A passage from Aldous Huxley’s novel Island. This novel really resonated with me, packed full of useful ideas and thoughts.
The protagonist reads this passage in a handbook given to him, a handbook outlining the key principles of an incredible island whose inhabitants have taken care to understand the individual/self.
“The Yogin and the Stoic – two righteous egos who achieve their very considerable results by pretending, systematically, to be somebody else. But it is not by pretending to be somebody else, even somebody supremely good and wise, that we can pass from insulated Manicheehood to Good Being.
Good Being is knowing who in fact we are; and in order to know who in fact we are, we must first know, moment by moment, who we think we are and what this bad habit of thought compels us to feel and do. A moment of clear and complete knowledge of what we think we are, but in fact are not, puts a stop, for the moment, to the Manichean charade. If we renew, until they become a continuity, these moments of the knowledge of what we are not, we may find ourselves all of a sudden, knowing who in fact we are.
Concentration, abstract thinking, spiritual exercises – systematic exclusions in the realm of thought. Asceticism and hedonism – systematic exclusions in the realms of sensation, feeling, and action. But Good Being is in the knowledge of who in fact one is in relation to all experiences; so be aware – aware in every context at all times and whatever, creditable or discreditable, pleasing or unpleasant, you may be doing or suffering. This is the only genuine yoga, the only spiritual exercise worth practising. “