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The Doors of Perception

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  13,420 ratings  ·  820 reviews
The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay, released as a book, by Aldous Huxley. First published in 1954, it details his experiences when taking mescaline. The book takes the form of Huxley's recollection of a mescaline trip that took place over the course of an afternoon in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake's 1793 poem 'The Marriage ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.K.), 208 pages
Published 1954 by Chatto & Windus
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Carl Macki Anything by Rumi, Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Maurice Bucke, True Hallucinations by Terence McKenna, The politics of Experience by R.D. Laing, and…moreAnything by Rumi, Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Maurice Bucke, True Hallucinations by Terence McKenna, The politics of Experience by R.D. Laing, and the Urantia Book and A Course in Miracles..(less)

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Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing

November 22, 1963. That fateful day. Yes, the day Huxley died. His last words were “LSD, 100 micrograms I.M.” He took psychedelic drugs less than a dozen times in his life, but he always did so with a deep spiritual purpose, never casually. The Doors of Perception is a detailed account of the first time. The title comes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up,
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An erudite artist and scholar tripping on mescaline.

Decades before other drug culture manifestos and hippy folios cool cat Aldous Huxley first published his Doors of Perception in 1954 ( the same year as Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend). The initial part is a first person narrative about his experiences taking peyote and his descriptions of the insight.

Of course what makes this stand out from the legion of trip and tells is his intellectual observations. Huxl
Lisa Reads & Reviews

Increasingly, I'm learning that perception is far more complicated than I ever imagined. Sight, as an example, isn't simply eyes acting like cameras, sending image data to the brain for interpretation. An article in the online journal, Nature, described the mechanism by which the brain "sees" what our eyes are going to see before our eyes see it. This is why we don't view the world through what would otherwise look like a hand-held camera. Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Med
“...we were back at home, and I had returned to that reassuring but profoundly unsatisfactory state known as 'being in one's right mind.”

Main themes:

Perception, conceptualization, expression
Transcendance and immanence
Selfhood and selflessness

More excerpts :

“Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments, is and has always been one of the
Jason Koivu
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This must've blown minds when it came out. Now though, it's lost its edge.

Full disclosure, I'm here because of The Doors...of the Jim Morrison sort. Being a HUGE fan of him and the band, I absorbed all I could of them back during my teens. I even read his poetry. Hell, I even read William Blake's poetry, simply because it apparently influenced Morrison. However, I never did get around to reading Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception , the book title from which the band was named. WHAT THE HEL
William Strasse
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need to read more Huxley...maybe I'll finally dig in to the copy of "The Perennial Philosophy" that I've started on several times (although probably not until after "A Brief History Of Everything"...those two at the same time would be just masochistic.)

Although I did get a lot out of this book, the single thing that really made an impact was the discussion of our brain as a sensory-limiting mechanism which is concerned most of the time with filtering out all but what we need for survival at an
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.” - William Blake

Aldous Huxley, a renowned writer, mainly famous for his great dystopian work, Brave New World (1931), blasts to the world his transcendental essay: The Doors of Perception, published in 1954.
In this philosophical essay, Huxley describes his spiritual experience with mescaline, taken one day in May 19
Lindu Pindu
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Huxley. Not on my list of great writers, but an interesting person with ideas.

There are more illuminating books on psychoactive substances, but this would perform well as a primer for those completely brainwashed into thinking that drug-takers are dazed hippies. I see them/us as *seekers*, people seeking to believe in something they can see and experience in an age where we don't take words like mind, soul, reason for granted anymore. This is exactly the point of view Huxley uses here. Also, im
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My 5th best read of 2020.
Best book to convince someone that (hallucinogenic) drugs could improve or at least add new detail to one's perception of objective reality. It's difficult to agree with or understand all of it, but the form of them is very unique and make this phenomenal reading. Who knows whether this is fiction or non-fiction!

