Aldous Huxley’s Mind At Large And The Filters Of Reduction

Sometimes I would love to see the faces in the wood, too, or just peek into the otherworld.

Wouldn’t we all like to see what the great shaman sees?



Aldous Huxley wrote in “The Doors of Perception” (from 1954) that “each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and perceiving everything that is happening everwhere in the universe. 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. According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large”.

Huxley, influenced by C.D. Broad, means that psychedelic drugs are thought to disable filters which block or suppress signals related to mundane functions from reaching the conscious mind. He explores the idea that the human mind filters reality, partly because handling the details of all the impressions coming in would be unbearable, partly because it has been taught so.

The suggested devices are so called psychotropic drugs, mescaline in Huxley’s case, but often magic mushrooms ( which can be found in the forests) are a popular drug.  In my research I learned a lot about the effects of dangerous short-cuts into the Otherworld.

But the dangers are not only there because of the toxic effect of drugs, which may send people straight to the hospital or into mental care.

There are some very interesting implications in Aldous Huxley’s words. He says that your personal reduction filter is there to protect you from being overwhelmed and confused by the mass of irrelevant information. True. Highly sensitive people, artists or writers will certainly agree.

I am afraid there are more reasons for the reduction filter to be installed in our mind. I would like to take the liberty to compare our minds for a moment with modern computers (of course they are not alike the human mind but I make use of it as a metaphor).

What will happen if you shut down the filters in your computer, for example the firewall or the virus-scan?

Your computer is becoming vulnerable, the doors opened to any kind of intrusion. It can become a zombie, remote controlled and abused for any kind of sinister operation as being part of a bot-net. You can get more easily deceived or anybody can spy you out.

Now think of the hungry souls eager to get enlightened or, more often, get redeemed.

Without the firewalls of the ego the soul may become an easy prey for any kind of demonic energy.

Philosopher and novelist Patrick Harpur gives us a pretty good idea about the nature of these forces. In his highly acclaimed book “Daimonic reality” he writes: “What the daimons in dreams seek is our ability, through reflection and pondering, through all our making and doing, to give shape to their dynamic shape-shifting; to order and discriminate their chaos; to body forth their ethereal volatility; to express their, not the ego’s perspectives”.

This might not only be true for dreams but even more for some kind of drug-influenced altered states. I think it would be even possible to overrun the natural barriers of the ego, making it a puppet (think of some of the religious prophets, who claimed they received word from god and became great preachers and inspired fundamentalistic belief-systems).

The Forest Dark is often a place where people not only find magic mushrooms but seek for extraordinary experiences. Sometimes they are not the same when they return home, if they ever return.

However there is more interesting thought in Huxley’s words. Of course, we should learn to overcome the limitations and many filters of reduction in a healthy sense. Huxley suggests that the mind is also trained in a certain way, which is certainly true. Since we are little children we are told what we should see and what we shouldn’t see.

The energy of reduction is a strong demonic force, too. Some people belief the crisis of the Western world is because we have become over-rational and loosing our imagination. Not only inside our brain, no, the soldiers of reduction seem to be everywhere, watching carefully. There are always people around who want to tell you the “right” interpretation of the world.

As much as we need reduction to survive – the sheer endless amount of information created in the internet will trigger new strategies of reduction – we need to stay alert, if we do not want to get manipulated. Yes, we need to fight reduction and the reductionist particular in our days, since the dark side of the force has been grown very strong and distract us more and more from imagination and – as Harpur points out in his book- leads us to depersonalization.

Nevertheless we have to know about the right rituals and prepare our journeys into the Forest Dark carefully and always remember the words of  the master about us living in a forest dark:

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far”.

(H.P. Lovecraft, The Call Of Cthulhu)




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