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words and wit of the alchemical bard
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An Interview By James Kent
Before and Beyond History
Gaia, Eros, and the Archaic Revival
Gaia, Psychedelics, and the Archaic Revival
Having Archaic and Eating it Too
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Making and Unmaking History and Language
Morphogenic Fields and Psychedelic Experiences
Mushrooms, Sex and Society
Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines
Terence McKenna's Trip
The grammar of ecstasy — The world within the word.
(aka This Counts, Somehow it Matters & A Higher Dimensional Section of Reality)
A Better World (Toward The End Of History)
A Conversation with Terence McKenna and Ram Dass
A Necessary Chaos
A report on crop circles with Abraham and Sheldrake
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aka A Stiff Dose of Psychedelics
aka A Stiff Dose of Psychedelics
Day May 1990
Location, City, State
We will, I think, continue this kind of neurotic behavior until it either is our undoing or until we awaken to archaic values. That’s why the weekend is called what it is. The archaic revival is a very large cultural wave that, you know, can be pushed -- you can trace the beginnings of to the first swell back to the turn of the century with relatively and theosophy and surrealism and the work of Freud and Jung on the unconscious. But, it’s a discovery, a moving toward a realization that the values that can serve us are archaic values. That we have to go completely outside of history and we have to make -- you know, we’re going to find out the nature of human nature. We can’t have it several ways. We can’t live in obfuscation.
I mean, the real question is, is man good? You know, because we’re going to find out, because as we move more and more into this cultural domain that I call the imagination, nothing lies between us and the expression of our dreams, you know. And so far, our dreams have been, I think, expressed fairly shoddily. I mean, you know, our cities are like sores. Our contribution to the ecosystem of the planet is, uh, plutonium, pesticides, chlorofluorocarbons so forth and so on. An apologist for the human race would say, “But we had so many strikes against us: the law of gravity, the cost of materials, the resistance of water, air, and so forth and so on. Well, fine, we’re going to get rid of all that. We’re going to enter into the imagination where, you know, the tensile strength of a structure is whatever you say it is.
This is where language comes in, I think. Language is the, uh, sort of the cad-cam, the computer-assisted drawing software for creating the reality of the imagination. I think, it’s a very -- it's overwhelming, our situation, the potential and the depth of the strikes against us. I mean, it's really I, um -- what’s going on, on this planet is absolutely unique so far as we know. It’s never happened before on this planet: intelligence emerging out of biological organization. And actually having a shot at what? Who knows? I mean, being itself is some kind of opportunity. The reasonable expectation is that nothing exists. Why should anything exist?
I mean, it seems to me that the most conservative universe would be a dimensionless plenum; a homogenous, pointless, dimensionless. That makes sense. Why then is there instead, you know, multiplicity upon multiplicity? I mean, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [audience laughs] – stuff like that? How in the world do you get from utter emptiness to that kind of thing? The richness, the creative force behind it all is awesome. And I am not religious in any ordinary sense. In fact, I’m violently anti-religious in most senses and I certainly would lead the charge against priest craft in any form, but the picture of the universe as a machine subject to a few laws discovered by a bunch of guys in powdered wigs – that’s ridiculous. [audience laughs] I mean, you’ve got to be kidding!
Uh, science doesn’t deal, as it’s always at pains to point out, with what’s called subjective experience. Well, that’s really too bad because that’s all any of us ever have [audience laughs] is subjective experience, you know. So, we have, we have -- in the interests of - I don’t know what exactly – a curious drive or an obsession with the Greeks really, an obsession with the physical world that we have not been able to disentangle ourselves. So that, you know we can measure the temperature of distant stars, but we don’t know what we think about the woman we’re living with. Stuff like that. Just such a completely overgrown and over-developed dichotomous situation that, uh, it makes no sense.
So, uh, In terms of any kind of finding a conclusion or something like that - it’s that, there is an experience. It’s harmless, meaning it can’t kill you. That’s the guarantee there. There is this experience, it is in our cultural heritage. It synergizes the most profound and private dimensions of our being. It allows us to recast ourselves in new forms quickly. And, uh, If we don’t turn back toward this style of relating to ourselves, to each other and to the world, but persist instead in the addiction to syntactical abstraction then, I think, we’ll just run it off the edge. That, uh -- and it would be a tragedy because it
a horse race. Don’t let anybody kid you. It’s not that the good guys are miles and miles behind and so you might as well tear your ticket up and throw it in the air and go home. No, it’s an absolute horse race, neck and neck, a photo finish – the race between education and disaster. I mean, we’re going to either burst out into a millennium of freedom and caring and decency, or we’re going to toxify the whole thing and just turn it into an ash heap.
