Mike: This is episode 21 and it’s all about psychedelics. We’ve got a pretty interesting episode for you guys today. We’ve done a lot of research, we’ve read a lot of books on the subject, we’ve experimented on our own with it. We’ve got a lot to say about this. The quote you just heard is by Terrence McKenna. He’s a very prominent thinker in regards to psychedelics, cultural programming, [00:01:00] and he has a lot of ideas about psychedelics that we’re going to be referencing in this episode. First things first, let’s talk about culture. The ego. The western mind. Also known as our cultural operating system.
Our western cultural operating system is the type of mindset, sort of what we talked about in the last episode, it’s a mind identified critical, aware, discerning, judgemental, identity-based, it’s materialistic, status oriented, it’s patriarchal, [00:01:30] and probably most important it’s egocentric. Terrence McKenna calls this state of mind the dominator mind.
Euvie: Sometimes when people hear these definitions they say, “What’s wrong with this? This is the pinnacle of human being. This is when humans are most productive.” I think whenever we see a certain pattern in culture, we always have to ask ourselves why it exists. In this case, it exists because the western culture is focused around capitalism. [00:02:00] What keeps capitalism going is the cycle of production and consumption. This is exactly why we value these mental and physical states so much. The drugs that don’t fit into these kinds of cycles of production and consumption, interestingly, are the most illegal. For example, all the psychedelics: psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, DMT, peyote, mescalin. These drugs are the most illegal. In this consumer [00:02:30] producer cycle, there’s no place for them.
This is something that we’re going to talk about a little bit later, why different things are legal and different things are illegal. There’s a lot more to it than just the government looking out for your wellbeing.
Mike: We’ve got to get our terminology right here. There’s the cultural operating system that we’re referring to, which is the consumerist producing going through your week using drugs to modulate and control your body in order to consume and produce. It’s from that position [00:03:00] outside of the cultural operating system that we start to ask questions like, “Who are we? What are we doing on this earth? Are these situations that we find ourselves in acceptable, normal, beneficial to ourselves, to society?” That’s what psychedelics can do is take you out of that cultural operating system, reset your hard drive and let you re-evaluate from a fresh, clean slate.
Euvie: Yeah. Terrence McKenna has this really good quote that says that even when you take your clothes off, you’re never [00:03:30] truly naked. What he means by that is that even with your clothes off you’re still wrapped up in your culturally predetermined notions of what is normal, what is not. The states that are tied into this cycle of production and consumption are culturally valued and reinforced, and the states that don’t fit into this paradigm are frowned upon, shunned, or can even be made illegal, which is the case with these psychedelic substances.
Mike: [00:04:00] You mentioned this when we were talking before we started the episode about always needing to ask who benefits when something is culturally accepted or stigmatized.
Euvie: Yeah. That’s, I think, a really important question that we need to be asking ourselves. For example, there are certain drugs, namely alcohol, nicotine, sugar, are very much legal and very much encouraged in our society. Who benefits from this? Of course, the pharmaceutical corporations [00:04:30] make a lot of money from feeding people different prescription drugs, and food companies make a lot of money from feeding people sugar. It costs them very little to produce sugar as opposed to producing high-quality ingredients. They promote that. TV is a drug that feeds our whole consumption habits. This is the tool that corporations use to tell us what we need to be buying.
Mike: Yeah, it’s the prime method of consumerist influence. It’s better than any [00:05:00] kind of sedation method that they could prescribe to you.
Euvie: When it comes to caffeine and nicotine, they’re stimulants that keep production happening. Alcohol is a sedative or a depressant that keeps consumption going and gets you into that relaxed state where you’re going to want to eat more and smoke more and spend more money, it feeds the cycle. Just like we ask who benefits with the things that are legal, we also have to ask who benefits from [00:05:30] making certain things illegal. For example, psychedelics like LSD, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, don’t fit into this consumption production cycle. Why would they be illegal? Who benefits from making them illegal?
People who have experimented with these substances and who have thought about the implication of this experimentation, such as Terrence McKenna, believe that the reason why these things are illegal is because [00:06:00] they actually allow you to think outside of our culturally programming, they allow us to question what is real, what is normal, and why we’re doing the things that we’re doing. They allow us to ponder these deeper subjects and the act of pondering these subjects can sometimes get us off the track of this consumption and production cycle, which is something that the powers to be do not want. They don’t want us focused on this deeper thinking, they just want us to be a cog in the wheel.
Mike: [00:06:30] There’s a quote by Graham Hancock that goes, “I think it’s obvious that psychedelics are demonized and illegalized by our society because somewhere in our society are controlling minds that realize that these substances have the potential, have the power to unpick the controlling hierarchy.”
Mike: Another one by Terrence Mckenna says, “If the words life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.” [00:07:00] Many of us in the world can agree that these drugs shouldn’t be illegal, that we should have sovereignty over our own bodies and consciousnesses. The United States prison system is flooded with people for non-violent drug offenses because there’s a commercial interest in them being there, because they produce a lot of the goods in the United States and a lot of goods that are exported, as well.
