The Doors of Perception: Heaven and Hell (Thinking Classics) Paperback – International Edition, April 22, 2011
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- ASIN : 1907590099
- Publisher : Fontal Lobe Publishing; First Edition (April 22, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 100 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781907590092
- ISBN-13 : 978-1907590092
- Item Weight : 4.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.24 x 7.99 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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The title was taken from William Blake who had said, "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." That quote and this book would later help Jim Morrison in naming his band, "The Doors."
I read it with rapt attention. I was entranced. When I reread it recently, I was amazed at how much I remembered and how much of my life choices it had influenced.
I do remember that I promised myself at that young age, that when I was older, I would try these drugs as the search for "God" and spirituality was very important to me then and is still now.
In particular, I recall the passage where, staring at a simple chair, Huxley waxed eloquently about what the chair revealed about its maker. Most of all, I recall his referring to perceiving the "isness" of the chair.
This book was originally published in 1954. It was an important book then and it remains so now. It is a "must-have" for the library of any seeker of the truth, any who seek "higher learning", (pun intended and not), any who are investigators of world spirituality. Very highly recommended.
By Arthur A. on March 3, 2018
The one thing I didn’t like about the book is that I felt it went off subject and drifted too much with irrelevant subject matter - however - considering when it was written, this may have been necessary to paint an accurate picture and to articulate a comparison of “normal” reality for those unacquainted with LSD, psilocybin or Mescaline.
I would recommend this read to anyone who likes Huxley and has an interest in the classic early writings on psychedelics.
When I read the book at that time, I read it as an endorsement for the use of mescalin. However, times changed, and when I read it again, I read it as a rather erudite writing on the use of the drug, as well as the experience. Some of that earlier, innocent, magic was missing in this re-reading of the book.
Having said that, it is a very good book. The appendices are well worth the read, and while he does reduce some mystical experiences to the level of an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the body, I don't think that he debunks the actual experience.
This is a remarkable book, by a remarkable author.
Top reviews from other countries
Perhaps best known for Brave New World, which sits alongside George Orwell's 1984 as two of the great dystopian novels written in English, Huxley took a keen interest in the human species, evolution and neuroscience. In particular, it was his belief that the workings of the brain, which had evolved over many millions of years with the primary instinct to ensure survival, mitigated against the true experience of the world around us. Thus it is not psychoactive substances that distort our perceptions of reality; rather, it is evolution that has, for perfectly sound reasons, eliminated elements of reality that we do not need for survival. It is the human mind as a filter of reality.
In Huxley's telling, mescalin opened doors that otherwise block our view of the richness of the boundless plains of reality all around us. In that afternoon in LA, he experienced the suspension of time and space, and the melting away of the ego. He talks about artists and their heightened ability to perceive things. He talks about the experiences of schizophrenics, portraying their moments not only of despair, but also of unadulterated joy. He talks about the profundity of religious experience, in particular of the philosophical divergence between the Eastern and Western views of the world. In each case, they provide access to a reality we do not otherwise perceive or need for any practical purpose.
Not the easiest read, perhaps because of a certain grandiosity in Huxley’s prose, but it is worthwhile to end with a quote: "The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful."
Great reference if you are interested in understanding the experience without going through it