And the responsibility falls largely on us and we don’t know! I mean, the momentum, the lethal momentum of these institutions is terrifying. Our position is like that of people who are attempting to turn a battleship 180 degrees and we’re doing it with an oar, you know. I mean, the momentum of it is incredible. But, it is not a closed system and I say this is as a reasonable person. I mean, I want to keep stressing that, that I won’t sit at the same table with the channellers and the people who have good news about Atlantis and all of this stuff. I mean, if this is your private thing, it’s okay, but the rules of evidence preclude it being taken seriously until you get your act more together. [audience laughs] But, in the psychedelic experience, there is confounding paranormal material. It’s the only place I’ve ever found it. I scoured India, these guys -- as far as I can tell, it's a skin game" uh, bu...
But, outlandish things are going on inside the psychedelic experience. It seems to imply the thing we had hardly dared hope, which is that the world is whatever you say it is if you know how to say it right. Then the whole task becomes, how do we take control of this language that allows us, uh, to say it right? We - I think I speak for most people here - serve the idea that matter is ultimately at the command of mind. But, we need to move that forward as a demonstrable principle because, uh, uh, without that, the fear of most people is that we’re imprisoned by physics in a sinking submarine. And yet, when you go into these psychedelic spaces, what you discover is that all bets are off. That we can’t even tell how weird it is. I mean, it may be possible to walk to Arcturus if you have the right set of coordinates.
And, uh, the whole concern is to get the word out, to spread this meme, to empower people, to confirm the existence of these realities for themselves and to begin to form a kind of community consensus about it. You know, it’s only -- I guess in 1992, we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the New World. Five hundred years ago, people discovered the other half of this planet and we’re living there now. This is the New World. Five hundred years ago, this didn’t exist. What existed was a vast cataract, uh, patrolled by sea monsters and the oceans of the world poured off this cataract into the infinite abyss. And that was the edge of the world. We, the psychedelic people, are like these early explorers coming back and saying, you know, “I sailed west for 16 days and I didn’t go mad. Instead, this is what happened and I bring news of this, this and this.” And what we’re accumulating are like the diaries of explorers that there's a world there. It’s a mental world, yes, but we are mental creatures. Take note of that.
Uh, if we could go there, we would go there. And the thing is, we don’t know that we can’t go there. We have never taken the imagination seriously. We have never taken the self-management of culture seriously. We’ve always sort of thought things should just go along, uh, like a random walk. But, now, because of the immense technical power that's come into our hands, we're -- the design process of the whole planet is now on our desk. And we’re being asked to essentially step into stewardship of the entire planetary environment. We have to have then a vision. We have to have a dream. Not
dream. And it can’t come from, uh, the personality of individual human beings; it has to come out of the bones of the planet.
Yeah, and this is, I think, this is what the psychedelic experience is broadcasting. It’s broadcasting the hologramatic, fracto, all together, all at once image of totality that our religions have sensed and called "God," that the shamans have learned to use as a vast kind of computer for extracting information and for generating healing energy. But, it is -- that there is some kind of controlling, minded, integrated thing behind nature and we’re not going to understand that this weekend, next week or ever. This is not a relationship of solving a problem; it’s a relationship of being a -- an initiate of a mystery and then living your life, you know, in the light of that. And, uh -- and the task of understanding is endless because understanding is simply the integrated coordination of pattern, and nature is pattern upon pattern, upon pattern, upon pattern, upon level, upon level, upon level. It has no depth. Its measure cannot be taken. Everything is infinite and everything is animate. And everything is filled with a kind of deep concern for humanity. And, we are the lame, little brother because we seem to be cut off from all the rest of this. Well, that’s kind of a Blakeian take on it.
[Question] The shamanistic cultures themselves have a notion of a fall and that this may just be the people that we happen to interview in our era we're roughly studying it. The old days of shamanism were the ‘good days’ and what we have now is deluded. Is that just a matter of cultural contact with other cultures in that the original shamanistic cultures were isolated, or is, indeed, there a different quality to the time of this 20,000 years ago that led to a general fall amongst our species and, you know, people in general?
