By Frithjof Schuon
Revised translation of essays elucidating the common rules of Advaita Vedanta.
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It is true that the word Yoga also designates – in virtue of its literal sense of "Union" – the three great paths of gnosis (jnāna), love (bhakti) and action (karma); but the connection with the principle that characterizes the yogic art is then much less direct. 21 The following example will serve to clarify the distinction just established – though admittedly too schematic, it is nonetheless instructive: with jnāna, "humility" is awareness of the nothingness of the ego considered from the standpoint of its relativity; with bhakti, humility is self-abasement before the beauty of the Beloved everywhere present, self-annihilation before the Divine glory; with karma, the same virtue becomes the disinterested service of one's neighbor, the humiliation of self for the sake of God; but from a strictly yogic point of view, this same virtue will be in a way "geometrical" or "physical"; it will appear as a leveling of the activities of the animic substance, abstention from all mental affirmation.
48 Buddhas and Bodhisattvas into the round of transmigration, even down to the hells; faith in the infinite Mercy of the Buddha — himself an illusory appearance of the beatific Void — already constitutes a grace or a gift. Salvation consists in leaving the infernal circle of "concordant actions and reactions"; and in this connection, morality appears as a quite provisional and fragmentary thing, and even as inoperative in the sight of the Absolute, since it is still involved in the indefinite chain of acts and the existential fruit of acts.
These three realities are essential for man and for the human collectivity. They are distinct one from another, but none can be reduced simply to a question of realization. The realized man can have inspirations that are – as to their production – distinct from his state of knowledge,19 but he could not add one syllable to the Veda. Moreover inspirations may depend on a spiritual function, for instance on that of a pontiff,20 just as they may also result from a mystical degree. As for revelation, it is quite clear that the most perfect spiritual realization could not bring it about, although such realization is its conditio sine qua non.