanese names of the sutras.

34. BKJ, 427.

35. BKJ, 354; Staggs, "Defend the Nation," 274 n. 69.

36. BKJ, 365.

37. BKJ, 377.

38. BKI, 368.

39. BKJ, 377.

40. BKJ, 374.

41. BKJ, 375.

42. BKJ, 386.

43. BKJ, 351.

44. BKJ, 378.

45. Staggs, "Defend the Nation," 226-28.

46. BKJ, 370.

47. Shiga Shigetaka (1863-1927) published his Nanyo jiji (Conditions in the South Seas) in 1887, the same year as BKJ. His voyages in Australia and New Zealand, among other places, had convinced him of the danger of "naive and weak-willed association with Westerners and their culture." Pyle, The New Generation in Meiji Japan, 56-58.

48. Inoue Enryo, Nihonjin 1 (April 1888).

49. BKJ, 368.

50. BKJ, 365.

51. BKJ, 365-66.

52. BKJ, 366.

53. BKJ, 370-71.

54. BKJ, 366.

55. BKJ, 371.

56. BKJ, 366.

57. BKJ, 366-67·

58. BKJ, 372.

59. Ibid.

60. BKJ, 372-73.

61. Thelle, Buddhism and Christianity in Japan, 110.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:55 pm

Higashi Hongan-ji
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/10/19



Higashi Hongan-ji
Eastern Temple of the Original Vow
Higashi Hongan-ji
Affiliation Jodo Shinshu, Otani-ha
Status Head temple
Location 754 Tokiwa-machi, north of Karasuma and Shichijō, Shimogyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
Country Japan
Higashi Hongan-ji is located in JapanHigashi Hongan-ji
Shown within Japan
Geographic coordinates 34°59′27.66″N 135°45′30.44″ECoordinates: 34°59′27.66″N 135°45′30.44″E
Ōtani-ha (Higashi Honganji)

Higashi Hongan-ji (東本願寺), or, the Eastern Temple of the Original Vow, is one of two dominant sub-sects of Shin Buddhism in Japan and abroad, the other being Nishi Honganji (or, 'The Western Temple of the Original Vow').

Jodo Shinshu (浄土真宗 "The True Essence of the Pure Land Teaching"[1]), also known as Shin Buddhism or True Pure Land Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran. Shin Buddhism is considered the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan....

Early Shin Buddhism did not truly flourish until the time of Rennyo (1415–1499), who was 8th in descent from Shinran. Through his charisma and proselytizing, Shin Buddhism was able to amass a greater following and grow in strength. In the 16th-century, during the Sengoku period the political power of Honganji led to several conflicts between it and the warlord Oda Nobunaga, culminating in a ten-year conflict over the location of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji, which Nobunaga coveted because of its strategic value. So strong did the sect become that in 1602, through mandate of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main temple Hongan-ji in Kyoto was broken off into two sects to curb its power. These two sects, the Nishi (Western) Honganji and the Higashi (Eastern) Honganji, exist separately to this day.

During the time of Shinran, followers would gather in informal meeting houses called dojo, and had an informal liturgical structure. However, as time went on, this lack of cohesion and structure caused Jōdo Shinshū to gradually lose its identity as a distinct sect, as people began mixing other Buddhist practices with Shin ritual. One common example was the Mantra of Light popularized by Myōe and Shingon Buddhism. Other Pure Land Buddhist practices, such as the nembutsu odori[4] or "dancing nembutsu" as practiced by the followers of Ippen and the Ji School, may have also been adopted by early Shin Buddhists. Rennyo ended these practices by formalizing much of the Jōdo Shinshū ritual and liturgy, and revived the thinning community at the Honganji temple while asserting newfound political power. Rennyo also proselytized widely among other Pure Land sects and consolidated most of the smaller Shin sects. Today, there are still ten distinct sects of Jōdo Shinshū, Nishi Hongan-ji and Higashi Hongan-ji being the two largest....