Euvie: Not only does it feed this production of goods at a very cheap rate, because those prisoners don’t have to be [00:07:30] paid very much, it is also a lot easier to fill the prisons with people who are drug offenders rather than people who are murders, because there are a lot more people in the United States that take drugs than there are people who murder someone. Also, it’s very expensive for the government to prosecute a person who has committed a murder, because they have to collect all the evidence. Whereas, if they just catch someone with drugs on them, that’s all the evidence they need. It’s very easy. They’re just picking low hanging fruit.
Mike: Exactly. [00:08:00] Personal stigma, we’ve talked with a few people who have never tried psychedelics, who barely have done pot more than a handful of times. There’s some people who say that the loss of self-control is the most scary thing.
Euvie: I think people are just so disconnected from their own inner-being and they’re so identified with their ego that when that ego is stripped what they see underneath is horrifying.
Mike: Or they don’t even recognize it. It’s alien to them.
Euvie: Another thing [00:08:30] is people are afraid of, like you said, embarrassing themselves. There is a lot of social stigma associated with drug use. For example, if you walk into a bar and you’re drunk out of your mind, it’s socially acceptable. If you walk into a place and you’re tripping on mushrooms, people are going to look at you like you’re some sort of weirdo.
Mike: There’s no better way to have a terrible trip than to surround yourself with a thousand distractions or a room full of people all talking about how high they are. That sort of situation is exactly [00:09:00] what creates a terrible trip. The real use of this tool that is psychedelics is to close your eyes and self-reflect, point that light of consciousness inward and analyse yourself.
Euvie: Yeah. It’s a lot more similar to meditation than it is to partying.
Mike: Exactly. It’s in the improper use of psychedelics that it gets its reputation as something scary or something that causes you to lose control. The loss of control [00:09:30] is not necessarily the loss of self, it’s the loss of ego identification. That’s the important thing here, because when the ego is stripped you go to your base level of awareness, your base level of consciousness and identification, which is all consciousness, which is everything. Once single mind, one single awareness. The loss of that ego with its personal identification and its identity is nothing more than trimming your [00:10:00] fingernails from that larger perspective state.
I think that’s why psychedelics have had such an important role in people’s relief of terminal illness and fear of death, because it gives you a preview of death. It allows you to test it out before you actually go into it. It also gives you confidence that it’s not so bad, because this release of the identity is just nothing more than clothing, it’s just a step, it’s a chapter.
Euvie: Yeah, exactly.
Mike: If we move [00:10:30] past the discrimination of psychedelics as a drug, just like heroine, just like cocaine, if we realize that it’s not in the same category as stimulants and depressants, then we still have a number of things that we have to look at that cause anxiety in people. If you look at the science – we all have the internet, we all have the ability to Google this stuff – if you look at the actual science and stop listening to opinion about these drugs, which are, as you said, financially motivated in most cases. [00:11:00] You start to uncover the fact that these psychedelic drugs specifically, very small percentages of people actually have long lasting physical effects.
There are some cases in which people do have some sort of mental breakdown, but when it is viewed from the perspective of the destruction of the ego and the self-identification, it’s not a bad thing. If you’re viewing this self-destruction from the perspective of the ego, of course, that’s death, that’s ego death. If you’re the ego, [00:11:30] that’s not a fun place to be. However, from the point of ego death comes a new perspective on reality and people and the world that just doesn’t exist from the ego state. I think people who are, I would say, in this awakened state understand better who they are and better who we are as a people, are more societally focused and more thinking on a world scale than the normal [00:12:00] self-identified small perspective person. There is an element of death and danger to this, but it’s to the disease within you, the disease within your psyche, that’s the part that dies.
Euvie: This is actually very, very similar to what some of the eastern mystical traditions try to achieve. The Tibetan monks that meditate for decades, this is the state that they’re trying to achieve. Many people who have studied both eastern mysticism and psychedelics [00:12:30] say that it’s a very similar frame of mind, except you can do it much faster with psychedelics.
Mike: There’s also the fear of that permanent disconnection from reality. You’re going to go into this state and then you’re going to join a Buddhist cult and you’re going to disappear into the jungle and never return.
Euvie: Or become schizophrenic for the rest of your life.
Mike: Exactly, live on the street because you can’t cope with reality and you’re living in some in between place of psychosis. Baring any kind of [00:13:00] predisposition to psychosis, to schizophrenia, most psychedelics are there and gone within a few hours. Most psychedelics have their effect, send you their message, and they’re gone. Some of them, like DMT, are gone within 20 minutes. You can go to peak and come back down to baseline within 40 to 50 to 60 minutes altogether. Where you’re tripping on the outer edges of space and then, 50 minutes later, [00:13:30] you’re having your coffee and going to work.
