All quotes from Terence McKenna’s

Just what is going on? Just… what do you think is going on? I mean, have you backed off from it? Do you have a grip on the outlines of the problem? Or are you just sort of adrift inside the context? Because the situation is mighty peculiar, friends! What we have here is a kind of creature made out of information, apparently loose in an environment of meaning, on the surface of a planet upon which gene swarming is happening. And all of these things—gene swarming, self-reflection, production of epigenetic codes like writing and this sort of thing—have no precedent. We don’t go out and collect other forms of these things, they all are generated out of us. We, as moderns, as inheritors of Cartesian rationalism, look out at a universe that our science tells us is energy, matter, conservation of mass and momentum, and yet we never notice the peculiar enigma posed by the question: who’s looking? Who’s looking? How is it possible that the coextensive continuum of apparent being is coordinated inside organism into an experience of ongoing becoming with which we have some kind of identification? This is very weird! It should provoke more comment than it is.

By age 8, most of us—if we have the time on our hands—are able to carry out an analysis of being where we reach the conclusion that everything is events in the nervous system. You know? I mean, we understand this. We understand that light being reflected from objects then creates neurochemical events which reconstruct an image of the outer world. So we pay lip service to this idea that everything is a neurological event, but in fact we have a very strong faith in the so-called three-dimensional Newtonian world. And yet this is the faith that can be deconstructed on psychedelics.

If you came in a flying saucer and observed the Earth, I think you would come to the conclusion that the breakout process, or the anomaly in the mix, is the human element. Animals of all sorts have existed on this planet, integrated into all kinds of ecosystems. And only in the phenomenon of human beings do you get this breakout away from genetics, away from the raw transmission of hereditary characteristics, and into a whole new realm of being; a whole new ontos of possibility which is epigenetics—codes, self-generated: language, song, dance, painting, chanting. All of these things are forms of expression, but they are not genetic expression. What seems to be happening—on this planet at least, and in the universe generally—is a conservation of complexity. A speeding-up of process and a conservation of complexity.

If you think about the life of the universe as we all have learned it from Carl Sagan, you know that we all began as an infinitely small, dense, hot dot. But that didn’t last long, because there wasn’t much going on, because there was so much energy that no arrangements could be made. Then there was a massive explosion and a tremendous drop in temperature. And at that point electrons could settle into orbits around atomic nuclei and you get atomic chemistry, which condenses into stars made of pure hydrogen and helium, which cook out iron and carbon: you get more complex chemistry with more complex bond possibilities. This allows the molecular bond to form for the first time. Suddenly an entirely new universe of possibilities springs into being. And at the end of that cascade of possibilities is organic life. Organic life, then, contorts and conserves information and folds it in upon itself and replicates it and distorts it, and you get more and more advanced forms of higher plant organisms, plants, and animals. Ultimately, this process ushers into human beings with culture; electronic culture. And then, finally, the cataclysmic connectedness of the 20th century. From a psychedelic point of view this is all a connected process.

The generalized description of the psychedelic experience is: it dissolves boundaries. And the main boundary that it was dissolving and that it does dissolve is the ego. Psychedelics are an inoculation against selfishness at the expense of group values. And it is selfishness at the expense of group values that is shoving us toward Armageddon.

Did all these people get freezed to death and stomped on by mastodons and eaten by saber-toothed tigers and ravaged by disease so you can blow it? You, with your Mercedes and your 48-foot television set? It can’t be that lame, you know?

We are getting set to take flight into what has always been our destiny. We’re special. We are not outside the plan. But we’re in a loop of the plan that the rest of organic nature is not participating in. We are the hands of the planetary mind. And the technologies that we have assembled are for the purposes of the planetary mind. Surely, it must sense the finite nature of the life of the planet and the star itself. We are a kind of strategy for moving energy around.

We are preparing to depart for a dimension which can only be called the imagination. This is what culture is. 8,000 years ago—when we began to crowd into cities and build walls and define everything into grids and mandalas—that was the beginning of the excrescence of mental space. That’s what we’re living in. These are all ideas. This was just unorganized matter put through the mills and presses of design to create a world that reflects the world that is living on the other side of our foreheads; the world of our imagination.

We have to find the door, because the place is filling up with shit. It’s very simple. And there are many doors. Here’s a door: extinction! How do you like them apples? If you can’t find any other door, nature will kick open that door and push you right through it. And yet, you know, we possess creativity on a scale undreamed of. We can find a way out. There’s no problem. We have the technologies, the money, the resources. We have everything we need except the will. It’s a mental quality lacking in us: the will to do it, the will to undertake planetary-sized projects, the will to make a plan that has a 20-year, a 50-year, and a 500-year benchmark. But we are going to have to very quickly cease our infantilism.

We are forever infantile if we do not avail ourselves of the psychedelic experience. It is on a par with sex. It makes my flesh crawl to imagine someone going from birth to the grave without ever having sex. Fortunately, life is scripted in such a way that few escape this edifying experience which most—if you question them around age 11—would seek to avoid. Well, the psychedelic experience is not made inevitable—except by death, if you insist on waiting that long—but a mature exploration of life includes it because it shows you who you are. It gives you a conducted tour of the captain’s quarters. You may not have even known the captain’s quarters existed! How much is your ignorance worth to you? We need to eliminate the unconscious mind. This is really what it comes down to, folks. We cannot—in an era of 30-minute delivery of thermonuclear weapons from anywhere to anywhere—we do not have the luxury of carrying around with us an enraged bull primate. We cannot afford the luxury of the unconscious, the hidden motive, the unexamined drive, the misunderstood acquisition.

If we empower ourselves and become reacquainted with the authentic dimension within us, then we won’t put up with this crap anymore. This is what happened in the 1960s. People wouldn’t put up with it anymore and they poured into the streets and raised holy hell. Scared everybody to death. Why wouldn’t they put up with it anymore? Because they saw how shoddy, chintzy, and knocked-together it is. We’ve been sold a pig in a poke! It’s not worth having. These things don’t make us happy, they don’t bring us wisdom, they don’t give us depth. It’s an infantile, insulting, ridiculous society, except that it’s holding a gun to the head of every living thing on this planet.