Aldous Huxley

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David_Sundaram
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Aldous Huxley

Post by David_Sundaram »

For those who groove on intelligent interviews, here's one by Mike Wallace interviewing the author of The Perennial Philosophy



Enjoy!
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David_Sundaram
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Re: Aldous Huxley

Post by David_Sundaram »

For those who are too young or whose exposure has been too 'provincial' to be familiar with Aldous Huxley and/or his book, The Perennial Philosophy (free pdf download available here, here's a relevant blurb (copied from http://www.freepdf.info/index.php?post/ ... Philosophy ):

"PHILOSOPHIA PERENNIS the phrase was coined by Leibniz ; but the thing 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 ofall being the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditionary 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. A version of this Highest Common Factor in all preceding and subsequent theologies was first committed to writing more than twenty-five centuries ago, and since that time the inexhaustible theme has been treated again and again, from the standpoint of every religious tradition and in all the principal languages of Asia and Europe. In the pages that follow I have brought together a number of selections from these writings, chosen mainly for their significance because they effectively illustrated some particular point in the general system of the Perennial Philosophy but also for their intrinsic beauty and memorableness. These selections are arranged under various heads and embedded, so to speak, in a commentary of my own, designed to illustrate and connect, to develop and, where necessary, to elucidate. Knowledge is a function of being. When there is a change in the being of the knower, there is a corresponding change in the nature and amount of knowing. For example, the being of a child is transformed by growth and education into that of a man ; among the results of this transformation is a revolutionary change in the way of knowing and the amount and character of the things known. As the individual grows up, his knowledge becomes more conceptual and systematic in form, and its factual, utilitarian content is enormously increased. But these gains are offset by a certain deterioration in the quality of immediate apprehension, a blunting and a loss of intuitive power. Or consider the change in his being which the scientist is able to induce mechanically by means of his instruments. Equipped with a spectroscope and a sixty-inch reflector an astronomer becomes, so far as eyesight is concerned, a superhuman creature; and, as we should naturally expect, the knowledge possessed by this superhuman creature is very different, both in quantity and quality, from that which can be acquired by a stargazer with unmodified, merely human eyes. Nor are changes in the knower's physiological or intellectual being the only ones to affect his knowledge. What we know depends also on what, as moral beings, we choose to make ourselves. Practice,' in the words of William James, may change our theoretical horizon, and this in a twofold way : it may lead into new worlds and secure new powers. Knowledge we could never attain, remaining what we are, may be attainable in consequence of higher powers and a higher life, which we may morally achieve. To put the matter more succinctly, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' And the same idea has been expressed by the Sufi poet, Jalal-uddin Rumi, in terms of a scientific metaphor : The astrolabe of the mysteries of God is love. This book, I repeat, is an anthology of the Perennial Philosophy; but, though an anthology, it contains but few extracts from the writings of professional men of letters and, though illustrating a philosophy, hardly anything from the professional philosophers. The reason for this is very simple. The Perennial Philosophy is primarily concerned with the one, divine Reality substantial to the manifold world of things and lives and minds. But the nature of this one Reality is such that it cannot be directly and immediately apprehended except by those who have chosen to fulfill certain conditions, making themselves loving, pure in heart, and poor in spirit. Why should this be so ? We do not know. It is just one of those facts which we have to accept, whether we like them or not and however implausible and unlikely they may seem. Nothing in our everyday experience gives us any reason for supposing that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen; and yet when we subject water to certain rather drastic treatments, the nature of its constituent elements becomes manifest. Similarly, nothing in our everyday experience gives us much reason for supposing that the mind of the average sensual man has, as one of its constituents, something resembling, or identical with, the Reality substantial to the manifold world; and yet, when that mind is subjected to certain rather drastic treatments, the divine element, of which it is in part at least composed, becomes manifest, not only to the mind itself, but also, by its reflection in external behavior, to other minds. It is only by making physical experiments that we can discover the intimate nature of matter and its potentialities. And it is only by making psychological and moral experiments that we can discover the intimate nature of mind and its potentialities. In the ordinary circumstances of average sensual life these potentialities of the mind remain latent and unmanifested. If we would realize them, we must fulfill certain conditions and obey certain rules, which experience has shown empirically to be valid. ..."
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David_Sundaram
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Re: Aldous Huxley

Post by David_Sundaram »

Many do not know that Aldous was a pioneer 'tripper' (using mescaline and LSD), his drug-facilated 'trips' antedating BK's by many years. Here's an excerpt from his 24 page 'book', The Doors of Perception (downloadable here) The musical group. ("The Doors" supposedly took their group 'name' from it, BTW.)

