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Metaphysical Foundations

Why Do We Need Metaphysics?

By Omar KN

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- Objective Standards
- Spiritual Decline
- Being Is Hierarchical
- Eight Levels Of Being
- Beyond Being
- Pure Being
- The Intellect
  "   more
- Permanent Archetypes
  "   more
- The Angelic
- The Imaginal
- The Etheric
- The Material
- Need For Mx Knowledge
- Towards Absolute Truth
- What Is The Intellect?
- The Psychic
- Spirit versus Psyche
- the metaphysical error

1. Intro

A starting point would be when we realize that there is more to the world than eyes can see, meaning that sense-perception and rational thinking can only serve as very restricted sources of knowledge, not to be relied on.

If we agree so far, it will be clear that the kind of knowledge which we don't possess could just be that essential knowledge which we need to 'safely reach the other side', meaning the higher stages of being beyond this earthly life.
And which loss would be greater, than ignoring this essential and sacred knowledge which is quite different from discursive reasoning?

All the while is an attitude of 'healthy criticism' is useful and understandable. How often has not truth been sacrificed for power and selfish purposes? But if this criticism becomes an end in itself, and when it becomes cynical and the dominant mental attitude against spirituality[fn2], it will lead to extremes, as it will suggest people to even denying any independent, universal truth at all, or an objective, absolute, Ultimate Truth.

For this reason we want to present the following disposition of some fundamental metaphysical principles. It is partly a synopsis from the work by Charles Upton, The System Of Antichrist (abbrev.: SAC).

We do not agree to the general credo of 'postmodernist thought' that every opinion about what is true has somehow to be correct, because if nothing is absolutely true, anything can be, which shows the absurdity of postmodernist relativism!

2. Objective Standards For Knowledge

Instead of this ’absolutist’(!) postmodernist relativism we believe that "only an understanding of integral metaphysics derived from the study of the pinnacles of the human spirit as expressed in the world's great religions and wisdom traditions can give us the objective standards against which we can judge whether a given culture is healthy, tired in boredom, degenerate in meaninglessness, or actively subversive of the truth." SAC-75

These traditions have been absorbed, redefined and refined by the Islamic tradition, because according to F.A. Murshid Ali ElSenossi "Islam as we know it now is the totality of experience that has been given to mankind through the ages from the time of man's existence."

3. Stages Of Spiritual Decline

Human history is cyclical, all traditions agree on the ontological fact that times are cyclically 'wearing down' more or less. According to the teachings of Islam we are in the 'ākhiru zamān', or the 'Latter Times', when the Dajjāl (Antichrist) will appear and the beasts of Gog and Magog:

Especially in ours times, when knowledgeable leaders of religion are rare and when sacred knowledge is taken away (or falsified and forgotten), then traditional metaphysics and theology (ilāhiyyāt ) are all the more necessary:

"Without traditional metaphysics, theology declines. Without theology, religion and spirituality are judged only by their power to produce experience. When experience is the only criterion of spirituality, intensity becomes its only measure. When intensity alone becomes the goal, love and truth are excluded, and darkness fills the gap." SAC-134

4. Being Is Arranged Hierarchically

Quite the opposite to our modern 'flattening' and relativising of absolute values and opposite to the Promethean myth of equality, (which is without direction and transcendent meaning and which is indifferent to the divine and the human level, as well as indifferent to the profane and the sacred), we declare in accordance with the teachings of Tradition, that in reality there is a hierarchy of Being:

"According to traditional metaphysics, Being is arranged hierarchically, in discrete ontological levels." This traditional view 'collapsed' when "we started to see the hierarchy of Being horizontally in terms of time instead of vertically in terms of eternity - and so it was transformed into the myth of progress. When we - as postmodern man - no longer recognized the Absolute as the eternal crown of the hierarchy of Being, we were forced to imagine that something bigger and better - or at least weirder and more powerful - lay in the Future."

'God above' was replaced by 'whatever was fitting to the inventive mind.' All spiritual traditions and traditional philosophies include this hierarchy of Being in one form or another. The following presentation is adapted from Charles Upton, which he mostly derived from Ibn Arabi and from what he calls rather vaguely 'the Traditionalist school of thought'. SAC-331

This disposition "is based on eight levels of Being, in descending order. Each level not only transcends all that is below it, but also contains, in higher form, all that is below it. The first two levels are purely Divine, the second two Spiritual, the third two psychic, and the fourth two physical."SAC-331

In a less elaborate way, and when referring to the microcosmos of Man, Being is threefold: The Spiritual, the psychic and the material. SAC-79

5. The Eight Levels Of Being

T H E   D I V I N E

"The first level is Beyond Being (Dionysius the Areopagite), Godhead (Meister Eckhart), the unknowable Divine Essence, Allah (dhātu-Allāhi), beyond manifestation."

