Terence McKenna on the Taxonomy of Illusion [must watch]

Terence McKenna on the Taxonomy of Illusion [must watch]

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so in the 1960s our Speaker Terrance was a student like many of you at UC Berkeley and he left in the middle of things to go on a tour around the world for seven years that ended in the the deepest amazon basin where he had an experience that has determined his life in the 20 years following and which is the subject of his latest book true
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hallucinations so now in this historic moment after all this time Terrance will ascend the platform of the University of California for the first time what I thought I would talk about when I was approached to do this the pressure was to say something new which is a heart sinking pressure to a warhorse of the lecture circuit I started out thinking I
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would never repeat myself and sometimes wonder if I'll ever have a new idea again but what I wanted to talk about this evening was illusions and I called the lecture the taxonomy of illusion because I think it's interesting too to attempt to classify and relate the various kinds of illusions that stand
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between us and that presupposed naked radiant truth [Music] that that has more or less driven the engines of Western philosophy sense since Plato of course the great victory of modernity is to disabuse ourselves of such naive notions but they die hard I
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think Ralph mentioned my my latest book and I didn't I don't intend to talk about the book particularly but I in the book I quote a the only piece of poetry in the whole thing not written by me I now see that I seem to have lost it no here it comes up but it relates to this on many many levels this question of
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illusion and the relationship of the self to the real and where the world falls in that equation and the limits of knowledge and all that other good psychedelic stuff that needs to be considered the quote is from Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov and if you don't know this book you should it is without doubt one of the funniest books in the English language
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and it takes the form of a very long poem and then the commentary upon this poem the poem is written by a character that Nabokov creates named John shade and the part that I wanted to call to your attention this evening runs like this that rare phenomenon the irid you'll when beautiful and strange in a
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bright sky above a mountain range one opal cloudlet in an oval form reflects the rainbow of a thunderstorm which in a distant valley has been staged for we are most artistically Kay now this is a very strange piece of poetry this is not like even Wallace Stevens at his most obscure in the first
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place this word the irid duel you won't find this word in any dictionary and yet I sensed that this is obviously the word for this phenomenon I I know what he's talking about I have seen this Opel cloudlet in an oval form which reflects the rainbow of a thunderstorm in a distant place we're here we're in the
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realm of Mirage and nature as Mirage and nature as mirrored labyrinths and then the final point and I'll go through all this in the course of talking to you but the final line about being artistically caged this is I think where the psychedelics come in because psychedelics allow one to pierce beyond
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the veil of cultural illusion beyond the linguistic momentum of what has been handed on what has been handed on the faith of Tantra and magic and psychedelics is that the apparent in transient intransigent appearance of the world can somehow be overcome by an act
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of magic I used to collect Tibetan Tonka's and the texts which go with some of these Tonka's I remember one in particular which coming out of the Tibetan the translation was all things being reversed the great law the great God appears instantly you see the precondition for magic is the reversal of causality
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somehow and as moderns we have grown to give great credence I think to the idea that the world is largely a linguistic structure largely created through the participation of the observer but we have not been able to take that perception and turn it into a technology instead we are still driven by the blind
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momentum of atomic structure who was it who said the atoms blindly run and then I think it was Whitehead who said yes but within the body they blindly run according to the body's plan you see what what I think we're dealing with are patterns and then the indeterminate dimensions between patterns and it's in
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those indeterminate places within the interstices of reality that the observer is able to establish him or herself and then model back the world the reason I wanted to talk about a taxonomy of illusion was because I thought it was important to relate the various styles
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of hyper seeing non seeing and miss seeing together because I think that the the heuristic consequences of doing that are to realize just how shifting the sands are upon which the ontological edifice of Western thinking rest I mean that's always the point you see to deconstruct Western civilization because Western civilization the toxic
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consequences are now clear for everyone to see so the first the first category or grand family of illusions which we would put into our taxonomic II would be social illusions and when I and and you know later we can argue this but at this point in the in the discussion illusion is / delusion so the great social
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illusions delusions are sexism racism xenophobia egoism so for classism the world is riddled and ruled by these social illusions and no one is free of them and so they constitute one broad category I might just mention as an aside a book which was very influential on me and I never
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heard anybody else ever mention it was a book called by rock cliff called illusions and delusions of the supernatural and the occult this was a 19th century book which I as a kid got in a Dover reprint and it was in a wonderful era where the study of and law anomalies was still young and so this book had everything poured in together from Mesmer's ectoplasm to people who
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had tumors that they carried around in wheelbarrows to birds that did advanced arithmetic so forth and so on and it was a very very much from the point of view of Victorian rationalism and it also mentioned psychedelics it was what it really was was a category of edge and or a catalog of edges I'm sorry and it's only then in the subsequent 40 35
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years that that vulner camera approach to illusion and I assume you all know what I mean by that I mean I'm referring to the era before the rise of Linnaean natural science when naturalist would simply fill cabinets with anomalous fascinating and strange objects so the tarantulas might be mixed in with the chambered nautilus --is which might be stirred into the Zuni fetishes which
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might be next to the something else then later these vana cameras these curiosity cabinets as you would call them in English gave way to Linnaean taxonomy in the same way over the past hundred years I think the study of illusion and anomaly has attempted to rationalize itself spatial illusions are an entirely