Following the unification of Japan during the Edo period, Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism adapted, along with the other Japanese Buddhist schools, into providing memorial and funeral services for its registered members under the Danka system, which was legally required by the Tokugawa shogunate in order to prevent the spread of Christianity in Japan. The danka seido system continues to exist today, although not as strictly as in the premodern period, causing Japanese Buddhism to also be labeled as "Funeral Buddhism" since it became the primary function of Buddhist temples. The Honganji also created an impressive academic tradition, which led to the founding of Ryukoku University in Kyoto and formalized many of the Jōdo Shinshū traditions which are still followed today.

Following the Meiji Restoration and the subsequent persecution of Buddhism (haibutsu kishaku) of the late 1800s due to a revived nationalism and modernization, Jōdo Shinshū managed to survive intact due to the devotion of its monto. During World War II, the Honganji, as with the other Japanese Buddhist schools, was compelled to support the policies of the military government and the cult of State Shinto. It subsequently apologized for its wartime actions.[5]....

Shinran's thought was strongly influenced by the doctrine of Mappō, a largely Mahayana eschatology which claims humanity's ability to listen to and practice the Buddhist teachings deteriorates over time and loses effectiveness in bringing individual practitioners closer to Buddhahood. This belief was particularly widespread in early medieval China and in Japan at the end of the Heian. Shinran, like his mentor Hōnen, saw the age he was living in as being a degenerate one where beings cannot hope to be able to extricate themselves from the cycle of birth and death through their own power, or jiriki (自力). For both Hōnen and Shinran, all conscious efforts towards achieving enlightenment and realizing the Bodhisattva ideal were contrived and rooted in selfish ignorance; for humans of this age are so deeply rooted in karmic evil as to be incapable of developing the truly altruistic compassion that is requisite to becoming a Bodhisattva.

Due to his awareness of human limitations, Shinran advocates reliance on tariki, or other power (他力)—the power of Amitābha (Japanese Amida) made manifest in his Primal Vow—in order to attain liberation.
Shin Buddhism can therefore be understood as a "practiceless practice", for there are no specific acts to be performed such as there are in the "Path of Sages"....

As in other Pure Land Buddhist schools, Amitābha is a central focus of the Buddhist practice, and Jōdo Shinshū expresses this devotion through a chanting practice called nembutsu, or "Mindfulness of the Buddha [Amida]". The nembutsu is simply reciting the phrase Namu Amida Butsu ("I take refuge in Amitābha Buddha"). Jōdo Shinshū is not the first school of Buddhism to practice the nembutsu but it is interpreted in a new way according to Shinran. The nembutsu becomes understood as an act that expresses gratitude to Amitābha; furthermore, it is evoked in the practitioner through the power of Amida's unobstructed compassion. Therefore, in Shin Buddhism, the nembutsu is not considered a practice, nor does it generate karmic merit. It is simply an affirmation of one's gratitude. Indeed, given that the nembutsu is the Name, when one utters the Name, that is Amitābha calling to the devotee. This is the essence of the Name-that-calls.[6]....

The receipt of shinjin comes about through the renunciation of self-effort in attaining enlightenment through tariki. It should be noted, however, that shinjin arises from jinen (自然 naturalness, spontaneous working of the Vow) and cannot be achieved solely through conscious effort. One is letting go of conscious effort in a sense, and simply trusting Amida Buddha, and the nembutsu.

For Jōdo Shinshū practitioners, shinjin develops over time through "deep hearing" (monpo) of Amitābha's call of the nembutsu. According to Shinran, "to hear" means "that sentient beings, having heard how the Buddha's Vow arose—its origin and fulfillment—are altogether free of doubt."[8] Jinen also describes the way of naturalness whereby Amitābha's infinite light illumines and transforms the deeply rooted karmic evil of countless rebirths into good karma. It is of note that such evil karma is not destroyed but rather transformed: Shin stays within the Mahayana tradition's understanding of śūnyatā and understands that samsara and nirvana are not separate. Once the practitioner's mind is united with Amitābha and Buddha-nature gifted to the practitioner through shinjin, the practitioner attains the state of non-retrogression, whereupon after his death it is claimed he will achieve instantaneous and effortless enlightenment. He will then return to the world as a Bodhisattva, that he may work towards the salvation of all beings....