"The second level is pure Being (the 'Deity'), God Himself - the personal God Who is Creator, Ruler, Judge and Savior of the universe, Allah (sifātu-Allāhi), while
*transcending these functions absolutely (see superiour level), since He is not limited by any relationship with created beings."


"The third level is the Intellect, God's primal act of Self-understanding in terms of subject and object."
"Intellect is the ray of the Divine within the creatures -the nous of the Neo-Platonic philosophers -about which Eckhart said, there is 'Something in the soul which is uncreated and uncreatable.' In terms of its creative function, the Intellect is the pneuma, the Holy Spirit of God that 'moved on the face of the waters'."

"The fourth level is the Archangelic, the realm of the permanent archetypes [or Divine Names]. This is the level of the eternal metaphysical principles or Platonic Ideas, which, far from being abstractions, are in reality more densely concrete-for all their transparency to the Divine Light-and more highly charged with, creative and truth-revealing energy than anything below them."


"The fifth level is the Angelic, the manifestation of the Spirit on the psychic plane, the plane of thought, emotion and intent. Each angel is both a living, conscious individual and the manifestation of a specific Idea."

"The sixth level is the Imaginal, the astral plane or ʿalām al-mithāl', where every thought, feeling or intent, whatever the level of being it essentially corresponds to, appears as a symbolic image which is at the same time a living being. This is the world of dreams and mental images, which is not simply happening inside this or that individual consciousness, but is continuous with an objective psychic 'environment' just as the human body is continuous with the natural world."

(The central part of the psyche is (what is called in Sufism) the Heart,
it "is intersected by a ray of the Spirit.")


"The seventh level is the Etheric. This is the realm of the 'soul of matter', the hidden face of nature, the world of the Celtic Fairies, the Muslim Jinn, the world of 'bioplasma' of auras, of elemental spirits and subtle energies. It is the World Soul, the essential pattern and subtle substance of the material world."

"The eighth level is the Material, the world reported by our senses."

"Science deals almost exclusively with the eighth level, though it must sometimes confront phenomena emanating from the seventh, and theorize about seventh-level realities in order to explain apparent paradoxes appearing on the eighth. And since science has largely replaced religion and metaphysics as our dominant way of looking at the world, we are at a nearly total loss when it comes to explaining, and especially to evaluating, the UFO phenomenon.[fn1]

"Because we believe in evolution and progress instead of understanding the eternal hierarchical nature of Being, anything that pops through from level seven to level eight, as far as we are concerned, might be God, or Merlin the Magician, or a 'highly-evolved technological race' or God knows what. And the reason why so many seventh-level beings are now appearing to us, on a global level, may be because we have lost the ability to evaluate them; they can now represent themselves to us as anything they please. SAC-332-333

6. The Dire Need For Metaphysical Knowledge

As René Guénon characterized the dominant situation in modern society:
"The civilization of the modern West appears in history a veritable anomaly: among all those which are known to us ... this civilization is the only one which has developed along purely material lines ..."
René Guénon, East and West arrow out

And Charles Upton elaborates on this identification of the nature of (post-)modern societies as follows:
"So a society's relationship to metaphysical truth has everything to do with the essential nature of that society. But social value of metaphysics is only a reflection of much deeper levels of truth, one of which has to do with the fact that some people absolutely need metaphysical knowledge if they are to have a living relationship with God. These people are not 'believers', they are 'knowers'. Faith is not enough for them, not because they scorn faith but because they are capable of knowledge, and will not be allowed to 'bury their talent' without serious consequences.

"But in a society like ours which both fundamentally denies objective metaphysical truth, and at the same time provides a vast spectrum of false doctrines, either foolish, unconsciously sinister or deliberately subversive, which masquerade as metaphysics, the person with the potential to be a 'knower' is misdirected at every turn, and is in danger of becoming either a religious skeptic, since the religious doctrines he is exposed to seem childish to him (ignorant as he is of their deeper meaning), or an apologist for seemingly more sophisticated doctrines which, unknown to him, are radically opposed to traditional metaphysics." SAC-75

7. How to Come To An Understanding Of Absolute Truth

In this postmodern nihilism and loss of direction, "only metaphysics can demonstrate both that there is an Absolute Truth common to all true religions [or traditions] (remembering that not everything which calls itself a 'religion' actually is), and that this Truth cannot be reached by combining them, since the existence of different religious revelations, like that of different races or different individuals, is metaphysically necessary." SAC-77

As Allah says in the Qur'ān:

{ If Allah had pleased He would have made you (all) a single people.}
(Sura TheTable (5) Vers 48)

"Any intelligent and spiritually sensitive individual, with or without a religious background, must pass through the fires of religious skepticism in today's world. Simple belief unless one is fortunate enough to retain a real simplicity of soul, to be among those we call 'the salt of the earth', is no longer possible for many today. The sophisticated ability to see the depth and value in religious traditions other than one's own will almost inevitably erode one's faith, at least to begin with. For such a person there is no way 'back' to simple religious faith; the only way is 'forward', to an understanding that there is an Absolute Truth behind all the religions." SAC-77

This Absolute Truth can only be reached (through knowledge) by following the last of the revealed world-religions, which is Islam, all the way to a realization of the Truth. This means following this noble person, who came closest toward a realization of the Truth: Prophet Muhammad ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ).

