I think this is part of the fear that attends it. This is why professional people won’t get near this stuff—because what would you do? How would you return to your job in arbitrage if, on a Saturday night, you had a revelation of the real meaning of money? You know, you could blow the whole apple cart. You could have to change your life, God forbid. People are afraid of this.

Psychedelics

Psychedelics are a diverse class of substances including plants, chemicals, and fungi that alter perception, mood, cognition, and various aspects of consciousness. Classic psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, DMT, and mescaline work primarily by temporarily modifying neurotransmitter activity, mainly serotonin, in parts of the brain. This leads to profound changes in sensory processing, emotion, self-awareness, feelings of interconnectedness, and more. Psychedelics have been used for millennia in spiritual and healing contexts by indigenous cultures. Today, while regulated as illegal drugs, a renaissance of research over the past couple decades suggests psychedelics may have significant therapeutic potential when very carefully administered in controlled clinical settings, especially for mental health.

However, psychedelics remain controversial. Recreational use carries risks like anxiety, confusion, panic attacks, and accidents. Uncertainty continues around the drugs’ effects on those predisposed to mental illness. But evidence points to psychedelics having low dependence potential, encouraging researchers to further explore microdosing, MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD, psilocybin for depression, and other medicinal uses.

Documents

Laura Huxley   (1963)

A Beautiful Death

When Aldous Huxley was on his deathbed, he asked his wife Laura to administer him with LSD. She agreed. Two weeks after her husband’s death, Laura wrote this moving and detailed account of Aldous’s last days to her brother-in-law, Julian.

Terence McKenna   (1996)

A Few Conclusions About Life

In his signature wide-ranging style, McKenna explores culture, shamanism, psychedelics, and humanity's collective journey through spacetime. He advocates embracing the ineffable mystery unfolding through us, moving toward a hyperspatial cyberculture. To rediscover our shared humanity, we must trust the transformative wisdom of psychedelic plants.

Alan Watts   (1964)

A Psychedelic Experience

Fact or Fantasy?

As our minds melt into mystic union with the cosmos, philosopher Alan Watts implores us to embody the trippy truth—reality is but a divine drama. Let psychedelic portals transport you through the looking glass, where self and world swirl together like paints in a kaleidoscope. But tread carefully upon this razor's edge, where heaven and hell commingle. Are you ready to lift the veil?

Terence McKenna   (1989)

A Psychedelic Point of View

Buck the status quo! Rebel philosopher Terence McKenna shook things up in this closing speech after a month of being scholar-in-residence at Esalen, arguing that reality escapes our rational grasp. He chided science and philosophy's paltry models that diminish nature's infinitude. Seeking to spur his audience from passive acceptance, McKenna called to revere expanded consciousness. He urged toppling the assumptions bolstering dominator culture to midwife more liberated, psychedelically-attuned societies. By trusting our intuition's cosmic tether, we can transform reality into something stranger and more wonderful than we suppose.

Terence McKenna   (1993)

A Weekend with Terence McKenna

“Healing the inner elf through trance, dance, and diet”—the session for true McKenna enthusiasts: twelve hours with the bard himself, in which he touches upon practically all of his trademark topics.

Terence McKenna   (1997)

Appreciating Imagination

Join Terence McKenna in this weekend workshop as he takes us on an imaginative journey into the depths of human creativity. Through eloquent exploration of psychedelics, virtual worlds, and shamanic states of consciousness, McKenna reveals how embracing our imagination allows us to envision and manifest alternate realities beyond cultural conditioning. By cultivating our creative faculties with mathematical reasoning, intuition, and immersion in nature, he guides us toward transcending ideological limits into an enlightened future of compassion. Ultimately, breaking boundaries through the power of imagination will inspire us to reach new heights of understanding and connectivity.

Alan Watts

Being Far Out

(Spiritual Alchemy)

Alan Watts touches upon a peculiar tendency wherein psychedelic drugs may ignite mystical experiences similar to those known in the Eastern philosophies. However, wheras Buddhism, Hinduism, and Zen accompany these mystical experiences with discipline in order to cultivate positive outcomes, psychedelically induced insights may lead to unhealthy misinterpretations and possibly even delusions of grandeur if not handled properly.

Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake   (1991)

Cannabis Trialogue

This trialogue explores the various effects and cultural significance of cannabis use. Potential benefits for creativity, spirituality, and personal growth are discussed, as well as concerns about possible negative consequences like lethargy and addiction. The debate also revolves around the merits of legalization versus decriminalization and the role of governments in drug policy.

Terence McKenna   (1999)

Culture and Ideology are not Your Friends

Delivered at the Whole Life Expo, Terence focuses on one of his favorite questions: what does it mean to be human in this cosmos?

Terence McKenna   (1998)

Dreaming Awake at the End of Time

Join Terence for an eclectic think along the deconstruction of the deepening worldwide weirdness. With his characteristic hope and humor, McKenna examined time and its mysteries, the nature of language, the techniques of ecstasy, high technology and virtual cyberspace, the role of hallucinogenic plants in shamanism and the evolution of human cultures, and the foundations of postmodern spirituality.

