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The Radius Foundation seeks new ways of exploring and understanding dissimilar conceptual systems or paradigms-scientific, religious, philosophical, and aesthetic-with the aim of achieving a worldview of more penetrating insight and richer innovation.

A Forum For Different Views

Through publications, conferences, projects, educational media, and the internet, the Radius Foundation serves as a forum for creative dialogue among different views, forms of thought, and modes of perception.

Seeking Understanding

Our approach is to attempt to combine open-mindedness with intellectual rigor and discernment. The Radius Foundation seeks to create better understanding of traditional, classical, and modern worldviews.

Fostering Communication Of Ideas

The Radius Foundation is a registered nonprofit foundation, 501(c)3, that develops and fosters dialogue and the communication of ideas. It is not a spiritual sect, not a political-action group, not a single-cause institution. We are simply interested in overcoming limitations to understanding and communication, and involved in sharing multiple ways of knowing.

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Projects

Projects of the Radius Foundation

Below is a sampling of the projects sponsored by the Radius Foundation:

1. The Rediscovery of Islamic Pattern Genius: An Integrated Exploration of the Geometrical, Cosmological, and Cultural Meaning of Five- and Ten-Fold Symmetry in Traditional Islamic Design

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In 2007 Peter Lu and Paul Steinhardt demonstrated that the tiling on a 15th century shrine in Isfahan was an example of a quasicrystalline pattern, a geometrical structure that was not understood in the West until the 1970’s. The Radius Foundation is sponsoring a book-length work that will unfold the metaphysical and cosmological meanings of these patterns in five- and ten-fold symmetry, explaining their expressions of a profound understanding of God, His creation, and our place in it.

Click here for more details.

2. Seyyed Hossein Nasr: Sixteen Lectures (audio DVD)

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This collection of lectures by Seyyed Hossein Nasr represents some of the major themes of his life’s work, including the spirituality of Islam and Sufism; interreligious dialogue; pure metaphysics; tradition, nature, science and the sacred; and sacred art and music.

Please click here for the track list and here for a review of the DVD.

3. Shakespeare’s Spirituality: A Perspective: An Interview With Dr. Martin Lings

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This film is the last surviving footage of the renowned Dr. Martin Lings. Ira B. Zinman, the producer and director, interviews Dr. Lings about his lifelong devotion to the works of William Shakespeare. Lings demonstrates that many themes in Shakespeare’s works cannot be correctly understood without reference to the esoteric meaning contained in them, and shows how the true function of art is not merely to educate but to give us a “taste of wisdom, each to his own capacity.”

Please click here for a review.

Click here to purchase this DVD

4. The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology by Wolfgang Smith

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Modern science bills itself as the great demythologizer, and it claims to show us the world the way it really is. The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology demythologizes modern science.

Please click here for a review and the table of contents.

Click here to purchase this book on Amazon

5. Translation of De la philosophia perennis au pérennialisme américain by Setareh Houman

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The Radius Foundation has commissioned the translation of this important work on Perennialism in America from French into English.

6. Visual Reality: A Multi-Media Exhibition Paul Stiles, University of Dundee

Visual Reality is two things: both a new theory about the connection between observation and reality, and a project aimed at using cutting-edge visual technologies to present that theory to the public. The theory attempts to expose a false assumption about reality that lies at the center of modern thinking, affecting virtually all disciplines, and to put forth an alternative model with equally widespread implications. The project offers a primarily visual (as opposed to textual) proof of these claims, in the novel form of a public exhibition, such that any educated person can understand the theory and its implications.

  • Stage One: Introduces the distinction between the visual world and what we call “the real world.”
  • Stage Two: Describes the nature of the visual world, prior to any conclusions about what is real within it.
  • Stage Three: Describes our prevailing theory of what is real in the visual world, and identifies its limitations.
  • Stage Four: Shows how an alternate theory has popped up throughout history, from cave paintings to medieval cosmology to the double-slit experiment.
  • Stage Five: Presents a unified theory of perception, one that places light, the brain, and the mind on a single template.

