Laura Huxley

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Laura Huxley (née Archera; 2 November 1911 – 13 December 2007) was a musician, author, psychotherapist and lecturer. She was born in Italy and later lived in the USA. She was married to the author Aldous Huxley from 1956 until his death in 1963.



You Are Not The Target (1963)


Part One

1. "Love, Not-Love"
  • At one time or another the more fortunate among us make three startling discoveries. Discovery number one: Each one of us has, in varying degree, the power to make others feel better or worse. Discovery number two: Making others feel better is much more rewarding than making them feel worse. Discovery number three: Making others feel better generally makes us feel better.
  • There are almost as many ways of helping people to feel better as there are human beings.
  • Our creative potential has many aspects, but undoubtedly the most important one is to make good use of ourselves and what we are here and now, at each successive moment.
  • Let us initiate a change in ourselves, for then, and then only, shall we be able to effect a change in other people. When we change, others change too. And circumstances change in a manner that is almost miraculous. The initial change has to come from inside ourselves.
  • Disguised in a thousand forms, hidden under an infinite variety of masks, love starvation is even more rampant than food starvation. It invades all classes and all peoples. It occurs in all climates, on every social and economic level. It seems to occur in all forms of life. Love starvation wears the stony face of the disciplinarian or speaks in the hysterical voice of the zealot. It puts on the unctuous manner of the hypocrite or the ruthlessness of the ambitious power-seeker.
  • Love starvation may camouflage itself in physical and mental ills, in delinquency, sometimes in death. In a family, love starvation begets love starvation in one generation after another until a rebel in that family breaks the malevolent chain. If you find yourself in such a family, BE THAT REBEL!
  • In all its manifestations and however it is produced, not-love tends to beget not-love. The energy of love is needed to reconvert not-love into love.
2. "The Transformation of Energy"
  • War is the most terrifying example of energy directed against ourselves, and yet it was a great relief for many people throughout history. War provided them with a legitimate outlet for their aggressive feelings and an escape from their boredom. Even the humblest factory job acquired a glow of righteousness and patriotism. It is sadly significant that the number of suicides always declines during a war. A nuclear war would provide none of the satisfactions of past wars-no marching, no brass bands, no heroism. Like termites fumigated in their nests, we would all be exterminated, on any side of any curtain, by a stupendous gadget paid for by our hard-earned money and of which we were supposed to be proud. This gadget is the most powerful of all man-made transformers of energy.
  • For this purpose it is necessary to keep in sharp focus a fact of which often we are not aware: we are at all times a connecting link, one of many links, in a chain reaction of related events. Each of us is the product of many chains: the evolutionary chain, the racial chain, the genetic chain, the environmental chain, and many others. The immense mass of events of which we are alternately the cause and the effect surpasses the human imagination.
  • Our task is to find ways in which the energy evoked by negative emotions can be transformed, in a manner compatible with civilized living, into harmless-or better-into positively useful energy. Our purpose, then, is to become expert and voluntary energy transformers instead of involuntary energy victims. Like everything else, this takes practice.
  • It is feeling the energy, becoming conscious of it, that permits us to redirect it according to the best of our physical, intellectual, and ethical knowledge.

Part Two

  • How often does pleasure pass us by because we are not ready to accept it! When we are preoccupied or in pain it is hard even to see, let alone pluck, the flowers of pleasure on our way. We may even walk blindly over them. ("Open the Door to Pleasure")
  • True pleasure is inextricably linked with feelings of gratitude, generosity, well-being. So inseparable is pleasure from this climate of good feeling that it is hard to know which comes first, the enjoyment or the good feeling. ("Open the Door to Pleasure")
  • Whether you are nineteen or ninety, whether you weigh one hundred or three hundred pounds, whether you move with ease or difficulty, whether your joints are supple or stiff-no matter. Dance. ("Dance Naked With Music")
  • It is almost as destructive not to respect and love oneself as it is to respect and love only oneself. ("Love Yourself as You Love Your Neighbor")
  • It is harmful to reject a human being; it is harmful to be rejected. When we do not respect or love ourselves we commit both offenses. ("Love Yourself as You Love Your Neighbor")
  • Energy is neither good nor evil. It is a neutral power which can be used well or badly. The art of living is simply the art of using energy in an intelligent and creative way...By daily practice, you can become a CONSCIOUS AND INTELLIGENT DIRECTOR OF ENERGY. (8: "THE ART OF CONVERTING ENERGY")
  • Beauty starvation is almost as widespread as love starvation. Often we do not realize that this is what we are hungry for. In our world of traffic jams and artificial flowers we are so far removed from the pure experiences of our senses that we do not even realize our deprivation. (16: "AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME, or Five Minutes of Beauty a Day")
  • Choose to see beauty. Watch a puppy's antics. Do not think of how he will look or behave when he is a grown dog. Look at him now, look at him fully, look at him so completely that there is no room in your mind for anything except this puppy, this moment. (16: "AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME, or Five Minutes of Beauty a Day")
  • It is against our ethical principles as human beings to harm others. But aside from ethics, it is against our self-interest. The neurosis we cultivate in others inevitably rebounds against ourselves. From heavy-handed authority resentment and rebellion will develop. From sexual repression or dissatisfaction, anger, nervous tension and its consequences will arise.

