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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Brad ReynoldsBrad Reynolds did graduate work at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) before leaving to study under Ken Wilber for a decade, and published two books reviewing Wilber's work: Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber (Tarcher, 2004), Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's Integral Vision in the New Millennium (Paragon House, 2006) and God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom: Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age (Bright Alliance, 2021). Visit: http://integralartandstudies.com/Portfolio3.php

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The Perennial Philosophy: Universal Wisdom

God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom
Chapter 7

Brad Reynolds

More than twenty-five centuries have passed since that which has been called the Perennial Philosophy was first committed to writing; and in the course of those centuries it has found expression, now partial, now complete, now in this form, now in that, again and again…. The Perennial Philosophy has spoken almost all the languages of Asia and Europe and has made use of the terminology and traditions of every one of the higher religions. — Aldous Huxley, 1944

P erhaps one of the more fortuitous discoveries brought forth in the 20th century by academics or modern scholarship based in archeology, history, and comparative religions is the affirmation that there is indeed a “Perennial Philosophy” or universal teaching of Wisdom that cuts across all cultural boundaries regardless of the century or country we've been born into. I believe this discovery may end up being even more important than many of the discoveries of modern science and the incredible inventions of technology. This is because its Wisdom gives us an opportunity to heal the ills of the modern mind corrupted by the destructive power of scientific materialism, unchecked capitalism and corrupt communism, as well as nationalism and various forms of cultism. The notion of a perennial or reoccurring philosophy suggests the existence of a universal set of human truths and values, an idea postmodern philosophers view with skepticism, suspicion, and doubt. Yet, this does not diminish its vital importance for the future of the human race.

Integral philosopher Ken Wilber emphasizes that not only do mystics and religious people recognize these universal truths, but scientists do too, at least some share in this perennial spiritual worldview. Wilber points out that the Perennial Philosophy has, therefore, “formed the core not only of the world's great wisdom traditions, from Christianity to Buddhism to Taoism, but also of many of the greatest philosophers, scientists, and psychologists of both East and West, North and South.”[1] This includes many world-famous physicists such as Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Jeans, Eddington, and others, as Wilber explains in one of his books reviewing their writings, Quantum Questions (1984).[2] The list of scholars and researchers who claim the validity of a universal cross-cultural “perennial philosophy” is endless and growing.

Nevertheless, this perennialism also has its critics, especially among postmodernists, who claim every view is culturally conditioned.[3] They doubt the authenticity of any type of universalism because for them all religions have different teachings and beliefs. Known as constructivism, one scholar sums up this postmodern position:

The view opposite to perennialism is constructivism, which argues that culture and assumptions shape mystical experience to such a degree that Buddhist and Christian mystics do not actually encounter the same reality. Some constructivists (hard constructivists) deny that a common substrate of mystical experience even exists. They argue that experience is entirely shaped by culture and assumptions.[4]

While there is some truth to this postmodern observation that culture does influence our interpretation of religio-spiritual experiences since we all process information and experiences through language and culture, the trans-verbal and trans-personal mystical experiences themselves transcend (or go beyond) the limits of personal interpretation. Wilber concurs: “Radical truth can be shown (in contemplative awareness) but never exhaustively said (in discursive language).”[5] This transcendence of point of view is what makes them “mystical” or transpersonal experiences in the first place. In any case, there are volumes of sacred texts offering convincing testimony to the validity of the perennialists' cross-cultural claims. This is because, as Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr (b. 1933) explains, “The unity of religions is to be found first and foremost in this Absolute which is at once Truth and Reality and the origin of all revelations and of all truth.”[6] Such insight, however, can only be revealed when spiritual practices (sadhana) are authentically engaged because it's only with direct experience that someone can adequately judge its truth and veracity.

