The Primordial Tradition

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The Primordial Tradition is a school of religious philosophy which holds its origins in the philosophia perennis, or perennial philosophy, which is in turn a development of the prisca theologia of the Middle Ages.[1]

The Primordial Tradition seeks to establish a fundamental origin of religious belief in all authentic religious teachings, adhering to the principle that universal truths are a cross cultural phenomenon and transcendent of their respective traditions, mythologies, and religious beliefs. The idea of the Primordial Tradition was well received by both practitioners and the academic community, and its development was actively endorsed by the International Conference of Religions in Chicago, 1893[2]

The Primordial Tradition does not elevate any tradition or religion above another and instead upholds the truth claims of all authentic religions and spiritual movements. Adherents of the Primordial Tradition can be found in any religious system such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Paganism, Christianity or Islam.

By examining the foundations of religious thought as philosophical truth values, the Primordial Tradition seeks to produce a level of wisdom or gnosis which is greater than that which would be provided by the study of a single religious system. The process utilized is similar to the study of the history of religions and comparative mythology as is found in the works of authors such as Mircea Eliade. It can also be found in the school of archetypal psychology and in the ideas of Carl Jung

Key proponents of the Primordial Tradition have included Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, Julius Evola, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Elémire Zolla, Alain Danielou, Jean-Louis Michon, Gottfried Leibniz, Aldous Huxley, and Plato.

The Traditionalist School bases its teachings on religious belief on the concept of a pre-existent Primordial Tradition found in other religions.[3]


  1. ^ Antoine Faivre and Karen-Claire Voss, Western Esotericism and the Science of Religions, in Numen, Vol. 42 (E. J. Brill, Leiden 1995) 50-51
  2. ^ Antoine Faivre and Karen-Claire Voss, Western Esotericism and the Science of Religions, in Numen, Vol. 42 (E. J. Brill, Leiden 1995) 56
  3. ^ The Unanimous Tradition, Essays on the essential unity of all religions, by Joseph Epes Brown, Titus Burckhardt, Rama P. Coomaraswamy, Gai Eaton, Isaline B. Horner, Toshihiko Izutsu, Martin Lings, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Lord Northbourne, Marco Pallis, Whitall N. Perry, Leo Schaya, Frithjof Schuon, Philip Sherrard, William Stoddart, Elémire Zolla, edited by Ranjit Fernando, Sri Lanka Institute of Traditional Studies, 1991 ISBN 955-9028-01-4

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