7. All the World’s a Mirror: Deconstructing Being, Time, and Text by Samuel Zinner

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This wide-ranging study in physics, linguistics, literature theory, and comparative mysticism offers a view of all of existence as a sort of quantum entanglement of consciousness, language, and spacetime in which actuality-potentiality, absolute-relative, being-non-being, can exist only together, which means every binary involves what are ultimately but artificial distinctions. Such contrasts consist of two modes of single phenomena, and though they are useful, they are nevertheless not to be taken overly literally. Yet even the literal and non-literal are just further examples of two appearances of the same thing. Mysticism involves not altered or higher states of consciousness, but a dialectical transcendence of consciousness (and language) by means of itself. Consciousness and language can be either self-limiting or self-transcending. The same paradigm applies to religion, which can become ever more legalistic or transcend itself in the boundless apophatic, which paradoxically can be known only from within the limits of the finite. Integrating ancient philosophy and modern theoretical physics, All the World’s a Mirror asks whether current String Theory’s penchant for increasing the number of cosmic dimensions might be a misguided intensification of a Bohmian holographic illusion. If Bohm’s model is correct, a more adequate understanding of existence would involve decreasing, not increasing, the number of dimensions. And in the end, it may be that on the most fundamental level the universe could be lacking in dimensionality, and even temporality, altogether. If the world may be likened to a holographic mirror, image may be all that exists, and existence be but an image. Illusion may be the sole reality, and reality the sole illusion.

Grants

Grants Application Guidelines

The Radius Foundation, Inc. is a small foundation, and as we invest time and resources in each of our grantees, we consider only grant proposals that we have solicited. Please make initial contact through our website or our mailing address. Initial contact should be a one-page letter that includes:

  • the objective of the endeavor
  • the need to be addressed
  • a brief description of the people or organizations involved
  • the size of the grant requested and time-line for completion

If you or your organization is invited to apply, you will receive a notice from us. Proposals may be considered at any time of the year.

Contact

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact us!

The Radius Foundation, Inc.
152 West 57th Street–37th Floor
New York, NY 10019
info@radiusfoundation.org

The Rediscovery of Islamic Pattern Genius: An Integrated Exploration of the Geometrical, Cosmological, and Cultural Meaning of Five- and Ten-Fold Symmetry in Traditional Islamic Design

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In 2007 Peter Lu and Paul Steinhardt demonstrated that the tiling on a 15th century shrine in Isfahan was an example of a quasicrystalline pattern, a geometrical structure that was not understood in the West until the 1970’s. The Radius Foundation is sponsoring a book-length work that will unfold the metaphysical and cosmological meanings of these patterns in five- and ten-fold symmetry, explaining their expressions of a profound understanding of God, His creation, and our place in it.

An Integrated Exploration of the Geometrical, Cosmological, and Cultural Meaning of Five and Ten-Fold Symmetry in Traditional Islamic Design. A Project of the Radius Foundation, Inc.

In the 1970’s, Sir Roger Penrose of Oxford University defined several new sets of aperiodic tiling based on five-fold symmetry. These tile sets can form patterns that are perfectly ordered and yet never repeat, and that contain different expressions of the golden ratio and the property of self-similarity. Much to the amazement of physicists and engineers, these patterns were then found in the molecular structure of certain natural materials, where they became known as “quasi-crystals.” Prior to that time, it was thought that five-fold symmetry could not occur in the arrangement of atoms in solids.

In 2007, Peter Lu, a graduate student in physics at Princeton University, discovered a surprising connection between medieval Islamic tilings in five-fold symmetry and quasi-crystalline patterns.

