Keys to the Beyond

Frithjof Schuon's Cross-Traditional Language of Transcendence

By Patrick Laude

Subjects: Esotericism And Gnosticism, Religion, Islam, Mysticism, Sufism
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9781438478982, 404 pages, January 2021
Hardcover : 9781438478999, 404 pages, August 2020

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Table of contents



1. Ātman, Māyā and the Relatively Absolute

2. The Avatāric Mystery

3. Upāya: Religion as Relatively Absolute

4. The Nature of Things and the Human Margin

5. Trinitarian Metaphysics

6. Necessary Sufism and the Archetype of Islam

7. The Divine Feminine

8. The Yin-Yang Perspective and Visual Metaphysics

9. The "Tantric" Spiritualization of Sexuality

10. Esoteric Ecumenism


Bibliography of the Works of Frithjof Schuon

Studies the original vocabulary of Frithjof Schuon, its relevance to comparative religion, and the status of metaphysical and theological terms in religion.


This book explores the work of the religious philosopher Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998) by focusing on the way he develops his own expansive adaptations of traditional religious terms. As a leading proponent of perennial philosophical and religious thought, Schuon borrows widely from specific religious traditions, expanding the scope of traditional terminology—from upāya and yin-yang to "quintessential Sufism" and "vertical Trinity"—beyond their respective traditional definitions. This is one of Schuon's strengths as a thinker, but it can also be an obstacle to understanding his writings. This study develops the full implications of these key terms by first delving into their specific traditional denotations and, secondly, exploring their universal connotations in Schuon's universe of meaning. Such a task is particularly timely when both hardened religious identities and skepticism or hostility toward religious traditions increasingly clash with each other. The current questions and challenges surrounding cross-civilizational relations make such a contribution particularly needed and likely to receive a broader attention in the years to come.

Patrick Laude is Professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He is the author of many books, including Shimmering Mirrors: Reality and Appearance in Contemplative Metaphysics East and West; Pathways to an Inner Islam: Massignon, Corbin, Guénon, and Schuon; and Frithjof Schuon: Life and Teachings (coauthored with Jean-Baptiste Aymard), all published by SUNY Press.


"…recommended to scholars of esotericism." — Religious Studies Review

"…a major achievement, succinctly synthesizing Schuon's work into one volume." — Nova Religio

"Keys to the Beyond provides an unmatched academic analysis of the work of Frithjof Schuon, who in large part remains misunderstood. This is an important work for those who seek a deeper understanding of this complex thinker. This penetrating analysis articulates how religions are necessary forms that correspond to the diverse human beings and collectivities the world over." — Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics

"This book provides unparalleled academic analysis of a complex thinker, whose work remains misunderstood by many. It stands out from other discussions of Schuon's work in that it offers an in-depth examination of the manner in which Schuon incorporates aspects of various religious traditions into a unique philosophy of religion. For the growing body of academics who seek a deeper understanding of Schuon, this will be an essential work." — Joseph E. B. Lumbard, author of Aḥmad al-Ghazālī, Remembrance, and the Metaphysics of Love