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The Perennial Philosophy [Paperback]

Aldous Huxley
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 3 2004 Perennial Classics

The Perennial Philosophy is defined by its author as "The metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds." With great wit and stunning intellect, Aldous Huxley examines the spiritual beliefs of various religious traditions and explains them in terms that are personally meaningful.

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About the Author

The longer fiction of Aldous Huxley has been in the mainstream of the "Novel of Ideas" since the publication in England in 1921 (America 1922) of Crome Yellow, his first novel. Huxley is one of the most skillful and most successful social satirists of the twentieth century. His novels go far in defining the character of modern man, while his later work reflects an interest in mysticism and the effect of the consciousness-expanding drugs.

Born in England in 1894, Mr. Huxley took to writing when his eyesight temporarily failed. From 1934 until his death in 1963, Aldous Huxley lived in California.

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"IN STUDYING the Perennial Philosophy we can begin either at the bottom, with practice and morality; or at the top, with a consideration of metaphysical truths; or, finally, in the middle, at the focal point where mind and matter, action and thought have th" Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Partisan Beliefs April 29 2004
This classic compendium of cross-cultural mystical references, entertainingly and informatively fleshed out by the author of Brave New World and Doors of Perception, is a welcome reference for anyone curious about serious, accessible literature on the nature of the eternal, the timeless, and the one--mysticism in a positive sense. It is peculiar in some respects: Huxley believes in the efficacy of magic (~morphic resonance); he is convinced that Hinduism and Buddhism are intrinsically less violent world views than the great monotheisms (based on their history); and he uses some strange, and slightly fuddy-duddy phrases, such as "poverty of spirit" to designate a positive condition. He emphasizes the necessity of including spirit along with body and mind in any complete description of humanity. Some of the strangeness of this work to the modern reader owes to its datedness; it was written in 1944, and Huxley is clearly hugely disenchanted with the nationalistic politics that have been tearing the world apart. Some of the strangeness owes to Huxley's vocabulary which, like any mystical vocabulary, must be oblique. Nonetheless, it would be difficult to imagine a more useful, diverse, or erudite compendium of mysticism in a work of this size. I was delighted and surprised to see that he even referenced Alan Watts, who only came into his own as a writer decades later, but was already analyzing, in more technical works, eastern philosophy such as Zen. The basic idea of the philosophia perennis, or perennial philosophy, is that nirvana and samsara, time and eternity, the individual and the cosmos are one. This insight is described as advaita in Hinduism, annata in Buddhism, and (though perhaps less clearly) the union of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Christianity. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Father and I are One. Dec 8 2003
By Butch
One reason Huxley titled this anthology The Perennial "Philosophy" was out of respect for the various religious traditions of the world. To suggest, as some of my fellow reviewers have, that Huxley had something up his metaphysical sleeve is to fail to see the forest for the trees. Philosophy is nothing if it is not the right to question anything. You and I have a right to our opinion, a keystone of Freedom-Religious, and otherwise. Huxley respected personal freedom. If you don't like his book, fine. To suggest Huxley had some sinister motive here is, in my opinion, a mistake. What Huxley was trying to do, and quite admirably I might add, was to share with the reader the fact that the mystic tradition is fundamental within all of the world's great religions. That there is a universal mystical experience that transcends the differences we might otherwise have. That our religious founders had more in common than we might suppose. That we have more in common than we might suppose. That we should cherish the essential while respecting our differences. One caveat. I am not preaching toleration for tolerations sake here. Nor do I believe was Huxley. We each need to make our stand. Some choose to make a stand for universal brotherhood. Some choose to stand for a chosen few. Some choose to stand alone. We can make such a personal choice without demonizing others, for it does not matter what we believe if we do not have love in our heart. I believe, as I believe did Huxley, that we are all God's children, made in the image of God. That we are both physical and spiritual beings. That God is Love. That is my kind of Philosophia Perennis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The answer!...for this reader, at least! Feb. 12 2002
I am ordering this book again after losing my first copy on the bus. Whoever picked it up is welcome to it; I'm happy for anyone whose life this book is lucky enough to enrich. One reviewer picked on the fact that Eastern & Western religions are totally incompatible & have nothing in common. This misses the point of the book; the DOGMA of Eastern & Western religion are indeed incompatible, which (as Huxley aptly demonstrates) is exactly the problem with organized religion. In fact, the dogma of nearly all religions tend to exclude each other, making religion just another worldly argument. Worldly arguments are not supposed to be the point of religion; the point of religion is to enlighten (or "save") the faithful. No dogma or beliefs can do this; however, all religions have an element that touches on how it may be done. Huxley ties these common threads together into an elegant tapestry for the dogma-weary seeker after truth to contemplate. To use myself as an example, I am not interested in achieving full enlightenment just yet; there are many worldly things I wish to do yet. One can become as balanced as one wishes to be. For those interested in such things, I recommend this book very highly. Also, I recommend "Island", a Huxley novel I regularly buy used copies of & give away for free!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Religion, Not Philosophy Jan. 31 2001
The title of this work suggests perennial philosophy, but the work is devoted to relgious "truths" that the author believes are transcendent and therefore permanent. From this angle, the book is an interesting read of different religious views that have helped humans live an interesting, meaningful, and ethical lives. But "philosophy" is not really involved except incidentally. There is no use of logical clarity, no evaluation of arguments, no use of the philosphical method, nor much of any tools that philosophers normally apply. Indeed, none of the usual philosophical issues are to be found: Epistemology, metaphysics, theories of language, ethics, mind, and anthropology. But, as a digest of religious views, it does a nice job of harmonizing religious "truths" across a wide spectrum of religious thought, from Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hindu thinkers. But the consequence of this "harmonization" is reductionism of different religious structures into an over-simplified, under-stated worldview and cosmology. So, even under the rubric of "theodicy," the book fails its philosophical foundations.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading for all.
Published 13 months ago by John R.Russ
5.0 out of 5 stars "We read to know that we are not alone" (C.S. Lewis)
This is a good anthology of the perennial philosophy. The design is easy to follow and too interesting to put aside. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2010 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't think of a title
Some reviews on this book come from people who are not informed about the context, to the modern day teenager (I'm a teenager but I'm just better) who has such a "modern" view of... Read more
Published on April 29 2004 by Vincent
5.0 out of 5 stars "We read to know that we are not alone" (C.S. Lewis)
This is a good anthology of the perennial philosophy. The design is easy to follow and too interesting to put aside. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars the capstone
This is my most essential book. I have so many underlined passages, dog-eared pages, high-lights, and scribbled writing in my copy of this book that I wouldn't get $2 for it at the... Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2003 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for atheists
_The Perrenial Philosophy_ is a masterpiece of English literature - one of the most important books of the twentieth century written in our language. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2003 by Ross James Browne
5.0 out of 5 stars Without Peer!
Undoubtedly the greatest spiritual anthology of all time.
Published on Dec 17 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine, But I recommend you read the mature Huxley
Certainly this work is representative of a stage in Huxley's spiritual career. At the time both he and Gerald Manley Hall were in a very "Manichean" phase and, as the above New... Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2002 by Thomas M. Seay
4.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable Gem!
I feel some of the more critical reviewers posting here coming from a very glib place. Maybe 'old man Huxley' is too stuffy (too Victorian? Read more
Published on May 1 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars beyond genius! must be experienced...
dear reader and spiritual seeker, here you have a comprehensive review of the primal spiritual traditions packed into one book. Read more
Published on March 14 2002 by Orva Schrock
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