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different family of illusory phenomena and we all have encountered at some level I imagine the is the specially constructed environments that occur in behavioral psychology labs that trick you into thinking that the person in the foreground is smaller than the person in the background as so forth and so on these kinds of illusions and are
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probably fairly trivial except that they address perception and when we get to psychedelics as a source of illusion this is more important another of the great family of illusions are in thinking about them I called them ontological illusions illusions of states of being which may or may not in fact be reflected in
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reality UFOs Bigfoot crop circles the entire panoply of poltergeist phenomena and this sort of thing ontological illusions and these are very interesting I mean one could give time to this alone because there are persistent ontological illusions in the human sensorium such as engg angels elves demons jinns athletes
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nixies and sprites that crowd and there are ontological illusions that seem somehow tied to the evolving modalities of the group mind UFOs are an obvious example I mean aside from the fact that people have occasionally seen strange things in the sky the UFO archetype really emerges in the late 40s with the
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the Rainier lights and then a whole set of taxonomic features of this particular brand of illusion coalesce the silvery discs the the alien denizens with the cat eyes and the rubbery flesh those same guys who give you unscheduled proctological examination in the middle of the night but notice
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that that particular taxonomic feature has been added recently through the assiduously careful scientific research of streamer and company so these things are in the in in well a cattle mutilation is an interesting one very confined in time and space the the crop circle thing similarly it's
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not that there aren't crop circles but that what we have is essentially a pattern in an English wheat field but then radiating out from that are the illusions of those who cast their gaze upon it those who proclaim it you know telluric communication or particle beam research carried on by the air force or in one version it was supposed it was
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supposed that a particular crop circle had been decoded found to be a lost Sumerian language which when decoded said basically don't stop here it was essentially a no parking zone for time machines they were saying you know this entire century just to maintain speed and you know do not [Music]
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psychedelic illusions again this is a related category but different from these ontological illusions by illusion I mean that these are confrontations with phenomena an apparently subjective ground and Anna pennon assumed rational observer where then there is a more than ordinary amount of
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ambiguity I mean most of reality is a loser II it's just that we do each other the courtesy of not pointing this out you know actually you you trace a very thin data path through the world and most of what we assume without question we have very little evidence for I mean something as simple as well like that Mount Everest is the highest mountain in
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the world well first of all very few people have ever seen it I saw it and because I saw it from a distance of about 500 miles it looked quite small and my own testimony as to whether it was the highest mountain in the world would be fairly unreliable and besides what does that mean anyhow and how the hell do you figure it out I mean here we have one mountain in the Himalayas and another in Bolivia and you're telling me you know which is the higher mountain it
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must rest on a whole bunch of weird and fishy assumptions resting on even shaky er data so and that's just the question of the highest mountain in the world give or you know leave alone the state of your lover's heart or your bankers for that matter [Music] what's important about the psychedelic family of illusions is that they propel
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the entire issue of illusion to center stage because they demonstrate that the assumed bedrock of quote/unquote ordinary perception is in fact no no bedrock at all it's simply a very soft dwell point somewhere in the mysteries of metabolism and the the consciousness
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whatever its relationship to the brain is spectacularly affected by the perturbation of the physical brain by endogenously introduced pseudo neurotransmitters of some sort into my mind this is very interesting you know Alexander Shulgin has secured in his work that you can take a molecule that is completely inactive and by moving one
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atom to a different place on the ring you can change this into an active compound now it seems to me you could hardly have a neater demonstration of the quantum mechanical foundation of consciousness because you've moved one atom and you've moved the mountains of mine 500 miles from where they were resting when last you looked it's quite
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spectacular and it argues them that mind which strangely enough the materialists always claimed this they just put different emphasis on the words mind is a kind of iridescent upon metabolism for the materialist that was a dismissal because to them what iridescent meant was a tertiary phenomenon not inimical to the structure of matter but necessarily perceived only
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through the intercession of an observer see that's what iridescent is it's somehow I'm more fragile part of nature than the rocks the trees and the waters because it's a play between light and mind again a kind of illusion a mirage now in a very different category of illusion and this is one worth considering because
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it's the one we tend not to place in this category and that is the illusion of materialism this has broken down completely the idea that the material world was real sustained the investigation of nature from Parmenides to the early years of the 20th century virtually the entire history of human
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engagement in intially in the abstract intellectual modeling of matter matter was assumed to be pretty much as presented in perception solid enduring having simple location meaning you know it is it stays where you put it and when you look there again it's there that sort of thing now one of the best kept
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dirty secrets of Western civilization is that the core science which is physics the science which was always the envy of all the other Sciences for its mathematical formalism and it's incredible predictive ability because it's not unusual in physics to predict from theory an experimental result to
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the third or fourth decimal this is spectacular congruence between theory and experiment you don't get that in the social sciences or even in physical need I mention even in physical chemistry however the investigation of matter has now been pushed to such extremes that
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matter has shed it's easily recognized and familiar face and it has become something much slippery er much more dependent on the presence of the observer much less easily located in space and time something much more of the nature of thought then then of the familiar conception of matter this word has not reached but even as far as
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biology yet the biologists are still laboring under the notion of the reality of physical material if any of you read this book that was published last year with much to do called consciousness explained actually it should have been called consciousness explained away here here was an effort to drag out all the
