When I was 16–20 years old, computer scientists were all over the place assuring us that machines don’t think! That’s preposterous! That will never happen. That’s a complete misunderstanding of what artificial intelligence is about. Actually, those voices have fallen silent recently because the people in the field know the thinking machine is on its way, and what will it do for our ontological view of our place in the universe?
What psychedelic drugs do has not been dealt with at all. And until it is dealt with I think we will be in this peculiar situation, this peculiar cultural milieu, of being half-conscious and having being fully conscious be a semi-criminal endeavor.
Language is a strange form of telepathy. It’s that I make little mouth noises, consulting a dictionary I have, and you hear the little mouth noises, and you consult another dictionary similar enough to mine that you get my thoughts into your head—out of little mouth noises. Now, how far can this be carried? I think it can be carried far. Far. Much further than any of us actually might wish to be congealed.
I remember this one trip where it came on with this Rod Steiger trip, like in The Pawnroker; like someone who had been disturbed in the grass. And I said, “What are you doing here?” I say to the mushroom. It says, “What am I doing here? I’m not doing anything here. It wasn’t a bad neighborhood till the monkeys got out of control!” I said, “But so you’re just sort of here? And you’re living here? Why are you living here?” It said, “Well, you’re a mushroom, you live cheap! That’s all. It’s just a low-rent section of the galaxy out here. Not much action.”
I had a trip this summer where I sort of tricked myself, and I took what I would have to describe as “approaching too much.” And about thirty minutes into it I realized that it was a great deal more than I had thought. And I could see this thing coming toward me which was like about a hundred miles wide and ten miles high, and it was just coming fast. In fact, I only had time enough to lie down. It was coming that fast. And as I was lying there I felt this hand on my shoulder. And a very dry, distant, but somewhat sexy female voice said—it was like a stewardess—said, “They say it helps if you close your eyes, cowboy!”
Go into the hidden dimension and return with numinous, culture-constellating material.
The reason people are no damn good is because they have no sense of social responsibility. And it is the cultivation of this sense of social responsibility that will pave the way for anarchy. And it isn’t social responsibility as preached from the pulpit, it has to be from the guts. It has to be real social responsibility! And then, lo and behold, the withering away of the state and all these highly unlikely things will actually come into view. But it will take almost a sub-telepathic or proto-telepathic society for this to happen. Computer networking and that sort of thing can provide the hardwiring for the basic data—you know, the banking data, the statistical data, the real unconscious of the machine part of humanity—but it’s human beings that are going to have to make this leap to responsibility, to usher it in.
The notion that there are individuals is as you say: it’s an ego trip. It’s a conceit. There is a seamless web.
What these drugs do is: they drain away the water of illusion, and then you see that all the land is connected; that people are like islands sticking up out of the sea. And that, once illusion is overcome, everything is seen as unified.
Emotion is the main thing to cultivate, even in advance of drugs. That we have no language for emotion—this has somehow been taken away from us culturally or some other way. Maybe because there are so many distractions. But I was amazed, in the Amazon, how much time people who have nothing spend talking about how they feel, and have a fantastically rich language for talking about that.
I have a mortgage and two kids and all kinds of obligations. If what you want to hear from me is that you can go as far as you want to go, this is certainly true. You can go further than I am presently willing to go. I know what this stuff throws the door open to. It throws the door open to what you’re talking about, which is: becoming a Taoist sage, becoming a completely transformed human being. But that person, the person who chops wood and hauls water on cold mountain, is (by people like me and Roy and probably most of the people in this room) glimpsed through the fog, and you say, “Oh my goodness! Is he still alive up there?” You know? I know what can happen if you go into nature with this stuff. You need not come back. But that’s a decision that people have to make, because it’s so awesome. I assume eventually it will take me, and I will walk out of history. And I have friends with less responsibility than me, and perhaps more courage, who tell me stories about what it’s like—you know, to do eight grams on a glacier or a lava flow or at Mount Shasta. And I know that lifestyles are possible that could never be realized in such a way that such a person could come to this room. There’s no end to it. But you say goodbye to a lot. A lot which, if you’re ready to say goodbye to it, that’s fine. If you’re not, you should probably move at your own speed. But there’s no question.