Sunday, November 4, 2012

An Introduction to the Perennial Philosophy

Posted By Steve Beckow - November 4, 2012

          Sri Yukteswar Giri
In his Sept. 11, 2010 message, Matthew said: “The truth is [that] religions were devised to keep you from knowing who you truly are, to keep you ignorant of the universal laws, and to create divisiveness within the populace.” (1) So bad did the situation of religious division become that, SaLuSa tells us, “throughout your history, religious battles have been at the root of many wars.” (2) As I understand it, in many of these wars, the controllers funded both sides.

The division and manipulation that Matthew and SaLuSa are referring to are not born of the Truth itself but of a desire to control. Paramahansa Yogananda explained that religions may argue with each other but “men of realization who have the common knowledge of the same truth do not contradict one another.” It is not they who create dissension. “Their disciples of limited understanding create differences and establish different cults with varying beliefs.” (3)

Having seen the Truth of life, the masters searched for words to describe it to the people of their time. The Truth that lay beyond words and beyond religions has been called the “perennial philosophy” or “ageless wisdom.” One group called it the “divine wisdom” or theosophia. Another called it the “eternal law” or sanathana dharma.

Paramahansa Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteswar Giri explained it this way:

“There is an essential unity in all religions; … there is no difference in the truths inculcated by the various faiths; … there is but one method by which the world, external and internal, has evolved; and … there is but one Goal admitted by all scriptures.” (4)
“Only a few specially gifted persons can rise superior to the influence of their professed creeds and find absolute unanimity in the truths propagated by all great faiths.” (5)

Aldous Huxley devoted his life to an explication of it. In one of his statements of it, he developed the notion:
Aldous Huxley
“Philosophia perennis — the phrase was coined by Leibniz; but the thing — the metaphysic 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, 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.”

It was to be found wherever humans pondered the meaning and purpose of life.

“Rudminents of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditionary 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. A version if this Highest Common Factor in all preceding and subsequent theologies was first committed to writing more than twenty-five centuries ago, and since that time the inexhaustible theme has been treated again and again, from the standpoint of every religious tradition and in all the principle languages of Asia and Europe.” (6)

He never tired of taking up the theme.

“In Vedanta and Hebrew prophecy, in the Tao Teh King and the Platonic dialogues, in the Gospel according to St. John and Mahayana theology, in Plotinus and the Areopagite, among the Persian Sufis and the Christian mystics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance — 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. …

“The records left by those who have known [the pure state described by the Perennial Philosophy] make it abundantly clear that all of them, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Taoist, Christian or Mohammedan, were attempting to describe the same essentially indescribable Fact.” (7)

This one great Fact of life is known in a moment of enlightenment. Enlightenment itself became known by many names in diverse religions, as John White explains.

“Enlightenment has been given many names. … St. Paul called it ‘the peace of God that passeth understanding’ and Richard Maurice Bucke named it ‘cosmic consciousness.’ In Zen it is satori, in yoga it is samadhi or moksha, in Sufism it is fana, in Taoism it is wu or The Ultimate Tao. 

Gurdjieff labelled it ‘objective consciousness,’ Sri Aurobindo spoke of the Supermind, mystery schools and occult paths speak of ‘illumination,’ ‘liberation,’ and ‘self-realization.’


 Hazrat Inayat Khan
“Likewise, enlightenment has been symbolized by many images: the thousand-petalled lotus of Hinduism, the Holy Grail of Christianity, the clear mirror of Buddhism, Judaism’s Star of David, the yin-yang circle of Taoism, the mountaintop, the swan, the still lake, the mystic rose, the eternal flame.” (8)

But the Truth discovered in enlightenment was not different for the people who found it. Said White:
“The perennial wisdom is unchanging; truth is one. That is agreed on by the sages of all major religions and sacred traditions, all hermetic philosophies, genuine mystery schools and higher occult paths. Enlightenment is the core truth of them all.

“Even more broadly, it is the essence of life — the goal of all growth, development, evolution. It is the discovery of what we ultimately are, the answer to the questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is life all about?” (9)

While masters are many, Sufi sage Hazrat Inayat Khan said, the One who incarnates as all masters remains always the same.

“The Masters have been numberless since the creation of man; they have appeared with different names and forms; but He alone was disguised in them who is the only Master of eternity.” (10)
“If the Masters were not the same in mortal garb, yet in spirit they were one; if it were not so, how could one and the same truth be disclosed in all?” (11)

Each new era and country needed the truth restated, says Hazrat.

“Their messages differ from one another in their outer appearances, each message being given in accordance with the age of man’s evolution, and also in order to add a particular part in the course of divine wisdom. Certain laws and principles were prescribed by them to suit the country where the message was given, the climate, the period, customs, manners and requirements.” (12)

In the nineteenth century, the ascended master Hilarion offered that generation this eloquent summary of the truths at the base of the Perennial Philosophy:

“The soul of a man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendor have no limit.

“The principle which gives life dwells in us and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard or seen or smelt, but is perceived by the man who desires perception.