The insights of wisdom are not gained by reading books or thinking and talking about what it is to be mystical, as the “Talking School” of scholars often do. It is only by engaging in the “Practicing School” of spiritual life and daily meditation are these perennial truths uncovered. This is another reason why intellectual models that delineate the higher transpersonal stages of mysticism become necessary tools because all mystical experiences (or samadhi states) are not the same; in fact, very few are the ultimate state of Divine Enlightenment.[7]

Today's Integral Philosophy, for the most part, embraces the basic themes of this universal spirituality as being valid and real although with provisos (hence, for example, Ken Wilber's critique based on an “integral post-metaphysics”). Nevertheless, the evidence is overwhelming (and liberating) that today's diverse global community of human beings are deeply interconnected to our wisest ancestors via a shared philosophy grounded in our common (and inherited) human psyche. Indeed, the idea of a Perennial Philosophy has usually appeared whenever there has been a cultural setting of tolerance allowing divergent spiritual practitioners to congregate and interact with the free exercise of mind and spirit, such as in ancient Alexandria in Egypt, or today, for instance, in California and elsewhere in the free world (such as in Europe and India). In essence, spiritually-oriented people discover they are talking about the same “thing” when considering what is “God” or “Truth” or “Ultimate Reality” and what is Life really about.

The “Perennial Philosophy”—known in Latin as Philosophia Perennis—is a term that has been around at least since the Renaissance. This is when the cross-cultural translations of various ancient philosophical and mystical texts were first undertaken by the Medici Italians in Florence. They had retrieved long-lost Western texts from Muslim scholars who had protected them for centuries from the persecutions (and burnings) of the Roman Catholic Church. The general thesis is that underneath the wide variety of surface structures, or cultural incarnations of the world's religious and mystical paths, there are deep structures or universal truths that each system or religious path shares in common. This is because these “structures” or “state-stages” of human potential are encoded in the psyche and “esoteric anatomy” of each human being, our shared humanity that's grounded in our inherited biological body-mind.

This universal “Wisdom of the Ages” has been recognized in various cosmopolitan centers since ancient times where scholars or scribes and spiritual practitioners could gather in relative peace. These include the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt (2nd c. BCE–2nd c. CE), or the Persian Academy of Gondishapur in Iran (5th–7th c. CE), an important medical center of the ancient world, or the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, Iraq during the Islamic Golden Age (7th–12th c. CE), or at Córdoba and Toledo in Spain (10th–12th c. CE), or the esteemed Buddhist university at Nalanda in northern India (5th–12th c. CE), among other cross-cultural centers.[8] Once someone is exposed to different religious traditions and their practitioners, then it's easy to recognize there are common themes to human spirituality and wisdom. This includes the universal recognition of One Reality or Divine Spirit, the Ground of Being that is the transcendent Source and immanent Condition of the entire universe or Kosmos.

This Divine Godhead is paradoxically the “Ground” of Creation and the “Goal” of existence. Of course, cultural and historical variations give unique culturally-specific names to this ineffable (unnamable) Divine Reality, such as Tao, Brahman, Yahweh, Allah, God, Ein Sof, Aton, etc. True mysticism, however, transcends all rational signifiers and names, even the thinking mind itself. As Lao Tzu (from China), meaning “Old Sage,” long ago said in the opening verses to one of the world's oldest and wisest books, the Tao Te Ching: “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth.” Words fail to transmit the Truth; the Truth can only be realized, not published. These deeper truths are what the Perennial Philosophy points to.

In fact, scholar-practitioners today emphasize that the Perennial Philosophy is not as uniform as some may profess because there is a spectrum of religious and mystical development—from psychic to subtle to causal to nondual states—not one homogeneous soup of soul and spirit everyone agrees on. In other words, not all paths make it to the same mountaintop. Yet, when this diverse variation is taken into account and seen from a large enough (or evolved enough) perspective, there are certain universal themes or deep structures running throughout all religious-mystical experiences that warrant them being identified as “perennial” or “ever-repeating,” occurring year after year, century after century, culture after culture, mind after mind.

The prior unity underlying or supporting the idea of a Perennial Philosophy is that we are all human beings sharing a common psyche and esoteric anatomy composed of various levels and states of awareness regardless of culture or race, time or space. Beyond that, perennial philosophers claim we are all God in essence existing as single part in One Eternal Divine Dance of Reality. The entire spectrum of consciousness and mystical states and stages (or “state-stages”), expressed in any religious language, is ultimately embraced in the nondual awareness of the Enlightened State of God-Consciousness. Such a Perennial Philosophy arises from human consciousness, ultimately living in the heart, not in ideas or books. The fundamental essence of our humanity, which is Divine, unites us with the entire Kosmos as well as with each other. Nothing short of that. This “highest common factor” of humankind unites everyone beneath the bewildering forms of diversity, ever-evolving historical change, endless cultural variation, and different state-stages of consciousness evolution.