It’s a very complicated question. The answer gets pretty technical and talking about it gets pretty technical. Uh, the thing that’s so interesting about psilocybin and DMT is that they’re so closely related to ordinary brain chemistry. The brain chemistry of all higher animals runs largely on serotonin. Serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptamine. DMT is N,N-dimethyltryptamine. Psilocybin is 4-phosphoryloxy-
-dimethyltryptamine, but the phosphoryloxy group goes off as it crosses the blood-brain barrier, so it’s 4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine. So, it’s very interesting that, uh, these powerful, naturally occurring hallucinogens are in many cases only one molecule away from endogenous neurotransmitters. So, in answer to your question, it's possible to suggest that we’re as close as one mutation away from significant shifts in the chemical, uh, mix of the human brain. And, for instance, in the pineal gland, um, there’s an enzyme called adrenoglomerulotropin, which is chemically, uh, 6-methoxy-tetrohydroharmaline. It’s very closely related to the harmine alkaloids in ayahuasca. Well, the persistent myth about ayahuasca is that it creates states of group-mindedness and telepathy. The original alkaloid was actually named telepathine until it was discovered that it was structurally similar to harmine, which had been previously described by, uh, Hochstein & Paradies.
So, in other words, what’s going on here, is the possibility that language, telepathy and all of these mental abilities that are unique among human beings have to do with a very, very small number of mutations in the amine brain amine production pathways. Uh, one of the things that I want to talk about here is the possibility of new forms of communication and that the psychedelics can stimulate new forms of communication among human beings, even in the way that they created language in the first place. In other words, I see language as a model A version of something, which could be made, uh, a lot more efficient, better and more effective. You had something or did you? You? Go ahead.
[Question] When humankind changes direction and goes towards the altered state and that projection - what do you think that we will do with science and all of the stuff that we created that is destroying us?
Well, science -- there are different ways to practice science. Uh, the Greek style was science was a spiritual undertaking. The purpose was to know. The idea being that somehow there was something good about knowing. I mean, I had a philosophy professor who said, "First of all, I’ll teach you how to recognize the truth, then secondly, I’ll try to teach you what’s so great about it." And, uh, this is that kind of a situation. Science -- philosophers of science are perfectly aware of the limitations of science. It’s the thousands and thousands of workbench scientists who think of themselves as servants of a world religion who create the problem. We need to know how matter works and we need to know the things which science tells us, but it is no basis for extrapolating into human values. And the -- the culprit there is the concept of social science. This is an obscene idea and we should disabuse ourselves of it immediately. Social science, psychology, intellectual history, um, you know, even linguistics I would say and philology. All of this stuff. These people should find honest work. [audience laughs] They’re not scientists and they're mucking it up. It was a grand dream of science that it would extend its methods into social phenomena, having had such great success in the 19th century with Darwin and Wallace in biology, they thought -- well, then Herbert Spencer and all these people -- why not just extend it into society?
But, the problem is, uh, there are emergent properties in society that exceed the descriptive engines of science. There are emergent properties in biology. I mean, biology is not -- may also have to be left out of science. I mean, biology is classificatory and it works very well there, but in terms of mechanism and understanding, it’s pretty murky. DNA was decoded in 1950. The molecular geneticist promised a golden age shortly to follow and it’s 40 years later, and they still don’t understand gene expression or what all this stuff is. It’s been very disappointing, considering what was promised. I think science is an art. Everything is an art because we have no sure knowledge of anything. I mean, maybe mathematics is not an art because there, you know, you work from artificially constructed premises. I'm very much -- I’m very keen on science; I just don’t like its philosophical pontification. Uh, as a method, it’s, uh, it's been very effective, but it’s bred great pride in it, and it’s thought that it could turn itself to domains where it was completely inappropriate.
[Question] I have a question, maybe one or two. I haven’t tried mushrooms yet, but a lot of the things you’ve been explaining and describing to me have become a reality over the last year. Just the usage of hashish, just the ingestion of it, I would have to say, very limited, I’m comparing my experience to these psilocybin descriptions that you give and they sound tremendous. I think the question I’m looking for is - before you, I guess, got involved with psilocybin and DMT and things like that, we’re you predisposed to saving the planet and being a humanistic type of person? And did the DMT and psilocybin take you to a more profound awareness of, you know, what you as a human wanted to do?
