The Mind At Large

If you have read the The Doors Of Perception by Aldous Huxley, you may have heard about the concept of the Mind At Large.


Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was an English writer, who was also known for taking psychedelics in search of enlightenment. He moved to the US in 1937, where in 1953 he was introduced to mescaline (the key active ingredient of peyote). Until then, very few scientific research was done on the subject of mescaline. Aldous took mescaline for the first time in may the 5th, which led to the book “The Doors Of Perception“, where later would influence Jim Morrison into naming his band  “The Doors”.

The Doors Of Perception

In this book, Aldous describes the Mind At Large, a concept based on the ideas of Charley Dunbar Broad. The idea is that psychedelic drugs remove a filter, which would otherwise lead to an overkill of information, resulting in humans not being able to function properly due to not being able to focus. However, as Aldous points out, it does not necessarily require psychedelic drugs to access the Mind At Large. Some people are able to access it by meditation.

Mind At Large

According to Aldous himself:

“Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful. According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large.”

In the book, he does not speak about a filter, but more about a valve. Whether or not you “believe” in the concept, it is definitely an interesting concept. It too raises more questions, but also answers some. An example of the Mind At Large at work, was Aldous experience with various objects. While the drug was active, he even became fascinated by his own trousers and the legs of a chair. The most interesting experience however was when he was browsing through an art book at the Worlds Biggest Drug Store. At first he was greeted by a Van Gogh, only later to be even more fascinated by a Vermeer. Aldous kept saying: “This is how one ought to see, how things really are.” Vermeer is described by Aldous as a “mysterious artist, truly gifted with the vision that perceives the Dharma-Body as the hedge of the bottom of the garden, with the talent to render as much of that vision as the limitations of the human capacity permit”. The drug made him understand the works of great artists like Vermeer and Van Gogh.

He also stated: “In the final stage of egolessness there is an ‘obscure knowledge’ that All is in all—that All is actually each. This is as near, I take it, as a finite mind can ever come to ‘perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.”

It may explain why for thousands of years already, native Americans use Mescaline in religious ceremonies. Some things can only be explained by the Mind At Large… I hope this clarifies some of the questions you start to ask when taking psychedelics.

Source: The Doors Of Perception, Wikipedia 1,2,3


  • Nice to be able to reconnect with the Doors of Perception. It’s been nearly a decade now since I’ve read it. Thanks for sharing this.