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old material paradigms and explain away consciousness the problem is matter itself has taken on the qualities of mind and as this realization relative dies is the life sciences I think there is going to be a new interest in the potential for psychedelics to elucidate mental
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functioning because what will become respectable you see is talk of the observer this is what has invaded six the most rarified and formal of all the sciences had the in order to make sense of its enterprise allow the observer a kind of primacy with the thing observed as this seeps into the life sciences and psychology hopefully the phobia of actually
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involving yourself in your field of study that informs all these reductionists to rattle morphic types in the schools of psychology will be overturned well having flayed that dead horse sufficiently the another category of illusion that needs to be addressed i
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think is how would one call it well basically a philosophical allusion or philosophical / religious allusion this is the idea that by a direct appeal to intuition we can somehow gain a foothold on truth i think this is a specious as the notion that we can gain a foothold
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on truth through reason or experiment this foothold on truth idea may have to be given up i'm sure some of you have heard me recall the situation where Vidkun stein was raving about something and one of his students said but is it the truth and he said well it's true enough and this is really a means a
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great divide has been crossed when you can say that because it means you understand now that you are no longer a fairy and a platonic super world but that you are actually a monkey with a brain full of mush trying to sort out you know what's right in front of you true enough is what we should probably rest with and you know illusions abound
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one for instance I was speaking of these religious oncology's I was talking to someone recently who amazed me because I've always thought of them as a person of great intelligence but who would never be reclaimed from the arms of Mother Church and we had dinner last week and he said I realized it finally comes down to do you believe the universe is being run by the ghost of a
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Galilean politician and he said you know put that way I realized that it wasn't other other religious myths are less easily undone I think monotheism has an appealing philosophical neatness but it leads apparently to Kalitta ectomy so you know you want to watch that this this search
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for philosophical neatness may make for strange bedfellows and of course Buddhism I love the illusion of Buddhism it's the illusion that illusion can be transcended and again not really doing genuflection to the animal nature it's amazing to me I mean if you were to meet a termite who stated that his or
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her goal in life was the perfect modeling of the cosmos you would think it was quite a comic undertaking and yet how different are we that we should presume - more than a shadow of a shadow of the truth well then finally or I don't know finally but completing my laundry list
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here linguistic truth or the truth of language and the illusions that language weaves because someone quite intelligence said language was invented so that people could lie in other words it gives you that fudge factor of
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obfuscation where someone says you know why did you do that well the best approach is I didn't do that you know you you thought I did that what you thought you saw you didn't see in other words I suppose that lawyers are probably the people who have done the finest work with language and and behind them politicians and the true potential
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for language to elevate and to unite the community was early on betrayed into the production of of illusion illusory and ideological goods which could then be marketed among the people and to spread confusion psychedelics reflect on this because psychedelics stretch and pull
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and melt and recast the illusion producing machinery of language I mean I think that if you had to say the one thing that psychedelics do for everyone whether they have a good trip or a bad trip because it's up to them to interpret what they make of this is it shows you the relativity of your cultural viewpoint you know that it's just a it's just your point of view you inherited it from a geology agraphia
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larrya a culture a set of parents it has no relationship whatsoever to anything anchored in some kind of metaphysical super space it's just your cultural point of view and travel actually does the same thing and I've always felt there was a weird affinity between psychedelics and travel and I suppose many people have or we wouldn't call it a trip and you know
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we wouldn't call it a journey but travel shows you the relativity of culture and what's really happening when you travel you see is you're moving from one language domain to another we don't think of it that way but that is in fact what is happening you can never see the Amazon jungle if you keep intact the bubble of linguistic assumptions of the
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place you started out from every place will withhold its secrets from you I learned this in the Amazon because the first time I went I had virtually no botany and to me the jungle was green that's what it was and it was many shades of green and it was beautiful and it was this and that but it was basically green the second time I went I was with a lot of botanists and within days you know you learn the families
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that's how they do it with the same taxonomy I'm here applying to illusion was really developed to describe plants and animals so you learn the families or the plants with square stems the plants with the opposed leaves the plants with the particular flower structure once you know families then you have a linguistic wedge in and but you know the cure the corrupting or curious thing about
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language is that like all tools it shapes its user in ways that are not suspected until it's too late so in for instance the way in which Western civilization is totally obsessed with the subject object to relationship you know and it's the basis of our science or polity our relations to commerce the concept of product all of these things come out of the subject
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object relationship which is an aspect language in the so III point all this out because in talking about my new book somebody said that I had gone too far and I was amused because it implied from what you know it's not like there is a
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King's X where grey beards in white coats tend the sacred Vestal fires of reality there is no reality there are only people who know this and people who don't know this and are therefore being manipulated by the people who do know it
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this is true or true enough and you know one of the things that has amazed me with my own personal career because you know I started out basically shoveling snow in a cow town in Colorado and by fate or who knows what come to the present position and what I notice as I
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trend traverse levels on a supposed ladder of success where you would expect there to be more and more competition and people and activity actually it gets emptier and emptier there is nobody minding the store as far as I can tell this is why I'm so unsympathetic to conspiracy theory we could use a few