Well, I’ve thought about all of this because it’s weird to have the life I have. [audience laughs] You know, it’s so strange. I mean, until I went into therapy, I thought I had the most ordinary family in the world. And then once you’re in therapy, you discover no, it’s the most insane scene you’ve ever heard of, you just didn’t notice. [audience laughs] I’ve always been interested in nature and I’ve always been interested in beauty. And, I think it was the pursuit of beauty that served me best because when I was a kid, first started out collecting rocks. Then I collected butterflies. Then in my emergent phallic phase, I was an amateur rocketeer. And the major thrill there was setting off these explosive fuels [audience laughs] and watching the possibility of shrapnel and all that. And then as I got into rockets, I got into science fiction. Science fiction, I really consider a proto-psychedelic drug because what science fiction does is it gives permission to imagine. It says, try it this way, this way, this way. And as a kid, you get the idea, you know, that anything is possible. That’s what science fiction teaches you. And then I was really obsessive about science and I wanted to be an astronomical engineer and Wernher von Braun was my hero and all that. And then it sort of flipped at some point and I got in -- I decided that I had been terribly narrow. I was figuring all this out for myself and I was in some little town in Colorado, and I decided I had been terribly narrow and that it was all in the humanities and I began reading Henry James and all this type of stuff.
And I was into Aldous Huxley, as an example of an English novelist. I read
Antic Hay, Crome Yellow, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
and then came upon
The Doors of Perception
. And, just, you know, I was, like, 14 years old and it was astonishing. And I said if a tenth of this is true then this is the most amazing thing there is. Well, if you’ve read
The Doors of Perception
, you know, it’s actually a terribly conservative gloss. I mean, it’s all about looking at pictures and seeing the escheat in the folds of your trousers and thinking about how that relates to Meister Eckhart and – all this Huxleyan type stuff. That gave me the idea and then I stuck with it. I stuck with it somehow and found marijuana and that went on to LSD, and then my great, good fortune, I think, is that just after a few months of taking LSD, somebody brought me DMT. And, you know, DMT is a miracle. I mean, DMT is like something that fell out of a flying saucer. I mean, it is so strong and so psychedelic; I can’t imagine being more smashed than that or
to be. I mean, it’s more like a near death experience than any near death experience I ever heard anybody describe. They sound absolutely pedestrian compared to a DMT trip, [audience laughs] where, you know, you’re sure you’re dead. You say, "What the hell else could it be?" [audience laughs] You know.
And then I went to, I went to Asia. I was at Berkley when I had all these drug experiences and then I went to Asia and tried to find it with yogis and all that and ended up smoking a lot of hashish and becoming more cynical than ever about spirituality and just saying, you know, hashish and LSD. That was -- before I went to the Amazon, that was what I discovered that really convinced me you could get somewhere was, you know. You could take a bunch of LSD and then smoke great hash on top of that and really crazy things do go on. And then I went to the Amazon and, you know, incredible shamanism is happening there. I mean, they don’t hold back. The method I used in India was, I would just say, you know, "What can you show me? You know, I’ve read all these books. I know how to manipulate all this multi-syllabic mumbo-jumbo. But, just one thing!" And they would mumble, "Very pushy." [audience laughs]
When you go to South America, they just say, "Okay. Let’s go out in the forest. We’ll get this stuff and cook it up and tonight, we’ll show you our best trick." And it slams you to the wall. You plead for mercy.[audience laughs] And, uh, it was a vindication. Because the thing I want to stress and I don’t know if it’s as important to you as it is to me, but you do not have to sell out to any form of airhead-ism. You can be as tight assed as you want. You can be as hard nosed as you want. You can be as demanding, analytical, rational as you want and the thing is bigger than you are. It'll just take you apart. It’ll make you weep like a baby. So, there’s nothing about faith, and sensitivity and reaching – no, no, no. When it comes, you know, it kicks in the front door and takes you prisoner. [audience laughs] It's uh...
