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Perennial Philosophy, The

Product no.: 0-06-090191-8
An inspired gathering of religious writings that reveals the “divine reality” common to all faiths, collected by Aldous Huxley, author of A Brave New World.

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Publisher's Synopsis

With great wit and stunning intellect—drawing on a diverse array of faiths, including Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Christian mysticism, and Islam—Huxley examines the spiritual beliefs of various religious traditions and explains how they are united by a common human yearning to experience the divine.

The Perennial Philosophy includes selections from Meister Eckhart, Rumi, and Lao Tzu, as well as the Bhagavad Gita, Tibetan Book of the Dead, Diamond Sutra, and Upanishads, among many others.

Reviews

"It is important to say that even an agnostic... can read this book with joy. It is the masterpiece of all anthologies. As Mr. Huxley has proved before, he can find and frame rare beauty in literature."      ~New York Times Book Review

Excerpt
"So far, then, as a fully adequate expression of the Perennial Philosophy is concerned, there exists a problem in semantics that is finally insoluble. The fact is one which must be steadily borne in mind by all who read its formulations. Only in this way shall we be able to understand even remotely what is being talked about. Consider, for example, those negative definitions of the transcendent and immanent Ground of being. In statements such as Eckhart's, God is equated with nothing. And in a certain sense the equation is exact; for God is certainly no thing. In the phrase used by Scotus Erigena God is not a what; He is a That. In other words, the Ground can be denoted as being there, but not defined as having qualities. This means that discursive knowledge about the Ground is not merely, like all inferential knowledge, a thing at one remove, or even at several removes, from the reality of immediate acquaintance; it is and, because of the very nature of our language and our standard patterns of thought, it must be, paradoxical knowledge. Direct knowledge of the Ground cannot be had except by union, and union can be achieved only by the annihilation of the self-regarding ego, which is the barrier separating the thou from the That."

Biography

In both fiction and nonfiction Huxley became increasingly critical of Western civilization in the 1930s. Brave New World (1932), his most celebrated work, is a bitterly satiric account of an inhumane society controlled by technology, in which art and religion have been abolished and human beings reproduce by artificial fertilization. Huxley's distress at what he regarded as the spiritual bankruptcy of the modern world led him toward mysticism and the use of hallucinatory drugs.

The novel Eyeless in Gaza (1936) portrays its central character's conversion from selfish isolation to transcendental mysticism; and in The Doors of Perception (1954) and Heaven and Hell (1956) he describes the use of mescaline to induce visionary states of mind.

Huxley, who moved to southern California in 1947, was primarily a moral philosopher who used fiction during his early career as a vehicle for ideas; in his later writing, which consists largely of essays, he adopts an overtly didactic tone. Like his contemporaries D. H. Lawrence and George Orwell, Huxley abhorred conformity and denounced the orthodox attitudes of his time.

The enormous range of his intellect and the pungency of his writing make him one of the most significant voices of the early 20th century.

Author Huxley, Aldous
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 312 pp.
Publisher HarperCollins 1970
Gold Medal

Gold Medal

 
 

  Gold Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: Syncretism and the Perennial Philosophy, Masterworks of the Western Mystery Tradition, Gold Medal Essential Reading

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