On primitive Buddhism as explained in The Doctrine of Awakening and Hermeticism as exposed in The Hermetic Tradition
Interviewer: Was Novalis an influence for you?
Julius Evola: Partly. In part because at that time I was intoxicated by the academic methods and in Novalis I perceived a deep intuition. But what actually attracted me was his poetical aspect and his intuitive one — which were all but systematic.
I: Your book The Hermetic Tradition is an exposition of the secret doctrines that are hidden behind the symbols of chemistry. Are there any relations between these teachings and those that you expose in another book also translated into French called The Doctrine of Awakening?
JE: No, there are differences. The Doctrine of Awakening corresponds to a systematic exposition of ascesis, coming from the Buddhist ascesis that I recovered based on the original Pali texts — to such an extent that the English translation of it was recommended by the Pali Society of London and is acknowledged in their references. Thus, the book is considered to be a “classic” in regard to the study of Buddhism, even though its thesis for the common mind, or average culture, is very revolutionary since from my viewpoint I consider the deformation which happened in Buddhism when considered as an ascetic vision of “life as suffering,” and nirvana as a sort of greater or lesser evasion that denies existence and escapes from pain — I demonstrate quite the opposite, since in each page’s footnotes one can find quotes and references of all sorts. At the beginning, Buddhism was a doctrine of initiation, and the true meaning of such a doctrine and of ascesis is the consideration of a very particular fight, of almost a scientific sort, since there are in no cases any religious or moral presuppositions. This is why the ultimate aim of such a discipline is the realization of the unconditioned. The authentic nirvana is the unconditioned, which Buddhism places beyond the realm of the gods.
I: What is the difference with The Hermetic Tradition?
JE: As I formerly said, The Hermetic Tradition is a book consecrated to the exposition and interpretation of this secret doctrine which is hidden behind the symbols of chemistry and the metallurgic operations. Thus there exists a fundamental difference between the profane interpretation of profane history provided by Mister [Carl] Jung, since he considers all of that — the alchemical domain — not as a material domain composed of substances, but rather as the projection of the libido of the architects. I rather expose it as an initiatory teaching, referred to actual non-physical forces that ultimately aim to the inner transformation of men. Therefore, what I mean is that in The Doctrine of Awakening and The Hermetic Tradition are two possible paths. One consists of a “dry” and virile ascesis based on detachment; accomplishing the Olympic realm of Being through absolute detachment in relation to everything, both the terrestrial as well as the heavenly attachments. Contrarily, The Hermetic Tradition has a spirit that is rather Western, I would suggest. That is to say it has an operative character, and an immanent realization where the aim is based on the ultimate realization founded on royal symbols: the crown; the king; the emperor. It is no longer about the white colour of contemplation but the red colour of fire. Thus it is a very interesting tradition from the viewpoint of its affinity with the core Western spirit. I believe that my exposition, I would like to add, is the most complete, and deepest in comparison to other teachings that exist on the subject. Also, Jung was driven by the need to quote my book as a systematic exposition of Hermeticism.