The perennial wisdom tradition is also known as perennials or perennial wisdom. Wikipedia defines it as a perspective of philosophy and spirituality that views all of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single truth or original form, which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine have grown. According to several leaders of philosophy, perennial wisdom has multiple meanings. The most used definition talks about the truth shared by all major religions in the world. It is also a form of religious pluralism.

Looking at certain types of mystical or other religious experiences, there is some sense of correlation in all or almost all the human cultures, religions, and traditions. Perennial wisdom tradition can be traced back to ancient times and taken seriously by those that call themselves spiritual and not religious. Religion has a way of dividing us humans into believing some truths and neglecting some obvious facts. No matter how glaring the neglected truth is, religion blindfolds us from seeing the truth. Some religious leaders make us believe that it is a sin when you go against religious standards.

There is a sentimental approach to religious standards and biased judgment of things. This affects marriages, our relationship with people, our form of happiness, and the things we celebrate. It is the religion that has led to some sects being religious extremists. This article is not meant to downplay religion but to show that there is something that binds us behind all of the religious differences.

Perennial wisdom tradition, however, has not been a hot topic in recent times among religious leaders for a variety of reasons. It has only been a mini concept that comes up only a few times in philosophy journals. In the contemporary discussion of the philosophy of religion, perennialism has been an alternative form of religious pluralism.

The influence of the Perennial wisdom tradition

Perennial wisdom tradition does not mean a global religion or another religion to replace the various religions that we have. It has respect for both human religiosity and the perception it creates. In all these religions, there is a common thread of wisdom which is what the perennial wisdom tradition preaches. If this truth is highlighted and held as a core belief of all religions and human beliefs, it could provide a foundation for a new sense of understanding. Some people find it odd to respect all religions and the standards and the truth they hold.

While scholars have debated what religion means, we must take a softer approach to understand the root. Religion is a human creation for reflection and shaping our lives and relationships. Religion is neither true nor false, and it evolves. Like other secular development, it adopts concepts. Some religions may be better at experiencing some things than others – there may be things accepted in one religion but found offensive in another.

Just like being born into a particular ethnic group with their language doesn’t stop you from learning other languages. The more languages you know, the more your understanding of people. When relating this to religion, the more religion you know, the more your understanding of the truth. Spiritual people, not religious people, tend to make an unbiased judgment about the actual truth in some religions.  

perennial wisdom

Effects caused by differences in religion

People united by race, country, ethnic group, tribe, and family have been divided by religion. The effects of our religious differences have caused a lot of havoc in our world. When our sense of beliefs differs, we are bound to step on each other’s toes. The funniest thing is that the accepted Do’s in religion are the accepted Don’ts in the other religion. When you do unacceptable things in the presence of a religious person, he sees you as a sinner and wouldn’t want to associate with you.

You can also check out our other related article Wisdom in Philosophy:

Below are the most common effects caused by religious differences:

–          Attacks:

We are not new to attacks from religious extremists who claim to obey their god by killing those that are not like them. We live in a free world where everyone can believe in whatever they want to believe. This hasn’t been the case with the religious extremists. They tend to force their belief on others or kill those that refuse. Religious terrorism has been battling with the world’s peace for years, with notable examples that we can easily find.

–          Lack of Trust:

Religious differences have led to a lack of trust among people. Even the most qualified personnel for jobs and positions are being doubted due to religious differences. In a narrower case, it is very hard to trust someone who doesn’t hold the same religious standards as you.

–          Inequality:

Another effect is inequality. Some religions are not given the same benefit of the doubt as others. Some people are not considered for some promotional posts due to religion, while some people have been denied entry into another country because of religion.

–          Breach of rules:

Imagine a religious person in government; as unbiased as the person might be, he would make decisions that can cause a debate among other religious groups. There was a time when some governments ruled against wearing a Hijab as part of any professional dressing. Although some governments don’t see anything bad in wearing it, it still depends on those making the rule at that time. In a secular world, there are not meant to be any religious affiliations with dressing or relationships.

–          Hostility:

People become hostile to others when they find out about their religion. It is hard to see religious groups help another religious group. A community full of religious people will be a hostile environment. People will not have the freedom to do what they like as they might be tagged unclean or sinners.

–          Segregation:

Our religious differences have brought about segregation. We see ourselves as different from others because of religion. We tend to offer help to people of the same religion as us but close doors of opportunities to others.

perennial wisdom

Criticism of Perennial wisdom tradition

Perennial wisdom tradition is much more of a natural attitude than the exclusivism and tribalism of some religions. But what is wrong with the perennial wisdom tradition? Over the years, there have been lots of arguments over perennial wisdom traditions. An example of this criticism is found in the book “Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality” by Jorge Ferrer, a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

In his book, Ferrer made three main criticism of the perennial wisdom tradition:

1.       All religions are not the same

Perennial wisdom preaches that the truth binds all religions together, but there are some misconceptions about this. Deeply rooted religious leaders themselves do not agree that all religions are talking about the same reality. An example of this is what the Christians tag as the eternal hope of the future which is different from the eternal now of Buddhism.

2.       Perennials tend to rank religions hierarchically

All religions are equal, but some are more equal than others. In perennial, religions are ranked and even sects within religions are ranked. Perennialism tends to be western rather than having the same grounds for all religions. Christianity is, in most cases, ranked at the bottom or near the bottom. Aldous Huxley said that the Bible is an obstacle to evolution. Christianity and Islam don’t fit well into the perennial framework because they believe in the unique revelation of faith.

3.       Perennialism preaches practices that rely on observation and experience

Aldous Huxley and some other perennials tend to describe perennial wisdom as a science of consciousness. This means that our experiences are subjected to occurrences within our brains to validate spiritual experiences.

Ferrer further states that “Divine reality exists”. Ferrer’s philosophy tends to be tolerant and not hierarchical. He claims that perennial wisdom is not possible and those who initiated it are religiously biased. Still, there could be an agreement between all religions. Even perennials don’t agree on one version of perennial wisdom. Huxley being the father of perennial wisdom, at some point in his life, shifted to a more relaxed and body accepting perennialism.

Frequently Asked Question:

Here are some important Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Perennialism another religion?

Perennialism is not another religion, nor is it an alternative to the global religions we have today.

Can perennial help solve religious differences?

All religions are not the same but equal. Religious differences will remain as long as there are different religions.

Is perennialism achievable?

As it stands, it is almost impossible to have a perennial wisdom tradition.

An English theologian Keith Ward in his book “Religion in the Modern World”, suggests that the way forward in a world of competing for religious faith is relativism. Relativism is a theory or a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them. Ward calls it sympathetic inclusivism. His view expressly means to have a religious group to associate with rather than having a taste of multiple religions without getting anywhere.

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