by Bruce Eisner
|Laura Huxley's Biography
B. E. : Can you tell me about the Children: Our Ultimate Investment Conference that is coming up? You are planning it for late April or early May?
L.H.: That’s right. It will be from April 28th to May 1st of this year. Our Ultimate Investment is the name of the non-profit foundation for the nurturing of the possible human, which I founded in 1977.
To create a new life is the most important single action of a human being - and one should be aware of this before the child is conceived, not as a chance happening. A future human being should be loved before its beginning, which means before conception.
We have gathered extraordinary speakers and seminar leaders, scientists and educators who will address, Preparation For Conception, Conscious Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and The First Five Years.
The conference is in honor of Aldous's birth centenary - it is mind boggling to think of what has happened in this one hundred years - revolutionary years for our society. Aldous spoke about this revolution sixty-two years ago, when he wrote "Brave New World."
He showed us the danger of a mechanized society without ethics and without vision. Many people thought then that Brave New World was incredible or grotesque; we know now that some of its prophecy (for instance over-population and over-organization) are true now much, much sooner than Aldous thought.
In the last years of his life, he wrote "Island," the description of a society who's citizens are given all the possibilities to develop their creative potentialities.
B.E.: There was an anthropologist that had studied some tribe on an island and they had discovered -- I remember this from Aldous’s audio tapes -- where they raised the children without inflicting any fear on them.
L.H.: Oh, that’s right. Education through fear is less effective than education through recognition of good behavior. Moreover much of psychotherapy is the attempt to lessen the damaging and sometimes tragic and anti-social consequences of fear and punishment. In Island's education there was recognition of the fact that there are many kinds of different energies within us - Aldous said that we are "multiple amphibians." The children were made aware with theater games and dances that they could use and transfer their negative energy into a positive, even a creative way.
On Sunday, the whole day is dedicated to Aldous. Jean Houston will be the Mistress of Ceremonies and Ram Dass will elaborate on the two extremes--Brave New World and Island. Which are we going to choose? Or are there other choices? The premiere of the BBC documentary, on Aldous’ life, will be shown. Friends and scholars will speak about their relationship with Aldous and his influence on their lives. It is going to be an extraordinary day! We will finish with the subject of gratefulness, which is so basic, Blake expressed it very simply: "Gratefulness is heaven itself," Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine Monk and Zen Scholar will be the presenter. The idea of gratefulness is so basic.
B.E.: Now, how did you begin your organization, Our Ultimate Investment? What inspired you in the beginning?
L.H. : In 1949, a friend of mine became very sick, so I began to study all different kinds of methods of health -- psychological health and physical health -- and healing. Then I became a therapist for about twenty years. And in therapy I saw that very often if we could contact the client's pre-natal period, early enough -- often, we would find the basis for present-day disturbance or neurosis or whatever you want to call it.
I was a musician and had not studied psychology - I devised my own method which I called “Recipes for Living and Loving,” and they were actually published in a book called You Are Not The Target. If the child is loved before the beginning, then we may be quite sure that he/she will have the basis of a good life.
B.E.: Stanislav Grof has gotten into what he calls “perinatal” time coordinates more recently . . .
L.H.: Yes, well, he did it scientifically and very well. I am not a scientist. But, it doesn’t take much imagination to understand that, if a woman is irritated her eggs will have a different chemistry than when she is satisfied and happy and if a man is tired and angry, his sperm will also be tired and angry. In 1978, speaking about the awareness of the baby during the pre-natal period was considered by most people, rather visionary. Speaking of preparation for conception might stimulate the same reaction now, but in a few years I believe it will be accepted as a logical fact.
B.E.: From talking to you today, it seems to me that the way that childbirth and child-rearing are done in our culture and in the world right now is very different than what your organization has promoted. In other words, a lot of childbirth is very unconscious . . .