So, uh, and that was what the flying saucer meant when it said, “Because you didn’t believe in anything. This is the way to get somewhere. You’ll never get anywhere if you believe in stuff because, you know, it’ll take you six months to work through Baba G and then you have to go on to somebody else and life is just not long enough to give all these guys a crack at your enlightenment." So, you know, you sort of have to goose it along. And, uh, and the great vindication is, then that when you behave like that, when you take that stance, which you would expect would betray you into nihilism, depression and so forth. Instead, no, that works. That’s the method then the gold. You know, reject everything but gold and you know what gold is? It looks like gold. It feels like gold. It’s not something that you have to...you know. I mean, I’m amazed at what thin soup is dished out as spiritual food, uh, and it’s because we are, as individuals, conflicted, you know. I feel this in myself. I mean, it’s hard to take psychedelics. It’s not hard to sweep up around the ashram, but it’s hard to take psychedelics.
[Question] You know, I’ve read some stuff by Andrew Weil where he was talking about going in search of, you know, the ayahuasquero, the curandero and he talks a lot about these guys that are mixing up this sloppy brew and, and they’re drunks and they’re just, you know -- I don’t even know if you could go down to the Amazon.and find -- I don't know what you'd find. I haven't been there, but what his attempts were, is, there's a lot of just slops and drunks stuff happening. A lot of these guys are alcoholics, you know.
You're absolutely right.
[Question - cont'd] . And that's the main thing happening: was the alcohol and Christianity has just kind of pervaded so much of this stuff that I wonder what's left? And how you find it anymore?
Well, it really helps to do your homework. It really helps to go down there knowing as much as you possibly can about all this. Meaning…
[Question] Apparently, so much of what you get out of it has to do with how it’s made. Who makes it? How it’s mixed? And so on. And, if you don’t make it yourself and you don’t know what’s happening, then what have you got?
Because ayahuasca is a combinatory drug. It isn’t like peyote, or mushrooms, or morning glories where you get the thing and eat it and if you eat it in sufficient amounts, it works. This is something where two plants have been combined and the proportions must be correct and the method must be correct. So, there’s a huge room for personalities to come into it for fast shuffles of all sorts and mind games of all sorts.
[Question] A lot of them are really egotistical, too.
It's true. Now, what you have to do if you’re into ayahuasca, or what we did, is, first of all, we drank a huge amount of swill and we worked our way slowly through these people. And, if somebody appeared to be an asshole, they were so classified and moved on. And eventually we got to good people. But, what we did then is we got samples of their stuff, brought it back, took it through Mass spectrometers and high pressure liquid chromatography, saw what the proportions were, collected the live plants, moved them to Hawaii, grew the plants, re-concocted the thing, re mass-spec’d what we did and made it as much like the ‘good stuff’ as possible. So, it was a project of 15 years and really maniacal dedication, but I have the faith. You know, I mean, that if given sufficient time to work on ayahuasca, you could produce a drug out of there so good that it would be ludicrous to suggest that it was illegal. I mean, I -- because, you see, this is brain soup. These are all neurotransmitters. There’s not a non-endogenous neurotransmitter in the whole beverage. So, really, what you're -- what you're...
[Question] A non- what?
A non-endogenous neurotransmitter.
Meaning, everything in this drug that you’re about to drink is already in your head. There’s nothing unusual where drugs like ketamine, mescaline, LSD, there's none of that in your body.
It's like a slow release DMT trip. It lasts four to six hours and it’s intensely visual. And unlike psilocybin, it's not -- it doesn’t have this outer space, science fiction, mega ‘apocalyptarian’ kind of take on it which is what psilocybin does. I mean, psilocybin shows you the machines preparing to transport the faithful away from a burning Earth. That’s not what ayahuasca is about. It’s about nature, water, flow, life, energy. It’s almost -- you know, when MDMA was so hot and people called it an empathy drug and said it makes you empathetic with the people you’re with. Ayahuasca makes you empathetic with the people you’re not with, and that’s a much more profound experience because there’s so much more of them, you know.
[Question] I don’t understand what you mean by "empathetic with the people you’re not with"? I don’t quite get it.
You feel the poignancy of the human situation. You feel -- well, see, I’m usually in a hut somewhere surrounded by a bunch of Indians and suddenly, I understand what the songs are about. And they’re always about the same thing. They’re about the water, and the people, and the life, and the fish and lost love and -- but, you have this heart-opening thing. Say, you know, the folk - this is their mystery, this is their religion. I’m getting it now. I’m feeling this huge wave of, uh, of the wisdom of the folk. And, they say this to you in Peru, "This is our university. You went to Harvard. We went to Ayahuasca." Uh, yeah.
