DOORS OF PERCEPTION BOOK
After returning to Los Angeles, he took a month to write the book. The Doors of Perception was the first book Huxley. The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay, released as a book, by Aldous Huxley. First published in , it details his experiences when taking. much interest. The mind does its Perceiving in terms of intensity of existence, profundity of significance, relationships within a pattern. I saw the books, but was .
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Among the most profound and influential explorations of mind-expanding psychadelic drugs ever written, here are two complete classic books--The Doors of. Huxley described his experience with breathtaking immediacy in The Doors of "The Doors of Perception is a poignant book, partly because it reveals the. The Doors of Perception: Heaven and Hell (Thinking Classics) [Aldous Huxley The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
To these the book may be of value. It is hardly possible that it will impress anyone endowed with common sense and a critical faculty. Others, meanwhile, doubted that he could see much at all.
Wikipedia cites a Saturday Review column from Bennett Cerf published in , just two years before The Doors Of Perception, describes Huxley speaking at a Hollywood banquet, wearing no glasses and seemingly reading from his notes with ease: "Then suddenly he faltered — and the disturbing truth became obvious. He wasn't reading his address at all.
He had learned it by heart. To refresh his memory he brought the paper closer and closer to his eyes. When it was only an inch or so away he still couldn't read it, and had to fish for a magnifying glass in his pocket to make the typing visible to him. It was an agonising moment. Was he protesting too much? Alternatively, was his delight and concern for the visual world all the more heightened because he had fought so hard to retain his sight — and knew what it means to lose it.
Given that The Art Of Seeing had aroused such anger and doubt, was he perhaps using the Doors Of Perception as a way to answer his critics? Is it possible that Huxley's subconscious was operating in ways he didn't care to acknowledge? Well, maybe.
But now I'm in the realm of speculation. Just before I leave, one more conjecture: Huxley wouldn't be entirely delighted at the suggestion the book is somehow about his eye trouble. For him, it was all about mescaline.
The message was the drug and its astonishing potential. It marked forgive me the high point in a lifelong obsession. As anyone familiar with Brave New World will know, Huxley's most famous novel also shows the influence of drugs.
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The citizens of the future are nearly all hopped up on Soma, a powerful hallucinogen that allows "a holiday" from reality, imparts a tremendous feeling of well-being, softens up the mind and poisons the body. In the climactic scene in the book, when John the Savage rebels against Fordist society, his anger is concentrated on Soma, which has come to symbolise all that is rotten in this future-state.
It's fascinating to re-read this earlier book in the light of The Doors Of Perception — especially since, in it, Huxley frequently suggests that Soma is very similar to mescaline in its effects. Back in the s, he even described mescaline as a worse poison than Soma, rendering poor Linda vomitous and even dumber than usual. Clearly, in the 22 years between the publication of the two books Huxley revised his opinions about the drug.
By the time he finally sampled mescaline he was convinced it would offer him insight rather than the distraction from reality offered by Soma.
As The Doors Of Perception demonstrates the drug exceeded his expectations. In the s, an American anthropologist Weston La Barre , published The Peyote Cult , the first study of the ritual use of peyote as an entheogen drug amongst the Huichol people of western Mexico. La Barre noted that the Indian users of the cactus took it to obtain visions for prophecy, healing and inner strength.
In the early s, when Huxley wrote his book, mescaline was still regarded as a research chemical rather than a drug and was listed in the Parke-Davis catalogue with no controls. Most notable, William S. Burroughs,  Jack Kerouac,  and Allen Ginsberg  —all of whom were respected contemporary beat artists  of their generation. Theirs and many other contemporary artists works were heavily influenced by over the counter forms of mescaline during this time due to its potency and attainability.
Huxley had been interested in spiritual matters and had used alternative therapies for some time. In he told TS Eliot that he was starting to meditate ,  and he used other therapies too; the Alexander Technique and the Bates Method of seeing had particular importance in guiding him through personal crises.
He had known for some time of visionary experience achieved by taking drugs in certain non-Christian religions. Huxley had first heard of peyote use in ceremonies of the Native American Church in New Mexico soon after coming to the United States in Osmond's paper set out results from his research into schizophrenia using mescaline that he had been undertaking with colleagues, doctors Abram Hoffer and John Smythies.