As a neuroscientist studying psychiatry I find many of the ideas here theoretically visionary but lacking clear experimental evidence but in a way these ideas a
Mar 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Huxley's writing is brilliant and a joy to read. The work is littered throughout with so much religious and philosophical allusions, which adds to the thoughtful depth. I found it to be quite fascinating.

However, his conclusions leave empty. Essentially, it's religion achieved through chemistry. And his conception of religion focuses purely on the subjective. It's no surprise that he refers to Eckhart, Boehme, and eastern philosophy so often; he looks only at the "inner light" rather than consi
Avishek Das
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This has opened some aspects & still some are in mirage. I would read again and again over the ages & believe will be able to decode more...
Thus it came about that, one bright May morning, four-tenths of a gram of mescaline dissolved in half a glass of water and sat down to wait for the results.

What ensues is a description of the experience written retroactively, with the help of taped conversations taken at the time, and interspersed with commentary on art, philosophy, and the usefulness (and abuse) of drugs in reaching altered states. Some themes: mind as a valve that regulates how much the chaos and infinity of the universe we ca
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After enduring moves across the country with me more than a few times, boxed and unboxed, over the past 35+ years, my slightly yellowed, still tightly-bound, thin 95-cent paperback of Huxley's DOORS OF PERCEPTION was due a fresh read. And it was a joy to be wrapped once again in Huxley's thoughts and prose. He was one of my early literary idols, yet he's been absent from my readings of late, sadly neglected.

Most people are familiar with the premise of this book – Huxley ingests mescalin, under s
Czarny Pies
May 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Fans of Jimmy Morrison and the Doors
Shelves: english-lit
I read this because I had a friend who owned several Doors albums and was curious to learn more about the book that had inspired the name of the band. I had also enjoyed "Brave New World."

It's not the worst thing that I have read but it has nothing to recommend itself.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
- a thought-provoking book worth reading
‘“O nobly born, let not thy mind be distracted.” That was the problem—to remain undistracted. Undistracted by the memory of past sins, by imagined pleasure, by the bitter aftertaste of old wrongs and humiliations, by all the fears and hates and cravings that ordinarily eclipse the Light’
‘The urge to transcend self-conscious selfhood is, as I have said, a principal appetite of the soul. When, for whatever reason, men and women fail to transcend themselves b
Walter Schutjens
The best book I have ever read.

Everything that I have ever tried to understand about symbology, transcendence, consciousness, linguistics, and the self has all been tied together in this book. Huxley's vivid description of the hallucinatory effects that he experiences under mescaline are not only entertaining to read, but also provide the reader with an alternate account of subjective reality that has now been made illegal. Many of the experiences that he describes relating to self awareness and
11811 (Eleven)
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never tried mescaline but always hoped that the opportunity would knock someday. The idea has only become more attractive after pondering this author's thoughts on his experience with the famous mystical medication and the brief history he presents on the value of peyote.

Short book but well worth the read.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Huxley is a great thinker and philosopher. Here he examines what the element of pure art is. As a background he deals with mescalin and its impact on body and mind. I was especially fond of his mentioning of Vermeer and why we still love his paintings. Also the reference to Plato's mistake was remarkable. Great essay and absolute reading recommendation! ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Aldous Huxley takes us through doors that we may never have gone through. I will never forget the "luminous books" that seemed to pulse and glow with their own aura of differing colors. Not to mention that one of my favorite bands of all time took their name after this book. ...more
Scot Parker
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychedelics
This account offered fascinating insights into what it must have been like to be among the first to try psychedelics during the western discovery of these drugs during the 1950s. Although dated (this was published in 1954 after all) The Doors of Perception reveals many of the core aspects of the psychedelic experience, and Huxley's philosophical brilliance shines through in his interpretation of the experience and of its value and potential deeper meaning. I found this well worth my time, both f ...more
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the review copied from my review of The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell which I read earlier this year, both combined in one book - that review can be found here. Otherwise, below is solely for The Doors of Perception.