This is the kind of release that psychedelics can give you that fit within your still normal materialistic lifestyle. It’s not something you can often be stuck in. Scientifically speaking, there have been people that have come unhinged. That’s when we get to the point of set and setting, where you do need to take a degree of preparation before you do psychedelics, especially in high doses. There’s that rule of taking [00:14:00] small, tiny doses to get acclimatized as you go on and then you take more and more until you get the desired effect. That way, there’s no surprises.
Euvie: Actually, statistically, the use of psychedelics is negatively correlated with incidents with mental illness. I can’t remember the percentage but I think it’s like 18 percent less likely to have mental illness than people who don’t.
Mike: Again, something I want to hit home here is that psychedelics are a way [00:14:30] to clean the hard drive out from that cultural operating system. I’ve got another quote here by Terrence Mckenna, “This is a society, a world, a planet dying because there is not enough consciousness, because there is not enough awareness, enough coordination of intent to problem. Yet, we spend vast amounts of money stigmatizing people and substances that are a part of this effort to expand consciousness, see thing in different ways, unleash creativity. Isn’t it perfectly clear that [00:15:00] ‘business as usual’ is a bullet through the head? A bullet through the head.”
I read it as the standard mode of operation of the dominator culture or the mind identified western state of view, is that violence is our standard operating procedure when our ideas are challenged, when our cultural operating system is challenged. I think that’s what he’s stating there. What psychedelics do is point all of the attention back on yourself [00:15:30] in areas that the normal day to day conscious mind doesn’t do. It’s something new. That’s the thing, you can take cocaine, you can take ecstasy, you can take heroine, you can take these different uppers and downers and still be you, still be that same ego-identified self. You can be a more amplified version or a more dumbed down version of that same ego-identified self.
Psychedelics cause you to venture in the unknown and look back at the consciousness viewing through your eyes. [00:16:00] It’s scary and it requires courage, this staring into the abyss. Nature rewards courage. I think our evolution has rewarded courage. It’s an important thing to face your fears, look deeply at yourself, to uncover the reason for being here, and also to increase your enjoyment of life. A consciousness focused in fear is not a consciousness enjoying the experience of being alive, especially when you [00:16:30] realize that there is no downside to facing that fear, there’s no pit of spikes at the end of the fall. There’s usually a feather pillow, a comforting state of being at the bottom of that fall.
Euvie: I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that actually. I think sometimes seeing your true nature is scary and there is not feather pillow at the other end.
Mike: Why do you think that?
Euvie: Just from my own experiences. [00:17:00] It’s not all euphoric. I’ve had probably just as many bad trips as I’ve had non-bad trips.
Mike: I wasn’t saying euphoria was at the end of it, I’m just saying the monsters tend to not be real at the end of it.
Euvie: Yeah, that’s true.
Mike: Tell me about your experiences that weren’t so good. It’s interesting to me that you would say that, because it indicates that maybe the full lesson, the full extent of the lesson hasn’t been learned yet from those experiences.
Euvie: I definitely feel that that’s true. [00:17:30] I used to experiment with psychedelics a lot more when I was younger, over 10 years ago, and I haven’t so much in the last 10 years, except a few experiences when we did mushrooms recently. Yeah, I definitely feel you’re right, that I haven’t learned those lessons yet. If we take it as a hero’s journey, I’m still in the belly of the beast.
Mike: I feel like I’ve battled the beast a lot in some of my experiences in the past with psychedelics – mushrooms specifically.
Euvie: Did you come out on the other end?
Mike: [00:18:00] Yeah. Absolutely. It was a hell through it. Coming out of it, I realized that the only monsters there were me, the reflection of me, the unrealized version of me in the story. I think in mythology, in Joseph Campbell’s version of the Hero’s Journey, he talks about the best villains being the unrealized version of the hero, being the hero fallen. The most painful battles I’ve had with my own mind have been [00:18:30] with versions of myself that were less than my ideal. I have a story I can tell from my use of mushrooms in the past.
When I was 18, a group of friends and I went hiking. We got up in the morning, about six o’ clock and we took six to eight grams of mushrooms every half hour, so that the next person up in the queue would know when they’re about to start tripping because the person before them just starting tripping. I think I was about third or fourth in line and we’re [00:19:00] sitting on this frozen lake. We’re totally Canadian, we’re ice fishing out there. We’re sitting on this frozen lake and we’ve all taken the mushrooms and we start hearing this cracking sound.
The ice around us is shifting and moving under our weight. Right as the trip started to kick in for me, I noticed this crack moving across the ice. It was like a, “Holy crap,” moment. A friend and I [00:19:30] separated from the group. The rest of the group had built fire and we’d had our food and everything out there. We had our cars pulled right up to the beginning of the lake. My friend and I took off and we went up the mountain. We started hiking and the trip and the feeling of the trip increased in how good it felt the higher up the mountain we get. It felt like nature was speaking to us, it felt like the patterns of the growth of plants around us were made for us.
