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Aldous Huxley's "The Perennial Philosophy"

Comparative Religion

Welcome to Age-of-the-Sage where we present many of the most awesomely profound spiritual insights quotations known to man.

We have engaged in comparative religion studies which led to our identification of key selections of spiritual insights quotations and quotes drawn from the texts of several major World Religions.
These extensive studies were largely inspired by Aldous Huxley's "The Perennial Philosphy" where some Common Ground between ~ the inner-most spiritual teachings of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Judaism ~ was considered.

Aldous Huxley's Introduction to The Perennial Philosophy includes this section:-
"Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditionary lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions. A version of this Highest Common Factor in all preceding and subsequent theologies was first committed to writing more than twenty-five centuries ago, and since that time the inexhaustible theme has been treated again and again, from the standpoint of every religious tradition and in all the principal languages of Asia and Europe."
At the time of becoming the author of The Perennial Philosophy Aldous Huxley was living in California and became deeply interested, partly through the influence of his friends Gerald Heard and Christopher Isherwood, in religious mysticism.
Heard and Isherwood, moreso than Aldous Huxley, became involved with the Vedanta Society of Southern California as had been established by an, originally Indian, holy man in 1930.
[The faith known in the west as Hinduism is more usually refered to as Vedanta in the Indian sub-continent].

Christopher Isherwood co-operated with that Indian holy man, Swami Prabhavananda, in the preparation of an English-language translation of a principal holy book of the Hindu-Vedic faith - the Bhagavad-Gita.

This translation was first published in 1944. Aldous Huxley had agreed to prepare an Introduction to this translation.
Aldous Huxley's introductory piece includes the following:-

... The Bhagavad-Gita occupies an intermediate position between scripture and theology; for it combines the poetical qualities of the first with the clear-cut methodicalness of the second. The book may be described, writes Ananda K. Coomaraswamy in his admirable Hinduism and Buddhism, "as a compendium of the whole Vedic doctrine to be found in the earlier Vedas, Brahmanas and Upanishads, and being therefore the basis of all the later developments, it can be regarded as the focus of all Indian religion" - is also one of the clearest and most comprehensive summaries of the Perennial Philosophy ever to have been made. Hence its enduring value, not only for Indians, but for all mankind.

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

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.

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.

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

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The fly-leaf to the first (1946) UK edition of The Perennial Philosophy begins:-

Beneath the revelations of all the great world religions, the teaching of the wise and holy of all faiths and the mystical experiences of every race and age, there lies a basic unity of belief which is the closest approximation man can attain to truth and ultimate reality.
The Perennial Philosophy is an attempt to present this Highest Common Factor of all theologies by assembling passages from the writings of those saints and prophets who have approached a direct spiritual knowledge of the Divine, and who have recorded not only the method of that approach but also the clarity of soul they derived from it

In The Perennial Philosophy Aldous Huxley accepted the proposition, deriving from Leibniz, a notably eminent scholar who was an early investigator into the Common Ground shared by The World Religions, that Religions concern themselves

"with the one, divine Reality"

and that

"the nature of this one Reality is such that it cannot be directly or immediately apprehended except by those who have chosen to fulfill certain conditions, making themselves loving, pure in heart, and poor in spirit."

The results of our own investigation into comparative religion and The Perennial Philosophy were such as to lead us to also accept that "the one, divine Reality" is better discerned by those spiritually endowed with Charity, Purity of Heart and Humility. However, we came to believe Meekness to be another spiritual endowment which may well tend to contribute towards heightened powers of discernment.

This suggestion that Meekness is of immense spiritual value may not surprise.
More unexpectedly, perhaps, the outcomes of our own comparative religion studies were such as to suggest that it is appropriate to fully associate A Disdain for Materialism (compared to the Spiritual), A Distrust of the Intellect (compared to Divine Inspiration), and A Yearning for Divine Edification (or A Thirst for Enlightenment), with the centralities of The Perennial Philosophy.

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The following linked pages are intended to more fully demonstrate a degree of Common Ground between the Inner-most Spiritual Teachings of several major World Religions on Charity, Purity of Heart, Humility, Meekness, A Disdain for Materialism (compared to the Spiritual), A Distrust of the Intellect (compared to Divine Inspiration) and A Yearning for Divine Edification (or A Thirst for Spiritual Enlightenment).
These quotations are presented on a series of very brief pages where each faith is considered individually.
We have seen it as worthwhile to add another category of quotation ~ where recognition has been given "by the wise and holy of several faiths" to the possibility of Mystical Communion with God ~ as this addition may rather directly tend the range of agreement from Comparative Religion studies about "Core Spiritual Truths" already demonstrated towards actually becoming real evidence, to the point of constituting something of a Proof of the Existence of God, that is to say of the existence of "Spiritually Discernible" aspects to the one God or Spirit which is central to Mystical Faith.




Christian Spirituality Quotations




We have already put "on the record" our hope, and expectation, that it will be possible to see our contribution to the Faith vs Reason debate as being consistent with such Sermons and Parables of Jesus as The Sermon on the Mount and The Parable of the Sower.
We nevertheless have great respect for the Spiritualities that exist at the cores of the Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Sikh, Taoist and Vedic-Hindu faiths and have laid out the above table of links in a manner consistent with our aspiration towards promoting a mutually respectful co-existence of The Great Faiths of the World.

Central poetry insights ~ Secular but comparable in depth and content!!!
Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Cowper and Dryden ~ need we say more?

A representative collection of the Spiritual and Poetic wisdoms
recently presented is available to download from this page

This evidence from Comparative Religion studies of Common Ground in the core spiritual teachings of several World Faiths tells us something about the Gods, (or Spirits), that they each revere being, at least, quite similar and ~ at most ~ Identical.

It also puts this quotation from Richard Dawkins into a different perspective:-
"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."
Richard Dawkins ~ The God Delusion