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A Definition of the Perennial Philosophy
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  A definition of the Perennial Philosophy Back to the List of Slideshows
    
However, before we examine Schuon's terse statement, here is a paragraph that should immediately offer some keys to understanding the Perennial Philosophy. It is found in William Stoddart's introduction to Ye Shall Know the Truth: Christianity and the Perennial Philosophy. Stoddart writes:

The central idea of the perennial philosophy is that Divine Truth is one, timeless, and universal, and that the different religions are but different languages expressing that one Truth. The symbol most often used to convey this idea is that of the uncolored light and the many colors of the spectrum which are made visible only when the uncolored light is refracted. In the Renaissance, the term betokened the recognition of the fact that the philosophies of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus incontrovertibly expounded the same truth as lay at the heart of Christianity. Subsequently the meaning of the term was enlarged to cover the metaphysics and mysticisms of all of the great world religions, notably, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.

The "central idea" is "that Divine Truth is one, timeless, and universal." As this single Truth reverberates through all times and places in human history, It is manifested in different civilizations so "that the different religions are but different languages expressing that one Truth." Unfortunately, in this brief summary we cannot go into the detailed reasons why the Perennial Philosophy rejects unqualified exclusivist claims to the Truth by the different religions.

What is important to note here are two prominent characteristics of the Perennial Philosophy: First, its starting point is an Absolute. It proceeds from the notion that there is a God, which puts it at odds with most modern philosophies. Second, though resting on the principle of an Absolute Reality, it is non-sectarian. When writing of the Divine Truth, for example, Perennialists have no agenda due to their personal religious affiliations. They only search to express that Truth on its own terms, not on the terms of one or another of its earthly expressions. The Perennial Philosophy respects the theologies of the great religious traditions, but points out to us that these all are various "colors," to use Stoddart's image, derived from the same uncolored Source. It is this Source and its nature that is of primary importance to perennialists.

We can now move on to Schuon's statement, but first we will have to clear up the confusion that arises from the use of certain terminology.
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