Terence McKenna - Seeking the Stone

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Terence McKenna - Seeking the Stone

Postby Ulmdorgr » Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:07 pm

Terence McKenna. Seeking the Stone: Mind and Time, Spirit and Matter. Recorded Live at "The Whole Life Expo," Los Angeles, California. November 1991.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 1 Transcript

Wonderful, I can hardly believe I'm here. I made it past the camaro raffle. I survived the offer for reconstructive cosmetic surgery. And I've had my smart drugs for this evening, so, uh, glad to be here. Well until a few minutes ago, I thought that this was a 45 minute gig. So, um, you get to see grace under pressure this evening. Naturally I'm kidding, it doesn't matter how long it goes. We could never get to the bottom of this stuff. Nor would we wish to, I think. By coincidence, merely, I became 45 yesterday, so... It's sort of a good moment to do some summing up, so in thinking about this talk, and knowing as I did who would be here, I thought that I would orient the theme to distilling the psychadelic mind, which is a way of talking about the psychadelic mind, but also, trying to uh, considering the amount of money you paid for this session, give you the entire shtick in one fell swoop. Uh, so that you would never have to attend a Terence McKenna lecture or workshop again. You can just move past that. Turn the page on that kind of thing in your life. Um, and I think it's coming together for me. I don't know whether it's writing these books, uh, was a very nice introduction here tonight. And, the wammy in it was after 25 years of being ignored by straight publishers, or publishers of any sort for that matter, it appears I'm on the brink of entering the marketplace, if not the mainstream, so... With your help and word of mouth advertising, I can continue to meet my mortgage obligations. Ok, let's cut to the chase. Enough of the obligatory clowning around.

The psychadelic question in the society just seems to refuse to go away. It sort of can't be swallowed, and can't be spat up. And so society just sort of runs around, knocking into walls, and kicking its feet in the air. And this has been the situation that we've been in in, for at least 30 years now. And, as a person who has spent a great deal of time in the underground, I've observed with amazement, the persistance of the counter cultural agenda to alter consciousness. And like many of you, I came to it in the 60's, when the basic argument in favor of altered states of consciousness, were almost entirely narcissitic. Deep insight into yourself, an ability to overcome childhood programming, so forth, and so on. And I certainly think that because of the kind of society we are, because of the kind of people society has made us, that this was a valid place to begin. But after 30 years of having the psychadelic issue on the social agenda, at times hailed as a universal panacea, at times demonized as a scourge from hell, but never quite silenced. Never moved out of the public eye. I've reached a number of conclusions about this. And I thought it would be interesting tonight, I guess because of my recent birthday or something, to sort of try and distill all this, and sum it up, and put it in front of you.

In terms of what is psychadelic shamanism, why should people like ourselves who live in high density electronic culture, why should we care about this, what does it say about our future, what does it say about us as a group, and what techniques are there that we each, on our own, can bring to bear on this question. So with your help, hold me to the straight and narrow, I'd like to make my way through this agenda this evening, and talk about these various aspects, of what to what my mind, is the most astonishing facet of reality. I mean, maybe sex is pressing hard in the second position, but these two things run neck and neck, as uh, aspects of the mystery of what it is to be human. And believe me, human psychadelic experiences and human sexual experiences, are orders of magnitude removed from anything going on in the animal realm. These things are set apart from the rest of being. Because what we bring to them is mind. This is what we pour into the sexuality of human beings that makes it unique. This is what we pour into the contemplation of our own experience. Mind is a focus that is lacking. At least its expression, in the unique form that we experience it, is lacking in the rest of nature. And I believe that the persistence of the psychedelic experience, within the social agenda, has to do with the fact that it actually addresses something basic in human beings. I mean, it may seem like a radical proposition to say that to a white high tech industrial democracy audience, because we are the people who have drifted furthest from this birthright. And I would like to suggest to you this evening that much of the civilization that we have created has been achieved based on a direct denial of the psychedelic experience and all that it implies. Our humanness, our connection to the rest of nature, our connection into the feminine, our place in nature. Because for the western mind, we have no fixed place in nature. Our place is ours to define. We are from the point of view of the cultural machinery that empowers us, completely free to become, to be, whatever we want to be. Now the problem with that prescription is, that in western culture, what that means is permission to express ego, permission to profigately use and destroy resources, permission to set aside the political agendas of out classes and out groups. And uh, this untrammeled expression of will outside the context of nature, has turned us into a kind of frankenstein's monster at best, a toxic force in the body of the gaian world soul at worst. And I believe our origin and our future culmination and our present happiness all can be secured understood, illuminated, and expanded, only if we're willing to look at our relationship, not only to altered states of conscioussness, but to the mind behind nature. Because that's really what this is all about, to my mind.