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conspiracies nobody is minding the store everybody is getting rich personally rich and so they don't have time for you know to advance the Aryan race or the Council of Zion or any of this fantasy an illusion that haunts the world of conspiracy theory rather it seems every is being left pretty much to develop on
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its own because people are afraid to grab or touch the levers and buttons in the control room of the historical vehicle and what that means then is that people who can cut through these many many illusions the illusion of materialism the illusion of business as usual the illusion of benevolent
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institutions carefully guiding us toward reasonable destinies if you cut through all that if you disabuse yourself of all that you you will empower yourself to eventually be able to stand up in delicate social and political situations and just say that's bullsh or and this is worth considering doing simply because we have an imperiled
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planet on our hands we have been for a long long time the victims of Aleutian Western civilization Stefan Daedalus was right history is the nightmare from which one must awaken quite literally I mean we have been blind to what we have been doing we are blind at this moment to what we are doing if in a single moment the actual
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nature of our predicament were to fully make itself felt in the mind of any one of us I think it would be paralyzing it would be horrifying we we have waited till the last moment of the last hour the house is burning down around us and we rouse ourselves from the stupor of materialism the stupor of Christianity and scientism the stupor of male
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dominant sexism and racism if we don't rouse ourselves from this stoop the momentum toward extinction is now practically irreversible you know the Grateful Dead like to sing that song we need a miracle every day we certainly we certainly do because with an and so then that brings me back to my original
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point that the moment that outside the ven of culture lies an unmapped Terra incognito as vast as the new world was to the old in the 15th century as vast as outer space appears to us now the new world outside of culture is a world that can be
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Kirt through vision and language and you know many of you have sapped through my recitations of what it's like to smoke DMT many of you I'm sure are familiar with the the medieval woodcut of the guy sticking his head through the cogs and wheels of the cosmic machinery to observe a new world outside the message here is and it's it's more than a message it's a message if you just come
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to events like this and then go back to studying cost accounting it's an experience if you will but avail yourselves of these tools the experiences of the discovery of a new world a new world as real as any world that we know it's not going to come from Time magazine or the Secretary General of the United Nations or anybody like that it's it isn't that the world is
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tired and played out and that all frontiers have been explored every culture could support that viewpoint it within certain classes and in certain situations but in fact it has never been true and it isn't true now we are monkeys and monkeys love a hell of a good fight and we have a hell of a fight
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bearing down on us because we have to clean up the mess we are going to we're not going to go silently into the gentle night of extinction there it's just not going to happen that way creativity is going to be unleashed struggle is going to be an unavoidable part of trying to steer this battleship away from the cataracts of history in
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which we are now caught I I believe that it there is a tremendous obligation upon the privileged classes of the high-tech industrial democracies and I dare say that includes everyone in this room a tremendous obligation to attempt to deconstruct the bomb that we have inherited I mean that is literally our situation the gift from the past from
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the 19th century from the 1940s from the psychology of of Nixon and Johnson and that is a ticking bomb except that it's a planet and it's the greatest challenge to intelligence that intelligence has ever faced and yet it's precisely the kind of challenge that intelligence should be able to meet because what it requires is
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large-scale strategic planning implementation of visionary responses it is not incremental its sudden complete and dramatic and I really believe that there will only be one chance you know it's we are circling the runway of post history and the engines are running low
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and they there is one approach and then you know if you miss that approach you're into the drink now we can use we have the great good fortune to be approaching the end of a millennium would it be redundant to say this only happens once in a thousand years yes and it's extraordinarily fortunate once I was in England and I ran into somebody I haven't seen for 20 years and I was amazed and I said to Rupert
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how often did does one get a chance to meet someone one hasn't seen for 20 years and he said well I daresay I suppose every 20 years we can use the millennium this this apparent coincidence of our dilemma and a kalindra chol turning point to create awareness of opportunity and we can use the psychedelics to dissolve boundaries
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between ourselves and other people between institutions that govern and the govern and basically we have to insist on the seriousness of the situation and the potential for solutions and what it means is a much more radical break with American society than we've been willing to contemplate in the last 20 years we
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we went through this thing with you know the two-term governor of Arkansas and it took a year and a half to play that all out and to see what it comes to and what it comes to is you know Washington is convulsed over the possibility of closing an airbase near Sacramento so how can we even conceive of this government making an impact on the real problems it is still government by
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flim-flam and that would be all very well if we had 500 years to dig ourselves out of this dilemma but if there if a radical political alternative is not opened up in this country then we are essentially I think going to amuse and entertain ourselves into extinction the ordinary Orthodox system has failed what Bill Clinton exists to
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prove at best is that people of goodwill make no difference in those institutions because they are compromised and corrupted from the very beginning it's just the way it is they those institutions are set up for business as usual business as usual at this point is a death sentence on the human race what has to be done is a tribal izing of
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culture annexed a sizing of culture a dissolving of hierarchy that means self empowerment through claiming the new information technologies through deconditioning from propaganda through deconditioning from the pharma phobia that holds everyone within the pre-programmed moles that are being handed down from Madison Avenue and Hollywood it means actually realizing
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that your life is your own your destiny is your own it isn't within the confines of the culture because the culture is dissolving and to the degree that the word is put out that phenomenon will accelerate we are in an extraordinary transition everything that has worked now doesn't meaning global economic
