Monday, March 27, 2006

Unfathomable Mystery

Aldous Huxley - The Doors of Perception

I work at a street ministry with addicts.  Drugs is not something to play around with and the friends that I have made, the people I help, are my heroes.  I think getting off drugs is one of the hardest things to do in life and I don’t think I have what it takes to go through what these people go through.  

With that said I appreciate what the introduction said about it being a travesty that people use Huxley as an excuse for reckless destructive drug-use.  Huxley identified a need for people to be transported from their lives into a different realm.  People do this through religious experience and more common in our time, through alcohol and drugs.  

Huxley talked about how having a single experience with mescalin can change the way a person sees the world.  “All I am suggesting is that the mescalin experience is what Catholic theologians call ‘a gratuitous grace,’ not necessary to salvation but potentially helpful and to be accepted thankfully” (594).  This quote encapsulates Huxley’s portrayal of the experience.  

I can appreciate Huxley’s position.  He is trying to approach the “unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.”(598) In this last year I have been faced with characters in literature that have changed my life because they seem to have attained this “unfathomable Mystery.”  Any gain in understanding comes very slowly and with much pain.  

I just watched a documentary on steroid use.  It is a drug that athletes use to enhance performance.  I think that is a good analogy for what Huxley is talking about.  Drugs can be a temptation, like the athlete who wants to get better results for the amount of work that he has to put in.  Maybe LSD and Mescalin are short cuts for those of us probing the “unfathomable Mystery.”

It seems like a short cut though; Huxley said that the same state of mind can be attained through fasting and sensory deprivation.  I think maybe the journey is part of the discovery.  I guess when it comes down to it I am suspicious of drugs, maybe because of my work (and the fact that I could lose my job).  I think I am scared of drugs too because there are people that are a lot stronger than I am who have hit bottom because of drugs.  In the words of Huxley, it is a door that will stay closed for me.  

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