What these psychedelics are empowering, or conveying, or revealing, depending on, you know, how you come at it. What they are showing us, is that we are not alone upon this planet, we are not alone in the universe of mind, and I realize this is a soft audience to preach this in, because there are probably people within the sound of my words who sincerely believe they were once citizens of zeta riticule. You know, when the jar is so leaky, it's hard to know where to put the water. But I come to this... as a show me kind of guy. And so, though my conclusions may sound as flakey as anybody elses, it was hard for me to get this flakey. I didn't embrace it. I was forced to it. And this method works. You see, I mean there are two ways to get flakey. You can just get flakey, which takes no effort at all, you know. I mean you just announce you're a walk in, start drinking wheat grass juice, and tithe to mitraya. Or, you can get flakey by testing the edges. By stretching the envelope of being, and this works. For the most hard headed among us, the aero-space insurance adjuster mentality is not only who I'm speaking to, but who I feel I represent. Because, no kidding really, at age 18 I was a Marxist, an existentialist, I had ambitions in aeronautical engineering, so forth and so on. And I discovered you can take that kind of mentality out into the theatre of real experience, and you can come back a space bunny just like everybody else. So what that means then, is that a straight person, and I speak as someone from the 60's with apologies to all our gay friends who later approcreated that word, and when I say straight I mean un-stoned...

A straight person is not a guardian of truth or propriety (mispronounced as "propety"), a straight person is simply a frightened proto-flake, you see? I always think, and most of you have heard me say this, but when we get off on this subject I always think about the wonderful thing Tim Leary said years ago, he said it so many years ago that when I told him how much I admired him for saying it he didn't remember that he'd said it... But the man once said... Wait'll I give the line. "LSD is a drug which causes... occasionally causes psychotic behavior in people who have not taken it." You see? And I certainly saw this, I mean I saw my parents become violently psychotic from not taking LSD. And so my point is, and I make it in a forum like this, because here we have so much permission for belief, I mean you want to believe in, ya know, channeling from beyond the grave, fine, no problem. You want to believe in the healing power of nematoads, hematoads, hematite, you name it, we've got it all. Really I think that the spirit of child-like untrammeled curiosity is what we are striving for. Not the anal retentive rational person, not the, "I'll go for anything," channeling flake, but an attitude of "we don't have to look far for miracles because they're all around us." Everything is astonishing. The universe, on its surface, is alive with mystery. Well how do we make our way towards that when we live in a culture, practice a language, embody a philosophy, scientific rationalism, which is entirely designed to suck wonder out of reality, to turn everything into shades of gray, to subvert all hope that lies outside the realm of career accomplishment and material possession.

[16:54] Well the way that we can overcome this is through a personal acting out of, what I have been calling now for several years, the archaic revival. And I want to talk about that a little bit this evening. Because I think it, you know however much we may kid about the new age, it is an important aspect of what is going on. Its triviality is rooted in the side of it, which is ungrounded, ephemeral, and self promoting, but it springs from a fairly profound and deep sense that things are not alright in this society. I think that I first encountered the phrase "new age" in the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. She wrote in the 20's, I read her in the 50's. The New Age has been with us for a long time. So long that there's nothing new about it. And in fact, the reason I call it the archaic revival is because I think we can understand this movement if instead of accentuating what about it that is new, novel, and never before seen, instead we emphasize that this is a profoundly conservative impulse. A conservative impulse that would set the hair of george bush and his skull and bones buddies standing on end. Because when we talk about conservative, we're not talking about returning to the era of eisenhower, we're talking about returning to the era of isis, asarte, the great horned goddess of the high paleolithic. In other words, this program of material civilization, exterior-ization of ideas into matter through first alchemy and magic, and then science and industry, this process is coming to an end. One way or another. We are either going to plant ourselves, and most of the rest of the life on this planet, by blindly pursuing this cultural model until we run it right over the edge into the apocolypse. Or from the genes, from the bones, from the oceans, from the forests, from the glaciers, there is going to have to come a turning point. A change. A revulsion so profound that it allows us, by the 10's of millions, to change how we think about reality. To change how we live. And I have ended up an advocate for the psychedelic experience, not because I think it's easy, not because I think it's sure fire, but because I think it's the only game in town. The only chance left. If we had a thousand years, if we had 500 years, maybe propaganda messages on boxes of cereal, photographs on cartons of milk, I don't know, something might do it. But we don't have 500 years, we must come to a screeching halt, now! Because we are barreling toward the brink of ruin. And the only thing that I have ever seen that turned anybody around, on the dime, was psychedelics. You know?