Terence McKenna   (1995)

Evolving Times

This evening address is one of Terence’s funniest, in which much is said about monkeys, mushrooms, plants, and people. The question and answer session gets good and lively, with his unique analysis of UFOs, governments, and possible evolutionary pathways for us and the planet.

Terence McKenna   (1998)

Future of Art

Terence McKenna prophesies a future where technology obliterates barriers between imagination and reality. Psychedelics combined with VR could unleash humanity’s collective artistic genius. AI superintelligence may already be awakening on the internet, rendering us obsolete—or granting us godlike abilities to merge with the planetary mind. McKenna envisions downloading consciousness into machines, uplifting animal sentience, and the human diaspora splintering into cyber-cultures. While uncertain outcomes loom, he beckons us toward an unconstrained existential canvas where biology and technology intertwine to manifest our wildest psychic dreams.

Terence McKenna   (1998)

In the Valley of Novelty

Journeying through multiple dimensions of psychedelic consciousness, Terence McKenna's visionary weekend workshop invites us on an entheogenic voyage to the frontiers of the mind and its imminent conquering of matter. Blending scientific insights with shamanic wisdom, McKenna argues that natural plant medicines like psilocybin and DMT provide portals into mystical realms and alien dimensions, catalyzing revelations about nature, reality, and the human psyche. He urges us to courageously explore these consciousness-expanding substances, seeking the gratuitous beauty and truths they unveil. For McKenna, the psychedelic experience holds secrets to our world and ourselves—if only we dare lift the veil.

Terence McKenna   (1992)

Limits of Art and Edges of Science

Terence McKenna proposes a radical view of history as a self-limiting process, driven by an attractor pulling us toward a transcendent, alien encounter that will transform human experience. He advocates the transformative power of psychedelics to unlock our collective potential, urging a forced evolution of language and consciousness to navigate the looming collapse of civilization and embrace the cosmic destiny of our species.

Carl Sagan   (1969)

Mr. X

Written under the pseudonym Mr. X to avoid the heavy social stigma associated with marijuana consumption at the time, Carl Sagan documented his personal experiences with cannabis in this essay in order to dispel common misconceptions about the drug. It was later published in the 1971 book Marihuana Reconsidered by Lester Grinspoon. Sagan enjoyed cannabis on a regular basis for the rest of his life, but never spoke of it publicly.

Terence McKenna   (1998)

Nature Loves Complexity

Terence argues that psychedelics reconnect us to archaic values like community, reverence for nature, and direct felt experience. He sees psychedelics as part of nature's tendency to conserve complexity and novelty. McKenna critiques science's misapplication of probability theory and suggests time itself fluctuates, finally proposing an ethics of aligning with nature's creative unfolding.

Terence McKenna   (1997)

Our Cyberspiritual Future

Terence holds court on our civilization's journey toward the eschaton at this weekend Esalen gathering. He riffs on topics from psychedelic states and alien intelligences to time travel and VR. McKenna argues we're evolving toward an unimaginable state of accelerating novelty, propelled by advancing technology. A mind-expanding ride for the open-minded psychonaut or armchair traveler, guided by one of the twentieth century's most eclectic thinkers.

Alan Watts

Problems of Meditation

Watts illuminates meditation as a vehicle to transcend the illusion of individuality and realize one’s intrinsic unity with the cosmos. He unveils a symphony of sacred techniques—from breath awareness to primordial sonic mysticism—as potential pathways to the ineffable experience of non-dual consciousness. By surrendering the ego’s compulsive control, one may ultimately arrive at the paradoxical fruition of subject and object coalescing into one unconditioned field of pure witnessing awareness.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham   (1992)

Psychedelics and Mathematical Vision

Through visions and swirling fractal forms, three trailblazers embarked on a cosmic journey to the furthest frontiers of consciousness. Seeking to map the mathematical landscapes glimpsed in psychedelic states, they pondered perplexing philosophies and disputed the deepest quandaries of science and spirit. Though technology promises portals to enchanted realms of pattern and meaning, can cold silicon chips ever capture the warmth of Gaia's embrace?

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham   (1991)

Psychedelics and the Computer Revolution

Psychedelics unlock the mind's eye, let mathematicians fly To landscapes unseen, where patterns careen in colors serene. As symbols may hide truths inside, these vines we must untwine. With psychedelics we'll refine new ways for minds to shine: Computers give form, classics reborn, realms to adorn. Together they'll fuse, creativity diffuse, inventions produce! So let inhibitions loose, imagine the use, as we choose the hues Of mathematical views, and virtual worlds that enthuse!

Terence McKenna   (1999)

Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines

Humanity is metamorphosing through the synergy of psychedelics and machines, transcending biological constraints to become a galactic, immortal intelligencia. Print defined our ego boundaries, but electronic media and plant allies are dissolving those illusions. Merging with superintelligent AIs, we’ll birth an alchemical singularity—a spiritual, universe-taming mind born from techno-shamanic ecstasy. History crumbles as novelty’s virus engulfs the old operating systems, unleashing our wildest potentials. The felt presence of boundless experience awaits!

