Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Aldous Leonard Huxley

English Novelist, Short-Stories, Playwright and Editor including Brave New World and Oxford Poetry

"Adoration is an activity of the loving, but still separate individuality. Contemplation is the state of union with the divine Ground of all being. The highest prayer is the most passive. Inevitably; for the less there is of self, the more there is of God."

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols."

"Charity... unlike the lower forms of love, is not an emotion. It begins as an act of the will and is consummated as a purely spiritual awareness, a unitive love-knowledge of the essence of its object."

"Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision."

"Deliverance is out of time into eternity, and is achieved by obedience and docility to the eternal Nature of Things. We have been given free will, in order that we may will our self-will out of existence and so come to live continuously in a “state of grace.” All our actions must be directed, in the last analysis, to making ourselves passive in relation to the activity and the being of divine Reality. We are, as it were, aeolian harps, endowed with the power either to expose themselves to the wind of the Spirit or to shut themselves away from it."

"Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting."

"Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him."

"Experience teaches only the teachable."

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

"Faith is a pre-condition of all systematic knowing, all purposive doing and all decent living. Societies are held together, not primarily by the fear of the many for the coercive power of the few, but by a widespread faith in the other fellow’s decency."

"From their own experience or from the recorded experience of others (history), men learn only what their passions and their metaphysical prejudices allow them to learn."

"Genuine self-government is possible only in very small groups, societies on a national or super-national scale will always be ruled by oligarchical minorities, whose members come to power because they have a lust for power."

"God may be worshipped and contemplated in any of his aspects. But to persist in worshipping only one aspect to the exclusion of all the rest is to run into grave spiritual peril... The best that can be said for ritualistic legalism is that it improves conduct. It does little, however, to alter character and nothing of itself to modify consciousness... The complete transformation of consciousness, which is “enlightenment,” “deliverance,” “salvation,” comes only when God is thought of as the perennial Philosophy affirms Him to be - immanent as well as transcendent, supra-personal as well as personal - and when religious practices are adapted to this conception."

"If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion."

"If there is freedom... there is a spiritual Reality, which it is the final end and purpose of consciousness to know; then all life is in the nature of an intelligence test, and the higher the level of awareness and the greater the potentialities of the creature, the more searchingly difficult will be the questions asked."

"If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean."

"Immortality is participation in the eternal now of the divine Ground: survival is persistence in one of the forms of time. Immortality is the result of total deliverance."

"It is because we don’t know Who we are, because we are unaware that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, that we behave in the generally silly, the often insane, the sometimes criminal ways that are so characteristically human. We are saved, we are liberated and enlightened, by perceiving the hitherto unperceived good that is already within us, by returning to our eternal Ground and remaining where, without knowing it, we have always been."

"It is in the light of our beliefs about the ultimate nature of reality that we formulate our conceptions of right and wrong; and it is in the light of our conceptions of right and wrong that we frame our conduct."

"It is only when we have renounced our preoccupation with “I,” “me,” “mine” that we can truly possess the world I which we live. Everything is ours, provided that we regard nothing as our property. And not only is everything ours; it is also everybody else’s."

"Karma is the causal sequence in time, from which we are delivered solely by “dying to” the temporal self and becoming united with the eternal, which is beyond time and cause."

"Knowledge is a function of being; but the thing known is independent of the mode and nature of the knower."

"Knowledge of what is happening now does not determine the event. What is ordinarily called God’s foreknowledge is in reality a timeless now-knowledge, which is compatible with the freedom of the human creature’s will in time."

"Love is as necessary to human beings as food and shelter; [but] without intelligence... love is impotent and freedom unattainable."

"Man’s final end, the purpose of his existence, is to love, know and be united with the immanent and transcendent God head. And this identification of self with spiritual not-self can be achieved only by “dying to” selfness and living to spirit."

"Mortifications have their reward in a state of consciousness that corresponds, on a lower level, to spiritual beatitude. The artist - and the philosopher and the man of science are also artists - knows the bliss of aesthetic contemplation, discovery and non-attached possession. The goods of the intellect, the emotions and the imagination are real goods; but they are not the final good, and when we treat them as ends in themselves, we fall into idolatry. Mortification of will, desire and action is not enough; there must also be mortification in the fields of knowing, thinking feeling and fancying."

"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted."

"Most people tend to perform the actions that require least effort, to think the thoughts that are easiest, to feel the emotions that are most vulgarly commonplace, to give the rein to desires that are most nearly animal."

"Nobody can have the consolations of religion or philosophy unless he has first experienced their desolations."

