Reading Server Side Files

I need to read files from within my web page. I can not find a way to read server side files from within java. I know I can do it with perl or cgi stuff, but i don't want to use that. I also can do it with php except that i need to repeat stuff when someone clicks a drop box selection, I need to read another file based on what they select. Is there a way to keep php active on a page or is there a way to read files with Java Script.

Thanks in advance for your help

Ed Didion
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