Monday, January 16, 2023

A new and independent branch of the Maryamiyya

A new and independent branch of the Maryamiyya, the "Washington-Baltimore Branch of the Maryamiyyah Tariqah," has been established, and has established an online presence. Some of the content on its main website, theperennialfoundation.org, is restricted to members, but some of it is generally available, including comments by its shaykh, Terry Moore (Shaykh al-Bashir, pictured left) about how the branch became established, which are also available on YouTube.

Moore joined the Maryamiyya in Lausanne in 1975, and separated from the main tariqa in 2017, along with Hasan Awan, who is now his khalifa (deputy), and the late James Cutsinger (1953-2020), who was a leading follower of Frithjof Schuon in a personal capacity, though never (as an Orthodox Christian) a formal member of the tariqa. 

The Washington-Baltimore Maryamiyya describes itself on its other website, maryamiyyah.org, as “orthodox and universalist.” The orthodoxy is circumscribed: they "observe the Sunna as much as feasible in our circumstances, and follow the essential elements and spirit of the Shari’ah" [my emphasis]. The universalism is described in terms of “transcendent unity,” Frithjof Schuon’s major contribution to Traditionalist doctrine, and thus “We accept the uncorrupted forms of all the orthodox religions as true and do not regard any of them, in their essence, as superior.” [my emphasis] This, again, is a limitation on their claimed Islamic orthodoxy. Moore makes clear in his book Here, Now, One: A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life (Salisbury, England: New Sarum Press, 2021) that his starting point is perennialism: “Unfortunately… we can’t practice perennialism, as it has no form. It is a smile without a cat… In order to be operative, it must be packaged in a form that allows practice. The package it comes in is orthodox religion.”

The Washington-Baltimore Maryamiyya acknowledges the teachings of René Guénon, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Its website says that it was “the Shaykh of the Washington, DC branch of our order,” i.e. Nasr, who “authorized our two leaders to establish an independent branch of the order.” So perhaps not an acrimonious split. But evidently not all are happy, as one comment on Facebook warns that the group “has departed to a vast extent from and is critical of much of the traditionalist-perennialist perspective and the spiritual heritage and… method broadly affirmed and transmitted by all other branches of the Tariqah Maryamiyyah” and is “varyingly modernist, postmodernist, and New Age/self-help.” This post alleges that Moore and Awan are excessively influenced by the Direct Path of the Indian guru Sri Atmananda (1883-1959).

The presentation of the tariqa stresses respect for all “regardless of gender, race, class, or previous religious affiliation,” and states that "faqirat" (female members) “participate in leadership and decision making within our community at all levels.” It adds: “We require our leaders to adhere to the highest moral standards, especially in their relationship with fuqara’ [male followers] and faqirat [female followers].” This seems to be an acknowledgement of some of the problems from which the main Maryamiyya suffered in earlier periods, and a determination not to repeat then.

It is unclear how large the branch is, but Moore’s YouTube channel, herenowone, has 117 subscribers.

Two other connected websites are www.herenowone.org and radiusfoundation.org.

Many thanks to the reader of this blog who draw my attention to all this. 

 

 

 

 

 

14 comments:

Mark Sedgwick said...

My original post inadvertently implied that James Cutsinger had been a formal member of the Maryamiyya tariqa, as a correspondent pointed out. I have now edited the post to make clear that this was not the case. Thanks to the correspondent in question.

Mark Sedgwick said...

An anonymous person submitted for posting here a number of comments that were originally posted in about 2017 on an unidentified website by a Maryami faqir called Ali under the title "An Inquiry Concerning Problems in the Shadhiliyyah-Maryamiyyah [-Nasriyyah] Tariqah." I am not posting this text in full, partly because it is slightly over 3,000 words (which is too long for a comment) and partly because I am not sure that its author, Ali, would approve. In summary, however, Ali's text deals with conflicts within the Maryamiyya's Washington zawiya in 2015-16 concerning the role of the shaykh, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who at one point stopped participating in the activities of the zawiya, in the view of some because he was getting old and was preparing the way for others to succeed him, and in the view of others because of hostility in the zawiya towards his relationship with a younger female "soul-mate." The text is probably genuine, but there is no corroborating evidence. It suggests that one of the reasons behind the creation of a new and independent branch of the Maryamiyya was these conflicts and Nasr's "soul mate."

