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Jonathan Boda 1

Jonathan Boda

Mrs. Martin

AP English

25 March 2009

Through the passage of history humans have always survived due to one main

factor. Religion. It forms communities, gives strength, and helps people adapt and grow.

Aldous Huxley wrote to impart the true magnitude of religion. In Brave New World he

especially focused on the effects of religion. Huxley recognized the importance of

religion because of his open mindedness and he especially believed Buddhism was

important because it is logical, has tangible aspects, and brings forth enlightenment which

protects the mind from religious bigotry. Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, is the story of a

young man that becomes enlightened through his growth in Buddhism and eventually

adapts to reach a personal peace. Hesse’s Siddhartha exemplifies mankind’s ability to

adapt and overcome the confinements of religion imposed by society. Aldous Huxley’s

Brave New World reveals how mankind abuses religion to such an extent that we lose

faith in everything except our control over others, similar to how Buddhism is abused in

Siddhartha to advance their society towards one person’s view of enlightenment.

Huxley’s Personal Religiousness

In his personal life, Aldous Huxley was never closely related to religion. He even

experimented with Hindu philosophy yet he never fully associated with one religion more

so than Buddhism(Bio. & Works para5). Obviously he was disappointed by the prospect
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of a god, one who cursed him with “near blindness” and made it impossible to become a

scientist. So would it not be best to choose a religion of logic, a religion of

enlightenment, a religion that studies freedom from suffering? His belief is reflected in

his writing too. Brave New World is riddled with many allusions and unspoken

references to Buddhism. One major lesson of Buddhism is to accept nature, just as the

new society supports nature. Huxley wrote of a society that cushions the blow of death

and sickness is not such a mess as today’s society makes it. In Brave New World death is

natural; children eat sweets and pastries as they nonchalantly watch others “pass on” or

die. Yet in our time no religion can address the issue of death as easily as Buddhism does

though; it is natural for death to come seeing as how there is reincarnation to accompany

it.

Yet there is also Atheism. Buddhism doesn’t involve the worship of a god,

therefore Atheists could practice Buddhism. If they disconnect from the feelings that are

pinned to earnest belief; such as the Buddhists do and as the new society had; they could

escape disappointment, anger, and hatred. For long periods of his life Huxley had been

Atheist, not wishing to connect to a deity he didn’t know or love. Atheism is a religion in

a sense; the followers choose to disbelieve the existence of god. Atheism is the religion

of Brave New World, meant to fuel the expansion of science without religion placing

unnecessary restraints on immoral experiments. Atheism was their way to find truth just

as Huxley used Buddhism to escape his past. Although the citizens of Brave New World

worshipped Ford, it wasn’t the worship of a god, it was the worship of a man that had

risen above the rest.


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Brave New World sets out to achieve many purposes; one purpose is to explain

the need for a god in people’s life. Huxley understood people’s need for something to

answer the unexplainable because people all want a personal reason why the world is not

perfect in their eyes, Huxley created a world to show people what their needs would

become if they wouldn’t stop crusading for the conversion of others and destroying

individuality and freedom.

The Abuse of Religion

Throughout life, we are raised to listen to our parents, our community leaders, and

our gods. What happens if we begin to abuse our gods? We come to reject them,

expecting more and more things just to see proof they are there. Historically many

religions have failed because people wished the religion to fight their battles; they put so

much faith in one place and no work to support it. Those faithful followers were lazy,

“God will see us through”, they were arrogant “We have God on our side”, they were

even hateful “God will strike down the Infidels and cleanse the Earth”. Yet none of that

happened because they expected it and took no action. Their belief was not rooted in

love, it was rooted in selfishness. Currently mankind abuses the gods just as past

believers have, “Lord Jesus will provide for me”, “God will help our candidate win”, and

of course who can forget the preachers who get on the television in their lovely silken

suits and say “the Lord needs your money” or the priests who deprive children of their

right to an innocent childhood. Abuses of religion continue with such audacity that the

mere thought of such corruption is shameful to anyone that truly has any belief in their
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heart. Many religions are abused in this manner, driving away the worthy in exchange

for the sick.

The Brave New World of Huxley’s writing is no different from our own selfish

society. How could they have come to the conclusion of foregoing religion naturally? It

is unnatural to expect humanity to just release something unless it is harmful. Many

young children reach for the hot stove and withdraw as soon as the heat is felt, just as a

disappointed believer withdraws from God. In the New World were they disappointed,

were they let down, did their dreams and wishes die? Of course, they lost religion

because they expected too much of it. Religion is meant to guide people, to lead them

through life yet it is clear in the book that they abused their guides, robbing the guide of

all wisdom and wealth, once they had finished religion was left by the wayside. The

citizens of the world were now bred as atheists, due to the faults of their ancestors. They

ignore the gods out of convenience, John said just as much when he said “If you allowed

yourselves to think of God, you wouldn’t allow yourselves to be degraded by pleasant

vices. You’d have a reason for bearing things patiently, for doing things with courage”

(BNW 236). When religion is force fed to a population, they grow to hate it. They loath

the very aspect of it, yet despite their deep rooted feelings they cannot seem to say no.

As could be observed from the early English versus Irish conflicts, the Irish we forced to

become Catholic yet hundreds of years later they retain that faith despite their initial

resistance. Societies are made to adapt and accept what cannot be avoided, that is how

other people can control them. In the New society they allowed themselves to adapt to

the regulations and controls imposed upon them and now it is second nature. No wonder
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they religiously honor Ford, no wonder they cannot comprehend alternative options. To

them their bible is whatever they are told.

Yet in Siddhartha is the same thing not happening? Of course it is. The young

people are raised to be the best, the brightest, and the most unswerving believers. Then

Siddhartha came along and broke the mold, he was the perfect role model, he knew it all.

He also recognized that since he knew the faith he had more strength than his leaders.

After all if the student learns more than the teacher knows, who would restrain him from

disrupting to flow of knowledge in class? So the community leaders such as the elder

Samana and Buddha led others in a winding endless path that never reached the fruition

desired. They dangled the tantalizing image of Nirvana ahead of their followers and

compelled them, via their beliefs, to bow and scrape and do all that was commanded in

order to attain the sweet taste of freedom. Ironic seeing as how they were taught how to

reach for freedom while their soul was in bondage to the leaders. What the Buddha did

wasn’t as selfish as the goals of the old Samana, a wise man once said “no man chooses

evil for the sake of evil, he only mistakes it for happiness”. Truly there are those that

would wish to do well for the world yet due to their clouded judgment, they misinterpret

the needs of people, much like the Samana. He should have realized that Siddhartha

needed the freedom of his soul to truly discover his beliefs instead of trying to force

Siddhartha to follow his footsteps.

The Feelings of Society, Rejecting the Hero

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