Perennial Philosophy: Highest Common Factors

T

his universal commonality among all esoteric religions—called the “Highest Common Factor,” as one British pundit termed it—began to make its impression on modern scholars of comparative religions once the translation of sacred texts from India began in earnest during the 19th century, which then accelerated in the 20th century. Consequently, by the mid-20th century the novelist Aldous Huxley (1894-1962), famed British author of Brave New World (1932), published a book titled The Perennial Philosophy (1945) as World War II was ending. This best-selling academic book was Huxley's attempt to thwart any future worldwide conflicts by showing us the common unity of human wisdom and its shared “perennial philosophy.” Huxley pointed out in his introduction: “Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditional 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.”[9] From the most primordial to the most exalted there is a universal cross-cultural spirituality running through all of us. As usual, Ken Wilber states it as succinctly as possible:

So what are the details of this perennial philosophy? Very simple: the Great Nest of Being, culminating in One Taste—there, in a nutshell, is the perennial philosophy…. The core of the world's great wisdom traditions is a framework we ought to consult seriously and reverentially in our own attempts to understand the Kosmos. And at its heart is the experience of One Taste [of One God]—clear, obvious, unmistakable, unshakable.[10]

When scholars (or readers) are given access to the world's holy books, no matter when written or by whom, they soon discover a perennial, cross-cultural, esoteric philosophy emanating from these valued canons bequeathed to us from our wisest Adepts and Realizers whether East or West in origin. The same truth is revealed to us in the modern world too if we take the time to read and study the sacred scriptures of the Great Tradition of Global Wisdom and make suitable comparisons. This is how we may also verify the authenticity of our spiritual authorities and Gurus living today. There is a “Divine Library” of sacred wisdom now available for anyone to explore and purchase. Nevertheless, it's important to understand that these sanctified manuscripts are never fully (or accurately) understood without actually undertaking the practices and disciplines recommended by them. They are made even clearer when studying under the auspices of an actual Realizer or Guru-Adept.

Huxley's book, which re-ignited the concept of a “Perennial Philosophy” among modern spiritual thinkers after its publication, is a comparative anthology citing passages from a variety of historical texts, East and West, ancient and modern. He gracefully directs us through the maze of the world's most revered literature with quotes from both Oriental Eastern and Occidental Western sources showing the reader the common themes or general tenets making up this Perennial Philosophy. Huxley opened his treatise by defining the philosophia perennis as being “the metaphysics that recognizes a Divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, Divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being—the thing is immemorial and universal.”[11] Huxley provided a global vision of world unity grounded in spiritual truths which is why these insights appeal to millions across the generations now and into the future.

In his other writings on the Perennial Philosophy, the world-renowned novelist and scholar points out: “Happily there is the Highest Common Factor of all religions, the Perennial Philosophy which has always and everywhere been the metaphysical system of the Prophets, Saints, and Sages.”[12] Such a clear awareness of the underlying unity of religious ethics and spiritual thought is one of the great gifts of modern scholarship. In America, it reaches back to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and the Transcendentalists who began popularizing and publishing recently translated Hindu texts arriving from India.[13] By the late 19th century, Theosophy and leaders of the Theosophical Society, such as H. P. Blavatsky and Annie Besant, called this philosophy “Wisdom-Religion” and “Ancient Wisdom,” an idea that influenced thinkers in the East as well as the West. Hindu mystics, such as Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, preached about religious universalism as the orange-robed Swami made headlines around the globe after appearing at the World's Parliament of Religions at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, the first worldwide ecumenical gathering of its kind.

