All quotes from Terence McKenna’s

The puzzle is ourselves. We don’t seem to fit in. We seem to be the unique construct in the natural world. Why is this?

Think of a dimension simply as a variable. So if I tell you that we have eight variables, then we have an eight-dimensional phase space in which whatever we’re talking about is going on. Well, obviously, the number of variables in the natural and human world is very high. So the degree to which we can perturb the mind out of its slovenly tendency to flow to the lower dimensions of the lattice and instead urge it to expand into the higher orders of the phase space, then we get a fuller picture of reality. Because it seems quite reasonable to me to say that what we call reality is a lower-dimensional slice of a higher-dimensional phase space, and we slice this higher dimension with the knife of language.

The phenomena of the mind are called “subjective.” This is a knock. You know, when you call something subjective it means it’s inconsequential or it’s a matter of opinion. We don’t realize the primacy of mind. So our value systems are in need of reconstruction.

Think of the ego as a kind of a tumor or a calcareous deposit in the personality which, if you keep taking large supplies of plant hallucinogens, this ego can never form. Just as it’s about to form or start taking hold, here comes another dose of ego-dissolving hallucinogens, and it goes away.

The ordinary use for the ego is that, when I’m having lunch with you, I need to have an ego so I put food in this mouth, not that mouth. In other words, ego tells you who you are in the spacetime locus. But it isn’t designed to tell you how great you are, or how important you are, or how central you are. It’s just that part of your neurophysiological processing that locates you to a spacetime locus, a certain 140-pound deposit of meat—that’s yours. You can walk around in it. But the ego is some kind of—it has a tendency to grow uncontrollably. It is a cancerous, tumorous kind of psychic tissue.

The story of Genesis is the story, as told, of a drug bust. Somebody was told that something was illegal, and that person broke the law and ate the drug that was forbidden, and then God was pissed off.

The edge of our world, the defeat of the scientific paradigm, the absolute confounding of a thousand years of rational philosophy and science is experientially available to every one of us but for flimsy laws! Flimsy laws—again, made by men who wear dresses. Wherever there’s bad stuff being done, these guys wearing dresses are to be found highly active. Why is this? Why is this? The church and the judiciary are, you know, in this weird lock on the evolution of the human mind.

New ideas are bad news if you’re a control freak.

Culture is more and more reflecting what we are. We are going to be the horrified witnesses of the revelation of the true nature of the human soul. We are going to find out what everybody else only wondered about, which is: who are we really? What will we do with ourselves when we are freed from the constraints of gravity, energy—and, yes, morality and politics? What are we when we begin to take off our cultural clothing? What kind of world will we build in the pure imagination?

Something is loose on the surface of this planet that replicates information—that replicates it first genetically, then epigenetically through codes and signaling systems and languages. This thing is striving for some kind of self-reflection, some kind of self-definition. The motion of the continents are its playthings. The volcanism of the mid-Atlantic trench is a part of its breathing life.

It’s just cognitive activity, is all that the psychedelic experience is. It’s accelerated cognitive activity.

A social insect hive is a kind of living brain. I mean, it is a loosely pheromonally connected nervous system that can have millions of individuals in it.

Whitehead said a wonderful thing. He said, “Understanding is the apperception of pattern as such.” And I think this illuminates a lot of what is going on in the psychedelic experience. You look at a situation, you see a pattern. That aids you in understanding the situation. But now, if you shift your view and look at the same situation again and see a different pattern, your understanding further deepens. If you shift your viewpoint again and achieve a third pattern—so understanding is the apperception of pattern as such. What we feel comfortable with as understanding, what we call understanding, is nothing more than the apperception of pattern as such! This is why these hallucinations are so absolutely beguiling, because we cannot help but perceive them as understanding. You know, in gazing upon such complex and self-transforming beauty, we perceive pattern. And the feedback of that into our psychology is a sense of meaning. So it isn’t mysterious, the way in which psychedelic plants may have synergized consciousness. They simply allowed patterns present to be perceived. And this is what we’re constantly in the process of discovering: the patterns already in place that we had overlooked.