L.H.: Oh my goodness! It is not just unconscious, it's unnatural! Dr. Robbie Davis-Floyd, a cultural anthropologist, will give a seminar on dis-embodied childbirth, meaning that hospital technology disassociates women from their bodies as though they were dysfunctional machines, which cannot give birth without the assistance of other, more perfect machines. Thus, the baby is treated as separate from the mother, which is a deep trauma which no animal would think of inflicting on their newborn. Can you imagine the difference between a person who's first moment of life was greeted with respect and love and kept in contact with the mother's or father's skin and one who is put in a little lonely crib in solitary confinement. Fortunately, mid-wives are being slowly recognized and many people now have their babies at home.
B.E.: There are the Lamaz Method and the water births recently . . .
L.H.: Oh yes, all of those. Dr. Michel Odent is going to speak about water birth and human nutrition. and the use of water during labor. We come from the sea and 70 % of our body is made of water. We develop in a watery medium during pregnancy. Having a water birth lessens the shock of changing from a liquid to a dry environment.
You know who is going to sing for us? Kenny Loggins. He and his wife are going to speak about their preparation for conception and about this very same approach to birth and babyhood as we are presenting in this conference. It is encouraging that there are many people in all strata's of society that have become aware of the holiness of birth and of the nobility of the unborn baby.
B.E. : In some third-world countries, it’s the same sort of thing as here, isn’t it?
L.H.: Well, everyone is imitating America. Everyone has videos now and has seen the popular shows where people are all beautiful, rich and happy. On the other hand in our country there are three children killed every week by other children, in the street. So many people have guns and it has been proved that if you have a gun you have a great probability of using it.
B. E.: It’s very scary. In your book This Timeless Moment, you say that the book Island was misunderstood. That it was not a science-fiction story, but a guide for living based on the way you lived . . .
L.H.: Well, I didn’t say exactly that, yes, we used some of the principles. Like Brave New World, was used to describe methods to induce unawareness and passive obedience. In Island, methods and receipes were used by a population thinking and acting interdependently; with awareness, choice and responsibility for their actions. Many of these receipes were not invented. They had already been tried in different times and by different cultures and were found effective and beneficial.
B.E.: Aldous Huxley was always fond of looking into new ideas in many different areas -- psychology, anthropology, ecology, child-rearing; new ways in which people could relate to one another. What do you think if he were alive today, what kinds of things would he be interested in now that 30 years have elapsed since he passed on?
L. H.: I think he would be interested in the whole - interested in the fantastic technology that we have, and appalled at some of the ways we use it. For instance, it was so easy to kill 200,000 people in Iraq, just by pushing a few buttons. I suppose he would be fascinated by computers. He already spoke about computers long ago. Around 1958 or '59 he said one time to Robert Hutchens, “In the future they will have the whole Bible printed on a little piece of metal not bigger than your fingernail.” So he already knew that it was going to come, but now that it’s all here, I think he might be surprised and appalled that the use of it is, at times, is ethically similar to the use portrayed in Brave New World.
B. E.: Was he an optimist? Was he optimistic?
L.H.: He would call himself a “realist.” He said, “Expect the best, prepare for the worst.” So there are the two sides.
B. E. : We were talking before about how Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World back in the 1930s, and then, of course, 30 years later, wrote Island. Which of these two novels do you think this last three decades has validated more?
L.H.: Unfortunately it has validated Brave New World more than Island, but I understand -- although I am not in contact with -- I understand that there are some small communes that try to incorporate Island in their lives. I think that for one person that has read Island, probably there are a hundred that have read Brave New World. Brave New World is in the schools -- you have to read it. .
B.E.: Right, and then there is Brave New World Revisited, where he touched on all the different things that have come true.
L.H.: That’s right. Already, in ‘58 or ‘59 -- those years.
B.E.: So what is your view of the next millennium? Here we are poised on the verge of the 21st century and this whole new millennium. What do you think is going to happen during this next thousand years?