It felt like everything was [00:20:00] one and connected and we were having this great experience, great chat between the two of us. We got to the very top and we remembered, all of a sudden, “We have water.” We pulled water out of our backpack and had a drink and it was the best feeling of being connected with our body and this rejuvenating thing coming through our body. We’re at the top of this mountain looking around with a beautiful view. We decide at that point it’s time to go back. We’re a couple hours into this, we’ve been gone for a while, [00:20:30] wonder what the other guys are doing.
We start hiking down the mountain. As we’re hiking down, we start getting colder, we’re getting hungrier, we’re getting a little worried about what’s happening, whether our friends are still there. From the view of the mountain, we can’t even see anyone. We’re hiking down and the feeling of it gets worse and worse and worse as we’re hiking down and it descends into this hell of physical feeling but not yet any self-created mental feeling, like self-loathing or anything like that. We’re [00:21:00] just feeling that gross purple slimy poisoned mushroom feeling that is typical to using mushrooms.
We’re getting down the hill, down, down, down. We get to the ice and it has reached this desert feeling, barren, foodless, lifeless feeling. We realize that our friends are not on the ice, they’ve all done the same thing we have, they’ve left. One of the guys that left had the guys for the car, which had the food in it. We’re sitting there [00:21:30] freezing and hungry and worried about our friends. I start spouting off this fear, I vocalize all the things that are happening internally and I start freaking out my friend. He’s getting more and more scared the more I say. I start noticing how scared he’s getting and I start acting almost like predator to prey, where I feed off of this energy and I feed him more of my energy and make him feel worse and worse and worse.
Almost like I enjoyed it. He wanted to escape [00:22:00] from me. He got into the car – the front of the car was unlocked, the back was locked, the trunk with the food in it. He gets into the car and he locks all the doors as I’m saying this shit to him and feeding on his fears. As I’m doing this, as I’m walking up to the car slowly, just harassing him, I walk up to the window and I see my reflection in it and I realize what I’m doing. I don’t know how to describe it, [00:22:30] it would almost be like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, that look of just, “My precious,” that sort of thing.
I recognized what was happening, I recognized my self as the villain in that moment and that was the peak of the effects of the mushroom. Looking in this window I actually had flashbacks to my past and all the times I was mean to people and times I enjoyed being mean to people. It really woke me up, that exact moment. It really made me realize [00:23:00] what I was doing and the effect I was having on people and how – I don’t know what you could call it – the natural disposition or culturally enforced disposition to this state of mind was not serving me, was not serving anyone else, and it needed to change at that moment.
That’s what mushrooms did for me is it changed that exact sadistic behaviour into a caring behaviour and a loving and aware behaviour of how I affect people. Pretty much, within a few minutes after that, I had apologized to my friend, [00:23:30] I told him what I realized. I said, “I will never do that again.” He came out of the car and was feeling a little better. I started realizing, he’s probably having a terrible trip from this, as well, let me try and influence his trip to be better. I immediately took a different role. Within a few minutes after that all of the guys came back, we had the keys, we had the food, we started the fire again, cooked the food. I was still feeling cold. I still [00:24:00] had this feeling that I couldn’t shake off of just bone chilling cold.
I realized that the clothes are wet from the hike. I took my jacket off, I took my sweater off. I’m sitting there in a t-shirt and shorts in front of the fire warming up and it was the best catharsis you can possibly imagine. It was like dying and realizing there’s an afterlife. It was just this feeling that – it’s very indescribable – that all of the hell of the [00:24:30] psychedelic trip was worth it at the end, that I had took something valuable from it and that I had grown closer to the friends around me. One final point from this, one final story. One of the guys that had originally been there carving chunks of ice out of the lake to get to the fish had lost interest in the fishing part and gained interest in the carving of the ice. He had been spending the previous six to eight hours I think carving this wolf’s head [00:25:00] out of the ice.
If you spend that kind of time on carving something, you’re going to get into the intricate details, especially with the attention of a mushroom influenced mind. This guy had been carving this wolf’s head out of this block of ice and brought it up to us at the fire right as we’re having this cathartic moment and showed us this block of ice. It’s hard to describe how magnificent this thing was but it was like, “Wow.” It was mind blowing and hilarious at the same time.
Euvie: [00:25:30] And so Canadian.
Mike: Yeah, totally. Anyway, to sum that up, the experience was to take this terrible habit, this selfish even sadistic way of thinking and to absolutely demolish that in the most self-reflective way. It was literally embodied in the reflection in the window. There’s no better way that could have been shown. That in itself has had long-lasting effects. That was 12 years and it [00:26:00] seems to increase in strength over time.
Euvie: It seems like psychedelics have produced some deep self-reflection for you and you’ve come out with major lessons about yourselves on the other end. What about creativity? Do you think they’ve had any kind of effect on your creative states or output?
