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The Perennial Philosophy
Aldous Huxley
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The Perennial Philosophy

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,595 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
The Perennial Philosophy is defined by Huxley as "The metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things & lives & minds." With great wit & intellect, Aldous Huxley examines the spiritual beliefs of various religious traditions and explains them in terms that are personally meaningful.
"Both an anthology & an interpretation of t
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published 1945 by Harper & Brothers (first published 1944)
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Apr 13, 2009 Connor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book redefined the way I look at religion. It speaks of the philosophy which connects all religions, and should be used as a way of relating to one another.

I found this particular passage quite engaging:

"The invention of the steam engine produced a revolution, not merely in industrial techniques, but also much more significantly in philosophy. Because machines could be made progressively more and more efficient, Western man came to believe that men and societies would automatically register
Conrad Johnson
Mar 02, 2013 Conrad Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like I have stated before elsewhere, I truly believe the Golden Age of American Literature has passed. Very few authors write anymore about universal, deeply philosophical themes that capture and reflect the essence of our culture and society and, if they do, publishers will most likely ignore them and hardly anyone will read them. Instead, we have a market flooded with superficial and redundant themes that offer artificial escapes from pressing societal problems. Think about it. Who was the las ...more
Bryon Medina
Dec 28, 2007 Bryon Medina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ...anyone who cares.
Dear Aldous Huxley,
I know that you where pronounced dead a long time ago, but because of this book, you are a living presence in my life today.
Thank you,
Jul 23, 2012 Ashlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book. It is one of the best inspirational, inquisitive philosophy texts I have ever read.
Apr 03, 2010 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huxley is referring to the perennial philosophy as those universal truths that span culture and religion. He shows in this book how all of the ancient traditions implemented these truths...or didn't. He is clearly very erudite and the book is full of quotes from early "saints", from both the East and the West.

While much of the material is quite interesting I wondered if he didn't write the book simply to show how Christianity has 'gone wrong'. His anti-Christian bias is pretty obvious.

This book
To begin, I must note that I am not "spiritual," if spirituality is taken to indicate belief in spirit, to point to crystals and new-agey-ness and tarot and so on. I also do not consider myself "enlightened," but I think I get on a gut level a basic idea of what that state might be like.

The greatest fault Huxley's book has is its attempt to force varying traditions of mysticism into one "perennial philosophy." The Perennialists, Huxley included, seem not to acknowledge the diversity of views wi
Feb 21, 2012 Danns rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up almost two decades ago coming off a run Robert Anton Wilson and a deep interest in Eastern Philosophies, particularly Taoism. I had never finished the book at the time as the real life of a young adult took sway. Coming back almost 20 years later this book still holds it's allure.

This is not an easy book to digest and Huxley did an amazing job presenting such a succinct overview of the Perennial Philosophy drawing from so many resources, it's just plain awe-inspiring. The e
Paul Gleason
Nov 21, 2013 Paul Gleason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book when I was on a Huxley kick when I was a teenager. Brave New World inspired me to read everything I could get my hands on by him. Needless to say, The Doors of Perception was more my speed then than The Perennial Philosophy.

