Monday, February 16, 2009

Rene Guenon & Reincarnation Part Two

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!

15 comments:

Mike and Julie said...

I am always facinated by reincarnation and love to read any kind of information on the subject. Thanks for posting this....Julie

Devin said...

I am so glad you enjoyed the post or posts I should say! thanks so very much for stopping by and for all of the wonderful work you do at your blogs-best to you as always!

wise woman said...

Hi Devin
All ideas & musings greatfully received :)
These were interesting ideas - adding another mind-stretch - I likied the feel of expansion that came with these thoughts. Still I feel that there is some 'stickiness' to this world that needs to be included in musings, for even if we do not return we must do what we can for those who follow.

Devin said...

Hi wise -always a joy to see you here! I agree there was a huge expansiveness to Guenons vision and philosophy -he wasnt necassarily saying we dont incarnate into other things -we just never do the same world/realm twice -however in my continuing studies of these reincarnations stories from around the world-unless they are all cases of an esp field or memory transference-which i think 'my' case is or was-there do seem to be people who come back -perhaps I will continue a bit with reincarnation when I come back to post to this blog thurs -for the first time in a long time i have not the faintest clue where to go with this blog right now-so we will see! best to you as always!

Aggie said...

The numbers thing intrigues me ... perhaps there is something to that.

Michael Skaggs said...

Wow Dev,

Your on a tear! Nice post(s)! Read both parts of this, the cats eye nebula photo is a nice touch too!

Enjoyed the ideas and getting my thoughts flowing once again! I am pondering that the "Time = Thought" plays a big role in understanding the different aspects of being as well. If we had no concept of time, would we understand the Universal intricacies better?

Keep up the amazing work bro!
Be well!

Word verify = MOSCISMU

benjibopper said...

i have my own, more micro-physical, view of reincarnation: although we die, we also rot and thus feed other life anew: microbes, worms, grass, daisies, then homnivores, then carnivores, maybe other humans eventually. thus we continue being alive, in perpetuity. so it goes. sadly, burying somebody in a titanium box kind of prevents all that from happening, which is why i hope someone will just (lovingly) throw my dead body in the woods when i go.

Michael Skaggs said...

Really digging this series bro!

Hope your well,
Be safe and be Wise! ;)

Word Verify = bropra

LOL Orpah? Bropra? Too funny.

Devin said...

Aggie-Michael-benji -really lovely to see you all here!!!! sorry it took me so very long to post your comments -my health demons (daemons:-) ? began reappearing last night and I am not feeling so hot at all-thanks so much for all 3 of yours comments -i agree about the numbers Aggie -numbers are part of the next series I am going to have here -altho with my clumsy way of putting things I am going to have to be careful so I do not confuse folks! Thanks for the word veris Michael and other comments and benji thanks so much for yours I agree -when I die (hehe which on days like this seems to be not so far off!!) just dump me in a forest somewhere -I will try to come back to these comments when I can 'speak' more intelligently -this stuff whatver it is is really taking me down a few pegs-I again was so happy to get comments on this series-because I thought it was one I would be lucky to get one or two commments on-and it does go into the stuff I am working on for the future-thanks again all of you for stopping by!

Middle Ditch said...

Mmmmmm, a lot to take in here. I'll have to come back when I'm less tired.

Devin said...

Middle Ditch you might have plenty of time to catch up as my health is not the greatest right now-I am woefully behind on work for this blog -hope to catch up when I am feeling better -thanks so much for stopping by -best as always!

Ricardo said...

"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."

Now that is rather compelling. In fact that could be true of both the afterlife and in this life. I have just seen a series of videos an something called "voice dialog" by Drs.Hal and Sidra Stone and they discuss how we are many selves within oneself. We are the microcosm of the macrocosm to quote Hal. and if we let one self take over and create imbalance we will suffer a lower quality of life.

Now that has nothing to do with reincarnation but the last line sort of reminded me of them and what they were talking about. Could these many selves be past lives? Or are they the key to the other modes of being?

Just throwing it all out there. Don't mind me.

Devin said...

Ricardo -you are welcome to throw anything out here at my little place that you would like-to a great extent thats what MFM is for -to get people thinking about big questions-I am also so glad you stopped by because your comment was great and has me thinking more if I should try to continue this series a bit-and also reminds me to see if the new Bennington Girl is done yet-i do hope folks read comments thanks so very much for stopping by and never worry about ideas/speculation and things like that here-best to you as always!

X. Dell said...

As a rough contemporary of Einstein, I'm wondering how much Guenon actually borrowed from him, in particular the notion of the Cosmological Constant (1920, a year before The Spiritualist Error). Einstein's hypothesis would tend to confirm a vast existence outside the reality that we can experience, presumably because of limitations in sense perception. The combined mass, energy and time of these other dimensions would have to be (depending on who's doing the estimating) between sixteen and nineteen times larger than the mass/space/energy/time that we can experience.

Some of the ramifications of Einstein's work could mean that time isn't what we think that it is, not something sequential or linear, but rather constant, always there. It's only the human imagination that gives a sequence to things. In othrwords, certain existences would occupy a point in space-time, either in this dimension or others. So the possibilities wouldn't involve living different lives, but rather the same one over and over again.

Devin said...

Xdell-I so hope you will always comment here at MFM-really really fascinating insights from you all the time!! -I am movin really slow these days so will prob be a lot easier to follow so to speak-these thoughts on Einstein are wonderful-I hope that everyone will see this comment -never in a million years would I have put the two historical figures together! Again i cant say how much I appreciate you and all the people who comment here-best as always!!