Aldous Huxley   (1954)

The Doors of Perception

The Doors of Perception is a philosophical essay detailing Aldous Huxley’s experiences of a mescaline trip that took place over the course of an afternoon in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake’s 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, which range from the purely aesthetic to sacramental vision. He also incorporates later reflections on the experience and its meaning for art and religion.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham   (1998)

The Evolutionary Mind

What could have been the cause for the breakthrough in the evolution of human consciousness around 50,000 years ago? Part of the Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable held at the University of California.

Alan Watts   (1962)

The Joyous Cosmology

Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness

The Joyous Cosmology is Alan Watts’ exploration of the insight that the consciousness-changing drugs LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin can facilitate when accompanied with sustained philosophical reflection by a person who is in search, not of kicks, but of understanding. More than an artifact, it is both a riveting memoir of Alan’s personal experiments and a profound meditation on our perennial questions about the nature of existence and the existence of the sacred.

Alan Watts

The Psychedelic Explosion

Alan talks about the upcoming revolution in which Western society will have to come to grips with the existence of the psychedelic/mystical experience, and how to integrate it into our culture in a productive, fulfilling, and responsible manner. Included are personal recollections of DMT and LSD trips experienced by Watts himself, why the utilization of psychedelic drugs should be seen as a tool, his vision of a psychedelic campus for guided mystical experiences, and why prohibition is doomed to failure.

Terence McKenna   (1983)

The Syntax of Psychedelic Time

Terence McKenna weaves a tapestry of ideas exploring fractal time, the psychedelic mushroom's potent voice, and humanity's impending transcendence into a galactic, post-biological singularity. Brace yourself for a journey through the uncharted realms of novelty and consciousness expansion.

Alan Watts   (1960)

The Value of Psychotic Experience

Watts questions society’s rigid definitions of sanity and madness, arguing we should embrace diverse states of consciousness rather than forcibly conform people. Drawing from Zen and Eastern thought, he advocates a humble, curious approach to the human condition, eschewing the search for grand, predetermined meanings. Instead, Watts encourages simply being present and attentive to the spontaneity of existence, free from the narrow constraints of societal norms and expectations. He cautions against dismissing the nonconformist as “sick,” urging an open-minded tolerance of life’s variations.

Swami Sarvapriyananda   (2024)

The Watcher, the Knower, the Spirit Self

Swami Sarvapriyananda discusses the Advaita Vedanta understanding of consciousness, which sees it as the fundamental, non-dual reality behind all experience. He contrasts this with scientific theories that try to explain consciousness in terms of brain activity, arguing that such approaches cannot account for the subjective, first-person nature of consciousness. He also touches on the Vedantic views on consciousness after death, rebirth, and the relationship between spirituality and emerging technologies like AI.

Alan Watts   (1960)

This Is It

and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience

Six revolutionary essays exploring the relationship between spiritual experience and ordinary life—and the need for them to coexist within each of us. With essays on “cosmic consciousness” (including Alan Watts’ account of his own ventures into this inward realm); the paradoxes of self-consciousness; LSD and consciousness; and the false opposition of spirit and matter, This Is It and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience is a truly mind-opening collection.

Terence McKenna   (1996)

Toward the End of History

“We are transcending ourselves faster than we realize:” Terence McKenna explores his theory of novelty, psychedelics as catalysts for cognitive evolution, and the internet’s potential to disrupt power structures and empower marginalized communities. He paints a tantalizing picture of humanity’s inevitable leap into a transcendent future.

Timothy Leary   (1966)

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Aimed specifically at young adults, this hour-long, soft-spoken piece explores Leary's early research into LSD in New York and Mexico, how new ideas spread throughout society over the course of generations, his vision of a future society in which the psychedelic experience is revered and respected, the effects of marijuana, and how seekers can launch their own journey to tune in, turn on, and drop out of the modern rat race.

Terence McKenna   (1991)

Unfolding the Stone

Making and Unmaking History and Language

Also published under the title Empowering Hope in Dark Times, McKenna explores the philosophical underpinnings of alchemy and Hermeticism. He argues that these esoteric traditions promote the inherent divinity of humankind and the overcoming of fate through magic. Psychedelic plants and mystical experiences are positioned as means of glimpsing liberatory truths. McKenna ultimately seeks to empower his audience with a hopeful worldview and a sense of human potential, even in difficult times.

Aldous Huxley   (1961)

Visionary Experience

Presented at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology. Aldous Huxley had been invited to the symposium by Timonthy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass). The two had met some months earlier, when Tim invited the author of the first two major works of modern psychedelic literature (The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell) to participate in the Harvard research program. Huxley agreed and was “Subject no.11” in a group psilocybin session run by Leary in November 1960.

Terence McKenna

What I've Learned from Psychedelics

McKenna describes his encounters while in the DMT state, theorizing that the beings he met are ancestor souls communicating from beyond death, offering reassurance about the afterlife to ease anxiety over mortality. He says psychedelics catalyze an expanded consciousness, unfolding awareness into a higher dimension where one can behold this ecology of souls, and sees this expanded awareness as helping to midwife humanity’s transition to a new stage of being.