Under the influence of Rennyo and other priests, Jōdo Shinshū later fully accepted honji suijaku beliefs and the concept of kami as manifestations of Amida Buddha and other buddhas and bodhisattvas.[10]....

The term honji suijaku or honchi suijaku (本地垂迹) in Japanese religious terminology refers to a theory widely accepted until the Meiji period according to which Indian Buddhist deities choose to appear in Japan as native kami to more easily convert and save the Japanese.[1][2]

Kami (Japanese: 神, [kaꜜmi]) are the spirits, phenomena or "holy powers" that are venerated in the religion of Shinto. They can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, as well as beings and the qualities that these beings express; they can also be the spirits of venerated dead persons. Many kami are considered the ancient ancestors of entire clans (some ancestors became kami upon their death if they were able to embody the values and virtues of kami in life). Traditionally, great or sensational leaders like the Emperor could be or became kami.[1]

In Shinto, kami are not separate from nature, but are of nature, possessing positive and negative, and good and evil characteristics. They are manifestations of musubi (結び),[2] the interconnecting energy of the universe, and are considered exemplary of what humanity should strive towards. Kami are believed to be "hidden" from this world, and inhabit a complementary existence that mirrors our own: shinkai (神界, "the world of the kami").
[3]:22 To be in harmony with the awe-inspiring aspects of nature is to be conscious of kannagara no michi (随神の道 or 惟神の道, "the way of the kami").[2]

-- Kami, by Wikipedia

The theory states that some kami (but not all) are local manifestations (the suijaku (垂迹), literally, a "trace") of Buddhist deities (the honji (本地), literally, "original ground").[1][3] The two entities form an indivisible whole called gongen and in theory should have equal standing, but this was not always the case.[4] In the early Nara period, for example, the honji was considered more important and only later did the two come to be regarded as equals.[4] During the late Kamakura period it was even proposed that the kami were the original deities and the buddhas their manifestations.

-- Honji suijaku, by Wikipedia

Branch lineages

• Jōdo Shinshū Honganji School (Nishi Hongan-ji) - Popularly spelled Hongwan-ji
• Jōdo Shinshū Higashi Honganji School (Higashi Hongan-ji)
o Shinshū Ōtani School
• Shinshū Chōsei School (Chōsei-ji)
• Shinshū Takada School (Senju-ji)
o Shinshū Kita Honganji School (Kitahongan-ji)
• Shinshū Bukkōji School (Bukkō-ji)
• Shinshū Kōshō School (Kōshō-ji)
• Shinshū Kibe School (Kinshoku-ji)
• Shinshū Izumoji School (Izumo-ji)
• Shinshū Jōkōji School (Jōshō-ji)
• Shinshū Jōshōji School (Jōshō-ji)
• Shinshū Sanmonto School (Senjō-ji)
• Montoshūichimi School (Kitami-ji)
• Kayakabe Teaching (Kayakabe-kyō) - An esoteric branch of Jōdo Shinshū

-- Jōdo Shinshū, by Wikipedia

It is also the name of the head temple of the Ōtani-ha branch of Jōdo Shinshū in Kyoto, which was most recently constructed in 1895 after a fire burned down the previous temple.[1][2] As with many sites in Kyoto, these two complexes have more casual names and are known affectionately in Kyoto as Onissan (お西さん, Honorable Mr. West) and Ohigashisan (お東さん, Honorable Mr. East).


Higashi Honganji was established in 1602 by the shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu when he split the Shin sect in two (Nishi Honganji being the other) in order to diminish its power.[1] The temple was first built in its present location in 1658.[2]

The temple grounds feature a mausoleum containing the ashes of Shin Buddhism founder Shinran. The mausoleum was initially constructed in 1272 and moved several times before being constructed in its current location in 1670.[3]

At the center of the temple is the Founder's Hall, where an image of the temple's founder, Shinran, is enshrined. The hall is one of the largest wooden structures in the world at 76 m (250 ft.) in length, 58 m (190 ft.) in width, and 38 m (125 ft.) in height. The current hall was constructed in 1895.[4]

