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Aldous Huxley



Aldous Huxley has a simple straightforward way of categorizing religions-


There are two main kinds of religion:


1) Direct acquaintance with the divine, or mystical experience.


2) Knowledge about the divine, or symbolic religion. There are two types of symbol manipulating religions-- a.) the religion of myth, and b.) the religion of creed and theology.


2a) Myths are non-logical expressions in the form of a story, image, dance, or ritual. They are unpretentious because they don't claim to be strictly true. They are often profound because they bring together in a single expressive whole the disparate and apparently incompatible parts of our experience. The example he gives is a myth of the Great Mother: in Hinduism, Kali is at once the infinitely kind and loving mother and a terrifying goddess of destruction who wears a necklace of skulls.


2b) Religions of creed and theology are characterized by sacred books and belief systems. Belief is a source of great power but this power has been an ambivalent force, used just as much for evil as for good. Religion as a system of beliefs has given birth to the both saints and tyrants, it lights the fires of charity and also lights the fires of the Inquisition. It is on the whole more dangerous than myth because it claims absolute truth. "There is hardly a single large scale crime in history which has not been committed in the name of God."


(summarized from one of his 1961 lectures)





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