To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born—the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people’s experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things. That which, in the language of religion, is called "this world" is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed, and, as it were, petrified by language.

from The Doors of Perception (1954)

Portrait of Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley

Author
July 26, 1894 – November 22, 1962

Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer, novelist, and philosopher. The author of nearly fifty books, he was best known for his novels including Brave New World, set in a dystopian future; for non-fiction works, such as The Doors of Perception, which recalls experiences when taking a psychedelic drug; and a wide-ranging output of essays. Early in his career Huxley edited the magazine Oxford Poetry and published short stories and poetry. Mid career and later, he published travel writing, film stories, and scripts.

Huxley was a humanist, pacifist, and satirist. He later became interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, in particular universalism. By the end of his life, Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in seven different years.

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Realizing Human Potential

What untapped gifts lie dormant within us? Aldous Huxley digs for hidden treasure in the human psyche. He proposes mining the world’s traditions to unearth practical techniques for actualizing our latent potential. From revamping education for enhanced perception and creativity, to fostering awareness and kindness, Huxley lays out a thought-provoking vision for human flourishing.

Cover image for The Doors of Perception

The Doors of Perception

The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay detailing Aldous Huxley’s experiences of a mescaline trip that took place over the course of an afternoon in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake’s 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the "purely aesthetic" to "sacramental vision". He also incorporates later reflections on the experience and its meaning for art and religion.

The Ultimate Revolution

Huxley outlines what society’s ultimate revolution would look like: a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and who will pose little opposition to the ruling oligarchy, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book Brave New World to George Orwell’s 1984, and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation. Delivered at the UC Berkeley Language Center.

Cover image for Visionary Experience

Visionary Experience

Presented at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology. Aldous Huxley had been invited to the symposium by Timonthy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass). The two had met some months earlier, when Tim invited the author of the first two major works of modern psychedelic literature (The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell) to participate in the Harvard research program. Huxley agreed and was “Subject no.11” in a group psilocybin session run by Leary in November 1960.

Cover image for Who Are We?

Who Are We?

A lecture held at the Vedanta Society of Southern California’s Hollywood temple, in which Huxley goes into some depth about core issues about human existence, asking the primal question: what is our true nature?

Mentioned in 40 documents

Laura Huxley

A Beautiful Death

When Aldous Huxley was on his deathbed, he asked his wife Laura to administer him with LSD. She agreed. Two weeks after her husband’s death, Laura wrote this moving and detailed account of Aldous’s last days to her brother-in-law, Julian.

Alan Watts and Laura Huxley

Alan Watts Interviews Laura Huxley

Alan Watts and Laura Huxley discuss the life and work of Aldous Huxley. They touch on his transformation into a skilled lecturer, his profound intellect and wide-ranging interests, his experiences with psychedelics, his relationship with Krishnamurti, and his ability to live fully in the present moment.

Terence McKenna

Appreciating Imagination

Join Terence McKenna in this weekend workshop as he takes us on an imaginative journey into the depths of human creativity. Through eloquent exploration of psychedelics, virtual worlds, and shamanic states of consciousness, McKenna reveals how embracing our imagination allows us to envision and manifest alternate realities beyond cultural conditioning. By cultivating our creative faculties with mathematical reasoning, intuition, and immersion in nature, he guides us toward transcending ideological limits into an enlightened future of compassion. Ultimately, breaking boundaries through the power of imagination will inspire us to reach new heights of understanding and connectivity.

Terence McKenna

Awakening to Archaic Values

A weekend workshop in which Terence encourages humanity to return to harmonic habits which have been lost in the tide of time.

Ram Dass

Be Here Now

This book is a classic text on Hindu spirituality that bloomed open like a lotus flower in the wake of the hippie movement. The seed for this book was planted in the mind of Harvard psychiatrist turned Indian mystic, Ram Dass, and was written—with the blessings of his guru Neem Karoli Baba—for a Western audience who were, for the most part, materially rich but spiritually poor. Be Here Now offers its readers and followers a drug-free alternative for attaining higher states of consciousness, while its simple message to live in the present encourages the pursuit and cultivation of inner peace.

Terence McKenna

Countdown Into Complexity

At his weekend workshop Terence led attendees on an intellectual odyssey traversing psychedelics, virtual reality, technology, culture, spirituality, and the evolution of novelty over time. Blending philosophy, futurology, and mysticism, he explored humanity's relationship with nature and machines, challenging participants to think critically, create freely, and keep an open mind. The goal was to expand consciousness and uncover deeper truths about existence.

Alan Watts

Does It Matter?

