I'm dipping deep into my personal unpublished archives today. This is an essay I wrote when I was 21, back in the ancient days of 1998. I was deployed to Bosnia, had a lot of time to read, and fell into an Aldous Huxley kick. My interest in his work was reinvigorated somewhat when I read and reviewed Island back in February. This essay is completely unedited and is exactly how it was written by a younger me.
A Critique of Religious Thought as a Response to Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell
In Exodus 3:13, Moses asks God what He is called. God responds with the enigmatic answer of “I am who I am.”
“I am,” when used in the second person, becomes “He is,” leading the reader to believe that God “is.” Is what? The Bible and the Christian faith lead us to believe God is everything. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-being, yet, at the same time, He is Himself.
This sort of all-inclusive individuality is also discussed in Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception. Huxley writes of himself as being “One with all” during his experiment with the hallucinogenic drug peyote. His “not-self,” or his being viewed as merged with the collective universe, experiences a “oneness” with the world. He feels at peace within himself, that all the world’s objects are, simultaneously, both their total “selves” and their “non-selves,” blended in the entire universal grand scheme of things.
Could Huxley have possibly stumbled into a realm that he should not have entered? Quite possibly. A more probable explanation for Huxley’s feelings of all-inclusive individuality is that we have taken the Biblical Word of God too literally.
For example, in Genesis 1:27, the Bible states “God created human beings, making them to be like Himself.” Can this be interpreted to mean God walks and talks like us? I do not believe so. My belief is that God gave all men the power of all-inclusive individuality, to be one with the world. Aldous Huxley was merely seeing life as God originally intended man to.
The materialistic consequences of original sin took away our ability to view the world as Huxley had under the influence of peyote. According to the Bible, Genesis 3:7, once Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit, they became consciously aware of their material environment. The serpent in the creation story told Eve that by eating the forbidden fruit she and Adam would be more like God. This is in complete contrast to the truth. Adam and Eve were more God-like prior to eating the forbidden fruit, for they were unaware of their materialistic environment.
Ideas of nonmaterialisticness are concurrent in many aspects of Christianity. Examples of this are found on both sides of the Christian spectrum. Satanists believe that by indulging themselves in material things and satisfying every physical desire, they will remove themselves from God. The Christian Church, on the other hand, believes individuals should dismiss all material objects from their lives to become closer to God, hence the ideas present in the vows priests, monks, and other men of the cloth take prior to joining the holy life.
There is more to getting closer to God than the aforementioned, of course. Unfortunately, Christian churches seldom directly preach the objective of oneness. However, in order to achieve and maintain the level of oneness that is so elusive yet so important to our existence, one must focus one’s mind outward onto a higher level of consciousness.
Examples of individuals reaching this higher level of consciousness are witnessed during forms of spiritual worship. Outward signs of worship- chanting, preaching, singing, etc- sometimes lead people of faith to proclaim, whether truthfully or untruthfully, that they were “possessed.” In actuality, during these times, people of faith have completely let go of their conscious thought and reached the higher level of the mind. Sometimes the actions of these individuals while on this higher level are construed as super-human. These feats are not super-human; they are merely what the mind was created to do normally. Humankind’s self-constricted intellect and need for material satisfaction have blinded it of the open-mindedness needed to classify these actions correctly, and to see them for what they truly are.
If man was created to normally perform feats classifiable as super-human, then what should we think of Jesus Christ? According to Scripture, Christ could routinely perform super-human feats. Could Christ have been the “perfect” human being? A sample of what we would have been if not for original sin? Again, maybe we have taken the Biblical Word of God too literally. If Christ is the Son of God, then as God’s Son, He is God’s offspring, His creation. Therefore He must be similar to the creation of man in the Genesis story.
Christ was a pure creation of God, the first since Adam and Eve. Quite possibly, Christ’s mission during his brief tenure on earth was twofold, to show humankind how it could have been had original sin not have occurred and also to show how to become closer to God. Similar to the actions in the story of original sin, humankind did not listen to God’s message and acted as it so desired. The Romans crucified Christ, killing His physical being. Yet when one lives not on the physical substantial plane but on the higher mental plane, the killing of the physical being matters not. This is evident in the Biblical story of Christ’s resurrection.
So how can one reach this “higher plane” of being? How can one attain peace within his or herself and, at the same time, become “one” with the universe? In his book Heaven and Hell, Aldous Huxley suggests two methods: hypnosis or ingesting a chemical substance (i.e. mescaline, lysergic acid, etc). There must be more ways than this. For if someone lets go of his or her entire materialistic being then maybe, just maybe, they can break the barriers of the mind, the “doors of perception,” and attain a new level of consciousness. A level of consciousness that would allow them to reap the benefits of all-inclusive individuality, being “one” with the universe. Which is, as Huxley writes, the closest we can get to Heaven before our physical being ceases to exist. He could not have been closer to the truth.