A “Best Spiritual Book of the Year.”
Spirituality & Practice

Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent: Sacred Teachings—Annotated & Explained

A "bible" for the religiously unaffiliated, weaving sacred texts from the world's major religions into a coherent exploration of the core questions at the heart of every religion's search, with insightful commentary on using these texts in our daily lives.

Annotation by Rami Shapiro
Foreword by Richard Rohr

5½ x 8½, 336 pp | 978-1-59473-515-8

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The spiritual teachings of many faith traditions can help you step beyond the limits of any one tradition to the reality that can’t be named.

The fastest growing spiritual movement in the United States today is that of the religiously unaffiliated. These spiritual seekers make up 20 percent of the adult American population; they are the spiritual equivalent of political independents. Refusing to limit themselves to one religion or another, these seekers without borders are open to wisdom wherever it can be found.

This is a “bible” for this vast and growing social movement. It weaves sacred texts and teachings from the world’s major religions—Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and more—into a coherent exploration of the five core questions at the heart of every religion’s search:

• Who am I? • Where did I come from? • Where am I going? • How shall I live? • Why?  

It couples these sacred teachings with modern commentary designed to help readers use these texts in their daily lives. It also provides the basics of spiritual mentor Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation to help you internalize the texts that articulate your deepest insights and values.

“Even the spiritually independent can use a wise pastor, and Rami Shapiro steps into this role admirably, with his inimitable combination of wit, irony, honesty and luminous mystical understanding. The perfect guide for navigating the deep seas of perennial wisdom!”

Cynthia Bourgeault, author, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, The Wisdom Jesus and The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three

Do not read this book, unless, that is, you want insight into life’s biggest questions.... This book is the fruit of the author’s own search for meaning and will bear fruit for any reader who approaches it, and life, with sacred sincerity.”

Tom Stella, author, Finding God Beyond Religion: A Guide for Skeptics, Agnostics & Unorthodox Believers Inside & Outside the Church

“An inclusive and refreshing look at the spiritual wisdom found in a myriad of faith traditions.... A fine response to society’s growing desire for philosophia perennis.”

Catholic Library World

“Marvelous ... it will change your life. Sufis say that once the Blush of the Beloved graces you, there is no going back to being a green apple.”

Imam Jamal Rahman, author, The Spiritual Gems of Islam: Insights & Practices from the Qur’an, Hadith, Rumi & Muslim Teaching Stories to Enlighten the Heart & Mind

“Illuminating commentary…. In sharing the fruit of his own search for meaning, Shapiro has admirably stepped into the role of guide to independent seekers.… This book beautifully shows the way.”


“Wise ... I want all my friends to read and savor this book!”

Gordon Peerman, Episcopal priest and psychotherapist; author, Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists about Suffering

“A deep mine filled with jewels of wisdom, each and every one radiant with light. When seen with our hearts, these jewels blaze the light of truth into the darkness of our limited understanding. A wonder-full offering.”

Krishna Das, internationally known chant artist

Foreword ix
Preface xiii
Spiritually Independent, Not Spiritually Disinterested xiii
Perennial Philosophy: It's Fourfold xiv
Passage Meditation: Meaningful Memorization xiv
The Five Questions: The Heart of the Spiritual Quest xv
Personal Note xvi
Acknowledgments xvii
What Is Perennial Wisdom? 1
Who Am I? 10
Where Did I Come From? 54
Where Am I Going? 118
How Shall I Live? 176
Why? 258
Sages Cited, Annotated 283
Primary Sources, Annotated 296
Notes 309
Bibliography and Suggestions for Further Reading 310