You expressed your surprise, vis-à-vis my post on “A Thomistic Preparatio”, that Schuon would “place Thomas Aquinas at the top of his recommendation list” for Christian esotericists. You’re surprised because you’ve “yet to come across a Thomist who is friendly to the views of the Traditionalist School”. But why should this failure to reciprocate make any difference to Schuon’s estimate? I’m reminded of a passage in Coomaraswamy’s seminal essay “Paths that Lead to the Same Summit”:
The quarrel of Christianity with other religions seems to an Oriental … a tactical error in the conflict of ideal with sensate motivations…. Nor will he participate in such a quarrel; much rather he will say what I have often said to Christian friends: “Even if you are not on our side, we are on yours.”
As for your quotation from Berdyaev, he’s certainly right in noting that “Orthodox thought”—like traditionalist, or perennialist, thought—is “a Platonic ontologism” and that, this being so, it’s necessarily at odds with the characteristic bifurcation one finds in the Catholic West between the natural and the supernatural, hence between God and the world.
On the other hand, I agree with you that Berkyaev is “extreme” in his seeming total dismissal of Thomism. After all, there are specialists in Thomas’s work who have argued that he himself was a Platonist, and yet others who say that everything in Eckhart can be found echoed, albeit in more muted form, in the Summa Theologiae. Though his “mystical” experience late in life may have led the Angelic Doctor to denounce his own work as just so much “straw”, there’s every reason to think that the experience was not unrelated to a lifetime of rigorous dialectical thinking.
A final point: You concluded your comment by saying that “numerous Christians seem to reject the Perennial Philosophy on the grounds that there must be an absolute separation between God and man. And they accuse the Christian Perennialist of thinking that a ‘softening’ of pantheism into panentheism can safeguard his orthodoxy … but (they assume) it can’t!” Again I concur, though of course one must immediately add that these “numerous Christians” couldn’t be more wrong! To quote Coomaraswamy once more, this time from his “Ved?nta and the Western Tradition”:
To say that “I am a pantheist” is merely to confess that “I am not a metaphysician,” just as to say that “two and two make five” would be to confess “I am not a mathematician.”
The true metaphysician is in fact the very first to emphasize the “absolute separation” you speak of (Berdyaev’s “Chasm”), though with this critical difference: for the metaphysician, the real divide is to be found within the Divine Principle itself, between Nirguna Brahman and Saguna Brahman, that is, Eckhart’s Gottheit and Gott. He places the separation here, and not between the Personal God and man, because he knows that this God is “personal” precisely in function of His relation to man, and could not therefore be Absolute in any absolute sense.