In our world, nothing stays the same for long. We’re taught to rely on the advice of experts, but even their learned opinions appear to change with the breeze. And when we examine the history of religion and spiritual philosophy, we can identify the shifts and changes there as well. If we want to experience lasting peace and joy, what can we rely on? There is something that has remained unchanged for the last twenty-five centuries, and during that time has helped innumerable seekers connect with the Divine. In a world that’s severely lacking in harmony, we can ill afford to disregard a message that’s united many of the world’s greatest minds. Are you curious? 

The perennial philosophy is a golden thread of spiritual thought that’s woven through virtually all cultures, time periods and areas of the globe. Although it’s not a religion, it’s been a part of so-called ‘primitive’ and pagan belief systems as well as the mystical branches of nearly every organized religion. It’s a group of harmonious spiritual concepts that are free of dogma and ritual. And as you’ll see, its very nature defies organization. The perennial philosophy is not a formula for enlightenment. Instead, its simple principles demonstrate that spiritual mastery is within the reach of all who have that desire.

Although the concept itself appears to be ageless, the term philosophia perennis was first coined in the 15th century and later popularized by the 17th century mathematician/philosopher Gottfried Leibniz.  In his 1945 book, The Perennial Philosophy, Aldous Huxley demonstrated the underlying universal aspect of the philosophy that will escape us if we remain attached to a particular belief system. Although the perennial philosophy has much more to offer, it can be summed up in four of its most basic and encouraging concepts:

  1. There is a Divine Ground that permeates the universe. The world we think we see is a temporary projection that originates from that Divine Ground
  2. A change of consciousness is required to become aware of, and experience, the Divine Ground.
  3. Everyone has the ability to experience the Divine.
  4. Experiencing the Divine is life’s highest purpose. 

In other words, life-giving intelligence permeates everything in existence. This intelligence wants to be known and can be known. Contrary to the material realist’s postulate that consciousness not only evolved from matter, but is itself matter, the perennial philosophy implies that consciousness is the matrix or foundation from which the material portion of the universe arises! As Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Planck observed, “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.” Simply put, the perennial philosophy is telling us that we become aware of the Divine through the field of consciousness that permeates and connects everything in existence.

Most of us have been taught that it is only a very few favored ‘spiritual masters’ that have the special privilege of connecting directly with the Divine. The perennial philosophy does not agree. It tells us that no secrets, methods, formulas or spiritual practices are necessary to experience this Oneness.  Knowing the Divine does require a shift in our awareness, but everyone is capable of making that shift. Thousands of spiritual seekers have made that shift, and you can too.

How do we shift our awareness? Aldous Huxley explained that successful spiritual seekers share a certain mindset that consists of these qualities:

  • “Pure in heart.”  This does not mean we need to “clean up our act.” It refers to our motives. A pure heart is looking for a connection with the Divine for the sheer joy of that connection.  A pure heart isn’t asking for material blessings.
  • “Poor in spirit.” This has nothing to do with poverty. It means that we understand that the world can make us rich, but it can never enrich us. We’re poor in spirit when we understand that our life will be empty unless we have a direct connection with the Divine.
  • “Empty hands.” Seekers with empty hands are willing to let go of all mental conditioning, preconceived notions and the desire for a particular outcome. They are willing to be instructed by the Divine instead of trying to fit the Divine into their own belief system.

These qualities are free and available to everyone, no matter what our circumstances might be. Most of us have been taught that we learn about God by studying a holy book, attending religious services or listening to the teachings of a guru. But spiritual masters have never been interested in learning 'about' Divine Presence; they expect to 'know' the Divine first-hand through personal experience. The perennial philosophy tells us this is not only possible, it’s our highest purpose.

Lee & Steven Hager are the authors of several books exploring the dynamic synergy of science, spirituality and gnosis. To learn more, they invite you to visit their website: http://thebeginningoffearlessness.com

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