Le Besoin d’Impossible

The first book published by Marie Cachet, Le Besoin d’Impossible, is a multiform work in its implications, but despite this it can be defined as a whole as a purely philosophical work. In this article I will not write a typical review, I plan instead to outline and expose the issues that have mostly caught my attention – to put it in the most modest way – during the study of the book (yes, it requires to be studied and not merely read…).

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Let’s start from an assumption that, although treated and deepened by the author in another context, is essential for a thorough understanding of the work that concerns us now: the modern European man – biologically speaking – is a slightly hybridized Neanderthal man (actually, every modern human being is a more or less hybridized creature, but since I am a European I will refer, when necessary, only to the European species). However, what has this to do with questions of philosophical nature? According to Marie Cachet one of the consequences of this hybridization, even after its stabilization, was the birth of a metaphysical vertigo/despair, a disharmony of the mind (here is to be found, perhaps, the cause of the birth of consciousness?) which manifested itself simultaneously with the dramatic shift to a temporal (and thus finite) perception of the Universe. A real “fall” that took us away from the possibility of fathom and living the concepts of eternity (intended as the atemporal point that we call instant) and infinity (intended as spatial infinity).

At that point, however, our ancestors (as well as us today) tried instinctively, unconsciously and obsessively to compensate this metaphysical despair and not get overwhelmed by the “terror of time”: an explosion of human dynamism, individual and collective, led progressively to the birth and development of civilizations, arts, sciences, spirituality, religions and philosophies, all attempts to recreate the lost harmony of the mind and extend one’s personality beyond the boundaries of the biological duration of the existence, in an attempt to forge a sort of simulated eternity (the need for the impossible, as suggested by the title of the book).

Examples of materialization of the collective genetic memory of a people, in an attempt to be remembered in time:
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Examples of materialization of the genetic memory of an individual, the sculptor, in an attempt to be remembered in time:
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Therefore, according to Marie Cachet, every external creation as well as all forms of teaching are the manifestation of a deep necessity of the human beings, namely the selfish need to go beyond the yoke of time, beyond the finitude, so as to preserve themselves in time, through other people, symbolic containers of our self, potential reincarnations of our self. Artistic creations and teachings are therefore a means to conquer eternity and to defeat the illusion of a finite time. We project our self in the future, through a real or imaginary reincarnation (see the prehistoric ritual of reincarnation described in detail by Madame Cachet in another context), which in turn will transmit in the future the essence of our self, in an eventual endless chain.

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An essential distinction that emerges during the reading is that between the individuals conscious of their metaphysical despair (active and subjective individuals) and the vast majority of those who are not aware of it (passive and objective individuals) and unconsciously suffer the consequences of this disharmony. The religions (especially the organized religions) and the spiritualities that give us dogmatic and established metaphysical responses, the daily repetitiveness, the social conventions and all the entertainment we create in our societies are, although we do not realize it, tools that distract us and allow us to flee from the metaphysical anguish inherent in us, from the sacred terror that we experience in front of the mystery of the universe and of life. Only by getting rid of all this – especially of what gives us metaphysical answers – and through boredom, certain men will fall into the metaphysical despair and will find their authentic self (through the manifestation of the memories of our previous lives, engraved and latent in our blood), their true essence, undergoing a sort of “awakening”: achieved this superior spiritual and mental state, a deep impulse will force them to find their subjective responses to the fundamental dilemmas of the world and of life.

What about you? You dare to look face to face the metaphysical abyss?

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As I have previously explained, these are just some of the issues discussed in this book (a unique work of its kind), the ones that most involved me: ultimately, I urge you to read it and give shape to your personal opinion.

The Book of Coming Forth by Day

The Book of the Dead is an Egyptian funerary text, consisting in a numerous series of chapters intended to reveal the initatory process through which a deceased person could come back to life.

The Weighing of the Heart:
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In this context, I will try to interpret some brief quotes that have caught my attention.

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“I am the Today.
I am the Yesterday.
I am the Tomorrow.
Through my numerous Births
I subsist young and vigorous”.

