The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley. Wherein I prate of God.

The perennial philosophy.In The Perennial Philosophy, by Huxley articulates some universal themes in religion. I have added some reflections.

Monotheism. God is a divine unity, the ground of the human condition. The concept of God being a unified ground is quite different than the traditional notion of a omnipotent being. I often prefer polytheism: “When the knower is poly-psychic the universe he knows by immediate experience is polytheistic.”

The human condition is multiplicity. The self has no substance, and must be in a state of discontent or suffering, always desiring other, and idolatrous. Political monism is idolatry, causing suffering and obstructing spirituality. “The politics of those whose goal is beyond time are always pacific; it is the idolaters of past and future, of reactionary memory and Utopian dreams, who do the persecuting and make the wars.” Very Buddhist, especially if you extend monism and idolatry beyond politics to rigid narrowness of thought in general.

Morality, worship and spiritual exercises. Morality is selflessness, loving others, and vigilance to do good. Rituals can facilitate insight, or be idolatry. Spiritual exercises include contemplative prayer, meditation and silence. Miracles are not important; it is important to perform common tasks with love.

Trinity. God is immanent (a personal, inner light within each person), transcendent (trans-temporal, beyond the human condition, rulemaker), and incarnate (in the world). Huxley might agree with my rejection of the Christian concept of a fall from which humans need to be redeemed through intervention. I prefer the Gnostic notion that we can become Christ.

Unitive knowledge. The soul is identical with the Divine Ground, so we may have a direct experience of God. The experience transcends self, words, truth, even faith. Again, this fits with Gnosticism.

Two excellent quotes praising the virtue of silence: “Physical noise, mental noise and noise of desire — we hold history’s record for all of them. And no wonder, for the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence.” Huxley said that in 1945. One of my all time favourite quotes from Meister Eckhart, “Why dost thou prate of God? Whatever thou sayest of Him is untrue.”