"Our current neglect of Law is yet another of the many indications that twentieth-century educators have ceased to be concerned with questions of ultimate truth or meaning and (apart from mere vocational training) are interested solely in the dissemination of a rootless and irrelevant culture, and the fostering of the solemn foolery of scholarship for scholarship’s sake."

"Our perceptions and our understanding are directed, in large measure, by our will. We are aware of, and we think about, the things which, for one reason or another, we want to see and understand. Where there’s a will there is always an intellectual way. The capacities of the human mind are almost indefinitely great."

"Our present economic, social and international arrangements are based, in large measure, upon organized lovelessness. We begin by lacking charity towards nature."

"Parodies and caricatures are the most penetrating of criticisms."

"People always get what they ask for; the only trouble is that they never know, until they get it, what it actually is that they have asked for."

"Rites and vain repetitions have a legitimate place in religion as aids to recollectedness, reminders of truth momentarily forgotten in the turmoil of worldly distractions. When spoken or performed as a kind of magic, their use is either completely useless or else (and this is worse) it may have ego-enhancing results, which do not in any way contribute to the attainment of man’s final end."

"Self-knowledge leading to self-hatred and humility, is the condition of the love and knowledge of God. Spiritual exercises that make use of distractions have this great merit, that they increase self-knowledge. Every soul that approaches God must be aware of who and what it is. To practice a form of mental or vocal prayer that is, so to speak, above one’s moral station is to act a lie: and the consequences of such lying are wrong notions about God, idolatrous worship of private and unrealistic phantasies and (for lack of the humility of self-knowledge) spiritual pride."

"The aim and purpose of human life is the unitive knowledge of God. Among the indispensable means to that end is right conduct, and by the degree and kind of virtue achieved, the degree of liberating knowledge may be assessed and its quality evaluated. In a word, the tree is known by its fruits; God is not mocked."

"The beatitude into which the enlightened soul is delivered is something quite different from pleasure... Blessedness depends on non-attachment and selflessness, therefore can be enjoyed without satiety and without revulsion; is a participation in eternity, and therefore remains itself without diminution or fluctuation."

"The causal process takes place within time and cannot possibly result in deliverance from time. Such a deliverance can only be achieved as a consequence of the intervention of eternity in the temporal domain; and eternity cannot intervene unless the individual will makes a creative act of self-denial, thus producing, as it were, a vacuum into which eternity can flow."

"The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced."

"The Godhead is impassable; for where there is perfection and unity, there can be no suffering. The capacity to suffer arises where there is imperfection, disunity and separation from an embracing totality; and the capacity is actualized to the extent that imperfection, disunity and separateness are accompanied by an urge towards the intensification of these creaturely conditions. For the individual who achieves unity within his own organism and union with the divine Ground, there is an end of suffering. The goal of creation is the return of all sentient beings out of separateness and that infatuating urge-to-separateness which results in suffering, through unitive knowledge, into the wholeness of eternal Reality."

"The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth."

"The human species... capacity for good is infinite, since they can, they desire, make room within themselves for divine Reality. But at the same time their capacity for evil is, not indeed infinite (since evil is always ultimately self-destructive and therefore temporary), but uniquely great. Hell is total separation from God, and the devil is the will to that separation... To be diabolic on the grand scale, one must, like Milton’s Satan, exhibit in a high degree all the moral virtues, except only charity and wisdom."

"The idolatrous worship of ethical values in and for themselves defeats its own object - and defeats it not only because... there is a lack of all-around development, but also and above all because even the highest forms of moral idolatry are God-eclipsing and therefore guarantee the idolater against the enlightening and liberating knowledge of Reality."

"The present moment is the only aperture through which the soul can pass out of time into eternity, through which grace can pass out of eternity into the soul, and through which charity can pass from one soul in time to another soul in time."

"The relationship between moral action and spiritual knowledge is circular, as it were, and reciprocal. Selfless behavior makes possible an accession of knowledge, and the accession of knowledge makes possible the performance of further and more genuinely selfless actions, which in their turn enhance the agent’s capacity for knowing... A man undertakes right action (which includes, of course, right consciousness and right meditation), and this enables him to catch a glimpse of the Self that underlies his separate individuality. Having seen his own self as the Self, he becomes selfless (and therefore acts selflessly) and in virtue of selflessness he is to be conceived as unconditioned."

"The world is a mirror of Infinite Beauty, yet no man sees it. It is a Temple of Majesty, yet no man regards it. It is a region of Light and Peace, did not men disquiet it. It is the Paradise of God."

"There is a very general belief that, where gadgets are concerned, we can get something for nothing - can enjoy all the advantages of an elaborate, top-heavy and constantly advancing technology without having to pay for them by any compensating disadvantages."

"There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."

"Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead."