Meister Eckhart, Perennial Wisdom + Aldous Huxley [BONUS 6]

Updated: Aug 4

In this Bonus Episode, I continue my exploration of Mysticism by introducing you to a mystic named Meister Eckhart (1260–1328), who heavily influenced my own personal pursuit of 'detachment' (which he called "dis-interest").

I will also talk a bit about Perennial Philosophy (aka Perennial Wisdom),  a perspective in spirituality that views all of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine have grown.

Finally, I will tease you with a little bit from the British writer and novelist Aldous Huxley who wrote the dystopian novel Brave New World as well as the 1945 non-fiction book The Perennial Philosophy.

(FYI: In the Spring of ‘53, Huxley had his first mescaline induced mystical experience, which he details in The Doors of Perception - the book that inspired Jim Morrison to name his band 'The Doors'. I will tell you much more in next week's Full episode!)

Introduction

In this bonus episode, I continue the exploration of Mysticism by introducing you to a mystic named Meister Eckhart (1260–1328), who heavily influenced my own personal pursuit of 'detachment' (which he called "dis-interest"). We also take a look at perennial philosophy (aka perennial wisdom) and Aldous Huxley, whose 1945 book on the subject offers readers a fresh approach to Eastern and Western mysticism.


Summary

  • Meister Eckhart

  • Neoplatonism / “detachment”

  • Sermons

  • Documented in The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart

  • Practical for his followers

  • Themes: the presence of God in the individual soul and the dignity of the soul of the just man

  • Perennial philosophy: all of the world's religious traditions share a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.

  • Traditionalist vision not based on mystical experiences but metaphysical intuitions, “intuitive, directly through divine intellect”

  • Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

  • Truth could be found in many traditions

  • Harmony between Plato and Aristotle

  • Saw aspects of 'prisca theologia' in the Quran, the Kabbalah, and other texts

  • Universalism: the idea that all religions underneath seeming differences point to the same truth

  • Aldous Huxley

  • The Perennial Philosophy (published in 1945)

  • Employs both Eastern and Western mysticism


Quotables

  • “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.” --Meister Eckhart

  • “The metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being — the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions. A version of this Highest Common Factor in all preceding and subsequent theologies was first committed to writing more than twenty-five centuries ago, and since that time the inexhaustible theme has been treated again and again, from the standpoint of every religious tradition and in all the principal languages of Asia and Europe.” ----Aldous Huxley, Introduction to The Perennial Philosophy

  • “Knowledge is a function of being.” --Aldous Huxley, Introduction to The Perennial Philosophy

  • “If one is not oneself a sage or saint, the best thing one can do, in the field of metaphysics, is to study the works of those who were, and who, because they had modified their merely human mode of being, were capable of a more than merely human kind and amount of knowledge.” --Aldous Huxley, Introduction to The Perennial Philosophy


Recommended Resources + External Links

NOTE: I briefly touch on The Upanishads ("secret teaching"), which are a series of Hindu sacred treatises - one of Hindu's sacred texts, written in Sanskrit c. 800–200 BC, expounding the Vedas in predominantly mystical terms. The texts are written in a passionate poetic verse describing mystical states and spiritual concepts as well as descriptive short stories and dialogues between historical figures. They discuss things such as meditation, philosophy, Karma, higher states of being, and the nature of our maker... and even though the teachings are now thousands of years old, they are just as relevant today as they were back then. I encourage you to explore them further.


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