This short book came about as a result of Aldous Huxley performing a one-off experiment with the the psychotropic drug mescaline. Mescaline is derived from the peyote cactus and was (and is) widely used by the Native Americans in their religious practice as a means of seeing beyond the physical world. Apparently they used to suck on the cactus root to produce the effects. Although it’s illegal today, it’s apparently quite a benign drug. The book claims there are no addictive qualities – the user feels no need to use the drug subsequently – and no toxicity issues. Oddly, according to Wikipedia, a concession has been made to Native Americans, for whom mescaline remains legal. Tsk-tsk – a little favouritism there.
Huxley is best known for having penned the classic science fiction novel Brave New World. I’ve never read it, but it’s one of those novels I’ll definitely get around to. The Doors of Perception caught my attention because of Huxley’s standing and my personal interest in gaining a better understanding of human consciousness.
After taking the drug, Huxley reports staring at a table leg and being utterly absorbed in the brilliance of its form. He was able to walk around, and yet his vision was unconcerned with things like depth and distance. Looking at a flower evoked a kind of timeless contemplation about the flower’s “significance.” The book continues with information about how Huxley felt when being shown a series of paintings.
Interestingly, Huxley discusses the human body as a limiter, using the term “Mind at Large” for the full magnitude of what we are, i.e. we know everything. This is exactly the same concept I was introduced to though the writings of David Icke, only in different language. Icke would say we are are all collectively Infinite Consciousness, and the body is just a vehicle that allows us to experience physical reality. Huxley theorises that by the use of mescaline, the valve between mind and Mind at Large is loosened, allowing more of Mind at Large to come through. He talks about a feeling of timeless contemplation that caused him to be unconcerned about matters of physical life. This is in keeping with the understanding I embrace, that beyond this physical realm, with its illusions of separateness and time, there is a single collective consciousness existing in one eternal present.
This is the second time I have been surprised by the concept of “oneness” (or something close to it) cropping up unexpectedly in my reading material. It also happened recently when I read Upton Sinclair’s Mental Radio, where he theorises that a collective human consciousness is what allows telepathy to be possible.
One of the effects of mescaline on the brain is the inhibition of sugar. This got me wondering if the true reason behind the religious practice of fasting (something I never understood when I was a Christian) was to achieve an altered state of consciousness that would allow the person to get in contact with the realm beyond the physical – the divine, in other words.
The Doors of Perception was an intriguing study that helped provide a rational basis for ideas that I believe in through intuition, i.e. we are all one consciousness and the physical world is just a frequency that we perceive through the five senses. There is far more going on that what we see, and we are far more than what we think we are.