All quotes from Terence McKenna’s

Nature, the cosmos, is a novelty-conserving engine. What I mean by that is that each level of novelty that is achieved becomes the foundation for the next level of novelty. So upon atoms are built molecules. Upon molecules, membranes. Upon membranes, cells. Upon cells, multi-cellular life. Upon multi-cellular life, primitive animals. Upon them, advanced animals. Upon them, culture. Upon culture, global electronic culture. So what that means is a revolution in how we see ourselves. Because we are the most novel entities on this planet. Our bodies, our minds, our civilization is the inheritor of all the novelty that has been produced over the life of the Earth.

The universe wants to be understood. And the act of understanding it transforms us to the point that we are unrecognizable to each other.

The Gaian mind is a real intelligence which completely surrounds the planet, and which is composed of all living things on the planet. And we alone, through the perversion of culture and language, have wandered away from this understanding. This is the source of our cosmic loneliness.

In the sixties these substances were called consciousness-expanding drugs. Just a simple phenomenological description: consciousness-expanding drugs. Imagine for a moment that this is true! If it’s true, or if there’s a chance in a thousand that it’s true, then we must explore these things. Because it’s a lack of consciousness that is pushing us toward the brink of some kind of a catastrophe. It’s the lack of consciousness that permits the spread of nuclear weapons, the rebirth of fascism, the toxification of the oceans, the degradation of the atmosphere, the proliferation of the schemes of male politicians. It’s lack of consciousness that stands between us and the kind of world that we want to create and live in. So we must use all the tools that we have in the cultural toolkit.

There’s a big political hassle about these substances because no government—democrat, fascist, socialist, you name it—no government is interested in having its people ask basic questions about freedom, responsibility, and identity. And no matter who you are, if you take psychedelics—rainforest Indian, Hasidic rabbi, Japanese stock broker—whoever you are, you will question the values of your society. You will become a force for social change and redefinition.

Mind takes the shape of its container. The ordinary container for mind is the paranoid animal: fearing attack, fearing death, fearing hunger. When we recast the mind, it actually unfolds into a higher dimension. It actually becomes a global, a universal phenomenon.

There is nothing to fear. That message—that death holds no terror, that risk is always repaid, that nature loves courage—is the message that we’ve forgotten.

The universe is not running down into entropy, the universe does not want to become a dead machine. The universe wants greater cohesion, more love, more beauty, more integration. This is what novelty is.

The most flexible person in any situation controls the situation. And they control the situation through abandonment of control. This is a Zen idea: that you steer by not steering, that you serve by not serving.

If what this is is consciousness-expansion, then we should be able to design better cities, have better economic systems, have better healthcare delivery systems, make better art, make better love, design better spacecraft. It’s just mind. It’s just creativity driven by connecting up to the real mind that is behind the appearances of nature. It’s about getting connected up to the Gaian mind, discovering that it’s not we who are intelligent, we are the brain cells of an intelligent being which is the Earth. And when we honor that, everything flourishes. And when we fail to honor that, nothing flourishes.