[Question] I’m wondering if you can comment on morning glory -- rather, Jimson weed, which I believe is the same thing as morning glory seeds.
No, it’s different.
[Question] But I’m curious about Jimson Weed because it grows wild all over. It’s on the highway and on the property. It’s toxic, right?
It’s quite toxic. Um, it’s used shamanically in pre-contact California. The California Indians had what was called the Toloache religion and they used Jimson Weed seeds to initiate people at puberty, boys, mostly. It's, uh -- I’m kind of Pollyannaish about drugs. I mean, I don't -- I’m after a certain thing, which these tryptamine hallucinogens do and I tend to not pursue these other things too far.
I didn’t like Datura. It’s very hard to have the degree of clarity that I think you should have on a drug. The tryptamine hallucinogens don’t interfere with your clarity at all. You know who you are. Where you are. What you’re doing. I've seen people on Datura -- I had an experience with someone on Datura where in the course of the conversation, it came out that the guy thought we were in his apartment and I had actually encountered him in the marketplace. Well, that’s a serious delusion, you know. That’s a serious problem. When I took Datura, uh, all this was in Nepal years ago, uh, I did have peculiar experiences. I mean, it is magical. It is delusory. Reality begins to come apart. I -- these wraithlike, ghostlike creatures would come through my window and I was waiting to get high and then I would sort of -- my attention would drift and these things would come through my window and they would let loose these sheets of newsprint that would flutter down over my lap. I would fall forward reading [audience laughs] these things that were -- and as I read, amazement would grow in me and say, "This is it! This is the answer!" [audience laughs] Then I would pull out and say, "huh? Is it working? Is anything happening?" And that went on for several passes of that. And then I -- then it caused me to throw my leg up around my neck and I very carefully unfolded myself, and lay back down again and then it happened again.[audience laughs] And I thought to myself, I’m really glad I’m alone because I think this would freak anybody out.[audience laughs]
And, uh, so, I -- But, it was definitely strange. I mean, the guy down the hall from me, I had taken it and he had taken it. And, uh, he had the impression in the night that this woman that he was scheming on came to him and that they made love. And in the middle of the night, I got up to go to the john and I had to cross through his room. And, it was also my impression that she was in bed with him. Well, when we sorted it out the next morning, she’d been thirty miles away throughout the whole incident and had never been there.
So, it’s interesting. There are a lot of altered states and maybe that’s a good point to make. There are all kinds of strange states of mind and many plant induced. From sorting through them, I’ve just become sort of, uh, fixated on these tryptamine things because they seem to me somehow the most promising and the most real. Uh, the hallucinations of Jimson Weed are curiously related in my mind - it’s some kind of association schema - they’re like séances and table-tapping and Victorian women in shredded lace dresses. And that’s, you know, about as far from a DMT hallucination as you can get. I mean, DMT hallucinations are three-, if not four-dimensional, brightly colored, high-tech, organo-insectoid, uh, so forth and so on. Yeah.
[Question] You talked that the momentum is so strong and having to change it. And, like, I think of all the people who are opposed to drugs and they think that every drug is the same. It just seems like an impossible task to be able to educate where these drugs will be available and then people would take them and see the world in a healthier way. What would you say about a question like that?
Well, it’s this struggle about human nature and defining human nature, you know. Is it good to take certain drugs? Is it always bad to take drugs? What's are -- you know, can you always tell a drug from a food or from a spice? What do these words really mean? Uh, all we can do is what we are doing, which is replicate the meme. Hold these workshops, try to build a core of consensus about what we’re talking about. And this is itself quite elusive, you see, because what we’re talking about is a mental event. Less focused than let us say, orgasm, but even if you’re talking about orgasm, here we use this word that it must mean something different to everybody. Well, it's even -- the problem is much worse with the psychedelic experience 'cause nobody wants to be left out, so anybody who's ever taken anything thinks they’ve had the psychedelic experience and feels fully qualified to hold an opinion on it, when, in fact, it’s pretty elusive – the real thing.
