Perennial Philosophy

Stretching back to the foundations of human culture, the Primordial Tradition is a golden thread at the center of many diverse religions, groups, teachings, and practices – including Christianity. At the heart of this Tradition are a cluster of teachings and understandings (not all of them will be found in all groups, but there are broad commonalities).

The Perennial Philosophy | Primordial Tradition schools have each described this golden thread of Wisdom. As Christians we find these core principles consistent with the mystic heart of our Tradition:

Aldous Huxley defines the Perennial Philosophy as –

  • First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness – the world of things and animals and humans 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: humanity possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner person, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a person, if s/he so desires, to identify with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.
  • Fourth: a person’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify her/himself with his/her eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.

And for Huston Smith the Primordial Tradition is –

  • a metaphysics maintaining that reality is arranged in tiers, with the higher levels more full of being more real than the lower ones. In other words, there are gradations of reality, a little bit like different grades of automotive oil, ranging from thick to thin;
  • a philosophical psychology claiming a similarity or identity of the soul and divine Reality. We are divine, although most of us have little or no realization of it; and
  • an ethics emphasizing human purpose as the discovery of our place in God, with the goal not simply knowledge but a new state of being. This means that we should be aiming at personal transformation that makes the presence of the divine a living reality, rather than simply something that we affirm intellectually.