Mike: I’ve never really used psychedelics for a creative boost, partially because I’ve always been involved in music and art when I was growing up and I had to learn pretty early on how to get [00:26:30] over the writer’s block or the creative block. Part of the way I’ve done that is to separate my creative flow state from my editing state. The creative flow state is about downloading information or setting your intention on a subject and writing down everything you could possible thing of and not limiting yourself and not censoring or editing yourself in any state. Kind of like right now in this podcast. Then tomorrow I’ll go and edit this podcast and cut out [00:27:00] ideas I don’t like or whatever.
That’s the same thing I’ve always done with music and art and anything. I think that’s another reason why psychedelics are self-limiting. They teach you how to get into that state where you don’t need them anymore. For me, psychedelics have been about getting into a new conscious state or resetting a conscious state that’s not really serving me. Even pot has done a lot of good for me in that way.
Euvie: Right. There’s actually been a lot of [00:27:30] scientific studies done on the flow state, not only for artists but also for athletes and scientists and anyone who has to channel from that ether. What they found is that people in a flow state are very non-judging of what they’re doing, they’re not evaluating what they’re doing, they’re just doing it. Sometimes to the point where people become very unaware of what is happening with their body, as you can sometimes see with musicians that are just writhing [00:28:00] on stage and making these crazy faces as they’re channelling their music.
Mike: There’s a lot of authors and people theorizing that the creative flow state is a channelling state. Books like the War of Art or Big Magic, books we’ve talked about many times before on this podcast, they talk about tapping into a higher consciousness rather than saying that you own all the ideas that come out of you. It’s more like tapping into a genius than being a genius.
Euvie: [00:28:30] Right, exactly.
Mike: Tapping into that state with or without psychedelics can create benefits days and weeks and months down the road, like psychedelics have done for me. Sometimes the download of information is so dense that it takes a long time to decode it. That’s another reason I think it’s self-limiting is it just takes so long to wade through all that information and to figure out what the symbolism meant.
Euvie: What it all means, “What does it mean, double rainbow?”
Euvie: [00:29:00] Yeah, it’s interesting actually, it’s well known that a lot of artists and musicians have used psychedelics throughout their lives but also a lot of scientists and thinkers have used them, like the physicist Carl Sagan or even Steve Jobs.
Mike: Exactly. When you compare the creative state, the psychedelic state, to the normal high valued mind identified state, I think it’s easy to see that ideas and innovation don’t come from that editing state [00:29:30] that we all value so much. Physicists don’t create new theories in the lab and in the textbook, they create new theories out of – well, key word there, ‘create’. It’s a creative process. The same thing can come from any form of art or any form of new innovation. Steve Jobs, like you said, attributes a lot of his ideas to LSD use.
Euvie: As Terrence McKenna says, to get outside of our cultural operating system, it helps [00:30:00] to do things like take psychedelics but also you can do other things like travel to completely different cultures. I don’t mean going to a resort, I mean immersing yourself in a culture that is drastically different from yours. Another thing you can do is meditate.
Mike: Yeah, a lot of people think that psychedelics are a thing you can do on the weekend or do often. They’re really not. They should be viewed almost like a vacation. It’s a vacation from the mind-identified state. I’m not saying that the mind-identified state is [00:30:30] necessarily a bad thing, that’s where the work happens, that’s where the editing happens, which is also crucial. It’s just that the disconnection from that mind state every once in a while is pretty valuable to creating new ideas. You could say the creative state is more abundance focused, because it focuses on the new ideas outside of the box, outside of the current paradigm. What I think a lot of mind-identified editors do is take what the existing resources are, [00:31:00] the existing energy, the existing problems, and they try and just stretch everything out and make it last longer.
They’re not totally focused on innovation. What our planet needs, what our societies need, is new innovation, new ideas, creative ideas, and that requires a creative state that is really, unfortunately, uncommon right now.
Euvie: Yeah, exactly. Even if we think about business. This creative state is where innovation comes from but optimization or trying to make [00:31:30] something better or more efficient is the exact opposite of the spectrum. Both are needed.
Mike: I would never want to say either is difficult. It’s good to train yourself to get into either state. Big thinkers have to edit themselves, it’s a required part of the process. You have to sift and decode and put into language the things that you experience in the creative realm. I’ve got a few quotes from Terrence McKenna about this. “You are an explorer and you represent our species. The greatest good you can do [00:32:00] is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.” The next one I really like, it sets the bar for me as a creator. It goes, “The artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns. If artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.”
That, to me, is the height of creative endeavour; to be focused on saving the [00:32:30] soul of mankind. Hear those words. Anything else beyond that seems self-congratulatory or attention seeking. If you’re trying to come up with ideas to affect a billion people, as Peter Diamandis says in abundance in Bold, “It matters that you set your sights high and think of creative ideas that affect a large number of people.” Again, it comes back to the artist’s ability to be the tip of the spear of human development and consciousness pushing forward.
