00:00

Well, the parachute never looked more like a mushroom than it does right now. I couldn’t really see you all in the firelight last night, so this is like seeing you for the first time. Welcome. And I hope you feel free to interrupt what’s going on at any time and ask questions. Or if something needs clarification, please don’t hesitate. My hope for these kinds of retreats is that it will quickly become so interesting to everyone that the presentational form will transform itself into a dialogue among many people. It seems to me that’s when it happens best. And I don’t think people would be here if they didn’t have strong opinions and ideas about probably everything which is said. So, that’s the way the group mind is generated: by everyone opening up and expressing how they relate to these things that we’re going to discuss.

01:25

I guess the place to start is sort of with looking at the notion that the dawning paradigm of post-modern consciousness seems to be the growing awareness that we don’t know what is happening at all. That all of the models whose implications have been worked out over the past 500 years or so have come to a place where they are now recursive, and they no longer can be pushed forward as models of explanation. In other words, they are completed. And ontological analysis of how they work now shows us the limitations of their application to reality. They just simply is not more blood to be squeezed from the stone of science. There may be further discoveries, but further growth and understanding along those lines now seems unlikely—what with complementarity principle, Bell’s theorem, the primacy of language, and the formation of ontology. All these things show the relative power of science to account for reality, where before it was assumed that science would ultimately give a good account of reality.

02:55

So, postmodern living is living in the light of the fact that that faith has dissolved away, and that we’re now living in some kind of intellectual free space, or fire-free zone, where everything is up for grabs. And the 20th century’s fascination with the archaic—with shamanism, and breakdown of perception through modern art, exploration of the unconscious through psychoanalysis, mass political movements—all of these things relate to this fascination with the archaic, which is an effort on the part of the culture to stabilize itself because we really have—having seen the limitations of science, we have discovered we are in a small rowboat in a dark ocean, and we’re being swept we know not where. So all past tradition is searched: magical traditions, alchemical traditions, lost philosophical traditions, pre-literate tribal traditions. Everything is frantically searched for a key.

04:09

And while there are consoling perceptions that arise out of this search through all this other extended human knowledge, there haven’t yet emerged certain answers about what is going on. This is why several people last night referred to how weird the time is, how hopeful we are with so little reason on the surface to be hopeful. And it’s because the gelling-out of this historical problem is happening right now. And it’s not clear what it will become. Meetings like this are efforts to build an understanding of it. It doesn’t appear that it’s going to filter down through the transformation of institutions of control. It appears more like it’s going to be some kind of proletarian upwelling of a shift of point of view.

05:15

Now, the shorthand way of saying what I just said is that we now know that we don’t know anything. And things like the psychedelic experience and the use of psychedelic plants throws open doorways that science was able to successfully keep closed during its heyday, because they were areas where the number of variables exceeded science’s power of description and therefore they said, “Well we’ll just keep driving straight ahead, and we’ll go up those rivers later.” But now that is all changed, And the exploration of the existential dimension of not-knowingness—which psychedelics makes possible—is what is forming modern people, I think. I mean, people who will be seen to have led lives that were relevant fifty years from now, or a hundred years from now. People who had actually figured out the context of the world they were living in and tried to come to terms with it.

06:26

And this morning I think we want to talk about plants and how they relate to the planet. But before we do that I want to paint a picture for you of a mandala which, then, I will discuss later in other meetings. But my notion of what the post modern person’s mandalic projection o to the world should be in terms of a map of understanding is a quadrated circle in which psychedelics and feminism and cybernetics and space travel are the four parts of the circle. And in the center of the circle, looking backwards in time, there is a category that I would call conservation. Which means: conservation of the planet, conservation of traditional and historical knowledge, conservation of values, conservation in the sense of intelligence husbanding the planet.

07:41

And when the mandala is flipped over and you look through it into the future, conservation has been replaced by art. Art is the ultimate expression of this transformation of unorganized matter into ideas, which human beings carry on. And we carry it on in a technical mode out of necessity—but in the artistic mode out of a kind of upwelling of ecstatic self-expression about the universe. So conservation is the way we relate to the past. And human history is seen as an object of collective artifice-making in the future culminating in the notion of the flying-saucer.

08:40

To do this we have to completely redesign our understanding of reality, which in terms of practical experience will mean that reality itself will appear to be redesigned. And I touched on this just for a moment last night when I mentioned plants and said how admiring I was of them because they exist on sunlight, air, and earth, and that this is what we have to learn to do in order to release spirit out of the ape-matrix that we’re bound in. And strangely enough, the way this is to be done, apparently, is by a redefining of the nature of the biological world in relationship to this other kingdom of being which we call plants.

09:38

Plants represent some kind of entire other dimension of existence of which we view the topological manifestation of the form, but are completely occluded as to the network of energy and information that this represents. And like the zoological kingdom—which has thousands of forms of expression and progressively more complex forms which culminate in self-reflecting primates—the vegetable kingdom seems to have intelligent species and gradations of awareness in the world, so that we are opening a dialogue at the end of history with this other form in the biosphere which we are just beginning to cognize as our own understanding about what the world is really about falls into focus. And certainly, a hundred years ago no one would have thought that this was in the direct line of historical development of the high-tech civilizations, that they would have to explore the mind of the vegetable plant goddess who was the only force contending with them for control of the planet. That’s what it’s come down to. So, with that kind of idea in mind, the notion of plant and planet—which is a phrase of Anthony Huxley’s which is wonderful—Kat, maybe you would want to talk about this. Is this a good…?

11:22 Harrison

Yeah. I was thinking last night and this morning about plants particularly because of our talks that I anticipated. And back at the tent a little while ago I had a gnawing feeling that I was ignoring the animals too much. And then I arrived here and they all began to gnaw on me. I just got about fourteen ant bites just sitting here. You see me scratching on it, so I feel grounded again.

I don’t know about having a dialogue with the end of history through plants, actually. I don’t know about that. But I do think that they are this obviously great and ever-present mystery which we ingest all day long without thinking of those as plants, without thinking of them as sacred plants in the way that we do the sacred ones. Their chemistry, their input, is influencing us all the time. Whether we eat meat or not, we eat plenty of plants, and we breathe from them, and we soothe our nerves by seeing them and being near them, and we go out into places like this and see kinds we’ve never seen before, and marvel at how they can survive. They’re real models of graceful survival, aren’t they?

12:55

In the jungle—where we spent a fair bit of time—the competition (it seems) is for light, and for protein, I guess, for organic matter; the animals competing. Here it’s obviously for water. They have a kind of a deal. If you look around under the bushes you see wonderful wildflowers right now. The rains have just held on, the moisture has held on long enough that the short life cycle plants are going through their short, intense life cycle, and they often need to shade to do it. So you can see: we found something that we were sure was an African violet under a bush yesterday, you know? You can see wonderful things if you look carefully and don’t bother anybody else who might be under there.

13:43

The question I’ve been asking of myself recently, and of a few other people—now I have many of you to ask it. I hope I get some answers—is: how can a plant be a teacher? I asked this of someone the other day who was deeply involved in neurolinguistic programming. And he got way off on a tangent about what does this kind of question mean, you know? Just broke down every part and phrase. It was wonderful. We never got to anything like what he thought about the answer, but it does assume all sorts of things. You have to have an image of what you think of as a plant—which, although we have sort of language-verified easy answer, it doesn’t really touch on the reality. And then you, of course, have to think what you mean by “teacher.” Well, I know there’s at least one serious biologist in the group here, so I’m hesitant to define a plant.

14:50

I guess from my point of view as an observer, I’ve done botanical illustration and I really value the opportunity I had to learn to really look at them. And then, when you think you’ve really looked, look closer, you know? You can just keep on learning from them, just visually that way. But they are organisms like us that draw in all the elements—fire in the form of the sunlight, and water, and air, and earth—and go through this transformation of energy into something else in the same way that we do. This moment right now is when they are doing that most energetically for the year. They are taking that moisture in their—you can look at each one: the leaf tips are new and the tissue is soft and the colors are bright, as well as the blossoming and all that. They are also laying out the structure, as I understand it, for that growth to become more permanent, more woody—the perennials, anyway—so that next year, during the year they will fill that out, and next year they will come from that place. They’re doing this envisioning the future, what they’ll have to deal with, how to move to make their interface with it, and then how to reproduce. And their little messages are going into the seeds coming from the pollination of other plants. So it’s always—like with us: when you choose a mate, it’s your choice for how you’d like the future to be, right? My genes, your genes. Here it goes down the line.

16:47

Really, all I have about this is questions. I hope you don’t mind if I just throw questions up. And then, if anyone wants to say anything, please do. One thing I wonder is: we regard ourselves as such individuals. We don’t think of ourselves a species much. Terence talks about that a fair bit. But in our daily life we really identify ourselves as individuals; as some of us having more power, more clarity, more energy, more talent, whatever. We divide that way. With plants we tend to think of each plant on a species basis, you know? I wonder how much that’s true. Plants we’re familiar with—like ayahuasca, banisteriopsis capii in the South American jungle—if you want to make this visionary drink you go and find a member of that species. But different members have different potencies and different takes on the same kind of message. This gets to the teacher part.

18:03

A friend of ours, Eduardo Luna, interviewed a number of shamans in the jungle. They use this term “plant teacher” in Spanish as we’ve come to use it, too, and he asked them, “Do you think that all plants have a plant teacher in them, or do you think that some do?” And they were divided on this question. Some people think that only the sacred plants do, right? Other shamans said, “No, all plants do.” Just some of the spirits—they call them the mothers, the mother of the plant, or the spirit, or the teacher—“Some are stronger.” So that implies that every time we eat any plant we’re taking in that teacher. They mix these plants with ayahuasca, which already provides the vision. Then they take a new plant that they don’t know so well, or that they want some particular aspect of, and they mix it in with that, and take it, and feel that they are radiating what is that plant, what is the personality (whatever you want to call it) of that plant. And that they take on the qualities of that plant.

19:12

So I think the Indians in this area, as I understand, did that too with their plants. They wanted to take on the quality of… the peyote is a good one, you know? I mean, it lasts a very long time in a very subtle way, doing who knows what all that time when it’s not being eaten by something which is metabolizing the teacher in it. Is the teacher in it when it’s just sitting there all that time? Is it experiencing the visions that come into the animal organism that ingests it? I mean, I don’t know. I guess on the species and individual thing I wonder, as an adjunct that: you know, when you grow your own plants—anyone who gardens, you grow your own vegetables—how they taste different than vegetables that, obviously, at the store, the ones that have probably not been grown with even the same kind of physical care, but certainly not the same kind of attention.

20:13 McKenna

It’s the question, for me—or what always astonishes me about it—is: where does the information come from? I mean, the peyote plant, or the ayahuasca vine, or the mushroom growing there in the jungle or on the desert—how did it manage to tap in and become filled with a universe of alien Platonic beauty? Why is that there? All the rules of orthodox evolutionary theory conserve: only what is necessary is conserved. So it’s very hard to understand why a plant needs a library card at the intergalactic library, because it’s just sitting there in the desert of some planet, alive and living.

21:09 Harrison

But each plant is different, too. I mean, their library cards don’t take them to the same libraries, even. You know? Each one of these visionary plants provides something distinct. And sometimes you can see how it’s a cousin of that one, and sometimes you can’t see that they’re related at all.

21:23 McKenna

Well, isn’t it that mind is—somehow at the reflexive level—chemical? And that when you change the chemistry of the engine which is giving the pictures, the pictures change. Sometimes it seems almost like a biological radio that you tune into very strongly broadcasting stations, some of which are, you know, alien high-tech insectoid science-fiction places, others are jungle worlds, or things that you can’t even English.

22:03 Harrison

Giant human teachers. I met one. He was forty feet tall, you know? And he took me by the finger like a little child and let me through. What was that doing in the plant?

22:13 McKenna

Yeah. What is it for?

04:00 Audience

[???]

McKenna

Sure.

Harrison

Yes.

22:21 McKenna

When you take a longer slice, you realize that the existence of the individual is like an illusion, and that, really, the planet is involved in some kind of chemical process which is like a gene-swarming. And it’s been going on for a billion years with more and more—and animals and plants, as species and as individuals, are just aggregates of genes of varying degrees of permanence. The individual is a very impermanent aggregate of genes. The species has a slightly longer duration. But what’s really happening is: these information-transferring molecules are just swarming on the surface of the planet and controlling (as you mentioned) the weather, the chemistry of the soils, the rate of heat transfer. They’ve discovered now that plankton control weather in the oceans by controlling the surface reflectivity.

23:23

The question I think is the peculiar dualism in the world of information: why does it seem that reality is not reality? Why are there co-present—actually, two worlds are co-present in our experience. This is the taboo subject that we’re here to talk about: the weird fact that there are two worlds, one of which our culture doesn’t acknowledge but we all experience. That’s a very schizophrenic situation to be in. We all exist in both of these worlds, but our language, our culture, our institutions tell us: no, there’s only one world.

24:08

We have gotten into this lethal cul-de-sac where, by not acknowledging the second world, we have veered off on a tangent which threatens our extinction now. This obsession with control of world won: matter, energy, and the complete ignoring of the world of consciousness which stood in front of it and manipulated it, but just taking that as a given, has created this fantastically imbalanced culture.

24:42 Audience

I think that gets back to the plants as teachers, because since we do, as in your words, play with fire as human beings, perhaps the question you were asking as to the plants as being teachers—my feeling at the time was they’re in communication with us as we are in communication with them. We’re all transparent beings. You’re talking of gene swarming on the planet. There’s no safe in which we lock our own human knowledge. We’re transparent to all around us. And if you get into intelligent plants, which is what we were talking about earlier, perhaps… I mean, if you follow that logically out, why not have teachers as chemicals? That’s how they can manifest within this particular body and do use the library cards, as you said.

Aud. 2

They realize that we’re doers and shakers.

25:36 Audience

Well, I think there’s only one life on the planet, though. And to say that we’re separate from the plants, or from this, or from the air is a fallacy.

25:44 McKenna

So, that’s a great image: the growing transparency. That’s a good idea for what the end of history is. It’s that everything becomes clearer and clearer and clearer. And, as it becomes clearer, boundaries disintegrate and everything is seen to be of the same stuff.

26:07 Harrison

I think for much of the world—and still, for instance, in the Amazon and other cultures who are tuned into nature—it was very transparent for very, very long. Progress was the losing of that transparency and the forging ahead of certain parts of it, and almost to the point of either just eliminating to extinction, or to the extinction of memory, the lessons.

26:36

One day I was just—I think it was during bookkeeping or something very mundane—the little voice that interrupts every once in a while said, “A plant teacher is a teacher who has taken the form of a plant.” And then that raised all these questions for me, you know? Does that mean there are teachers floating around looking for places to land, right? And ways to interface with the other species? And, you know, I’ve always thought of rocks: big rocks, in many places in the world—you can just sit on them and you can just hear them, you know? And feel them. Really.

27:14 McKenna

I’m sure you know Rupert Sheldrake’s theory. Well, it’s basically the idea that things of like kind resonate together. And I’ve thought about this problem before: about LSD and where does it fit in to all of this? LSD is in the morning glories of central Mexico and the far Pacific. And I think that what makes a plant teacher complex is how many people it’s taken. And that a plant that has been used 100,00 years is filled with all of the contents of the minds of the people who took it over that time.

28:02

But I want to introduce the notion that life, the plants, and the animals are intrusions into three-dimensional space of some kind of topological manifold of a higher order. You see, the way in which a chair differs from a giraffe is that if you slice through the chair, and then come back and examine it twelve hours later, it will be the same. But the giraffe will have changed radically. This is because, by cutting into the giraffe, you have intruded into the temporal dimension of its existence. It is more like a musical note than an object. It must be born, grow, mature, and die. And that process—growth, maturity, and death—is how three-dimensional beings like ourselves describe the intrusion of these hyper-dimensional vortices into our world. That’s the mystery of life. Cannot be encompassed in three dimensions. Life is a hyper-dimensional object. All hyper-dimensional objects are organisms, whether they be societies or animals.

29:22

So the question of what is the plant—you know, when you ask yourself, “What am I?” What you immediately concentrate on is what philosophers call your internal horizon of transcendence: you look into yourself to understand yourself. When we try to describe a plant we inevitably give a topological mapping of it; how it appears to us: its uptake of minerals, its surface reflectivity, its weight. But the plant obviously experiences itself very differently. All life has an internal horizon of transcendence toward which it aims. Whitehead called it appetition: its inclusion of sensory data out of which it maps being. But what the nature of this higher dimension is that these vortices are intruding into our dimension from is absolutely anybody’s guess. I mean, you can call it a mathematical conundrum or a religious mystery, but it’s what’s making the world happen. It’s how the mystery of our being will eventually be shed one more level of veil to let us understand it.