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Working with Princeton cosmologist Paul Steinhardt, Lu first uncovered the hidden technique by which medieval Islamic craftsmen constructed patterns in five-fold symmetry: they used a set of tessellating tiles as hidden templates. This set of tiles, which Lu and Steinhardt dubbed “girih tiles,” has the same mathematical properties as the aperiodic tiling sets that Penrose defined hundreds of years later. The underlying girih-tile structure of the Islamic patterns is veiled, however, because the lines of the finished patterns are not taken from the edges of the girh tiles, but from lines inscribed on them.

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The tiling at the far left, from the Green Mosque in Busra, Turkey, is an example of a pattern constructed from girih tiles. The placement of the girih tiles is shown in the diagram next to it.

Steinhardt and Lu published their discoveries in the February 23, 2007 issue of Science magazine in an article entitled “Decagonal and Quasi-crystalline Tilings in Medieval Islamic Architecture.” The article received international attention—not only because they had rediscovered the technique used so effectively by the medieval craftsmen, but because they showed that girih tiles form a previously unknown Penrose set. Steinhardt and Lu further showed that medieval Islamic craftsmen had a sophisticated understanding of the mathematical properties of this tiling set, even constructing true quasi-crystalline tiling patterns and highlighting their expressions of self-similarity. The craftsmen achieved this feat of geometry hundreds of years before quasi-crystalline patterns were understood in the West. Discover magazine ranked Lu and Steinhardt’s discovery #59 in their “Top 100 Scientific Discoveries of 2007” issue.

Yet, beyond the expression of complex mathematics, there are deeper meanings to Islamic tiling patterns: they express the worldview and spiritual insights of the culture and the tradition that created them. More than simply decorations, they are an expression of some of the principles that the culture holds most sacred. Other authors have written on the cosmological meaning of the numbers five and ten and the symmetry and patterns associated with those numbers. But no one has yet explored the metaphysical and cosmological meaning of the quasi-crystalline structure that Lu and Steinhardt have found in different Islamic tiling designs.

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A spandrel from the Darb-i Imam Shrine in Isfahan. The pattern is formed of small girih tiles, and the much larger girih-tile pattern is highlighted in dark lines by the craftsmen. What cosmological meaning is expressed here? (Photo from Steinhardt and Lu’s article)

The Radius Foundation is sponsoring the creation of an integrated work, based on these traditional Islamic patterns in five- and ten-fold symmetry, whose structure we have only recently begun to understand. This new work will explore these designs as sacred art that expresses metaphysical and cosmological meanings. We believe that the geometrical structure and cosmological meaning of these designs can be seen more clearly in light of each other. The book will unfold the metaphysical and cosmological meanings of these patterns in five- and ten-fold symmetry, explaining their expressions of a profound understanding of God, His creation, and our place in it.

S.H. Nasr: Sixteen Lectures (Track List)