Euvie: Yeah. [00:33:00] Going outside of the norm. What is needed for that is the dissolving of the ego. If you’re highly focused on that judging state, you’re trying to evaluate, you’re trying to think if you’re good enough or how other people are going to think about you, that is going to majorly limit your creative ability. That’s what the ego does. If you’re not super familiar with the ego, there’s a great book called the Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, where he breaks down and explains [00:33:30] this idea of the ego and how it affects us and how to overcome it – in his case, through meditation.
Mike: Yeah, a good reference to that would be our last episode on the three bodies. Identifying is the soul, non-local consciousness. Viewing the ego, viewing the mind is the tools of the brain and the body, your tools to be used at your will. That’s an important thing is to use the ego – if you want to call it the ego – where it’s necessary, where it matters, and to limit [00:34:00] it in most other cases when you’re trying to be creative. All it does is hinder you in that state.
Euvie: Yeah. There’s actually a link here between the psychedelic use and spirituality where, especially in eastern spirituality where the disillusion of the ego, the dissolving of the ego is a key component of enlightenment and of moving up into higher consciousness states.
Mike: Yeah. I wouldn’t ever say that psychedelics could [00:34:30] be a substitute for the work that is required through meditation to achieve higher levels of Samadhi or enlightened consciousness – Buddha nature. Those things are very real. It’s quite amazing if you dive into Buddhism and Hinduism, how deep their understanding of consciousness and the human mind is. They should really be leading or working side by side with neuroscience to help our entire planet understand [00:35:00] the nature of consciousness, because they have thousands of years of studying this through meditation. One thing I would say about psychedelics is they’ll open the door to that.
Again, it’s about opening the door. They won’t ever be a substitute. It can give you a taste of enlightenment but true enlightenment comes through the work and will and practice of the will, practice and concentration. What psychedelics do is catapult you into that place, so you have no other option than to experience the wholeness of consciousness in its [00:35:30] full entirety. It’s a temporary thing and it’s a forced thing, it’s catapulting. If your mind is not ready and practiced for it, then you might miss a lot or you might find yourself in a trip that’s hard to deal with.
Euvie: And extremely confusing.
Euvie: Yeah, I think there’s another really good quote from Terrence McKenna about this. “People are so alienated from their own soul that when they meet their soul they think it comes from another star system.” This is what we’re talking about here [00:36:00] with meditation. You have to get familiar with it. You have to get familiar with the different states of consciousness that you can attain. That’s what can happen when you do psychedelics if you’re unprepared, which has unfortunately happened to me many times where I saw a reflection of my nature and I really didn’t like what I saw. Which also happened to you in a more literal sense even.
Mike: It was a literal embodification of that state shown to me through psychedelics [00:36:30] that I would have missed in any other state of mind.
Euvie: This is one thing we absolutely have to talk about, because you can talk about the benefits of psychedelic use until the cows come home, but if you don’t do it correctly you might never see those benefits. Oh man, did I ever do it wrong. I experimented with mind altering substances a lot in my late teens and early 20s and, same as a lot of people in that age group, I was very careless. Although my [00:37:00] intentions I would say were good – I wanted to explore and I wanted to open my mind yada, yada – the way that I did it did not result in those things happening. Or, at least not every time.
Mike: I think people confuse the type of drug it is with other types of drugs. I like to put it into three categories. There’s the uppers, the downers, and the psychedelics. People on a day to day basis modulate their body activity and their brain activity using these drugs, [00:37:30] using coffee in the morning and stimulants during the afternoon, other types of stimulants.
Euvie: Like cigarettes.
Mike: Yup. Then coming down with a beer or whatever at the end of the day. Heroine for some people. It goes on day after day after day, then you binge on the weekend. You’re back in consumption mode and then restart for Monday. People come into psychedelics with that sort of mentality, like it’s just part of the chain of day to day body modulation. It’s really not. If you treat it that way, [00:38:00] it can produce some either underwhelming results or terrifying results. It needs to be viewed more like the vacation, like we talked about. It’s got to be something maybe you do a couple times a month and you take days to prepare yourself for it.
Euvie: I would say even a couple times a year or maybe even once a year.
Mike: I think that’s what I meant actually, a couple times a year. If you’re more intrepid and you’re more into this sort of stuff like we are, I don’t see a couple times a month being a terrible thing. It’s not something I would recommend to novice users.
Euvie: [00:38:30] I do think you might get diminishing results though when you’re using it that often.
Mike: Potentially. It’s all about the intention, like we said before. What is your intention? For me, it’s not going to be, “I want to see the craziest patterns and colours.” It’s going to be like a very specific use case every single time. I’m not going to cover the same ground over and over, I’m going to be covering new ground. Then I want to have time to think about that and decode that information over time. For me, it’s a lot more directed instead of just jumping into the ocean [00:39:00] and wondering what’s going to happen. To me, I want to set the intention to solve a specific issue. Which brings us to some of the more important elements of etiquette when using psychedelics.
