Rene Guenon talked about reincarnation in many of his books always from a negative standpoint. In these books he seemed to assume that the reader was familiar with his reason for rejecting it. The problem with this was that he explained his ideas about his rejection of reincarnation in an early book of his that was not translated into English, L Erreur Spirite (The Spititualist Error", 1921). In this book, Guenon stated the 'metaphysical' argument against reincarnation to which he would always refer.
The debate Guenon brings out boils down to this: People who believe in reincarnation believe that the same being can be born more than once in a human body. Guenon says that this belief is wrong because people misunsderstand what a being is. When Guenon thinks of the word 'being', he is thinking of it in very wide terms. Many times he is thinking of Universal Being as a polar opposite of Non-Being. At other times he is thinking of it in the sense that a being is one of the multitude of entities that Universal Being appears to divide itself, in compliance with the principle that every possibility of manifestation must be manifested or brought into existence. This is in obedience to the same principle of Universal Possibility, each of these beings manisfests in all the possible states of formal existence.
Each of these states of being has its unique set of qualities and characteristics, such as corporeality (this word can be thought of as the extent of the 'denseness' or how much the being 'lives' in the physical plane in Guenon's way of thinking-for example human beings have a greater 'corporeality' than angels or the hidden people -talked about in an earlier set of posts), intelligence, temporality (the amount of time a being is 'alive' on its plane of extence) etcetera. The human state is just one of these states of being-nothing special about it at all. Other states would be-the 'states' of plant life, animals, the beings of higher planes of existence-maybe the sylphs, hidden people and even devas or angels would be in this category. From the point of view of Universal Being, which is beyond time, space and causality-all of its 'states' exist simultaneously. But from the states that are subjected to existence in space and time no matter how refined they seem--they are subjected to a sequential existence with a past, present and future.
Guenon states, "In universal existence, the return to the same state is an impossibilty; in total Possibility, those particular possibilities that are the states conditioned existence are necessarily indefinite (when Guenon says indefinite he means infinite) in number; to deny this is to try to limit possibility. One must admit it, on pain of contradiction, and that is enough to prevent any being from passing twice through the same state. Guenon's objection to reincarnation stands or falls on whether one agrees with this hypothesis or postulate-that there are an infinite number of states of being in the universe/multiverse and the human realm is nothing so special at all that a 'soul' would need to go through the human state of existence twice.
I think Guenon's 'proof' that reincarnation as we think of it is a 'logical impossibility' is anything but simple and maybe quite presumptious. However, I find many parts of his metaphysical ponderings very beautiful. To give another way of looking at why he believes a being can ever only 'incarnate' in one state it is very useful to think of numbers. In an infinite series, like that of the real numbers, or integers each number appears only once. Likewise in the infinite totality and variety of the Universe and Universal Mind, experienced in its totality by every being , no single state of being need be or can be repeated. The being contains, or to use the sequential metaphor, passes through them all, without singling any particular state of being for repetition or attention. This is where I think Guenon's dry logic and wordiness get in the way of the beauty of his vision. Human life, he seems to be saying, is nothing so special that souls need to experience it over and over. Beings including you, me and all of humanity are wonderful and noble creatures. In Guenon's view there are an infinitely vast and incredibly other modes of being that we can't even conceive of, but will eventually experience.
I am pretty sure this is the end of the series on Guenon's views about reincarnation, unless anyone that reads this blog is still confused about what he meant -which would be perfectly understandable-then maybe I will do a post to clarify questions if anyone has any. Peace and be well to anyone stopping by!