Sufism

Symbol & Archetype: A Study of The Meaning of Existence

$18.95

This book does not claim to be exhaustive. Its purpose is to enable the reader to dwell on certain basic aspects of symbolism in relation to the Divinity. With references to all the world’s great faith traditions, both ancient and current (with special attention devoted to Christianity and Islam), Lings demonstrates how the science of symbols is inextricably linked with the path of Return.

  • 9781887752794
  • 158

Product Description

Were one to truly understand the levels of significance provided by such symbols as are presented in this work, one would indeed be well on the way to grasping the nature and purpose of human life and the meaning of existence as understood by the great esoteric systems of spirituality. We are shown in this volume certain aspects of symbolism as they relate to the Divine, the hierarchy of this universe, the function of man, his faculties and qualities.

Symbolism is defined in a renewed consciousness that everything—numbers, elements, senses, and colors—has a vertical dimension that gives it a divine significance.

What is Symbolism? The answer to this question has been known to challenge altogether man’s life; and ignorance of it can reasonably be said to have produced all the gravest problems of our time. Martin Lings here gives us the answer in the clearest terms, with an unusually wide scope of illustration, a versatility to which the list of the chapters headings bear some witness.

“The answer to the question ‘What is Symbolism?’, if deeply understood, has been known to change altogether a man’s life; and it could indeed be said that most of the problems of the modern world result from ignorance of that answer. As to the past however, there is no traditional doctrine which does not teach that this world is the world of symbols, inasmuch as it contains nothing which is not a symbol. A man should therefore understand at least what that means, not only because he has to live in the herebelow but also and above all because without such understanding he would fail to understand himself, he being the supreme and central symbol in the terrestrial state. Needless to say, this little book does not claim to be exhaustive. Its purpose is to enable the reader to dwell on certain basic aspects of symbolism in relation to the Divinity, the hierarchy of the universe, the function of man, his faculties and his qualities, the conditions to which he is subject, the natural objects which surround him, his works of art, and his final ends, all with reference to the great living religions of the world, and in particular to Christianity and Islam.”
-from the Preface

Reviews

Dr. Lings points out that the answer to the question, 'What is symbolism?', if deeply understood, 'has been known to change altogether a man's life; and it could indeed be said that most of the problems of the world result from ignorance of that answer'. The whole conduct of a human life depends upon the way its meaning is understood...there is no traditional doctrine that 'does not teach that this world is the world of symbols inasmuch as it contains nothing that is not a symbol.'...The objects of this world necessarily reflect a higher reality, and it can truly be said that they glorify that which transcends them...For those already interested in symbolism, particularly in relation to the Qur'an, Lings book will be immensely rewarding; for others who may not previously have grasped the importance of this subject, it cannot fail to be profoundly enlightening."
-Hasan Gai Eaton
"One of the most important books to have appeared in the English language on symbolism considered from the traditional and esoteric point of view...In this eloquently written work it is shown that through the symbol man gains access to the archetypes of things and is brought back to his own Archetype thanks to the inner nexus between the symbol, the symbolic and the symbolized."
-Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Needless to say, this book does not claim to be exhaustive. Its purpose is to enable the reader to dwell on certain basic aspects of symbolism in relation to the Divinity: the hierarchy of the universe, the function of man, his faculties and his qualities, the conditions to which he is subject, the natural objects which surround him, his works of art, and his final ends. "What we have often called the 'spiritual journey' is described by Martin Lings as the return of the symbol to its Archetype. He explains how the submission and purification is practiced through the stations of spiritual learning...what becomes clear to the reader is the gripping fact that not only is everything around us a symbol, but that we ourselves are the symbols of our own reality."
-Patricia Ellis Church
"The quality of Lings' writing lies in his ability to express metaphysical concepts in precise and sometimes poetic language. Symbol & Archetype challenges the discerning reader to perceive the signs of God wherever they appear, both in the world and in ourselves...Revelation which is literally the articulation of the connectedness between man and God consititutes a real presence of the infinite in the finite, although it is nonetheless limited in form."
-Julian Johansen
"[Symbol & Archetype] hints at a way of change that gives to religion a function that the kind of polarity which has grown out of cartesian paranoia cannot perceive. It is a division that is a hallmark of living in a world constructed on narrow, imageless, symbol-less assumptions. It functions and survives through parody, creating a plastic skin that is taken for reality. Martin Lings attempts to make this mimicry of the real visible by counterpointing it with symbols that have a much older, more universal significance. I say this because I am left with the desire to reread it, and to search out other texts to supplement it."
-Karl Birjukov