Foundation Course in the Perennial Philosophy, Parts 1 & 2



Our purpose is to reaffirm the Perennial Philosophy which,

like an underground river, has flowed through all civilizations and all ages,

and wherever it sends up springs and fountains,

Beauty and Wisdom have flowered





A part-time Diploma Course over two years



Course Objectives

The purpose of the two-year course is to provide an introduction to the universal tradition that is our spiritual heritage, through direct engagement with key texts of both the West and the East. It offers an opportunity to study works of philosophy, poetry, and mysticism that have shaped and nourished civilization. By exploring perennial teachings, which for centuries have renewed and sustained our culture, it offers a vital counterbalance to prevailing assumptions and values. The expertise of the tutors is devoted to providing the most direct encounter possible with the teachings themselves, which, springing from the love of wisdom and the quest for truth, open up infinite riches for study and contemplation. It is hoped that students will learn from, and not merely about, some of the profoundest thinkers the world has known.



The Temenos Academy does not provide distance learning, record the seminars, or make the curriculum available to non-students.

For those wishing to explore Dante’s DIVINE COMEDY from afar, we suggest listening to the unique series of 21 talks given in 2001-2 by the late John Allitt, Fellow of the Temenos Academy (available in the website archive HERE).





Part One: The Western Tradition: Oct 2021 – June 2022

Students will be introduced to seminal texts of metaphysics, the visionary imagination and mysticism in the Western tradition. These formative works of the West include readings from the Dialogues of Plato, the Enneads of Plotinus, the poetic vision of Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Christian mystical writings of Meister Eckhart, and the theology of love in St Bernard of Clairvaux’s On Loving God.

Part One: structure

The course is divided into three modules over three terms:

(1) Metaphysics: 10 weeks, 5 October to 7 December 2021

(2) The Visionary Imagination: 12 weeks, 11 January to 29 March 2022

(3) Mysticism: 10 weeks, 26 April to 28 June 2022

Part One: content


Weeks 1–5: An introduction to Plato’s account of the creation of the cosmos, the nature of reality and the relationship between knowledge and the real, the mystical vision of the philosopher, the nature of the soul and Plato’s understanding of philosophy as a spiritual practice.
Textual sources: Timaeus, Republic, Phaedrus and Phaedo.
Weeks 6–10: An introduction to Plotinus’ understanding of the One and the Many, the soul’s descent into the body and the path of return to the transcendent.
Textual source: Selections from the Enneads.

The Visionary Imagination
The full text of Dante’s great visionary poem, The Divine Comedy, will be read in English translation. The module will cover the metaphysical and cosmological background to the poem as well as introducing students to the rich heritage of illustrations of the Divine Comedy from medieval to modern times.
Weeks 1–4: Inferno
Weeks 5–8: Purgatorio
Weeks 9–12: Paradiso

Weeks 1–5: An introduction to the great Christian mystic Meister Eckhart through selected sermons, Biblical commentaries and treatises.
Textual Sources: Sermons, Commentary on John 1, Book of Benedictus, and On Detachment.
Weeks 6–10: An introduction to the mystical theology of love in St Bernard of Clairvaux.
Textual Source: On Loving God.


Foundation Course Part 1 flyer 2021-22


Part Two: Eastern Traditions: Oct 2022 – June 2023

Students will be introduced to textual sources of the perennial philosophy in three major Eastern traditions: Hinduism, Taoism and Islamic Mysticism. Through guided reading of the The Bhagavad Gītā and the Upaniṣhads; the Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu and the Huai Nan Tzu; and ’Attar’s The Conference of the Birds, along with the writings of the great Islamic metaphysician Ibn ’Arabi, Part Two will ground students in the wisdom traditions of the East.

Part Two: structure

The course is divided into three modules over three terms:

(1) Hinduism: 10 weeks, 4 October to 6 December 2022

(2) Taoism: 10 weeks, 10 January to 14 March 2023

(3) Islamic Mysticism: 10 weeks, 25 April to 27 June 2023


Part Two: content


Weeks 1–5: An introduction to the classic of Hindu religious philosophy, the Bhagavad Gītā. The full text will be read.
Weeks 6–10: A study of selected passages from the principal Upaniṣhads, focusing on teachings concerning the Self or Ātman, the doctrines of rebirth and salvation, and the concept of Brahman. Where possible, the commentaries of Shankara will be used as a guide.
Textual sources: The Bhagavad Gītā, and selections from the Upaniṣhads.

