Muhammad Merrell-Wolff

I recently ordered this book from Amazon called “Pathways Through To Space: An Experiential Journal.” It’s written by Franklin Merrell-Wolff, who was an American mystic and esoteric philosopher. I don’t intend to write a detailed review of the book in this blog-post since I have to read and digest it first. I’ll rather speak about an interesting passage that I came across while reading the book.

Wolff was educated and trained in philosophy and mathematics at Harvard and Stanford. I don’t know what turn of events led him to abandon academia and enter in esotericism. In any case, he ended up dedicating his life to transcendental philosophy and mysticism and sharing his knowledge and experiences with the rest of the world.


As I started reading his book, I came across a particularly interesting passage that completely resonated with me. Following is the passage:

Today, I find that in a deep sense I understand Walt Whitman, for I, too, have Awakened. But heretofore Whitman was not at all clear to me, and his words have not helped me to the Awakening. In contrast, the writings of Shankara have proved of the highest potency, while among Western writers it is Immanuel Kant who did most to prepare the Way for me. This is clearly a matter related to individual temperament. Whitman’s Recognition is unquestionably genuine, but for me his words did not clarify but served, rather, to obscure the Way. Of Mohammed’s expression this would have been even truer had I tried to make serious use of it. Yet Mohammed did attain some degree of mystical insight. It seems clear that no man can effectively illumine the Way for all men. There is more than one main Road and a great number of sub-roads. On all these, men who can serve as beacons are needed.

It’s very interesting to note his thoughts on Muhammad. In one of my earlier blog posts, I made a similar comment of how I found it difficult to adulate and emulate the life of Prophet Muhammad. He seemed too distant, too alien for me to have some form of affinity. I do, however, believe that Prophet Muhammad experienced something similar to what, perhaps, Shankara, Whitman and even Merrell-Wolff experienced.

I also think that it might not be possible for one human being to define the Sirat-al-Mustaqim for all men, of all times and ages. In this sense, perhaps, Prophet Muhammad was no different than Shankara or Walt Whitman. He was a product of his time and culture. He wanted to correct the wrongs of his society and addressed the ailments through whatever creative insights he got.

Prophet Muhammad was, perhaps, one of the beacons on one of the roads that lead to the “Awakening”. He cannot, however, in my opinion, illumine the Way for all men, as Merrell-Wolff stated. The same can be said about Merrell-Wolff and Shankara. They are all individual beacons serving to the guide the way for seekers on their own individual roads to the Truth, with a capital T.

In the coming days, I hope I can get to write a review of Pathways Through to Space on my blog.


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