This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

What to include

Before moving on from matters of basic orientation, I will add that one of my struggles here has been the question of what to include and what, for the sake of space, to leave out. Some of this is made easier by the limits of my own knowledge: there are some subjects I had intended to cover but cannot due to incompetence. In other cases, I’ve simply had to prioritize. For example, it is easy to see that in dealing with the great traditional religions of the world, I have spent far more time on three in particular: Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. Other traditions, namely those of the Far East, will hopefully receive some attention, but I must treat them far less extensively. The reason for prioritizing things in this way is that Christianity and Islam are closest to us, as men of the modern West. Because they are more familiar, what I wish to say about them will be more readily understood. Also, due to the predominant role these traditions play in today’s affairs, it is necessary to comprehend them properly. As for Hinduism, I dwell on it for a number of reasons. First, an ‘alien’ point of view is sometimes extremely useful when trying to bring new light to an idea that is too familiar to the student. A particular error regarding Christian doctrine might be so embedded in our Western ‘mental vocabulary’ that it is impossible to exorcise by discussing the idea directly, and in such a case it is very effective to choose instead a corresponding idea from the Hindu tradition, and explain it properly, and then once the new conception has been nurtured in the mind of the student, it is possible to reveal that this is also the proper way of understanding the corresponding idea in Christianity. In addition to this pedagogic concern, which is purely utilitarian, the Hindu tradition deserves priority in itself given that it is the most ancient tradition and, doctrinally speaking, the most fully developed. The Hindu doctrines will, throughout this study, prove to be an endless resource for arriving at a more complete understanding of many points that are only partially developed in other traditions. Regarding all of this, I will explain more when the time comes to look at doctrine straight on, and not waste any more space here.

At some points I will simply direct the reader to some other work where what I wish to say has been said better by someone else. In fact, in almost every case someone has said what I want to say elsewhere and more clearly. At one point I thought it would be reasonable to simply compile a massive, annotated bibliography and leave it at that. But my desire was that you could formulate a framework for your life without having to thumb through a whole library of material. You can, of course, go that route, but this manual should enable the reader to get by if he has this and nothing else. Suffice it to say that nothing of what you’ll read here is ‘original’, and that’s a good thing.

I will frequently include direct quotations from other works, but in many cases, for the sake of space, I will point in the direction of source material via footnotes. My general approach has been to condense the Traditional Doctrine as much as possible, and to include only what is needed in order to grasp the nature, location, and extent of that wellspring. If something falls into that category but cannot be conveyed in a page or two, I will refer you elsewhere so that you can find what you need. Another reason for including so many footnotes and citations is a matter of honesty. After all, you need to know who your ‘influences’ are. This does not mean that I am a devout disciple of every person I quote, but it does mean that I take them seriously.

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