  • In the Beginning Was Consciousness: Dudleian Lecture, Harvard, May 1, 2003 Dr. Nasr begins by noting the unanimity of the sacred scriptures of the religions of the world in recognizing the ontological and temporal primacy of consciousness, and then traces the consequences of the loss of this understanding.
  • The Reality to Serve, Love and Know: Trinity Institute, Oregon State University, February 12, 2000 Dr. Nasr approaches his topic, the nature of the Divine and what it means to serve, love, and know God, both metaphysically and from an experiential point of view, stressing both the complete immanence and the absolute transcendence of God.
  • Religious and Theological Consequences of Crossing Religious Frontiers: The Tillich Lectures, Harvard University, sponsored by Harvard Divinity School, April 13, 2000 Dr. Nasr explains the necessity, benefits, challenges, and dangers of seeking true encounters with other religions.
  • Whence Evil? To Confront and Overcome Evil in Human Life: 35th National Conference of the Trinity Institute, New York (“Naming Evil: an Interfaith Dialogue”), May 3, 2004 Dr. Nasr begins with a metaphysical explanation for evil in the world and then turns his attention to the dangers of false approaches in our response to this evil.
  • The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man: 1986 Dr. Nasr explains modern man’s rebellion against the fundamental principles of life, man’s resulting loss of meaning, the Sacred, and the unity of life, and the devastation caused by these losses.
  • The Recovery of the Sacred: Tradition and Perennialism in the Contemporary World: Sacred Web Conference, Edmonton, Canada, September 23, 2006 Dr. Nasr explains the call of Perennialism to help the world rediscover and restore the Sacred in the realms of metaphysics, the cosmos and nature, man himself, history, eschatology, the social order, art and music, religions themselves, and the inner unity of religions.
  • Spiritual and Religious Roots of the Environmental Crisis: Temenos Academy, London, May 22, 1988 Dr. Nasr reveals the roots of the environmental crisis, and explains why the only solution is to regain the understanding that all creation bears testimony to the Divine Presence, and that man is nature’s vicegerent.
  • God and Man: Religious Views and Scientific Perspectives: Summer Chautauqua Morning Lecture, Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York, Summer 2001 Dr. Nasr shows the need for a new cosmological paradigm that does not limit the study of causes to the horizontal, but also includes the transcendent.
  • Philosophy, Science and Religion from the Eastern Point of View: March 25, 1989 Dr. Nasr contrasts the West’s understanding of religion with that of the East, which because it sees science, religion, and philosophy as integrated, recognizes the hierarchical orders of reality.
  • Sufism and Its Power of Integration: Man’s Inner and Outer Life: Second L. M. Singhvi Lecture, Temenos Academy, London, December 4, 1999 Dr. Nasr explains that since only God can possess absolute Oneness, true integration must have a transcendent dimension: any unity in this world is a reflection of Tawhid, Divine Unity. Sufism aims at the integration of the whole person: body, spirit, and soul.
  • Images of Islam in the West: Cornell University, March 30, 1993 Dr. Nasr analyzes the origin and lasting power of the West’s false images of Islam and explains the modern-day consequences of the persistence of these images, emphasizing also the times of respect and understanding between the Christian West and Islam.
  • How to be a Muslim in America: Islamic Community of Northern California, San Francisco Although this lecture is addressed to Muslims, Dr. Nasr’s remarks will be enlightening to anyone who wonders how to maintain contact with the Sacred while living in a secular society.
  • The Importance of the Shari’ah in Islam: Islamic Community of Northern California, San Francisco Dr. Nasr defines the Shari’ah as the concrete embodiment of the Will of God on the level of action, discussing its source and addressing the question of whether it changes with the circumstances.
  • The Universal Roots of Sacred Art: The Prince of Wales Institute for Art and Architecture (The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment), London, January 24, 2002 Dr. Nasr identifies the roots of sacred art, showing how its universality shines through the particularity of its language.
  • Spirituality and Islamic Art: Royal College of Art, Center for the Study of Traditional Architecture, London, December 6, 1993 Dr. Nasr discusses the main forms of art in Islam and explains how their symbolism relates the lower level of reality to the higher, illustrating his explanation with specific examples of symbolism in Islamic art.
  • Autobiographical Talk: Beacon of Knowledge Conference, November 3, 2001 (with subtitles) In this rare autobiographical lecture, Dr. Nasr speaks to an audience that has gathered for a conference in his honor, always addressing the theme of how one can achieve harmony between the inner and the outward life.

S.H. Nasr: Sixteen Lectures (Review)

Seyyed Hossein Nasr: Sixteen Lectures (audio DVD)

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This collection of lectures by Seyyed Hossein Nasr represents some of the major themes of his life’s work, including the spirituality of Islam and Sufism; interreligious dialogue; pure metaphysics; tradition, nature, science and the sacred; and sacred art and music.

Please click here for the track list.