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systems control of the spread of epidemic disease and so forth and so on all these systems are breaking down and yet the new systems are not yet in place so this is a situation of extraordinary malleability and a situation in which people of great vision and great ego can make tremendous impact so it's a very
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dangerous situation we saw this in the 1930s in Germany and in Europe where there were all kinds of potentials all kinds of possibilities we forget how powerful of visionary Marxism was before the rise of fascism movements like Bauhaus and Dada and surrealism all had agendas which were which disappeared them under the rise of fascism this must
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not happen again and what it has to do with is resisting images that are coming from the reality studio resisting the images that are coming off the tube coming through the newspapers and creating a community based on psychedelics sexuality sensitivity and good sense cultural value and what good sense will mean in
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this situation is the preservation of the earth the preservation of diversity deconditioning from product fetishism deconditioning from energy overconsumption all these things we understand but we seem to lack the power to change our minds or if we have that power then the power to change other
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people's minds and I am in two psychedelics not because I think it's a sure thing but because I think it is the only game in town in other words it's the only thing I've ever seen change an individual on a time scale similar to the time scale that we have if we're going to make a difference I've seen over and over again I'm sure many of you have people go into a psychedelic jerks and come out halfway decent human
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beings you know eight hours later [Music] if we had 500 years to steer global society into safe harbor it might be possible to do that but we don't I mean I really believe that we are being asked to participate in the birthing of a new order of being and that there is reason
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for great optimism and hope because it looks like we're just boring in to solid rock but in fact there's somebody else boring through that solid rock and they have triangulated our approach and they are hurrying to meet us I don't think we fell into this situation because of bad fate or or bad destiny this is part of
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the process history is what happens when an animal species an advanced animal falls under the influence of a transformative attractor of some sort history is only about twenty five thousand years in duration the interesting part in the last five thousand years what has happened is that something confounding has entered the
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local situation or was always dormant there but has stirred to wakefulness and it is not God not the God that in Milton's wonderful phrase hung the lamps like stars in heaven it isn't that God maybe it's the god of biology but whatever it is it is to us as we are to the termite and what it is doing is it is casting an enormous transcendental
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shadow back through time over the epigenetic landscape of biological becoming and in our species for reasons mysterious to me we mirror this thing and if has swung our compass away from the forward flow of genetic theme and variation and in a course orthogonal to
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biology a course set on the transcendental and it is pulling us toward it through the medium of transforming our languages through the medium of the imagination which is after all this mysterious mental domain in which we are whispered to by angels demons gods ancestors alien and out of
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that intercourse culture self-transforming shedding its face every hundred years building on novelty is ascending toward a reaching out toward the unspeakable this has been going on I think for billions of years it has obviously and incontrovertibly been going on since the advent of consciousness in the human species and
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now we're there we're in the final domain of the confrontation with the secret it is impossible to conceive of history going on for hundreds of years it the planet cannot sustain it all of these social structures and institutions that we have surrounded ourselves with are obviously lifeboats they are not made to last they are made to carry us
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to a certain point in the life of the earth and we are now there or we are within 20 30 40 50 years of confronting the transcendental object at the end of time that drew us out of the animal body history is the proof and the shock wave of the eschaton this is a hard thing for secular audiences to wrap their minds around because they're
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familiar with hearing this from rattle snake handling cry stirs but that's simply because religion has always been the repository of the irrational intuition it never said that the irrational intuition is ipso facto false it becomes a travesty when hung with the trappings of dogma derived through the
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scholarly revelation of weasels but the intuition the intuition is pristine and the intuition of Islam Judaism Christianity and cults innumerable is that there is a finite Ness to the historical experience and then the more stayed the ontology the further into the future they put it so they can continue trading real estate for the next little
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while I think that it is now possible to extrapolate the curves that describe our degradation of the planet the spread of epidemic diseases the ozone hole the extraction of metals the clearing of the rain forests the rise of population the spread of toxic compounds so far to see to convince yourself even from a rational point of view that history is a self-limiting process well if you're a
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rationalist then you must conclude we're just headed for extinction I would think then the rational response to that logical process would be to get your ass in gear and try and avert the distinction the extinction and if you're not a rationalist then the conclusion you draw from all that is that we are within striking distance of merging with the mysterious hyperspatial
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source of our intelligence and that somehow this is a planetary birthing something as scripted as the breakup of Pangaea or the movement of glaciers south from the pole it's just part of the process the culture exists to transform mind out of the domain of matter we are rising toward the
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rarefaction of ourselves into the transcendental plasma body of alchemical and Buddhist preoccupation this is what is calling us out of matter it's what called the monkeys out of animal organization it's what calls technology out of the Restless hands of the hominids and it is what is calling all of us toward a kind of fusion with the
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community with the psychedelic totality of the species and with the larger gyein totality of the planet this is what it all went for this is the promise and the redemption of history without this Redemption then history becomes the abortion that materialist sphere it is this is why the legitimate path to the transcendental the linking of the individual with the transcend
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transcendental through psychedelics now becomes the most important political work that can be done in the light of the rising awareness of the end of history [Applause] well all of you who stayed the Intrepid
