The perennialism , still called school traditionalist (or traditionism or traditionnism) (not to be confused with the catholic traditionalism) is a school of thought which took its current form with works of Rene Guénon but its members regard its precepts as unmemorable and finding itself in all the authentic traditions, bringing it in particular closer to the old expression Hindou Sanatana Dharma .

The other figures founders of the school traditionalist are the Germanic philosopher Frithjof Schuon and the Sri Lankian Ananda Coomaraswamy. Appeared then the figures of Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Georges Vallin.

Tradition and plurality of the religions

Rejecting the idea of progress and the paradigm of the Lights, the perennialists authors describe the modern world like a declining pseudo-civilization, in which the worst aspects of the Kali Yuga appear (the dark age of cosmology Hindu). To “the modern error”, the perennialists oppose an immutable wisdom of divine origin, a “Tradition Paramount”, transmitted since the origin of the humanity and partly restored by each founder of a new religion. The perennialists have a very particular definition of the “Tradition”. It implies the idea of a transmission ( tradere ), but for Guénon and its continuators, the tradition does not have a human origin and can be regarded as a whole of revealed principles and connecting the man to his divine origin.

Beyond the diversity of the religious forms, they distinguish single Tradition (with a capital letter), that Schuon calls a “transcendent unit”. They claim that the historically separate traditions do not share only the same divine origin but are based on the same principles metaphysics, sometimes called philosophia perennis .

The term “philosophia perennis” is modern, appearing with the Renaissance. It is generally associated to the philosopher Leibniz who must itself to the theologist of the XVI° century Augustinus Steuchius. But this ideal philosphic is older one can find it in the Chaîne of gold ( will seira ) Néoplatonisme, in the Patristic Lex primordialis , and connect it to Islamic DIN Al-Fitra or even to the Sanathana Dharma Hindu.

The redécouverte of Sophia Perennis

The French author, Rene Guénon (1886-1951) was in a direction the pioneer of the redécouverte of this Philosophia Perennis or better Sophia Perennis at the 20th century.

Its thesis, largely shared by the perennialists principal authors who succeeded to him, is that the abrahamic Religions have a structure associating exoterism and esotericism.

The exoterism, appearance of the Religion, is consisted the religious rites and a moral Théologie like dogmatic. The point of view exoteric is characterized by its nature “sentimentalist”, rather than purely intellectual and remains primarily limited. Based on the doctrines of creation and the duality which results from this between God and his creation, the exoterism does not offer means of transcending the limits of the human state. The goal is only religious safety that Guénon defines as a state of perpetual bliss in a celestial paradise.

In the vision Traditionalist, the esotericism is more than the complement of the exoterism, the spirit in opposition to the letter, the core compared to the shell. The esotericism has - at least swears - a total autonomy compared to the religion because its fundamental substance is the Paramount Tradition itself. Based on pure the metaphysical - by which Guénon understands a supra-rational knowledge of the Divine one, a Gnose, and not a rational system or a theological dogma - its goal is the realization of the higher states to be it and finally union between the individual and the Principle. Guénon calls this union “the supreme identity”.

By the Principle, Guénon and Schuon understand more than the personal god of exoteric theology: the supra-personal Gasoline, it Beyond the Being, the Absolute at the same time completely transcendent and immanent with the demonstration. According to them the fundamental gasoline of the individual is not-different from the Absolute itself. Guénon refers here to the concepts vedic Brahma (Principle), Atma (Oneself) and Moksa (Delivery). This reference is not accidental or circumstantial: For Guénon, the Sanathana Dharma Hindu represents in fact “the most direct heritage of the Paramount Tradition”. More generally, the great traditions of Asia (Advaita Vedanta, Taoism and Buddhism mahayana) have a paradigmatic role in its writings. He regards them as the most rigorous expression of pure metaphysics, this supra-formal and universal wisdom not being nevertheless in itself neither Eastern nor Western.

Contrary to the Semitic religions, these Asian religions do not have a structure esotericism/exoterism which appeared only later in the historical cycle, in one time of growing spiritual decline, where the large majority of people “were not qualified any more” to include/understand the truths metaphysics and the possibiliés transcendent ones of the human state.