We’ve read so many books about this: DMP the Spirit Molecule, Food of the Gods by Terrence McKenna, I’ve read some books by Graham Hancock. It comes up over and over and over again that set and setting is the most important thing, which is your state of mind, your previous experiences, your anxiety, your mood, your physical environment, the [00:39:30] strength of your dose. All of these come into play and can vastly alter the type of experience that you’re going to have. My intuition on this is to limit as much as you can, to start small in everything. Don’t try and artificially influence your environment with strobe lights or trippy music, or any kind of flashing lights.
I keep seeing that over and over in YouTube videos and it just boggles my mind. You’re taking this extremely powerful substance to take yourself to a new place, why would you [00:40:00] give yourself physical distractions? It’s not helping. In any circumstance, I could see that hurting the trip.
Euvie: Yeah, exactly. When I was younger I sometimes would take psychedelics at a party and that’s the worst – in my opinion – that’s probably one of the worst environments you can do it in, because there’s unfamiliar people, there’s unfamiliar maybe house that you’re in. Things don’t go according to plan. You can’t control your environment in any way [00:40:30] and it can be very terrifying, because things are intensified. For example, if there’s a person who’s a little bit creepy in normal life, in a psychedelic trip they’re going to be a thousand times more creepy.
Mike: Yeah, you’re more sensitive, it makes you more sensitive. Best practice I would say is to limit your external stimuli.
Euvie: Yeah, absolutely. Be in a comfortable space, maybe in your own home, turn down the lights, turn off the music, close the blinds, close your eyes. Maybe have one close friend with you [00:41:00] if you’re taking a large dose and that’s all you need. Make sure you’re fed, make sure you have water. Take care of your body.
Mike: I couldn’t think of a better environment to do psychedelics in than a meditation hall, somewhere you’ve got lots of space, it’s big and open, maybe in the jungle in nature. It makes sense why ayahuasca is not just the brew that you drink, it’s the full experience, it’s the multi-day shamanic environment culture and immersion into this new headspace [00:41:30] and within an environment that supports it.
Euvie: Right. You have a guide, you have a shaman guiding you through it who is helping you understand these states and decode these messages.
Mike: Yeah. It makes me wonder. I’ve never had any experience with shamanism or anything but it makes me wonder how important that culturally reinforced and ingrained experience is towards the psychedelic states, when people who have known about this and guided other people through it for decades. What kind of value do we miss out [00:42:00] by discrediting those ancient cultures?
Euvie: Absolutely. I think that speaks to the growing popularity of ayahuasca. We’re rediscovering the value of shamanism and the value of these traditions. It’s not just woo woo stuff, there’s actually something there. I’ve actually very excited about the new studies that they’re doing on psychedelics. As difficult as it is to do studies, there are studies being done.
Mike: Going back to [00:42:30] what we were talking about with creativity and psychedelics. Bill Hicks is one of my favourite comedians. He’s unfortunately not with us anymore. He talked about psychedelics quite a bit, drug use, especially as they relate to art and music. We’ve got a few good quotes by him, we’ll play them right now.
Bill Hicks: How about a positive LSD story? Wouldn’t that be newsworthy just once, to base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstitions and lies? Just once. I think it would be newsworthy. “[00:43:00] Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is on such thing as death, life is only a dream and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”
Drugs have done good things for us, if you don’t believe they have do me a favour, take all your albums, tapes, CDs and burn them, because you know what? [00:43:30] The musicians who made that great music that has enhanced your lives throughout the years, real fucking high. Okay. These other musicians today who don’t do drugs and, in fact, speak out against them? Boy, do they suck. What a coincidence.
Mike: I think it’s important to think about psychedelics from this perspective that we’ve evolved with them. [00:44:00] There are theories about psychedelics that stoned apes were the first to begin to create language through their use of mushrooms and other plants that were available to them. When you think about that, what is required for a mental state to create something like language. We think in language and we take it for granted, but to get into that developmental point, it’s incredible. There are a lot of people like Graham Hancock and Terrence McKenna who believe that we’ve had big evolutionary jumps that are [00:44:30] due not necessarily to a big physical evolution, but to a change in thinking.
A lot of them attribute that change and thinking to the widespread availability of certain types of psychedelic plants. That’s incredible. The stigma surrounding it right now has got to change. The point that we’re at in our planet with this valuing of the mind editing state is scary, because it keeps us in this state of lack, not abundance. [00:45:00] We need to be thinking of new ideas to solve our problems, rather than how to stretch the lifespan of oil further or how to cut back on our energy, cut back on our lifestyle. There’s so many opportunities for innovation if more of us get onto that creative headspace.
I’m going to leave you guys with a quote from Terrence McKenna about this. “Our world is in danger by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. So, to whatever degree anyone of us can bring back a small piece of the picture [00:45:30] and contribute to the building of a new paradigm, then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit. That, after all, is what it’s all really about. We have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know how, the love, and the community to produce a kind of human paradise. But we are led by the least among us. The least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary. We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanising values that are handed down as control icons.”[00:46:00] Obviously, from this episode you can tell we’re big fans of Terrence McKenna and I highly recommend you check out the show notes of this episode to find resources on him. There are books, there’s tons of YouTube videos.
