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Quotes from Aldous Huxley's Island Utopia
Island, by Aldous Huxley
Inner Transformation is the Only Way Out
Aldous Huxley began writing ‘Island’ in 1959. It was published in 1962 and was to be his final book. It’s the story of Will Farnaby, a disenchanted journalist who finds himself shipwrecked on the island, Pala, where Eastern philosophical systems and western science work together to support a utopian civilization.
Following WWII, Aldous Huxley came to accept that the world’s problems could only be solved through inner transformation. He was deeply affected by his association with the enigmatic Indian spiritual teacher, Krishnamurti, and his assertion that humans must go beyond their conditioning and conceptual thought in order to be free. As well as gleaning insights from works of Eastern religion, Aldous explored the inner spiritual life through the use of LSD and mescaline. Accounts of his experiences and insights on a mescaline ‘trip’ are given in ‘The Doors of Perception’, published in 1954. Here are some quotes I wrote down from ‘Island’, which I read again recently, and thought others might enjoy.
“All separate- and yet all one –people, events, words – they’re all manifestations of Mind, of suchness, of the void. What the Buddha was implying was that one can’t speak these teachings, one can only be them. Which is something you’ll discover when the moment comes for your initiation.”
“Don’t look analytically. Don’t look as a scientist or even as a gardener. Liberate yourselves from everything you know and look with complete innocence at this improbable thing before you. Look at it as though you’d never seen anything of the kind before, as though it had no name. Look at it alertly but passively, receptively, without labeling, judging or comparing. And as you look at it, inhale its mystery; breathe in the spirit of sense, the smell of wisdom from the other shore.”
“’Yes, false spirituality the Rani was repeating,’ ‘Talking about Liberation, but always, because of his obstinate refusal to follow the True Path, always working for greater bondage. Acting the part of humility, but in his heart he was so full of pride that he refused to accept or recognize any spiritual authority higher than his own. The Masters, the Avatars, the Great Tradition – they all meant nothing to him.’”
“Animals live that impersonal and universal life without knowing its nature. Ordinary people know its nature and don’t live it and , if they think seriously about it, refuse to accept it. An enlightened person knows it, lives it and accepts it completely. He eats, drinks, and in due course he dies- but he eats with a difference, dies with a difference.”
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered. “
“One slips back so easily. Much too easily. And much too often.”
"And always, everywhere, there would be the yelling or quietly authoritative hypnotists; and in the train of the ruling suggestion givers, always everywhere, the tribes of buffoons and hucksters, the professional liars, the purveyors of entertaining irrelevances. Conditioned from the cradle, unceasingly distracted, mesmerized systematically, their uniformed victims would go on obediently marching and countermarching, go on, always and everywhere, killing and dying with the perfect docility of trained poodles. And yet in spite of the entirely justified refusal to take yes for an answer, the fact remained and would remain always, remain everywhere -- the fact that there was this capacity even in a paranoiac for intelligence, even in a devil worshiper for love; the fact that the ground of all being could be totally manifest in a flowering shrub, a human face; the fact that there was a light and that this light was also compassion"
"History is the record of what human beings have been impelled to do by their ignorance and the enormous bumptiousness that makes them canonize their ignorance as a political or religious dogma."