1. After his own self-importance the most intense obsession Ouspensky had was the notion of recurrence, “eternal recurrence” as he termed the repetition of life in the selfsame space-time frame. This means in practice that one is reborn in the same period, the same environment with the same parents and the same life.
Ouspensky turned this possibility into a universal almost law – which may appear most feasible on paper and logical and correct with diagrams of waves becoming circles that revolve on the same spot about their own immovable centre.
But it is only one of four possibilities. However, Ouspensky passed it onto his close students so that in that final period of his life in the Last Remembrances of a Magician the writer(s) interpret most of Ouspensky’s behaviour as preparation for recurrence!
2. The writer(s) of Last Remembrances of a Magician thought that Ouspensky’s return to England in 1947 was connected to recurrence. It might well be: “to renew memories or to prepare for work to begin there earlier than in this life” (p16). Ouspensky himself is not shown to make any clear statements about this. Before leaving America he had written to Lyne that he was coming to see certain people “whom he would choose” (p21).
Another obsession passed onto the closest students was “to have an aim”. This is clearly and strongly expressed on p15 in Ouspensky’s words “Ask yourself always what you want” or on p25 in “the true formulation of one’s aim”. It was CS (p25, too) that suddenly saw in his mind “the exact formulation of his own aim”. It would be too tedious to go through all the instances when, according to the writers, Ouspensky was “reconstructing his own early life in Russia and accumulating all the factual knowledge… to orientate himself with it next time”, always according to the writers – pp 19,22,26 etc.
3. I do not have chapters 9, 10 and 11, have not read them and therefore do not know their contents. But in chapter 12 (p4) we are told that Ouspensky, having lost all ability to look after and support himself , had been reduced to helplessness and to infantile speech: it was as though “he was intentionally acting the part of a baby, learning how to live as the baby he soon expected to be… In a sense, recurrence had already begun for him”.
I think infantile and preposterous is this interpretation of Ouspensky’s senility and helplessness. The writers’ reason must have gone on a very long and distant journey.
They are so arrogant to think they know how recurrence manifests and that Ouspensky was in his terrible collapse acting as if in recurrence! How could anyone of them know anything about this phenomenon?
4. Recurrence is, of course, quite possible possibly for a very large number of people. But it must be only one possibility out of four. Even reincarnation is only a theory held by the ancient Celts, Platonists, Pythagoreans and Orphics and in Buddhism and the Vedic Tradition.
The soul, or whatever element of man reincarnates, may repeat a cycle of life in very similar but not exactly the same circumstances, depending on changes in the wider environment. Man’s desires, actions and knowledge is only one factor. The environment is a second factor and it may undergo changes – in the community, the nations round it, the earth and its condition, the planets and other celestial bodies. There may be a war, a destructive earthquake, the birth or death of a sun nearby. Surely such events would influence conditions in rebirth.
But there is also the Will of the Absolute as the final arbiter and this may decide to send the soul forward or backward in linear time according to its deeds and real knowledge.
5. So what Ouspensky laboured to achieve would not count for much – if indeed he was preparing for recurrence.
He travelled round in the country side of South England where he had lived or visited in the 1920’s and 1930’s. All this would hardly influence his earlier life for he was by 1923 45 years old!
He looked at pictures of Moscow and Petersburg and the countries he visited in the East and all this was mixed with dim and confused reminiscences, imaginings and fantasies involving his grandmother and people from the time of Peter the Great!
As for acting the baby, as the writers think, surely all babies behave alike guided by Nature itself expressing the Will of the Absolute and having no need to prepare before death in the previous life.
The writers are again lost in the realm of the fantastic.