Huxley, Aldous - Pala
Type of Spiritual Experience
Island is a book written by Aldous Huxley and published in 1962 about the fictional island of Pala. It is a utopian island, as perceived by Huxley himself. The culture of Pala embodies the island's Mahayana Buddhist tradition, to create a society that merges the best, in Huxley's view, of East and West. In it Huxley proposes a system which includes :
Drug use for enlightenment and self-knowledge - "moksha medicine", a fictional entheogen taken ceremonially in rites of passage for mystical and cosmological insight
Group living so that children would not have unalloyed exposure to their parents' neuroses
Trance states for super learning
Assisted reproduction (low-tech artificial insemination)
Freely-available contraception to enable reproductive choice, expressive sex
Restrained industrialization, undertaken with the goal of providing fulfilling work and time for leisure and contemplation
A selective attitude towards technology using science and technology to improve medicine and nutrition, but rejecting widespread industrialization
Huxley viewed selective modernization as essential for his "sane" society, even if it means that such a society is unable to militarily defend itself from its "insane" neighbors who wish to steal its natural resources.
He also later wrote about additions he would have liked to have seen to this system….
A description of the experience
Aldous Huxley [writing about the book]
If I were now to rewrite the book,……….. religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man's Final End, the unitive knowledge of immanent Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman. And the prevailing philosophy of life would be a kind of Higher Utilitarianism, in which the Greatest Happiness principle would be secondary to the Final End principle – the first question to be asked and answered in every contingency of life being: "How will this thought or action contribute to, or interfere with, the achievement, by me and the greatest possible number of other individuals, of man's Final End?
Notes on What's What [part of Island]
Nobody needs to go anywhere else. We are all, if we only knew it, already there. If I only knew who in fact I am, I should cease to behave as what I think I am; and if I stopped behaving as what I think I am, I should know who I am. ………….
Good Being is knowing who in fact we are; and in order to know who in fact we are, we must first know, moment by moment, who we think we are and what this bad habit of thought compels us to feel and do. A moment of clear and complete knowledge of what we think we are, but in fact are not, puts a stop, for the moment, to the Manichean charade. If we renew, until they become a continuity, these moments of the knowledge of what we are not, we may find ourselves all of a sudden, knowing who in fact we are.
Faith is something very different from belief. Belief is the systematic taking of unanalysed words much too seriously. Paul's words, Mohammed's words, Marx's words, Hitler's words - people take them too seriously, and what happens?
What happens is the senseless ambivalence of history - sadism versus duty, or (incomparably worse) sadism as duty; devotion counterbalanced by organized paranoia; sisters of charity selflessly tending to the victims of their own church's inquisitors and crusaders. Faith, on the contrary, can never be taken too seriously. For faith is the empirically justified confidence in our capacity to know who in fact we are, to forget the belief-intoxicated Manichee in Good Being. Give us this day our daily Faith, but deliver us, dear God, from Belief