Uh, you have to take a heroic dose under the right conditions to really smash through. I mean, yes, there are all kinds of approaches to it: insight into childhood trauma, recovery of lost memories, opening to your emotional side, uh, insights into the dynamics of the life and the people around you – but that is not anywhere near the bull's eye. That’s just dancing around the rim of it. So, you -- we have to, as a community, try and build consensus about what happens at the real center. What’s happening at the center of the mandala? What kind of a modality can we describe and create a shared map of, that we can come back to the rest of the folks and talk about?
And then the other thing is -- um, well, I’m just banking on curiosity to do a lot of the footwork for the revolution. This is too good to miss. Uh, you know, it’s like placing sex off-limits or something and then expecting people not to find out about it. Now that Marxism has collapsed, uh, if we don’t substitute something for consumer values, then we’re just going to rape the Earth in an effort to create crap for everybody. Well, the only counterpoise to consumer values to materialism is spiritualism and I don’t mean some bloodless, carol-singing kind of mamby-pamby abstraction. I mean, there has to be as much inner richness as there previously was outer richness. And, this is why, to the alarm of some people, I’ve been fairly interested in virtual realities. Because, I think, you know, if everybody wants to live in Versailles, the only way you’re going to be able to do that is if you make Versailles a disk for $3.95 that they can plug in and then go live in it. So, uh, we can't preach to the have-nots the virtue of voluntary simplicity when we’re riding around in BMWs and collecting Monets. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.
So, building a core consensus, this is still in answer of your question, what can we do? And then replicating the meme. And, I introduce this concept in each of my workshops because I think it makes it easier for you to understand what’s happening here. A meme is the smallest unit of an idea. It’s like a gene is to proteins. Proteins are made by genes, and genes code for proteins, okay? Well, ideas are made out of memes. You link a few memes together and you have an idea. Memes, like genes, can be replicated. You replicate them by either telling the meme to many people or telling a lot of people all at once. And then these people you’ve told, they become potential replicators of the meme. And, there is a domain of culture that is like an environment of competing ideas and the memes go off and live in this ideological environment. And some flourish and some are consumed by others and some are incorporated into others.
And, the idea is to keep the psychedelic meme alive, and to make it grow, and to allow its claim to be heard. It’s not in danger of dying. It’s a very persistent meme. It’s been around for about 20,000 years and it’s been highly repressed in many cultures for the last couple of thousand years. Yet, we’re trying to, uh, rebirth it. So, thinking about it that way, thinking of yourself as a replicator of this thing that wishes to move through society, gives a mechanical model for understanding what is really ideological war, you know. A war about the definition of human nature. That's what’s at stake. What shall we become? Uh, what can we become? There’s no question that we need a greater consciousness of who we are. And, if psychedelic drugs are to be taken seriously at all as consciousness-expanding agents, then they have to be given their due place in the great dialogue that’s taking place about the future: creating it and then, uh, realizing it, the future of the species.
[Question] I wanted to say something further about the Book of Genesis and the notion of getting to the center. There are two cherubims guarding the gate with flaming swords and that they represent a pair of opposites: Fear and Desire. And the part of the problem of getting a bite of that tree of immortal life is getting beyond the realm of opposites, beyond fear and desire. And the other related thing is: the question of why this world is not one of homogenous perfection instead of a world of multiplicity of forms and conflicts? And it’s from a drop of ignorance that spills into undifferentiated perfection and from that one drop of ignorance precedes a multiplicity of the world we experience.
This is a Gnostic idea: the drop of ink in the pure glass of water. Yeah, well, Gnosticism was the idea -- I mean, in many forms, but, the basic idea was that light had been scattered through the universe and that the task of salvation was to gather this light together and to somehow transmit it back to it’s source in some -- some higher dimension which is a pretty good metaphor. One of the issues that comes up in these workshops inevitably – and I confess that I don’t have a real answer for this is, you know – are we a part of nature and the stewards of nature, or are we out of nature? Are we of another ontos and sculpted for a different destiny? Uh, it’s very clear that the life of the planet and our, uh, success, as a conscious species, these two things have to either be split away from each other, or one is going to be the undoing of the other. And, uh, this is a real problem. This problem haunts Western thinking; it’s nothing new. Is nature God or is nature the Devil? I mean, that’s the harshest statement of this problem.