-Chapter LXIV

Through his numerous rebirths the honourable dead has lived in the past, is living in the present and will live in the future, returning periodically to be young and strong.

“He aspires to eternal life
As it is the Sky, without end and without limits.
Because, in truth, to the Sky belongs your Soul,
But the Earth possesses its bodily form”.

-Chapter CLXIII

The honourable dead aspires to live for all eternity, through endless rebirths. The soul (i.e. the spirit) is associated with the Sky since they are both eternal and immutable entities, while the body is associated with the Earth since they are both temporary and mutable entities.

“May my Soul dwell in my Body,
My Body unite with my Soul!”.

-Chapter CLXIII

The deceased aspires to rebirth (i.e. reincarnation), that takes place necessarily through the reconciliation of the soul (i.e. the spirit) with the body.

“Know this, your head will be saved!
It will not be kidnapped from you, for all eternity!”.

-Chapter CLXVI

For our ancestors the head was the emblem of the mind and memory, and therefore of the identity of a person. The skull of the deceased had an essential role during the initiatory ritual of rebirth (i.e. reincarnation) and the text assures to the deceased that his head will be preserved and that his identity will belong to him by means of future incarnations.

“In truth, you are the same Horus
shining in the center of your Cosmic Egg”.

-Chapter CLXX

Horus is the child that attempts to fulfill the rebirth/reincarnation ritual, the descendant of the noble ancestor inside the grave: they are the same person. The deceased inside the burial mound is like a fetus inside the womb: both are waiting to be born from their cosmic egg.

The cosmic egg wrapped by a snake symbolizes the womb during pregnancy and the umbilical cord:
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“Horus himself puts you erect
Like many times has already done, with the sanctified”.

-Chapter CLXX

The child puts in the upright position (a prerogative of those who are alive) the skeleton/mummy of the deceased, like many times his previous incarnations have done in the past. The vertical position is synonymous with life and return to life.

“Behold, I arise from the Bowels of the Universe,
And for the second time I come to the world…
I return little child, without father, a new-born…
Nobody can stop me, when the time will come,
From answering to the questions that I will be asked…”.

-Chapter CLXX

The deceased in the grave is reborn, in the body of his young descendant who has completed the initiatory ritual of reincarnation. The noble ancestor is back in the world of the living and he will be able to answer to all the questions concerning his previous existence.

“Your navel is the Reign of the Dead.
Where Light and Darkness are balanced”.

-Chapter CLXXII

The concept of “navel” (as well as the “navel of the earth/world”, the “center of the earth/world”, the “center of the cosmos” or the “cosmic mountain”) symbolized the realm of the dead, namely the burial mound. Life and death are in equilibrium inside the grave, the deceased is not alive but not even quite dead: he is in an intermediate state between these two, awaiting for his rebirth.

“In truth, at the moment when I was born in the world of the Afterlife,
Was born a new deity: and it was me!
Now, with my own eyes, I can see…
I look around me; I exist.
My vision is clear and piercing.
Erect, I resume the broken thread of my existence…”.

-Chapter CLXXIV

The deceased is reborn as a deity, inside the burial mound. He returns to see with his own eyes and becomes aware of his renewed existence. Alive again, he takes up the thread of his existence, interrupted only by a temporary death.

“The Yesterday has generated me.
Behold, Today
I create the Tomorrow”.

-Chapter CLXXIX

He who becomes aware of his own cycle of rebirths owns the past, the present and the future!

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Bhagavadgita (Part 1 of 2)

The Bhagavadgītā is a Hindu sacred text, part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. It consists of a dialogue between the Pandava prince Arjuna, a hero son of the god Indra, and his charioteer and guide Krishna, an incarnation of the divine principle.

War between Pandavas and Kauravas is imminent and the dialogue takes place in the centre of the battlefield, right before the beginning of the Kuruksetra’s battle: Arjuna is confused and torn by moral dilemmas after noticing that among the enemy’s army there are his relatives, teachers and friends. Arjuna seeks advice from Krishna, which reminds him his duties as a kshatriya (i.e. a warrior) through the exposition of philosophical and religious concepts.