Review: This collection of lectures by Seyyed Hossein Nasr spans twenty years and many themes, from pure metaphysics to the meaning of Islamic art. But although the range of Nasr’s ideas is broad, the collection is not simply a sampler of his thought. Not only does a theme quickly emerge from the various lectures, but the listener begins to suspect that it is not only the unifying thread in the collection, but the life-long calling of Dr. Nasr himself: it is the reintegration of that which has been divided. These divisions may be brought about by man, such as the schism between science and religion caused by the loss of the Sacred in the modern West; or they may be divisions that are not a matter of separation, but only diversity, such as the differences between religious rites or even the many ways the natural world manifests its Creator. Nasr always shows us the One that underlies the many. He takes on a great variety of topics, but always with this same vision of unity.

Nasr applies this vision in ways that will be familiar to those who know his work: one talk, for example, is entitled “Religious and Theological Consequences of Crossing Religious Frontiers,” and he speaks of the benefits and dangers of truly encountering other religions—that is, considering them from the point of view of revelation and truth, and not simply studying their history, or approaching them as sociology. There is also a lecture specifically about Sufism’s power to integrate man’s inner and outer lives. But this universality of thought, in which Nasr specializes, comes through in unexpected ways as well. One lecture, for example, is addressed to a very specific audience: “How to be a Muslim in America.” Nasr discusses the details of the rites of Islam, but what emerges is something much more universal: a set of principles by which anyone who is trying to maintain contact with the Sacred can guide his life.

A lecture on the Shari’ah furthers this theme of the integration of daily life with the Sacred by explaining that the purpose of sacred law is to forge a connection between the Will of God and everyday life, between the eternal and the temporal. There are two lectures on sacred art: one that addresses the sacred art of any religion, showing how sacred art uses a particular language to reveal what is universal; and one specifically about the symbolism one finds in Islamic art, and how it relates the lower orders of reality to the higher.

Nasr speaks, in several lectures, of modern man’s alienation from God and the resulting loss of the Sacred, and tradition’s role in its recovery. He explains, historically and philosophically, the catastrophic split of knowledge into the categories of scientific and religious, the subsequent banishment of religious knowledge, and the resulting devastation to the environment. And he treats this theme of separation and reintegration from a primordial, metaphysical point of view, as well, in a lecture called “Whence Evil?” in which he ultimately grounds worldly evil in the separation of creatures from their Creator.

Nasr, although he is known for his scholarship, is an exciting lecturer. He never reads from a text, but speaks directly to his audience. It is all the more remarkable that his lectures are immaculately coherent. Their careful order and flow make them easy for the listener to follow and absorb. And the last lecture is a special treasure: it is his own autobiography, given to an audience that has gathered to honor him, and it includes a deeply emotional reading of a poem he wrote from the point of view of a man who is looking back on his life. This lecture is a rare exception to Nasr’s habit of refraining from talking about himself. It is the capstone of the collection, because it shows, in a personal and specific way, how it is possible to unite, within the context of daily life, knowledge and action, the mundane and the sacred, being in exile and being at home. Dr. Nasr gives us not just a philosophy of integration, but a lived example.

Shakespeare’s Spirituality: A Perspective: An Interview With Dr. Martin Lings

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This film is the last surviving footage of the renowned Dr. Martin Lings. Ira B. Zinman, the producer and director, interviews Dr. Lings about his lifelong devotion to the works of William Shakespeare. Lings demonstrates that many themes in Shakespeare’s works cannot be correctly understood without reference to the esoteric meaning contained in them, and shows how the true function of art is not merely to educate but to give us a “taste of wisdom, each to his own capacity.”

An interview with Dr. Martin Lings produced and directed by Ira B. Zinman

When Martin Lings saw a Shakespeare play performed for the first time, for several days afterwards he found himself “plunged into an extraordinary state of happiness” such as he had never experienced before. Which play was it that caused him such euphoria? It was Othello—not only a tragedy, but arguably the most heart-rending of all of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

How could such a sad play produce such joy? Dr. Lings, in this interview by Ira Zinman, illuminates his experience—which is surely shared by many who appreciate the works of Shakespeare—by explaining the nature of sacred art, in the context of an account of his own life’s spiritual journey. The resulting film will be appreciated both by admirers of Lings, who will treasure this last footage of Dr. Lings before his death, and anyone who has experienced the sacred in a work of fiction and wondered how it can reside there.

