Quotes from The Doors of Perception

Aldous Huxley ·  63 pages

Rating: (7.5K votes)


“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“To be enlightened is to be aware, always, of total reality in its immanent otherness - to be aware of it and yet remain in a condition to survive as an animal. Our goal is to discover that we have always been where we ought to be. Unhappily we make the task exceedingly difficult for ourselves.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“Most lead lives at worst so painful, at best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principle appetites of the soul.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“...we were back at home, and I had returned to that reassuring but profoundly unsatisfactory state known as 'being in one's right mind.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception



“That humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with Artificial Paradises seems very unlikely. Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“Neither agreeable nor disagreeable," I answered. "It just is."
Istigkeit — wasn't that the word Meister Eckhart liked to use? "Is-ness." The Being of Platonic philosophy — except that Plato seems to have made the enormous, the grotesque mistake of separating Being from becoming and identifying it with the mathematical abstraction of the Idea. He could never, poor fellow, have seen a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could never have perceived that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were — a transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“I am not so foolish as to equate what happens under the influence of mescalin or of any other drug, prepared or in the future preparable, with the realization of the end and ultimate purpose of human life: Enlightenment, the Beatific Vision. All I am suggesting is that the mescalin experience is what Catholic theologians call "a gratuitous grace," not necessary to salvation but potentially helpful and to be accepted thankfully, if made available. To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large—this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception



“Art and religion, carnivals and saturnalia, dancing and listening to oratory - all these have served, in H. G. Wells's phrase, as Doors in the Wall.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“The really important facts were that spatial relationships had ceased to matter very much and that my mind was perceiving the world in terms of other than spatial categories. At ordinary times the eye concerns itself with such problems as where? — how far? — how situated in relation to what? In the mescaline experience the implied questions to which the eye responds are of another order. Place and distance cease to be of much interest. The mind does its perceiving in terms of intensity of existence, profundity of significance, relationships within a pattern.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“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?”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“The urge to transcend self-conscious selfhood is, as I have said, a principal appetite of the soul.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“Art, I suppose, is only for beginners, or else for those resolute dead-enders, who have made up their minds to be content with the ersatz of Suchness, with symbols rather than with what they signify, with the elegantly composed recipe in lieu of actual dinner.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception



“To rush headlong into the comforting darkness of selfhood as a reborn human being, or even as beast, an unhappy ghost, a denizen of hell. Anything rather than the burning brightness of unmitigated Reality.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“Half at least of all morality is negative and consists in keeping out of mischief.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“We live together,we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand and hand into the arena; they are crucified alone.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“And as I looked, it became very clear that this five-and-ten-cent ship was in some way connected with human pretensions. This suffocating interior of a dime-store ship was my own personal self; these gimcrack mobiles of tin and plastic were my personal contributions to the universe.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception



“The fear, as I analyze it in retrospect, was of being overwhelmed, of disintegrating under a pressure of reality greater than a mind, accustomed to living most of the time in a cosy world of symbols, could possibly bear.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“Mescalin opens up the way of Mary, but shuts the door on that of Martha.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“I found myself all at once on the brink of panic. This, I suddenly felt, was going too far. Too far, even though the going was into intenser beauty, deeper significance. The fear, as I analyze it in retrospect, was of being overwhelmed, of disintegrating under a pressure of reality greater than a mind, accustomed to living most of the time in a cosy world of symbols, could possibly bear. The literature of religious experience abounds in references to the pains and terrors overwhelming those who have come, too suddenly, face to face with some manifestation of the Mysterium tremendum. In theological language, this fear is due to the in-compatibility between man's egotism and the divine purity, between man's self-aggravated separateness and the infinity of God. Following Boehme and William Law, we may say that, by unregenerate souls, the divine Light at its full blaze can be apprehended only as a burning, purgatorial fire. An almost identical doctrine is to be found in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, where the departed soul is described as shrinking in agony from the Pure Light of the Void, and even from the lesser, tempered Lights, in order to rush headlong into the comforting darkness of selfhood as a reborn human being, or even as a beast, an unhappy ghost, a denizen of hell. Anything rather than the burning brightness of unmitigated Reality—anything!”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“Space was still there; but it had lost its predominance. The mind was primarily concerned, not with measures and locations, but with being and meaning.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“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.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception



“He can go about his business, so completely satisfied to see and be part of the divine Order of Things that he will never even be tempted. When all things are perceived as infinite and holy, what motive can we have for covetousness, for drearier forms of pleasure?”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“There seems to be plenty of it,' was all I would answer, when the investigator asked me to say what I felt about time.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“So in a certain sense disintegration may have its advantages. But of course it's dangerous, horribly dangerous. Suppose you couldn't get back, out of the chaos...”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“All that the conscious ego can do is to formulate wishes, which are then carried out by forces which it controls very little and understands not at all. When it does anything more - when it tries too hard, for example, when it worries, when it becomes apprehensive about the future - it lowers the effectiveness of those forces and may even cause the devitalized body to fall ill. In my present state, awareness was not referred to as ego; it was, so to speak, on its own.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception


“For Persons are selves and, in one respect at least, I was now a Not-
self, simultaneously perceiving and being the Not-self of the things around me. To this new-born Not-
self, the behavior, the appearance, the very thought of the self it had momentarily ceased to be, and of
other selves, its one-time fellows, seemed not indeed distasteful (for distastefulness was not one of the
categories in terms of which I was thinking), but enormously irrelevant.”
― Aldous Huxley, quote from The Doors of Perception



About the author

Aldous Huxley
Born place: in Godalming, Surrey, England, The United Kingdom
Born date July 26, 1894
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“There's a place beyond words where experience first occurs to which I always want to return. I suspect that whenever I articulate my thoughts or translate my impulses into words, I am betraying the real thoughts and impulses which remain hidden.”
― Jerzy Kosiński, quote from The Painted Bird


“Luke used to give me butterflies. Noah spawned mutant pterodactyls.”
― Katie McGarry, quote from Pushing the Limits


“ghazal that he had heard Saeeda Bai sing, but, oddly,”
― Vikram Seth, quote from A Suitable Boy


“He doesn’t ever feel the war that goes on in my chest every single fucking day—the chemical explosions that light up my skull like the Fourth of July and the awful needs and impulses and…”
― Matthew Quick, quote from The Silver Linings Playbook


“Tam Lin says rabbits give up when they're caught by coyotes [...]. He says they consent to die because their animals and can't understand hope. But humans are different. They fight against death no matter how bad things seem, and sometimes, even when everything's against them, they win.”
― Nancy Farmer, quote from The House of the Scorpion


Interesting books

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
(3.8K)
The Starfish and the...
by Ori Brafman
Transparent Things
(2.7K)
Transparent Things
by Vladimir Nabokov
Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals
(5.1K)
Rules for Radicals:...
by Saul D. Alinsky
Damage
(3.4K)
Damage
by Josephine Hart
Manon Lescaut
(7.9K)
Manon Lescaut
by Antoine François Prévost
Charming Billy
(8.7K)
Charming Billy
by Alice McDermott

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2023, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.