From religious or ideological fanaticism, ignorance and bigotry will develop and infect everything around themselves. If we nourish someone else's neurosis or fear, it is almost inevitable that we will, sooner or later, be hurt by it ourselves. (25: "Are you Cultivating Today Your Neurosis of Tomorrow?"

1. You are not the Target (or Use unpleasant emotions to make your body pleasing)
  • This is a part of living, part of the interrelatedness of human beings. We cannot live in a world of people and avoid the storms of their disagreeable and painful emotions any more than we can avoid the weather. But we can avoid this feeling of being the target for them. We can even turn the unpleasant encounters to our own good use.
  • each of us has a choice. We can passively take our place in the negative chain, accepting the harm to ourselves and passing it on to others. Or we can break the chain and turn the energy of a destructive emotion into a constructive action. Energy is neutral. It is what we do with it that makes it destructive or creative, harmful or healing.
  • we must want not to be the target. There is a widespread though subterranean feeling that to be made to suffer to be a victim- is somehow an admirable position on earth and a good ticket to a special place in heaven...If you know that you carry this belief in your own mind, ask yourself this question: When do I do the most good for myself and for others: When I am suffering-Or when I am happy?
  • Although we would not consider ourselves the target of a hurricane or a tidal wave, we often feel we are the victims of meteorological disturbances in the minds of other people. Sometimes it is true; people are trying to hurt us. But most of the time they are merely exploding, and we happen to be nearby-a conveniant substitute for their real target.
  • Scientific research is the art of asking the right question in the right way.
  • Self-questioning is a first step on the path to self-awareness. And this awareness is a precondition for making the most of our lives. It is our protection against unnecessary mental suffering and physical illness, and our aid in coping with these when they cannot be avoided. Being aware is the way toward finding fulfillment in our relationships with others, of bringing all our store of healthy energy to living and working.
  • Often a question, the first one, is not the real question at all but a substitute which our unconscious self has artfully framed to protect our superficial comfort from being disturbed by a deeper, more troubling doubt.
  • You alone can change yourself, and when you do, then circumstances and people will both seem and be changed.
26. Your Imagination is Yours
  • creativity is not the monopoly of the Shakespeares and Einsteins of this world. There is a science of intelligent living, an art of being fully human, in which we all can and ought to be creative. To use our imagination is part of the total art of being. To imagine other people's imagination is part of the art of being with others.
  • Imagine what life would be like without imagination! There would be no Michelangelo or Da Vinci, no Edison, no delinquents and no saints, no Mozart, no nuclear power.
  • We should train ourselves in the use of imagination when we are well, so that we are ready to use it when we are not.
  • Like any other faculty, imagination can be starved and suffocated or stimulated and nourished.
  • Infinity and eternity are the limits of imagination. You can project your imagination into the past or into the future; you can destroy an old image that has troubled you or create a new one that will rejoice you.

Quotes about Laura Huxley

  • I discovered that some of the clearest and most practical answers to certain of my questions were being given by my wife in the "Recipes for Living and Loving," which she was composing for the benefit of those who came to her for psychological aid and counsel. Some of her recipes (for example, those for the Transformation of Energy) have found their way, almost unmodified, into my phantasy. Others have been changed and developed to suit the needs of my imaginary society and to fit into its peculiar culture. This literary debt is one which, along with all my other non-literary debts to the author of You Are Not the Target, I am happy to acknowledge.
  • When a book is amusing and charming and quite easy to understand we are apt to dismiss it as a lightweight. Don't make this mistake about Laura Huxley. She offers you nothing less than a new life.
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