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core I'll just go through these I've not had any chance to look at them and handwriting is also degraded here at the end of the world so it's a little hard to sort out some of this what role does an individual psychedelic experience play in the massive changes that you're anticipating it would seem to me well my model for the psychedelic
01:01:05
experience there have been a number of them the idea that it's created mimics madness that was one idea that it takes you into the Jungian unconscious that was one notion that it's somehow illuminates the concepts of Indian yoga or after death models such as the Tibetan Book of the Dead all of these have been tried my assumption has been a
01:01:39
mathematical one that that what psychedelics are about is that mind under the pressure under the pressure of evolutionary constraints turns itself into a threat detection device and that's how we use it in three-dimensional space to anticipate threat and to meet it but that that is as it were a lower order application of
01:02:11
mind and that in silent darkness what happens on psychedelics is that you the mind unfolds literally into a kind of super space or a higher dimension in the mathematical sense because I take seriously the the claims made oil in all times and places for millennia that shamans can locate lost
01:02:43
objects predict weather see where the game has gone and predict the outcome of disease situations in all cases what is involved is a higher dimensional relationship to the manifold of history so I think that you know you all understand that a locked box if we had a padlock box here on stage a locked box
01:03:16
is not locked in hyperspace it has a a dimension in hyperspace from which the contents of the locked box are easily removed taken out and put back in our world this looks like magic shamanism is like this and so to answer the question what role does an individual psychedelic experience play in the massive changes anticipated that the role is that the
01:03:46
individual gets in on the joke at this stage in history to be a shaman is to have seen the end and if you've seen the end it's like you know taking on a Karenina and reading the last five pages and then as you make your way through this bewildering morass of material you do have the faith that it's all going to end up as you discerned so that's the
01:04:17
political act you see terror of the future is one of the weapons by which the rationalists are holding everybody in line terror of the future can be put out to pasture through psychedelic shamanism okay it seems mushrooms for the masses is not really what you advocate [Music] my mushrooms for the masses doesn't
01:04:52
sound like such a terrible idea I mean I always equivocate by saying you know if your if your problem is maintaining boundaries then you probably shouldn't take any psychedelics but you can't in a mature civilization you know you don't you don't define opportunities based on what will be detrimental to a small minority mushrooms for the masses seems to me a fine idea I just don't see how
01:05:25
it can ever come about because I believe that the society shaping effects of these things are so powerful that they will never be tolerated just to go off on a tangent for a moment this is why I am an incredibly pessimistic person about getting pot legalized because the as far as I can tell the argument now in favor of legalizing cannabis is that it
01:05:57
ain't no big deal so why not legalize it the problem is it is a big deal you know you just have to bake it into some banana bread and you'll find out what a deal it is so you know and if you read the 19th century it counts like Fitzhugh Ludlow the hashish eater people like that it's perfectly clear that it can reach LSD levels of intensity if if you eat it and
01:06:26
the question you know if pot were were judged on its social impact or you know its lack of addiction its lack of detriment to health it would have been legal a long time ago but it subtly erodes commitment to dominate our values in ways that are absolutely intolerable to dominate our institutions I mean they'll let gays in the military before they legalize pot that's how threatened
01:06:58
they are by pot well let's see here recently you appeared on talk radio with la police chief Daryl gates what was the inside story and do you feel you were heard by him well yes I won't give this too much time I did appear with Daryl gates on his radio show clearly they're desperate to raise ratings though do almost anything at this point and Daryl gates was a
01:07:32
pussycat very easily intimidated by I mean I make no great claims in this area but intelligence [Music] he completely folded in the presence of you know academic calm big words citation that sort of thing what is the
01:08:06
difference between your vision of the end of history and the Christian belief in the Savior this is a great question my that well it's complicated the the way I think of this transcendental object at the end of time is on this level for purposes of metaphor it's like those mirrored ball bars that they hang in discos you know that spins and sends
01:08:42
out scintillations of light all over the walls ceiling and floor of the room the transcendental object at the end of time and I like that image because our chemists alchemists used to talk about what they called the scintilla which is simply Latin for spark so the transcendental object at the end of time sends off scintilla x' sparks which are like reflections of its essence but
01:09:11
necessarily distorted well then ranged all around this transcendental object and that greater and lesser distances are all the people who have ever lived and if you are a Buddha a Christ a muhammad guru somebody or other and you you are what that means is that you have been struck by a scintilla of reflection from the transcendental object and so
01:09:42
you as it were us have assimilated its essence into your being and now you must act it out and I would bet you that if you could step into the mind of a Christ on the Road to Calvary or a Buddha preaching at Sarnath what you would discover going on in the personal part of the mind is the question why me why me and the answer is
01:10:14
you just are dumb lucky that's all you know you just happen to be standing in the right place at the right time and there is nothing special about you you just have a hit of the stuff and then the the other part of the question the the problem with all these religions and it affects flying-saucer cults and it effects occult schools of magic and everywhere is people claim to
01:10:47
know too much they are not willing to live in the light of ignorance and in the absence of closure so you know my god you go to these UFO conferences and you know you've got the people talking to the police in booth one next to them people are talking to commanders amol of the ant RA system and then number three something a no cognitive dissonance
01:11:18
between these groups they all have coffee together and are dating heavily and it doesn't ever seem to enter anybody's mind that this is a little odd in a cult stuff you know you say what's that and they say well that's the 11th amethyst stingray that was brought by the great white fathers of the 11th Lodge who came from the galactic center at the fall of Atlantis and establish the thing how the
01:11:50
hell do you know all this I mean nobody knows anything and and Christianity the anticipation of the end of the world in the exegesis of revelations that has been worked out based on the visions of John of Athos you know it's a good try but it's not a it's not a paint-by-numbers script for the unfolding of the world by any means
01:12:22
when the transcendental object at the end of time finally reveals its quintessence among us all prophecies will be fulfilled all religious ontology z' will find themselves somehow vindicated and somehow humbled in the same moment because they were in fact in Wordsworth's wonderful phrase intimations of immortality but you don't
01:12:53
need to rely on these sanctioned intimations of immortality you can have your own simply by taking five grams in silent darkness on an empty stomach after you've unplugged the phone's on a Saturday night in your apartment the the real research into the nature of the eschaton is done one on one above five grams well let's see here I once heard you talk about an experiment your brother
