By Mukesh Mani
Aldous Huxley can be regarded as one of the most powerful thinkers of the 20th century. An author by profession, Huxley has penned over 50 books, his most popular book is, ‘Brave New World’ (1932), where he talks about the future of earth if it continues to be dominated by the greedy. In stark contrast to this book, Huxley gives his vision for the perfect earth in his last book titled, ‘Island’ (1962).
Pick up any one of his books and Huxley is bound to blow your mind and expand your consciousness with his profound thoughts and insights.
This article is a collection of 19 such deep messages embedded in some of his most famous and some not so famous quotes. Here they are:
Become conscious of your conditioning (to experience true freedom)
“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: As Huxley rightly points out, the human mind can be easily conditioned. As you grow into adulthood, your subconscious mind becomes conditioned with beliefs that you accumulate from your surroundings – your parents, teachers, and peers. These unconscious beliefs literally run your life; and depending on the conditioning, they have the capacity to limit and narrow down your thinking.
The only way to become free of these unconscious beliefs is to become conscious of them. In other words, you need to use your conscious mind to become conscious of your subconscious beliefs and in doing so they no longer have the capacity to control you.
Realize that you are intricately connected to the cosmos
“All that happens means something; nothing you do is ever insignificant.” – Aldous
Message: We are all intricately connected to the cosmos, and hence, every single thing that we do has an impact on the entire cosmos. Nothing we do is insignificant as Huxley rightly puts it.
Spend time in solitude to understand your unique self
“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: Herds are generally formed by people who have not understood their true selves. Hence they find solace in being part of a group and adopt the group’s identity as their own.
An original mind or a mind that is self-reflective tends to go within instead of finding its place in the herd. So to discover your true authentic self, spend time alone with yourself. Free your mind from all distractions and be self-reflective. This is the only way to align with your true nature.
Travel to broaden your consciousness
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: Understanding shatters all prejudices and the basis of understanding something is to experience it first hand. Travel is one of the best ways to experience a different reality and helps you shatter all limiting beliefs that you hold about that reality. So one of the easiest ways to broaden your consciousness is to travel.
Stay clear of propaganda by understanding how it works
“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: The only way to turn one human against another is to somehow make them believe that others are different. So it’s never a human who fights against another human; instead, it’s a belief that fights against another belief. A simple way to stop getting brainwashed by propaganda is to stay conscious of your beliefs and never let your beliefs control you.
Learn from your experiences
“Experience teaches only the teachable.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: Not everyone who gets older becomes wiser. Some just stay the same as they lack the ability to self reflect and learn from their experiences. Therefore Huxley is right in pointing out that life experiences are great teachers but only to those who have the ability and willingness to learn from them.
A person who is narrow-minded and deeply unconscious will rather stick to their unconscious beliefs rather than allow the experience to help them mature and become better human beings.
Learn from your past but do not cling to it
“It isn’t a matter of forgetting. What one has to learn is how to remember and yet be free of the past.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: The past has important lessons to teach you. These lessons will help you grow from within. So always reflect on your past. But while you do that, do not start living in the past. Let the past go. ‘Cause, if your attention is purely focused on the past, it will keep you stuck as you will not have enough energy to invest in the present. It is only by focusing on the present can you create a positive future.
Enlightenment is a state of balance
“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.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: Enlightenment is a state of balance. On one hand, you have an awareness of the absolute reality, and on the other hand, you know that you have to survive as a human being in this world of forms.
From an absolute perspective, everything just is. There is no inherent meaning to anything. But from the perspective of survival, life has meaning and a purpose. An enlightened mind is aware of both these perspectives.
So don’t get too attached to the world of forms and at the same time, do not get so detached that you become indifferent to everything. This is the basis of enlightenment.
Stay conscious of your ego
“Our vanity makes us exaggerate the importance of human life; the individual is nothing; Nature cares only for the species.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: From an absolute perspective, we as humans are nothing special as compared to other species. It is our ego that makes us think that we are special when in reality, we are all the same.
This realization can help you become conscious of your ego. Staying conscious of the ego is enough to ensure that you are not controlled by your ego.
Know your limitations
“Science has explained nothing; the more we know the more fantastic the world becomes and the profounder the surrounding darkness….” – Aldous Huxley
Message: Even though science believes that one day it will find all the secrets to the universe, the more it discovers the more we realize how profoundly unexplainable things really are. Science has helped us understand a lot about the world we live in but it has its limitations and it is prudent to realize that.