I recently read Mike Scott's autobiography, Adventures of a Waterboy, and discovered that this book meant a lot to him and his spiritual life. I picked up a copy at the library and felt a spark of recognition: I'd read this book before but was too young
Theresa Leone Davidson
Huxley examines a whole host of religions, from Buddhism to Catholicism and everything in between, explaining what the enduring philosophy of each is and what similarities they have to one another. In the end he makes the brilliant point that no matter how different each religion may be, they are, at their core, seeking the exact same thing. Anyone remotely interested in religion should read this. Highly recommend!
Huxley gets to the root of The Thing by examining religious texts from around the world. He finds out what they have in common to get to the parts that are not human projection, idolatry, and bullshit. It's all around us and we are part of It.
Mar 25, 2012 Liam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Puffing Billy has now turned into a four-motored bomber loaded with white phosphorus and high explosives, and the free press is everywhere a servant of its advertisers, of a pressure group, or of the government. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, the travellers (now far from gay) still hold fast to the religion of Inevitable Progress -- which is, in the last analysis, the hope and faith (in the teeth of all human experience) that one can get something for nothing. How much saner is the Gree ...more
Tomaj Javidtash
Mar 15, 2015 Tomaj Javidtash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a gem, a must read, for people with even the slightest interest in the esoteric dimension of religions, any religion. It is a lucid presentation of exalting and inspiring quotes from mystics and saints throughout history. I believe it is the most comprehensive book on the subject of Sophia Perennis from the point of view of its practitioners.
Rumi, Meister Eckhart, Augustine, Shankara, etc. are among the many others whose memorable words about the Ground of Being are presented in
Eric Marcy
Jun 30, 2015 Eric Marcy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A phenomenal and profound philosophical study, Aldous Huxley seamlessly integrates the thoughts of philosophers, mystics and sages from Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Islam into a marvelously thought-provoking and coherent book. Wonderfully written, Huxley centers his discussion on man's ultimate end: to know the unitive nature of the Divine. Everything centers around what Huxley views as man's ultimate end, and the discussion of a myriad of spiritual issues centers around what Hux ...more
Dylan Grant
Jan 10, 2016 Dylan Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite, nonfiction
All I can say is... WOW! Aldous Huxley is a genius. I read his "Brave New World" before (his most popular work) and was thoroughly impressed. It is the perfect prophetic dystopian novel (much more accurate than Orwell's 1984). Indeed, this book is almost a perfect companion to Brave New World because it shows what Aldous Huxley actually DOES believe in (whereas Brave New World shows what he DOESN'T believe in i.e. consumerism, hedonism, etc)

In this very philosophical work of comparative religion
May 17, 2010 Aelia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Written in 1945, the book is an anthology of the Perennial Philosophy and contains vast examples as extracts from scriptures and/or other type of writings from various religious: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc.

The central idea of the perennial philosophy is that there exists Divine Truth, Divine Reality which is one and universal, and that different religions are different ways to express that one Truth. However as Huxley writes this one Divine Reality cannot be directly an
Pat Rolston
Nov 17, 2015 Pat Rolston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy the opportunity to better understand eastern and western religious traditions as related through philosophical doctrine and their spiritual traditions this is an outstanding place to start. Huxley takes the actual words and quotes from great teachers, saints, and
sages from the eastern and western traditions to educate the reader about the differences and similarities functionally by subject area from, self, silence, good and evil, eternity and time among others equally compelling to
Ronald Wise
Sep 02, 2011 Ronald Wise rated it really liked it
I had no idea what "Perennial Philosophy" referred to when I checked out this book and began reading it. When I learned in the first sentence that it referred to the "divine Reality", I had doubts that I would be able to endure it. However, Huxley's overview of the spiritual proved very interesting in discussing the various aspects of man's pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. Some of his comparisons of the Muslim and Christian efforts in that pursuit were so strikingly pertinant to current event ...more
There is a lot to chew over in this book, I think I am going to have to come back for another going over.
Huxley presents his synopsis of spiritual systems, suggesting there are core principles common to all human spirituality, which are constantly refound and reinterpreted in each system. This is essentially a digest of spiritual writers, it has lots of interesting and important ideas, and extensive quotes to help you get a handle on them. Huxley himself seems to be blown away in enthusiasm and
Justina Hayden
Aug 15, 2009 Justina Hayden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: spiritual seekers who have not yet settled
This book explain the ways in which ALL the world's religions, taken at their core, express the "Perennial Philosophy". He quotes at length from Catholic saints, Martin Luther, the Vedantas, the Tao te Ching, George Fox, the Upanishads, the writings of many Buddhists, and so on. I know I've left some out; I'm not looking at the book as i write, and it has been probably 10 years since I read it last.

Nonetheless, a major formative book for my life, which I discovered when I was 13 or 14 and have b
CV Rick
Sep 27, 2011 CV Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lest anyone doubt that one of the greatest philosophers of the modern age is Aldous Huxley I give you The Perennial Philosophy. Huxley boils all religious tradition into its basic universal truths. It is through this discovery that he finds what he is good in the best teachings and what is manipulative in its tenets.

I am constantly amazed by the breadth of thought that Aldous Huxley explored during his lifetime and how relevant that five years today. I will probably be thinking about this volume
Ron Krumpos
Jul 12, 2014 Ron Krumpos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who is interested in comparative mysticism 'must' read this book. Aldous Huxley, although controversial, did a marvelous job of collecting quotations of mystics of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, grouped by subject matter.

