Friday, August 19, 2011

The Perennial Religion

The Perennial Religion
by Scott Bradley

For some time I have wondered about Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy and even took a Wikipedia gander at it once. I don't remember what it said, but I do remember that it said enough to dissuade me from any further interest. But now a copy has come my way and I have determined to read it.

Having now read the introduction, I have discovered that whatever way I follow, it is not, by Huxley's definition, within the parameters of the Perennial Philosophy. You have been warned.

"The Perennial Philosophy", Huxley writes, "is primarily concerned with the one divine Reality....But the nature of this divine Reality is such that it cannot be directly and immediately apprehended except by those who have chosen to fulfill certain conditions, making themselves loving, pure in heart, and poor in spirit."

As you will know if you have been reading here long, I advocate a way which declares there are absolutely no conditions to meet. And for me, the essence of religion, as opposed to philosophy, is just this insistence that conditions be met. What those conditions may be, is of no consequence.

Not to belabor the point, but to further demonstrate Huxley's position, I will offer another brief quote: "But in every age there have been some men and women who chose to fulfill the conditions upon which alone, as a matter of brute empirical fact, such immediate knowledge can be had."

One other thing I think worth noting is that Huxley specifically states that he has not drawn upon the Bible to demonstrate his thesis of a Christian participation in this philosophy, but upon those Christians who in effect deviated from orthodox belief. He does not say the same of the Koran, though he will likewise select writings from Muslims outside orthodox belief. The same applies to Judaism.

Within the context of their respective faiths, Meister Eckhart and Rumi were 'heretics' — they represent neither Christianity nor Islam. To the vast majority of Muslims, Sufism is a heresy. They have been eradicated in Saudi Arabia, nearly so in Iran, and suffer much persecution in Pakistan. My point is simply this: A couple of billion Jews, Christians and Muslims fail to meet the requirements of Huxley's so-called Perennial Philosophy, and that, it seems to me, is a significant oversight.

The Perennial Philosophy is, in effect, Huxley’s choice of beliefs as derived from religious mysticism, and is as exclusionary as it is inclusive. It is his Perennial Religion.

Alas, all this discussion of the nature of God! Let it be my hang-up, but it’s back on the shelf.

“Life is too short for metaphysics.” — Robert Aitkens (Roshi)

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.


  1. Aloha, with all due respect to the late Roshi, please note his name is Robert Aitkin (not Aitkins).

    (Copy editor attack of the week.)

  2. Lest the pot call the kettle black, I mean AITKEN.


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