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Prophet for a Dark Age: A Companion to the Works of Rene Guenon (New)
by Rooth, Graham
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Book ID: 9781845192518, 1845192516
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Rene Guenon is a major figure for anyone who recognizes a need to rediscover the spiritual roots from which Western society has become so comprehensively alienated. Immersing himself in the search for spiritual truth, he chose Islam as the vehicle for his spiritual life. Settling in Egypt, he clarified and deepened our understanding of the teachings of traditional metaphysics, his central message being that there is at the source of all humanity’s traditions a 'Primordial Tradition' -- a Universal Metaphysics which sets out the principles that underlie this Tradition. The truths it embodies are universal and unchanging, and form part of a unified body of higher knowledge which transcends the multiplicity of religious dogmas and philosophical systems that abound in Western society. He wrote about the need to transcend the formal and emotional aspect of religion in order to prepare ourselves for an understanding of 'pure metaphysics'. He explained how traditional societies achieved this, exploring the symbols used, in order to help individuals forward to levels of understanding which are otherwise inaccessible to minds blinkered by the limitations of the currently prevailing Western approach to existence and its meaning.
This book provides an overview of Guenon's work. It is arranged in four parts each of which provides extracts that express his views directly and commentaries that summarize or paraphrase his written work. The objective is to allow Guenon to speak for himself rather than produce a critique of his ideas.
Part One, Religion and the Primordial Tradition, explores Guenon's ideas about the nature of the primordial Tradition or ‘Perennial Philosophy’ and the part it would play in a traditional society. It sets out his views on the major religions and how they are related to the primordial Tradition. There are sections on the monotheistic religions and the oriental religions. The largest section deals with Vedantic Hinduism, reflecting the dominant and enduring role that this played in the development of Guenon's ideas.
Part Two, The Spiritual Journey and the Integral Being, focuses on the quest for enlightenment and the means of achieving it, with an emphasis on the role of initiation and transmission. It examines the difference between ‘realization’ and salvation. It explores the spiritual quest in the light of Guenon’s theory of the integral being and its multiple states, which postulates that the human state is one aspect only of innumerable different states comprising the totality of a single being.
Part Three, Western Society and the Growth of Modernity, presents Guenon's critique of contemporary Western society in terms of its historical development and current worldview. It highlights the spiritual dangers that confront the West and examines the processes and attitudes symptomatic of its spiritual decline. It provides an overview of Guenon’s ideas about subjects ranging across the sciences, the humanities, philosophy and psychology. The section on philosophy draws together many of Guenon’s ideas about the nature of manifestation and ultimate reality.
Part Four, Symbolism, explores the significance Guenon attached to the history and meaning of the symbols shared by all the great traditions. It summarizes his thoughts on the nature of symbolism, how it achieves its effects and its particular significance to the spiritual life. Many examples are provided from the natural world, the animal kingdom and human activities, demonstrating the important part played by symbols in all cultures, and the common features they share, suggesting the possibility that many of the more important ones point to an ancient, common origin.
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