“Yet here you are not to fall. into the clumsy error of supposing that the things which are beyond the grasp of reason are necessarily unreasonable things. Immediate feeling, so far as it is true, does not oppose but transcends and completes the highest results of thought. It contains within itself the sum of all the processes through which thought would pass in the act of attaining the same goal: supposing thought to have reached–as it has not–the high pitch at which it was capable of thinking its way all along this road.”

Evelyn Underhill


Wells Cathedral Interior, Somerset, UK (12th Century)


The interior side view of the main dome of Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey.

The interior side view of the main dome of Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey.

The Principle is Reality in contrast to all that appears as real but which is not reality in the ultimate sense. The Principle is the Absolute compared to which all is relative. It is Infinite while all else is finite. The Principle is One and Unique while manifestation is multiplicity. It is the Supreme Substance compared to which all else is accident. It is the Essence to which all things are juxtaposed as form. It is at once Beyond Being and Being while the order of multiplicity is comprised of existents. It alone is while all else becomes, for It alone is eternal in the ultimate sense while all that is externalized partakes of change. It is the Origin but also the End, the alpha and the omega. It is Emptiness if the world is envisaged as fullness and Fullness if the relative is perceived in the light of its ontological poverty and essential nothingness. 7 These are all manners of speaking of the Ultimate Reality which can be known but not by man as such. It can only be known through the sun of the Divine Self residing at the center of the human soul. But all these ways of describing or referring to the Principle possess meaning and are efficacious as points of reference and support for that knowledge of the Real that in its realized aspect always terminates in the Ineffable and in that silence which is the “reflection”or “shadow”of the non-manifested aspect of the Principle upon the plane of manifestation. From that unitary point of view, the Principle or the Source is seen as not only the Inward but also the Outward, 8 not only the One but also the essential reality of the many which is but the reflection of the One. At the top of that mountain of unitive knowledge there resides but the One; discrimination between the Real and the unreal terminates in the awareness of the non-dual nature of the Real, the awareness which is the heart of gnosis and which represents not human knowledge but God’s knowledge of Himself, the consciousness which is the goal of the path of knowledge and the essence of scientia sacra. 9

— Seyyed Hossein Nasr (SCIENTIA SACRA)

9 This is the view of the Advaita Vedanta in Hinduism and of the transcendent Unity of Being (waḥdat al-wujūd) in Sufism which, because of the myopia of a reason divorced from the sanctifying rays of the Intellect, have been often mistaken for pantheism. See Nasr, Three Muslim Sages (Cambridge, Mass., 1964), pp. 104-108; also Titus Burckhardt, Introduction to Sufi Doctrine (London, 1976), pp. 28-30.