All quotes from Terence McKenna’s

This program of material civilization—exteriorization of ideas into matter through, first, alchemy and magic, and then science and industry—this process is coming to an end one way or another. We are either going to plant ourselves and most of the rest of the life on this planet by blindly pursuing this cultural model until we run it right over the edge into the apocalypse, or from the genes, from the bones, from the oceans, from the forests, from the glaciers, there is going to have to come a turning point, a change, a revulsion so profound that is allows us by the tens of millions to change how we think about reality, to change how we live.

Western civilization at this moment is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet. And we—for all our pretensions to a sensitivity to the presence of vitamin C or zinc in our diet, or all the rest of this malarkey—we are the major prevaricators of this situation. So a certain obligation rests upon us.

This is a mental discipline so dispassionate that it sees nothing at all wrong with strapping monkeys into apparatus and hurling them into walls at 70 miles an hour to study traumatic injuries. This is a discipline so unflinching in its pursuit of truth that it will design tiny television cameras to be implanted in plastic penises so that we can see the changes in the color of the vaginal wall as it approaches orgasm. I mean, these guys are unstinting in their devotion to truth in any form! And yet—and yet!—for thirty years, science has accepted government’s refusal to allow science to look at the potential impact of psychedelic plants and compounds on human consciousness, on chronic alcoholism, on schizophrenia, on depression, on autism, on learning disorders, on dyslexias, on memory enhancement, so forth and so on. This, to me, is obscene.

The future is mental. Figure it out: if the mind does not loom large in the future history of this species, then what the hell kind of a future is it going to be? I mean, this is our crowning glory. Our aesthetic sensitivities, our ability to create values that are not simply based on the next meal, the next sexual encounter, the next empowering social move, but an ability to create social values based on creating a viable future environment for children, creating a viable present environment for the less fortunate among us, creating a social safety net so that the more maladaptive of us are not reduced to living under bridges and in abandoned automobiles. I mean, these are the things which set us above the apes. These are the things which take us out of the context of organic nature and make it seem as though, hey, there actually are some transcendental values being maximized here. There actually is something going on within the human family. But if it were to be lost, fumbled away, compromised, or destroyed, the universe would be a poorer place for it. Truly a poorer place for it.

We take our humanness too much for granted. I don’t think we realize how nasty, brutish, and short most of life has been over the centuries, and how, really, only within the confines of the twentieth century has a level of comfort and food availability and shelter and basic creature needs been met, to the point where most people can begin to lead the philosophical life that previously was the privilege of emperors, kings, great courts. Now we all indulge ourselves. We all have the philosopher king’s point of view. We all have a model of history, a model of the future. And we all feel capable of stepping into the shoes of our leaders and discharging that responsibility.

What science would have you believe (and explicitly implies) is that we are an aberration. Over here you have nature: the beautiful rainforests, the wonderful coral reefs, the symmetry of the hummingbird, the sea urchin, and the butterfly. And here you have us: grimy, tawdry, polluting, ugly, driven, in disequilibrium, in denial. I don’t believe that. I believe that this kind of thinking that breaks humanity away from the rest of nature is the first of the great disempowering myths by which the Western mind has enslaved itself. And we are not outside of nature. We are not a runaway toxic process. We are not a mutation. We are, in fact, that part of nature which has been deputized for a purpose. We are the energy-gathering aspect of the Gaian mind. We are the language-forming capacity of Nature herself.

We are a strategy on the part of the Gaian mind to produce an effect that would otherwise take much, much longer to produce. The main effect of the presence of human life on this planet has been to vastly accelerate the speed at which nature is able to creatively express herself.

The psychedelic experience dissolves boundaries. That’s what it does. And boundaries are what chain, diminish, define, and degrade us. And we are always creating them, and we are always struggling with dissolving them. And the ultimate boundary is this belief in the sanctity of the ego versus everything else in the cosmos.

Culture is an enormous arrow pointing “go this way.” And you know what lies that way? Impoverishment, madness, degradation, and death. That’s where the culture is pointing. You can see it! You can see it! Just look where we’re headed. If everyone on Earth aspires to the kind of lifestyle that you people can enjoy by virtue of having paid the money to be at a scene like this, there isn’t enough glass, metal, and plastic in the planet to make that many Celicas and Jaguars and Bluebirds and Snowbirds, and all the rest of this crap. So what is needed is an awakening.

For heaven’s sake, nobody is suggesting that LSD is a cure for alcoholism. That, to me, is absurd. It’s not a cure for alcoholism, it’s a cure for stupidity! And a person (who is killing themselves by drinking themselves to death) takes 500 mics of LSD and says, “What a stupid person I am! I’m killing myself!” And so then they look at their behavior and they cease that behavior. And this is what has to be done on a societal scale. And it is not as difficult as we may wish to be assured by the establishment.

The male-dominant agenda is so fragile that any competitor is felt as a deadly foe.

You can’t do it by yourself. That’s the entire message of the last 10,000 years of human history. The self is insufficient. The ego will not suffice. The only way you’re ever going to get anywhere is: you must humble yourself to the point where you admit that you can’t do it unless you have help from someone.

The Gaian mind. And it is this feminine, nurturing, enfolding thing. It’s the mind of nature itself. It is really our own mind—but extending, then, away from this possessive notion of “our” mind back into the general concept of mind itself.

Instead of human beings being like mute witnesses to the grandeur of Jehovah’s creation or some kind of trip like that, instead you discover: aha, human beings are important. We are more novel than anything else in nature. And we twentieth-century human beings are more novel, more interconnected, more complex, and in possession of more and different kinds of knowledge than most of the people who preceded us. So this growing toward complexity seems to be what the universe is all about.