The criticism of modernity

For Guénon, in the Crisis of the modern world , the end of this process of degradation is the Modernité itself, in which appears the worst possibilities of the Kali Yuga. Guénon calls also our time the Règne of the Quantity, because the man and cosmos are determined more and more, ontologiquement speaking, by the matter. The tragedy of the western world since the Renaissance is, according to him, that it almost lost any contact with the Sophia Perennis' and Crowned. Consequently, in the context ocidentale, it is virtually impossible for a heart in search of spirituality to receive a valid initiation and to follow a way esoteric.

It is important to mention here that although Guénon influenced a character like Julius Evola, none the traditionalists principal authors shared the political ideas of Evola. In fact, its writings are generally seen in the circles more the traditionalists like a anti-traditional deviance, based on an inversion of the hierarchy between contemplation and the action. The traditionalists authors were rather apolitical, although of preserving tendency, avoiding any political activity.

The initiatory way

Although it militated in its first works for a restoration of traditional “intellectuality” in Occident on the basis of of the Catholicisme and the Franc-maçonnerie, it is clear that Guénon quickly gave up this idea. Having denounced the lures of the Theosophy and the Occultism, two influential flourishing movements at that time, Guénon was initiated in 1912 in the Shadhili order and left to Cairo in 1930 when it passed the remainder of its life like Moslem Soufi. With these many correspondents, it indicated the Soufisme clearly as the form most accessible from initiatory tradition for the Westerners eager to find what does not exist any more in Occident: an initiatory way of knowledge (Jnana gold Gnosis), comparable with the Advaita.

In fact, although Ananda Coomaraswamy was Hindou, of many continuators of Guénon such as Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, Titus Burckhardt were initiated with the Soufisme. Others remained Christian, in particular the philosopher of the religions Jean Borella. Marco Pallis was Bouddhiste. The most influential representatives of this school in Europe of North are the converted Moslems: Kurt Almqvist, Tage Lindbom and Ashk Dahlén.

Influence in the academic medium

One can think that the thought traditionalist had an important influence, although discrete, in the field of comparative sciences of the religions and particularly on Mircea Eliade in its youth, although it was not itself member of this school. Contemporary researchers like Huston Smith, William Chittick, Harry Oldmeadow, James Cutsinger and Seyyed Hossein Nasr promoted the perennialism like alternative to the laic approach and layman of the religious phenomena.

Academic studies on Traditionalism

Traditionalism and the school traditionalist are a field of studies of the history of the thought, Sciences of the religions and sociology of the religions. These studies are focused on the life and the work of Rene Guénon, of his continuators, as well as groups and institutions of this mobility.


The studies on Traditionalism started in 1971 with the publication of an article of Jean-Pierre Laurant: " The problem of Rene Guénon" in the Re-examined history of the religions . During decade 80, university English work was focused mainly on Julius Evola because of its influence on the Italian policy in the years 1970; at the same time, the French studies on Rene Guénon itself developed. It is not before the 1990 qu years ' were published in English of academic work on the vaster phenomenon of Traditionalism. This interest still extended to the beginning of the year 2000 because of influence increasing from the Russian political activist Alexandre Douguine.


The Traditionalists are often hostile with work of the academics. Guénon itself held them in poor regard, the indicator like belonging to the problem of the Modernité, and its continuators have a similar point of view in general.

Controversies followed the publication of the book of Mark Sedgwick Against the Modern World ( Against the modern world ) in 2004: Whereas the academics and others which were not Traditionaliste mobility often greeted the work, as also certain Traditionalists did it, other Traditionalists published account-returned extremely hostile, attacking not only the book but also its author, showing it of various personal reasons discrediting it, in particular to be " a kind of spy euro-atlantiste" and not to have itself " not authorized to enter an initiatory order “Traditionalist”. ". Sedgwick rejected these charges, and maintained that its motivations were the same ones as those of any Historien.

Random links:Salelles (Ardeche) | Andrew Clarke (actor) | Botuverá | Marcel Gagnon (appointed) | Summit of the La Rochelle | Bondu