30:44

You see, an organism is a chemical system which does not run down. The second law of thermodynamics says that the whole universe tends toward the dissipation of structure and the release of energy in heat, and then everything—all structure, all energy—is dissipated. But life has achieved the miracle—by being an open system and taking material into it, and extracting energy from it, and getting rid of waste—life has been able to leave the main stream of thermodynamic degradation and establish itself at an equilibrium point off that graph, and maintain itself there for (at least on this planet alone) four billion years. Now, the average life of a star in this galaxy is on the order of 2.5 billion years. Some last longer. But that means that biology is no epiphenomenon; no iridescence off the surface of matter, as the 19th century physicalists wanted to describe it. It means that life is indicative of a physics of higher dimensions which intrudes into this otherwise thermodynamically degrading system which we call the physical universe.

32:11

And information. There seems to be an informational ghost of this universe which is somehow co-present at all points within the matrix, perhaps à la Bell’s Theorem or something like that. And that’s what the psychedelic experience shows you. It shows you a hologrammatic space of information where, by sitting still in your room and sending the mind, you can cross the universe in an instant, you know, and return. And the question of “Is this real?” is in bad taste. It violates the two ontological categories, you see? I mean, it just isn’t done.

Audience

[???]

33:03 McKenna

You’re right. But the plants seem to be the things which shake us out of these cultural conventions. We have this very bad habit of… when we encounter a new experience we describe it, and as we describe it we erase its reality and replace it with a map. And forever after, when we encounter that input, we access the map and overlay it over the things: “Aha. I know what this is.” And so, by the time a child is five years old they have completely entered into a symbolic construct which hides the real world from them. And fortunately these plant teachers seem to have the unique ability of showing you the relativity of language—which for us is the relativity of being—and then you are freed because you have seen something incontrovertible. There’s no going back. And, you know, that is the great first gateway on the path: to realize the relativity of language and the malleability of the world.

Audience

[???]

34:25 McKenna

For instance, coming out into the desert is typical of people seeking visions. The first thing you have to do is leave the polis. Culture is this effort to hold back the mystery and replace it with a mythology which is then in the control of those who recite that mythology—whether they be shamans or priests. This holding back of reality is what Christian theologians call the Fall: our strange alienation from nature that causes us to crowd into cities and mint money and put a price on everything. And this is why it’s so important to go back to the Amazon, and Eastern Indonesia, and these places, and try and understand what spark it was that those people kept over the millennia while we became the prodigal son and wandered into matter, and hoard in the cities on the plain, and have now come full circle and returned at the end of history with the dilemma that we have made such a mess of things that there’s nothing we can do now but lay—

[Interruption]

35:41

—each stage is a greater distancing from the wellspring of being, and it’s brought us to the valley of dry bones, to the valley of the apocalypse. And now the fat is in the fire. Now we’ll find out what stuff man is made of as the chickens come home to roost. But—well, no! I’m very optimistic! I just—

Harrison

They’re metaphors!

36:15 McKenna

Is it my metaphors or my pessimism? Oh, the horrible metaphors! Yes, well… the rhetorical hyperbole unbridled!

Audience

I wanted to ask a question about this [???] because it interests me greatly. Do you think that there’s two worlds, or that there’s many, many worlds?

36:38 McKenna

Yes, well, I think you’re right. But there are different orders of different worlds. I mean, I guess it was the physicist Wheeler who thought that every time there was a choice the universe took both paths, and had always done this. So that the number and kinds of universes was, you know, staggering.

Audience

[???]

McKenna

Right.

Audience

—the reality is set?

37:05 McKenna

I find that cumbersome. But there certainly seem to be a number of universes, and there seem to be different kinds of universes. For instance, you can tune from channel to channel, but some of them you can’t make heads nor tails out of, you know? It’s just too far away from your conceptual schema for you to be—so it’s sort of like watching ideological mandalas or something. You can’t say much about it afterwards, but it certainly was compelling while it was going on. And, well, I don’t know, Robin. You’re such a skillful questioner, you’ve brought yourself to the doorway of my most recent mania. Maybe I should unburden myself briefly about it.

38:00

One of the weird things about growth, or trying to make your ideas always become new, is that you always assume you’re going to know what the next step is. That, even though you’re going to become more and more enlightened, there won’t be any surprises. And so, a few weeks ago I was meditating in my usual fashion, and I began to get this new idea which was so weird that I immediately shifted into, “Aha! This is not the truth. This is not a transmission about the nature of reality. This is a plot for a science-fiction novel that I should write.” And tried to hold that as the defense. That was my shield against the onslaught of this thing.

38:54

And I’ve never been one for Atlantis, or Lemuria, or all these invisible prehistoric lands and places that people enjoy so much, but I was told a very funny thing which I will share with you. It’s a funny idea. Now, let’s see… how does it go? It has two versions, one of which speaks a scientific language, the other speaks a mythological language. Okay, so the scientific language goes like this: there’s something in the universe called a fractal soliton of improbability. This means it’s a unicate event. It only happens once in the lifetime of a universe. You can think of it as a wavelength with one wave. That’s why its called a soliton. And these things move not in ordinary three-dimensional space, but in some kind of much higher spatial manifold. And when they collide with a planet, or when one collides with a planet in a universe, the time stream of that planet is divided and two copies of the entire planet spring into existence without either having any knowledge of it. It just is something which happens. So this voice was telling me that this had happened to the Earth, and that this was the secret that we were all striving to understand—was that an event in the past had actually divided our time stream, and that a twin of this planet had come into being in another dimension.

40:44

Okay, so that’s the scientific explanation of it. So the mythological explanation was that the universe is gnostic—that the creation of a demiurge; not the highest expression of divinity, but a kind of demon, a fallen creature. And that this demiurge was able to coax itself into being and actually incarnate into history as a human being. And that, when this happened, this was then the mythological expression of the fractal soliton of improbability. And when it happened the time stream split.

41:27 Harrison

The universe is the creation of the demiurge, and the demiurge impelled itself in in the form of an individual?

McKenna

Right. And this is, sort of—

Harrison

It waited a long time!

McKenna

When you’re a demiurge, who can hurry?

Harrison

Okay, go ahead.

41:45 McKenna

Okay. So, the time-splitting event had to do with the career of Christ, who was an extraordinary manifestation of energy in the historical time stream—not to be confused with a Buddha or a Mohammed or a Zoroaster, who were great saints. It was something else. It was—in some sense, what it claimed to be. But in some sense. Okay? So now, at the moment of—and you can choose either the immaculate conception or the resurrection, depending on which side of the bed you got up on today—but at that moment, the time stream split and this other place came into being without having any awareness. And they were identical at that moment; these two worlds.

42:39

Now, Christ had no children, so—oh, what I forgot to say was that the event, the fractal soliton of improbability, has this quantum mechanical half-charge so that in one of the universes it happens, in the other universe it doesn’t happen. And so everything about these two worlds was the same except that in one of them the immaculate conception had not taken place, or the resurrection had not taken place. Now, because Christ had no children, in the world in which he was absent it was not a genetic line which was missing, it was an ideological line which never received expression. And consequently, as time passed—first decades and then centuries—the absence of this particular intellectual influence in the world changed the world radically in the following way: Greek science did not suffer the suppression that occurred with the conversion of Constantine. The academies were not closed. The hermetic knowledge was not repressed. Conversely, the Empire was stronger and was able to repel the barbarian invasions of the second to the fifth century. And mathematics, which had halted in our world at Diaphantis, proceeded through his disciple Hypatia to develop a calculus by AD 370, so that the millennium of Christian stasis that occurred in our world did not occur in that world. And as time passed and engineering advances occurred, by around 850 they had ships which were able to cross the Atlantic ocean. And they encountered the Mayan civilization reaching its fullest flower in Guatemala and on the Yucatán peninsula. And, in fact, in this vision I saw the Roman Emperor Cosmodorus the Fifth make a pilgrimage to Tikal in 920 to be present at the coronation of a king at the end of Baktun 8.

45:05

Anyway, this Greco-Roman imperial culture immediately recognized the genius of the Mayans in mathematics and astronomy, and Europe was transformed into an amalgamation; a Greco-Mayan civilization with…. So, let me see. And this civilization continued to develop. Now, one of the influences which the Mayans brought into Europe around the year 950 was their extremely sophisticated psychopharmacopaeia and shamanism. And this mated with Neo-Platonism and Hermeticism, so that rather than science developing as it developed in our world, a kind of magical, psychopharmacolitic technology of thought and understanding was what was developed over the centuries. And then, in later centuries, centuries before it happened our world, they contacted the orient, and the dynastic influence of the Sung poured itself into the creation of the global civilization such that, by around 1200 AD, they were able to land on the moon and create a cybernetic global civilization similar to the kind we have now. They continued evolving with all this psychotronic and shamanically derived—and now, by this time, you can imagine it was an unbelievably exotic and alien civilization compared to our own. The fruits of their psychedelic and psychoanalytic investigations into higher space was the discovery of our world. They found out what had happened. They figured it out by studying dreams and by making deep journeys into the psychedelic space. They were able to discover our sleeping unconscious with its repository of the legacy of the Christian centuries under the reign of this demiurgic ideology. And they conceived of the notion of saving us.

47:30

And it has to do with this whole thing about the UFOs, and influencing dreams, and astral traveling, and the other side, is actually the manifestation of this bizarre Greco-Mayan, postmodern, starfaring civilization trying to reach across the dimensions to save us from the momentum of our history by making us aware of, first of all, their existence, and also their technology, which is evolving towards a point where, I think, around the Mayan millennium, around 2012, we will flow past the time island and the two time streams will be rejoined, and we will make peace with this civilization which is now a thousand years more advanced than us with this totally different cultural history and this completely different take on reality.

48:37

So, this came to me in the space of about 15 seconds, and more details have flowed in. I use it mostly as a meditational device because it’s so interesting ask to be told about how this other civilization developed its amazing exoticism, you know? Its Neo-Platonism, its Taoism, its Mayan influences melded into a completely different kind of civilization than the one that we inherited. I’ve always thought, you know, that Christianity—without making any judgment about Christ himself—that Christianity is hands down the single most reactionary force in all of human history. And where would we be had that 1,200 years not been given over to this peculiar meditation, you know? All the pieces were in place for the kind of civilization that I’ve outlined. It was just coincidence. Kat does not endorse this idea, or even encourage it!

50:01 Harrison

He only told it to me a couple of days ago in Apache Junction in a truck stop or something. And he didn’t tell me it’s the plot for a science fiction novel. He said this is the truth. And I said let’s get back to it being a good science fiction novel!

50:16 Audience

Well, the thing is that it would, on our level, explain perhaps the questions you were asking earlier of: why the teaching plants?

McKenna

Sure.

Harrison

Yeah.

50:26 Audience

Another thing I was curious—when you were talking—the physics of nowadays. It’s like if you have an electron on one side of the universe and split it into two and separate them by the universe, they’re still in communication with each other. So is that why, logically, you can bring the time island back together again?

50:41 McKenna

Yeah, this would be a quantum mechanical super-macrophysical Bell’s Theorem event. A kind of hyper-dimensional vacuum fluctuation where the two worlds spring apart, sail along for a period, and then parity is conserved and they’re rejoined.

50:58 Audience

Well, this is interesting. I’ve had dreams that are parallel, which you’re describing here. And its very interesting that you bring this up; I’ve not heard of it before. Another thing I was curious is, like, this takes place… this would be on a human experience level, what you’re speaking of. Now, the plant kingdom—would they remain in connection between the species?

McKenna

We’re free to have it any way we like.

51:33 Harrison

So how has Christianity possibly affected the evolution of plant species in this time stream, as opposed to the other? Have they gone on—

51:42 Audience

How does our lack of, say, 100,000 or a million species in the last 200 years—that the other planet has—how does that affect the parity between the two?

51:54 McKenna

You mean, how does our destruction and contort…? Well, the part of the myth that I didn’t tell you—which I will now tell you—was that, naturally… well, they were developing and exploring technical options many hundreds of years ago. And they discovered the theoretics for nuclear fusion and fission, but they never used it until a few hundred years later. One of their great theoreticians—this was after they had discovered our time stream—made the prediction that the physics of atomic explosions were such that they would cross the time stream, and so they performed an experiment by detonating an atomic device in what is our year 1907. And this was the Tunguska—

Harrison

Yes sir, can anyone guess?

52:50 McKenna

—the Tunguska event. And then, by monitoring the dreams of Siberian shaman which they had in clear focus, they saw: aha, this explosion which we set off actually did occur in both time streams. And at that point they became very interested in monitoring our time stream because they were picking up the dreams of a Swiss telegraph worker who seemed to be pushing toward an unimaginable conclusion. So now there is a certain amount of urgency, because if we explode our atomic stockpiles it will wreck the place that they call homeworld.

Audience

[???]

53:35 McKenna

Yes. Not self-preservation, because they now have starflight and encompass many systems, but preservation of homeworld, which on the other side is a vast botanical and ecological preserve from pole to pole. I mean, it’s a sacred site of pilgrimage, it’s the home of the species, it’s the Earth. And the notion that suddenly great parts of it will be blown apart by leakage from hyperspace of one of our atomic wars is impelling them now to attempt to open the doorway and rejoin the time stream. And we’ll be allowed a few years inside the botanical park to acclimate, and then most people will ship off for the stars, I imagine.

54:24

The British science fiction writer, Ian Watson, has a wonderful book called Chekov’s Journey, in which he talks about the Tunguska event. And his theory is that it was a catastrophic failure of a Soviet time-travel experiment conducted shortly after the turn of the next century.

Harrison

Tough one to prove, right?

54:50 McKenna

Obviously! Why didn’t I think of that! Well, I mean, I’m not sure. I’ve thought of that before. You know, it’s the claim of Christian theologians that Christ comes in the center of history. They speak this same language. Before Christ no souls were entering Heaven. He freed the valve, and now it’s possible to enter into heaven. Before his intercession that was impossible.

Audience

[???]

55:22 McKenna

You’re right, but that’s where I left them: was [???]. Before I had this idea I had another—which I’ll tell you—which was a completely different kind of idea, and it’s the idea that there is an overmind. (This doesn’t involve other dimensions.) There is an overmind copresent on this planet. And when the development of technology exceeds the development of ethics, then this overmind can work miracles. And because the overmind is plugged into each of the individual minds that compose it, this miracle always has this unbelievably creepy quality of being exactly the thing which would convince you to change your mind. In other words, it’s like it reads you so perfectly that it’s able to present the one situation which you cannot refuse.

56:27

So, in the case of Rome, it was that—you know, Rome was a pigsty. Pasterna called it a bargain basement on two floors. It ran on slavery and it ran on brutality and captive populations and on outrageous garrisoning of military power in foreign lands. And people like Diophantus, this mathematician I mentioned and hero of Alexandria, these people were on the brink of the calculus and the steam engine. So the overmind, seeing that and seeing their appalling ethical state, sent the miraculous personage of Christ who, in a world where information could not move faster than a horse’s gallop, this religion within sixty years was beating at the gates of Rome itself. It was like a fire, you know? Just burned through the empire, and changed everything, and halted technical advance. And everything stopped.

57:35

Now, I created this idea in an effort to explain the UFOs. Because the new theory of UFOs, or the new school of UFOs, says: we’ve been wrong to ask, “What are they?” That has not been fruitful. What we should be doing is asking, “What are they doing?” And we can analyze what they’re doing in the same way that we can analyze what anybody is doing: through sociological polling of human populations we can find out what the flying saucers are doing. So they polled human populations, and what they discovered is that what the flying saucers are doing is: they are sowing disbelief in science. They cause people to not believe in scientists, because scientists come up so lame when asked to explain flying saucers. It’s like—the flying saucer is a confounding of science in the same way that the resurrection was the complete confounding of Greek stoicism and democratean and materialism in the Roman world. And it’s conceivable that the flying saucer—the statistics are now something like eleven percent of the American population have seen a flying saucer, 52 percent believe flying saucers are real (whatever that means). And so forth. So it is a faith which is percolating up from the lower levels. It’s people who live in trailer courts and read Fate magazine who are the staunchest believers in this thing.

59:20

But what it may be is an intercession on the part of the overmind, which—it can do anything. It can do anything—from our point of view. In the most extreme version of this idea I said: what if enormous spacecraft were to fall into orbit around this planet? And what if television images of this craft were to be beamed into every home on the planet? And then a teaching revealed some completely mind-boggling thing, which you could have thought of it yourself but you never did, which is always how these things are. And then, after thirty days of melting the nuclear arsenals and causing all cancer to disappear and curing all infectious diseases and delivering this message, the enormous spacecraft disappears. Thirty days. So then everybody says, “My god, we have been abandoned! We have abandoned again into time.” And, you know, history would halt, everybody would do nothing but study the teachings of the saucer and try and figure out how we can get right with them, how we can figure out how to get them to come back. Dogmatism, theories of communication, priestcraft, the whole thing.

1:00:43

So, you see, though I am fascinated by the flying saucer and what it says about the malleability of mind and matter, I think mature civilizations should not be haunted by Messiahs or flying saucers. That these things are like metaphysical spankings imposed from on high that are saying—it’s a boot in the tail. Wake up! Stop repressing.

1:01:10 Harrison

Well, let’s take your two ideas—because neither one of them is that old—and what does the overmind have to do with or think of the double time stream?

McKenna

Now, that’s a question I never would have asked. You mean if that’s true? I sort of think of these as mutually exclusive.

