Island - by Aldous Huxley

The incomeprehensible sequence of changes and chances that make up a life, all the beauties and horrors and absurdities whose conjunctions create the uninterpretable and yet divinely significant pattern of human destiny.

Nobody needs to go anywhere else. We are all, if we only knew it, already there. If I only knew who in fact I am, I should cease to behave as what I think I am; and if I stopped behaving as what I think I am, I should know who I am.

So be aware--aware in every context, at all times and whatever, creditable or discreditable, pleasant or unpleasant, you may be doing or suffering. This is the only genuine yoga, the only spiritual exercise worth practicing.

Welt·an·schau·ung n. (pl. -schau·ung·en ) a particular philosophy or view of life; the worldview of an individual or group. German, from Welt 'world' + Anschauung 'perception'.

"Do you like music?" Dr. Robert asked. "More than most things." "And what, may I ask, does Mozart's G-Minor Quintet refer to? Does it refer to Allah? Or Tao? Or the second person of the Trinity? Or the Atman-Brahman?" Will laughed. "Let's hope not." "But that doesn't make the experience of the G-Minor Quintet any less rewarding. Well, it's the same with the kind of experience that you get with the moksha-medicine, or through prayer and fasting and spiritual exercises. Even if it doesn't refer to anything outside itself, it's still the most important thing that ever happened to you. Like music, only incomparably more so. And if you give the experience a chance, if you're prepared to go along with it, the results are incomparably more therapeutic and transforming. So maybe the whole thing does happen inside one's skull. Maybe it is private and there's no unitive knowledge of anything but one's own physiology. Who cares? The fact remains that the experience can open one's eyes and make one blessed and transform one's whole life."

"I do muscular work, because I have muscles; and if I don't use my muscles I shall become a bad-tempered sitting-addict." "With nothing between the cortex and the buttocks," said Dr. Robert. "Or rather with everything--but in a condition of complete unconsciousness and toxic stagnation. Western intellectuals are all sitting-addicts. That's why most of you are so repulsively unwholesome. In the past even a duke had to do a lot of walking, even a moneylender, even a metaphysician. And when they weren't using their legs, they were jogging about on horses. Whereas now, from the tycoon to his typist, from the logical positivist to the positive thinker, you spend nine tenths of your time on foam rubber. Spongy seats for spongy bottoms--at home, in the office, in cars and bars, in planes and trains and buses. No moving of legs, no struggles with distance and gravity--just lifts and planes and cars, just foam rubber and an eternity of sitting. The life force that used to find an outlet through striped muscle gets turned back on the viscera and the nervous system, and slowly destroys them." "So you take to digging and delving as a form of therapy?" "As prevention--to make therapy unnecessary. In Pala even a professor, even a government official, generally puts in two hours of digging and delving each day." "As part of his duties?" "And as part of his pleasure." Will made a grimace. "It wouldn't be part of my pleasure." "That's because you weren't taught to use your mind-body in the right way," Vijaya explained. "If you'd been shown how to do things with the minimum of strain and the maximum of awareness, you'd enjoy even honest toil."

"Sampling all kinds of work--it's part of everybody's education. One learns an enormous amount that way--about things and skills and organizations, about all kinds of people and their ways of thinking." Will shook his head. "I'd still rather get it out of a book." "But what you can get out of a book is never it. At bottom," Dr. Robert added, "all of you are still Platonists. You worship the word and abhor matter! Abstract materialism--that's what you profess. Whereas we make a point of being materialists concretely--materialistic on the wordless levels of seeing and touching and smelling, of tensed muscles and dirty hands. Abstract materialism is as bad as abstract idealism; it makes immediate spiritual experience almost impossible. Sampling different kinds of work in concrete materialism is the first, indispensable step in our education for concrete spirituality." "But even the most concrete materialism," Vijaya qualified, "won't get you very far unless you're fully conscious of what you're doing and experiencing. You've got to be completely aware of the bits of matter you're handling, the skills you're practicing, the people you work with." "Quite right," said Dr. Robert. "I ought to have made it clear that concrete materialism is only the raw stuff of a fully human life. It's through awareness, complete and constant awareness, that we transform it into concrete spirituality. Be fully aware of what you're doing, and work becomes the yoga of work, play becomes the yoga of play, everyday living becomes the yoga of everyday living."

"The real thing isn't a proposition; it's a state of being. We don't teach our children creeds or get them worked up over emotionally charged symbols. When it's time for them to learn the deepest truths of religion, we set them to climb a precipice and then give them four hundred milligrams of revelation. Two firsthand experiences of reality, from which any reasonably intelligent boy or girl can derive a very good idea of what's what."

We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is to learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.

" To my mind," Vijaya added, "the worst feature of your nonrepresentational art is its systematic two-dimensionality, its refusal to take account of the universal experience of distance. As a colored object, a piece of abstract expressionism can be very handsome. It can also serve as a kind of glorified Rorschach inkblot. Everybody can find in it a symbolic expression of his own fears, lusts, hatreds, and daydreams. But can one ever find in it those more than human (or should one say those other than all too human) facts that one discovers in oneself when the mind is confronted by the outer distances of nature, or by the simultaneously inner and outer distances of a painted landscape like this one we're looking at? All I know is that in your abstractions I don't find the realities that reveal themselves here, and I doubt if anyone else can. Which is why this fashionable abstract nonobjective expressionism of yours is so fundamentally irreligious--and also, I may add, why even the best of it is so profoundly boring, so bottomlessly trivial."

"In Pala," she explained, "we don't say grace before meals. We say it with meals. Or rather we don't say grace; we chew it." "Chew it?" "Grace is the first mouthful of each course--chewed and chewed until there's nothing left of it. And all the time you're chewing you pay attention to the flavor of the food, to its consistency and temperature, to the pressures on your teeth and the feel of the muscles in your jaws."

Remember what you used to tell me when I was a little girl. ‘Lightly, child, lightly. You've got to learn to do everything lightly. Think lightly, act lightly, feel lightly. Yes, feel lightly, even though you're feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.' I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly--it was the best advice ever given me.

"Johann Sebastian Bach," he heard her saying. "The music that's closest to silence, closest, in spite of its being so highly organized, to pure, hundred percent proof Spirit." [The Fourth Brandenburg Concerto.]