[Question] One of the ways of detecting breast cancer is with thermography. This is where they look for a hotspot on the breast and say that’s a suspicious area. When I go up in an airplane at night and am looking down on Gaia and thinking this is an organism, a giant organism. And say, "Gee, there’s a cancer down there. It’s hot. You can see it. It's glowing." When you go down there and what you find is that the cells that have gone awry and the way in which we’ve gone awry is the nature of our consciousness and that it’s focused in terms of time, and space and causality; and then, the thumb, the prehensile ability to do something about it because, I don’t know for sure, but I imagine if the dolphins could have their consciousness with a sense of time, they might have some of the same time/space causality understanding of the physical world that we do, but they lack the ability to do anything about it.
To project force into the world.
[Question] So that given those two qualities: this quality of our minds to look upon the world in this way – time space and causality, and the thumb, we have become a cancer on the organism of the Earth. It’s kind of a negative thought.
It is negative and I’m not sure that I buy into it and I’m not sure that I don’t buy into it either. This is the question: is the evolution of historical society and science and all the ugly adumbrations of that: sexism, fascism, racism - is that part of the process or is it a breaking away? Is there some good in it? Was history for something or would we have just been better off without it? And, I don’t know. Uh, sometimes, I mean, I think of Western Civilization as the prodigal son. We went forth, we left our father’s house, which was the archaic style of existence. We left our father’s house and we wandered into matter and cut deals with demonic forces, and millennia have passed and now, the Earth is polluted and we are back at the longhouse, saying to these people, "Do you have any wisdom that can save us from our fate?"
Well, they do, to a degree. I mean, they have this deep insight into natural dynamics and curing, and maybe more. I mean, maybe there is magic in this world? Uh, but we know some things, too. We can summon the energy of the stars, if necessary, down to the deserts of this planet or to the cities of our enemies, if necessary. And, this is no small accomplishment on any scale. This is quite impressive. I mean, my God, that cytoplasm could create a strategy for triggering fusion. It’s amazing. Uh, so, I would like to think that this peregrination into matter went for something; that these are skills that we may need out in the universe when we really get our wings, uh, and take off. And that this deep involvement with matter, it was a kind of an addiction, and if we can pull out of it, a great deal has been learned. I mean, after all, if people had stayed in the rainforests, then we would have been ineluctably linked to the destiny of this planet as an animal species. And what if this is the only intelligence in the universe? Then, I would think we have a certain obligation to, uh, preserve it past the life of the existence of the solar system. So, if we’re not willing to commit ourselves at any phase of our evolution to a technical phase that involves mastery over matter, then we have no more defense against the larger universe than raccoons and katydids if push comes to shove.
I don’t know, I’ve stressed that there’s no easy resolution on this. It haunts all thinking about conservation. I mean, I thought throughout the 80s, why aren't the conservationists not space-colony enthusiasts? Why don’t the ‘Save The World people’ support the high-tech solutions that would move industry off the planet? Why are these various factions unable to make common cause behind a very large vision? And, uh, I don't know, but I think as pressure mounts for solutions, this will have to be done. I would like to live in a world where the entire Earth is a bio-reserve. I would like to live in a situation where the idea that there would be heavy industry inside the bio-reserve would be thought an abomination. All that stuff can be done on the moon or in the asteroid belts. It’s as inappropriate as having a nuclear power plant in the middle of a rainforest to have heavy industry on the surface of the Earth.
We need to think on very large time scales and we need to figure out how to create political machinery to do that. We’ve been living a potlatch existence; just a frenzied consumerist kind of, uh, unthinking, uh, abuse. And, I think the best inoculation for that style of life is a stiff dose of psychedelics. You can’t evade it, you know. It dissolves boundaries, it puts you -- it allows you to feel what you’re doing. I mean, the level of denial in this society is incredible. My God, we don’t feel it. We read the newspaper, but we don’t feel what it’s telling us, you know. Because if we felt it, we would probably be an emotional wreck, but there’s something to be said to opening up to some of that, you know. There’s a notion in therapy that if you want the client to actually make progress, you raise the alarm level.
A guy comes to you for therapy, you say to him, "Huh! You think you’ve got problems? Huh! You’ve got
what problems you have! " And then work from there. So, it’s very serious business. It’s trying to steer a society back toward a faith that was lost. And God is like a lost continent in the human mind and it’s the only continent where there is safe harbor in the present historical situation.
Well, why don't we knock off and, uh, we'll meet at four o'clock.Thanks very much.
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Review 1 by: P.C. Lansdown - June 3, 2015
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