“Most lead lives at worst so painful, at 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 principle appetites of the soul.”

― Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception


Aldous Huxley


The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay released as a book by Aldous Huxley. The book takes the form of Huxley’s recollection of a mescaline trip that occurred over an afternoon in May 1953. It was first published in 1954. Fun fact: The Doors were inspired to call themselves that because of this Aldous Huxley´s The Doors of Perception.

This book is one of the most iconic pieces of literature regarding psychedelic experiences, and its title is already a fantastic metaphor for that. It is a swift read but has some beautiful insights. I have chosen some highlighted passages from the text to share with you below:



“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.”


“The outer world is what we wake up to every morning of our lives, is the place where, willy-nilly, we must try to make our living. In the inner world there is neither work nor monotony. We visit it only in dreams and musings, and its strangeness is such that we never find the same world on two successive occasions. What wonder, then, if human beings in their search for the divine have generally preferred to look within!” 


“The universal and ever-present urge to self-transcendence is not to be abolished by slamming the currently popular Doors in the Wall. The only reasonable policy is to open other, better doors in the hope of inducing men and women to exchange their old habits for new and less harmful ones. Some of these other, better doors will be social and technological in nature, other religious or psychological, other dietetic, educational, athletic. But the need for frequent chemical vacations from intolerable selfhood and repulsive surroundings will undoubtedly remain. What is needed is a new drug which will relieve and console our suffering species without doing more harm in the long run than it does in the short.” 


“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.”



You can order The Doors of Perception here or read it online.