Huxley takes 4/10 of a gram of mescaline and writes about the experience. Mescalin is comparable with LSD. I wasn't expecting much from the writings of his 'experience' but I found it fascinating. Of course, the world is more desensitised to drugs now; on the whole,
Nick Allen
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
My hopes were partially fulfilled in the second half of the essay, in which Huxley examined the natural human urge to experience the world through the lens of any kind of drug or alcohol, and how this relates to current legal policy and common conceptions of mental well-being. However, most of the essay carried the kind of underlying tone of semi-religious reverence for the effects of drugs that I hear all too much of from the kids at college. The idea that the human brain can have knowledge of ...more
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Listened to the audiobook. Would recommend, probably some parts I missed.
Will probably read/listen to again in the future.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
My friend Amanda who dated & married this guy based on their shared obsession with Nick Cave said I had to read this book in Oz. They even got it out for me at the library. I read it. It was alright. My genuine reaction was that this is a lazy short-cut...everything he described, you could achieve drug-free from mind-training and if my tibetan meditation teacher had to spend 30 yrs in some cave up in the Himalayas doing this and lazy people want to pay $30 and take a short-cut.. ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I picked up this slim Aldous Huxley book because it was referenced by Michael Pollon in his book, How to Change Your Mind, and because I thought, well, after all, it's Aldous Huxley. It is partly about Huxley's 1953 experience using mescalin, or peyote, a naturally occurring psychedelic alkaloid famously used by some Native American tribes as a religious sacrament. Huxley had the normal "trip" associated with peyote or with "magic mushrooms", and he describes it well, to the extent it can be des ...more
Feb 06, 2012 rated it liked it
If I was only rating The Doors of Perception, I would be giving it 5 stars. True, when I read its 50 brilliant pages in a single sitting I was feeling the first effects of a flu infection that I was hoping was going to be fought back before it could take a firm hold (so far so good), but I'm reasonably confident that the impression it made on me was genuine, and not a product of any fevered flights of fancy.
So: The Doors of Perception. It's fascinating, insightful, and provided more food for tho
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this to all artists, intuitives, and introverts. Like me, you may recognize your own perceptions in the beautiful and lucid writing. No, I do not recommend mescalin for everyone. I have never taken it and I know for certain I haven’t got the right psychological makeup to avoid the dangers Huxley wisely describes. Read this essay if you have already absorbed the Tao Te Ching or other classics of the literature of transcendence. If you’re already insightful you certainly may not need a ...more
Thomas Hodgson
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Read this last night while listening to Mauritanian soundscape thing. I for one think that the notion that acid, mescaline, shroom tripping being connected to a higher power is tired hippie poo for people who make excuses for their drug taking but I do appreciate it’s enabling abilities to achieve a “higher consciousness” of sorts. Love Huxley’s prose and liked his preeminent connection between the disparity of attitudes toward alcohol and tobacco versus drug use. Very cool! 4 stars!
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
In terms of the writing itself, The Doors of Perception is a solid 4 or 5 star level; it’s a superbly written book. Also, there are a few interesting (if poorly considered) ideas proposed in the book about the nature of reality as it relates to the way in which the human mind perceives it. The only aspect of the book ultimately worth reading about, though, is the description of Huxley’s experience on mescaline itself, told moment to moment as he experienced it.

The huge drawback of the book (and
Kyle van Oosterum
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
In 1936, Huxley boldly became the guinea pig of an experiment testing the effects of Mescaline (active ingredient in Peyote) on humans. After having ingested the mystical drug, he recounted his experience 20 years later.

Almost instantly he enters a state of transfiguration, wildly more vivid than his subjective and banal consciousness. Every innocuous object has as much relevance as the birth of the universe, and everything silent and unmoving seems to scream its importance. With this spiritual
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Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the latter part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through his novels and es ...more

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