Perennial philosophy

PerennialismPerennialistphilosophia perennisSophia PerennisAgeless WisdomPerennialistsperennial Philosophersessentialisteternal values and principlesneo‑perennialism
The Perennial philosophy (philosophia perennis), also referred to as perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in spirituality that views all of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.wikipedia
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Perennialism has its roots in the Renaissance interest in neo-Platonism and its idea of the One, from which all existence emanates.
Neoplatonism also had a strong influence on the Perennial philosophy of the Italian Renaissance thinkers Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, and continues through nineteenth-century Universalism and modern-day spirituality and nondualism.

The Perennial Philosophy

In the 20th century universalism was further popularized in the English-speaking world through the neo-Vedanta inspired Traditionalist School, which argued for a metaphysical, single origin of the orthodox religions, and by Aldous Huxley and his book The Perennial Philosophy, which was inspired by neo-Vedanta and the Traditionalist School.
Its title derives from the theological tradition of perennial philosophy.


This perennial truth has been rediscovered in each epoch by mystics of all kinds who have revived already existing religions, when they had fallen into empty platitudes and hollow ceremonialism.
Since the 1960s scholars have debated the merits of perennial and constructionist approaches in the scientific research of "mystical experiences".

Absolute (philosophy)

AbsoluteThe AbsoluteUltimate Reality
The Traditionalist School discerns a transcendent and an immanent dimension, namely the discernment of the Real or Absolute, c.q. that which is permanent; and the intentional "mystical concentration on the Real."
The term has also been adopted by Aldous Huxley in his perennial philosophy to interpret various religious traditions, including Indian religions, and influenced other strands of nondualistic and New Age thought.

Prisca theologia

ancient theological tradition
Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499) sought to integrate Hermeticism with Greek and Jewish-Christian thought, discerning a Prisca theologia which could be found in all ages.
Prisca theologia is distinguishable from the related concept of the perennial philosophy, although some inadvertently use the two terms interchangeably.

Frithjof Schuon

The principal thinkers in this tradition are René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Frithjof Schuon.
He is considered one of the main representatives and an exponent of the religio perennis (perennial religion) and one of the chief representatives of the Traditionalist School.

Traditionalist School

TraditionalistTraditionalismTraditional School
The contemporary, scholarly oriented Traditionalist School continues this metaphysical orientation. This view is exemplified by Rene Guenon in The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, one of the founding works of the traditionalist school.
The Traditionalist School is a group of 20th and 21st century thinkers who believe in the existence of a perennial wisdom or perennial philosophy, primordial and universal truths which form the source for, and are shared by, all the major world religions.

Scholarly approaches to mysticism

mystical experienceMystical experiencesexperienced
In contrast to the Traditionalist school, Huxley emphasized mystical experience over metaphysics:
Perennialists regard this kind of mysticism to be universal.


A more popular interpretation argues for universalism, the idea that all religions, underneath seeming differences, point to the same Truth.

Agostino Steuco

Augustinus Steuchius
Agostino Steuco (1497–1548) coined the term philosophia perennis.
*Perennial philosophy

Hossein Nasr

Seyyed Hossein NasrNasrHosein Nasr
Other important thinkers in this tradition include Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Jean-Louis Michon, Marco Pallis, Huston Smith, Hossein Nasr, Jean Borella, Elémire Zolla and Julius Evola.
Nasr had been a disciple of Frithjof Schuon for over fifty years and his works are based on the doctrine and the viewpoints of the perennial philosophy.

Religious pluralism

The New Age aims to create "a spirituality without borders or confining dogmas" that is inclusive and pluralistic.


spiritualspirituallyspiritual life
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century.
The influence of Asian traditions on western modern spirituality was also furthered by the perennial philosophy, whose main proponent Aldous Huxley was deeply influenced by Swami Vivekananda's Neo-Vedanta and universalism, and the spread of social welfare, education and mass travel after World War II.


The discussion of mystical experience has shifted the emphasis in the perennial philosophy from these metaphysical intuitions to religious experience and the notion of nonduality or altered state of consciousness.
Western Neo-Platonism is an essential element of both Christian contemplation and mysticism, and of Western esotericism and modern spirituality, especially Unitarianism, Transcendentalism, Universalism and Perennialism.

Angus Macnab

John Angus MacNab
John Angus Macnab (1906–1977) was a British fascist politician who embraced Roman Catholicism under the influence of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, who was a close associate of William Joyce, and who later became noted as a Perennialist writer on Medieval Spain and translator of Latin and Greek poetry.

Advaita Vedanta

AdvaitaAdvaita VedāntaAdvaitha
Roy, Ramakrishna and Vivekananda were all influenced by the Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta, which they saw as the exemplification of a Universalist Hindu religiosity.
Thus, states King, neo-Vedanta developed as a reaction to western Orientalism and Perennialism.

Alice Bailey

Alice A. BaileyArcane Schoolesoteric astrology
Her writings bore some similarity to those of Madame Blavatsky and are among the teachings often referred to as the "Ageless Wisdom".

Ananda Coomaraswamy

Ananda K. CoomaraswamyAnanda Kentish CoomaraswamyAnanda Kumarasamy
The principal thinkers in this tradition are René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Frithjof Schuon.
When asked how he defined himself foremost, Coomaraswamy said he was a "metaphysician", referring to the concept of perennial philosophy, or sophia perennis.

Mateus Soares de Azevedo

de Azevedo
Mateus Soares de Azevedo (born 1959) is a Brazilian historian of religions, Islamologist, and esoterismologist, who has written several books on the Perennial Philosophy and the comparative study of religions, especially Christian and Islamic mysticisms.


Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational psychology, holistic health, parapsychology, consciousness research and quantum physics".
Cognitive archeology such as analysis of cave paintings and other pre-historic art and customs suggests that a form of perennial philosophy or Shamanism metaphysics may stretch back to the birth of behavioral modernity, all around the world.

Wisdom tradition

Wisdom Tradition is a synonym for Perennialism, the idea that there is a perennial or mystic inner core to all religious or spiritual traditions, without the trappings, doctrinal literalism, sectarianism, and power structures that are associated with institutionalized religion.

William Stoddart

He has been called a “master of synthesis” and is one of the important Perennialist writers in the present day.

The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times

This view is exemplified by Rene Guenon in The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, one of the founding works of the traditionalist school.

Educational perennialism

Perennialismsecular perennialism
Perennialists believe that one should teach the things that are of everlasting pertinence to all people everywhere, and that the emphasis should be on principles, not facts.

Religious experience

spiritual experiencereligious experiencesspiritual experiences
A broad range of western and eastern movements have incorporated and influenced the emergence of the modern notion of "mystical experience", such as the Perennial philosophy, Transcendentalism, Universalism, the Theosophical Society, New Thought, Neo-Vedanta and Buddhist modernism.