Harrison

Well, it’s two theories. One was that the overmind was injecting forces of change or conservatism into the world, the other that events that came from—no, that was the demiurge. Is the demiurge related to the overmind?

McKenna

No, I think the demiurge is a negative expression of the overmind.

Harrison

That created the universe? How did the overmind get in there to run the… Earth, at least?

1:01:56 McKenna

Well, I think of the overmind as the logos, you know? It’s the understanding and self-existence which permeates everything. And the demiurge is the force of matter and time and cosmic destiny that is always trying to lock in the logos, and condition it, and make it subject to the rules of the physical universe of space and time. And the logos is like something from—this is all gnostic theology, by the way; this is just straight from the book—the logos is trying to struggle through the labyrinth of the material universe to escape, to rejoin the real source of itself which is outside of matter. Matter is viewed as an entrapment.

1:02:48

If any of you have read the late works of Philip K. Dick, he was probing in these areas. He was a genius. His book VALIS is pure exegesis of his internal unravelment of what was going on. And he believed—his take on it was: he believed that from AD 69 until 1948 no time had actually passed, and that we were living in apostolic time, and that the crucifixion lay only 75 years in the past, and that the demiurge had inserted a false history, and the Nag Hammadi manuscripts, he believed, were actually the logos as printed letters. And that, when the Nag Hammadi manuscripts were deciphered, it was like this informational creature would come alive and again be present on the Earth. That the logos, beginning in 1948, was beginning to infuse everything, and that shortly it would dissolve the illusion of the intervening 1,860 years, or whatever it was, and then we would realize that the prophecy would be fulfilled and that the last days were upon us.

Audience

[???]

McKenna

That’s right. That’s right. He didn’t get around to the Antichrist—to his credit, probably. You have to distinguish between Christ the person, the teacher, and this thing called the Christos, which is this archetype of such power and force that, immediately, people of ill intent could get lined up behind it and impose their will. Yeah sell love and sell forgiveness, and what a scam! And the Christos is the thing—history is ruled by the archetypes which people can generate. I mean, most people are very ordinary. I mean, your Mick Jaggers and your Henry Kissingers—they’re very ordinary people, but they are able to project an archetype, you know? And that is the thing which sets them apart. And when that reaches the kind of super intense focus that you get in a Mohammed or a Christ, well then you know history is just putty in the hands of the force. Not the person. The person is usually martyred in some horrible way. But the archetype draws energy to itself, and we don’t understand how this process works. If there ever is developed by benevolent or malevolent forces a science of social control, it will be a science of knowing how to project archetypes. Different archetypes apparently are suitable to different times. I mean you, can almost posit an astrological theory of archetypes, but it’s something about how: what’s appropriate for the 1st century AD is not appropriate for the 15th. But when the archetype is appropriate, nothing can stop it. The modern term for archetypes is paradigm. And we expect it not to be a person, not a messiah, but an idea which will save us all. And which, then, gives us certain affinities with mystical Judaism, where the Messiah was expected in the form of an idea. And this is sort of our faith. We’re messianic ideologues or something like that.

Audience

[???]

1:06:52 McKenna

Oh, I agree with you. I think ultimately dualisms have to be dissolved in the notion that there is one thing. That’s the Platonic faith. The problem is all these secondary and tertiary operational levels where, you know, we’re actually trying to operate in a universe of scarcity, in a body which requires energy and all these things. This is really the central problem in Western thinking, I think: the tension between dualism and unity, and matter and spirit, and how do you handle it? I think that we are spiritualizing matter. This is what technology is: that the spiritualizing of matter is the highest expression of our technological output, and that this will become more and more what we are about. So that, in the next century, the difference between mind and brain and cell and machine will all have been subsumed under a new vocabulary, because we are hardwiring our minds, and we are making the artifacts of our culture intelligent, and we are breaking down the barriers between ourselves, between ourselves and larger databases, and this kind of thing, so that the old “I’m an ego inside a skin” definition gives way to some kind of much more malleable and plastic thing.

Audience

As an astrologer, one of the images that I like is the symbol for Pisces, which is two lines and a line going through it. It’s the definition of relationship quality by opposition. It’s polarity, it’s right and wrong, good-bad, male-female, Russians-Americans. The Aquarian one, which is just two lines of waves over each other, is one of resonance. It’s one of dolphins jumping in the water together, it’s one of people coming together and realizing how I resonate with you and what I have to give you and what you have to give me. But you’ll have something to give me that other people can’t, and so on, and we need to swim together. And that breaks down all the of the dualistic bonds. And I think we’re right at the crux, right at the moment. That place between Pisces and Aquarius where we’re kind of two worlds again, flipping from one side to the other: of opposition, being torn from life and death. And seeing as the Christ, I feel, was that prototype, that template, of light and spirit and matter coming together and saying, “I can dance in this, and I can leave it, and I can come back into it. I have this power. It’s my conscious, compassionate love that is just so unbounded that it gives me the opportunity to play in clay, if I choose.”

1:09:44 McKenna

Much of what I say is Alfred North Whitehead; his philosophy. And believe me, if you’re looking around for a serious ontological foundation you don’t have to read Sanskrit. Alfred North Whitehead will serve very admirably: Science and the Modern World, Process and Reality. He was and remains the great psychedelic philosopher of the 20th century and the heir of Bergson.

You had another question?

Audience

Yeah. I’m going to be 84 in the year 2012, and I’m wondering how best to manage my life so that I’ll be ready for that concrescence.

1:10:33 McKenna

Well, I don’t know. I think that the canyons of the creode down which we as individuals are moving, those walls are getting higher and higher too. A lot of times when I had these intense contacts with the teaching entity I would have an anxiety about what should I do, what is it for me to do? And it always said, “Nothing. Relax.” Your function is to just—you’ll be present where you’re necessary. And this isn’t a fatalism, this is a kind of recognition of the dynamics of time that the thing is trying to teach, you see? It’s trying to say that, if you understand how process works, you will always understand where you are in any given process. And then you won’t have anxiety about not occupying some other point in that process, you know?

1:11:42

When I began having these ideas, the only way I could previously relate to the notion of the end of the world was that I had a head full of cartoons of bearded men in sandals carrying signs on street corners saying, “Repent! Repent!” And here was I—former Marxist, former this, former that—espousing these unimaginable things. But it’s always good to do your homework. And I discovered—there’s this wonderful book called Pursuit of the Millennium by Norman Cohn, in which he details the history of Millenarianism. That’s what this phenomenon is: the belief by a person or a group of people that the end of the world is about to occur. It existed among the Jews of the postexilic period, it’s part of the phenomenon, or it’s part of the social expectation that gave Christ his entré.

1:12:45

The early Patristic Christians lived in the imminent expectation of the end of the world. And then, during the Medieval period, the most utopian prophetistic Millenarian movement before Marxism was Floraism, or the people who followed the teachings of Joachim of Flora, who was a wandering monk who predicted the end of the world, I think, for 1244. And he died in 1222. But his followers carried on, and the Pope had to send out armies to quell uprisings as people wanted to distribute the wealth, because they felt the end of the world was upon them and why should anybody go to work. And, you know, this sort of thing. Similarly, in the year 1000 there was great expectation of Christ’s imminent return. So this is a thing which the human mind—at least in its Western expression—seems to seek to do. Islam, too, has its apocalypses.

Audience

[???]

1:14:00 McKenna

1967 wasn’t bad. I mean, I thought it was happening. I thought we were months away from a new secular order for the ages. But my theory of history views these things not as evidence against such a thing occurring, but as evidence that it will occur. That these uprisings and outbreaks of irrational expectations of the millennium are, in fact, temporal reflections. They are catching the light on the temporal prism from the object at the end of history contains the apocalyptic scenario. It’s very important to manage the apocalypse in the millennium. It’s very important that people not confuse the cleansing flames of transcendence with the ability to use thermonuclear weapons against your ideological enemies.

1:15:01

It’s a very delicate matter, because our mythologies and our fears run so deeply. But I think that it’s an awareness of this potential of existence of this law of temporal compression. And, of course, institutions don’t promote Millenarianism because institutions want people to invest their money at low interest and long term, and have the expectation that everything will carry on pretty much as it has. But an examination of the last five hundred or thousand years of human history would lead anyone, I think, to the conclusion that everything is going to be swept away, and everything that replaces it is going to be swept away, and that we are just moving into an era of change which might as well be called apocalyptic, and must be made Millenarian—otherwise it will just end in some kind of Götterdämmerung and the worst bogeymen of Western culture will emerge and destroy it.

Yeah?

Harrison

I know how the wave all comes together and accelerates towards this transition point. I never call it the end, because then the beginning of a new series of many muddled waves is there, right? I guess I believe in flux. So the whole process is one wave, and at that moment we begin another process. Sometimes you discuss that point of being the end of the universe, as you did a little while ago, and sometimes I feel like when everything is accelerated like it seems to have recently and you’re as close to a moment of transformation of some sort, as we seem to be, you see great strives forward being made and great slips backwards being made all at the same time, right? It seems possible that the transformation will be not so fantastically physical as the end of the universe, or turning inside out of the whatever this is. But actually just a sweep through worldwide peace of mind. What if that occurred, you know? And that’s large enough to qualify (it seems to me) for the changeover in the wave.

1:17:34 McKenna

Yeah. I think the hardest thing to know is the nature of what this ultimate compression is; what it means. Like, one way I imagine it—and that’s why I love to quote Joyce about man becomes dirigible. I imagine it as the day when your mind becomes your home, you know? And all over the world people just realize that now their mind is their home.

Yeah?

Harrison

You feel free to describe that as the end of history or the end of the universe?

1:18:14 McKenna

Not the end of the universe. The end of history—because I think history is some kind of involvement with matter. It’s a wrestling with the angel of matter. And the end of history is when you pin the angel of matter to the mat. And then you stand up and you say, “I am the ademic human being made of light,” and you leave the realm of matter and return to some previously hidden dimension. Whitehead called these things epochs—these long periods of time. And he called transition from one to the other a shift of epochs. Well, we’ve only been dong things like measuring the speed of light since 1910, or something like that. All the so-called constants of our physics are based on miniscule periods of actually monitoring these things to see if they are constants. And so I can imagine it as a shift in the laws of the universe that somehow cause consciousness to perceive itself more as it must truly be. And I’m always trying to find physical models for these transcendental hallucinations. And the one which fits this is: a few years ago, this Scandinavian astronomer, Hannes Alfvén, wrote a book called Worlds and Antiworlds, and in it he talked about what’s called a vacuum fluctuation. A vacuum fluctuation is where, suddenly, out of nothingness, there emerge a stream of particles. And they are equally particles and antiparticles. And they sail along for a period of time, and then they collide again, and each particle is destroyed by its antiparticle. And so what is called parity is conserved: meaning that, when you add up all the charges, positive and negative, you get zero. So it’s okay that this matter came from nothing and returned to nothing. This violates no laws as long as parity is conserved.

1:20:33

But the interesting thing about this phenomenon which is called a vacuum fluctuation is that there seems, in quantum mechanics, no rule which would limit the size of such a phenomenon as this. So it’s conceivable that our entire universe is an enormous vacuum fluctuation. And it’s just, you know, 1072 particles have emerged from nothingness and are hurtling through space, and in another parallel dimension the anti-universe (which is the twin of this universe) is also hurtling through space. And at some point in future time, completely unpredictable from the state given within each universe, the two will collide and parity will be conserved. And all particles and anti-particles will disappear.

1:21:29

However, the interesting thing is that photons—which is what light is composed of—do not have anti-particles. They are this one weird exception. So that when the universe collided with its anti-matter twin, what would be left would be a universe made only of photons. And those photons would be in the configuration they were in in the moment when the cosmic collapse of the state vector occurred. Well, we have no idea what the physics of a photonic universe would be about. A limiting case or a good first try would be that it is just nothing, and no life, no self-reflection. But why posit that? There’s such a persistence in the perennial philosophy of the notion that spiritual development is somehow related to light, and to the cultivation of inner light, and to the creation of light bodies, and the stabilizing of light.

1:22:33

So it’s possible to suggest that the world of the imagination is simply the world of internal light, that it’s a world where light is manipulated by thought in the way that, in this world, physical organism manipulates matter. You live in the radiant castles of the imagination after a shift of epochs in which the photonic mode predominated. That’s just one way of imagining it. It’s one of the richest meditations there is, to try to imagine the millennium. Again, it’s this thing—what would you have if you could have anything? Sometimes, I imagine it, Hieronymus Bosch’s great triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, where men and women of all races mingle among giant rends and strawberries and feed each other pomegranates under an autumnal sun in an endless rolling, park-like world of exotic vegetables and sexual excess. Hard stuff to beat!

1:23:52

You can really take a readout on yourself by seeing how would you like things to be. Sometimes my fantasy is: I would like to be alone on a starship 10,000 light years from home with all the books in the universe, and I would dress like captain Ahab, and I would stride around the catwalks inside this echoing starship. And faithful robot slaves would bring me crumbling volumes of ancient lore which I would say…. No, this is a little too Vincent Price. I love the—if any of you are into the science fiction of Cordwainer Smith, it’s really wonderful. And in one of his stories the starship is really George Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, in New York. And it’s all exactly like Mount Vernon in Washington’s time, except in the library of the big plantation house there’s one room from which the thing is controlled. And it’s actually a starship in mid-flight.

More questions about this time theory, or…?

Audience

Yes, I have a question. You mentioned here how the now is flooded with future perception. And I have—it’s really part of the Tibetan practices, but it’s always something which captures my imagination. Just how come it’s now, now? And the fact that these future perceptions are so tremendously tangible to us, especially while sitting in meditation, while eating a meal, even, or something. And how come it’s not yesterday? And how come it’s not tomorrow? And how come I’m here now when I just have to flick my mind and I’m in yesterday, and equally easy in tomorrow. I wonder if you have anything to say on that?

1:25:53 McKenna

Well, I think that life precedes through time. It’s an effort by organism to map something one dimension larger than itself. So it takes a whole life to do it. A life is an effort to map a something, you know? And the now is the moving edge of the mapping process. You cannot map it instantly, or you would be it. And so what being in time is, is experiencing the incremental mapping of this higher-order object. And that’s why, hopefully, a long life would give wisdom: because a person would begin to get the whole picture.

Audience

So the now is kind of like the edge of the pencil as it [???]?

1:26:48 McKenna

Yes. Well, what did Plato say? That the present is the moving image of eternity. That’s pure, good Platonism.

Audience

[???] projection, like our shadows in two dimensions.

1:27:00 McKenna

Well, you can think of the now as a kind of laser which is moving over a larger surface and illuminating it, you know? Scanning it. It’s scanning something, and it takes it a while to scan it. And then, at the end, all the data is in place and you say, “Oh yes. I see now what the object of cognition was.” And our faith is—and there’s no reason to doubt it—that this is a great transcendent experience. This is the peace that passeth understanding as you sink into death. It’s just that we like to think that the psychedelic experience gives us a preview. No one escapes the final realization. It’s just that some people do postpone it to their last act. But there’s no reason for that, because it is the mystery, the culmination, it is the date palm and the wellspring.

Audience

I’d like to—I’m always interested in pursuing things from the Mayan [???], and I’d like to ask about how this theory of time relates to the individual. Somewhat related to BJ’s question. There’s some sense I have that, in their techniques—and certainly you’ve experienced this, and other people have experienced this with the mushroom at high doses—of traveling through time and actually seeing the future or seeing the past. And I was wondering if you could say more about that, and some framework for understanding how that is possible.

1:28:46 McKenna

Yes. Well, I think psilocybin seems to be the great teacher of history. And part of its teaching is history. It views a person without a history as a person with amnesia, a person with a diminished capacity. Because your history gives you your power of your convictions. The way I use the wave—or the way I’ve been using it recently—is I’ve been trying to study the time immediately ahead of us so we don’t misjudge what’s going on. And, you know, it’s a mathematical process. There’s no indeterminacy about it if we anchor the whole wave system on 2012. And what I see from that anchorage point is: in the 67-year cycle from 1945 to 2012 we have reached that point which resonates with the larger 4,306-year cycle at that point which corresponds to the collapse of the Roman empire around 475 AD. In other words, we have been through a period of imperialist expansionism which has lasted for a number of years, certainly since the beginning of the eighties. But I see a retrenchment of that and a recidivist tendency, a tendency towards religious fundamentalism, rigid social structures and, in short, the sorts of things which could be seen as valid resonance patterns to the early Medieval phase of European civilization.

1:30:44

The period from AD 474—let’s, for shorthand, call it 500 AD—the period from 500 AD to 1500 AD, in other words, until the discovery of the new world by Columbus, that 1,000-year period is the resonance that we are going to experience from now to the late nineties. Around 1998 we will reach the beginning of the Renaissance and the discovery of the new world. But we are going to have to endure a period not entirely to our liking. We represent the pagan Hellenistic spirit which has held full sway within the empire for the past 25 years. And we may feel constricted now, but I think that our ideas and our position in society has further constriction to undergo before it reflowers downstream a bit.