"There is no form of contemplation, even the most
quietistic, which is without its ethical values. Half at least of all morality is negative and consists in
keeping out of mischief. The Lord's Prayer is less than fifty words long, and six of those words are
devoted to asking God not to lead us into temptation. The one-sided contemplative leaves undone many
things that he ought to do; but to make up for it, he refrains from doing a host of things he ought not to
do. The sum of evil, Pascal remarked, would be much diminished if men could only learn to sit quietly in
their rooms. The contemplative whose perception has been cleansed does not have to stay in his room.
He can go about his business, so completely satisfied to see and be a part of the divine Order of Things
that he will never even be tempted to indulge in what Traherne called "the dirty Devices of the world."
When we feel ourselves to be sole heirs of the universe, when "the sea flows in our veins ... and the stars
are our jewels," when all things are perceived as infinite and holy, what motive can we have for
covetousness or self-assertion, for the pursuit of power or the drearier forms of pleasure?

Contemplatives are not likely to become gamblers, or procurers, or drunkards; they do not as a rule
preach intolerance, or make war; do not find it necessary to rob, swindle or grind the faces of the poor.
And to these enormous negative virtues we may add another which, though hard to define, is both
positive and important. The arhat and the quietist may not practice contemplation in its fullness; but if
they practice it at all, they may bring back enlightening reports of another, a transcendent country of the
mind; and if they practice it in the height, they will become conduits through which some beneficent
influence can flow out of that other country into a world of darkened selves, chronically dying for lack of
it.
"
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Cleric K
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Re: Aldous Huxley

Post by Cleric K »

I should say Huxley's Brave New World was a very influential read for me, years ago, when I was still sporting hard-core materialistic scientific atheism with great fury :)
The idea of conditioning (alpha, beta, ...) was very eye opening for me about many thing in human psychology.
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Soul_of_Shu
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Re: Aldous Huxley

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

I know David doesn't generally do longish videos/interviews, but some Huxley aficionados may appreciate this NTA discussion taking a biographical look into the influence of Huxley's contemporaneous cohorts, one being the less frequently heard of Gerald Heard who mentored Huxley's interest in mysticism, who together made up a group of psychedelic 'pioneers' ~ at least of the early postmodern sort ~ predating the infamous Leary days of the 1960s ...

Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
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Lou Gold
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Re: Aldous Huxley

Post by Lou Gold »

And on a separate track from these "pioneers" was Richard Evan Schultes who, according to Wikipedia,

On entering Harvard in 1933, Schultes planned to pursue medicine. However that changed after he took Biology 104, "Plants and Human Affairs," taught by orchidologist and Director of the Harvard Botanical Museum Oakes Ames. Ames became a mentor, and Schultes became an assistant in the Botanical Museum; his undergraduate senior thesis studied the ritual use of peyote cactus among the Kiowa of Oklahoma, and he obtained BA in Biology in 1937. Continuing at Harvard under Ames, he completed his Master of Arts in Biology in 1938 and his Ph.D. in Botany in 1941. Schultes' doctoral thesis investigated the lost identity of the Mexican hallucinogenic plants teonanácatl (mushrooms belonging to the genus Psilocybe) and ololiuqui (a morning glory species) in Oaxaca, Mexico.

His book The Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers (1979), co-authored with chemist Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, is considered his greatest popular work: it has never been out of print.

He was the first to academically examine ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew made out of Banisteriopsis caapi vine in combination with various plants; of which he identified Psychotria viridis (Chacruna) and Diplopterys cabrerana (Chaliponga), both of which contained a potent short-acting hallucinogen, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT).

Be calm - Be clear - See the faults - See the suffering - Give your love
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