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At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines.

1) First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness--the world of things and animals and men and even gods--is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.

2) Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.

3) Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.

4) Fourth: man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.

Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy

In Alexander McCall Smith's novel, The Number One Ladies Detective, a little girl goes to a Christian mission school in Botswana, where she learns, among other things, the Sermon on the Mount and the doctrine of  the Virgin Birth.  Later in life she remembers that the Sermon on the Mount instantly made absolute good sense to her.  The Virgin Birth?  Not so much. I have met many conservative Christians who insist that the Virgin Birth of Jesus must be taken literally, but the Sermon on the Mount cmnnot be taken literally.  How do i know that fictional little girl was correct and all those "real" Christians were wrong?
I know it the same way the little girl did, i know it intuitively.  I know that it simply could not be otherwise  I don't know how or why i know it, but i know it.

Huxley's summary of his 1945 book, which appears as an introduction to a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, is by far my favorite treatment of the perennial philosophy it is also totally inadequate.  Knowlege of this philosophy exists in the heart and could never be expressed by an invented language.  Thus the connection between the perennial philosophy, mysticism, and the via negativa. The concept of the perennial philosophy is a Western construction, and a culturally limited description could not encompass a human truth.  The criticisms of us folks who insist on talking about the P.P. are valid; we do rank religions, we do tend to slight the training and discipline that pave the specific mystical paths; we do tend to dismiss the wisdem of simpler peoples as "pre-transpersonal"  We who write about the perennial philosophy write and write until we get it worng.

When i encountered the perennial philosophy, probably in the late 1960s, i had no idea of its relevnce for me.  I used it in my classes, but not in my life.  But later, when i encountered Taoist wisdom, i was able to recognize it as universal wisdom.  And still later when i encountered Al-Anon, i was able to see it as Taoism "in other words."*

* Later yet, when i read 12 Steps on Buddha's Path: Bill, Buddha, and We, i kept asking myself,"what do the 12 steps have that the 8 fold doesn't?"  "What does Buddhism have that Al-Anon doesn't?"  I came up almost blank every time.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 26th, 2015 04:24 pm (UTC)
Just checking in, since you haven't posted in five days-- hoping all's well.
Sep. 28th, 2015 07:17 pm (UTC)
My computer has been down for nearly two weeks. Otherwise things are going o.k, no worse, not much better
Sep. 28th, 2015 11:15 pm (UTC)
Ah, thank you-- I'm so glad things aren't worse, though sorry they aren't better.
Sep. 27th, 2015 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thinking of you.
Sep. 28th, 2015 07:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I am back online.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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