24 Random Quotes from the Library's collection

The reality of money is of the same type as the reality of centimeters, grams, hours, or lines of longitude. Money is a way of measuring wealth but is not wealth in itself.
Alan Watts
1970
Something so extraordinary is happening on this planet. I mean, you know, for hundreds of millions of years biology flowed across the surface, and species advanced and retreated, and sensory organs were refined and redefined, and so forth and so on, but about 35,000–50,000 years ago, language broke loose. And language is the sheer will of information itself to transform itself. I mean, our medium is meat, but we are made of information, you know? And that information could be fed into a computer, crystallized into a virus. What we are is a long message that is being typed out in proteins by thousands of ribosomes coordinated over time. We are sort of like a phonograph record. And when you’re young, you know, certain enzyme systems, certain genes, are turned on. And then you pass into midlife, other genes are turned on, certain genes are turned off. It’s like a melody: theme and variation being brought back. The theme being enriched and worked. And then, finally, the whole thing builds to a crescendo, and then one by one the genes are turned off, and the audience tugs on its overcoats, and cabs are hailed, and people go home for the evening. But that’s what you are: you’re a story, a piece of code being run in the great computer of the world.
Terence McKenna
1994
The first lineaments of a common consciousness contain in themselves a vital need to make themselves clear and to prolong themselves internally. Intellectually, the progress of science is proceeding to construct a synthesis of the laws of Matter and Life, which, fundamentally, is nothing else but a collective act of perception; the world seen in the same coherent perspective by the whole of mankind.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1965
More people spend more time running away from themselves. Well, isn’t that wretched? What a definition. What an experience of selfhood if it’s always something you’ve got to be running away from and forgetting. Say you read a mystery story—why? To forget yourself. You join a religion—why? To forget yourself. You get absorbed in a political movement—why? To forget yourself. Well, it must be a pretty miserable kind of self if you have to forget it like that, you see? Now, for a person who doesn’t have an isolated sense of self, he has no need to run away from it, because he knows.
Alan Watts
If you see that the idea of separate things is an abstraction—let’s call it that—then this most of all applies to you as an organism: you are not a separate thing.
The self-reflexive mind may now become totally emancipated and set out on its own course of evolution. It is not “we” who think, but “it” thinks in us. Mind becomes a creative factor not only in image-forming, but also in the active transformation of outer reality. This role of the self-reflexive mind blossoms fully in the human world.
Erich Jantsch
1980
The philosophy of science around L. L. Whyte and people like that have pointed out that, if you use as your index complexity, then you suddenly discover that human beings have moved back to the very center of the universe: that the most complex physical material in the universe in terms of density of connectedness is the human cerebral cortex. That if novelty and density of connectedness is what is being conserved, then somehow we are central.
Terence McKenna
1990
The Taoists, you see, recognized that there is this universal organism, and they thought of the cosmos as a great organism without a boss. There is no one in Chinese philosophy making the world happening, or ordering it. There is no, as it were, central principle in the middle which sends out commands to all the subordinate parts, but rather, that the thing organizes itself—their word for nature being zìrán, meaning “what is so of itself.” So they saw the whole cosmos as a self-regulating organism. And they further saw that the individual is not merely a part of that organism, he is an expression of the whole thing, and the whole depends upon this expression just as much as the expression depends upon it.
Alan Watts
Astronauts specify that it is not merely being in space that makes their time there so meaningful—there is something unique and profound about viewing and contemplating Earth from a distance.
David Yaden
2016
The factor consciousness, which for a long time perhaps represented no more than a secondary and accessory effect in Nature, a simple superstructure of the factor complexity, is finally becoming individualized in the form of an autonomous spiritual principle.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1947
Civilized people, whether Western or Eastern, need to be liberated and dehypnotized from their systems of symbolism and, thereby, become more intensely aware of the living vibrations of the real world. For lack of such awareness our consciousnesses and consciences have become calloused to the daily atrocities of burning children with napalm, of saturation bombing of fertile earth with all its plants, wild animals, and insects (not to mention people), and of manufacturing nuclear and chemical weapons concerning which the real problem is not so much how to prevent their use as how to get them off the face of the earth.
Alan Watts
1970
What psilocybin shows you is not colored lights and moving grids, it shows you places: jungles, cities, machines, books, architectonic form of incredible complexity. Just click, click, click. There is no possibility that this could be construed as noise of any sort. It is, in fact, the most highly ordered visual information that you ever experienced. Much more highly ordered than the visual experience I’m having at this moment of this room.
Terence McKenna
1982
Human beings continually try to realize their intentions, whether selfish or altruistic. As a result, they try to change the world so that it conforms to those intentions. To do this, they initially only have their bodily and mental faculties available. These are the original means by which they can realize their intentions. Technological artifacts extend, or add to, these means.