1:31:57

So when I first realized that, I felt very pessimistic. But then I asked myself, “Well, what aspects of Medieval life could I groove? What aspects of that Medieval eschatology were solitary to my needs and wishes?” And I discovered it was an age of great mystical faith and illumination, it was an age of communities of like-minded peoples seeking transformation far from the turbulence of the collapse of the empire. So my theory leads me away from those people in the New Age who think we’re about to be catapulted into the corridors of power. I think that’s preposterous. And the evidence for it: zero.

1:32:56

I think better we should tend our gardens and form brotherhoods and sisterhoods of affinity, and realize that the task of transformation is one of a lifetime—our lifetimes, you know? And every time someone like Dick Price or Tony Lilly moves from the wheel I always wonder: how did it feel to know it wasn’t finished? To go with it undone?

Audience

[???]

1:33:34 McKenna

Oh yes. I have no doubt that, when the saucer comes, that Tony or Dick will be in control. One of them. We have—what is it Bob Dylan says in his song?—Ezra Pound and T.S Eliot fighting in the captain’s tower? But yes. So, I don’t know if that answers your question, but I wanted to get it in because the real meat for most people for this idea about time is not the mathematics of it and the symmetry of it. That’s only pleasing to a certain mentality. But really, what does it tell us about the years immediately ahead? What it says is: consolidation, illumination, community, and self-discipline.

Audience

I can always say thanks a thousand times that we don’t have to go through it for a thousand years, and only for like fifteen years. This acceleration seems to me to be very, very convenient. Imagine if we were born in 500 AD and we had to look forward to that.

1:34:43 McKenna

Yes. Well, that’s why I say, you know: imagine the people who lived in times when the temporal river was stagnant, or even when counter-currents swept it backwards. This is the anguish of the ancestors. This is the sacred trust that must not be betrayed. The pogroms and the invasions and the atrocities conducted across history can only be somehow redeemed if we—who are the living wavefront of this genetic experience—do not fumble the ball. All our ancestors are watching to see how we will do.

Kat?

Harrison

I would like to address [???] question. It seems like you were asking on a more mechanical… how did this happen?

Audience

Well, yeah. How can it be that the Mayans or we on psychedelics can travel through time and see these things?

1:35:45 Harrison

My image for it that explains that phenomenon to me—and I’ve had the same experience, past and future—is… well, Terence was just referring to the temporal river. It’s that it’s a river which flows two ways, from the past to the future and from the future to the past. And if you put yourself out in the middle of it, let go of control, let go of fear, and maybe you want to choose your orientation, or maybe you don’t. You can just find out where you float or you can sort of face the past or face the future and just float there. I mean, this is not a physicist’s explanation of how this happens, but it seems to work that way, you know? And we think, perhaps, far too much of the past creating the future. And that we should think more (and perhaps other people have) of how it’s flowing the other way. And this is how some so-called primitive people have managed to conserve the very simple, effective beauty of their lifestyle. And that real strong feeling that every moment is now, because they’re thinking of it simultaneously.

Audience

I think of that, and that also sets my mind off. You know, that’s kind of like the river is flowing both ways, and if you take a step to the side somehow that you’ll catch the current from the future. That’s appealing, but I always play with these metaphors and maybe I’m literalizing too much. Is it possible to step out of that stream in some way and then, looking above, sort of choose where you are going to descend into it? Or another image that came to mind is: are there somehow holes in the fabric of time that you can shoot through, sort of like in 2001 the stargate opening up, and there’s this hole in between. And where you emerge is not the other side of it, but some place completely different.

1:37:52 McKenna

If you take the wave seriously and apply it on these short scales of time, you know, you can find your way into—yes—unique configurations of the moment. It’s like astrology in that way. Often the content of a psychedelic experience can be later seen to be because of the situation of historical resonance that you weren’t perhaps even aware of at the time.

1:38:25 Harrison

Or if there are parallel worlds, one or many, which ones happen to be adjacent in that moment as the cosmic weather comes. You know, sometimes I’ve taken the mushroom just to say like a weather person would say: I just want to see what’s happening out there right now. Not with a will. You know, you can find that it’s about knitting in your rocking chair, you can find that you are just in some landscape that you couldn’t have conceived of before.

1:38:57 McKenna

The essence of Tao is the correct apperception of process. That’s what Taoism is: to understand processes is to be Taoist. And I think that this is almost a formal rendering of the notion of Tao, almost an effort to create a mathematics, an algebra of the Tao. And as long as it’s true to the notions which Taosim conserves—which is of flow, and determinacy within indeterminacy—it serves. This is what understanding time is: is to understand process, but to understand it so well that it’s like a sense for you. It’s like seeing. This is the kind of seeing that is very important. To see into time. It’s what history and culture have experimented with. But it’s what we now, by identifying that as what is going on, can accelerate much faster.

Anything else?

Audience

I was picking up on a conversation with Michael this morning. Maybe you could talk more about the Other.

1:40:13 McKenna

Oh, the Other. Well, I’m not sure exactly what he meant by talking about the Other. I mean, the Other is just a way of thinking about all of these things that we name spirit, God, demon, void. It’s that there just necessarily is a place off our map. Whenever you have a map it implies the part that is not on the map. And the Other, the truly other, it lies outside the domain of language. It’s like the unspeakable. All you can do is point at it, you know?And the gnostic idea of God was that it was totally other, that there was nothing in this universe that gave any clue whatsoever as to the nature of God. That that was its essence: was to be completely other.

1:41:15

But, you know, the o Other trickles through and reverberates in our lives in all kinds of dimensions. The first other that you meet is the world. And a later point in your development, your attachment to another human being can become a confrontation with the other. So it’s just a way of shorthand signifying, right? The dimension that carries you beyond yourself into the things that you previously couldn’t expect or imagine.

Audience

[???]

1:41:54 McKenna

Yeah, that’s one notion of it. Or Wittgenstein’s Unspeakable. Or, you know, I’m fond of quoting this poem by Trumbull Stickney where he says, “I lean over your meaning’s edge and feel the dizziness of the things you have not said.” That’s the Other: it’s the dizziness of the things unsaid, the things that lay beyond the edge of meaning.

Audience

Part of the question has to do with specifically in the mushroom experience in high doses, this sense of alien intelligence or other. Because I think that it’s like you said: I think that it’s some of our conceptions of God, many psychedelic experiences, at least with LSD or light doses that I am connected to that, I am part of that thing. But somehow on the tryptamine side it’s this alien intelligence. I mean, what do you make of that?

1:43:02 McKenna

Well, I don’t know what quite to make of that. LSD is self-reflective and integrative, I think. These tryptamines seem to be informational and largely unconcerned with the impact that the information they carry has on the perceiver. I don’t know. I think it just must have to do with the fact that the universe is not all smoothed out and filled in, and that this is really an area of personal exploration where you can penetrate into an area—a terra incognito: a place where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We’re not used to that experience. We expect to have maps of everything we look at and everywhere we go. And it is strange that in this one area we don’t, that apparently our taboo against looking at the unconscious or delving into the mind has made us content to just fence off this area.

1:44:15

Well, then, if you climb over the fence and start wandering around out there, you don’t know what you’re going to find because the culture has carefully engineered itself to go around all of this stuff. Even, I think, shamanism is largely concerned with gaining power to protect yourself from the onslaught of the Other. You know, they’re very concerned to hold stuff back, they don’t really have this “let’s hurl ourselves into it” attitude that we have.

1:44:49

We found—in the Amazon we were looking for this one plant which had DMT in it, and the ayahuascera that we were working with, I kept leading the questioning back to the matter of this one plant. And first he said that it was comida del perro: food for dogs, which seemed like maybe a put-down of some sort. So then he went back over it again and he said, well, it’s mal en bizarro: it’s too strange! So this was a man whose whole life was about taking ayahuasca and triggering hallucination, but he felt that, to go into that plant, it was too weird. And you often have the feeling with those people that they involve themselves in the psychedelic effect like a dancer: almost as little as possible to get the job done, you know? They don’t…

1:45:54 Harrison

I don’t think that of [???]. I think that—

McKenna

Well, in that one case he certainly was…

Harrison

Yes [???]. He did also seem to hold the mushroom in the sort of [???] category, but he would use it on his own. He would only administer to others ayahuasca or certain things that he felt very familiar with. But then that was Saturday night. Wednesday nights he would do things on his own and of his work. And he would try out some of these other plants or combinations. But I think he was pretty intrepid, actually. He did have boundaries.

1:46:31 McKenna

In 1983, or whenever it was that I was down there last, we were dealing with a different group of shamans on the upper Apeyaku, and it was to get this orally active DMT thing that was made from tree resin. And we had pure chemical DMT as a trade item—or, we weren’t sure why, but just in case we needed it.

Harrison

[???]

1:46:59 McKenna

Exactly. And so, talking to the shaman that could make the verolla paste stuff—we said this, and he said, “Oh, you have the essencia!” You have the essence. And he said, “So what is that like?” We said, “Well, you don’t take it orally, you don’t take it by mouth. You smoke it.” He said, “Oh, what happens?” And so he described a typical DMT trip to him and then said, “Would you like to try it?” He said, “No, thank you.” So they’re not thrill-crazy by any means.

Audience

I’m reminded of him in the greatest Castenada books. He goes into what he calls the old seers and the new seers. And the old seers—maybe you’re more aligned with them; I don’t know—but they would be willing to explore any territory. And they made a division between the known and the unknown. It was the new seers who came up with a third category of the unknowable. In other words, there’s this reality, which is the known, and then there’s the other realities you go to, which are the unknown. It’s like maybe the ayahuascero takes you to the unknown. But this other realm, where they don’t go, they would probably call the unknowable because the impact it has on you to go in there would be dangerous.

Aud. 2

From the place of the unknown they could glimpse very briefly the unknowable, right? And it was usually a pretty shattering experience.

Aud. 3

[???] great emphasis on being able to distinguish the difference between the unknown and the unknowable. Whenever one made an error in judgment, it wasn’t that dangerous to condense the unknowable, but you had to recognize it as unknowable. Because whatever one did, it invariably led to disaster. Of course, that’s Castaneda’s temper.

1:49:09 McKenna

Well, that’s interesting. It makes me think of—I mention Wittgenstein’s unspeakable. There is, I think, the unspeakable and the unspoken. And all these esoteric and initiatory religious numbers are trading in the unspoken, you know? You come to them and they will whisper in your ear the previously unspoken teaching. They will give you an oral empowerment. But beyond that lies the unspeakable which no teacher can orally impart, or impart any other way, because it lies outside the bounds of transmissibility by its nature.

Audience

[???]

1:49:58 McKenna

To some degree, I would think so. And that’s the thing which, then, you validate. You can only validate it for itself; in itself for itself. It is the private object of being. It is not something which I can tell you about or you can tell me about. It’s the private mystery that is ontologically private because it’s unspeakable.

1:50:28 Harrison

I don’t think that what we call the unspeakable is the same as the unknowable. I think that all of us who have pursued these dimensions have many experiences that it’s very hard to talk about, or when you talk about them it sounds silly compared to what you experienced, right? It’s on of the challenges of having this kind of group discussion, or these kinds of workshops: is to try to talk about that. But there is, I think, a big area that just doesn’t language, don’t you think? The ineffable is how I think of it; another word for it.

1:51:02 McKenna

Well, and you can sort of chip away at it. The whole progress of human development is maybe slowly eroding the unspeakable and turning it into the spoken.

Audience

In a way that is the process of everything from the very beginning to the very end. We, as human beings on the planet, are just somewhere in the middle of this process of the unknowable becoming the known. Tying back a little bit to your whole thing with time yesterday: you said the physicists are interested in the first, second, or parts thereof, and whereas you’re interested in its final or coming-up moments or years as things speed up. What the physicists are looking at is basically the physics of it, the form, whatever. What you’re looking at it the ideas which are coming into being more and more. End of time is more and more recognition, so it’s really like spirit, or mind, or knowing which is accelerating. So it’s like the opposite end. One is matter coming into form at the beginning, and then at the end is the knowing of all of this coming to a point. An ant, or whatever lower level of consciousness on different levels—or, say, a cell, an amoeba—they have their thing. And then there’s the unknowable, which is what we are acting in. Even inside of our bodies, the blood cells: can they know of our world of communications and symbols and knowledge such as we are on this unknowable (which is really a greater universe; a higher level) which is known by a higher way of being. So it’s like each end—whatever; the matter here and the mind coming into it—this point comes shortly. This 2012 is significant in that it’s possibly the opposite end of knowing becoming complete, like life becoming completely aware of all life in and of itself. But is that the end of everything? It seems that its just a point, like a mid-swing of a pendulum.

1:53:23 McKenna

Yes, well, then some other process having to do with the career of spirit instead of matter is initiated.

Audience

And whether it’s the end of everything is a rather human way of approaching it.

Aud. 2

Or it’s a complete end of one way of being.

Audience

Of us as a species, as a life development.

Aud. 2

It’s not just humans. It’s all of life.

Audience

All of the Earth life energy. If that life energy goes through a great metamorphosis it’s rather meaningless to say what happens to the rest of the universe, since the rest of the universe, right now, is a concept in our minds.

Aud. 2

Right. Well, that’s the metaphysic quality of it.

1:54:07 McKenna

But to say what’s never been said, to do what’s never been done, to paint what’s never been painted, to dance what’s never been danced—this is… somehow you’re acting for everybody when you do that. It’s an amazing thing to do what’s never been done. It means once you’ve done it, it’s been done!

Audience

Pushing the limits out [???] the fence, like a fence, going out bigger and bigger. And all these great minds that go out there and fence off a big area for all of humanity to run around in this area of being and knowing. And it’s this whole process of—

1:54:45 McKenna

It’s what aeronautical engineers call stretching the envelope. When you fly a fighter plane you have the predicted engineering performance characteristics, but once you validate that it can do that, then it’s up to the pilot to stretch the envelope, to find out what it can really do: how fast it can turn, how fast it can climb. And that’s what we as creative artists do for the human enterprise. And the lacking ingredient is courage, I think.

1:55:23

Often I have the feeling that it’s no longer—at least in my own life—about seeking the answer, its about facing it. It isn’t about: is it yoga? Is it Taoism? Is it this? Is it that? I think that now I know (at least for me) what it is, but the answer is so appalling and requires such courage to execute it and carry it through that I don’t know what to do. I have no doubt that we could all become the Taoist hermit on cold mountain, you know? And be that person of whom people in the valley say, “Oh, him! We see him sometimes when it snows very deeply, because he comes further down for wood. He comes and goes in the mist and never talks to anybody.” We could all become that person. There are no barriers to ultimate spiritual attainment—but what about your mortgage? And your lover? And your devotion to French chocolate? And all of these things. That’s tricky. That’s very, very tricky.

Audience

[???] strange plants, because it really all washes out. Maybe just for an hour of peeking, but it really puts all of that in perspective.

1:57:03 McKenna

But, for instance—like, the matter of the flying saucer. I have no doubt that if you took ten people selected from this group, and trekked days east of Death Valley and stayed up all night, and then everybody took eight dried grams of mushrooms and hooped and hollered and waited, that something would happen that would be so appalling and so destructive to our preconceptions of what’s possible in this universe that you just come out of it pointing into the desert and saying, “Mmmm! Mmmmm!! Mmmmmm!!!”

1:57:49

I’m careful. I don’t doubt that appalling, appalling, appalling things can happen, and that reality can be completely pulled to pieces. And I don’t know what that means, but I want to really try and deal with that on my terms. And that’s a kind of fear, you know? It’s a kind of holding back. That’s why—I know people who seem to me superhumanly reckless. I mean, they tell me the thing they do and I just shake my head, you know? Because of the power, of the vistas, of the energies that they must have laid their hands on. It’s too much for me. I am a simple scholar and bookish collector type. I’m like Brother John, here. We like our home and hearth.

1:59:01

But that’s the challenge, you see? That’s the weird thing about the psychedelics. It is a path, but in a sense it’s the end of the path. And then what do you do? Now it’s up to you. It’s no more about, you know: the guru says, “In five years you’ll make progress,” or if you just keep eating this spirulina, or fiddling with your crystals or something. It’s that: no, you’ve arrived! Now what do you do with it? Do you really want to be a wandering figure at the edge of civilization, glimpsed occasionally in your tattered cloak with your wild ravings?

1:59:40 Harrison

Well, that’s not the only option. Nick and I were talking this morning about envisioning something, and how these plants help you to generate a vision of something real that you want to create or organize in the world. And then they help you to have the discipline and dedication to carry them out in the real day-to-day telephone calls, how-do-I-get-the-money-for-it kind of way. And that, I think, is a real strength that all of us have, and that it’s one of the responsibilities of being granted the visions is to make the visions then as real as you can.

2:00:30

We do have our bodies here on Earth for some time to come. We do have pleasure, of course—which we should all indulge in—but we also have responsibility to make it as much like (even if it’s a small step) as much like as that fantastic thing we can see in our visions. And I think that it gives you the object, and then it helps you move toward it. And we need to do that work and keep refreshing our vision if it gets weak, or we start to give up on it, or if we need to shift directions slightly.

