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An Encyclopedia of the Inner Life,
This review is from: A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom (Perennial Wisdom Series) (Paperback)When I die I would like four books to be placed on the top of my coffin: "The Complete Poems of D.H. Lawrence", Robert Tressell's "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists", Henry David Thoreau's "Walden", and Whitall N Perry's "A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom".
Perry's "A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom" is a compilation of the sayings of the spiritual traditions of both West and East, and runs to over 1000 pages. A truly monumental work, it provides in one volume an encyclopedia of the traditional spiritual teachings of mankind that have changed little from distant millenia to the present day. It is not,however, an attempt at syncretism. Perry rightly recognises the historical validity of religious forms and structures that grew up in response to different circumstances of time and place, but draws out the underlying unity and universality of the "inner life". Too much emphasis on the latter might be considered a shortcoming, since Perry includes little on the themes of social solidarity such as justice, a major theme, for example, in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. The inclusion of more contemporary writers such as Thomas Merton, Bonhoeffer, or Ghandi would also have been welcome. The book is arranged thematically, with a short introduction to each topic.
Each of these four books act as signposts for the direction of life, and as a critique of why, in the opinion of the authors', we have lost the way.