Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for January 18th, 2014

Aldous Huxley on intuition and training

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Aldous Huxley

Non-mystics have denied the validity of the mystical experience, describing it as merely subjective and illusory. But it should be remembered that to those who have never actually had it, any direct intuition must seem subjective and illusory…Of the significant and pleasurable experiences of life only the simplest are open indiscriminately to all. The rest cannot be had except by those who have undergone a suitable training. One must be trained even to enjoy the pleasures of alcohol and tobacco; first whiskies seem revolting, first pipes turn even the strongest of boyish stomachs. Similarly first Shakespeare sonnets seem meaningless; first Bach fugues, a bore; first differential equations, sheer torture. But training changes the nature of our spiritual experiences. In due course, contact with an obscurely beautiful poem, an elaborate piece of counterpoint or of mathematical reasoning, causes us to feel direct intuitions of beauty and significance…Knowledge is always a function of being. What we perceive and understand depends upon what we are; and what we are depends partly on circumstances, partly, and more profoundly, on the nature of the efforts we have made to realize our ideal and the nature of the ideal we have tried to realize…This training is one which he will certainly find extremely tedious; for it involves, at first, the leading of a life of constant awareness and unremitting moral effort; second, steady practice in the technique of meditation, which is probably about as difficult as the technique of violin playing. But, however tedious, the training can be undertaken by any one who wishes to do so.

Aldous Huxley

Written by nevalalee

January 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

Posted in Quote of the Day

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