Perennial Philosophy - Definition

Definition

Perennialism is a perspective within the philosophy of religion which views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, universal truth on which foundation all religious knowledge and doctrine has grown. Each world religion, including but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Sikhism and Buddhism, is an interpretation of this universal truth adapted to cater for the psychological, intellectual and social needs of a given culture of a given period of history. The universal truth which lies at heart of each religion has been rediscovered in each epoch by saints, sages, prophets and philosophers. These include not only the 'founders' of the world's great religions but also gifted and inspired mystics, theologians and preachers who have revived already existing religions when they had fallen into empty platitudes and hollow ceremonialism.

Although the sacred scriptures of the world religions are undeniably diverse and often superficially oppose each other, there is discernible running through each a common doctrine regarding the ultimate purpose of human life. This doctrine is mystical in as far as it views the summum bonum of human life as an experiential union with the supreme being that can only be achieved by undertaking a programme of physical and mental purification.

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