What is Perennial Wisdom?
In the context of Perennial Wisdom truth is that which leads us beyond alienation and isolation to integration and unity; beyond fear to love; beyond exploitation of the other to justice for all; beyond violence and war to cooperation and peace; beyond the zero–sum, winner-takes-all worldview of “us against them” to the nonzero win-win worldview of “all of us together;” beyond the bifurcated world of chosen and not chosen, believer and infidel, saved and damned, truth–sayer and heretic to the unified world of seekers; and beyond the dualism of sacred and profane, heaven and earth, Creator and creation to the awareness that every finite “this” is a manifestation of the infinite and ineffable That.
While reflecting the language and tradition of the many civilizations and epochs in which it arises, Perennial Wisdom can be summarized in four points:
- All life arises in and is an expression of the nondual Infinite Life that is called by many names: Ultimate Reality, God, Tao. Mother, Allah, YHVH, Dharmakaya, Brahman, and Great Spirit among others.
- You contain two ways of knowing the world: a greater knowing (called Atman, Soul, Self, Spirit, Mind, etc.) that intuitively knows each finite life as a unique manifestation of Infinite Life, and a lesser knowing (called self, ego, ahem, kibr, etc.) that mistakes uniqueness for separateness, and imagines itself apart from rather than a part of Infinite Life.
- Awakening the greater Self and knowing the interconnectedness of all life in the singular Life carries with it a universal ethic calling the awakened to cultivate compassion and justice toward all beings.
- Awakening your greater Self and living this ethic is the highest goal you can set for yourself.
A Note About God
Perennial Wisdom is a global spirituality. By “global spirituality” we don’t mean a global religion: a single religion to replace the many religions of humankind. On the contrary, we have deep respect for both human religiosity and the specific religions that this innate religiosity creates. Yet we see in these specific religions a common thread of wisdom that, if highlighted in each faith tradition, and held as a central core belief of all humans, religious and otherwise, can provide the foundation for a new spiritually rich civility if not civilization.
Religions are Like Languages
Some may find it odd that while we claim to respect all religions, we reject the absolutist truth claims of every religion. If a religion isn’t true, why bother with it at all? The answer to this question rests with one’s understanding of religion. While scholars have and continue to debate just what religion is, we take a softer approach and root our understanding of religion in the metaphor of language: for us religions are languages for making meaning out of the raw facts of our existence.
Religion, like language, is a human creation reflecting and shaping the civilization from which it comes. Religion, like language, is neither true nor false. Religion, like language, evolves over time, and adapts words and concepts from other religions and languages. Religion, like language, is the way we humans archive and share experience, but is not itself synonymous with experience: d-o-g doesn’t bark and g-o-d doesn’t save. Some religions, like some languages, may be better at expressing some things rather than others, and there may be some things you simply cannot say in a given religion or language, but can say in a different religion or language. Just as being born into a mother–tongue does not preclude you from speaking other languages, so being born into a specific religion or no religion at all does not preclude you from learning the wisdom of any and all religions. And just as the more languages you know the more nuanced your understanding of life becomes, so the more religions you know the more nuanced your understanding of Truth becomes.