In the 20th century, the Perennial Philosophy's elucidation has been undertaken by actual spiritual practitioners, not just intellectuals, such as with Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Gerald Heard, René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Frithjof Schuon, Huston Smith, Lex Hixon, and many others now known as “perennialists” and “traditionalists.” Their ideas are supported by spiritual disciplines studied under qualified teachers and Masters, not just theories proposed by academics interested in old books. The perennial philosophy, in other words, is a living philosophy because it's more about Sophia (or Realization) than a mental philosophia.

Although Huxley famously cited Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) as the originator of the Latin term philosophia perennis (who did use the phrase in private letters), other scholars have pointed out that “the term was probably employed for the first time by Agostino Steuco (1497-1548), the Renaissance philosopher and theologian who… identified [it] with a perennial wisdom embracing both philosophy and theology and not related to just one school of wisdom or thought.”[14] Indeed, the discovery (or re-discovery) of a universal Perennial Philosophy during the 16th century helped inspire the European Renaissance, the rebirth of Western philosophy and thought that led to the emergence of science and the modern world. This awakening opened the doors to the Western Enlightenment or Age of Reason when science and rational thinking broke free from the restrictions of the dominate mythic-religious institution of the Christian Church.

The passion of the Western mind, by studying the sagacity of the East, and in rediscovering their own wisdom texts from Greece and Rome, realized there's more to mystical thought and experience than what was being taught by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim authorities. The discovery of a recurring Perennial Philosophy also helped these traditional Western religions rediscover their own esoteric teachings buried in their sacred scriptures as highlighted by their founding Adepts and Prophets. The Renaissance's discovery and modern affirmation of the “Lost Masters” of ancient Greece—our own “Western Gurus”[15]—has been an important breakthrough in mystical insight and universal wisdom for everyone to share and learn from.

The concept of a Perennial Philosophy was also propelled forward by the newly invented printing press (circa 1439 by Gutenberg) and the spread of book reading throughout Europe. It became part of Renaissance Platonism, a philosophical movement incorporating a philological concern with ancient texts. New translations were undertaken to broaden the scope of study during and after the Renaissance. For example, Plato's long-lost dialogues were translated afresh along with the works of Orpheus, Heraclitus, Hermes Trismegistus, the Pythagoreans, Plotinus, Proclus, Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite, and others. Importantly, Aristotle's lost teachings that emphasized the investigation of Nature by using the senses (not just metaphysical speculation), inspired many of the new emerging scientists even if they disagreed with him on other topics.[16]

These voluminous texts were held to be representative of what was called “pious philosophy” which became an alternative to biblical revelation thus freeing thinkers from the domination of the Catholic Church (even helping to initiate the Reformation). From this original formulation of a recognizable universal philosophy spanning centuries of history, many Renaissance philosophers, and later philosophers of the European Enlightenment, began to promote a global view about spiritual reality based on the Divine Oneness behind the multiplicity of forms. Importantly, they discovered that a direct personal realization of “The One,” an actual gnosis (or “Divine Knowledge”), is what speaks beyond the limited scope of provincial philosophies and inherited tribal-cultural patterns. This is as true today as it was back then (or at any time) or will be in the future. As we become a global culture, we have much to learn from the fundamental doctrines of our shared Perennial Philosophy.

These pandits of the Perennial Philosophy also rediscovered Egyptian and Persian texts as well as the wisdom teachings of ancient Greece, all of which recognized the unity of humankind in spirit and divine intuition. One of the most attractive translations was that of the Corpus Hermetica (that became an alternate Bible for Renaissance thinkers) because, as scholar Linda Johnsen explains: “The ancient Greeks were convinced the Corpus Hermetica were authentic transmissions of millennia-old Egyptian wisdom…. [However] modern scholars debate how much of the Hermetic writings are inspired by Egyptian doctrine, and how much represents what Greek speakers simply imagined the ancient Egyptian teachings must have been. In antiquity, however, there was no such confusion.”[17] For example, the sacred teachings from Hermes Trismegistus (the “thrice-born”) taught that it is only in discovering the “Divine Awareness” within oneself that peace of mind is finally found. A perennial message for all humankind, even today.