“Each man is his own absolute lawgiver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself, the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.” (13)

A few years later, Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society, offered her own summary of it:

        Annie Besant

“The main spiritual verities of religion may be summarized thus:

“i. [There is] one eternal infinite cognizable real Existence.

“ii. From That, the manifested God [unfolds] from unity to duality, (14) from duality to trinity. (15)

“iii. From the manifested Trinity many spiritual Intelligences [guide] the cosmic order

“iv. Man [is] a reflection of the manifested God and therefore a trinity fundamentally, his inner real self being eternal, one with the Self of the universe.

“v. His evolution [proceeds] by repeated incarnations, into which he is drawn by desire, and from which he is set free by knowledge and sacrifice, becoming divine in potency as he had ever been divine in latency.” (16)

And Aldous Huxley also offered his version of its fundamental tenets.

“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 men 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 nonexistent.

“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 to come to intuitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.” (17)

Now the galactics and spiritual hierarchy say they will assist humanity to shed the shackles of religious belief and recover the truth of spirituality. Diane of Sirius for instance informs us: “In recent times more of you have broken out of the rigid disciplines of a religious nature. The truth will be brought into the open in due course and it will be left to you as to whether you accept it.”(18)

Kryon also foresaw the fall of the manipulators and the release of the truth.

“There are so many asking this. ‘Is it possible that God is bigger than I was told?’ Thousands on the planet are awakening to this truth all by themselves. There is no place on Earth where this is not happening… and it’s profound. It’s not limited to the esoteric belief systems, either, for many organized religion campaigns are seeing it as well. Humans are hungry for Spirit, and are looking for answers that feel good in this new energy. They will look for love, and a personal God.

“The old-energy organized religion will suffer greatly, with membership and interest falling to an all-time low. In the next years, there will be a new Pope who will attempt to revitalize his church by finally creating something that fits into what humanity is feeling. He has to, or he will lose a 2,000-year-old dynasty.” (19)

Matthew reassured us that “individuals are holding onto the godly aspects and discarding the dogmatic rules of their respective faiths as hearts and minds are transitioning from religion to spirituality.” (20)

SaLuSa describes how a spiritual flowering will lead us on to Ascension:

“When you are given the full truth of your spiritual heritage there will be an appraisal of your beliefs. Much that is false will fall away and thus allow for a coming together as there is but the One Creator, and not the many Gods you have envisaged.

“You will recognize the Light within all souls, and that will lead you towards Ascension as the one great civilization that you are. Seek to know the common ground between each other’s beliefs, and you will begin the process of re-integration and comradeship. You have been separated for far too long and it is time to bring everyone back into the fold.” (21)

I personally look forward to this spiritual flowering with unmixed delight. I welcome the day when our spirituality is truly cross-cultural and the truth is known free of dogma and doctrine. For me, it’s of primary importance that the people we listen to at the moment appear to fully understand the truth behind religions and assure us that its restatement and reintroduction into our society are among the highest priorities.


(1) Matthew’s Message, Sept. 11, 2010, at
(2) SaLuSa, Feb. 15, 2010, at
(3) Paramahansa Yogananda, The Second Coming of Christ. Dallas: Amrita Foundation, 1979-86, II, 10.
(4) Sri Yukteswar Giri, The Holy Science. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1984, 3.
(5) Ibid., 4.
(6) Aldous Huxley in The Perennial Philosophy. New York, etc.: Harper and Row, 1970; c1944, vii.
(7) Aldous Huxley, “Introduction” to Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 11-2.
(8) John White, “Introduction” to his What is Enlightenment? Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1984 xvi-xvii.
(9) Ibid., xi.
(10) Hazrat Inayat Khan, Way of Illumination. Delhi, etc.: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988, 31.
(11) Loc. cit.
(12) Ibid., 33.
(13) Ascended Master Hilarion, channelling through Mabel Collins, medium, The Idyll of the White Lotus. Wheaton, IL: Re Quest, 1974; c1952, 114.
(14) Various religions will interpret the expansion from one to two differently. Some will say that it means the evolution from the Transcendental Forml;ess only to the Transcendental Formless plus God in form. Some will say it means the creation by the Holy Father (Allah, Brahman, Buddha Nature) of the Divine Mother (Shakti, the Holy Spirit, Dharma). Others will say it refers to the creation by the Father of the Christ (Child, Atman, Original Face).
Since God with form and the Mother are in the last analysis the same, the models can be reduced to just two: Father and Mother or Father and Child.
(15) The trinity refers to Father, Mother and Child (Father, Holy Spirit and Christ or Brahman, Shakti, and Atman).
(16) Annie Besant, Besant, Annie, The Ancient Wisdom. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972; c1897, 5-6.
(17) Huxley in “Introduction” to BG, 13.
(18) Diane of Sirius, Oct. 24, 2008, at
(19) Kryon, “The Shift is Here,” Oct. 20, 2008, at
(20) Matthew’s Message, May 19, 2010.
(21) SaLuSa, Feb. 15, 2010.

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