1946 - The Great Triad

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The Great Triad

Rene Guenon

The Great Triad RENE GUENON Translatedfrom the French




Translation© Quinta Essentia 1991 This book is copyright under the Berne Convention No reproduction without permission. All rights reserved This edition first published 1991 by

QuintaEssentia, 5 GreenStreet, Cambridge CB2 JJU, UK Distributed by Element Books Ltd Longrnead, Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7 8PL, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data The great triad. 1. Symbolism

I. Tide II. La grande triade. English J06.4 ISBN 1 870196 o6 6

ISBN 1 870196 07 4pbk Typeset by Goodfellow & Egan, Cambridge Printed by St Edmundsbury Press


page 59, line 15, for's the number of Heaven' read '3 the number of Heaven'

Contents Foreword


I Ternary and Trinity


2 DifferentTypes ofTemary


3 Heaven and Earth


4 Yin and Yang


5 The Double Spiral


6 Solve et Coagula


7 Questions of Orientation


8 Celestial Numbers &Terrestrial Numbers

s8 6s

9 The Son of Heaven and Earth IO Man and the ThreeWorlds


I 1 Spiritus, Anima, Corpus


I2 Sulphur, Mercury and Salt


13 The Being and the Environment


14 The Mediator


15 Between the Square & the Compasses


16 The Ming T'ang


1 7 Wang: The King-Pontiff

I I6

18 True Man and Transcendent Man


19 God, Man, Nature


20 Distortions in Modem Philosophy

13 5

2I Providence, Will and Destiny

13 9

22 TripleTime


2J The CosmicWheel


24 The Triratna


25 The City ofWillows


26 The MiddleWay


Foreword I )oUBTLESS there are many who will realise just from the title of

this study that it is concerned primarily with the symbolism of the l•'ar- Eastern tradition. We say'doubtless', because the role played in this tradition by the ternary composed of the terms 'Heaven, Earth, Man' (T'ien- Ti-Jen) is widely and well enough known; and it is precisely this ternary-which people have become accus­ tomed to refer to by the name of'Triad', even if they do not always exactly understand the meaning or significance of the term-that we now propose to explain, while at the same time also indicating the correspondences to be found in other formal traditions. We have already devoted a chapter of another study to this subject, 1 b u t it deserves to be treated at greater length. It is equally well known that there exists in China a 'secret society'-or at least something generally alluded to as such­ which in the West has also been given the same name 'Triad'. As it is not a specific part of our intention to concern ourselves with 1 his organisation, it will be just as well to say a few words about it now so as to avoid having to come back to it in the course of our l'Xposition. 2 'l'he true name of the organisation in question is T'ien Ti Huei, w hi c h can be translated as 'Society of Heaven and Earth'­ provided that, for reasons explained elsewhere,3 all due reserva1.


The Symbolism ofthe Cross, translated by Angus Macnab (London, 1958), chapter


Details of the organisation in question, and ofits ritual and symbols (particularly numerical symbols it uses), are to be found in the work by Lieutenant-Colonel B. lluvn' on Les Sociites secretes en Chine (Secret Societies in China). Although writing from a lolv point of view, the author has at least begun to discern the outline of certain things whid1 as a rule are completely overlooked by sinologists; and even though he has not rome ncar resolving all the questions he has thereby raised, he deserves full credit for I111Vinf( at least posed these questions clearly. See also Matgioi, La Voie rationnelle, I ill'

1946 - The Great Triad

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