An exploration of key themes of Taoism, including heaven and earth, life and death, transformation and illumination.
Weeks 1-4: Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (complete text).
Weeks 5-7: Selected writings from the Chuang Tzu.
Week 8-10: Selected writings from the Huai Nan Tzu.
Textual Sources: Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, and selections from the Chuang Tzu, and the Huai Nan Tzu.

Islamic Mysticism
Weeks 1–5: A study of the full text of  ’Attar’s The Conference of the Birds, introducing basic principles of creation, unity, self-knowledge and the spiritual quest.
Weeks 6-10: An introduction to the work of Ibn ’Arabī, based on selected readings from The Ringstones of Wisdom, exploring these themes in more depth.
Textual Sources: ’Attar, The Conference of the Birds. Ibn ’Arabī: selections from Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam (The Ringstones of Wisdom), al-Futuḥāt al-Makkiyya (The Meccan Revelations) and Kitab al-Isfar (The Book of Journeying).


Foundation Course PART 2 Flyer 2022-2023



DR VALENTIN GERLIER (Metaphysics / Hinduism) is a writer and musician, a tutor and member of the Temenos Academic Board. He also tutors in metaphysics and philosophy of religion at the University of Cambridge.

DR JEREMY NAYDLER (The Visionary Imagination) holds a PhD in Theology and Religious Studies and is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy. He has written several books on religious life in antiquity and has long had a love of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

DR JOSEPH MILNE (Mysticism / Hinduism) now retired Honorary Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Kent, is a Fellow of the Temenos Academy, Trustee of The Eckhart Society, and Editor of Land & Liberty magazine. His main interests are the medieval Christian mystics, the interpretation of Shakespeare, and the Western tradition of natural law.

SANDRA HILL (Taoism), after completing postgraduate studies in fine art at St. Martin’s School of Art, travelled to the Far East to pursue her interest in the influence of Eastern philosophy on Western art. She lived for four years in Japan, returning to the UK to study both classical philosophical and medical texts. Sandra currently practises Chinese calligraphy, Taoist meditation and acupuncture.

JANE CLARK MA (Islamic Mysticism) is a Senior Research Fellow of the Muhyiddin Ibn ’Arabi Society. She has a Masters degree in Medieval Arabic Philosophy from the University of Oxford, and has been studying, teaching and lecturing on the ideas of Ibn ’Arabi for more than thirty years.



Study of the modules will take place over six terms, with weekly meetings led by the module tutor on Tuesday evenings between 7pm and 9pm. Students will be expected to read approximately thirty or forty pages of text each week. Tuition will be conducted by lectures and guided discussions on the content of the previous week’s reading.



In order to receive a Certificate of Completion students will be required to write one essay of approximately 2000 words for each module and to attend a minimum of 80% of classes. Students who successfully complete both Part One and Part Two, and fulfil these criteria, will be eligible for a Temenos Academy Foundation Course Diploma. However, students may also attend the classes and not write an essay and therefore not receive the Certificate or Diploma.



The Art Workers Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT.
Nearest Underground Russell Square or Holborn


The fee is £1400 for two years (Part One and Part Two), or £800 for Part One or for Part Two only. A non-refundable deposit of £325 is required by 30 April 2021 in order to secure your place for the full course, the remainder of the fee (£1075) payable by 31 July 2021. For Part Two only, the non-refundable deposit of £325 will be required by 30 April 2022 and the remainder (£475) payable by 31 July 2022. Priority is given to students who book for the whole course. Individual modules will only be offered if spaces are available, at £325 per module. Early booking recommended.

The Course is open to students 18 years of age and over.

Discretionary concessions are available on application stating reasons to


To enrol please complete the Enrolment Form on the flyers (links above) or contact the Course Registrar, Emma Clark at:

On receipt of your payment, the curriculum will be sent to you.

Your enrolment includes an annual membership of the Temenos Academy, you will be sent the TEMENOS ACADEMY REVIEW, other publications as issued, and the programme of public lectures and seminars for that year.





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