After reading Osmond 's paper, Huxley sent him a letter on Thursday, 10 April , expressing interest in the research and putting himself forward as an experimental subject. His letter explained his motivations as being rooted in an idea that the brain is a reducing valve that restricts consciousness and hoping mescaline might help access a greater degree of awareness an idea he later included in the book. He hoped drugs might also break down the barriers of the ego, and both draw him closer to spiritual enlightenment and satisfy his quest as a seeker of knowledge.
Osmond arrived at Huxley's house in West Hollywood on Sunday, 3 May , and recorded his impressions of the famous author as a tolerant and kind man, although he had expected otherwise. The psychiatrist had misgivings about giving the drug to Huxley, and wrote, "I did not relish the possibility, however remote, of being the man who drove Aldous Huxley mad," but instead found him an ideal subject.
Huxley was "shrewd, matter-of-fact and to the point" and his wife Maria "eminently sensible". The mescaline was slow to take effect, but Osmond saw that after two and a half hours the drug was working and after three hours Huxley was responding well. Huxley was particularly fond of the shop and the large variety of products available there in stark contrast to the much smaller selection in English chemist's shops. There he considered a variety of paintings in art books.
For one of his friends, Huxley's poor eyesight manifested in both a great desire to see and a strong interest in painting, which influenced the strong visual and artistic nature of his experience. After returning home to listen to music, eat, and walk in the garden, a friend drove the threesome to the hills overlooking the city. Photographs show Huxley standing, alternately arms on hips and outstretched with a grin on his face. Finally, they returned home and to ordinary consciousness.
Huxley admitted to having changed the fabric as Maria thought he should be better dressed for his readers. After Osmond's departure, Huxley and Maria left to go on a three-week, 5,mile 8,kilometre car trip around the national parks of the North West of the USA. After returning to Los Angeles, he took a month to write the book. If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.
Huxley had used Blake's metaphor in The Doors of Perception while discussing the paintings of Vermeer and the Nain brothers, and previously in The Perennial Philosophy , once in relation to the use of mortification as a means to remove persistent spiritual myopia and secondly to refer to the absence of separation in spiritual vision.
This increased his concern for his already poor eyesight and much of his work in the early part of the decade had featured metaphors of vision and sight. Huxley writes that he hoped to gain insight into extraordinary states of mind and expected to see brightly coloured visionary landscapes.
The Doors of Perception: Further reading
When he only sees lights and shapes, he puts this down to being a bad visualiser; however, he experiences a great change in his perception of the external world. By The experience, he asserts, is neither agreeable nor disagreeable, but simply "is". He likens it to Meister Eckhart 's "istigheit" or "is-ness", and Plato 's "Being" but not separated from "Becoming".
He feels he understands the Hindu concept of Satchitananda , as well as the Zen koan that, "the dharma body of the Buddha is in the hedge" and Buddhist suchness.
In this state, Huxley explains he didn't have an "I", but instead a "not-I". Meaning and existence, pattern and colour become more significant than spatial relationships and time.
Duration is replaced by a perpetual present. Reflecting on the experience afterwards, Huxley finds himself in agreement with philosopher C. Broad that to enable us to live, the brain and nervous system eliminate unessential information from the totality of the ' Mind at Large '. In summary, Huxley writes that the ability to think straight is not reduced while under the influence of mescaline, visual impressions are intensified, and the human experimenter will see no reason for action because the experience is so fascinating.
Temporarily leaving the chronological flow, he mentions that four or five hours into the experience he was taken to the World's Biggest Drug Store WBDS , where he was presented with books on art.
In one book, the dress in Botticelli 's Judith provokes a reflection on drapery as a major artistic theme as it allows painters to include the abstract in representational art, to create mood, and also to represent the mystery of pure being. For Huxley, the reconciliation of these cleansed perceptions with humanity reflects the age old debate between active and contemplative life, known as the way of Martha and the way of Mary. As Huxley believes that contemplation should also include action and charity, he concludes that the experience represents contemplation at its height, but not its fullness.