L.H.: Just a little question!
B.E.: Just a little one. Everybody is talking about the new millennium these days.
L.H.: Oh, yes, we can talk about it freely. I can say everything is pink and blue, or I can say that everything is black, and probably both views are correct. But what I think, really, is that it will be a millennium of extremes. That we will develop as a species with totally different and not necessarily opposite tendencies and habits. On the other hand, we are doing such bad things to the earth that perhaps we will just have to take the consequences of what we do. Even now things are so complicated, there are so many new viruses, and if anything escapes from the laboratory -- my goodness! No, if I have any inspirations to know exactly what is going to happen in 2010, I will send you a fax. Any excuse is good for sending a fax. I love that gadget.
B.E.: In the latter part of your life, you spent a lot of time doing psychotherapy and also in writing - of course, You Are Not the Target, and some of the sequels to that. What are some of the most fundamental recipes for living that you have learned during your life? Could you pass some of those along to our readers?
L.H.: Among those recipes, I learned that one always should acknowledge the ego, because it is real, and yet one should not take it too seriously.
B. E.: You should acknowledge it but not take it seriously?
L. H.: Not try to eliminate it - kill the ego as they say - it just gives it more strength. But instead, know that it is there, it is part of us, but by far, not all of us - we are immense, we are a universe. Our ego is a little star, even an important, lovely, little star, but it is not all of us.
There are certain basic principles: 1) Respect your body 2) Focus your mind 3) Love your heart and cooperate with anyone who wishes to do the same.
B. E.: Besides your organization that you are working on, and this upcoming conference, are you working on any new projects, any new books?
L. H.: I have enough going on. I don’t have the strength that I had forty years ago because I am eighty-two years old, so that at times I get tired. That’s right, I have to lie down or stand on my head or something. Also, I have a young granddaughter who has been part of my life for the last nineteen years. She does not live at home any longer; she has to explore life on her own. Still, there is a lot of care and thinking about her. You know, at nineteen they have all kinds of ideas and they have to try them out. That is so right, but in the meantime, I sit and wonder, how the trying-out is going.
And it’s very interesting. I have learned so much from her. When she came to me she was eight months old and I was sixty-three years old; now I am five times as old as she is. It is a tremendous difference - not just two generation's, but five generation’s difference so you have to learn and adapt a great deal.
B. E.: What would you like to see from a group named after the novel Island? Would you imagine an Island Group would be a safe place where people could explore a wider range of relationships?
L.H.: Oh, absolutely, yes! An Island Group could adopt the methods described in Island. It can be done in a village. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child and it is true. In a small village, a child can go out alone and visit small and adult friends. A child alone in the streets of Los Angeles is in danger both from adults and other children. You know about children being killed in the streets by other children. They have handguns and machine guns. When they are little they are given for Christmas these war toys - a lovely way to celebrate the birth of a savior. So very soon they want to have the real guns, and when they have it they use it. People make money by selling guns to children and very young people. Then we are surprised that they use it. But in a village where a few families have read and agreed with the method of education described in Island, a child could go out and even leave his family for a few days. Do you remember the mutual adoption club? Each family has two or three adoptive families where the child can go and take a vacation from his own family, who might also need a vacation from him. There is so much which can be done with a small group who want to grow its children in a safe place. This group must really have something basic in common to start a village of this kind. And now with the technological advances, it might be possible to make a living without going into the city.
In Island the children have not only a loving family but also a sane environment in which to grow.
So the message of Our Ultimate Investment is that if we are loved before the beginning - if a human being is a loving thought in its parents mind before conception - if the focus of the couple is to improve their physical and mental health and their relationship before conception - the child will be a healthier, kinder, more capable human being on all levels. Certainly the improvement on physical and metal health would be enormous.
My basic belief is expressed in a prayer that came to me from somewhere - I did not invent it, I just wrote it down. It is the prayer of the unconceived.