The Perennial Philosophy

in 1945 Aldous Huxley released a ground-breaking book named “The Perennial Philosophy”. The key tenet of the book is that there is a fundamental truth which underpins all cultures and also, all religious traditions that exist today. This basic truth is described as unrelated to culture, terminology, societal changes or dogma. Ken Wilbur in his work “Eye to Eye: The Quest for the New Paradigm” similarly describes a spectrum of being. On one side of the spectrum is the individual consciousness and on the other end is universal consciousness. A key tenet of the Perennial Philosophy is that within us we possess this purely conscious essence, which is in fact identical in nature, but simply of a smaller magnitude, to universal consciousness. Universal consciousness can be described as the ground of all being, spirit or God; the basic reality at the heart of the universe. And the purpose of human life to realize the first and reunite it with the latter, an experience described by mystics of all traditions.

Are the mystics and sages insane? Because they all tell variations on the same story, don’t they? The story of awakening one morning and discovering you are one with the All, in a timeless and eternal and infinite fashion. Yes, maybe they are crazy, these divine fools. Maybe they are mumbling idiots in the face of the Abyss. Maybe they need a nice, understanding therapist. Yes, I’m sure that would help. But then, I wonder. Maybe the evolutionary sequence really is from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, each transcending and including, each with a greater depth and greater consciousness and wider embrace. And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual’s consciousness does indeed touch infinity—a total embrace of the entire Kosmos—a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. It’s at least plausible. And tell me: is that story, sung by mystics and sages the world over, any crazier than the scientific materialism story, which is that the entire sequence is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing? Listen very carefully: just which of those two stories actually sounds totally insane?

– Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, 42-3

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