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William C. Chittick explores "The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi"
The Sacred Worlds Series
Books on Hinduism
Who was Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa)?
World Wisdom's Spiritual Classics series
Exploring "Timeless in Time" - a biography of Sri Ramana Maharshi
Treasures of the World's Religions
What is "Christian Spirit"?
A Definition of the Perennial Philosophy
The Universal Spirit of Islam: Keys for Interfaith Understanding
  A definition of the Perennial Philosophy Back to the List of Slideshows
The designations "traditionalist" and "perennialist" are nearly synonymous and are, for all intents and purposes, interchangeable. All of the major twentieth writers in this area wrote of Tradition. By this they meant the entirety of the intellectual, religious, cultural, and artistic aspects that tie a people to a Revelation or to a sacred origin. Thus, such an entity as this Tradition is itself considered sacred. All things centered on this Tradition, such as a civilization, its arts or crafts, doctrines, etc., all can be referred to as "traditional."

"Traditional" is not used by these writers just to designate cultural artifacts passed along from one generation to another by sheer habit. Instead, it is used to indicate, for example, those civilizations whose ideas, practices, creations, and so on are still guided and formed by the attraction to and the principles of the domain of the Spirit. People who study Tradition are called "traditionalists," and all such traditionalists accept the premises of the Perennial Philosophy.

It might be said that there is a slight difference in accentuation that the two appellations imply. Those who call themselves perennialists might be more likely to say that the loftiest principles and realities are of most interest to them, while those who call themselves traditionalists might be more focused on exploring within one or several specific traditions and from there to trace back specific forms to their divine archetypes or to analogous forms in other traditions. In practice, it is really more a matter of personal preference and is not an essential distinction, so we must consider traditionalists and perennialists to follow similar precepts.
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