Paths to Transcendence : According to Shankara, Ibn Arabi, and Meister Eckhart

Paths to Transcendence : According to Shankara, Ibn Arabi, and Meister Eckhart

Product ID: 25490

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Author: Reza Shah Kazemi
Publisher: Indica Books
Year: 2009
Language: English
Pages: 262
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8186569871


The aim of this book is to contribute to the elucidation of an important but much neglected theme in comparative religion and mysticism: that of transcendence. The book intends to shed light on the meaning of transcendence both in itself and as the summit of spiritual realization, taking as starting point what three of the world's greatest mystics have said or written on this subject.

Shankara, Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart, each of an immense importance within their respective traditions, have been chosen for this study inasmuch as both the conceptual and experiential aspects of transcendence figure prominently in their articulated writings and discourses; each one has, moreover, expressed himself in a manner that is at once authoritative - bearing witness to his personal realization - and detailed, thus allowing for extensive analytical treatment of these aspects of transcendence.


“Paths to Transcendence has the merit of gathering, in the same volume, the deepest thinking of the most intellectual and spiritual elite of three great traditions and civilizations: Shankara for Hinduism, Ibn Arabi for Islam, and Meister Eckhart for Christianity. It provides detailed analysis and lucid examination of the misinterpretations which frequently occur nowadays about these spiritual authorities.”
- Jean-Pierre Lafouge, Marquette University

“Here is a major landmark in comparative metaphysics. The universality of spiritual realization through knowledge is rendered apparent with a rare combination of analytic rigor and depth of synthesis. This book demonstrated that spiritual intuition can inform and innervate academic discourse without compromising its conceptual demands”.
- Patrick Laude, Georgetown university



CHAPTER 1 – SHANKARA: Tat tvam asi
Part I: Doctrine of the Transcendent Absolute
1. Designations and Definitions of the Absolute
2. Being and Transcendence

PART II: The Spiritual Ascent
1. The Role of Scripture
2. Action
3. Rites and Knowledge
4. Meditation
5. Concentration and Interiorization
6. Moksa

PART III: Existential “Return”
1. The Mind
2. “All is Brahman”
3. Action and Prarabdha Karma
4. Suffering and the Jivan-Mukta
5. Devotion

CHAPTER 2 –IBN ARABI: la ilaha illa’Llah
PART I: Doctrine of the Transcendent Absolute
1. Doctrine as Seed or Fruit?
2. Unity and Multiplicity

PART II: The Spiritual Ascent
1. Sainthood and Prophet hood
2. Ontological Status of the Vision of God
3. Fana’

PART III: Existential “Return”
1. Poverty and Servitude
2. “The People of Blame”
3. Theophany: Witnessing God’s “Withness”
4. The Heart and Creation

PART IV: Transcendence and Universality

PART I: Doctrine of the Transcendent Absolute
1. Beyond the Notion of God
2. From God to Godhead

PART II: The Spiritual Ascent
1. Virtue and Transcendence
2. Unitive Concentration, Raptus, and the Birth
3. Intellect and Grace

PART III: Existential “Return”
1. Thought and Action in the World
2. Seeing God Everywhere
3. The Saint and Suffering
4. Poverty

CHAPTER 4 –THE REALIZATION OF TRANSCENDENCE: Essential Elements of Commonality
PART I: Doctrines of Transcendence
1. Dogma and Beyond
2. One Absolute or Three?

PART II: The Spiritual Ascent
1. Virtue
2. Ritual and Action
3. Methods of Ascent
4. Bliss and transcendence
5. Transcendent Union
6. Agency in Transcendent Realization
7. Grace

PART III: Existential “Return”
1. Poverty
2. Existence and Suffering
3. Devotion and Praise
4. Vision of God in the World

APPENDIX – AGAINST THE REDUCTION OF TRANSCENDENCE: A Critical Appraisal of Recent Academic Approaches to Mystical Experience
Part I: Against Reductionist Epistemology: Katz and “Contextualism”
Part II: Against Reductionist Experience: Forman’s “Pure Consciousness Event”
Part III: Against Reductive Typologies: Stace, Zaehner, and Smart
1. Stace and the “Universal Core”
2. Zaehner: “Monism” vs “Theism”
3. Smart: The “Numinous” vs. the “Mystical”; “Union” vs. “Identity”

Part IV: Against Reductive Universalism: Staal and Huxley

Biographical Note