Anonymous said...

And Seyyed Hossein Nasr's (alleged) sexual molestation of both male and female disciples during private "healing sessions". Conveniently, you mention the adultery -- "soulmate"-- while omitting the much more serious allegations: Multiple Sexual Assaults.



Mark Sedgwick said...

The letters in "An Inquiry Concerning Problems" refer to rumors that Nasr "claims to emanate healing graces from his body and has used this as a pretext to commit […] improprieties," and to healing sessions that "resulted in the perception of physical, emotional, or sexual violation." So, rumors or allegations, yes, but not as central to the text as the other relationship, which is why I did not include them in my original summary.

Anonymous said...

I had said a while back that Guenon was turning in his grave, seeing the things that have come to be associated with him. As time goes on, that statement is all the more justified. You can only find a few people that really understood him and that are engaged in actually fruitful activities, which give direct results outside of an environment that is rife with all sorts of scandals and deviations.

Procastinator said...

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Anonymous said...

"An Inquiry Concerning Problems in the Shadhiliyyah-Maryamiyyah
[-Nasiriyyah] Tariqah" [2017]

Beginning about three years ago, Sayyiduna Shaykh [Hossein] has been gifted by God with powers of healing. He has only exercised these powers privately with 2-3 fuqara and faqirat. That these healing sessions resulted in the perception of physical, emotional, or sexual violation on the part of the recipients was the result of misinterpretation and misunderstanding due to their youth, immaturity, and inadequate knowledge of the total reality of tasawwuf which in turn caused them to view this touching as sexually inappropriate. That knowledge of these occurrences has not been contained is due to the failure of the functionaries to adequately control the information being circulated and attempting to handle these matters on their own independent of the definitive insight and clarification of Sayyiduna Shaykh [Hossein].

Anonymous said...

That sounds a bit like victim-blaming. A genuine leader, whether they are in tasawwuf or anything else ought to understand the nature and needs of those that look up to him for guidance. Why did it only become evident that they were "young and immature" following the scandal? It comes across as damage control. There are so many adaptive means of helping someone in a way that is comfortable for them, especially if they are still at the level of a novice. Isn't it ironic that these "healing sessions" ended up damaging their mental and emotional health? They had the opposite effect of healing anything. The leader ought to have figured out a way of helping his followers in a way that would not harm them, that burden lies with him. If it wasn't possible to do so, then he shouldn't have bothered with such things to begin with. He can have "fun" in his private life, that's his right and business, but it isn't right to mix such activities with people that don't have that kind of relationship with him, or that may "misunderstand and misinterpret" whatever it is he had wanted to do.

Anonymous said...

I am an independent scholar of Neoplatonism and early Christianity, and publish academic articles on these topics occasionally; I have six degrees in various fields including a PhD and three masters degrees (in neuroscience, philosophy and theology). Although I do not emphasize this in my academic writing, reading Guenon was a major turning point in my intellectual and spiritual journey, even if after reflection over a period of time I have come to a somewhat different position from him. I occasionally try to sneak in citations of traditionalist authors here and there in my articles. I owe Guenon much thanks for generating an interest in Hinduism, which I have since pursued, and learnt Sanskrit.

Nonetheless, I wonder what people are hoping to achieve by setting up the kind of traditionalist organizations discussed above. As I read Guenon, he is relentlessly bleak and apocalyptic in relation to Western modernity. There is not going to be any "revival" of tradition, but only a continued degeneration followed by the final counter-tradition, the kingdom of the Antichrist. At this point in history, activism is not only futile, it will inevitably involve becoming drawn in to the vortex of the whole counter-traditional momentum. Such organizations will attract people who are interested in personal power. The present time is one for contemplation, not action. I always say to those foolish enough to want to become involved in politics, "you won't change the world, but the world will change you".

