Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Aldous Leonard Huxley

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

"Unrestrained and indiscriminate talk is morally evil and spiritually dangerous."

"We can only love what we know and we can never know completely what we do not love."

"We can only love what we know, and we can never know completely what we do not love. Love is a mode of knowledge, and when the love is sufficiently disinterested and sufficiently intense, the knowledge becomes unitive knowledge and so takes on the quality of infallibility."

"What we do depends in large measure upon what we think, and if what we do it evil, there is good empirical reason for supposing that our thought patterns are inadequate to material, mental or spiritual reality."

"When, for whatever reason, men and women fail to transcend themselves by means of worship, good works and spiritual exercises, they are apt to resort to religion’s chemical surrogates."

"Whenever, for any reason, we wish to think of the world, not as it appears to common sense, but as a continuum, we find that our traditional syntax and vocabulary are quite inadequate. Mathematicians have therefore been compelled to invent radically new symbol-systems for this express purpose. But the divine Ground of all existence is not merely a continuum, it is also out of time, and different, not merely in degree, but in kind from the worlds to which traditional language and the languages of mathematics are adequate."

"Without self-knowledge there can be no true humility."

"An unexciting truth may be eclipsed by a thrilling lie."

"Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence - those are the three pillars of Western prosperity."

"At any given moment, life is completely senseless. But viewed over a period, it seems to reveal itself as an organism existing in time, having a purpose, tending in a certain direction."

"Divisive forces are more powerful than those which make for union. Vested interests in language, philosophies of life, table manners, sexual habits, political, ecclesiastical and economic organizations are sufficiently powerful to block all attempts, by rational methods, to unite mankind for its own good. And there is nationalism. With the 57 varieties of tribal gods, nationalism is the religion of the 20th century. We may be Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians or Atheists; but the fact remains that there is only one faith for which large masses of us are prepared to die and kill, and that faith is nationalism."

"Every gain made by individuals or societies is almost instantly taken for granted. The luminous ceiling toward which we raise our longing eyes becomes, when we have climbed to the next floor, a stretch of disregarded linoleum beneath our feet."

"Every man's memory is his private literature."

"If it were not for the intellectual snobs who pay - in solid cash - the tribute which philistinism owes to culture, the arts would perish with their starving practitioners. Let us thank heaven for hypocrisy."

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."

"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."

"Man is an intelligence in servitude to his organs."

"Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know."

"So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable."

"Specialized meaninglessness has come to be regarded, in certain circles, as a kind of hall mark of true science."

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach."

"The aging man of the middle twentieth century lives, not in the public world of atomic physics and conflicting ideologies, of welfare states and supersonic speed, but in his strictly private universe of physical weakness and mental decay."

"The law of diminishing returns holds good in almost every part of our human universe."

"The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous convention of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own."

"The natural rhythm of human life is routine punctuated by orgies."

"The Perennial Philosophy... the metaphysic that recognizes a divine reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of immanent and transcendent Ground of being."

"The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human."

"The proper study of mankind is books."

"We find that the religions, whose theology has been least preoccupied with events in time and most concerned with eternity, have been consistently the least violent and most humane in political practice."

"We possess a hidden higher self, the spark of divinity within the soul, which reflects this transcendental reality in our lives. By fulfilling certain necessary conditions, such as making ourselves more loving and compassionate, we can clear away the mental and emotional static that separates us from this inner reality, enabling the higher self to assume a central, guiding role in our lives. This awakening - called enlightenment, deliverance, or salvation in the various traditions - is the goal or purpose of human life. When we achieve this complete transformation of consciousness, we awaken from our limited, often painful condition and reconnect with our true nature."

"An intellectual… [is] a person who has learned to establish relationships between the different elements of his sum of knowledge, one who possesses a coherent system of relationships into which he can fit all such new items of information as he may pick up in the course of his life."

"Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born - the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things."

"Everyone who knows how to read has it in their power to magnify themselves, to multiply the ways in which they exist, to make their life full, significant, and interesting."

"God is. That is the primordial fact. It is in order that we may discover this fact for ourselves, by direct experience, that we exist. The final end and purpose of every human being is the unitive knowledge of God's being."

"Good is that which makes for unity; Evil is that which makes for separateness."

"Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities."

"Happiness is to “become portion of that around me.”... We are happy only when the self achieves union with the not-self. Now both self and non-self are states of our consciousness."

"I do not invent my best thoughts; I find them."

"If a man would travel far along the mystic road, he must learn to desire God intensely but in stillness, passively and yet with all his heart and mind and strength."

"If the poet remains content with his gift, if he persists in worshipping the beauty in art and nature without going on to make himself capable, through selflessness, of apprehending Beauty as it is in the divine Ground, then he is only an idolater."

"In the spiritual life, every cause is also an effect, and every effect is at the same time a cause."

"Industrialism is the systematic exploitation of wasting assets. In all too many cases, the thing we call progress is merely an acceleration in the rate of that exploitation."

"Modern technology has led to the concentration of economic and political power, and to the development of a society controlled (ruthlessly in the totalitarian states, politely and inconspicuously in the democracies) by Big Business and Big Government."

"Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor, and limited, that the urge to escape and the longing to transcend themselves, if only for a few moments, is and always has been one of the principal appetites of the soul."

"Most of one's life ... is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself thinking."

"Mystical experience… is a direct intuition of ultimate reality."

"Our goal is to discover that we have always been where we ought to be."

"Phrases like “war of attrition” protect the mind from contact with the particular realities of mangled flesh and putrefying corpses."

"Silence is as full of potential wisdom and wit as the unhewn marble of great sculpture."

"Sit down before fact as a little child be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss nature leads, or you shall learn nothing."