The Perennial Tradition — Center for Action and Contemplation

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The Perennial Tradition

The Wisdom Tradition

The Perennial Tradition
Sunday, January 4, 2015

The “perennial philosophy” or “perennial tradition” recognizes that there are some constant themes, truths, and recurrences in all of the world religions. Unfortunately, many religions have emphasized differences and claimed their particular brand is better than others. But there have been threads of the perennial tradition throughout history, even acknowledged by the Catholic Church. In Nostra Aetate, for example, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council begin by saying that “All peoples comprise a single community and have a single origin [created by one and the same Creator God]…. And one also is their final goal: God…. The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is true and holy in these religions” (Vatican II Documents, 1965, #1, 2). The document goes on to praise Native religion, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam as “reflecting a ray of that truth which enlightens all people.”

Aldous Huxley calls the perennial tradition a metaphysic, a psychology, and an ethic at the same time: “1) the metaphysic which recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; 2) the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical to, divine Reality; 3) the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being. This is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions” (The Perennial Philosophy, vii).

The Wisdom Tradition, as it can rightly be called, is what we hope to uncover this year, following a lineage of teaching and tradition through various times, people, and places. What I teach is true not because “Richard Rohr says so.” This wisdom is grounded in the unchanging yet ever fresh and relevant themes of a mature spirituality.

Gateway to Silence:
Wisdom pervades and penetrates all things.

Adapted from “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 11-12

Image Credit: Stringing Pearls by Vanessa Guerin
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