A Weekend with Terence McKenna
“Healing the inner elf through trance, dance, and diet”—the session for true McKenna enthusiasts: twelve hours with the bard himself, in which he touches upon practically all of his trademark topics.
Awakening to Archaic Values
A weekend workshop in which Terence encourages humanity to return to harmonic habits which have been lost in the tide of time.
Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown
Over the course of nineteen essays, Alan Watts ruminates on the philosophy of nature, ecology, aesthetics, religion, and metaphysics. Assembled in the form of a mountain journal, written during a retreat in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais in California, Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown is Watts’ meditation on the art of feeling out and following the watercourse way of nature, known in Chinese as the Tao. Embracing a form of contemplative meditation that allows us to stop analyzing our experiences and start living into them, the book explores themes such as the natural world, established religion, race relations, karma and reincarnation, astrology and tantric yoga, the nature of ecstasy, and much more.
Countdown Into Complexity
At his weekend workshop Terence led attendees on an intellectual odyssey traversing psychedelics, virtual reality, technology, culture, spirituality, and the evolution of novelty over time. Blending philosophy, futurology, and mysticism, he explored humanity's relationship with nature and machines, challenging participants to think critically, create freely, and keep an open mind. The goal was to expand consciousness and uncover deeper truths about existence.
Dreaming Awake at the End of Time
Join Terence for an eclectic think along the deconstruction of the deepening worldwide weirdness. With his characteristic hope and humor, McKenna examined time and its mysteries, the nature of language, the techniques of ecstasy, high technology and virtual cyberspace, the role of hallucinogenic plants in shamanism and the evolution of human cultures, and the foundations of postmodern spirituality.
Eros and the Eschaton
Delivered in Kane Hall at the University of Washington, Terence points out the universe's peculiar tendency to seek out complexity and novelty, and that humanity seems to be the focal point of this process.
This evening address is one of Terence’s funniest, in which much is said about monkeys, mushrooms, plants, and people. The question and answer session gets good and lively, with his unique analysis of UFOs, governments, and possible evolutionary pathways for us and the planet.
Hidden Belief Systems
Alan talks about unexamined assumptions that underlie our commonsense beliefs which may cause confusion in our thinking about nature.
Individual and the World
This seminar covers a variety of topics, from the illusion of our separation from the environment and the futility of trying to be genuine, all the way to the discipline required to handle mystical experiences in order to bring something back from them to share with the rest of the world. The presentation ends with his endorsement of insanity, saying a healthy amount of craziness in old age is necessary to prepare for a joyous death.
Insight and Ecstasy
Alan says ecstasy is fleeting while insight endures. Drugs or mysticism may spark rapture, but real spirituality stems from seeing through the illusion of a separate self. This liberating insight dissolves imaginary problems, merging subject and object into a unified whole. Joy may follow, but penetrating truth remains. Part of the Way Beyond the West radio series.
Interview on Cybernetics
Light of the Third Millennium
Speaking at the Whole Life Expo in Palmer Auditorium, Terence says our task is to surf the accelerating wave of novelty to dissolve cultural delusions. Psychedelics and technology can download new perspectives, stripping away outdated assumptions. Through imagination, language, and art we can meet the eschaton: the transcendental object at the end of time. Our task is liberate ourselves, take responsibility for our ideas, make visionary art, and find community without fear.
Join McKenna, Sheldrake, and Abraham on an imaginative journey into nature's creativity. Surfing the chaotic waters of psychedelic states, they catch glimpses of the Gaian mind behind Earth's being. Here, in imaginal realms beyond rationale, novelty is born. By relinquishing egoic control and surrendering to an unknowable creative force, we tap into the divine imagination—the eternal wellspring of nature's endless becomings. Immersing ourselves in this flow, we reunite with the cosmic creative essence.
My View of the World
A Nobel prize winner, a great man and a great scientist, Erwin Schrödinger has made his mark in physics, but his eye scans a far wider horizon: here are two stimulating and discursive essays which summarize his philosophical views on the nature of the world. Schrödinger's world view, derived from the Indian writings of the Vedanta, is that there is only a single consciousness of which we are all different aspects. He admits that this view is mystical and metaphysical and incapable of logical deduction. But he also insists that this is true of the belief in an external world capable of influencing the mind and of being influenced by it. Schrödinger's world view leads naturally to a philosophy of reverence for life.