Mathematics is concerned with certain forms of process issuing into forms which are components for further process.
Alfred North Whitehead
1938
It is common wisdom to say that we are all children of God. What if it were truer to say that an infant God is moving toward adulthood through the actions of all of us, provided that life continues to evolve? Then the long journey of divinity into adulthood is neither a return to something old and lost nor a commute between two specific stations; rather, it is a journey into the unknown.
Paolo Soleri
1981
You identify with Houston, and then you identify with Los Angeles, and Phoenix, and New Orleans, and everything. And the next thing you recognize in yourself is: you’re identifying with North Africa. You look forward to that, you anticipate it. And there it is. And that whole process begins the shift of what it is you identify with. When you go around [the Earth] in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing! And that makes a change.
Russell Schweickart
1974
No one wants to be loved out of a sense of duty.
Alan Watts
1962
Is there somebody observing what’s happening in your nervous system? Is there somebody watching what you see with your eyes? No. What you’re looking at is you. As your eyes are open now, resting upon this scene, you are observing the flesh and blood of yourself. That’s it. And there’s no “you” observing it. This pattern of lights and colors and shapes is the middle of your brain. That’s how the middle of your brain feels; how you feel—and not only through the sense of sight, but through all your fingertips, the drums of your ears, the taste buds in your mouth and your nose. All they’re conveying to you of the external world is you.
Cosmic immortals are creatures who live anywhere in the universe they damn well please, travel as fast as they want to, and never die. That’s the idea of a god. A god goes anywhere, never dies, and moves as fast as a god wants to move. That is what we are evolving toward, gradually. Most futurists do not make predictions that outrageous because futurists are trying to become respectable. Those of you who heard me in Boulder last night know that I have no desire to become respectable. I am in a much more dangerous business than that, I am trying to provoke new thoughts.
Robert Anton Wilson
1986
Each grain of thought, now taken to the extreme limit of its individual consciousness, will simply be the incommunicable, partial, elementary expression of a total consciousness which is common to the whole earth, and specific to the earth: a spirit of the earth.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1941
How does the mind absorb suffering? It discovers that resistance and escape—the “I” process—is a false move. The pain is inescapable, and resistance as a defense only makes it worse; the whole system is jarred by the shock. Seeing the impossibility of this course, it must act according to its nature—remain stable and absorb.
Alan Watts
1951
We’re children equally of the Earth and the sky. In our tenure on this planet we’ve accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage: propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders. All of which puts our survival in some doubt. But we’ve also acquired compassion for others, love for our children, a desire to learn from history and experience, and a great, soaring, passionate intelligence—the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity. Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of the small planet Earth. But up there, in the cosmos, an inescapable perspective awaits. National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent, fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.
Carl Sagan
1980
Because the planetary culture is becoming ever more closely knitted together, all its parts are becoming codependent. So, for instance, an earthquake which destroys central Tokyo would ruin the economy of Belgium, because the retraction of Japanese capital from world markets would set up reverberations that would be felt everywhere. The system is being slaved ever more tightly to various portions of itself. Crop failure in Russia causes strikes in Argentina, and so forth and so on. And this will accelerate. Well then, the task of management, somehow, is to bring this coalescing system through this transition period without the whole thing getting so much vibration built up into it that it falls apart. And so it’s very alarming to see barbarism uncontrolled in the world, to see people being pushed into boxcars on their way to extermination camps, and all this. This means that the global control systems are in danger of breaking down.
Terence McKenna
1994
When the student finds that there is absolutely no way of being his true self—not only is there no way of doing it, there is also no way of doing it by not doing it; you can’t do it by doing something, you can’t do it by not doing something. Let me, to make this clearer, put it into Christian terms: thou shalt love the Lord thy God. Now what are you going to do about that? If you try very hard to love God and you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” you find out you’re doing it because you want to be on the side of the big battalions. You want to be right! After all, the Lord is the master of the universe, isn’t he? And if you don’t love him, you’re going to be in a pretty sad state. So you realize: “I’m loving him just because I’m afraid of what’ll happen to me if I don’t.” And then you think, “That’s pretty lousy love, isn’t it?” And you think, “That’s a bad motivation! I wish I could change that. I wish I could love the Lord out of a genuine heart.” Well, why do you want to change? Nu-uh. See? I realize that the reason I want to have a different kind of motive is that I’ve got the same motive. So I say, “Oh, heaven’s sakes! God, I’m a mess! Will you help me out?” And then he reminds you: “Why are you doing that? Now you’re just giving up, aren’t you? You’re asking someone else to take over your problem.” So you suddenly find, you see: you’re stuck.
Alan Watts


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