The function of literature, like that of all art, explains Dr. Lings, is not to preach, but to reveal. A play reveals spiritual wisdom by drawing us into it, “from cold objectivity to the warmth of subjectivity.” The audience is not being offered spiritual laws and principles, but individual characters—and so, in the words of Titus Burckhardt, whom Dr. Lings quotes, by watching the play we are able to “participate naturally, and almost involuntarily, in the world of holiness.”

Dr. Lings is specific. He uses examples from many of Shakespeare’s plays not only to make his case that Shakespeare’s plays are indeed sacred (though non-liturgical) art, but also that they are concerned with the esoteric theme of the purification of the human soul, and the restoration of our primordial state of beatific union with God. If a play is about the soul’s journey toward perfection, which it reaches at the end, and if the play draws us into it—then watching the play becomes a spiritual experience for the audience.

What, then, accounts for this taste of bliss that we find, surprisingly, even in the tragedies of Shakespeare? What is present in this world into which Shakespeare draws his audience? It is, says Dr. Lings, “the harmony of the universe.” We are being drawn through the tapestry—from our usual vision of its reverse side, in which the threads seemed tangled and chaotic, to the front of the tapestry where the harmony of the design, and each thread’s contribution to it, is apparent. We are drawn in, and then drawn through. And hearing the venerable Dr. Lings speak of these things, one realizes that this is a man who has, for a long time now, been dwelling in this harmony.

Click here to purchase this DVD from Shakespeare Media

The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology by Wolfgang Smith

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Modern science bills itself as the great demythologizer, and it claims to show us the world the way it really is. The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology demythologizes modern science.

Modern science bills itself as the great demythologizer, and it claims to show us the world the way it really is. The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology demythologizes modern science.

What is this myth that Smith exorcises? It is the reduction of the natural (“corporeal”) world to the mere physical, which is only an abstraction. It is only to this abstraction that the instruments of modern science have access: objects emptied of their essence. The universe, Smith shows us, is neither a mere aggregate of particles, nor a mere aggregate of galaxies; the world is an icon to be read.

This book is no rejection of the findings of modern science-Smith is himself a physicist and mathematician. Rather, it is a dialogue between “the wisdom of ancient cosmology” and modern physics, from quantum mechanics to astrophysics. And it is the ancient that sheds light upon the new.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Sophia Perennis and Modern Science: (Smith explains the split between the ancient and modern cosmological world-view)
  2. From Schroedinger’s Cat to Thomistic Ontology: (how the distinction between the corporeal and the physical, and the Aristotelian categories of potency and act, shed light on quantum mechanics-an astounding thesis)
  3. Eddington and the Primacy of the Corporeal
  4. Bell’s Theorem and the Perennial Ontology
  5. Celestial Corporeality: (the resurrected body)
  6. The Extrapolated Universe: (a discussion of the “discrepancy between contemporary physical cosmology and the Patristic teaching concerning the creation and early history of the world”)
  7. The Pitfall of Astrophysical Cosmology: (a theological objection to Big-Bang cosmology on the basis of an understanding of ontological hierarchy)
  8. The Status of Geocentrism
  9. Esoterism and Cosmology: From Ptolemy to Dante and Cusanus
  10. Intelligent Design and Vertical Causality: (Smith addresses Darwinism and Intelligent Design theory)
  11. Interpreting Anthropic Coincidence: (the new essay)
  12. Science and the Restoration of Culture

Included as an appendix is Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s reply to the first chapter

Click here to purchase this book on Amazon

Why Is X the Unknown?

Radius Director Terry Moore gave a popular TED talk last year about why we use the letter “X” to represent the unknown. The surprising story begins with the introduction of Arabic texts into 11th century Spain, continues with a small incompatibility between Spanish and Arabic pronunciation, and ends with the familiar X in everything from The X Files to Generation X.