René Guénon's Spiritual Understanding

Influenced by an Unacceptable Un-Aryan Vision of Life

(from "Metaphysics of War")




The decline of the modern West, according to the view of a famous critic of civilization, clearly possesses two salient characteristics: in the first place the pathological development of activity for its own sake; in the second place contempt for the values of knowledge and contemplation.

By knowledge this critic does not mean rationalism, intellectualism or the vain games of men of letters - nor by contemplation does he mean cutting oneself off from the world, renunciation or a misunderstood form of monastic detachment. Knowledge and contemplation represent for him, rather, the most normal and appropriate forms of participation of man in super-natural, superhuman and supra-rational reality. Notwithstanding this clarification his view involves what is, to us, an unacceptable presupposition. In fact, he has already tacitly implied that every act in the material domain is limiting and that the highest spiritual sphere is accessible only in ways different from those of action.

In this premise the influence of a vision of life is clearly recognizable which, in its essence, remains strange to the spirit of the Aryan race, even if it is so embedded in the thought of the Christianized West that it can even be found revived in the imperial conception of Dante. The opposition between action and contemplation, however, was unknown to the ancient Aryans. Action and contemplation were not regarded as the two terms of an opposition. They designated merely two distinct paths to the same spiritual realization. In other words, it was thought that man could overcome the conditioning of individuality and participate in the supernatural reality by means of contemplation or, equally, by means of action.




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