The Amida Hall to the left of the Founder's Hall contains an image of Amida Buddha along with an image of Prince Shōtoku, who introduced Buddhism to Japan. The hall is ornately decorated with gold leaf and art from the JapaneseMeiji Period. The current hall was constructed in 1895.[5]

Various parts of Higashi Honganji, including the Founder's Hall and Amida Hall, burned down 4 times during the Japanese Edo Period. Monetary assistance was often given to Higashi Honganji by the Tokugawa Shogunate in order to rebuild. The Great Tenmei Fire in Kyoto caused many temple buildings to burn down in 1788, and the temple was rebuilt in 1797. An accidental fire destroyed many of the temple buildings in 1823 and were rebuilt in 1835. After burning down once again in 1858, the destroyed halls were quickly and temporarily reconstructed for Shinran’s 600th Memorial Service in 1861. However, these temporary hall burned down in a city-wide fire caused by the Kinmon incident on July 19, 1864. The temple finally started to rebuild in 1879 after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate and once conflict caused by the Meiji Restoration of 1868 had settled down. The Founder's Hall and Amida Hall were completed in 1895, with other buildings being restored by 1911. These buildings comprise the current temple.[2]

During the twentieth century, Higashi Honganji was troubled by political disagreements, financial scandals and family disputes, and has subsequently fractured into a number of further sub-divisions (see Ohigashi schism). The largest Higashi Honganji grouping, the Shinshu Otaniha has approximately 5.5 million members, according to statistics.[1] However within this climate of instability the Higashi Honganji also produced a significant number of extremely influential thinkers, such as Soga Ryojin, Kiyozawa Manshi, Kaneko Daiei and Haya Akegarasu amongst others.

Founder's Hall Gate (Goei-do Mon), built in 1911, width 31 m (103 ft) x height 27 m (90 ft), 59,387 roof tiles [6]

Founder's Hall (Goei-dō)

Amida Hall

See also

• Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
• Shōsei-en
• Shinran
• Ōtani-ha
• Pure Land Buddhism
• Shin Buddhism


1. Popular Buddhism In Japan: Shin Buddhist Religion & Culture by Esben Andreasen, pp. 11, 38-39, 101 / University of Hawaii Press 1998, ISBN 0-8248-2028-2
2. "About Higashi Honganji". Higashi Honganji Shinsu Otani-ha. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
3. "Otani Mausoleum". Higashi Honganji Shinsu Otani-ha. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
4. "Founder's Hall (Goei-do)". Higashi Honganji Shinsu Otani-ha. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
5. "Amida Hall". Higashi Honganji Shinsu Otani-ha. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
6. "Founder's Hall Gate". Higashi Honganji Shinsu Otani-ha. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:06 am

Part 1: The Meiji Restoration of 1868 and Buddhism, Chapter One: The Attempted Suppression of Buddhism [Excerpt] from "Zen at War", by Brian Daizen Victoria
Second Edition
© 2006 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.




Buddhism has a history of approximately 1,500 years in Japan, having first been introduced from Korea in the middle of the sixth century. By the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) Buddhism had, outwardly at least, reached the pinnacle of its power, functioning as a de facto state religion. Each and every household in the country was required to affiliate itself with a nearby Buddhist temple. The result was an explosive growth in the number of temples, from only 13,037 temples during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) to 469,934 during the Tokugawa.1

There were, however, a number of hidden costs associated with Buddhism's establishment as a state religion. First of all, mandatory temple affiliation effectively turned a large part of the Buddhist clergy into little more than government functionaries. Concurrently, membership in a particular sect often became a matter of political obligation rather than religious conviction. These developments are hardly surprising, since the catalyst for according Buddhism a privileged position in the first place was the Tokugawa regime's determination to expel Christianity, thereby reducing the danger to Japan of being colonized by one of the Western powers. Equally important, the regime wished to insure that indigenous religious institutions, like all other institutions in society, were firmly under its control.

The government exerted control over institutional Buddhism through such policies as dividing the powerful Shin (True Pure Land) sect into two branches, popularly known as the Nishi (West) Honganji and Higashi (East) Honganji after their respective head temples. The Tokugawa regime further made sure that every temple in the land, no matter how humble, was made subservient to a higher-grade temple in pyramidal fashion, with an all-powerful central temple (honzan) controlling each sect from the top. While sectarian differences were tolerated, the central temple of each sect was made responsible, and held accountable, for the actions of all of its subordinates, both lay and clerical.

