My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a book that I think I will be referencing back to for the rest of my life. If you basically want to understand the entire perspective of a Western thinker on the commonalities of Eastern religion and mysticism as well as Christian mystic thought, this is the book. Think of it as the complete tutorial on what people *think* they're saying when they utter the cliche "I'm not religious but I'm spiritual." Now if a person were truly that, and very intelligent as well, then this book explains how they might think about God, self, universe, time, idolatry, salvation, truth, good, evil, immortality, mortification, charity, prayer... yeah, you name it everything you've stuffed in a closet in the back of your mind and called it 'religion' is presented here from the mystic point of view and collected wisdom of multiple 'religions'.
This might properly be called, at least I will, the set of ultimate goals for the self, or perhaps the self-less perfection of the realization of the divine in the individual and the purpose of all human consciousness. I'm not used to speaking this way, it will take me some time to get through all of the material in this course of study, but I can feel it working on me.
Several years ago I wrote that all I care about is wisdom. This is true. But one tends to think of wisdom as an attribute of the self. The Perennial Philosophy extends that challenge beyond the self (and yet within the self) towards the human infinite. So instead of the pursuit and capture of wisdom like a trophy to put on your mantle and show off, the Perennial Philosophy explains that this is an attainment of psychic, spiritual as well as intellectual dimensions.
There's some speculation in this which is especially clunky in the dated volume which contemporaries more well versed in psychology will easily spot. Also Huxley had been taken in by claims of faith healing and ESP that should not be taken seriously, but he seems to understand this. Also the book gets a bit murky in dealing with the concepts of time vis a vis Time and Eternity. And yet the book becomes quite persuasive in describing how nations and religions and philosophies that deal with reality in progressive time rather than in eternal timelessness, inevitably make bloody violent sacrifices to time (God the destroyer of all things, in time).
Huxley presents a convincing case for the unification of purposeful thought in this volume by taking contextualized quotes from a variety of wise ancients and mystics. It puts, for me, God back where God should belong in all thought, and the discipline of finding God central in human moral purpose.
I am convinced that this is the kind of material that is central to the human experience. It clears up a lot of things.
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