Audience

Let me go back to astrology, and Saturn drawing a ring around the vision. And then Saturn’s stairway, envisioning the steps that it takes to get there. And how you can’t jump 40 steps up without losing part of the foundation. As an artist myself, I’m finally getting to a place of patience and realizing that the slower it goes, the better it gets. And the statement that I like: If I only had more time, I’d use less words to write. It’s like choosing things carefully, and allowing the process. For years I was just like “I gotta get this out!” But not anymore. Now I’m really seeing that slow, patient steps create a foundation strong enough to, someday—even if its not in this lifetime—to manifest that dream.

2:01:52 Harrison

If you use the quality of your daily life as your currency for how you’re proceeding towards something, then you know. If the quality of your daily life is good, deep, satisfying, and you have a goal, you’re probably on the right path, right? If you’re saying, “God, it’s just going to be hell for three years until I can get this project together,” you maybe should think about it again.

Audience

I see that process reflected on a greater scale than just the evolution of life itself, and that if life were to very quickly achieve the knowing pure spirituality, then what good is it? And that’s, like, through humans, and through all of our history and time. And so even this coming moment, 2012—that might just be this reflection of another even more ultimate, and it most likely is. And it’s just that reflection, and it’s really this endlessly drawn-out, patient process which is taking its time as long as possible, so that every aspect will work into place. Or whatever. So it’s just…

2:02:51 McKenna

Well, this quality of daily life thing is an interesting point, because I think it was yesterday or two days ago we meditated or thought about what would you do if you could do anything, and how you imagine… or if a genie were to suddenly tell you you had not three wishes but thousands, and you would begin to dabble in fulfillment. And then, of course, all the trivial and superficial things I mentioned—palaces and Ferraris and all this. But then things like: that you could move anywhere instantly. How would you choose to travel if you could move anywhere instantly? And things like that.

2:03:49

At La Chorrera these possibilities were so real to us that we actually grappled with it sufficiently to see how it would develop. And how it develops is: you discover that, if you can do anything, the only values which have any meaning —if you can do anything and have anything—are aesthetic values. So that if you could travel anywhere instantly, how would you travel? You would walk! Obviously! You know? Because it’s so tasteful. Because it’s so completing. It’s such a complete reverence for space and time and your own body and the correctness of the situation. Time and time at La Chorrera someone would be doing something some way, and someone else would say, “Well, if you’re omniscient, why don’t you just make it be done?” And the answer is: because it’s crass to do that. You know? The way to do things, if you can do anything, is to do them right.

Audience

That’s Zen. Zen cooking is like that.

2:05:09 McKenna

I guess. But that realization of the total richness and correctness of the moment is: that’s the correct interpretation of the attainment of these siddhis. Things would go on at La Chorrera as—an example of how the Tao works, like: I would walk out into the jungle and there would be butterflies circling. And I would hold out my hand and speak to the butterflies with my mind and invite them to come down and land on my hand and display themselves. And the butterflies would do this. They would come and land in my open hand and turn, and strut, and show me all facets of themselves. And this would go on for, like, two or three minutes, where I would experience gratitude, reverence, delight—and then this other emotion: the need to show somebody else what I could do. And so then I would walk back to the camp. And smiling with a bizarre inward smile I would select one of my camp mates and ask them to walk out into the jungle with me. And then, to their horror, I would stand underneath this tree and gesture and ask for the butterflies to come down and land in my hand, and people would just turn away in a mixture of horror and embarrassment that anyone could be such a jackass, first of all, and that anyone could be so mentally deranged as to operate like that. And, of course, the butterflies would have nothing to do with me and I would just be left sputtering, you know? And it happened many times. Oh, many times! It was not only the butterflies. It was that, as long as I had no ego, I could work magic. But it was magic that was the necessary magic. It absolutely had no use other than to make my life a more perfect work of art.

2:07:42

As an example, we had a pot in which we cooked avena—oatmeal—every morning. It was our magic pot. And the scrubbing out of this pot was a major pain in the neck and was consequently a rotating camp duty. So in the height of this it became my turn to scrub this pot. And I went down to the little spring where the sand was, and squatted down by the water, and I picked up the sand and I rubbed it onto the pot to get ready to scrub it. And then I looked and the black stuff was just flaking off, it was like easy-off or something. And I just took the pot, holding it by its two little protrusions, and immersed it in the spring, like this, and looked, and all the black stuff was just flaking off and crudding off. And I was just amazed! The magical scouring agent. So then I went back to the camp and got my most severe critic. And again, smiling with inward benign-ness, I led them down to the river and said, “I’m going to teach you how to wash a pot.” The Zen master, you see. So we squat across from each other by the spring, and I pick up the sand and I put it on, and she says, “So I’m supposed to know that sand can wash a pot?” I say “No, look.” And again it failed me. You know? By then I was getting the message, and I stopped.

2:09:30

And there was one other instance, which was very puzzling because I actually saw another person go into it, too. And it had to do with this prophecy which my brother had made. One of the motifs which circled in his mindspace during this period was what he called “the good shit.” And this was—he had claimed, imagined—that, at some time in the past, he had gotten a sample of Afghani hash that had had cow manure very, very carefully worked into it, and then the hash had been infected with the psilocybin mycelium, and all of the cow manure had been converted into psilocybin, so that he had this psilocybinated hash. And he had this notion that he would invent a musical instrument—like an electric guitar—which, when you played it, it would cause this stuff to condense out of the air and rain down on great crowds of people.

2:10:40

So anyway, there was this thing about the good shit. And one night he announced that the good shit would appear at a certain time. And so then I went back to my hammock in this hut in the jungle. And the woman who was with me came as well. And we had no watches, but he had said that at 11 pm the good shit would appear. So I was settling down to roll my evening joint, and it was this Colombian weed that we had brought in with us. And as I lit the joint, this little thing fell out of the end of it on the floor, burning. And I picked it up and I smelled it, and it was unbelievable hashish. I mean, hashish to die for. I put it in the pipe and I smoked it, and I said to this woman, “Smoke this,” and she agreed that it was astonishing!

Audience

No major critic.

2:11:54 McKenna

No, not my major critic. My major critic was back at the river.

So then I looked, and I opened this baggy with this stuff, and started smoking it. And it didn’t change its physical appearance. It still looked like this Santa Marta gold. But the odor and everything was just the finest hash I’ve ever smoked. So I thought that the millennium had come; that, forever after, we would all trash—yes, the end of the world, as when all trash is Mazār-i-Sharīf hash. When trash becomes hash. But at the crack of dawn the next morning I went tearing down to my harshest critic, and knelt beside her hammock and woke her up and said, “You’ve got to smoke this!” And, of course, you know, garbage was back! So I don’t know why I got off into this. I guess it was the “life is art” thing, and this thing about what would you do if you could do anything.

2:13:01 Harrison

You should just enhance that. The myth, isn’t it from New Guinea? About the good ship? Do you remember that one, where they generated…?

2:13:10 McKenna

You mean the thing about the resin, where the resin bar grew longer? I’m not sure how this relates to it, but I’ll tell it. In the study of Messianic movements—in fact, you can read about this in Sylvia Thrupp’s book Millenial Dreams in Action, where she talks about a number of millennial religious groups. There was a movement around 1910 in Java called the [???] movement, and some guy was sitting on his porch on day in a hut off in the jungle, and he was playing his flute, and they collect kopal in the forest there and sell to traders. And as he was playing his flute, he noticed that this bar of rolled-out kopal multiplied to twice its size right in front of him. And not only did this happen, but at the same moment it happened his mind was flooded with the sudden realization that the meaning of this event was that all human lives were now going to be twice as long as they had previously been before. And he told people in his village, and he had the proof because they had this bar of kopal that was twice as long than anybody ever rolled them in the village. So it spread from village to village, and before long people from all over Java were vectoring in on this place, and eventually the army had to be sent to put up road blocks and turn people back. And it all had to do with this piece of resin which had doubled in length while this guy was playing his flute.

2:14:51 Harrison

And that is what you call a cognitive hallucination.

McKenna

A cognitive hallucination.

Harrison

Right. Where an idea becomes so real to you that you see it, but then there’s this funny border where maybe it becomes so real that other people see it, and maybe that’s actually how we keep enlarging and complicating reality: is by having consensual cognitive hallucinations of what’s possible. Yeah.

2:15:11 McKenna

That’s right, that’s right. The ayahuasquero that Kat mentioned that we like so much and worked with in Peru, Don Fidel, he lived off this road when we knew him, a few miles down this trail, and we would go over there often and walk with him back and forth between his house and where we could catch these little Jitney buses into town. And he said one afternoon, as we were walking along the Amazon jungle, apropos of nothing, he said, “This is the path that Christ walked when he lived on Earth.” And it became so. You saw that, somehow, this was not a logical statement, this was a statement about the transposition of time and dimensionality, and that he was living in the light of Christ, that he was living in the presence of the master through being enveloped in a cognitive hallucination. And I think our entire culture is headed for being enveloped in a cognitive hallucination where our real wishes will be fulfilled, and that’s why it’s so important to find out what our real wishes are.

2:16:29

One of the most powerful forms of yoga, one of the highest yogas, is what’s called anuttara yoga tantra, and it involves a series of visualizations, and they say: imagine your home as a splendid palace, and imagine the common utensils of your everyday life as golden vessels, vessels of beaten gold encrusted with jewels. Imagine your raiment as being made of the finest silk, and imagine yourself as a God centered in the midst of all of this splendor. Well, this is like trying to induce what in Western psychotherapy is called a delusion of grandeur. A delusion of grandeur is when you’re a hell of a lot happier than other people think you should be, you know? What do you have to be so happy about? And it’s all about infusing the quality of life with greater purity. We were saying around the fire last night that the way to relate to the millennium is to make it happen as soon as possible in your life so that you become a spectator to it as a historical phenomenon. Well, the way to make it happen in your life is to not transcend desire but transmute it, so that what you really want is what you actually have, you know?

2:18:07 Harrison

I find on these plants—the mushroom particularly—that to will, to choose, to become an archetype that I of course both have to be able to identify as an archetype, but one that I can relate to or wish to be, and become, you know, as large, a hundred, a thousand times larger than we are, and as smooth, and as everything is right. You can practice being in the Tao so deeply in those states, and knowing that everything you do, no matter how minuscule it is, you’re doing most gracefully, and everything you say you’re saying most eloquently. And, you know, even—I’ve used the mending-sock thing, because sometimes I think that’s what I’m doing: that level of work, but that I’m doing it perfectly, you know? And that’s a great feeling. If you indulge in that feeling of being the goddess, or a god or goddess, or one of whatever you identify with—you know, you get to choose whatever—then you get to carry it back. It’s a really good way to carry it back into your daily life, and learn to practice it either in moments when you’re wobbly and you suddenly need to grow into the situation, or in moments of ecstasy, you know? And to be archetypes making love is pretty good.

McKenna

Well, that’s the technique of tantric practice: imagining these gods in union with their consorts in sexual union.

Audience

Want to have a break?

McKenna

Yeah, let’s have a break.


2:20:13 McKenna

The people burning to speak should speak.

Audience

I have one comment: that, in different parts I keep hearing people say we don’t know anything. But I think we’re all dancing around it very well. And I think you’re dancing around it really well. And so I think we do know something—not a lot perhaps, but we do know something. If words are that important and do have that meaning, meanings, whether it’s what we’re saying that is true, or just the sound of our voice that is true, something is true right here. I think we’re beginning to say the unsayable. I just have that feeling.

2:21:24 McKenna

And what a feeling it is! Yes, well, we feel the dizziness of the things not said. We feel it, we’re dizzy from it, it’s here.

Audience

I think a lot has to do with trust. A lot of times [???]. You just gotta say it, and you move on. That’s how it keeps forming. It’s like a creation, words, thoughts, ideas. They attach themselves to this larger structure and keep getting larger and larger. Pieces fall off, people add. But it’s trust is that leap of faith to the other side of what you can’t see, of what you can’s understand. To trust it as you trust your lover, as you trust a friend. It doesn’t always work out, but trust is the only way. Because otherwise there’s only fear: fear of ourselves, fear of others, fear of ideas. I think this community is part of that building trust among people who have different ideas.

Aud. 2

[???] learning and teaching [???] psychedelic experience. That you can use a lot of verbiage to explain to people what that search is about, what that adventure will yield, but in the end probably the best communication is to dispense the sacrament. I think it’s very holy work and I just want to express my appreciation to those involved in that work, with great respect for the sacrament [???]. I just am very deeply wishing the best; it’s something I missed for a long time. Since the days in the sixties was the last time I was around people who knew about that work and approached it with the kind of reverence that I see here.

2:24:00 McKenna

The great thing about the psychedelics is that they speak for themselves. So they need no priest, no interpreter. They can deliver their message all by themselves.

Audience

[???] seem to be so wonderful with words. Even the unspeakable is being together in silence. [???] nothing else to say. For me it was always babbling. It’s quite an event.

2:24:41 McKenna

Well, it’s wonderful that you feel so comfortable with people that you don’t have to rattle on. Why don’t you lead us now, Kat, in a meditation?

2:25:04 Harrison

Hold hands. We’ve seen many eggs in the last two days and had the pleasure of holding them and swallowing them, and I’ve spoken about luminous eggs and feeling very “eggy” today—resurrection and all that stuff. So I was thinking that our luminous eggs should meet each other in maybe a less verbal way. Okay, close eyes, and find your center, the light. And let it swell out into your egg, your shape. And then you feel that light of yourself moving into your head and letting everything else out of it. You can breathe through the top of your head, and through your forehead and your eyes and let it become, let your head become like a cloud of light. When it gets strong, that floats up above your head so you have a sphere of light that you can feel and see just above the top of your head that seems to get more charged as you perceive it. And then it grows. The light is growing, the sphere is growing rounder and fuller and softer until it meets the lights of your neighbors. And we have a huge halo over us together. If you travel through it, in your light, you’ll encounter everyone very softly. And we can charge that halo of light to be stronger and bigger than us. I feel like it becomes a sphere, a dome above and beneath us which meets the light of the spirit of this place, the spirit that lives here. It’s partly in the earth and partly in the air, and very old and wise with a sense of humor. And so we’re all inside our collective luminous egg which we could take anywhere actually, but perhaps for now we should just greet the spirit of this place and gradually breathe and draw the white light energy back into ourselves, into our circle and into our individual spaces. Above and through and beneath us. And when we go out and sit out on the rocks alone we can keep doing this even though we’re not in a circle. It’s good to connect with all of you. Thank you.

McKenna

Thank you. Mhm.

Audience

I don’t know how to phrase this best. You were suggesting that this kind of visual language—somehow our future lies there. I know Gueyes talks about the future of technology being light and sound in probably the same way you’re talking about it. I guess my interest in formulating this question has to do with things like the Mayan hieroglyphic language system or also Egyptian hieroglyphs. Basically that kind of visual language that maps Northwest coast Indian designs were there’s very particular kind of design patterns. Another piece of this question is the interface between the past use of that and the future use of that somehow. That it seems that—I mean, my sense of these hieroglyphic languages used in the past, they would literally see these things that are being drawn, or these things would speak to them and provide information as you are talking about. And that somehow, as we evolved, we lost that ability somehow, or buried it, or shunted it off to one side. And so my question has to do with some sense of the re-emergence, or the—in the Joyce sense—here comes everybody; the democratization of that ability in future cultures.

2:33:32 McKenna

Yes, well, I think so. I think that the way these hieroglyphic languages—especially Mayan and Egyptian—differ from alphabetic languages is that etymology remains on the surface in a hieroglyphic language, so that thousands of meanings are immediately visibly present. And so it’s more like an ideogram rather than a word with a dictionary meaning. You couldn’t really—I doubt that a Mayan could conceive of a dictionary of Mayan glyphs because they infinitely shade off one into another. And that kind of sensitivity to the depth of language and to the presence of the past in the present, in a word, is what Joyce is trying to do in Finnegan’s Wake, you know? And that’s why, if you read it carefully, you feel many historical layers of meaning in the same passage because he wrote it with almost a pictographic consciousness of the meaning of the words rather than a lineal and literary sense of it. So yes, in that sense, it’s like that. How this will be achieved in the future in our culture, I’m not sure. The control of the Macintosh through an internationally understood set of control glyphs is very weird. And if any of you have worked with a Macintosh, you immediately see: ah!—this idea which seems very odd, could in fact, I could learn this very quickly and anyone could do it, kind of thing—maybe presages a world of illiterate computer users who communicate with computers through symbols, because literacy has been lost. But it’s very interesting.

Yeah?

Audience

[???] So the computer plays a role in the visual component. Like, I heard you talk about—actually when you asked your question “Will computers become intelligent?” I’ve heard you talk about it more that the technology of computers will become available to us as almost a biological extension from the [???].

2:36:20 McKenna

Yes, that’s what I think will happen. I mean, my vision of a perfect world is where, you know, the Earth is restored to its prehistoric, Edenic perfection. But technology has not been eliminated, it’s merely been micro-miniaturized to the point where the computers which maintain the history of the race and the governance of the planet have all been secreted in a certain pebble which lies on a certain beach somewhere on the planet, and we walk around in perfect harmony with nature and in perfect and complete touch with an imaginary holographic world that is our self-expression, as a city is our self-expression, to then be simultaneously in the world of techne and in the world of nature, but with neither violating the other. And I think that’s reasonable.