Fundamental Doctrines: Universal Truths

A fter publishing his book (in 1945) with its now famous title, Aldous Huxley made the articulation and dissemination of “The Perennial Philosophy” one of his primary tasks for the rest of his life. He delighted in showing us the similarities between the wisdom teachings of the ancients and our current modern Adepts, as well as emphasizing the necessity for spiritual practice and meditation. As Huxley taught (and realized): “It is only in the act of contemplation, when words and even personality are transcended, that the pure state [sophia perennis] of the Perennial Philosophy can actually be known.”[18] The world-renowned author also wrote introductions for other scholars' books and penned compelling essays to further define the Perennial Philosophy's main tenets or fundamental doctrines while giving popular lectures on its all-encompassing thesis. In his introduction to the Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God (translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood in 1944), Huxley listed four fundamental doctrines—what he called “the Perennial Philosophy in its minimal and basic form” giving us a “minimum working hypothesis”[19] of the “Highest Common Factor” in all the world religions—which were followed by a fifth tenet that highlights Guru Yoga (a list which I will paraphrase below by using some quotes from Huxley[20]):

Perennial Philosophy's Fundamental Doctrines

  1. Two Truths (of One Non-Dual Reality) which are:
    1. relative reality as immanent Spirit creating “the phenomenal world of matter and individualized consciousness—the world of things and animals and men and even gods [or subtle beings],” also known as “the Many” or “the Creation”;
    2. Absolute Reality or the transcendent Unconditional Reality or “the Divine Ground” that is Consciousness Itself, also called Brahman, Tao, Allah, Godhead, et al., known as “The One” or “Creator” and the “Source and Condition” from which all conditional and relative realities (including all possible universes) and states of consciousness arise, exist, and fall away.
  2. Human beings have a “dual nature” including the:
    1. phenomenal self which is the ego-I or the self-contracting activity of the separate self-sense active in the conditional world of forms which also includes the soul (atman) or the subtle “inner” entity that reincarnates (or survives bodily death);
    2. True Self (Atman) is “the spark of divinity within the soul” that even transcends the sense of being “within”; it is possible via spiritual practice (sadhana-Satsang) and meditation to identify with this Eternal True Self and to Re-Awaken “with the Divine Ground” of Absolute Reality and thus realize Real God (or Divine Enlightenment).
  3. Enlightenment is possible: Human beings are not only able to know about this Divine Ground (and True Self) or Absolute Reality by inference (or mental logic), but they can also “realize its existence by direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning” (and the scientific method). This awakened awareness is called Enlightenment and God-Realization, traditionally known as gnosis, prajna, satori, wu, moksha, rigpa, samyaksambodhi, etc., an awareness that is innate in everybody and is the pinnacle of human development.
  4. Goal of Life: To Know GodTat Tvam Asi or “Thou Art That”: The sole purpose of human life is “to identify… with the Eternal [True] Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground” and to be transformed by this Enlightened State as all the great Sages and Guru-Adepts demonstrate in person. To reach or realize this “Goal” (or Condition) it is necessary to practice yoga and regular meditation (sadhana) best served by cultivating a sacred relationship (Satsang) with an authentic Guru-Adept (Sadguru) in order to fulfill and live this God-Realized process in person, the essence of Real Religion.
  5. Guru Yoga IS Real Religion: Huxley wisely emphasized that there are “human Incarnations of the Divine Ground, by whose mediation and grace the worshiper is helped to achieve his or her goal—that ultimate knowledge of the Godhead, which is a person's eternal life and beatitude.” Satsang or Guru Yoga is the method of living in an active and sacred relationship with a true Siddha-Guru or Adept-Realizer that has been practiced for millennia and is the essence of Real Religion (and the Perennial Philosophy).