Without going into details about how I differ from Guenon, I am in principle an anarcho-primitivist. However, I do not advocate doing anything to try to bring this about. I think the modern world is unsustainable and will collapse in due course. I suppose I would count as a "survivalist", in that I think we need to set up relatively autonomous communities of spiritual contemplative focus which will hopefully survive the coming apocalypse. But it seems to me that groups like the Maryamiyya have more in common with Evola and the counter-tradition, then they do with Guenon. It does not surprise me that sexual abuse occurred in this context. It would surprise me if it did not.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous commenter above, based on what you've said, I think there is something you might be interested in, were I to show it to you. The problem is, I'm hesitant to post it publicly here since it might attract unwanted attention. If you are interested, how can I get in touch with you? Would you mind creating a burner email or something of the sort? I don't think there is any harm in a simple interaction elsewhere. If not, it's alright. To Mark and other administrators of this blog, I'm not sure if this is in contravention of the blog rules, I apologize if it is.

Anonymous said...

In response to anonymous, OK, I'm curious. You can email me at major_bigglesworth@tutanota.com.

Unknown said...

To Anonymous February 20 6:42 am
Could you please contact me at marco76toti@yahoo.it?

Anonymous said...

I have to say one thing I find particularly unappealing about some Traditionalists, especially those who follow Rene Guenon, is that they often show an extreme dogmatism to a level that would make a Southern Baptist blush. Of course, Guenon himself because of his somewhat arrogant style is part of the problem, but some Guenonians seem to have become essentially a cult. It is impossible to discuss anything with them because, just like a Southern Baptist would say, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it", they say, "Guenon said it, I believe it, that settles it". Even if the face of abundant clear historical evidence to the contrary, they continue to take all Guenon's historical claims as gospel, for example. No different to a Southern Baptist holding on to creationism. From a spiritual point of view, this to me looks suspiciously like extreme narcissism and egotism. It is particularly ironic since Guenon relied heavily on Indian sources, and those sources are anything but dogmatic. They are open to debate and philosophically engaged, and often disagree with each other. I don't deny that Guenon has useful insights, especially at the general metaphysical level (he is not a reliable historian, to say the least). But to read him as divine revelation is absurd. Recent engagements with Guenonians from the blog has just reinforced this impression. (Anonymous, February 20, 2023 at 6:42 AM).

Anonymous said...

Actually, an addendum I should add about the dogmatism of Guenon and some of his followers, is that this fundamentalist dogmatism is itself purely an expression of the very modern deviation which they pretend to decry. The idea that a single, exact linguistic doctrine can precisely characterize ultimate reality is a defining feature of the modern era. It is expressed in Descartes' claim of possessing "clear and distinct ideas", which itself derives from the idea of univocal description in Duns Scotus. Ultimate reality is ineffable, and therefore there can be no final verbal doctrine about it. All that can be said is by way of an approximation that serves to guide the hearer towards the mystical vision and spiritual realization. Nothing expressed in language can be absolute truth (and yes, that includes these statements themselves, which are simply guiding approximations also). The very reason that there are multiple spiritual paths, is that different people come from different cultural and conceptual starting points which require a different verbal form of guidance towards realization, because their perspective on the transcendent appears different to each one of them. The esoteric only exists in relation to the exoteric, which precedes it, in the same way that escape from custody only exists in relation to prison. There is no universal esoteric dogma. The influence of modern thought on Guenon is therefore extensive, and he has unfortunately succeeded in turning some ancient metaphysics, both Eastern and Western, which was never asserted dogmatically or literally, into a modern literal fundamentalist dogma. Because he provides an accessible synthesis of some of these ideas, he can be a good starting point, but that is all. For those with a mystical vision, he can serve as a guide initially, although they will need to turn to ancient sources at some stage. However, there is always an inherent danger that his literalism and dogmatism may lead people into fundamentalism and spiritual bondage.