The talking cures, invented by Freud and Jung at the beginning of this century, it takes years, sometimes it never happens. The body work that came along behind that with Wilhelm Reich, and others, [Moshé] Feldenkrais and so forth- Eideroth (who is this?), all of this brings it into the theatre of the body. At least now we understand it's a body-mind system. It's not a disembodied voice lying on a couch speaking, you know. But it seems so obvious, what we're trying to do is perturb the mind. We want to perturb the mind so that we can then see it differently. So that it may see and be seen differently. Well the mind rests on a foundation of chemical machinery. We're not saying the mind is chemical machinery, we're saying the mind rests on a foundation of chemical machinery. So if you want to perturb the mind, you don't go to the talking, you don't go to the deep tissue, all of this has efficacy, it is necessary, but not sufficient by itself. For there to be a sufficiency of method, there must be an initial perturbation of the mind. And this comes about through the use of psychedelic plants. This is not something that was discovered post LSD in Manhatten by psychiatrists or in Prague or Berlin or at Esolin (what is this?). This is a truth 25,000, 50,000, 100,000 years old. This is how it has always been done. Only in the last 6,000 years on the European continent, and those civilizations that are the children of Europe, has there been any other approach to these problems. And what the other approach, linear thought, the phonetic alphabet, science, mathematical abstraction, so forth and so on. What these other approaches have brought us is toxicity, pollution, mutation, catastrophe, revolution, death, and yes friends, even unhappiness. It hasn't worked. Western civilization is now crowing over the fact that the only opposition it ever had, which was Marxism, a pathetic, weak sister, has now collapsed upon itself. Well, there should be no congratulation, in that, because the contradictions which undid Marxism, lie in wait to undo this society as well. Both societies are materialistic, both societies define human beings and treat them as things. And the fact of the matter is, Western civilization, at this moment, is a loaded gun, pointed at the head of this planet. And we, for all our pretensions to a sensitivity to the presence of Vitamin C or Zinc in our diet, or all the rest of this malarkey, we are the major prevaricators of this situation. So, a certain, um, obligation rests upon us. And I think we are meeting this obligation, I wouldn't say we're doing a great job, or a terrible job, I think we're functioning at approximately a B+ level. You see, I mean, human life is so ephemeral, I mean a person who lives 70 or 80 years is really as ephemeral as a may fly or something, I mean, It's not long enough to get the full picture. For instance, many of you, by virtue of not having spent a great deal of time thinking about it, probably don't realize, that this psychedelic plant-shamanism option, this is not something that Western civilization has grappled with for centuries, and come to terms with, and found the proper pidgeon hole for, and put aside. Not at all my friends.

The fact of the matter is, all of this information, about psychedelics, has arrived in Western society, in the last hundred years. And, uh, we have to say hundred years, because we want to include things like Mescaline. 1895, '98, it was began to be studied in Germany. And things like Ibogaine, which was known toward the end of the last century, but which has had virtually zilch impact on American psychedelic populations, uh, so we have to say, the psychedelic option has only been an object of the Western mind's curiosity for approximately a hundred years. But really, 90% of that occurred in the last 50 years. As many of you know, I am a great, uh, fan and spokesman for psilocybin, for the mushrooms. The mushrooms that I am so stoked on, uh, were discovered in 1953 by Gordon and Valentina Wasson, in Huatla, discovered in '53, made absolutely schedule I illegal in 1966. Thirteen years was the window in which Western civilization had to study this compound and figure out what it was for. And they were just beginning to focus upon it when it was made illegal. LSD, discovered in '37, not brought into the scientific literature until '48, not generally available even in the laboratory until 1950. Made totally illegal in 1966. Sixteen year window. Think about the fact that when LSD was legal, uh, psychiatrists, professional researchers, were consistently reporting cures of chronic alcoholism with one 500 gamma dose. One dose. Cure, like a 50% cure rate without recidivism, for chronic alcoholism, spectacular findings were being reported. When LSD swept through the scientific community, it... for pharmacologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, it had the same kind of excitement, and feeling of breakthrough, that the splitting of the atom had for the physicists, for physics community in the late '30's. Well, science, we are told, is this absolutely impartial, god-like, body of knowledge, prosecuted by great men. And it will fearlessly send its questing mind into any situation or environment. This is a mental discipline so dispassionate that it sees nothing at all wrong with strapping monkeys into apparatus and hurling them into walls at 70 miles an hour to study traumatic injuries. This is a discipline so unflinching in its pursuit of truth, that it will design tiny television cameras to be implanted in plastic penises so that we can see the changes in the color of the vaginal wall as it approaches orgasm. I mean, these guys are unstinting in their devotion of truth in any form. And yet, and yet... for thirty years, science has accepted government's refusal to allow science to look at the potential impact of psychedelic plants and compounds on human consciousness, on chronic alcoholism, on schizophrenia, on depression, on autism, on learning disorders, on dyslexias, on memory enhancement, so forth and so on.

This to me is obscene. The future is mental. Figure it out. If the mind does not loom large in the future history of this species, then what the hell kind of future is it going to be? I mean this is our crown and glory.

Our, uh, asthetic sensitivites, our ability to create values that are not simply, uh, based on the next meal, the next sexual encounter, the next, uh, empowering social move, but an ability to create social values based on, uh, creating a viable future environment for children, uh, creating, uh, a viable present environment for the less fortunate among us, uh, creating a social safety net so that the more mal-adaptive of us are not reduced to living under bridges and in abandoned automobiles.

I mean, these are the things that set us above the apes.
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