Huxley also goes on to mention the vital importance of “ethical corollaries” supporting the Perennial Philosophy. These constitute the moral life of anyone wanting to learn about and practice authentic spiritual life and their attending disciplines. This approach emphasizes “Right Life” (in Adi Da's and the Buddha's terms), often founded on different degrees of renunciation (or self-transcending discipline) grounded in self-control, non-attachment, and ego-transcendence based in the practice of love, compassion, and wisdom. Showing a profound depth of understanding hidden in the world's religious traditions, Huxley didn't hesitate to emphasize the necessity for the practice of Guru Yoga and in honoring our Enlightened Adepts. The British pandit wonderfully summarizes:

An Incarnation of the Godhead and, to a lesser degree, any theocentric Saint, Sage or Prophet [reflecting the lesser Higher Stages of Life] is a human being who knows who he [or she] is [i.e., the True Self], and can therefore effectively remind other human beings of what they have allowed themselves to forget: namely, that if they choose to become what potentially they already are, they too can be eternally united with the Divine Ground.[21]

Still, Huxley was sober enough to recognize that we must do our own spiritual work in transcending our self-contracting activity as the ego or “I, me, mine” (or our fearful sense of separation). Although an Adept-Guru can gift us through Grace and Spirit-Transmission to achieve our innate Enlightened State, at least momentarily, our spiritual growth is our responsibility. The Grace of the Guru comes from the effective power of Heart-Transmission (Hridaya Shaktipat) or Spirit Baptism descending down and opening our heart. Huxley, importantly, addresses the danger and liability toward cultism and projecting psychological desires and pathologies onto other people as a “Great Other” (such as with an imagined deity or a childish relationship with a Guru-Teacher). Nonetheless, according to Huxley, the benefits of Guru Yoga can only be denied at the peril of aborting our spiritual development. This has always been a perennial message of the Great Tradition of Global Wisdom.

In addition, the British pandit suggests that the wisdom of the Perennial Philosophy can help temper us in our tolerance for other religions. This means, as Huxley explains, “It is perfectly possible for people to remain good Christians, Hindus, Buddhists or Muslims and yet to be united in full agreement on the basic doctrines of the Perennial Philosophy.”[22] Avatar Adi Da agrees with this point and maintains one can practice their traditional religion while still practicing the Reality-Way of Adidam Ruchiradam. We can honor our born and inherited religious tradition best by practicing the universal truths of the world's Great Wisdom Traditions as expressed in the fundamental doctrines of the Perennial Philosophy.

Wilber (and others) also emphasizes this “trans-lineage” view.[23] He claims by understanding our universal drive to God-Realization we can empower our traditional religions to better serve our further developmental growth in acting like “conveyor belts”[24] to deeper spiritual truths. We can thus see how the Enlightened Wisdom of the Great Tradition and the Perennial Philosophy is absolutely necessary for world peace, as Huxley continued to explain:

To affirm this truth has never been more imperatively necessary than at the present time. There will never be enduring peace unless and until human beings come to accept a philosophy of life more adequate to the cosmic and psychological facts than the insane idolatries of nationalism and the advertising man's apocalyptic faith in Progress [scientific materialism] towards a mechanized New Jerusalem [religious provincialism]. All of the elements of this [perennial] philosophy are present in the traditional religions. But in existing circumstances there is not the slightest chance that any of the traditional religions will obtain universal [or global] acceptance.[25]

This is the same solution—the transcendence of the ego-I or presumption of a separate self-sense—that all the genuine Mystics of the world have perennially suggested the only way to peace (both individually and collectively) is via God-Realization and the practice of love. Wilber insightfully summarizes:

The aim of the Mystics is to deliver men and women from their battles by delivering them from their boundaries. Not manipulate the subject, and not manipulate the object, but transcend both in Nondual Consciousness. The discovery of the ultimate Whole is the only cure for unfreedom, and it is the only prescription offered by the Mystics.[26]

This truth is simple: All people want Freedom because everyone has the urge to reach toward an Infinite Life beyond the confines of mortality, even when the outer world is full of death, destruction, and suffering (the Buddha's First Noble Truth). A recurring innate instinct in our hearts compels us to fulfill this (hidden) truth. Because of this, we have the Perennial Philosophy—and the wisdom of true Gurus—to guide us on the Way to real Freedom and Liberation. But we must first turn to them, access the Great Tradition of perennial wisdom, or else we are headed to further disasters and nothing but more suffering and endless brutal wars. This choice is always ours.

Beezone (Ed Reither) talks with Brad Reynolds on the 'Perennial Philosophy' (Latin: philosophia perennis). Brad has two chapters in his book, God’s Great Tradition focusing on the view that all of the world's religions share a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all religious knowledge and doctrine have grown.

