on Notable People — 18 January 2016

Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer, novelist, and philosopher.

His best-known novels include Brave New World, The Doors of PerceptionHeaven and Hell, and IslandHe wrote Brave New World in four months in 1931 before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and before Joseph Stalin started the killing purges. The book describes a dystopia, and it is often compared with George Orwell’s 1984.

Huxley was also a humanist, pacifist and satirist and became interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. In 1937, Huxley moved to Hollywood where his friend Gerald Heard introduced him to Vedanta (Upanishad-centred philosophy), meditation, and vegetarianism through the principle of ahimsa. A year later, Huxley befriended Jiddu Krishnamurti, whose teachings he greatly admired. He also became a Vedantist of Swami Prabhavananda circle and introduced Christopher Isherwood to this circle.

Not long after, Huxley wrote his book on widely held spiritual values and ideas, The Perennial Philosophy, which discussed the teachings of renowned mystics of the world, an anthology of texts with his own commentaries on mystical and religious approaches to a sane life in a sane society. Huxley’s book affirmed a sensibility that insists there are realities beyond the generally accepted “five senses” and that there is genuine meaning for humans beyond both sensual satisfactions and sentimentalities.

In the 1950s Huxley became famous for his interest in psychedelic or mind-expanding drugs like mescaline and LSD, which he apparently took a dozen times over ten years. It is said he was looking for a drug that would allow an escape from the self and that if taken with caution would be physically and socially harmless.

In 1958, he published Brave New World Revisited, a set of essays on real-life problems and ideas – overpopulation, overorganisation, and psychological techniques from salesmanship to hypnopaedia, or sleep-teaching. All tools that a government can abuse to deprive people of freedom, an abuse that Huxley wanted people to fight. By the end of his life, Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time.

Aldous Huxley

Only one man of understanding in this century, Aldous Huxley, had the courage to say that marijuana should be legalized all over the world, and alcohol should be prohibited. He was the man who said that marijuana is certainly somehow connected with the ancient Vedic days, when they used something they called somras. It was a drug; it was found only in the Himalayas. The effects that they describe are very close to marijuana.

Aldous Huxley was a courageous man, to declare that we have all the scientific technology to take out anything from any drug that is harmful, and make drugs not only harmless but nourishing to your health, to your mental stability, and perhaps may give you a glimpse of the beyond. He named these ultimate findings of science after the somras.

The oldest book in the world, Rig Veda, mentions that before praying, seers would take somras, and then it was easy for them to dance, to sing, to be joyous. Aldous Huxley said that one day, when humanity comes to its senses, we will create a synthetic drug which has no bad effects at all, which passes through the body within twenty-four hours and does not remain in the body. He called it soma in the memory of those first pioneers who were calling it somras, the juice of the som. The word som means the moon. The moment they had drunk the somras, the earth became as beautiful for them as the full moon night – hence the name somras.

But nobody listened to him. Humanity lags behind in listening, and by the time it starts listening it is too late.

Osho, The Messiah Vol 1, Ch 23

 

When Aldous Huxley for the first time – he was a pioneer in that sense – took LSD, he could not believe it: everything looked more beautiful, luminous. Even the chair in front of him was radiant, had an aura of light around it. What had happened?

The LSD had tricked his mind, influenced his mind. He saw the beauty of the flowers – those flowers he had seen before, but not the way they were appearing today. The fragrance was overpowering. His soul was the same, but the attached brain now had LSD in it, and was magnifying everything.

Aldous Huxley was a beautiful man of immense intelligence; hence, through LSD he saw only paradise. He started experimenting with other people. Then he became aware that it is not LSD that creates paradise; for some people it creates hell. It depends on the person’s mind – LSD only magnifies, multiplies. If you are a miserable person, LSD will make you a million times more miserable. If you are a man of joy, LSD will magnify your joy a thousand times.

He became aware that it is not LSD that creates paradise. LSD does not create anything, it is simply a magnifying glass. So the same flower looks more beautiful, a thousand times more beautiful; the same fragrance is now so dense and overpowering. But a man who is miserable, a man who is continuously down in the dumps, will find himself in the darkest hole ever. That’s why Aldous Huxley wrote a book and named it Heaven and Hell. It is a book about LSD.

Your soul remains unaffected. When LSD has run out of your physical system, you are back home, the same miserable person you have been before, or the same joyous person you have been before. But the experience of two or three days under LSD changes many of your ideas.

Aldous Huxley himself was so much impressed that he thought all the mystics who have experienced heaven must have been creating something like LSD by their exercises, prayer, meditation and other methods. That’s not true. He was so much impressed that he thought this is the ultimate panacea. But soon he became aware that it not true, because a few people go into hell.

Osho, From the False to the Truth, Ch 29, Q 2

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