On Self-Organizing Systems and Their Environments
An adaptation of an address given at The Interdisciplinary Symposium on Self-Organizing Systems in Chicago, Illinois, originally published in Self-Organizing Systems. M.C. Yovits and S. Cameron (eds.), Pergamon Press, London, pp. 31–50 (1960).
Our Cyberspiritual Future
Terence McKenna holds court on our civilization's journey toward the eschaton at this weekend Esalen gathering. With humor and eloquence he riffs on topics from psychedelic states and alien intelligences to time travel and VR. McKenna argues we're evolving toward an unimaginable state of accelerating novelty, propelled by advancing technology. A mind-expanding ride for the open-minded psychonaut or armchair traveler, guided by one of the twentieth century's most eclectic thinkers.
Originally broadcast on the KPFA radio series Philosophy East and West. Alternate title: Simultaneous Discovery.
Power of Space
Weaving connections between Eastern thought and modern science, Alan Watts explores the wonder of space. For him, space is no mere emptiness but a cosmic tapestry integral to existence. He draws parallels between space and the Buddhist void, seeing both as the interwoven ground of being that allows consciousness to emerge.
Psychotherapy and Metaphysics
This seminar explores the concept of consciousness and its limitations. Watts discusses the lack of depth in certain analytical approaches, highlighting the need for individuals to find harmony with life and death. He emphasizes the enrichment that comes from realizing the significance of everything and the potential healing effects of altering our state of consciousness. Watts also touches on the influence of scientific naturalism on modern psychiatry and shares a personal account of a transformative experience.
Reality, Art, and Illusion
Join Alan as he expresses the meaning of life through the Hindu-Buddhist idea of reality as a divine game of hide-and-seek. "Life is not ultimately serious," Watts argues. By embracing the fluidity of identity and recognizing our interconnectedness, we can creatively engage with existence as impermanent, unified, and filled with playful potential. Accessible yet philosophically rich, these decades-old lectures offer timeless insights on the nature of reality.
The Birth of a New Humanity
At the root of human conflict is our fundamental misunderstanding of who we are. The illusion that we are isolated beings, unconnected to the rest of the universe, has led us to view the “outside” world with hostility, and has fueled our misuse of technology and our violent and hostile subjugation of the natural world. In The Book, philosopher Alan Watts provides us with a much-needed answer to the problem of personal identity, distilling and adapting the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vedanta to help us understand that the self is in fact the root and ground of the universe. In this mind-opening and revelatory work, Watts has crafted a primer on what it means to be human—and a manual of initiation into the central mystery of existence.
The Primacy of Direct Experience
In this, the closing session of a June 1994 workshop, Terence McKenna tells us directly what he thinks this human life is actually about: the primacy of direct experience; a focus on the present-at-hand.
The Psychedelic Society
Terence's first presentation at Esalen—shocking, astounding, and amusing his audience with outlandish ideas.
The Rites of Spring
Terence McKenna theorizes that ingestion of psilocybin mushrooms catalyzed the emergence of human self-reflection. He argues that psilocybin enhanced visual acuity and symbol processing in early hominids, leading to the development of human consciousness. Psychedelic plants can accelerate cultural change by deconditioning rigid mindsets, according to McKenna. He envisions a future where machines have consciousness and visible language communicates meaning directly. Ultimately, McKenna foresees the impending transformation of humanity through imagination and connection with the mysterious Other. Delivered at the Ojai Foundation in California.
The Universe of Experience
Modern experience forces philosophy and social thought to confront the basic problems of value. Is this life worth caring about? How can we find a way between the deceit of fanatical belief and despair? In the view of Lancelot Law Whyte, the essential challenge to mankind today is an underlying nihilism promoting violence and frustrating sane policies on major social issues. Avoiding the seductive trap of utopianism, Whyte approaches this challenge by defining the terms of a potentially worldwide consensus of heart, mind, and will.
This Is It
Six revolutionary essays exploring the relationship between spiritual experience and ordinary life—and the need for them to coexist within each of us. With essays on “cosmic consciousness” (including Alan Watts’ account of his own ventures into this inward realm); the paradoxes of self-consciousness; LSD and consciousness; and the false opposition of spirit and matter, This Is It and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience is a truly mind-opening collection.
World as Play
Watts presents a core Eastern philosophy of the world as a dramatic illusion, and that it exists for no other reason except to be experienced in a playful manner.