Notes

  1. Ken Wilber, The Eye of Spirit (1997), pp. 38-39
  2. See: Quantum Questions (1984) edited by Ken Wilber, where Wilber presents selections of the “mystical writings of the world's great physicists” (the book's subtitle).
  3. See: Psychology and the Perennial Philosophy (2013), edited by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos; also see: Primordial Truth and Postmodern Theology (1989) by David Ray Griffin and Huston Smith.
  4. Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary, The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul (2007), pp. 204-205.
  5. Ken Wilber, The Eye of Spirit (1997), p. 59.
  6. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred (1989), p. 293.
  7. See, for example: W. T. Stace, The Teachings of the Mystics: Selections from the Great Mystics and Mystical Writings of the World (1960), who differentiates different degrees of mysticism such as with a “union” with God versus an “identity” with God; also see: Ken Wilber, The Religion of Tomorrow (2017).
  8. See: The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found (2019) by Violet Moller.
  9. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (1945, 1970, 2009), p. vii.
  10. Ken Wilber, One Taste (1999), pp. 57-58.
  11. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (1945, 1970, 2009), p. vii.
  12. Aldous Huxley, “Introduction” in Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God (1944, 1987), p. 17.
  13. See: American Veda (2013) by Philip Goldberg; also see: How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America (1992) by Rick Fields; and Coming Home: The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions (1995) by Lex Hixon.
  14. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred (1989), p. 69
  15. See: Lost Masters: Sages of Ancient Greece (2006, 2016) by Linda Johnsen is, I believe, one of the best books ever written on the subject for it comes from a practitioner of yoga and meditation, not just an academic scholar. As Ms. Johnsen so wonderfully summarizes (p. 3): “I very much want to introduce you, too, to the great Spiritual Masters of our past, Western 'Gurus' whose traditions, unfortunately, we've forgotten. Their life stories, like those of Sages everywhere, are remarkable. And their distinctive approaches to spirituality will remind you of similar Hindu, Buddhist, yogic, and tantric lineages.” Highly recommended book.
  16. See: Arthur Herman, The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization (2013).
  17. Linda Johnsen, Lost Masters (2006), p. 157
  18. Aldous Huxley, “Introduction” in Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God (1944, 1987) translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, p. 6: “At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines.”
  19. See: “The Minimum Working Hypothesis” in Vedanta for the Western World (1945), edited by Christopher Isherwood.
  20. See: Aldous Huxley, “Introduction” in Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God (1944, 1987) translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, pp. 5-17.
  21. See: Aldous Huxley, “Introduction” in Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God (1944, 1987) translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, p. 12.
  22. See: Aldous Huxley, “Introduction” in Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God (1944, 1987) translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, p. 14, 17.
  23. See: Dustin DiPerna, Evolution's Ally: Our World's Religious Traditions as Conveyor Belts of Transformation (2018, second edition); Ken Wilber, The Religion of Tomorrow (2017).
  24. See: Ken Wilber, Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World (2006).
  25. Aldous Huxley, “Introduction” in Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God (1944, 1987) translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, p. 16.
  26. Ken Wilber, “Democrats, Republicans, and Mystics” in Up from Eden (1980), p. 334 [title caps added].

Brad Reynolds' new book:

God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom:
Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age —
An Appreciation of Avatar Adi Da Samraj in Illuminating The Great Tradition of Humankind

This book is NOW available on Amazon.com as a Color hardback or B&W paperback or eBook:

See Brad's YouTube channel — GodsGreatTradition

With an introductory video introduction by touring the Table Of Contents, please see: GODS GREAT TRADITION PROMO 2

“Brad Reynolds' magnum opus, God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom, is a treasure trove of spiritual insight based on a lifetime of study and practice. Reynolds' devotion to his guru, Adi Da Samraj, and his commitment to articulating a path of human maturity for us all, shines through on every page. May the heart-essence of the great wisdom traditions, so beautifully outlined in this book, spread far and wide until every last being has come to know their true identity in God-Realization.”
—Dustin DiPerna, author of Streams of Wisdom, co-editor, Purpose Rising: A Global Movement of Transformation and Meaning






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