Humanity has had a long history of seeking transcendent experiences, and the practice of using psychedelics and other mind altering substances to create these states goes back many millennia.
Psychedelics in Tribal Cultures
The use of psychedelics has been documented in nearly all ancient and tribal cultures all over the world. These plant-derived chemicals helped people connect with nature, both their surrounding ecosystem and their own inner being. They provided transcendent experiences that expanded human consciousness. They dissolved the boundaries of the ego and gave their user a glimpse of something greater than themselves.
Far from being a source of entertainment, in tribal cultures these mind altering plants were often used for healing, and in ceremonies that had to do with major transitions in the lives of individuals and the tribe as a whole.
The Effects of Psychedelics
In low pre-threshold doses, some psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms are said to enhance vision by improving edge definition. They also enhanced the sense of connection and empathy among the tribes members.
Creativity and open-mindedness are also said to be increased as a result of psychedelic experiences. Many artists, scientists and philosophers, both historical and modern, have been said to have experimented with mind altering substances. These range from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, to Apple founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, to musicians Jim Morrison and The Beatles, and many others.
At larger doses, psychedelics can produce experiences of spiritual transcendence, the meeting of otherworldly entities, and a deep sense of oneness with the All. On the other hand, fears or deeply hidden traumas may be brought to the surface during these psychedelics experiences, creating so-called bad trips. Some users experience learning profound lessons from their psychedelic experiences, while others do not.
According to visionary Terence McKenna’s theories, psilocybin mushrooms may even aided human evolution, although these theories are speculative.
Modern Era and Controversy
After being somewhat in the shadows for several centuries, psychedelics came to prominence again in the 20th century. Recreational use became more common, particularly during the counterculture and movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
Psychedelics have gotten their share of bad publicity throughout the ages. In the Middle Ages, people risked being declared witches and burned at the stake for the use of these substances. Some religious organizations proclaimed them to be the workings of the Devil. In the 20th century, the “war on drugs” campaigns spread propaganda messages claiming the permanent negative effects of various mind altering drugs. Many of these claims have been debunked since.
Part of the reason for these extreme reactions to the use of psychedelics is the mysterious and poorly understood nature of these active compounds. There is a certain amount of folklore and urban mythology surrounding these substances. Like with other mysterious phenomena, stories and experiences get passed down through the grapevine, often getting enhanced and altered along the way, until they take on a life of their own. These stories can vary from enlightening to terrifying, and from encouraging to cautionary.
It is particularly important to formally study the these substances because the experiences can vary so widely, and can have such significant effects on individuals.
Studies on Psychedelics
In the last 100 years or so, many studies were conducted on the effects on mind-altering substances like LSD, psilocybin, MDMA, DMT, and marijuana. Governments, military organizations, medical scientists, and scholars took an interest in these substances and studied their various effects on animals and humans. Some of these compounds were studied in the lab for their potential medical use as treatment for ailments like depression, post traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and others. Military studies were also conducted on the effect of some of these substances on obedience, resilience, and concentration. A few other studies focused on the transcendent qualities of some of these substances, namely LSD, psilocybin, and DMT.
Since these substances are highly controlled and illegal in most Western countries, research remains difficult. However, continuing to study these substances and their effects is very important not only for their potential medicinal use, but also for their larger effects on the human consciousness.
In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast:
- Why some drugs are legal (nicotine, alcohol, sugar) and others are not
- The Western cultural operating system, the production / consumption cycle
- Personal and cultural stigma with psychedelics
- Psychedelics and dissolving the ego, similarities with meditation states
- Why psychedelics require courage
- Life lessons learned from psychedelics
- Psychedelics and creativity; the difference between the flow state and editing state
- Set and setting, and the proper ways to use psychedelics
“The artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns. If the artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.” – Terence McKenna
Mentions and Resources:
- Why drug addiction is not caused by drugs: Rat Park experiment
- DMT: The Spirit Molecule (Full Documentary 2010)
- History of psychedelic therapy
- Do psychedelics expand consciousness?
- People who use psychedelics are less likely to develop mental illness than those who don’t
- Ayahuasca as treatment for major depression
- Terence Mckenna’s stoned ape theory
- Mike’s psilocybin mushrooms trip report and story, with a time lapse of him creating episode artwork in Photoshop:
Recommended and Mentioned Books:
- Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna
- DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Abundance by Peter Diamandis
More From Future Thinkers:
- DMT: Crazy Psychedelic or Portal to Other Dimensions? (FTP022)
- Archetypes, Psychedelics, and Enlightenment with Dr. Jordan Peterson (FTP039)
- The Science Behind Synchronicity with Dr. Kirby Surprise (FTP037)
- Psychedelics with Dr. Kirby Surprise (FTP040)
- Consciousness and Environments (FTP020)