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What can we learn from the perennial philosophy of Aldous Huxley? - Jules Evans | Aeon Essays

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What can we learn from the perennial philosophy of Aldous Huxley? - Jules Evans | Aeon Essays
When I was a teenager, I came across Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy (1945). I was so inspired by its array of mystical jewels that, like a magpie, I stole it from my school's library. I still have that copy, sitting beside me.

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The Universal God

Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy(1945) is an extraordinary work of synthesis, introducing global (particularly eastern) spirituality into mainstream western culture.

The Phi...

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Fresh Take On Religion

  • Modern society has been described as the Age of Noise, and an Organized Lovelessness.
  • Advertising is revealed to be an organized effort to extend and intensify craving.
  • Peop...

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Constructing One's Reality

Aldous Huxley was heavily criticized after his death by newer philosophers who didn't subscribe to the Perennial Philosophy.

While the author insisted that the ultimate mystical experience i...

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The Ultimate God

Perennialism is objectivist and essentialist, however, the individualism of defining God through self-experience (like meditation) make it subjective.

Bentley Hart, an orthodox theolo...

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The Zen View Of Morals

Evil cannot be destroyed, any more than good can, because they are polar opposites of the same thing. Destruction and creation, chaos and order; opposite aspects of reality, in tension with one ano...

The Zen View Of Life

For Zen practitioners, life is transitory and insubstantial. There is no security and thinking otherwise is a waste of time. 

They also don’t believe in an afterlife. Reincarnation can be more accurately thought of as a constant rebirth, of death throughout life, and the continual coming and going of universal energy before and after death.

The Zen View Of The World

The word 'Zen' means emptiness or void. This is the basis of Zen — that all that exists is based on a dynamic emptiness. Which is also what quantum science says.

In this view, there is no difference between matter and energy. Look at anything closely enough and you will see that it is an event, not a thing. Furthermore, there is not a ‘multiplicity of events’. There is just one event, with multiple aspects, unfolding. 

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We cannot understand ourselves if we do not understand others. Getting to know others requires avoiding the twin dangers of overestimating either how much we have in common or how much divides ...

To travel around the world’s philosophies is an opportunity to challenge beliefs we take for granted. By gaining greater knowledge of how others think, we can become less certain of the...

To travel around the world’s philosophies is an opportunity to challenge beliefs we take for granted. By gaining greater knowledge of how others think, we can become less certain of the knowledge we think we have, which is always the first step to greater understanding.

We should not be afraid to ground ourselves in our own traditions, but we should not be bound by them.

We should not be afraid to ground ourselves in our own traditions, but we should not be bound by them.

Describing wonder

Wonder is said to be a childish emotion. However, as adults, we experience it when gaping at something unexpectedly spectacular.

Adam Smith, an 18th-century moral philosopher, describes wond...

Bodily symptoms

The bodily symptoms of this strange appearance point to three dimensions:

  • Sensory: The marvelous things take hold of our senses - we stare and widen our eyes.
  • Cognitive: We are perplexed because we don't have a past experience to understand them. It leads to a suspension of breath, similar to when we are startled.
  • Spiritual: We look upwards in veneration, which makes our heart swell.

The scale of wonder

At the mild end of this emotion, we talk about things being marvelous. More intense emotions might be described as astonishing. The extreme of this experiences is met with expressions of awe.

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