24 Random Quotes from the Library's collection

Instead of getting into these infinite regressions of “what is beneath,” “what is behind”—look! It’s right out in front of you now. And when you catch on to that, now gets very profound.
Alan Watts
1971
The rise of complexity through layering—through stratified stability—is seen everywhere. A symbiosis of prokaryotes created eukaryotes. Around the gymnosperm’s “naked seed” evolved the additional layer of the angiosperm’s “covered seed.” Solitary insects came before the hive and the hill. Computer programmers ensure that each subroutine checks before assembling the whole. Fax machines incorporate prior stable units: telephone, microchip, printing, paper, and alphabet. Words preceded sentences, which preceded books. All are composites, layer stacked upon stabilizing layer.
It is the rediscovery of congruence between the part and the whole. It is the reconnection of the speck to the enormity of the cosmos.
What you are—really—is the energy field, and it keeps doing you! It keeps peopleing. And it’s you who keep peopleing. Who else is responsible?
Here you have a bunch of points. The more points that are connected to each other, the greater number of pathways among points, hence the greater the density of complexity. Well, if you carry that idea to its—what I call—rational or absurd conclusion, then the most complex matrix imaginable is what’s called a monadic plenum. It’s a situation where, in mathematical terms, we say all points are cotangent. In other words: everywhere is here. What is not here is nowhere. And that seems to be where all this technology and novelty is pushing us. And if that’s where we’re going, then it will not stop until we achieve it.
Terence McKenna
1997
Life is—whatever it is, it’s an opportunity of some sort. And the things I have been most grateful for were the things that I met at the frontiers of knowledge, of sexual experience, of psychedelic experience. Knowing, feeling, and being one with being.
Life no longer appears as a thin superstructure over a lifeless physical reality, but as an inherent principle of the dynamics of the universe.
I believe that what makes the psychedelic experience so central is that it is a connection into a larger modality of organization on the planet—which is a fancy way of saying it connects you up to the mind of Nature herself.
Terence McKenna
1995
Our independence seems to be conditioned, glued in fact, to an ever-increasing dependence. The glue that defrauds of a clear consciousness of this dependence is money. As long as we can depend on the ability of money to keep our dependency solvent, we call ourselves independent.
The ultimate answer may perhaps be found again in a complementarity: as we elevate pluralism to our creative principle, we embed the totality of human history meaningfully into the dynamics of an overall evolution which acts as an unfolding unity. As we realize ourselves as wholes, we become an integral aspect of a universal whole. As we live to the fullest extent, we overcome cosmic cold and loneliness.
I don’t know if it’s just that we are neurologically set up—that there’s a button in us (the equivalent of a reset button) that just clears all the registers, and that’s why it’s wholly other. It’s wholly other because you just dumped your entire memory load off your disk and you’re now looking at a clean disk for the first time in your life, and you don’t have the faintest idea what it could possibly be. It’s something like that. Language fails. Anticipation fails.
Terence McKenna
1994
He knows himself to be one with all, for he is no longer separating himself from the universe by seeking something from it.
In the course of history, Buddhism keeps changing. It develops, it grows. As people make all these explorations that the original Buddha suggested, they find out all kinds of new things, they explore the mind, they find out all the tricks of the mind, they—oh, they find out ever so many things, and they begin to teach these things; talk about them.
That is the contribution of the animal body to this evolutionary symbiosis—which I believe will end in the conquest of the universe by organized intelligence.
The one aspect of reality that I have close acquaintance with—in fact, to adopt the languages of philosophers—the only aspect of the world that I have direct acquaintance with is my own consciousness. I know nothing about the world. The only thing I really know about the world, the only thing I have direct knowledge of, is my sensations.
I referred to the unparalleled complexity of the human group—all those races, those nations, those states whose entanglements defy the resourcefulness of anatomists and ethnologists alike. There are so many rays in that spectrum that we despair of analysing them. Let us try instead to perceive what this multiplicity represents when viewed as a whole. If we do this we will see that its disturbing aggregation is nothing but a multitude of sequins all sending back to each other by reflection the same light. We find hundreds or thousands of facets, each expressing at a different angle a reality which seeks itself among a world of groping forms. We are not astonished (because it happens to us) to see in each person around us the spark of reflection developing year by year. We are all conscious, too, at all events vaguely, that something in our atmosphere is changing with the course of history.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1955
The unity of the combined system is necessary.
Gregory Bateson
1979
Ordinary language as we are using it here is a very bizarre behavioral pattern. I mean, when you deconstruct it and think about it, first of all, just notice: other animals don’t do this. Dolphins, honeybees aside, they don’t do what we do. There are no Miltons among the honeybees, I think. So what’s happening is: we have thoughts. We want to share these thoughts. We have evolved a system where the thoughts are transduced into mouth noises; small mouth noises which are conventionally assigned meaning—in other words, inside the context of a culture. “Book” means “book” in English. “Book” does not mean this in some other language. It may mean something else: “food,” “sex,” or “death.” We assign sound-signatures to meaning. We then make these sounds with our mouths. A pressure wave moves acoustically through the air. It enters the ear of the intended listener. The listener also has a dictionary, acquired through cultural convention. The incoming acoustical signals are downloaded. The dictionary is looking them up. If the dictionaries match, then we say “understanding” is taking place.
Terence McKenna
1997
Each of these parts of the brain has its own knowledge, and the reason it’s possible for us to function is that we’re like a social organization. One part of the brain, if I wanted a drink of water, I would go over there to get it. But the part of my brain that wants the drink of water doesn’t know anything about walking, but it can exploit the other one. It can sort of request to the walking machine, “Say, you know how to do that. I don’t have the slightest idea about how to move muscles.” And so in your head is something magnificent. It’s like a whole city.
Marvin Minsky
In hominized evolution the Physical and the Psychic, the Without and the Within, Matter and Consciousness, are all found to be functionally linked in one tangible process.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1947
Mind is immanent, not in a solid spatial structure, but in the processes in which the system organizes and renews itself and evolves.
There is no such thing as safety. There never was in life and there never will be. And unless you take that as your first premise in living, nothing will happen. You must be insecure.
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.
Terence McKenna
1986
How do we ever understand anything? Almost always, I think, by using one or another kind of analogy—that is, by representing each new thing as though it resembles something we already know.
Marvin Minsky
1985


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