01:13:32
undertook where he was raving for three weeks but you never explained what the experiment involved what was it well what a wonderful opportunity true hallucinations I never talked about this even often two very dear friends of mine I mean there are people who've known me for 20 years who I never told this story to because I think it takes as long to tell as it takes to read this book you
01:14:03
know that wonderful scene in the time in wells time machine when he comes back to his gentlemen's club and he says gentlemen this is no tale to be told over greasy plates well similarly with this so I and I didn't also want to make it the basis for my public career because this is real well I almost said nutty stuff
01:14:34
it's mele disbelieve in violations of physical law and miracles but I did actually in the course I'm 46 I have seen three or four in my lifetime and each time it's absolutely astonishing whole worlds of possible questions are instantly answered and I wrote this book to inspire people to follow our method
01:15:07
which is our method is the rational but stone mined in confrontation with the obscure seek ye the obscure you know if a book has is not at least 100 years old don't read it if if a country has more than one international airport don't visit it if
01:15:39
a village has more than one outboard motor don't stay and just keep pushing and pushing and pushing because out there at the edges are the edges and that their edges because nobody goes there because the unsanctioned is hidden there you know that's where the shamans are and the mad people and the sexual experimentalists and the aesthetic experimentalists that really is the
01:16:10
method not not belief belief is a toxic and dangerous attitude toward reality I think after all if it's there it doesn't require your belief and if it's not there why should you believe in it it doesn't make a whole lot of sense by eliminating money and the separateness that it causes could the world be saved by sharing the resources and the work and eliminating all the unnecessary
01:16:44
waste of energy and needless competition and consumption well I'm not sure how money could be eliminated see I'm a funny person I've a slate between I have a very strong impulse toward political action and save the world and round up the miscreants and set things right that's part of my thing but I also have this incredibly evolved sense that it's
01:17:14
a done deal that it's okay that the main task is a certain alertness and attention to one's comrades and that it will all unfold through the intercession of the transcendental object at the end of time people say this is a contradiction fine it's a contradiction I mean what are we doing here anyway is life supposed to be simple so but I preface that by saying one time
01:17:48
somebody in a group like this challenged me and said you're always talking about the peril of the planet and one thing in another why why don't you ask the mushroom how to save the planet and I so then I thought that was kind of a facetious and challenging thing to propose but the next time I found myself capable of asking the question I did and the mushroom hesitated and now I pass
01:18:18
this on to you as pure fungal hearsay on the networks I said to the mushrooms so how can we save the world and it hesitated roughly a third of a second and said every woman should bear only one natural child I thought about this for a long time before I ever publicly mentioned it to anyone and I realized you see I think that what is destroying us are two things number one an
01:18:51
uncontrolled rise in population that wipes out every good intention every social program every our expansion of Agriculture succumbs to expanded population this is destroying us the other thing that is destroying us is that we are not properly utilizing the intelligence talent and so forth of half of our population the female half of the
01:19:21
population now people say that we must you know women must be promoted and into professional positions and power positions and and of course this is true and I agree but what is really holding women back is that they spend a staggering amount of their creative lifespan raising children and if every woman were to bear only one
01:19:52
natural child the population of the planet would fall by 50 percent in 40 years without wars epidemic diseases it would just naturally fall in half now I don't think very many people have ever considered this possibility we tend to think that our problems are insoluble they are not insoluble furthermore it turns out and here's news nobody likes to hear a woman who a child born to a
01:20:25
woman in Santa Cruz compared to a child born to a woman in Bangladesh that child will use between eight hundred and a thousand times more resources than the Bangladeshi child in its lifetime so where do we preach population control the third world because that's where all the people are but that's not the problem people are not the problem incredible consumption by some people is the
01:20:59
problem it would be possible to imagine a world where Institute of Mental institutions or whoever's running things could go to women and say how would you like to have vastly increased leisure time how would you like to have an increased expendable income and how would you like to have genuine status as a hero in the struggle to save the planet if women were to have only one
01:21:30
natural child women would very naturally come into an inn nor this empowerment no one no institution could deny it to them and interestingly enough this is not a plan where men who have always been the planners and the managers of plans play much of a role at all well I just pass that off in case you don't want to put your trust in the transcendental object at the end of the
01:22:01
world then the most politically conscious thing apparently from the mushrooms point of view that you could do is encourage those kinds of policies and that kind of attitude are they're unnatural children oh dear still carrying a grudge leave it leave it to Saddam no that is not true
01:22:44
that's what always put out the fact of the matter is in 1800 the average American woman gave birth 13 times in the course of her lifetime the two the two child family is a genuflecting to the Industrial Revolution nope traditional culture on this planet ever advocated the to child family it's a
01:23:15
convenience that allows factories to run and jobs to be filled and in fact as the father of two children I would argue that the two child family what happens is the children mirror the tension between the parents in a way that happens in no other configuration of a parent-child relationship so I would actually argue that the so called family
01:23:48
values that these right-wingers are constantly begging us to preserve are in fact values created to support the agenda of the Industrial Revolution which means global capitalism and they have nothing to do with archaic values which are enormous families not nuclear families but extended families living communally that's the traditional model and if you're not ready to go back to
01:24:17
that then one woman one child is as good as anything else in my humble opinion let's see here you mentioned earlier this evening that psychedelics played a role in human evolution how so thank you for not groaning those of you who have heard me explain this 18 times because it may be my only crack at getting into the history books it it
01:24:54
seems to me clear well it seems to everybody who looks at the question clear that the theory of evolution is handed a tremendous dilemma when it comes to human evolution a planet of groundhogs hummingbirds and slime molds poses no problem to Darwinian evolution as modified by molecular genetics we pose a problem specifically our brain and it's
01:25:24
doubling in size to explain and it's a particular embarrassment because that's the origin so it's like a real real rip in the the sale of the gallon of evolution I believe and everyone believes that there must have been extraordinary selective pressures of a unique sort upon our early ancestors to have produced the human brain in such a short amount of
01:26:04