8. What Is The Intellect?

The organ for understanding any metaphysical truth is the inner light with which normal man has been endowed, i.e. the intellect (ʿaql, maʿrifah) of which Charles Upton says:

"Another one of the 'fallen words' is intellect. To most of us, it means logic, rationality, or even the ability to manipulate and remember large amounts of information. Not so to the scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages. To them, intellectus (the Latin translation of the Greek nous ) meant the faculty by which we can understand spiritual or metaphysical Truth directly, just as the human eye 'understands' light. They distinguished it from ratio, the rational or logical mind. Given a premise, ratio can reach a conclusion, but it does not thereby reach an entirely 'new' truth. It has no power to apprehend Truth on its own, only to demonstrate the logical implications of an already given truth, a truth 'given' to it by intellectus. Intellect is the source of all axioms - of truths which cannot be demonstrated, only intuitively known. SAC-79

In medieval scholastic philosophy Intellect was the faculty of direct vision of the transcendent, a vision that is then translated by the mental faculties into concepts than can be expressed in human language. Hasan G Eaton, AS187

9. Description Of The Psychic

"The psychic plane is the natural 'environment' of the human psyche (soul) just as the earth and the material universe are the environment of the human body. It is not purely evil, as some Christians believe, but it is certainly dangerous, since if we break into it either accidentally or on our own initiative, we have lost the protection of the material realm before having necessarily gained the protection of the spiritual realm, and are therefore extremely vulnerable not only to the scattering of our psychic and vital energy, but to obsession or possession by the powers of evil."

"Nonetheless, the psychic plane is not exclusively demonic, otherwise we could not receive divine guidance in dreams, nor could physical miracles occur, since every influence from the spiritual realm must pass through the psychic realm before it can come into material reality. But because this is so, it is very difficult to tell whether a psychic or anomalous physical manifestation originates on the psychic or the Spiritual plane.
Nonetheless there is a profound difference in level between an act of magic (whether for the purpose of healing or harming) which emanates from the psychic plane, and a miracle originating on the Spiritual plane. Psychic or magical or shamanic practices are 'technologies', instances of willful intervention by human beings or psychic entities. Miracles are manifestations of the Spirit, the eternal truth and love of God, on the psychic and material levels. They accomplish many different things at once, effortlessly, by the unveilinig of a small part of God's infinite Truth and Love. SAC-134

10. Difference Between Spirit And Soul Or Psyche

"According to almost all ancient traditions, including traditional Christianity and Platonic philosophy, the human being is composed of three levels of being:
Spirit, soul and body - in Greek, Pneuma (or Nous), psyche and soma; in Latin, Spiritus (or Intellectus), anima, and corpus" [in Arabic rūh, nafs and jism].

"In the modern era, however, the distinction between Spirit and soul has been lost, with disastrous consequences. We now tend to believe, unless we are complete materialists, that anything which isn't material must be spiritual, which often means to us that whatever we encounter through dreams or psychological introspection or psychic experiences must be true, and by implication 'good' - or at least not to be criticized, even if we hate or fear it... even less so, of course, if it is pleasant or fascinating.
And it is precisely this metaphysical error - that there is no distinction between psyche and Spirit which is at this moment opening whole masses of people to demonic influences, and which will make it possible for Antichrist to concoct a plausible psychic counterfeit of the eternal Spiritual Reality."

"If we knew psyche and Spirit as two different things (or, rather, two different levels of being) we would not, for example, patronize the many psychic hotlines now advertised on TV and elsewhere, because we would know that just because someone can tell you the color of your underwear or what you did last Tuesday, it doesn't mean her or she is necessarily either wise or good. And the fact is that many psychics (though certainly not all) often have imbalanced personalities, and will tend to use their psychic powers dishonestly, since those powers have given them a certain ability to 'live by their wits'." SAC-80

11. Final Note: Why Metaphysics Is Important

"In the last analysis, however, all these reasons why metaphysics is important are only side issues. The real reason why metaphysics is important is because it is true, and whatever is true is also good. God Himself since He is Absolute Truth, is also the Sovereign Good. SAC-78


SAC: Charles Upton; The System Of Antichrist;
Truth And Falsehood In Postmodernism & New Age; Sophia Perennis, NY 2001; - expired link (before 2017) - seriousseekers.com -

Quoted with the author's permission.

fn1: More on the UFO phenomenon, in the above book, pp.333-339

fn2: If this criticism becomes cynical: as a reflex action in our postmodern culture - criticism and denial without knowledge.

fn3: More texts on metaphysical principles are found here.



Related texts:
link-in Modernism & Postmodern Thought
link-in Oriental Metaphysics Explanations, And Traditional Definitions

* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *