Policy Themes of Brave New World: Religion: Aldous Huxley’s contradictions about religion and drugs

By Alan
Edition 1: Dec. 9, 2016

For contents of this series and links to related commentaries on Brave New World, see http://canadianliberty.com/?p=23427.

Brave New World Revisited: Contradiction: Aldous Huxley warns against religion and entertainment as opium but lives his life promoting religious mysticism and drug use

Aldous Huxley warns against religion in his non-fiction work Brave New World Revisited [1], explaining how religion, as well as entertainment and fiction, are used for the control of society:

Huxley compares entertainment to religion. Both, he says, are distractions if lived in too constantly, and both can become the “opium of the people” (page 35).

The purpose of constant amusement is to prevent “people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation (page 35).”

He states that those who spend their time in the “irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist” those who manipulate society (page 36).

Note that “metaphysical fantasy” can refer to both religion and fiction.

I don’t dismiss all metaphysical beliefs and experiences, but I expect them to grounded in some kind of evidence, rationality, or even just an actual, truthful experience that you are not going to expect someone else to believe in who didn’t experience it. I think we would be better off if we didn’t build our lives on questionable stories from preachers, gurus and texts, whether ancient or modern.

Modern dictators, says Huxley, use propaganda that relies on “repetition” of slogans, “suppression” of facts, and “rationalization” of aroused “passions,” which are then put to use to serve the State (page 36).

He explains how rational information is drowned out by irrelevant nonsense (page 36) [1].

My analysis of Brave New World Revisited [2] further illustrates how Huxley promotes policies—such as “educating for freedom” [3]–policies which, in my mind, would logically lead to global dictatorship even though he sells them as preventing just that. In Brave New World Revisited, Huxley’s contradictions and suspicious arguments–on behalf of utopian, global projects–reveal his deceit.

Huxley, Religion and Drugs

The following quotes from the Wikipedia article on Aldous Huxley indicate how Huxley wasn’t at all opposed to certain kinds of religion and mysticism, but took a very active interest:

[Huxley] later became interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, in particular universalism. . . .

[Gerald] Heard introduced Huxley to Vedanta (Upanishad-centered philosophy), meditation, and vegetarianism through the principle of ahimsa. In 1938, Huxley befriended Jiddu Krishnamurti, whose teachings he greatly admired. He also became a Vedantist in the circle of Hindu Swami Prabhavananda, and introduced Christopher Isherwood to this circle. Not long after, Huxley wrote his book on widely held spiritual values and ideas, The Perennial Philosophy, which discussed the teachings of renowned mystics of the world. Huxley’s book affirmed a sensibility that insists there are realities beyond the generally accepted “five senses” and that there is genuine meaning for humans beyond both sensual satisfactions and sentimentalities. . . .

. . . [Huxley] gave lectures on “Human Potentialities” both at the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center and at the Esalen Institute. These lectures were fundamental to the beginning of the Human Potential Movement. . . .

Huxley was a close friend of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Rosalind Rajagopal and was involved in the creation of the Happy Valley School (now Besant Hill School of Happy Valley) in Ojai, California. . . . [4]

Notice the reference to the Esalen Institute, which was a big part of my discussion on Terence McKenna and others [5].

Also, Huxley’s associations with a prominent theosophist, fellow Fabian and New Age guru, Annie Besant, and other gurus, are clear just by the mention of the school he helped to found:

From the Wikipedia article on Besant Hill School:

The school was envisioned by Annie Besant, Guido Ferrando, Aldous Huxley, J. Krishnamurti, and Rosalind Rajagopal. The school is on . . . land that was bought in 1927 by Besant. It first opened its doors in Fall 1946 as the Happy Valley School . . . . The school was later renamed in July 2006 in Besant’s honor [6].

Annie Besant is mentioned as an active member of the Fabian Society in The History of the Fabian Society by Edward R. Pease, 1916 [7].

With respect to “New Age,” see the essay Annie Besant’s Quest for Truth: Christianity, Secularism, and New Age Thoughtby Mark Bevir, which also refers to Aldous Huxley as a New Age thinker [8].

With respect to religion and drugs, the following quote from the Wikipedia article on Aldous Huxley’s book, Doors of Perception, about his experiences while under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug mescaline, indicate that he is promoting this practice by describing his experiences in spiritual terms:

Huxley concludes that mescaline is not enlightenment or the Beatific vision, but a “gratuitous grace” (a term taken from Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica). It is not necessary but helpful, especially so for the intellectual, who can become the victim of words and symbols. Although systematic reasoning is important, direct perception has intrinsic value too. Finally, Huxley maintains that the person who has this experience will be transformed for the better [9].

And yet, it’s clear that a mind-altering drug (“soma”) is an essential part of the scientific dictatorship portrayed in his novel, Brave New World, and it is also a part of the religious ceremonies required by that dictatorship [10].

In the novel’s religious ritual, it is all about having a supposedly mystical EXPERIENCE, which is supposed to be spiritual, but I’m not sure that most such experiences are spiritual, and I feel that there is not likely to be a higher level of spirituality in the context of drug use, sex and audio technology [10].

Huxley connects his mescaline drug experience to spirituality using very calculated language. In my opinion, this is because he is educated enough to doubt that a chemically induced experience in the brain can be connected with spirituality.

Do we even say that about most of our dreams, or how we feel after having a great meal? No we don’t. New religious movements train people to think that real spirituality is about experiencing all sorts of sensations. Would we say that about electronically induced hypnotic experiences? No. What about television watching? No. Do we say that about the experiences we have drinking alcohol or taking a cold sedative to help us sleep? Come on. Why should anyone think that some hypnotic effect caused by a drug (always toxic to some degree)–medicinal or harmful, artificial or natural–is real spirituality? Doesn’t real spirituality have more to do with considering the value of our lives, how we’re supposed to live, and how we treat others?

