The Great Triad

Submitted by Mehrban on Wed, 07/16/2014 - 09:26
Mehrban's picture
The Great Triad
TitleThe Great Triad
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsGuénon, R., & Fohr H. D.
Refereed DesignationDoes Not Apply
Series EditorFohr, S. D.
PublisherSophia Perennis
Place PublishedNew York

Guénon’s The Great Triad was the last book to appear during his lifetime. Even for his regular readers, this book contained largely new material. The author here refers especially to the Chinese tradition, principally in its Taoist form (though touching on Confucianism as well), in which the ‘Great Triad’ (sancai 三才) is defined as Heaven-Man-Earth (tian-di-ren 天地人). It is as much a cosmological as a metaphysical doctrine that is implied in this ternary of the ‘three worlds’. In spite of its Taoist title, however, the work draws heavily on Hermetic teachings, Hindu and Buddhist metaphysics, and Masonic symbolism, not to mention doctrines from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is also Guénon’s most comprehensive exposition of the science of Alchemy.

The classical Triad of the Chinese tradition is Heaven-Man-Earth. Guénon here places this ternary in the context of universal metaphysics by identifying Heaven with Essence and Earth with Substance, the mediator between them being Man, whose cosmic function is to embody spirit (Heaven) while simultaneously spiritualizing matter (Earth). Moreover, he discusses some Taoist and I-Ching related concepts such as Non-Action (wuwei 無為) , Middle Way (zhongdao 中道), Way of Man (rendao 人道), Way of Heaven (tiandao 天道), Invariable Middle (zhongyong 中庸), different stages of True Man (zhenren 真人) and Transcendent Man (shenren 神人), as well as ideas which are directly related to spiritual authority in ancient view of Emperorship such as Mandate of Heaven (tianming 天命), Ming Tang (明堂), Son of Heaven (tianzi 天子) and Royal Way (王道). Exploring Chinese cosmology further, Guénon sheds light on such archetypal polarities as Heaven and Earth, Yin and Yang, Solve et Coagula, Celestial and Terrestrial Numbers, the Square and the Compass, the Double Spiral, and the Being and the Environment, while pointing to their synthetic unity in terms of ternaries, such as the Three Worlds, Triple Time, Spiritus, Anima, and Corpus, Sulfur, Mercury and Salt, and God, Man, and Nature. Perhaps more completely than in any other work, Guénon demonstrates in The Great Triad how any integral tradition is both a mirror reflecting universal themes found in all other intact traditions and an entire conceptual cosmos unto itself, unique and incomparable.

Original PublicationSophia Perennis (1946)