Correct behaviour and alertness are needed. Nonetheless, Huxley maintains that even quietistic contemplation has an ethical value, because it is concerned with negative virtues and acts to channel the transcendent into the world. Outside, the garden chairs take on such an immense intensity that he fears being overwhelmed; this gives him an insight into madness. Huxley speculates that schizophrenia is the inability to escape from this reality into the world of common sense and thus help would be essential.
After lunch and the drive to the WBDS he returns home and to his ordinary state of mind. His final insight is taken from Buddhist scripture: The book finishes with Huxley's final reflections on the meaning of his experience.
The Doors of Perception
Firstly, the urge to transcend one's self is universal through times and cultures and was characterised by H. Wells as The Door in the Wall. Mescaline has the advantage of not provoking violence in takers, but its effects last an inconveniently long time and some users can have negative reactions.
Ideally, self-transcendence would be found in religion, but Huxley feels that it is unlikely that this will ever happen. Christianity and mescaline seem well-suited for each other; the Native American Church for instance uses the drug as a sacrament, where its use combines religious feeling with decorum.
Huxley concludes that mescaline is not enlightenment or the Beatific vision , but a "gratuitous grace" a term taken from Thomas Aquinas ' Summa Theologica. Although systematic reasoning is important, direct perception has intrinsic value too. Finally, Huxley maintains that the person who has this experience will be transformed for the better. The book met with a variety of responses, both positive and negative,  from writers in the fields of literature, psychiatry, philosophy and religion.
The Doors of Perception
These included a symposium published in The Saturday Review magazine with the unlikely title of, Mescalin — An Answer to Cigarettes , including contributions from Huxley; J. Slotkin, a professor of Anthropology; and a physician, Dr. He thought that while escapism found in mysticism might be honourable, drugs were not. Huxley's 'aesthetic self-indulgence' and indifference to humanity would lead to suffering or stupidity, and he concluded the book was irresponsible, if not quite immoral, to encourage young people to try the drug.
For Huxley's biographer and friend, the author Sybille Bedford , the book combined sincerity with simplicity, passion with detachment. The Doors is a quiet book. It is also one that postulates a goodwill — the choice once more of the nobler hypothesis. It turned out, for certain temperaments, a seductive book. Psychiatric responses included those of William Sargant , the controversial British psychiatrist, who reviewed the book for The British Medical Journal and particularly focused on Huxley's reflections on schizophrenia.
He wrote that the book brought to life the mental suffering of schizophrenics, which should make psychiatrists uneasy about their failure to relieve this. Also, he hoped that the book would encourage the investigation of the physiological, rather than psychological, aspects of psychiatry.
The book contained "99 percent Aldous Huxley and only one half gram mescaline" according to Roland Fisher. Meerloo found Huxley's reactions "not necessarily the same as For Steven J. Novak, The Doors Of Perception and " Heaven and Hell " redefined taking mescaline and LSD , although Huxley had not taken it until after he had written both books as a mystical experience with possible psychotherapeutic benefits, where physicians had previously thought of the drug in terms of mimicking a psychotic episode, known as psychotomimetic.
Philosophically , Buber believed the drug experiences to be holidays "from the person participating in the community of logos and cosmos—holidays from the very uncomfortable reminder to verify oneself as such a person.
It was probably the criticisms of The Doors of Perception put forward by Robert Charles Zaehner , a professor at Oxford University , that formed the fullest and earliest critiques from a religious and philosophical perspective.
In , Zaehner published an article called The Menace of Mescaline , in which he asserted that "artificial interference with consciousness" could have nothing to do with the Christian "Beatific Vision". Although he acknowledged the importance of The Doors of Perception as a challenge to people interested in religious experience,  he pointed out what he saw as inconsistencies and self-contradictions.
So the experience may not be the same for others who take the drug and do not have this background, although they will undoubtedly experience a transformation of sensation.Huxley is a great thinker and philosopher. The best book I have ever read.
I recommend this to all artists, intuitives, and introverts. I had been reading dystopias and had just finished "Brave New World. Then I opened the book and Not to mention that one of my favorite bands of all time took their name after this book.
Huxley observes that flowers, tables, landscapes and art objectively manifest themselves and present truths which are ensconced under the biased lens through which we perceive reality. Webarchive template wayback links CS1 maint: Was it better to pursue a course of careful psychological experimentation