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Getting ready for Schumacher
on 10 April 2011
E. F. Schumacher is mostly known for his book "Small is beautiful", the title of which became a popular slogan. "A guide for the perplexed" is a very different kind of book, somewhat less well-known, but perhaps more useful.
The "guide" is a criticism of the modern materialist and atheist worldview, written from a kind of generally religious or generally spiritual perspective. Schumacher's purpose is to explain the spiritual worldview to budding seekers of a mostly materialist persuasion. To that end, he never explicitly defends any specific religious tradition or spiritual path. Rather, the author strikes an eclectic pose. The Catholic philosophers Etienne Gilson and Thomas Aquinas, the Fourth Way teachers Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Nicolls, and Traditionalist René Guénon are all referenced, together with some Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.
Schumacher himself was a Catholic, and "A guide for the perplexed" is sometimes recommended by Catholics. However, the work hardly ever mentions the Bible, Jesus or Church tradition. It has a more "Eastern" feel. The strongest influence comes from Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.
Is it working? Well, at least it worked for me. This is one of the books that made me re-think my materialist convictions. And no, I'm not saying I agree with all of its contents. "A guide for the perplexed" is not an easy read. You have to be ready for this book. However, if you are a seeker who wants to get some of his boats rocked, you might find it useful or interesting.