2:37:23

In fact, I think perhaps, in a sense, this is what so-called preliterate cultures in the Amazon have achieved. That’s how it looks to them from the inside. They have an extremely rich inner life. It isn’t maintained by vast computer networks and projected into holographic space and taped on to magnetic tape and all of that, but it’s still, in feeling, it’s the notion that the richest world is within and that you promote a balance with the exterior world, but then the purpose of the leisure created when you have achieved balance is not, then, to accumulate things but to explore the interior horizon of transcendence through the recitation of myth and ecstasis and this sort of thing.

Audience

Terence, in connection with Robert’s question, in conjunction with it, could you further elaborate this idea of the material externalization of the soul and the internalization of the body as a definitive thing in evolution?

2:38:36 McKenna

Well, I think imagination is where we want to go; that this has become the arrow of our epigenetic development because everybody says, “In the future you’ll have everything you want!” Well, if we believe this, then we have to think seriously about what everything you want is. I mean, obviously you want plenty of food, plenty of clothes, plenty of money, plenty of friends. But then, if you get all that and then they say, “Well, you still haven’t even dented your credit account,” and you say, “Well, I want to live at Versailles, surrounded by brilliant robots, and I want great writers and artists to have lunch with me every day, and the Hope diamond, and Rembrandts.” Eventually this becomes very silly, and instead there is an ascent toward truly grandiose aspirations, you know? Truly bodhisattvic calling. And I think that the imagination is the real frontier. This is why the poets and the artists are so important.

2:39:52

This is why, I think, one of the aspects of the space thing that is never mentioned by the [???] society or any of these engineering types who are so into it, is: the interesting thing about outer space—we are not going to go through space to other worlds. That will be very incidental to going into space. Going into space means going into space, that space itself is a medium with unique properties for a species such as ourselves. And one of those unique properties is the engineering, which on the surface of the planet always has to always be cognizant of stress and bearing loads and the limitation of materials—engineering is just going to become like ballet. And objects miles in extent can be created that are obedient only to the laws of the human imagination. And of course the funding available to create these things, in other words the constraints of nature, are pretty much lifted.

2:40:55

Outer space is very much like what you see when you close your eyes in a dark room. It’s a vast unfilled void into which anything whatsoever can be projected. The hallucinations of the individual are the cultural artifacts of the species 500 years from now. I mean, all these visions and dreams that we have will be realized—in ways that we cannot imagine, but realized nevertheless. This has been consistently what has been going on. The alchemical dreams of the 16th century are fully realized in the 20th century, you know? And of course it has facets that they never imagined.

2:41:41

But going into space and going into the imagination is the same thing. And in the same way that the new world presented a tremendously tight genetic filter to immigrants so that only the soldiers of fortune, the religious fanatics and exiles came to this place. And that created a unique gene mix. Space is going to be a much tighter genetic filter. I mean, most people who go are going to be very smart and very healthy, and very quickly I think a space type will arise. But I don’t think you can create a space-based civilization without recourse to psychedelic plants and the psychedelic experience, because it’s too much the same thing.

2:42:42

You know, if you don’t integrate psychedelics into the leap to space, and realize that what is happening is that more and more we perfect the aspiration to vertical ascent. In the myth of Icarus and Daedalus you get this, then in the brothers Montgolfier and their gas-filled balloon, and then the Wright brothers, and then the Apollo project. All of these things are this aspiration to ascension. And it is apparently a biological drive. Some people have suggested it is a nostalgia for the canopies of the rainforest that no longer exist. But whatever it is, it’s going to take us eventually out to the stars and inward to the stars. Because the real question mark which hangs over all this is the nature of mind. And we do not know what mind is, and yet everything goes on upon the stage that is conditioned by and assumes mind as a given. And every society has assumed that it had the answers—that just fifteen years more of fine-tuning of the current ideology would do it. And no society has ever been right about that, so why should we be right? We are hurtling toward an unimaginable future in the same way that our present would have been unimaginable to people 200 or 500 years ago. But it is the imagination, because it is consciousness that is growing and expanding and strengthening itself. And if we take the notion that these psychedelic plants are consciousness-expanding agents—this is what they were originally called: consciousness-expanding drugs—if you take that seriously for a moment, how can you not center it in your life? I mean, obviously, consciousness is what must be expanded as fast as possible at all costs in all times and places, because it is a lack of consciousness that will be toxic to our species and the planet. Consciousness is the saving grace, and so it has to be cultivated by any means available.

Yeah?

Audience

You were saying that this urge to go to space is something like a biological urge and also maybe something relating to the rainforest, and—

McKenna

Well, I think we are like the trigger species.

Audience

What I want to make is that, when we think of going to space we’re so human-centered. And it’s like, yes, us as humans can exist in space. But what I think is really important about going away from this planet’s surface is that it’s not just a human-centered thing, it’s a totally biological thing, and that we are just implements of it. We are the thinking, conscious, creative tool-makers that will be able to implement getting off of this gravity trap, this gravity well. But it’s not just for humans, it’s for all life. And we have to—it will be a complete synthesis of all biological life that will exist away from the planet.

McKenna

Yes. If we go to space we will take everybody with us.

Audience

Just like in a rainforest. It’s not just… it’s everything. As a—

2:46:08 McKenna

That’s right. We are the species that is deputized to use energy to do the thing for all life on the planet. That’s why I’m not pessimistic about history and I don’t see history as unnatural or somehow opposed to nature. What history is is a 10,000-year process by which the monkeys attain enough understanding of physical processes to build the habitats into which all life on the planet can then migrate. That’s what I was talking about this morning when I said I think the planet senses the finiteness of its existence, and that biology is a wild scheme for getting out to the stars for dispersal of life. And you’re right. No, we have great hubris, and believe we are doing this, and man will go to the stars. It’s more that man is the pecking beak of the cosmic chick in the egg of life on Earth, and the entire bird will emerge and fly. But it was man—with his atomic weapons and his radar and all this—who can break the shell. And then the whole of the biosphere will flow outward into space and escape the cycle of energy degradation that will eventually turn this solar system into a group of cold cinders rotating around a red giant, or something.


2:47:48 McKenna

Yes, well, we’re trying to compare our maps. Everybody has seen different pieces of a geography whose total size we don’t know. So we don’t know. Maybe none of our maps overlap. Or maybe some do and some don’t. And maps which don’t overlap are not invalidated, it just means nobody has been there but you. I mean, I often have the feeling that I am seeing things that no one has ever seen before. Often.


2:48:23 McKenna

Leon asked me to talk about time. Leon is off on alone time, so he’ll miss this. The thing that really interests me or draws me back to the psychedelic experience again and again is the notion that there’s something that you can learn that would somehow have an impact on society at large. That when you have the psychedelic experience, it’s like you’re a sailor on some kind of a vast ocean where you let down your net into the deeps. And the hope is that you will snare an idea of some sort and of some size. And it may be, you know, that you come up with the equivalent of tuna, which is many small ideas. And perhaps you bring up your nets and see that they have just been shredded by something so large that you scarcely care to imagine it.

2:49:42

But the hope is to land an idea of intermediate size that you can then fully explore and understand. When you go into that ocean as a swimmer you see these things passing in review. Things of such beauty and intricacy and complexity that you are literally speechless, and even speechless in terms of an interior dialogue about what you’re seeing. You can’t… it just blows your mind and washes past you in such profusion that the notion of capturing it seems to be like the notion of a child emptying the ocean with a cup. But if you have a net—and I’m not sure what a net is, exactly—but it’s a way of somehow capturing these psychedelic ideas and then bringing them back for examination. And I think part of it rests on a technique of cyclical recitation to yourself of what you’ve seen, so that you carry a vision to a level of reflection in memory as you pull away from it. And then, ten minutes later, you tell yourself again what has just happened. And then, twenty minutes later, again. So that you get a series of telescoping images which are granted a compression of the original event, but nevertheless they bear the stamp of what the thing was.

2:51:37

So, the thing of this class that has happened to me is a very peculiar idea about time, which was developed fairly suddenly—as I would imagine ideas develop—in me in the early and mid seventies. And then it was pretty much formulated in my head. But it took the invention of small computers to make it possible to write software so that I could actually talk to other people about this idea. Well, since we have no computers and not even a blackboard, this will be a kind of feeling-toned excursion into talking about this theory of time.

2:52:35

It has an abstract foundation and a practical foundation. Its abstract foundation is the notion that time is different than we have come to conceive of it as the legacy of Western science. The legacy of Western science is that time is duration, that time is a dimension necessary for process. And it’s usually thought of as a flat plane against which some other fluctuating variable can be plotted. This is called, you know, linear time. And Newton’s physics took the same view of space. The Newtonian view of space was that it was essentially emptiness: it was something which you had to have if you wanted to put something somewhere. So it was a kind of an abstract plenum. But Einstein showed that space is actually some kind of a thing. It has properties of thingdom. It is distorted in the presence of a large magnetic field. And so it rose out of the realm of abstraction and then was cognized as an objectifiable entity; a topological manifold that was real.

2:54:14

This is, I think, the same step that has to be taken for time. Time is not simply the dimension of duration required for the successive occurrence of occasions. It is rather some kind of conditioned topological manifold. We can think of it as a fluid medium flowing across a surface—a river, in other words. In some places the river is very broad and shallow, and meanders because the pitch of the incline over which it’s moving is so slight that it can barely discern which way to move. You see this often in the Amazon. In other situations the incline increases, and the speed of the flow increases, and the depth of the channel increases, and the distance between the banks decreases. So time runs slowly and it runs quickly. It has a kind of modulated speed.

2:55:23

Well, it’s been a commonplace of Western cosmology since Darwin—although it’s never been elevated to the status of a law, or even a principle—that steady complexification has occurred in the universe since its very beginning. That this is something that we see in the very first moments of physics and proceeding right up into our own day. In other words, in the era before physics—that period of time so short that it’s less than the amount of time necessary for the photon to cross the radius of the nucleus of the atom—there was absolute chaos and a complete absence of physics. And then what sprang into being was a physics of pure electrons, of pure energy. And it was not for many seconds that temperatures fell to a point such that other factors could come into play, such that free electrons could fall into atomic orbitals and this sort of thing.

2:56:44

And at each successive level of cooling new forms of order became possible. At first everything was just this plasma of particles and energy, and then atomic systems sprang into being. And then, at still lower temperatures, these atomic systems were able to form molecular systems. The energy level in the general medium dropped below the level at which it would disrupt the molecular bond, so then molecules came into being. And then, at that point, there was the aggregation of stars and the cooking out of the heavier elements through the process of cooking hydrogen, so that iron and carbon and these things then arose. And by this time the universe is much cooler than it was at the beginning. And then, finally, you get temperature regimes and environmental situations where very large colloidal molecular species can come into being; large polymerized molecules. And this sets the stage for DNA.

2:58:01

And the thing to notice at each of these stages of complexification is that it requires a shorter time than the processes preceding it. If the universe is—let’s take the long view and say 20 billion years old—then the first 10 billion years, not very much happened that was interesting in the realm of complexity. There was star formation and the percolation of heavy chemistry, but not life—or it’s doubtful that life occurred in the early universe. So what we see, then, is the emergence of more and more complex animal forms at a greater and greater speed. And then, finally, the emergence of self-reflection in the primates. And then epigenetic methods of encoding information—in other words, writing and storytelling and language. And at each point what is happening is: there’s a progressive time-binding of energy and a progressive intensification and speed-up of the complexification of certain parts of the universe. Right now, the most complex part of the universe that we know is the human brain-mind situated in its network of computers and cultural conventions and social obligations and expectations and hopes and fears and historical aspirations, et cetera. This is the realm of the densely-packed that the Buddhists are talking about. So it seems to me that this should be seen as the operation of a general law. And we are not outside of this—we are, in fact, the cutting edge of it. Somehow, of all the animal species on the Earth, the human beings are carriers of this temporal speeding-up process which is now engulfing the entire planet.

3:00:10

And so that’s the general law, or the general perception upon which this idea I elaborated was based: the notion that complexification is being conserved through time and being built up as some quality that the universe is very interested in maintaining. And then I looked at the I Ching—which I hope is familiar to most of you; I’m sure it probably is. It’s a very ancient Chinese oracle system that uses what are called hexagrams, which are 6-leveled ideograms of broken or unbroken lines. And the possible subset of these things is 64, which is an interesting number because it’s the number which DNA operates on because it uses 64 codons. And, in fact, I came to see that as no coincidence. That, actually, life was organized around this number, and the I Ching as well, because both were subject to a set of rules which was surfacing in the phenomenon of biological organization and the organization of a Chinese oracular theory for understanding past and future time.

3:01:40

And I looked at what is called the sequence, which is the way in which you move from one hexagram to the next, and I sought order there and found order that I think had been lost since pre-Han, perhaps pre-Zhou time. And I came to see the I Ching as we possess it today as an archaeological artifact, a piece of broken machinery. It’s like the turbine of a jet plane. You puzzle over it and you see that it could be used for something, and you do use it for things, and it’s very effective, but it’s really a piece of broken machinery from a very ancient technology which ceased to exist before the rise of the Han dynasty. And what it was, was: it was like a Taoist technology of understanding time. That, by the practice of certain techniques whose historical echoes I think you get in the stilling-of-the-heart techniques of Vajrayana Buddhism, these people were able to see into the quantum-mechanical foundations of thought and consciousness. And they noticed there a flux which they called the Tao. And it was a thing which came and went. The Tao Te Ching says, “The way that can be told of is not an unvarying way.” And they stilled their body functions, and they looked inward with a cataloging, analytical mentality, and they noticed that while this flux was variable it seemed to be not infinite in its contributing factors, but that in fact it seemed to have a pattern. And they discerned the pattern as revolving around the number 64.

3:03:45

In other words, they discerned through this process of meditation temporal elements that had a kind of ontological validity that the material elements of the periodic table have for matter. That there is not one kind of time or two kinds of time, but actually 64 facets of the possible temporal jewel. And they saw that any moment in time was the combination and the overlay of this wave system which they called Tao. And it was a harmonic wave system. It had periods of self-expression which were very short in duration, on the order of seconds or hours or microseconds. It had levels of expression which were cognizable in the human world as years and decades and centuries. And it had vast resonant periods which were as large as history, and then larger many times. Periods of temporal resonance which could only be referenced to the life of the planet. And this is, I think, you know, part of the Chinese notion of the Tao of heaven, earth, and man. These are different speeds at which these temporal waves of conditioning of the world of phenomenal appearance are moving.

3:05:31

And if you take an idea like this seriously, even as a personal discipline of thought to picture it, to visualize it in a Vajryana spirit, then you see that what’s really being offered is a map of time. It’s saying that the condition of knowing a fading past and facing an unanticipatable future is not an ontologically given necessity of existence. That it is possible to imagine an existence in which one saw into time the way we, as animals, see into the space in front of us. So that we are able to run and leap and dance among the rocks. It’s because we can see into space. A creature or a culture that could see into time could anticipate where the river of time would flow quickly, where it would broaden out and move slowly with a rich sense of the conservation of accomplishments achieved, where it would cascade and break up its previous patterns and produce great cataracts of novelty. A civilization which knew these things, or a person which knew these things about their own life, would claim a new dimension of existential freedom for being.

3:07:09

And, you know, I was having this whispering entity—this daemon, this logos—show me these things and it was expressed on a very, very practical level. I mapped what is called the first order of difference in the sequence of the I Ching. That means: how many lines change as you go from one hexagram to another. And I discovered that it looked like a random wave. It looked like a stochastic slice. Except that at the beginning and the end there were tongue-in-groove points of fit if you rotated the thing 180 degrees and brought it down against itself, so that the thing achieved closure at the beginning and the end. This satisfied me that I was dealing with an artifact of—that I was dealing with an organized structure, either of nature or created by intelligence. And then using the principle of hierarchical resonance and stacking of modules into hierarchies (which is really the principle by which all Chinese metaphysics has operated from the very beginning), I created a cosmic calendar where each level was a resonance of the level below it, but either collapsed or multiplied by a factor of 64.

3:08:40

I discovered a very—well, recall that, because the I Ching is 64 hexagrams with 6 lines in each hexagram, it’s composed basically of 384 yáo, or lines. And I discovered that this number, 384, has a very interesting property. The cycle of the moon is 29.5 days, so that if you take 29.5 times 13 it’s something like 383.93. And it seemed to me then immediately obvious that part of what the machinery of the I Ching was describing in the humanly cognizable phenomenal world was the cycle of the moon using a 384-day lunar calendar which precessed 19 days a year against the solar calendar. And when you take that 384-day unit and multiply it times 64 you get 67 years and some months and days. This is exactly six 11-year sunspot cycles, and China is the first place where we have historical records of the observation of sunspots.

