The human enterprise has grown from an enterprise confined to one primate species isolated on the grasslands of Africa, to an enterprise which now echoes and re-echoes in the life of every organism on the planet. We have, for better or ill, seized the tiller of planetary development, seized the tiller of human history. And the question is: whither are we headed? Where do we want to take the human adventure?
Occluded from our vision (and for very good reasons) is the raison dêtre of this process—human history—and that we are now in a position to raise the veil on what that goal might be. But there will be a number of casualties to this raising of the veil—not least among them science as ordinarily practiced, dominator politics as ordinarily practiced, and the division of our human community into factions defined by race, religion, and class. All of these institutions and styles of the past have now become essentially lethal if we expect to evolve deeper into some kind of humane future.
Many people are in anticipation of a kind of apocalypse, a kind of complete breakdown of social institutions and ideals. And I must say to you: the apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet. And it’s only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.
History is a dysfunctional state of some sort. History is an act of brutish insensitivity only achievable through an act of self-limitation from the demands and the inspiration of nature.
I mean, where is it writ large that talking monkeys should be able to model the cosmos? If a sea urchin or a raccoon were to propose to you that it had a viable truth about the universe, the absurdity of that assertion would be self-evident. But in our own case we make an exception.
The entire effort of the establishment has become one of holding down panic, keeping the ball in play, keeping ordinary people and ordinary populations quiescent: through drugs which are not psychedelic, through forms of media which are not transcendental and inspiring, but which are narcoleptic and deadening—I won’t name any names here.
What is needed is a radical openness to new ideas of all sorts. And I believe that once the radical openness to new ideas is given respectability, the boundless creativity of the human mind will be tapped into and come to our aid. But we have to stop trying to preserve a status quo which has made us neurotic and self-defeating, admit that we have wandered long in the wilderness, and then begin to talk about what should be done about it.
I’ve always felt that the phobia which the powers that be feel toward the psychedelic experience is essentially a phobia of of creativity, a phobia of dissolved boundaries, a phobia of honest discussion on a level playing field.
What we have to do is back away from our obsession with things. We can no longer define our worth through attachment to things. We have to create a psychology that reinforces inner worth.
If you had a situation where the Earth’s population was dropping by fifty percent in a forty-year period, it might be difficult for a corporation to make money in that kind of a situation by selling its products, but the wealth of the living would increase by fifty percent. Because you would, every week, be inheriting farms and country homes from cousins and aunts and uncles you didn’t even know you had. So the wealth of individuals would increase, but the wealth of corporations would be under severe stress in that kind of a situation. Well, then that means these corporations have become a kind of toxic force operating against the best interests of individuals.
We have the technological ability, the financial punch—even at this late date in the mismanaged republican game—to change the world. What we seem to lack is the means, the ability, the chutzpah (whatever it is) to change our minds. We must change our minds. Each and every one of us.
If there were only chipmunks and wildcats and cockroaches on this planet, then Darwinian evolutionary theory as modified by molecular biology would be completely adequate to explain the situation. It is ourselves that overturn that cheerful model of what is going on. We represent a breakout from the rules of organic nature and evolution that is no mere small exception. Because whatever this breakout that we represent is, it has become the dominant force shaping the planet.
What is happening here is not the death of the species or the death of a planetary ecosystem, what is happening here is the birth of a new cosmic order. And if you were to encounter someone giving birth and you had never seen it or even heard it, your impression would be one of emergency. Blood is being shed, there’s moaning and groaning and pain and pleading. It’s a great leap to be able to look at this and say, “Aha, something wonderful is happening here. A new life is about to enter the cosmos. An individual that never existed before is about to take his or her place among us.” This is what we are caught in.