In this short collection of essays, Alan Watts explores modern day problems from the outlook of his own philosophy, inspired mainly by Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Tackling problems of economics, technology, cooking and clothing, Watts offers a fresh perspective which is all too foreign to Western society. Published in 1970 just shortly before his death, this book is as relevant now as it was when it was written.

Terence McKenna

Eros and the Eschaton

Delivered in Kane Hall at the University of Washington, Terence points out the universe's peculiar tendency to seek out complexity and novelty, and that humanity seems to be the focal point of this process.

Erich Jantsch and Conrad Hal Waddington

Evolution and Consciousness

Evolution and Consciousness is one of the first, still rare, truly transdisciplinary books: it deals with a totality, not a sector of it. Therefore, it defies any disciplinary labeling. It is a scientific book, yet also deals with topics until now reserved for books of mysticism and poetry. It bridges the gap between science and other forms of knowledge. It deals not just with scientific questions, but with existential questions which concern all mankind, such as the meaning of life and the evolutionary significance of human design and action. It challenges the whole dominant Western world view: process thinking instead of structural thinking, dynamic instead of static, evolution instead of permanency.

Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna and John Perry Barlow

From Psychedelics to Cybernetics

Timothy Leary journeyed through Europe as head of the psychedelic revolution and consciousness research movement, and he invited some of his tagalong friends to this evening lecture held at the "Alte Feuerwache" in Mannheim to talk about the future evolution of humanity.

Terence McKenna

History Ends in Green

The coming together of dream, film, and psychedelics in the twentieth century set the stage for the archaic revival. McKenna gives us a look through the window of our potential as humans. He helps put the hysteria of our time into perspective and gives a path that could help us to deal with this strange and wonderful world we live in. A must-listen seminar for those interested in human potential.

Terence McKenna

Hot Concepts and Melting Edges

A weekend workshop held at Esalen, with the alternate titles of Deeper and Broader Questions and Eros, Chaos, and Meaning's Edge.

Terence McKenna

In the Valley of Novelty

Journeying through multiple dimensions of psychedelic consciousness, Terence McKenna's visionary weekend workshop invites us on an entheogenic voyage to the frontiers of the mind and its imminent conquering of matter. Blending scientific insights with shamanic wisdom, McKenna argues that natural plant medicines like psilocybin and DMT provide portals into mystical realms and alien dimensions, catalyzing revelations about nature, reality, and the human psyche. He urges us to courageously explore these consciousness-expanding substances, seeking the gratuitous beauty and truths they unveil. For McKenna, the psychedelic experience holds secrets to our world and ourselves—if only we dare lift the veil.

Alan Watts

Insight and Ecstasy

Alan says ecstasy is fleeting while insight endures. Drugs or mysticism may spark rapture, but real spirituality stems from seeing through the illusion of a separate self. This liberating insight dissolves imaginary problems, merging subject and object into a unified whole. Joy may follow, but penetrating truth remains.

Terence McKenna

Interview with Erik Davis

The final recorded interview of Terence McKenna, conducted by Erik Davis for Wired magazine.

Tyler Volk

Metapatterns

In the interdisciplinary tradition of Buckminster Fuller’s work, Gregory Bateson’s Mind and Nature, and Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics, Metapatterns embraces both nature and culture, seeking out the grand-scale patterns that help explain the functioning of our universe. Metapatterns begins with the archetypal patterns of space, both form-building and relational. Tyler Volk then turns to the arrows, breaks, and cycles that infuse the workings of time. With artful dexterity, he brings together many layers of comprehension, drawing on an astounding range of material from art, architecture, philosophy, mythology, biology, geometry, and the atmospheric and oceanographic sciences. Richly illustrating his metapatterns with a series of sophisticated collages prepared for this book, Volk offers an exciting new look at science and the imagination. As playful and intuitive as it is logical and explanatory, Metapatterns offers an enlightening view of the functional, universal form in space, processes in time, and concepts in mind.

Erwin Schrödinger

Mind and Matter

Based on the Tarner Lectures delivered at Trinity College in Cambridge, Mind and Matter is Erwin Schrödinger's investigation into a relationship which has eluded and puzzled philosophers since the earliest times.

Donald Dulchinos

Neurosphere

According to Donald Dulchinos, the real action on the Internet isn’t in the realm of commerce. It is, plain and simple, in the realm of religion. But not exactly that old-time religion. This book is about the spiritual impact of our increasing ability to communicate quickly and with enhanced evolution. It's about our search for meaning, our hunger for a glimpse at humanity's future development in whichâ€"frighteningly or excitingly,"the trend is clearly toward increasing integration of telecommunications and information technology with the body itself. Electronic prosthetics, direct neural implants, and the brain's control of electronic and mechanical limbs move the boundary that used to exist between human and machine to some undefined frontier inside our bodies, our brains, and, perhaps, our minds.