3:10:10

So that’s one sunspot cycle for each line in the six-line hexagram. Also, sunspots cycles have a greater peak every third cycle. So that’s one large sunspot cycle for each hexagram in that trigram. And I saw then that there were these resonances. When you take that number, 67 years, again times 64, you get 4,306 years. And that works out to—let’s see, 4,306—150 years for each zodiacal sign. So each zodiacal sign is slotted to one trigram. These are all—notice that all of these things that this resonance calendar is predicting are things visible to the naked eye. We’re talking about movements of constellations, sunspots, and the moon.

3:11:18

So I saw, then, that this was a tremendously powerful natural calendar. That it was a technology developed by proto-Taoist central Asian shamanism very, very long ago. But it had this curious property of: when the wave was mathematically analyzed by modern mathematical methods so that we could draw these maps of novelty, we could see, then, that it showed us the map of the temporal river from earliest beginnings to the collapse of the state vector at some time in the future. And so it was obvious, then, that if we could lay the map over the portion of reality we had already experienced, we could then propagate the map forward into the future and begin to take hold of ourselves in this other temporal dimension. And so it became a question of what is the best fit of this undulating wave of novelty? And I used the word novelty out of Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophy, because he had this notion that novelty was the concrescing of a force which knits things together. And I like that; that’s what I felt it was: that the Tao is making itself, and that this compression of novelty through the speeding-up of time will eventually reach a place where everything is connected to everything else. And this is, you know, the universe’s self-birthing of itself. Well, you must be aware of all these very straight studies which say if we keep increasing how fast we go, by the year 2020 we’ll go ten times the speed of light. If we keep increasing how much energy we release by so-and-so, we’ll release the energy in the sun. The propagation of all these curves of development become asymptotic. And then nobody knows how to interpret what they mean. They just seem to mean that the whole culture is just going to go kazowie, you know?

3:13:45

And this is sort of the idea that this theory implies. It implies that, far from the universe being a steady-state entity uninfluenced by the existence of the human mind—which is going to go on and exist for billions of years until the stars burn out and the second law of thermodynamics is going to reduce everything to heat death—that that’s all wrong. A hundred percent wrong. And that, actually, the universe is made by mind (within and without organism), and that mind is capable of bootstrap leaps in its organizational self-expression. And that we are privileged to be the witnesses of the final act of life going through some kind of immense, transformative unfolding from itself in a kind of vortex which has been building on this planet for billions of years, but which has been accelerating to, you know, such excruciating intensities over the last 25,000 years that it has called forth self-reflective intelligence from the monkeys, and the invention of quantum physics, and spaceflight, and shamanism. And it is novelty upon novelty; novelty so intensified that the genetic machinery can no longer carry it. And it bubbles out into the epigenetic: into art and language and poetry and religion and religious mania and romanticism, and all of these things. It is a progressive knitting-together, an expression of the universe’s will to become, that causes me to think that we may be in the shorter gyres—as William Butler Yeats called them; the shortening spirals—of this vortex of novelty and compression.

3:15:55

You see, a curious quality about this kind of cosmology that I’m describing—a cosmology where each epoch is preceded by an epoch which is 64 times greater in duration—the curious thing about that is that you only need about 20 instances of multiplication before you go from a period of time smaller than the duration of Planck’s constant—which is 1.55 × 10-23, which is a very short period of time—then by 20 multiplications of 64 you reach a period of time in excess of the required time for the age of the universe; a period of time on the order of 72 billion years. Well, if each time the spiral goes into a state of collapse at the end of one of its cycles, then in the last 384 days of the existence of a universe like that, it would transit through half of its epochs of transition. Do you see what I mean? It’s like a screaming meemie. It really winds up.

3:17:19

And instead, the vision which physics gives us, is that the really rapid transitions of phase and state occurred at the beginning of the universe. Whole professional lives are given over to discussing the first ten picoseconds of the physics of the universe, right? And, well, I’m saying I don’t care about that. I think that the really interesting stuff will happen in a big hurry at the end of the universe: that the picture that the second law of thermodynamics gives us of just tumescence—maximum de-tumescence is what it’s picturing—is all wrong. And that, actually, this strange hyper-dimensional force in the universe called life and information-transfer is in the process of working itself up into a real tizzy, and wrapping all space and time around itself.

3:18:22

And what was startling (and what made me think that maybe I was losing my marbles) was that, when you look at that time that way and push these novelty graphs against the historical continuum, I reached the conclusion that we entered the last 67-year period before the collapse of the state vector at 8:30 in the morning on August the 6th, 1945, when the atomic bomb went off over Hiroshima. You see, it was a temporal reflection of the birth of the universe. It was actually a—you could call it an event which was a reincarnation of the big bang, because each cycle begins with a bang. And that cycle, the fact that human beings had used atomic weapons on other human beings, meant that we had entered a new era, a new epoch of moral danger. And the stakes had been raised, you know, by a power of 64 to a new level.

3:19:37

Now, using the mathematics inherent in the cycle, if you propagate forward from that date, 67 years, 104.25 days, you reach late November of 2012 AD. And I concluded, based on all kinds of factors—personal and historical and so forth—that that was the fit. That if Hiroshima was day one, then the place where it all came together was this date in 2012. And I worked with that for several years before some kind soul—Henry Munn, I think—pointed out to me that the Mayan calendar, which is a cycle of (the long-count calendar I’m now talking about) is a cycle of 13 time periods which are called baktuns. And the baktun is 396 years in duration. After 13 baktuns the world ends completely. And the 13th baktun of the classical Mayan long-count calendar is the winter solstice of AD 2012—within 30 days of the date that I had fastened in on, using a completely different path of analysis.

3:21:09

And so this raised all kinds of questions, one of which is: is it simply that individuals and civilizations who take mushrooms become—I want to say—privy/engulfed by a certain mathematical secret about the cosmic machinery? What is so important about this date in 2012? You know, the Mesoamerican cultures have the most uncanny history of successful prophecy in the world. I mean, the Aztecs anticipated the coming of the Spanish: the book of Chilam Balam gives the day when the Spaniards would weigh anchor off the coast of Mexico. And, of course, the fact that it happened exactly as prophesied was a major undoing of that civilization.

3:22:07

So I put this out. This was a very confusing experience for me to channel or transmit this idea, because I was interested in the I Ching, I had carried it with me in India, I used to throw it at each full moon. But I was not mathematically inclined and when—


3:22:30

—reading the philosophy of science, like Paul Feyerabend and Imre Lakatos, and reading the history of science, Thomas Kuhn, and all of those people trying to understand, you know, what is a true idea? What is true and what is false? And when you have an idea which makes claims as sweeping as these, then you want to try to understand just what the limits of knowability are. And I discovered that all you can require of any idea is that it be self-consistent, that it not generate any contradictions within its own set of rules, you see. And that’s why astrology is beyond criticism, because astrology is a mathematical theory with an interpretive exegesis attached to it. And who can quibble with a mathematical theory? Well then, the interpretational exegesis has to do with the sensitivity and subtlety of the interpreter. Well, isn’t this true of mathematical data in science exactly the same way?

3:23:51

So, I discovered that what I had created was a self-consistent idea that appears to be sealed beyond refutation in some weird and uncanny way, which makes it seem very non-human because you can’t really find your way into telling whether it can be answerable to the notion of objective truth. So what I’ve decided about it is that it’s a teaching, or it’s an exemplary model about how all process goes on. And it’s a way of learning how things happen. To see time as a modulated flux of elements. To see it as a series of waves moving at different speeds through which you are taking a vertical slice, and then stacking that slice, and that gives rise to the multiplistic ever-changing flux that is called the now. It is actually made up of reflections and adumbrations of the past, and it’s made up of anticipatory shock waves and intimations of the future.

3:25:23

The past and future are co-present in the now, they are in fact what’s making it happen. You can almost think of it as a hologram where you have two—or a standing wave—where you two wave systems: one from the past, one from the future. And where they cross, an interference pattern forms which has a curious stability as a system in and of itself. And yet it’s almost a ghost created by these other two realities. And that is the moving present. And mathematically this notion of time that I evolved delivers, you know, the map of novelty, a two-variable flux, a wandering-line graph that’s very pleasing for arguing with formalists. But what lurks behind it and what is so rich for the romantic, and the shaman, and the poet, is this wandering-line graph is the composite of the the overlay of certain historical time periods which are in a state of flux at various speeds, so that they give rise to an endless kaleidoscopic unfolding in what we call three-dimensional space, and of what we call reality.

3:26:58

And this is why I often mention Finnegan’s Wake in my lectures, because Joyce understood this. He understood that every moment is caused by everything that happened in the past and everything that happened in the future. And I like to give, you know, the trivial example: that you find yourself in Hadrian’s hamburger joint. This is because the emperor Hadrian invaded England in a certain year and conducted a campaign. We are ghosts of past and future events. And what the chaos at the end of history that we are now living through is, is that for thousands and thousands of years people have felt a vague thing calling across time to humanists, calling us to be a certain way, to practice certain rituals, to observe the stars, to observe the plants, to observe birth, and observe death. A calling. And that thing—which some people have called God; whatever it is—is throwing a gigantic shadow over human history now, because now the creode of development that leads to our merging with this thing, the walls are very steep, the water is moving very swiftly, and it’s almost as though the future event is throwing off great sparks that are themselves faceted, contradictory epitomizations of this mystery. This is what Mohammed and Christ and Buddha are: they are human personalities that were situated in time in such a way that they became macrocosmic reflections of the superordinate Edenic humanity that is going to be generated at the end of history.

3:29:10

And we are close. We are close. It is—all of history can be seen as the shockwave of this eschatological event. This is what the prophets were anticipating. The culmination of man’s God-making effort in time will be the perfection and the release of the human soul. And it’s not that we are doing it, you see, it’s that a natural law that we were previously unaware of is inexorably unfolding. And that is what all this cross-connectedness of man into matter, plant into animal, earth into space—all of this flowing and interconnectedness, this reaches right down into the rocks of the planet. This is not simply a phenomenon of biology. This is the unfolding of a general law of which biology is only the cutting edge of a wedge of becomingness which includes all being, and reaches right down into the neutrinos.

3:30:22

And it is, you know—to be a being in time is to share in the immense flood of precognitive anticipation that fills the universe in anticipation of this event. And that’s what being is, and that’s why it’s so rich and so complete within itself, and yet always somehow pointing beyond itself. Because the richness of the matrix through which we are moving is incomparable and beautiful.

3:31:01

And so this is the basis of my extreme optimism: is, I think, that everything is under control, that we are in the grip of a force so powerful that the notion that we could jeopardize or overthrow it is completely preposterous. Because we are acting in accordance with a resonance that was set going millions and millions of years ago. And of course being is fraught with danger, but the stakes are to be at play in the fields of the Lord, to be at rest in the mansions of the Goddess. And it’s soon, I think. At least the historical mimicking of it is clearly soon, because the thrust toward the millennium of this society will not be turned aside. If it is not a law of the universe then it will become a myth of human beings and be created anyway. So, since we are human beings, I see us as the central actors in that mandala. I mean, this is the task of the next 100 or 500 years: to realize the alchemical nature of humanity and being, and have everything fused into a super-numinous concrescence that is time. Joyce said, “All space in a nutshell,” you know? All time bound into a lenticular vehicle which is both everyone’s and mine alone, and yours alone, and yours alone.


3:33:02

What I want to talk about this morning is an idea. I’ve talked about it in a couple of places; some of you may have heard it before. I think it bears repeating. It’s a much more serious idea than what I put out yesterday, which had a note of whimsy in its genesis. This idea is important—whatever that means—because it would change not only the area of its concern, but our view of the world generally. And Easter is an appropriate time to discuss this because it concerns the genesis of man, of consciousness and self-reflection, which is what the Easter mythologium is also an expression of. So what I wanted to talk about this morning is a new notion of how human evolution occurred, and what the critical factors were in it, and how to draw a picture for us that shows how our intellectual complexity and symbol-manipulating facilities could have emerged naturally from a background of animal existence and over a fairly rapid period of time.

3:34:38

Over the last 3 to 5 million years, actually, the African continent has been growing more dry and has experienced fluctuations of aridity. Nevertheless, as recently as 2,000 years ago, the Roman historian Pliny called North Africa the breadbasket of Rome because wheat was being grown over thousands and thousands of acres. Now, it’s in this same area of Northern Africa, the great rift zone, the Serengeti plain, where physical anthropologists place the origin of human beings. And it has to do with the following sequence of events.

3:35:30

Arboreal primates living in an unbroken continental rainforest ecology achieve a close adaptation to existence in the canopy, and this is stabilized for millions of years. They are insectivores. They have the opposable thumb and rudimentary binocular vision. The drying up of the African continent caused the breakdown of this continental rainforest into a configuration of patches of forest with grassland in between. And in this grassland ecology herds of mammals evolved: proto-cattle, proto-bison, exotic mammals like giraffes and gazelles of all types. At the same time, the primate adaptation to this increasing aridity was to begin to descend from the trees, and to hunt in packs, and to shift from a diet of canopy fruits and berries and roots dug from the ground to an omnivorous diet that could include meat.

3:36:59

So, in this situation these tribal monkeys developed a complicated repertoire of signals to aid in pack hunting in exactly the same way that wolves are known to do. And their habit was nomadic and to follow behind these great herds, either killing the animals that were less well and could be killed by the crude means at their disposal, or living off the kills of other carnivores. And this is still the habit of baboons.

3:37:44

Now, into this situation comes a mushroom which grows in the manure of the ungulate animals that have evolved on this plain. And in this protein-intensive environment where there is pressure on the availability of protein, these foraging primates are testing every object in the environment for its food value. So Roland Fischer—who was a researcher into the effect of psychedelic drugs and the structure of consciousness—showed that small doses of psilocybin (sub-psychedelic, sub-threshold doses of psilocybin) actually increase visual acuity. And he had a very elegant experiment where two parallel lines could be deformed by turning a dial, and you would put graduate students in front of this—stoned and unstoned—and ask them to press a buzzer when the lines appeared to them to no longer be parallel. And he showed that, consistently, a small amount of psilocybin allowed you to detect this change sooner than an ordinary subject was able to. And he said to me, “You see, this proves that, in some cases, drugs give you a clearer picture of reality than their absence.” And what it means is that these primates who were inculcating the mushroom into their diet were gaining a subtle adaptive advantage over their fellows who were avoiding the mushroom, because they were gaining in visual acuity—which is one of the critical parameters that a pack-hunting carnivore would be subject to in that kind of an environment.

3:39:50

So without any teleology being involved, without any invocation of extraterrestrial intelligence, we see that a feedback loop was established in the food chain of these primates very early on. Those who ate the mushroom tended to survive and outbreed those who did not. At the same time, the relationship between these animals and these herd ungulate mammals was shifting from a hunting situation to a situation of domestication, which was bringing the mushroom ever more into the fore. And if you look back at the archaeological evidence in North Africa—especially the paintings; the late Neolithic paintings on the Tassili Plateau in Southern Algeria—you see there magnificently portrayed herds of cattle. I mean, beautifully painted. More sensitively portrayed cattle than you find at Altamira and Lascaux, and you see also shamans dancing with mushrooms sprouting out of their body and with mushrooms clutched in their hands; groups of them running, holding on high, with geometric matrices of connected dots all around them.

3:41:24

And now, of course, in that area, its very similar to this. It’s an area of sculpted sandstone and cross-cut arroyos with undercut cliffs. And it’s very dry. But in some places the Neolithic detritus is several meters deep. And the people who lived in the Tassili Plateau, when the aridity of the Sahara further increased, are the people who migrated east to the valley of the Nile and established the proto-Egyptian civilization of six to ten thousand years ago.

3:42:04

The important point I want to make about this later phase of the human involvement with the mushroom was that it was always intimately connected with cattle. And the goddess religions of ancient North Africa and the Middle East are religions of cattle goddesses. And this connection between the cow and the mother goddess and the mushroom is some kind of key to understanding the evolution of religious sensitivity in early man in that part of the Middle East.

3:42:45

It carries forward into historical time with the mysteries at Eleusis, where there is a clear indication that a psychedelic substance was being used—either ergotized rye or a mushroom of some sort. And this notion that it was the presence of the mushroom on the African veldt at a critical bifurcation of primate evolution that created the feedback loop which eventually developed into self-reflecting consciousness. Because, you see, at lower doses the psilocybin is giving increased visual acuity and, it seems like, increased symbol-processing ability; its strange effect on the language centers. But, of course, inevitably they would have also discovered its higher-dose effects, which would be to convey them into an inner tremendum that became, then, the cultural guiding image. In other words, it was perceived as a god, as a goddess, as the goddess—and became, then, the arrow for cultural dynamics and evolution.

3:44:08

And the reason I think this is important is because the spin-off implications of the acceptance of an idea like this would bring us into much greater harmony with our environment. We sort of have the anxiety of an orphan about our origins, because our best people in physical anthropology don’t give very good accounts, can’t seem to make sense of how we could have been forced out and emerged out of primate organization. And so there’s been much talk in the 20th century for the search for the missing link which was always been conceived of a physical skeleton of a certain kind of intermediate hominid form. But it isn’t a missing link, I think. It’s a missing factor. And the factor which accelerated the forward evolution of the brain size of this particular primate line was the inclusion of psychedelic plants in the diet, which then fed the tendency towards symbol-formation and self-reflection.