Think for yourself
“Unlike the masses, intellectuals have a taste for rationality and interest in facts. Their critical habit of mind makes them resistant to the kind of propaganda that works so well on the majority.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: When you start thinking for yourself, rather than simply accepting the thoughts and believes that the society imposes on you, you start to become liberated. You will no longer give into propaganda. You can no longer be brain-washed into believing things that society wants you to believe to keep you under control.
Become aware of your self-beliefs
“Start by being fully aware of what you think you are. It’ll help you to become aware of what you are in fact.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: We all have certain beliefs about who we really are and these beliefs constitute our self-image. The basis of self-reflection is to become conscious of these beliefs. Only by becoming conscious of what you believe about yourself can you begin to understand yourself. And only by understanding yourself can you begin to change yourself to realize your true nature.
Always search for the truth
“In a world of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act” – Aldous Huxley
Message: As humans, we like to keep ourselves distracted from searching for the truth. No society ever encourages the truth. The truth is always kept hidden and is considered dull and depressive.
But the fact is that only the truth can set you free. So spend time getting to know yourself. Become free from all your beliefs and look for the truth within. As Huxley rightly points out, “The truth does not cease to exist because it’s ignored.”
To Love is to understand
“We can only love what we know, and we can never know completely what we do not love. Love is a mode of knowledge…” – Aldous Huxley
Message: To love someone (or something) in the truest sense is to understand someone. You cannot love someone/something who you do not truly understand. Therefore, love in its purest form is knowledge.
Truth is always paradoxical in nature
“The truth is paradoxical, but man’s passion for rational coherence is even stronger than his love of truth.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: The truth of life seems contradictory to the human mind and therefore, we prefer something that sounds more rational over thinking about the truth.
The truth is always paradoxical, it always has two different/opposing viewpoints. For example, life is meaningless and it is this meaninglessness that gives it meaning. The meaninglessness can be looked upon as depressive or as liberating.
Realize the limitations of your mind
“What is the mind? The question is, of course, ultimately quite unanswerable. We do not and we cannot know what the mind really is. We do not and cannot know, of that matter, what anything really is.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: The human mind is extremely powerful, but still it has its limitations. There are many aspects of reality that the mind cannot even fathom. To become conscious of these limitations can be a humbling experience. It opens you up to accept the fact that there are certain things that we might never know and that it’s okay.
Look beyond concepts to understand things deeply
“When we see a rose, we immediately say, rose. We do not say, I see a roundish mass of delicately shaded reds and pinks. We immediately pass from the actual experience to the concept.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: Concepts limit your perception. It can make the extraordinary appear common. For example, the sun is this huge magical ball of fire that is burning non-stop since eternity. And yet, when we label it the ‘sun’, it starts looking ordinary. Therefore, by letting go of the concepts, you can start to see things from a much deeper perspective.
Embrace your uniqueness
Physically and mentally, each one of us is unique. Any culture which, in the interests of efficiency or in the name of some political or religious dogma, seeks to standardize the human individual, commits an outrage against man’s biological nature.” – Aldous Huxley
Message: As a human being, you are unique, so do not give in to the society’s pressure to fit in. Get in touch with your uniqueness and express your true self to the world. Choose your own path in life and live to your true calling.
- It’s not hard work but relaxation and smart work that will help you succeed
The harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed. – Aldous Huxley
Message: This might go against conventional wisdom but this is true to a large extent if you think about it.
Here’s an analogy: Imagine a muddy pool of water and you are doing all the effort in the world to clear the pool of mud. But the more you try, the more muddy the water gets. A better thing to do in this situation is to let go and relax and let nature take its course. The mud will eventually settle down leaving the water clear.
This is a good example to prove that things can happen even when we do not put in conscious effort. And that sometimes, it’s not the effort but understanding that is required to solve a problem and this understanding usually comes when you let go, relax and open your consciousness to receive intelligence from the cosmos.
Are there any other quotes of Huxley that you personally find deeply insightful? Do let us know in the comments.
About the author:
Mukesh is the founder of Outofstress.com, a blog that offers articles that are both inspirational and thought-provoking to help you grow from within. You can connect with him by using the contact form on his site or through this facebook page.