A second and perhaps higher cost that institutional Buddhism paid for government support was what Robert Bellah described as the "general lethargy and uncreativeness of Buddhism in the Tokugawa period."2 Anesaki Masaharu was even less flattering when he wrote: "The majority of the Buddhist clergy were obedient servants of the Government, and in the long period of peace they gradually became lazy, or else effeminate intriguers."3

There were, of course, some clergy, living in richly endowed temples, who turned their energy to learning. There were also reformers and innovators who attempted with some success to revitalize their respective sects.4 Yet many if not most of the clergy took advantage of their prerogatives as agents of the government to suppress or economically exploit their parishioners. Joseph Kitagawa notes that "the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of established Buddhism inevitably brought criticism and rebellion from within and without."5 It was all but inevitable that institutional Buddhism would face a day of reckoning.


On January 3, 1868, the young Emperor Meiji issued a proclamation announcing that he was resuming the reins of government, although in fact only very limited power had actually been restored to the throne. Nevertheless, a scant three months later, on April 6, 1868, the emperor promulgated the Charter Oath, a document consisting of five articles that clearly expressed the antifeudal aspirations of the new government. The Charter Oath states:

(1) Councils widely convoked shall be established, and all affairs of State decided by public discussion.

(2) All measures, governmental and social, shall be conducted by the united efforts of the governing and the governed.

(3) The unity of the imperial and the feudal governments shall be achieved; all the people, even the meanest, shall be given full opportunities for their aspirations and activities.

(4) All absurd usages of the old regime shall be abolished and all measures conducted in conformity with the righteous way of heaven and earth.

(5) Knowledge shall be sought from all over the world, and thus shall be promoted the imperial polity.6

Though the Charter Oath was seemingly innocuous, Article 4 was a harbinger of the impending storm Buddhism would face. What, exactly, were the "absurd usages of the old regime" that were to be "abolished"?

The answer was not long in coming. Only a few days later the first of the "Separation Edicts" (Shimbutsu Hanzen Rei), designed to separate Buddhism from Shinto, were issued by a newly established government bureau known as the Office of Rites Oingi Kyoku). This first edict stated that all Buddhist clerics were to be removed from Shinto shrines throughout the nation. Henceforth, only bona fide Shinto priests were to be allowed to carry out administrative duties related to shrines.

In a second edict, issued less than two weeks after the first, the use of Buddhist names for Shinto deities (kami) was prohibited. Not only that, Buddhist statuary could no longer be used to represent Shinto deities, or, for that matter, even be present in a shrine compound. Whatever the authors' original intent may have been, these edicts were often interpreted at the local and regional levels as meaning that anything having to do with Buddhism could and should be destroyed.

In his excellent book on this period, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan, James Ketelaar points out that these separation edicts "necessarily included as an integral part of their formulation a direct attack on Buddhism."7 This is because, first of all, nearly every member of the Office of Rites was an active proponent of National Learning (Kokugaku). This Shinto-dominated school of thought taught that while both the Japanese nation and throne were of divine origin, this origin had been obscured and sullied by foreign accretions and influences, especially those from China. Adherents of this school believed one of the first and most important jobs of the new government was to cleanse the nation of these foreign elements, Buddhism first and foremost.

Just how effective this "cleansing" was can be seen from statistics: over forty thousand temples were closed throughout the nation, countless temple artifacts were destroyed, and thousands of priests were forcibly laicized.8 Once again, however, the interpretation and enforcement of the Separation Edicts was, in general, left up to the regional authorities. Hence, those areas where there was the greatest support for National Learning among local and regional officialdom were also those areas where the greatest destruction occurred.

In the former Satsuma domain (present-day Kagoshima, southern Miyazaki, and Okinawa prefectures), whose leadership had played a leading role in the Restoration movement, Buddhism had almost completely disappeared by the end of 1869. Approximately 4,500 Buddhist temples and halls were eliminated.9 The priests housed in these temples were returned to lay life, and those between the ages of eighteen and forty-five were immediately drafted into the newly formed imperial army. Those over forty-five were sent to become teachers in domain schools, while those under eighteen were sent back to their families.


