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The Return of the Perennial Philosophy: The Supreme Vision of Western Esotericism Paperback – January 1, 1999

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About the Author

John G. Holman Ph.D. is an independent scholar who holds degrees in the arts, philosophy and religious studies. A specialist in Western esotericism, he is a leading authority on Hermetic psychology and a practitioner of Raja yoga. He is a member of the Association for the Study of Esotericism, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, and the Scientific and Medical Network. He lives in Devon, England. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Watkins (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905857586
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905857586
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on March 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Books on this topic are sorely needed, not because one can add anything new to the perennial philosophy, but because so few modern minds seem to be able to gain purchase on the subject matter. It is simply almost impossible to discuss this subject with conventional scholars because they lack any conception of a world view higher than their own. They are still back in Plato's cave.

The first part of this book is a good survey of the various schools or approaches to the perennial philosophy through the ages. It offers a wider perspective than you will see through any one school (for instance, you are never going to find a positive reference to Theosophy in the works of Guenon.)

The second part is the most detailed discussion on the topic of initiation that I have ever come across. While I do not think that anyone can truly comprehend what is really meant by the various levels without actual experience, it is mind-expanding to know that there may be ten or more distinct plateaus. However, all of this depends on that all-important first initiation when you actually come to KNOW through experience that there is more to the world than dead matter...

The third part speculates on the changing of worldviews. The prevailing "modern" world view of the Cartesian-Newtonian materialists has proven unsatisfactory in almost every department of living that it has been forced upon. Then again, the resulting deconstructionist miasma of postmodernism has resulted in a swamp of skepticism and relativism. There is a growing realization among some perceptive and powerful thinkers that we need a return to real philosophy- the art of living once called wisdom.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Janie on July 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
I found this book a very rewarding read. The author is extremely widely read and has the ability to systematize and synthesise a vast number of ideas from different wisdom traditions, bringing out the parallels between western esotericism and eastern spiritual traditions. Having been a little ambivalent about theosophy in the past, I found the discussion of the ideas of authors such as Blavatsky and Annie Besant very interesting, since it illustrated that these authors did have a very genuine and enlightened perspective on spiritual matters. Most of all though, the book shows how enduring and pervasive the perennial philosophy is, running through eastern and western traditions from ancient to contemporary times.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on May 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
In style and content, somewhere between Huston Smith's "Forgotten Truth" and Helena Blavatsky's "The Secret Doctrine", this is one of the most important works on the esoteric wisdom to emerge in recent years. As Smith himself says on the cover, John Holman's portrait of the esoteric cosmos is close to being magisterial, but what I found most useful was the juxtaposition of esoteric and transpersonal psychology. I would recommend this book to fans of Ken Wilber as well as perennialist authors such as Smith and Blavatsky - it has the potential to become a new classic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James Sunderland on April 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author seems genuine and has a great tone that makes the book easy to read. However, this work feels more like a dissertation than a well-researched addition to an esoteric library.

The author's points regarding many perennialists are valid and serve as a good introduction to those new to the field or curious about esotericism and all the concepts it entails. Though I question if an "esotericologist" can ever possibly properly analyze what is taught in perennailism and yet remain outside, separate, analytical, and a scientist of esotericism. Bravo to the author for introducing this concern as I'm sure more and more people will seek the knowledge but neglect to become active in its involvement. Let the reader decide.

HOWEVER, PLEASE ALMOST ALWAYS DISREGARD THE THEOSOPHICAL CONTENT IN THIS BOOK if you are looking for more information or have an interest in Blavatsky and the other founders of the 19th century Theosophical Movement. The diagrams, content, and sources are almost all POST-Blavatsky and found NOWHERE in her writings, Esoteric or Exoteric branches included. They belong to Annie Besant, Alice Bailey, and others who continued the organization after HPB died and Judge left; who literally edited the Secret Doctrine as if it needed different editions, and came up with several of their own theories and works that are in direct conflict with the works of Isis Unveiled, the SD, Lucifer, and the other exhaustive amounts of original Theosophical literature. This, I fear, is the greatest mistake of the author and I do not attempt to bash Annie Besant or get into a debate, but LET THE READER BEWARE the theosophical information passed off as Blavatsky in this book is NOT the same as in her own writings or personal letters. Steiner's stuff is even closer.
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Format: Paperback
This piece of work penetrates into the esoteric heart of all traditions and lays out the perennial wisdom like no other book in the modern era. To say that John Holman has outdone himself is an understatement. In the same fashion of a spiritual adept or occult practitioner, John guides the reader into the depths of Western Esotericism and underpins the importance of psychological work in relation to any form of inner spiritual work.
The Return of the Perennial Philosophy is not bias in any regard, and in doing so, is a complete and thorough overview of the Great Work for any esoteric and spiritual student to marinate their mind in. John Holman's book is definitely a source book for all those who are sincere.
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