Krishna assists Arjuna:
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In this first part I quote verses that expose mainly the doctrine concerning the immortality of the spirit, but also concepts in relation with Stoicism and the thught of Parmenides.

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 First Chant:

12.”In truth, there has never been a time when I was not, nor you, nor these leaders of peoples; and, in the future, it will not come that in which we will not be”.

13.”The soul incarnated in the body experiments childhood, youth and the old age; then it takes another body. The man that knows this doesn’t suffer [any] bewilderment”.

Verses 12./13. begin to expose the doctrine concerning the immortality of the individual spirit and its eternal rebirth through the piṭryāna (“way of the fathers”).

14.”Son of Kunti, the impressions of the senses [born] from contact with material things produces hot and cold, pain and pleasure, they come and go and are impermanent. Endure them, Bhārata”.

Krishna calls Arjuna with many epithets in the Bhagavadgītā: Bhārata, Mahabahu, Pārtha, Kaunteya and Paramtāpa in the verses that I quoted here.

15.”Best of men, one who from them [impressions] is not disturbed, [that remains] equanimous and firm in pleasure and pain is worthy of immortality”.

Verses 14./15. express a concept that we find in Stoicism: men must understand that the things that doesn’t depend on us (like the sensations of hot and cold, pain and pleasure) must be endured firmly/indifferently, without being disturbed or fascinated by them.

16.”What doesn’t exist can’t come into being, from the being there is no cessation of existence. This ultimate truth has been unveiled by those who have seen the essence of things”.

This verse expresses a knowledge identical to that of Parmenides: nothing is created from nothing and nothing can be destroyed into nothing.

18.”These bodies of the eternal ātman, indestructible, immeasurable, are called perishable. Fight, then, Bhārata”.

The ātman is the intimate essence of every being, the principle of life (i.e. the individual spirit).

19.”The one who believes to be killed and the one who thinks of killing are both in error. That one [the ātman] can’t kill nor be killed”.

20.”It is never born and never dies. Having always been, it can’t cease to be. Unborn, permanent, imperishable, ancient, it is not even killed when the body is killed”.

22.”Like a man deposing the old clothes takes new ones, so the embodied soul (dehi) deposes the worn-out bodies and enters in other new”.

23.”The weapons doesn’t pierce [the ātman], nor fire burns it, nor is bathed by waters, nor wind withers it”.

26.”If you believe that it is born and dies continuously, likewise, Mahabahu, you must not grieve,”

27.”because, in truth, sure is death for he that is born and certain is rebirth for he that is dead. Therefore, for an inescapable fact, you should not feel pity”.

Verses 19./20./22./23./26./27. continue to expose the doctrine concerning the immortality of the individual spirit and its eternal rebirth, in very explicit terms.

38.”Equally fair-minded in pleasure and pain, in gain and loss, in victory and defeat, therefore get ready to fight; in this way you will not be able to commit error”.

55.”When, Pārtha, a man eradicates from his mind all desires and finds his satisfaction in the ātman and for the ātman, he is said to have a stable intelligence”.

57.”The one who has given up all attachment, that is not flattered by praise nor offended by reprimand: that person owns a stable intelligence”.

Verses 38./55./57. continue to praise the man who treats the things that doesn’t depend on him as they must be treated: in a detached way and without subjective reactions.

Second chant:

34.”Attraction and repulsion for the objects are inherent to the corresponding sense: nobody should submit to these two for they represent the two enemies”.

39.”Knowledge is [so] wrapped by this constant enemy, Kaunteya, insatiable fire that takes the form of desire”.

Verses 34./39. express an explicit critique of materialism, seen as opposed to the pursuit of knowledge.

Fourth chant:

5.”Numerous are my past lives and yours too, Arjuna. Just that I know them all, while you don’t know them, Paramtāpa”.

Also this verse refer to the eternal rebirth of the individual spirit.

Sixth chant:

40.”Pārtha, nor in this nor in the other world such a man is lost, because there is no author of beautiful and good deeds that incurs in a bad destiny”.

The content of this verse can be compared to that expressed by this maxim: “there is no death for the honourable, only an eternal rebirth”.

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Part 2: Bhagavadgita (Part 2 of 2)