In the face of these very real threats to its continued existence, it did not take some elements of institutional Buddhism long to initiate a series of countermeasures. One of the first of these was undertaken primarily by the Higashi Honganji and Nishi Honganji branches of the Shin sect. On the surface, at least, it was a rather surprising measure: the sect lent substantial amounts of money to the then cash-starved Meiji government. In effect, these two branches hoped to bribe the government into ameliorating its policies.

The same two branches also took the lead in the summer of 1868 in forming the Alliance of United [Buddhist] Sects for Ethical Standards (Shoshu Dotoku Kaimei). This was an unprecedented action for institutional Buddhism, since under the previous Tokugawa regime all intrasectarian Buddhist organizations had been banned. The new organization pledged itself, first of all, to work for the unity of Law of the Sovereign and Law of the Buddha. Second, it called for Christianity to be not only denounced, but expelled from Japan.

Buddhist leaders were quick to realize that their best hope of reviving their faith was to align themselves with the increasingly nationalistic sentiment of the times. They concluded that one way of demonstrating their usefulness to Japan's new nationalistic leaders was to support an anti-Christian campaign, which came to be known as "refuting evil [Christianity] and exalting righteousness" (haja kensho).

As early as September 17, 1868, the new Ministry of State responded to these "positive actions" on the part of Buddhist leaders by sending a private communique directly to the Higashi Honganji and Nishi Honganji branches of the Shin sect. This letter contained a condemnation of those members of the imperial court who wrongfully, and in contradiction to Emperor Meiji's will, were persecuting Buddhism. The letter further notes that in so doing, these "foul-mouthed rebels ... antagonize the general populace."10

Just how antagonized the general populace had become is shown by the strong protest actions that arose in opposition to the repressive, anti-Buddhist measures of local authorities. These protests started in the Toyama region in late 1870 and were followed by two riots in Mikawa (present Aichi Prefecture) and Ise (present Mie Prefecture) in 1871. In each of the following two years there were also two major protests in widely scattered parts of the country.

The 1873 peasant protests in three counties of Echizen (present Fukui Prefecture) were so large that they had to be put down by government troops. It can be argued that it was the government's fear of these protests that finally forced it to pay serious attention to the plight of Buddhists. The government reached the conclusion that the wholesale suppression of Buddhism was neither possible nor safe. A solution had to be found.


The First Attempt

The first major change in the Meiji government's policy toward Buddhism came in early 1872. It was at this time that the Ministry of Rites was transformed into the Ministry of Doctrine (Kyobusho). The new ministry was given administrative responsibility for such things as the building and closing of both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, and the approval of all priestly ranks and privileges. By far its most important function, however, was to propagate the "Great Teaching" (Daikyo) that had been developed the previous year. The three pillars of this teaching were as follows: (1) the principles of reverence for the national deities and of patriotism shall be observed; (2) the heavenly reason and the way of humanity shall be promulgated; and (3) the throne shall be revered and the authorities obeyed.11 Charged with promulgating these principles, the Ministry of Doctrine created the position of Doctrinal Instructor (Kyodoshoku). These instructors were to operate through a nation-wide network of Teaching Academies (Kyoin) which would be established in both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. The significance to Buddhism of this development is that for the first time Buddhist priests were given permission to serve in this state-sponsored position, together, of course, with Shinto priests and scholars of National Learning.

By establishing the position of Doctrinal Instructor, the state was creating a de facto state priesthood. Anyone uncertified by the state was barred from lecturing in public, performing ceremonial duties, and residing in either shrines or temples. Nevertheless, Buddhists saw this as a way to escape from their ongoing oppression and eagerly took advantage of this new opportunity.

