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The Perennial Philosophy

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  5,519 ratings  ·  274 reviews
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.

An inspired gathering of religious writing
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1944)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Connor
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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Bryon Medina
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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,
Bryon.
Adam
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
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Ashlie
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. It is one of the best inspirational, inquisitive philosophy texts I have ever read.
Susan Steed
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was talking to a friend about how much I hated the baggage I felt I had inherited from my loosely Christian upbringing. Some kind of female guilt about sex. Why I couldn't bear going to any more political events because I kept seeing this oppressive good v's evil narrative. So, for example if I went to events organised by the Left I kept feeling I had been co-opted by some church of people who believed they were the chosen ones, the 'good people' who would change the world, and we are in a war ...more
Paul Gleason
Nov 15, 2013 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
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dely
This is an interesting book but the style and the language are pretty difficult (at least for me). I think that who is into philosophy will have less problems than me to understand the language.
It doesn't talk about the dogma of the main religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism), but about the philosophy and the spiritual side that are very similar if not the same. This is what I like the most: to see the points in common of religions, and not the differences.
There are a lot o
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Danns
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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Nati S
The Perennial: that which is everlasting and continually recurring.

This book is the result of Huxley's deep study on the writing of the mystics from the great traditions of the east to the enlightened Christians of the west.

An anthology of mystical writing.


... in all expositions of the Perennial Philosophy, the frequency of paradox, of verbal extravagance, sometimes even of seeming blasphemy. Nobody has yet invented a Spiritual Calculus, in terms of which we may talk coherently about the di
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Nikki
Apr 03, 2010 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
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Tomaj Javidtash
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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Theresa Leone Davidson
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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!
Liam
Mar 19, 2012 rated it liked it
"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
Whitney
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. ...more
SJ Loria
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing

The Perennial Philosophy
Forget self to discover the Self

The book A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson, is essentially a history of science book. This book is a history of philosophy and summary of major religion, organized into different points. In both, I ran out of room to review. Link to complete review at the end. The main idea is this – all religions are essentially saying the same 27 things and here’s what they are. I found it very neat to jump from a Sufi mystic to a Cat
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Malum
Jun 13, 2022 rated it it was ok
Huxley basically reads selections from different religious books and religious thinkers and adds some of his own commentary. Add in some majorly weird claims (Huxley tells us that "No one can seriously claim that psychic powers aren't real!") and you end up with something that didn't really do anything for me.

For someone looking interesting sources of comparative religion that really make you think I would send them toward Alan Watts over this any day.
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Justina Hayden
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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CV Rick
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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Jim Puskas
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, philosophy
Referring to Huxley as a "bold thinker" would be a gross understatement. While ostensibly just a survey of the world’s great religious movements and the writings of a wide selection of mystics, Huxley takes his argument a great deal further, proceeding to proclaim that a unifying “perennial” truth lies at the heart of all “higher” religions. In so doing, he endeavors to define the very nature and purpose of existence; one could scarcely address any topic more fundamental than that!
I am, of cours
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Aelia
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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Eric Marcy
Jun 16, 2015 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
Pat Rolston
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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Callie
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Alas, I shan't finish this. At another moment in my reading life, I'm sure I would find it spellbinding, but as I just wrote in my other review, I cannot take another ounce of nonfiction.

I made it about halfway through and someday I will read the rest.

I won't lie, through much of this book I found myself uncertain of what he was getting at or barely cottoning on with the merest possible understanding of his general point. Still, I think it's a worthy book and good to have by one's bedside to j
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Frightful_elk
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
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Ronald Wise
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Robert
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Sally
Mar 27, 2008 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Jackson Greer
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
could be a grad student's best friend ; an avengers level assortment of religious thought across centuries of spiritual exploration ; for the contemplative, one of 'the' defining texts ...more
Hunter Kinder
I definitely need to read this again as it didn't click the first time through. ...more
Danny Druid
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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Brave New World (1932), best-known work of British writer Aldous Leonard Huxley, paints a grim picture of a scientifically organized utopia.

This most prominent member of the famous Huxley family of England spent the part of his life from 1937 in Los Angeles in the United States until his death. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetr
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