time and I think that the answer and I don't want to go into it in detail tonight but briefly here's what it is and it explains a lot about our sexuality and our politics and so forth all primates clear back to squirrel monkeys and like that have what are called dominance hierarchies we all know what this means it means that the hard muscled long fanged young males run roughshod over everybody else the women
01:26:36
the children homosexuals the old everybody gets their marching orders from the dominant males this is true throughout the primates and it is true of us as we sit here this evening that's what's screwing up our politics and making us you know the situation with women and so forth and so on and it can be argued to other social problems as well I believe that psilocybin because it dissolves
01:27:07
boundaries is uniquely positioned to mitigate against this tendency toward male dominance for a number of reasons and when our remote ancestors moved in out of the trees and into the grasslands they encountered these mushrooms and I think the great undiscussed frontier of evolutionary theory is the effect of mutagens in foods on human evolution
01:27:42
we most animals maintain a very narrow food menu to avoid contact with mutagens we when we were forced out of the arboreal canopy we became omnivores we came under nutritional pressure and for a long time we were testing all kinds of foods and that would have meant a very high rate of mutation through that period and an acceleration in natural selection and I think that that
01:28:15
psilocybin because it improves visual acuity would have given a leg up to predators and hunter-gathering proto hominids and so in a sense there was a period of time perhaps as short as a hundred thousand years perhaps as long as a million or more years when male dominance in our species was suppressed
01:28:45
chemically by psilocybin in the diet it was still there hardwired in the genes but chemically suppressed by an orgiastic religious style that had everybody taking mushrooms at the new and full moon and then having sex in a heap basically this made it impossible for men to trace lines of male paternity that's a consequence of an orgiastic
01:29:16
society and a kind of paradise evolved and it was during that parody sickled interlude that language theater altruism metaphysics poetry dance religion all of the functions that we equate with unique humaneness evolved under the aegis of a near symbiosis with sim with psilocybin
01:29:48
mushrooms and then this all was happening in Africa then through climatic people drying of the African continent the mushrooms disappeared and God forbid the old wiring reasserted itself it must have been hell on earth it must have been similar to what we're living through it must have been an era of incredible brutalization when people stopped caring for each other people
01:30:19
stopped having group sex they started fighting over women fighting over territory bashing each other's brains out appointing leaders developing weapons the entire sick set of pathological institutions that leads to our dilemma was evolved in the wake of the invention of agriculture in the abandonment of nomadism and so forth and so on and this is why I think we're
01:30:50
so funny on the subject of drugs because we are literally the children of a drug there wouldn't be human beings on this planet had there not been this hominid mushroom interaction over a very very long period of time the reason we addicted to so many substances and the reason people destroy their lives with various addictions is we have an itch that we just can't scratch and we try
01:31:23
everything and I maintain that you'll keep bitching and you'll keep scratching til you come to this very narrow family of how the sentence the trip to mean how the sentence then the itch stops because you are restored to the archaic dynamic in which we created the most noble social systems that we have ever lived under the archaic nomadic shamanic
01:31:54
goddess worshipping world of the dawn time and history is a fall away from that exactly as these monotheistic religions insist the fall into history and I see then this emergent end of the world post history millenarian culture as an attempt to reconnect with that archaic authenticity that was the birthplace of intellect of poetry of
01:32:26
beauty of love and of altruism okay these are great questions I wish I had more time here's one please define intelligence strangely enough I was thinking about this today as I can't even remember why but I produced a definition it's a kind of a cribbing from Whitehead Whitehead defined understanding in the following way he said understanding is the a
01:33:08
perception of pattern as such that's all for instance in this room there are many patterns where the men are where the women are where the over 40's are where the under forties are where the wealthy and the poor are each of these patterns if you can see it tells you more about the situation and presumably there are an infinite number of these informative
01:33:40
patterns so I would define intelligence as Whitehead defined understanding intelligence is the a perception of pattern as such and the more pattern of the pattern and the more patterns that you perceive the more intelligent you are of course these patterns must actually be there otherwise your delusory that's a different issue and then I'll
01:34:12
do what I'll do one more here you don't go fast what do you think about meditation as a path to other levels of consciousness and understanding so-called reality as illusion I think meditation is a fine thing I do it I'm not sure what its relation to the
01:34:43
psychedelic experience is the best the this is essentially part of a larger question which is can you get there on the Nash and you know the short answer is no the fair answer is maybe in exceptional cases case is so exceptional so exceptional that the answer is no the
01:35:14
and the perils I submit to you are much greater because what is so wonderful about the psychedelics is how democratic they are you know you don't have to have enslaved yourself into some beady-eyed Wiesel and his set of precepts dietary strictures and mantra formulas it doesn't work like that it isn't handed
01:35:45
down through a human lineage I asked the mushroom about this I said can you know what's the deal with these other paths to enlightenment and you got to understand this is the mushroom speaking but it said for one human being to seek enlightenment from another is like one grain of sand to seek enlightenment from another it is preposterous and I like
01:36:15
that because I've never met anybody whose intelligence so intimidating that they deserved to be followed and I daresay you probably haven't either if you've been paying attention I mean how many how many philandering zimmy's have to parade before us how many cog EWP's with a Budweiser welded to their good right hand do we have to encounter before you get the message you know
01:36:48
these guys are just slime balls at worst and lost souls at best and you're smarter than they are by an order of magnitude anyway so why waste your time now if you want to follow if you just can't tear yourself away from the concept of following then you know how about Plato Heraclitus Parmenides platanus perlis you know dead guys they're much safer you know they're not
01:37:21
going to try and climb into your wallet or some delicate portion of your Anatomy plus they've been used tested in the historical arena and have been found to be generally at at least harmless at worst and in some cases actually to be recommended so I would say you know the whole message of psychedelics is self
01:37:50
empowerment trust yourself seize the tiller of your destiny it is your life it is your body it is your mind and it's your world to remake as you choose to reshape it history has failed the past is no guide the the immediate generations preceding us have dealt themselves into bankruptcy
01:38:20
their object fetishism their ideological excesses their tendency to resort to brutality and the solution of every problem has essentially ruled them out of play they are no longer operable and psychedelics because they do in fact enhance accelerate and promote consciousness must must it's not a
01:38:55
debate must name large in the future history of our species because if consciousness is not a major part of the human future it is not a human future [Applause]

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