Religion’s Effectiveness

It’s popular to make a distinction between “religion” and “spirituality,” but if there are third parties such as gurus, authors and organizations involved, what’s the difference? I prefer the word “religion,” and I try to use it in a neutral way that is not loaded with prejudice for or against. You can make a distinction if you like, but “spirituality” is just another word for “religion” as far as I am concerned. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if this lame distinction is a marketing technique used to repackage and sell “new” religions while demonizing old religions.

In my own life, I have seen certain religious organizations–Bible-based cults–and messages operate very effectively via mass media without my having to join a group or attend any kind of service. “Effectively” means that changes in my attitudes and behavior took place, whether positive or negative, and I tend to think the changes in my case were often negative.

If a religion, hypothetically, has a positive influence and is not involved in spreading mind-crippling and life-crippling lies, but stands the test of truth, or at least has good intentions along with good results, then I am not interested in criticizing them just because they have an income, a strong organization or even beliefs I am not convinced of. When we need to evaluate, we should judge based on behavior, intention, truth, and results. We need to judge fairly in moral terms, case by case, focusing on evidence of corruption and hypocrisy. We are all limited by human nature and subject to corruption, but I am not going to lump the majority together with the weaponized pockets of evil we should be protecting ourselves from:

See Matthew 7:16-20:

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. [11]

This biblical passage seems to be very useful and rational. Why not use it and apply it to people and organizations that are asking for your money?

Good fruit, bad fruit, zero fruit.

Good results, bad results, zero results.

Judge. Evaluate. Think.

What would happen to your view of the world if you applied the above formula to your religion, to the government, to a cancer charity, to the money system, to the medical system, to your doctor, to the prescription drug you’ve been given, or to anything else?

Reality would become a whole lot clearer.

I don’t agree with everything in the Bible or even everything Jesus says. I’m not quoting the Bible as an absolute “believer,” but I am entitled to quote from it nevertheless as someone who studied it and who grew up with it as part of my heritage. Also, I am quoting the parts I feel are revealing or truthful, as with other books.

However, many religious leaders and those who pave their way are not concerned about truth. They are concerned about padding their pockets while studying and testing which human domestication methods give the best results—for themselves and their masters.

From the oligarchy’s point of view, the slave, whether working class or middle class, needs to be just strong or smart enough to do the necessary grunt work in order to bring in tithes for the Church and taxes for the government.

If you’re left with half a brain or a reduced leadership capacity or not having any wife or husband or children or stable family relationships, this might be the intended result of various policies, including religious propaganda.

The religious and mystical propaganda of a cult might directly target your free time, or your diet, or your wallet, or your emotions, or your identity, or your confidence, or your relationships with family and friends, or how you see your fellow man.

The government and corporations also might be directly targeting all of that–along with the other areas of your life–using the fluoridation, the vaccines, the psychotropic drugs (with their multiple side effects), the taxation system, the endless totalitarian laws that undermine the past order of traditionally accepted “rights and freedoms,” and of course the education system that comes with the philosophic confusion about reality and morality, the slogan-based emotionally-laden, hypnotic media propaganda, including the pornography and other forms of entertainment.

If religion hits you from one direction about sex, the corporate oligarchy bashes your head in from the other direction.

Either way, then you are ready to serve your very limited function and role in society. Those with some religious function assigned to them by an organized cult may not be so alone, but many in society, including those who are brainwashed by the new “spirituality,” generally are increasingly left to forage as isolated individuals, with no family of their own in some cases, and with very little influence, or strength, or thoughts beyond those assigned to them by their influences under this system.


[1] Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley, Electronic editions published 2000, 2010 by RosettaBooks LLC, New York. ISBN Mobipocket edition: 9780795300165.
Quoted by author here: Commentary on Brave New World Revisited – Part 4 at http://canadianliberty.com/?p=17349.

[2] Series: Notes on Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley, http://canadianliberty.com/?p=17795.

[3] Commentary on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World Revisited – Part 10 – Conclusion, http://canadianliberty.com/?p=17581.

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldous_Huxley, access December 9, 2016.

[5] http://powerandreality.com/2016/11/27/policy-themes-of-brave-new-world-religion-public-relations-drugs-transhumanism-evolution-doctrine-implies-inevitability-of-developments-instead-of-their-being-the-result-of-planning/

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Besant_Hill_School, accessed December 9, 2016.

[7] The History of the Fabian Society by Edward R. Pease, 1916, https://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Pease_History_of_the_Fabian_Society-2.pdf.

[8] Annie Besant’s Quest for Truth: Christianity, Secularism, and New Age Thought by Mark Bevir, Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, http://www.alpheus.org/html/articles/theosophy/bevir3.html.

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doors_of_Perception, accessed December 9, 2016.

[10] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, London: Flamingo, 1994, Orig. Published: 1932. Introduction by David Bradshaw of Worcestor College, Oxford.

Some information about the edition: Commentary on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – Part 1, at http://canadianliberty.com/?p=16733.

Regarding soma, see Commentary on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – Part 9, http://canadianliberty.com/?p=17140.

Regarding soma in the religious ritual, see Commentary on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – Part 10, http://canadianliberty.com/?p=17149.

For more on the novel’s religious ritual, also see Policy Themes of Brave New World – One World Religion, Annihilating the Individual Identity, http://canadianliberty.com/?p=23463.

[11] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A16-20&version=KJV, King James Version (KJV).