"The Perennial Philosophy" is one of the books in the primary bibliography of my free ebook on comparative mysticism" at and one of the first that I had read on the topic.
Rational truth can be defined as ideas, definitions, facts, and concepts "about" reality. Mystical truth perhaps can be defined as a direct intuitive apprehension "of" reality. Huxley does a terrific job in using the mystics from the East and the West to help us to understand this most important kind of truth.
Mar 27, 2008 Sally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This is a very noteworthy book, but the author's style is such that I couldn't bear to continue reading it, on several tries; maybe in a few years I'll try yet again. Some writing styles are a total slog for one person, but fine or prefered for another.
Phil Calandra
The Perennial Philosophy" is the common factor of all the central philosophies and writings of the great saints, mystics and prophets who have experienced a "direct spiritual knowledge" of the "Divine". The author quotes the great Taost Philosophers, the followers of Buddha, Mohammad, the Brahman Scriptures and Christian Mystics. "The Perennial Philosophy is the philosophy of the "One". Man's final end or purpose is to know, love and be united with this "One", "Godhead" or "Ground. This is a ver ...more
Jan 03, 2016 sidana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aldous Huxley, Kadim Felsefe'de okurlarını Doğu ve Batı'nın eskimeyen felsefi ve dini geleneklerinde eşsiz bir yolculuğa çıkarıyor. Kitap, Eckhart ve Buddha'dan Gazali ve Mevlana'ya kadar, içsel aydınlanmanın en önemli üstatlarından yapılan alıntılar yapmıştır.

"Cehaletin büyük bölümü mağlup edilebilir cehalettir. Bilmeyiz çünkü bilmek istemeyiz. Zekamızı nasıl ve hangi nesneler üzerine kullanacağımıza karar veren irademizdir. Dünyada hiçbir anlam keşfedemeyenler böyle yaparlar, çünkü genellikle
Oct 15, 2008 Xio rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious, unfinished
This is boring me. Why? Perhaps I've read too many of the primary texts and don't care what Huxley has to say or how he cobbles them together. *I* can do that for myself. I'm afraid that this one, after having lived in the bathroom awhile, is going back to the library.
May 20, 2010 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is dense, but well worth the effort to finish. I read it in very small chunks (2-3 pages a day) over period of a few months. It opened my eyes to the nature of religion, spirituality, and humanity in ways that I will be contemplating for a long time to come.
This is the kind of book that is downright dangerous if you really take its religiosity seriously. This themes of this book are often prematurely associated with with New Age-ism, and while there may be some overlap with certain facets which the New Age movement subsequently borrowed, Huxley's Perennial Philosophy is more far-reaching and profound; in fact, I would go as far as to say it is the anti-thesis of the modern New Age movement. The latter is a romanticized, do-as-one-wishes, laissez-fa ...more
Jeremiah Ross
Apr 26, 2014 Jeremiah Ross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huxley was one of the last of a breed of intellectual that was neither ashamed of his occidental culture, nor allowed it to irrevocably taint his understanding of the other. It is a position that seems relegated to the first half of the 19th century.

The crux of the book: a seemingly universalist foray into the commonalities between the more esoteric religious scriptures. This includes Sufism, Buddhism , Taoism, and a very heavy dose of Catholicism and Hinduism. You almost get the impression tha
Jenny Nielsen
Sep 05, 2010 Jenny Nielsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This PS edition of Perennial Philosophy is entirely worth it for the inlcusion of Huxley's essay, "On Beliefs" in the back of the book. A better critique of science has never been put in print.
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Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the latter part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through his novels and es ...more
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“It is only when we have renounced our preoccupation with "I," "me," "mine," that we can truly possess the world in which we live. Everything, provided that we regard nothing as property. And not only is everything ours; it is also everybody else's.” 63 likes
“The man who wishes to know the "that" which is "thou" may set to work in any one of three ways. He may begin by looking inwards into his own particular thou and, by a process of "dying to self" --- self in reasoning, self in willing, self in feeling --- come at last to knowledge of the self, the kingdom of the self, the kingdom of God that is within. Or else he may begin with the thous existing outside himself, and may try to realize their essential unity with God and, through God, with one another and with his own being. Or, finally (and this is doubtless the best way), he may seek to approach the ultimate That both from within and from without, so that he comes to realize God experimentally as at once the principle of his own thou and of all other thous, animate and inanimate.” 20 likes
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