How successful they were can be seen from the fact that eventually more than 81,000 of a total of some 103,000 officially recognized Doctrinal Instructors were Buddhist priests. Of this number, Shin sect-affiliated priests numbered nearly 25,000 and were the largest single group.12 But Buddhists paid a heavy price for their inclusion into the new state religion, for it was clearly Shinto inspired and controlled. All Doctrinal Instructors were expected to wear Shinto robes, recite Shinto prayers, and perform Shinto rituals. Further, although the Ministry of Doctrine selected the famous Pure Land sect temple of Zojoji in Tokyo as the "Great Teaching Academy." the administrative center for the national doctrine system, the ministry demanded that the temple be extensively renovated for its new role.

Zojoji's renovation included replacing the statute of Amida Buddha on the main altar with four Shinto deities and building a Shinto gate at the entrance to the temple. The Buddhist leadership was so anxious to support this new scheme that they even arranged to have their subordinate temples pay the renovation costs. Yet, despite this seemingly cooperative beginning, conflict inevitably arose between Buddhist and Shinto elements within the national doctrine system.

As the anti-Buddhist movement began to subside, the Buddhist leaders sought to free themselves from Shinto domination. An additional cause of friction was an announcement made on April 25, 1872, by the Ministry of State. This announcement, known as Order Number 133, stated that Buddhist priests could, if they wished, eat meat, get married, grow their hair long, and wear ordinary clothing. Although this decision neither prohibited nor commanded anything, it was seen by many Buddhist leaders as yet another attack on their religion. In their minds, Order Number 133 represented an extension of the earlier separation of Shinto and Buddhism. It represented the separation of Buddhism from the state itself.

The strong Buddhist opposition to this measure included numerous sectarian protest meetings and petitions criticizing the ministry's decision, at least one of which was signed by over two hundred Buddhist priests. Some angry priests even went directly to the ministry's offices to express their opposition. The irony of these actions is that Order Number 133 was a directive that had been taken at the request of a Buddhist, the influential So1O Zen sect priest Otori Sesso (1814-1904).

Otori was in a unique position to make his views known since, at the time the new Ministry of Doctrine was created, he had been asked to serve as a representative of Buddhist clerics (though he was required to return to lay life for the duration of his government service). Otori's overall goal was the ending of the government's anti-Buddhist policies, and like his Buddhist contemporaries he believed that the best way of achieving this goal was to demonstrate Buddhism's usefulness to the state, specifically through the promulgation of the Great Teaching.

Otori recognized that a large number of Buddhist priests were already married, in spite of regulations prohibiting it. This made them, at least technically, lawbreakers, and left them in no position to work for the government as Doctrinal Instructors or to effectively fight Christianity. In his mind, lifting the ban against marriage, eating meat, and wearing long hair would make it possible for the Buddhist clergy to more effectively render their services to the nation. Despite the protests, Otori was successful in this reform effort, and the new law remained.

In light of their defeat, Buddhist leaders realized that they had to free themselves not only from Shinto control but government control as well. Once again the Shin sect played a major role. Leaders of this sect, particularly Shimaji Mokurai (1838-1911), were at the forefront of the movement for change. Mokurai was particularly well suited to the challenge, not least because he had led troops in support of the Imperial Restoration movement.

As early as 1872, Shimaji wrote an essay critical of the three principles of the Great Teaching. His basic position was that there was a fundamental difference between government (sei) and religion (kyo), and he called for the separation of the two (seikyo bunri). While it took some years for Shimaji and those who agreed with him to make a discernible impact on the Ministry of Doctrine, eventually, at the beginning of 1875, the government gave the two Shin branches permission to leave the Great Doctrine movement, and shortly afterward the entire institution of the Great Doctrine was abolished. A new solution had to be found.

The Second Attempt

The Buddhists were not the only religious group to benefit from changing government policy. In 1871 a diplomatic mission sent to the West, headed by Senior Minister Iwakura Tomomi (1825-83), had recommended that if Japan were to successfully revise what it regarded as unequal treaties with the Western powers, it would have to adopt a policy of religious freedom.

The Western powers were, of course, most concerned about the ongoing prohibition of Christianity in Japan. As a result, in 1873 the government reluctantly agreed to abolish this prohibition, a decision which led to a rapid increase in the numbers of both Western Christian missions and missionaries entering the country. Even as they continued their own struggle to free themselves from government control, many Buddhist leaders took this occasion to renew and deepen their earlier attacks on Christianity. In so doing, they allied themselves with Shinto, Confucian, and other nationalist leaders.