Terence McKenna

New and Old Maps of Hyperspace

Beyond perception's veil lies a hidden reality accessible through sacred plants. At the Institute for the Study of Consciousness, McKenna describes fantastical tryptamine journeys to alien dimensions, encounters with self-transforming machine elves, and the Overmind behind reality. These shamanic technologies induce total revelation, ecstatic communion, even our apocalyptic transcendence. McKenna demands science and religion gaze again into psychedelic infinity’s abyss where something mysteriously beckons.

Terence McKenna

Opening the Doors of Creativity

This far-out lecture held at the Carnegie Art Museum riffs on art, shamanism, psychedelics, and saving the planet. Terence sees artists as modern shamans who can reconnect us to the Gaian mind. He thinks we're an infant species held in nature's arms, but we've got to get our act together fast and let the irrational muse guide us, or we'll trash the place. Heavy stuff, but optimistically visionary.

Terence McKenna

Our Cyberspiritual Future

Terence McKenna holds court on our civilization's journey toward the eschaton at this weekend Esalen gathering. With humor and eloquence he riffs on topics from psychedelic states and alien intelligences to time travel and VR. McKenna argues we're evolving toward an unimaginable state of accelerating novelty, propelled by advancing technology. A mind-expanding ride for the open-minded psychonaut or armchair traveler, guided by one of the twentieth century's most eclectic thinkers.

Alan Watts

Psychotherapy and Metaphysics

This seminar explores the concept of consciousness and its limitations. Watts discusses the lack of depth in certain analytical approaches, highlighting the need for individuals to find harmony with life and death. He emphasizes the enrichment that comes from realizing the significance of everything and the potential healing effects of altering our state of consciousness. Watts also touches on the influence of scientific naturalism on modern psychiatry and shares a personal account of a transformative experience.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

Robots, Men, and Minds

Based on lectures delivered as The Inaugural Lectures in The Heinz Werner Lecture Series at Clark University (Worcester, Mass.) in January 1966, the book introduces new conceptions of humans and their world. After discussing the advantages and drawbacks of humanity's propensity for the symbolic construction of reality, it focuses on the systems approach to an understanding of the species. The author warns against the common error of identifying cybernetics with general systems theory. No matter how complex the cybernetic system, it "can always be resolved into feedback circuits" and thought of in terms of "linear causality." The regulative behavior of general systems is determined by goal-directed, dynamic interaction between many forces and variables in an open system. Bertalanffy points out that "no comprehensive theory of systems exists today." As a model, however, the approach has many advantages, such as obviating the need for the "ghost in the machine" and suggesting some solutions to the mind-body problem.

Alan Watts

The Circle of Sex

An ingenious delineation of the age-old magnetism between male and female in which a clock face is used to chart the 12 libidinal types that attract and repel. Originally printed in issue 144 of Playboy magazine.

Francis Heylighen

The Global Superorganism

The organismic view of society is updated by incorporating concepts from cybernetics, evolutionary theory, and complex adaptive systems. Global society can be seen as an autopoietic network of self-producing components, and therefore as a living system or “superorganism”.

Terence McKenna

The Gnostic Astronaut

Going off the deep end at Shared Visions Bookstore in Berkeley, trailblazer Terence McKenna plunges into freaky psychedelic phenomena that unravel consensual reality. He describes gonzo techniques for sparking glossolalia on 'shrooms—speaking pure alien word salad in an ecstatic state beyond language. McKenna argues these kooky experiences expose the limits of our linguistic operating systems, suggesting our minds are hardwired into a deeper bio-lingo. He ponders far out connections between psychedelics, paranormal events, and alien contact, and emphasizes riding the wave of raw experience over textbook pharmacology in grokking the psychedelic sphere.

Alan Watts

The Joyous Cosmology

The Joyous Cosmology is Alan Watts’ exploration of the insight that the consciousness-changing drugs LSD, mescaline and psilocybin can facilitate when accompanied with sustained philosophical reflection by a person who is in search, not of kicks, but of understanding. More than an artifact, it is both a riveting memoir of Alan’s personal experiments and a profound meditation on our perennial questions about the nature of existence and the existence of the sacred.

Alan Watts

The Joyous Cosmology

What kind of a theory of the universe would it take for us to willingly accept the pain, turmoil, chaos, heartbreak, and suffering that comes with the state of being a consciously aware and individuated Self?

