All civilizations have been born in the heat, so I took the extra few minutes of light and heat yesterday to ponder these thoughts.
Does Salvation Come from the East
I finally found the round table of 1924 that included Ossendowski, Rene Guenon, and Jacques Maritain. I will make it available in English tomorrow, as I don’t believe it has been translated yet … please let me know if that is untrue. Ossendowski, as you recall, wrote the book “Beasts, Men, and Gods” based on his travels in Mongolia; Guenon discussed that book in his “The King of the World.”
Sad to say, I was somewhat disappointed as the men were talking past each other; the comment discussions here are often better. Ossendowski took no interest in the spiritual teachings of the Mongolians. Instead, he was more concerned about the political intrigues he claimed to have discovered. Curiously, he seemed to be aware – in 1924, keep in mind – of the impending emigration into Europe of people of colour and even of alien religions. You’ll have to decide if he knew of some sort of master plan or if it was just a lucky guess.
Guenon seems to me to be overly credulous and assumes some random Mongolian knows things beyond any European’s comprehension. Now, we agree that simply following an external moral code is not the whole story. On the other hand, the inability to follow a basic code is very telling. Every oriental system (e.g., Yoga, Buddhism, ISCKON) requires strict codes of behavior, even stricter than Western religions. If you run into a drunken swami, he may perhaps be a highly evolved being playing some sort of game, or just a drunk. So why take that chance?
Guenon didn’t see in Buddhism anything other than a Hindu deviation, but that is not surprising. His anti-European attitude is grating after a while. As a commenter with experience in India pointed out, the situation in the East isn’t all that great either. I’ve asked Chinese colleagues to help with some difficult passages from the Tao Te Ching, but they nothing about it; I end up giving them my copy. Their attitude about Buddhists are similar to Ossendowski’s: the temples are big money makers. One women told me the Buddhist monks walk around with iPads, probably to keep track of their donations.
In the past, I posted some excerpts from Miguel Serrano’s visits to various Indian gurus, showing how he was able to puncture their pretensions. There is a balance between appreciating the wisdom of the east and presuming it is beyond our understanding.
Nevertheless, Guenon assures us that all this eastern wisdom can be found in Aristotle and Catholicism (as it was in 1925, pre-Vatican II). Since those traditions are easier to understand, I suggest we start dispensing with the middle man. Maritain, too, is concerned with preserving the Greek/Latin/Catholic tradition (yes, it is all one thing), particularly from what he regards as threats to “reason” from the East. Nevertheless, he concedes that there is much to learn from the East.
He brought up an interesting point about world culture and that a Euro-centric attitude will be untenable. He understood that such a transition will be an intellectual ordeal. He has proven correct in that assessment, as there is no common intellectual consensus in our time. The battle for spiritual dominance is intense and bitter. I don’t imagine there is a real possibility today for narrow identitarian movements.
End of Naturalism
Up until recently (i.e., 400 years ago), the most intelligent men were religious. Of course, as they controlled the university system, only like-minded men could be educated. The reverse is true today. Gradually, intelligent men, for various reasons, began to rely on naturalism as a philosophy and science as the only source of knowledge. Darwinism answered the final question about the origin of man, so, since then, no other view can even be considered. In social matters, an ideology derived from Marx and John Stuart Mill served as a rational support.
However, in recent times, the claims and aims of naturalism have become untenable to the most thoughtful philosophers … I mean, of course, secular philosophers. Edward Feser has been at the forefront of documenting the slow change of attitude. He is, I should point out, an adherent of the Aristotelian-Catholic tradition that Guenon mentioned. I don’t see the new anti-naturalists rushing to his side, but if naturalism is not true, then something else is. At least if they don’t want to revert to nihilism. However, that A-C tradition cannot remain static; someone must perform the task that Maritain mentioned. Specifically, that tradition needs to absorb elements from the East. Most importantly, it needs to become a full spiritual path, and not merely an intellectual curiosity suited primarily for professorial debates.
The Outside Contender
I should mention here that there is an outside contender for the heart and soul of the new European man. Its adherents are actively hostile to the Mediterranean A-C tradition. I don’t know whether to call it the Nordic tradition (because it really isn’t) or Ariosophy (understood in a very broad sense as the wisdom of the aryans). Its main influences are Nietzsche, Nordic mythology, Heidegger, and perhaps Miguel Serrano and Savitri Devi. It often borrows aspects of Theosophy. Alain de Benoist, on the Grece website, published his version of this spiritual vision, Europe’s Religion. It is quite eclectic and includes The Rhineland mystics. This contender still has some work to do.
There is unfinished business: the translation of monarchy, the afterlife of the soul, plus the conclusions on Berdyaev and Metternich. There is also Guido de Giorgio’s chapter on the worker caste.
I have been given some review copies of Evola’s books from Arktos Media. I want to give them a proper review rather than a hagiography. Just as a king, Evola tells us, wants free men as subjects rather than slaves, an intellectual wants to be understood and vacuous praise adds nothing to the body of knowledge. We hope the reviews will be taken in that spirit, as we usually get a rash of facebook “unlikes” instead.
I was planning this month to update the mailing list to be two-way. That will cost around $25 for the developer to do it, saving me hours of time. I’ve also mentioned to some the possibility of group discussions on Skype. However, as we now know for a fact, there is absolutely no possibility of privacy using those methods.
If there is any interest in meeting personally, let me know and perhaps a group meeting would be possible. A few years ago, I looked into a nice place in Sicily that would have slept eight, but the financial collapse in the USA depleted the funds reserved for that. I would also consider a one-on-one meeting, which I have done in the past, but I would have to know you well first.