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René Guénon's Introduction to the Study of Hindu Doctrines can serve as an introduction to all his later works-especially those which, like Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta, The Symbolism of the Cross, The Multiple States of the Being, and Studies in Hinduism, expound the more profound aspects of metaphysical doctrines in greater detail. In Part I Guenon clears away certain ingrained prejudices inherited from the 'Renaissance', with its adulation of the Greco-Roman culture and its compensating depreciation-both deliberate and instinctive-of other civilizations. In Part II he establishes the fundamental distinctions between various modes of thought and brings out the real nature of metaphysical or universal knowledge-an understanding of which is the first condition for the personal realization of that 'Knowledge' which partakes of the Absolute. Words like 'religion', 'philosophy', 'symbolism', 'mysticism', and 'superstition', are here given a precise meaning. Part III presents a more detailed examination of the Hindu doctrine and its applications at different levels, leading up to the Vedanta, which constitutes its metaphysical essence. Lastly, Part IV resumes the task of clearing away current misconceptions, but is this time concerned not with the West itself, but with distortions of the Hindu doctrines that have arisen as a result of attempts to read into them, or to graft onto them, modern Western conceptions. The concluding chapter lays down the essential conditions for any genuine understanding between East and West, which can only come through the work of those who have attained, at least in some degree, to the realization of 'wisdom uncreate'-that intellective, suprarational knowledge called in the East jñana, and in the West gnosis.
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Author Bio: René Guénon (1886–1951) was one of the great luminaries of the twentieth century, whose critique of the modern world has stood fast against the shifting sands of intellectual fashion. His extensive writings, now finally available in English, are a providential treasure-trove for the modern seeker: while pointing ceaselessly to the perennial wisdom found in past cultures ranging from the Shamanistic to the Indian and Chinese, the Hellenic and Judaic, the Christian and Islamic, and including also Alchemy, Hermeticism, and other esoteric currents, they direct the reader also to the deepest level of religious praxis, emphasizing the need for affiliation with a revealed tradition even while acknowledging the final identity of all spiritual paths as they approach the summit of spiritual realization. René Guénon, of whom Jacob Needleman wrote in The Sword of Gnosis that ‘no other modern writer has so effectively communicated the absoluteness of truth,’ is gradually being recognized by deeper thinkers as one of the few who have truly penetrated the seductive veil of the modern age. As an expositor of pure metaphysics and its application to the science of symbols, Guénon is without peer; and his extraordinarily prescient critique of the modern world is attracting more and more attention among cultural commentators. Little known in the English-speaking world till the recent appearance of his Collected Works in translation, Guénon has nevertheless long been recognized as a veritable criterion of truth by a vanguard of remarkable writers who evince that rare combination: intellectuality and spirituality. After a lonely childhood, often interrupted by ill health, Guénon navigated the seductive half-truths of occultism toward a deeper, unified vision offering a way out from the confusion and fragmentation of our time. Regarded by leading scholars as the first truly authentic interpreter of many Eastern doctrines in the West, Guénon never tired, in face of the seemingly inexorable process of dissolution in the twentieth century, of pointing to the transcendent unity of all religious faiths and the abiding Truth that contains them all.Language Notes:
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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