Alan Watts

The Psychedelic Experience

Alan says psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin can provide religious insight, but should be used with spiritual discipline to integrate the mystical experience into everyday life. He critiques psychiatry’s lack of metaphysical grounding and calls for medical and religious professionals to work together on psychedelics. Watts emphasizes psychedelics’ potential as a bridge between mystical and ordinary consciousness, while warning against spiritual inflation or romanticizing substances. Overall he presents a balanced perspective, exploring psychedelics as tools for self-knowledge that require wisdom in application.

Erich Jantsch

The Self-Organizing Universe

The evolution of the universe—ranging from cosmic and biological to sociocultural evolution—is viewed in terms of the unifying paradigm of self-organization. The contours of this paradigm emerge from the synthesis of a number of important concepts, and provide a scientific foundation to a new world-view which emphasizes process over structure, nonequilibrium over equilibrium, evolution over permanency, and individual creativity over collective stabilization. The book, with its emphasis on the interaction of microstructures with the entire biosphere, ecosystems etc., and on how micro- and macrocosmos mutually create the conditions for their further evolution, provides a comprehensive framework for a deeper understanding of human creativity in a time of transition.

Alan Watts

The Two Hands of God

Watts takes readers on a fascinating journey through the mythology of China, Egypt, India, the Middle East, and medieval Europe. His theme is the human experience of polarity, a condition in which opposing qualities define and complement each other. Light cannot exist without darkness, good cannot exist without evil, and male cannot exist without female. Chinese philosophy expresses this idea of universal polarity with the concepts of yin and yang, while other cultures express it through the symbolic language of myth, literature, and art. Watts illustrates the way great sages and artists across time have seen beyond the apparent duality of the universe to find a deeper unity that transcends and embraces everything.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

The Varieties of Scientific Experience

Carl Sagan's prescient exploration of the relationship between religion and science, and his personal search for God.

Alan Watts

Time and the Future

Immerse yourself in a mind-expanding seminar, where Watts illuminates the illusion of time and history, how our fixation on the future breeds anxiety, and how to break free and find fulfillment in the elusive present moment.

Alan Watts

Turning the Head, or Turning On

Talking to an audience at San José State University, Alan Watts recounts the first time he tried consciousness-altering substances after meeting Aldous Huxley. He argues that Western society largely isn’t ready for the mystical experience which can be triggered in these mental states, but nonetheless advocates for them, as they may arouse positive transformation in the human collectivity.

Terence McKenna

Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature

The Great Mystery whispers through psychedelics as it unfurls revelations beyond language’s grasp. Here, ego-bound shells crack open as cosmic minds reborn beyond confines of space and time. We thus commune with the endless Imagination—holographic spirit-stuff whereof worlds are wrought. Invariants of the eternal suffuse temporal shadow-play, the mundane ever aflame in subtler dimensions. All form awakens, ascends, drawn unto consummate transcendence as history’s fever dream blossoms into timeless infinitude.

Terence McKenna

Understanding the Chaos at History's End

Delivered at the end of McKenna’s first month as scholar-in-residence at Esalen, when he began a new phase in his public speaking career. This weekend workshop provides an early glimpse at Terence’s description of the looming “transcendental object at the end of time,” and the psychedelic insights which led him to become an oracle.

Terence McKenna

Virtual Reality and Electronic Highs

Terence discusses virtual reality technology, which allows people to have immersive experiences in digital worlds. He describes the state of VR in the 1990s and speculates on its future implications, both positive and negative. He reflects on how VR could lead to new forms of communication and imagination, but also trivial entertainment. If used thoughtfully, he concludes, VR holds tremendous transformative potential.

Erwin Schrödinger

What Is Life?

This book was based on a course of public lectures delivered by Schrödinger in February 1943, under the auspices of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies at Trinity College, Dublin. The lectures attracted an audience of about 400, who were warned "that the subject-matter was a difficult one and that the lectures could not be termed popular, even though the physicist’s most dreaded weapon, mathematical deduction, would hardly be utilized." Schrödinger's lecture focused on one important question: How can the events in space and time—which take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism—be accounted for by physics and chemistry?

Alan Watts

Who Is It That Knows There Is No Ego?

Alan explores the idea of separateness, and whether our language has tricked us into falsely believing that things are individual, independent, and comprehensible all on their own.

Alan Watts

World as Play

Watts presents a core Eastern philosophy of the world as a dramatic illusion, and that it exists for no other reason except to be experienced in a playful manner.