3:45:21

If this idea gained wide acceptance, some of our laws and some of our ways of relating to nature (and to medicine plants in particular) would have to be altered and brought into line. This is the source of our humanness. Apparently, the psychoactive compounds being elaborated by plants throughout nature are regulators of various forms of evolution in animals, and food chains and all this (which appear very trivial on the surface) are actually the message-bearing medium of the hand of God which is forming and sculpting nature along these various creodes of development.

3:46:17

And the thing to understand about this, or why this has impact in the future, is because it’s a continuous process which we can foster and husband, and help develop in healthy ways if we recognize that it’s going on. I mentioned Eleusis as this kind of thing going on in historical time. Also, of course, soma—the sacrament of the Vedic civilization—appears to have been a mushroom; was certainly a psychedelic plant. And it isn’t only psychedelic plants, it’s all plants which affect and shift consciousness.

3:47:04

I mean, a history of the human race could be written analyzing it not in terms of class struggle or the impact of great personalities, but as a shifting set of interactions between sugar, tobacco, opium, caffeine, alcohol, and psychedelics. So that, you know, we need to understand that—chocolate!— that these food—cocaine!—that these foods and drugs and spices are… we have subtly overlooked them and taken them for granted. They are regulating human history, and individual self-expression. How much you know, how you look, how pure your transmission of your genetic heritage to the next generation. All of these things are being regulated and controlled by these plants in this way.

3:48:06

Now, if we could create a civilization—or even a clique within a civilization—that understood this and that had its fingers on a vertical monopoly of research from the jungle to the clinical hospital, great things could be understood. This is the way to do it: to systematically explore these relationships and see that Gaia apparently works through the intercession of catalytic compounds that convey revelation. And revelation is then the factor which has historical impact. The people, the messiahs, and the teachers are merely the pipelines for ideas, and the metabolic release of these ideas in the macro-environment is being controlled by the plant-animal interaction. And so it will be, on into the foreseeable future. And by understanding this, a kind of new science looms into view: a kind of integrated, dynamical understanding of the flux of energy mediated by chemistry in the environment, so that the guiding image of culture can be revitalized and realized in a much shorter period of time. And this whole shortening period of time thing has also been going on for a while.

3:49:49

You see, it isn’t astonishing, I think, that self-reflection could emerge given basic primate organization. But what is astonishing about it is the speed with which it happened. I mean, in the last 30,000–50,000 years, the human brain has changed more than it changed in the previous 3–5 million years. So, you know, a factor has entered, a catalyst is in the mix. And it must be something in the food chain, or something in the environment, or the hand of almighty God, or the extraterrestrials, or, you know, elf invasion from hyperspace. But something is causing this accelerated development. And what I said this morning could be criticized as being reductionist. I’ve tried to give a very sober account of it. I haven’t said why the mushroom appeared in the manure, or discussed whether it has awareness or a stake in the catalyzing of this primate evolution. I just introduce it as a chemical factor. And that’s how it would be written if it were presented to a straight audience.

3:51:11

The fact of the matter is that it raises all kinds of questions. I mean, why is this process being catalyzed in the primates? Is it just by happenstance? Where has the mushroom been? What is its relationship to the evolution of other forms of life on this planet? Did it drift in from the stars? If so, long ago or recently? And with intent, or by chance? And, you know, just a host of questions. But the thing that puts us in such an existential situation, individually and culturally, is this puzzlement over our origins. We are not, strictly speaking, religious in the 19th century way, so that we can not really, I think, accept that, you know, God sculpted us out of clay and set us down here on a world he created. And yet, if you were to look for the thumb print of God on this planet, you would certainly have to focus in on the human beings and their activities as a special case of natural phenomena—perhaps so special a case that it had to be accorded a separate ontological status. We are different. And why? And for what?

3:52:46

I think that probably we are the agent of change that Gaia has unleashed upon herself; that the planet itself is aware of the finiteness of planetary existence. And it’s sort of like the story of the ant and the grasshopper. You can have a planetary consciousness which says, “Well, I look forward to 3–5 billion years of sentient existence. And then I’m willing to be extinguished with the death of my star.” Or you can have a planet with an ant-like mentality that says, “I can sense winter coming 3–5 billion years down the line, and I’m going to organize some wild strategy to break through the tyranny of the energy cycle of one star, and I’m going to organize biological existence so that greater and greater amounts of energy can be brought under control.” So that, eventually, a kind of liberation can occur where life can burst out of the planetary cradle and disperse itself through the universe. And here are apparently several strategies for this. One is: evolve intelligence and build starships. Another is, you know: become a mushroom and produce 3–5 million spores per minute during sporulation, that are particles small enough to percolate by Brownian movement away from the atmosphere of a given planet and, by sheer numbers and the slow gradient of drift by light pressure and that sort of thing, emanate through the universe, and establish yourself in any planetary regime that is suitable.

3:54:53

The obvious next great revelation in biology—and it’s strange that we can state it, because once it’s stated by Carl Sagan it will be headlines everywhere—but it’s obvious that space is no barrier to life. It’s a barrier in the same way that the Pacific Ocean was a barrier to life’s colonization of the Hawaiian islands, but that’s all. It’s just a tight filter. But spores and starships and shamans probably get through to other closed topologies in orbit around other stars. You know, there must be a dimension somewhere where all surfaces in the universe are contiguous, and if you could move into that dimension you could just walk to Zeta Reticuli.

3:55:51

So, the means by which life will penetrate these larger dimensions that free it from its dependency on the energy cycles of the material universe are not by any means clear. I mean, it may be that it’s about organizing the mind and building an inner vehicle that moves off into the imagination. The imagination may be, in fact, a three-dimensional slice of a higher-dimensional universe that is holding all of this in being and causing it to happen. The imagination—it’s hard to account for it in evolutionary terms if it is not somehow mapping a field of data that is important for development.

3:56:48

So that’s that notion. The notion of the importance of psychedelics in the formation of this species and a continuing formation of the cultural design. I think what the psychedelics do is they decondition from cultural programming and allow models to be replaced at a much greater rate of speed, so that the culture that uses psychedelics can trim itself to every historical current. And this is really the challenge of the future. We are moving—as a culture—faster and faster through the temporal medium, through the historical space, and this is creating a compression of events. And it’s almost like an airfoil approaching the speed of sound: there is a wave of concussive shock building in front of our culture and we have to almost re-design ourselves in mid-flight in order to push through that barrier and into the different order, the different set of laws that will prevail once we have gotten through that. But this whole sense of everything accelerating—of all historical input being intensified and all previous times being somehow co-present—this is the phenomenon of the winding-down of a universe, or the building up of an eschatological shockwave in front of a vehicle that is trying to transit out of history and into some kind of millenarian space that is not subject to the anxiety that history involves.

3:58:45

And that’s what the whole crisis around the millennium and the whole 20th century really is about, you know: is this effort to create a complete summation that can also be used as the force to propel us beyond everything that we have been or thought before. Because there’s obviously no other escape from the culture crisis. That kind of situation is called a forward escape. It means the only thing you can do is move forward into the crisis at ever greater speed, because the only solution is to pass through it and move beyond it. And as we move toward the millennium, and as, you know, the intelligence of our machines, the size of our databases, the desperation of our politicians, the intensity of the visions of our visionaries—all of this will build to a crazy concatenatious climax. It can’t be any other way because Christian civilization has wired us up for these things at the end of every thousand-year period.

4:00:02

I mean, in the year 1000 everything just went haywire. I mean, people stood in the streets for months just gaping at the sky. No work got done, you know? There was such an eminent expectation of the onslaught of the millennium. Nevertheless, this archetype of renewal is seeking in thousands and thousands of ways to be born, and I think the rediscovery of psychedelics, LSD, everything that Wasson did, all of these things are critical factors in this cultural mix that is going to gel toward the recognition of the things which we hold as clichés. You know, that the inside and outside are the same thing, that the universe can be crossed by thought in an instant, that all information is somehow co-present, and so on.

4:01:09

Are there any questions about any of this?

Yes, I said that what we take for granted—that the inside and the outside are the same thing—these things will be assimilated by the larger culture. And things like, you know, human-machine interface and the ego-identification with the body, I think all these things are going to be obviated. That, you see, we don’t know what man is, and we have a strong association that humanness is related to the monkey body. But yet our whole historical career has been of projecting ideas into technical accretions, and now that we have computers and things which mimic intelligence we are beginning to explore: what is humanness ontologically? That’s what people are really talking about when they say, “Can machines think? Will machines think?” They mean: “Is what we have focused in on as the defining factor of our being that sets us apart from all other things something which we could manufacture?” And the answer is probably to some degree: yes. Because much of what is intelligence—or appears superficially to be intelligence—is simply data and retrieval. So that, you know, more and more of the culture is being hardwired into an electronic coral reef that is simply the outermost of each of our own exoskeletons. We all have telephones in our homes. Many of us have computer terminals. These things introduce us to a global skin of information. But as the hardware grows more and more unobtrusive we will more and more come to identify these things with our own ego. We won’t even realize that we’re being charged for thinking about certain questions because we’re actually accessing a database somewhere which is feeding us data. So that the commonality of mind is, I think, going to be—somehow, the triumph of socialism will be the commonality of mind in a capitalist context. That there really will be an ocean of thought that you will swim in and that will be composed of deeper and deeper levels of integrated information.

4:03:55

Perhaps this is all that hyperspace is: is the entirely expressed informational ghost of this physical universe. And that it’s in the informational reconstruction of the physical universe that the mind will eventually come to swim like a fish, you know? And will come and go from various constellations of aggregation and integration. I mean, you see, what’s going to happen is that the rules of the imagination are going to replace physics so that we are going to be able to do and be whatever we can imagine. Well, none of us have probably ever put in much thought to what would I be if I could be anything I could imagine? And just twenty minutes of that meditation will lead you into pretty strange places. So what would it be like if the culture evolved for a thousand years in that way? If you could be anything. I guess the first step everyone takes is: they imagine themselves as the flying saucer, the lenticular mind-object made of light that can move at any speed and become any object and answer any question. And, well, it’s an archetype of wholeness. In Jung, in his flying saucer book, talked about this thing in alchemy called the rotundum, which was the thing which spins, you know? It’s also in alchemy called the scintillia—the spark—and it’s simply because it’s round and spins; it’s a symbol of wholeness, but its like the exteriorization of the human soul. The realization that, you know, expressing what is within us may culturally eventually mean actually exteriorizing the human soul and interiorizing the human body, so that this world is traded in for the imagination. And this is sort of what art has always been trying to do, but we’re talking about a breakthrough in ways and means on such a scale that you can just march off into this art.

Audience

Terence, do you find it reasonable to anticipate that, eventually, human technology will succeed in producing computers that are just as conscious as we are, and can be able to do anything that we can do?

4:06:38 McKenna

Oh yes. Well, Kat and I did that without even a flashlight battery, just by having children. I mean, there’s an epigenetic component and a genetic component. But what I’m saying is: the difference between these things may become dim indeed. In other words, the way a person is made is that a DNA message is read by RNA, and it’s a group of codons—nucleotide bases—which are then templated, and then a ribosome reads it and assembles little pieces correctly, and then the protein is created. Well, there’s no reason why anything should be made any other way. All machines should be produced by the transcription of molecular templates. So then, all our machines will become strangely quasi-biological.Chevrolets will not be manufactured, they will be grown in yeasty vats. And when they talk to you, the question, you know, becomes very moot as to whether this is a pet, a friend, a colleague, or….

4:08:00

Because that’s—you see, nature works with very low energies. DNA can make anything. And there’s no smelting, no huge release of toxic byproducts. And the amazing thing about these proteins is that the ribosome stamps them out, and they come out in like a line, but they have forces—electrostatic and other kinds of forces—scripted into them so that they fold in very, very complicated ways. And they always fold the same way. And their memory of how to fold, where this comes from is one of the great mysteries of molecular biology. It’s not at all understood. Well, imagine if we could make machines which just emerged as a strange form of spaghetti which then folded itself into jet planes, refrigerators, automobiles, color television sets, lipstick cases, and what have you.

4:09:04

This has to do with my notion that, really, the next evolutionary leap is—well, I shouldn’t call it an evolutionary leap, because it’s a leap in epigenetic development, but is what I call the genesis of visible language: that there is an ability just under the surface of human organization waiting to be coaxed out—either through yoga or slight genetic engineering or something like that—and it is something that was anticipated by the Alexandrian philosopher Philo Judaeus. He talked about the logos, which is this teaching voice, this informing thing which is heard. And he was interested in what is called the more perfect logos. And he said, “What is the more perfect logos?” And then he answered his own question and said, “It would be a logos which went from being heard to being beheld without ever crossing over a border of transition.” In other words, a form of synesthesia.

4:10:23

Well, what using ayahuasca and DMT and compounds like this—which are very closely related to our ordinary brain chemistry—and practice and dedication, you can begin to explore places where a vocal synesthesia becomes a colored topological manifold. And you can show someone your thoughts by singing in such a way as to condense visible objects into the air in front of them. And these objects are hyper-words: they are words which you don’t hear, but which you see. And, like objects, they have sides and facets and can be rotated and examined from all sides.

4:11:16

Well, now, the biases in our language that cause us to say things like, “I see what you mean,” when we mean, “I understand you fully,” shows that we really place a greater emphasis on seeing the truth than on hearing the truth. So, the truth seen is somehow more valid than truth heard. And ayahuasca is a perfect example of a plant which communicates with a visible language. The mushroom, you often hear it, and often the hearing evolves into a visible synesthesic field of photonic input. But the ayahuasca always communicates visually, and it’s like the Mayan glyphs or something. It’s this fantastically complicated surface which is conveying alien meaning. After an ayahuasca trip you just feel like your eyes are sticking out of your head, because you’ve just been looking, as one looks as the page of a book, for hours and hours as this strange alien three-dimensional language flows through your mind.

4:12:34

But I believe that this is a human ability just under the surface, and that in psychedelic states of mind this happens to people. This is why all the fiddling with glossolalia—it’s the hope of reaching, you know, that concordance of chemistry and that the moment that will allow this to happen because it’s for some reason very satisfying. It’s like an utterly harmless siddhi. It is true magic and the person doing it is utterly transported by their ability to project visual beauty. But it appears to have no use other than entertainment of one’s self and others. But eventually, when it is integrated as a cultural mode, I think it is what telepathy will be. Telepathy will not be hearing other people’s thoughts in your head, telepathy will be when you switch into the language that lets people see what you mean. It will be the “see what I mean” language.

4:13:42

And I think that the psilocybin from the very beginning was catalyzing the language centers, and in fact the kind of language that I’m speaking to you right now is a prototypic type of this eventual development in human organization. And that this is the thing that makes humans unique: is this ability to make small mouth noises which are arbitrarily encoded with conventionally agreed-upon meanings, which allows us, then, a vast control of a previously invisible linguistic space. And it’s in that linguistic space that we have erected our cathedrals, and conducted our pogroms, and gone about all our forms of business. And becoming aware of this—of language as a thing to journey into, and language as a thing to avoid the pitfalls of—to be… you know, the Buddhists say awareness of awareness. Maybe it’s easier if one thinks of it as awareness of language, you know?

Audience

I wanted to pursue this thing of the visual language, because they’ll have their mouth open and there will literally be these beautiful things coming out of their mouth with flowers. And they interpret this flowery speech, but perhaps they were in fact doing what you’re talking about.

4:15:11 McKenna

Well, they don’t interpret it as flowery speech. They call it that. But yes, I think that’s what it must have been. This is all very puzzling to me. And if anybody knows, if anybody is an acoustics person, or I don’t know what’s going on exactly—but the question of “what is voice?” and “what can you do with self-generated sound?” “how neutral is it to your own organism?” In other words, any of you who read The Invisible Landscape, the theory in there is that you take a certain drug, a certain plant, and you hear an interiorized tone which is not a psychological phenomenon, but rather it is actually the electron-spin resonance of these highly biodynamic molecules by the millions entering into the synaptic cleft and competing with the endogenous transmitter there for uptake. And that this MmmmMmmmMmmm is molecularly real and hence can be treated as a variable to be manipulated with the input of other kinds of sounds, such as the sound which cancels it or sound which reinforces it, to then manipulate these molecules in one’s body.

4:16:39

And this is really, I think, the frontier of shamanism worldwide: that everybody is trying to figure out how far you can go with sound, and what you can do with it, and also how dangerous is this? How permanent can some of these brain changes be? And what is the mechanism? You know, is the electron spin resonance thing pretty close to it or is that just a myth, and that an entirely different set of coupling mechanisms are, are making that happen? But all of the ayahuasca shamans are great hummers, and great controllers of their voice, and, you know, they do operate on your body with light and sound, and there are sounds which can slice into your body. And it seems to me this is where experiential and experimental work with these things should concentrate to try and understand just how much of humanness can we take control of? How bound in are we? What do these special abilities mean, and what tradition, if any, have anticipated them? The thing—



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