Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spiritual Awakening as the Core Purpose of 'The Perennial Philosophy'

The English pacifist and humanist, Aldous Huxley, wrote often and eloquently on spiritual awakening, self-transcendence and what he (and others) termed the "Perennial Philosophy". Huxley penned an entire volume titled "The Perennial Philosophy", in which he introduced the reader to some of the finest insights of teachers, mystics and explorers of the inner, esoteric core of the World's great religions and wisdom traditions.

Building on his storied family's roots in the introspective and quietististic Society of Friends, or Quakers, Huxley delved evermore deeply into the esoteric roots of all metaphysics and religion. While doing so he rubbed shoulders with many of the 20th century's deepest and most influential proponents of personal, social, religious and cultural change. In many ways, Huxley helped lay the groundwork for the questioning of the cultural norms and beliefs which would revolutionize (and globalize) the West's worldview in the latter half of the 20th century.

Of Huxley's many writings on the Perennial Philosophy - which is really the stripped-down core of the great wisdom traditions of all ages and continents - perhaps none more clearly set the Perennial Philosophy so clearly or succintly before the reader than the following excerpt from the Introduction to Bhagavad-Gita:: The Song of God that he wrote to his friend and fellow seeker Christopher Isherwood's translation (along with their mutual Vedantic teacher, Swami Prabhavananda) of the Bhagavad Gita, perhaps India's greatest contribution to humanity.

Huxley writes:

"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 man 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 come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground."

Heady stuff for our times this . . . .and for all times!

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