Shintoists, too, were undergoing changes at this time. Shinto's strongest supporters, the proponents of National Learning, had demonstrated to Meiji political leaders that they were "too religious to rule."13 This, in turn, led to a reduction in their political power as evidenced by the 1872 changes in the government's religious policy toward Buddhism. Yet key members of the government were still dedicated to the proposition that one way or another the emperor system, as an immanental theocracy with roots in the ancient state, should be used to legitimatize the new government. The question was, in the face of earlier failures, how could this be accomplished?

Part of the answer came in 1882 when the government divided Shinto into two parts, one part consisting of cultic, emperor-related practices and the other of so-called religious practices. While the religious side of Shinto, or Sect Shinto (Kyoha Shinto), received nothing from the government, the cultic side of Shinto, which came to be known as State Shinto (Kokka Shinto), received both financial subsidies and various other political privileges.

The government maintained that this policy was justified because cultic practices relating to the emperor were patriotic in nature, not religious. Even today there are Japanese Buddhist scholars who continue to support this position. Professor Shibata Doken of Sow Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University, for example, maintains that "given the fact that Japan is a country consisting of a unitary people, with shared customs and mores, the assertion that [State] Shinto was not a religion can be sanctioned, at least to some degree."14 Other contemporary scholars of that era, however, held a differing view. Joseph Kitagawa, for example, maintained that '''State Shinto' was essentially a newly concocted religion of ethnocentric nationalism." 15 Helen Hardacre provides a more detailed description:

State Shinto [was] a systemic phenomenon that encompassed government support of and regulation of shrines, the emperor's sacerdotal roles, state creation and sponsorship of Shinto rites, construction of Shinto shrines in Japan and in overseas colonies, education for schoolchildren in Shinto mythology plus their compulsory participation in Shinto rituals, and persecution of other religious groups on the grounds of their exhibiting disrespect for some aspect of authorized mythology.16

It is clear that the creation of State Shinto served as a mechanism to facilitate the government's recognition, or at least toleration, of a certain degree of ideological plurality within Japanese society. With a powerful nonreligious legitimization of the new order in hand, the leaders of the Meiji government could now address the question of religious freedom, something which was implicit in the call by Shimaji and others for the separation of government and religion.

The final, formal resolution of the religious question appeared in the Meiji Constitution of 1889. Chapter Two, Article Twenty-Eight read as follows: "Japanese subjects shall, within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy-freedom of religious belief."17 It appeared that within limits Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions would now be free of government interference or suppression. Appearances proved to be deceiving.



1. See Kitagawa, Religion in Japanese History, p. 164.

2. Bellah, Tokugawa Religion, p. 51.

3. Anesaki, History of Japanese Religion, p.260.

4. Two representative figures within the Rinzai Zen tradition are Bankei Yotaku (1622-93) and Hakuin Ekaku (1685- 1768). Hakuin is credited with having developed the practice of meditating on a series of koans, with the goal of attaining enlightenment. Within the Soto Zen tradition, Manzan Dohaku (1636- 1714) and Menzan Zuiho (1683-1769) are the two most notable figures. Manzan's primary goal was the elimination of dishonesty relating to temple succession, while Manzan was a noted scholar. For a detailed history of the Zen tradition during the Tokugawa period, see Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History; Volume 2: Japan, PP.270-399.

5. Kitagawa, Religion in Japanese History, p.166.

6. Quoted in Anesaki, History of Japanese Religion, p. 331.

7. Ketelaar, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan, p. 9.

8. Ibid., p. 7.

9. Ibid., p. 65.

10. Ibid., p. 13.

11. Quoted in Anesaki, History of Japanese Religion, p. 335.

12. See Ketelaar, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan, p. 105.

13. Ibid., p. 130.

14. Shibata, Haibutsu Kishaku, p. 195.

15. Kitagawa, Religion in Japanese History, p. 213.

16. Hardacre, Shinto and the State, 1868- 1988, p. 6.

17. Quoted in Matsunami, The Constitution of Japan, p. 136.
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