One People, One Planet, HON!

The Perennial Philosophy

2006, pen and ink and watercolor, 17” x 17”

This piece was created upon an invitation to participate in a show called “Of Doors and Keys” at the Jewish Community Center in Baltimore. Unlike the rest of the participants, Hieronimus chose to work with a mystical interpretation of doors and keys. “The Perennial Philosophy” combines the symbols of the dominant religions of the West to show that they are all keys to unlock the door to the knowledge that we are One People on One Planet.

A perennial philosophy suggests universal truths and principles indigenous to all peoples and cultures. It is what forms the common ground of most religions, from the so-called primitive peoples to the more intricate forms. People across time have recorded their perceptions about the nature of reality, and at their roots they are more similar than different. Aldous Huxley noted in his 1944 book, The Perennial Philosophy, that the term philosophia perennis was popularized by the 17th century philosopher, Gottfried Leibniz. Huxley updated the definition to read: “the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions.”

Hieronimus suggests that by studying the rudiments of the perennial philosophy found among the symbolism of the three great religions of the West, we could find the keys to peace. A simplified analysis and interpretation of this piece demonstrates deep similarities between these three sacred symbols: the Star of David, the cross, and the crescent and star. The goal of securing peace between these peoples in conflict (Jews, Christians and Moslems) could be assisted by an image focusing our attention on their similarities rather than their differences.

The Star of David is composed of two triangles, one point up, the other point down. The upright triangle is symbolic of fire or male or active energy, and the inverted triangle is symbolic of water or female or passive energy. These opposites combine to form a union, a balance; they are “at peace.”

The cross is composed of two intersecting lines, one vertical, the other horizontal. The vertical line is symbolic of a ray from the sun, fire, male, or active energy, and the horizontal is symbolic of the horizon of the earth (the earth), water, female, or passive energy. These opposites combine to form a union, a balance; they are “at peace.”

The crescent moon with the star is another variation of the same story. The five-pointed star is symbolic of fire, active, or male energy. It is being cradled between the horns of the crescent moon symbolic of passive, feminine, watery energy. Once again, these opposites combine to form a union, a balance; they are “at peace.”

"The Perennial Philosophy" combines all these symbols into one to illustrate the “immanent and transcendent ground of all being.” Hieronimus patterned the colors, shapes and locations of the three symbols to draw energy from each other. In this piece they are both the doors and the keys to the “immemorial and universal” knowledge that We Are All One.