Main CategoriesShamanism and EntheogensNeoshamanism and Entheogenic Healing Doors of Perception, The / Heaven and Hell

Doors of Perception, The / Heaven and Hell

Product no.: 0-06-090007-5
The great English novelist's first experience with Mescaline. One of the gifted few not seduced by the enticing power of psychedelics.

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Two classic complete books - The Doors of Perception (originally published in 1954) and Heaven and Hell (originally published in 1956) - in which Aldous Huxley, author of the bestselling Brave New World, explores, as only he can, the mind's remote frontiers and the unmapped areas of human consciousness.

These two astounding essays are among the most profound studies of the effects of mind-expanding drugs written in the twentieth century. These two books became essential for the counterculture during the 1960s and influenced a generation's perception of life.

"More than half a century ago, author Aldous Huxley titled his book on his experience with hallucinogens The Doors of Perception, borrowing a phrase from a 1790 William Blake poem (which, yes, also lent Jim Morrison’s band its moniker).

Blake wrote:  'If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.'

Based on this idea, Huxley posited that ordinary consciousness represents only a fraction of what the mind can take in. In order to keep us focused on survival, Huxley claimed, the brain must act as a 'reducing valve' on the flood of potentially overwhelming sights, sounds and sensations. What remains, Huxley wrote, is a 'measly trickle of the kind of consciousness' necessary to 'help us to stay alive.'

A new study by British researchers supports this theory. It shows for the first time how psilocybin — the drug contained in magic mushrooms — affects the connectivity of the brain. Researchers found that the psychedelic chemical, which is known to trigger feelings of oneness with the universe and a trippy hyperconsciousness, does not work by ramping up the brain’s activity as they’d expected. Instead, it reduces it.

Under the influence of mushrooms, overall brain activity drops, particularly in certain regions that are densely connected to sensory areas of the brain. When functioning normally, these connective 'hubs' appear to help constrain the way we see, hear and experience the world, grounding us in reality. They are also the key nodes of a brain network linked to self-consciousness and depression. Psilocybin cuts activity in these nodes and severs their connection to other brain areas, allowing the senses to run free.  

'The results seem to imply that a lot of brain activity is actually dedicated to keeping the world very stable and ordinary and familiar and unsurprising,' says Robin Carhart-Harris, a postdoctoral student at Imperial College London and lead author of the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Indeed, Huxley and Blake had predicted what turns out to be a key finding of modern neuroscience: many of the human brain’s highest achievements involve preventing actions instead of initiating them, and sifting out useless information rather than collecting and presenting it for conscious consideration."        ~Time magazine

"But now I knew contemplation at its height. At its height, but not yet in its fullness. For in its fullness the way of Mary includes the way of Martha and raises it, so to speak, to its own higher power. Mescalin opens up the way of Mary, but shuts the door on that of Martha. It gives access to contemplation - but to a contemplation that is incompatible with action and even with the will to action, the very thought of action.

In the intervals between his revelations the mescalin taker is apt to feel that, though in one way everything is supremely as it should be, in another there is something wrong. His problem is essentially the same as that which confronts the quietist, the arhat and, on another level, the landscape painter and the painter of human still lives. Mescalin can never solve that problem; it can only pose it, apocalyptically, for those to whom it had never before presented itself.

The full and final solution can be found only by those who are prepared to implement the right kind of Welranschauung by means of the right kind of behavior and the right kind of constant and unstrained alertness. Over against the quietist stands the active-contemplative, the saint, the man who, in Eckhart's phrase, is ready to come down from the seventh heaven in order to bring a cup of water to his sick brother.

Over against the arhat, retreating from appearances into an entirely transcendental Nirvana, stands the Bodhisattva, for whom Suchness and the world of contingencies are one, and for whose boundless compassion every one of those contingencies is an occasion not only for transfiguring insight, but also for the most practical charity."      ~The Doors of Perception

"In his Candle of Vision, the Irish poet A. E. (George Russell) has analysed his visionary experiences with remarkable acuity. 'When I meditate,' he writes, 'I feel in the thoughts and images that throng about me the reflections of personality; but there are also windows in the soul, through which can be seen images created not by human but by the divine imagination.' Our linguistic habits lead us into error. For example, we are apt to say, 'I imagine', when what we should have said is, 'The curtain was lifted that I might see'.

Spontaneous or induced, visions are never our personal property. Memories belonging to the ordinary self have no place in them. The things seen are wholly unfamiliar. 'There is no reference or resemblance', in Sir William Herschel's phrase, 'to any objects recently seen or even thought of.' When faces appear, they are never the faces of friends or acquaintances. We are out of the Old World, and exploring the antipodes."       ~Heaven and Hell

Born in 1894, Aldous Huxley belonged to a family of great talent: he was the grandson of the famous Thomas Henry Huxley; the son of Leonard Huxley, the editor of Cornhill Magazine; and the brother of Sir Julian Huxley. He was educated at Eton and Balliol, and before devoting himself entirely to his own writing worked as a journalist and dramatic critic.

Author Huxley, Aldous
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 192 pp.
Publisher HarperCollins 1990
Browse these categories as well: Neoshamanism and Entheogenic Healing, Metaphysics, Mysticism and Initiation, Spiritual Biography and Autobiography

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