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Terence McKenna (1946 – 2000)


American writer, philosopher, and ethnobotanist, who advocated paths of shamanism, and the use of hallucinogenic substances as a means of increasing many forms of human awareness.
Terence McKenna
I'm not trying to sign people up to a creed, I'm much more interested in the people that disagree. These ideas are powerful but this isn't mysticism in the ordinary sense to be protected by mumblings about faith and all that. This is the real thing.
McKenna quotes
Because too much we have lived in the light of the idea that your ideology will be dictated to you essentially by geography! And if you're born in India, you'll find out that the Cosmos is one way; if you're born in Brooklyn, you find out it's another way. What we need to do is transcend these localized grids of fate, which make us what we are but don't want to be.
McKenna
Somewhere around 1945 we began to loot the future as a strategy for survival, some ethical norm was shattered.




McKenna Terence quotes
I remember the very, very first time that I smoked DMT. It was sort of a benchmark, you might say, and I remember that this friend of mine that always got there first visited me with this little glass pipe and this stuff which looked like orange mothballs. And since I was a graduate of Dr. Hofmann's, I figured there were no surprises. So the only question I asked is, 'How long does it last?' and he said, 'About five minutes.' So I did it and... [long pause, audience cheers] there was a something, like a flower, like a chrysanthemum in orange and yellow that was sort of spinning, spinning, and then it was like I was pushed from behind and I fell through the chrysanthemum into another place that didn't seem like a state of mind, it seemed like another place. And what was going on in this place aside from the tastefully soffited indirect lighting, and the crawling geometric hallucinations along the domed walls, what was happening was that there were a lot of ahh.. beings in there, what I call self-transforming machine elves. Sort of like jewelled basketballs all dribbling their way toward me. And if they'd had faces they would have been grinning, but they didn't have faces. And they assured me that they loved me and they told me not to be amazed; not to give way to astonishment. And so I watched them, even though I wondered if maybe I hadn't really done it this time, and what they were doing was they were making objects come into existence by singing them into existence. Objects which looked like Fabergé eggs from Mars morphing themselves with Mandaean alphabetical structures. They looked like the concrescence of linguistic intentionality put through a kind of hyper-dimensional transform into three-dimensional space. And these little machines offered themselves to me. And I realized when I looked at them that if I could bring just one of these little trinkets back, nothing would ever be quite the same again. And I wondered, Where Am I? And What Is Going On? It occurred to me that these must be holographic viral projections from an autonomous continuum that was somehow intersecting my own, and then I thought a more elegant explaination would be to take it at face value and realize that I had broken into an ecology of souls. And that somehow I was getting a peek over the other side. Somehow I was finding out that thing that you cheerfully assume you can't find out. But it felt like I was finding out. And it felt.. and then I can't remember what it felt like because the little self-transforming tykes interrupted me and said, "Don't think about it. Don't think about who we are... Think about doing what we're doing. Do it! Do it! DO IT NOW!!!"
And what they meant was use your voice to make an object. And as I understood, I felt a bubble kind of grow inside of me. And I watched these little elf tykes jumping in and out of my chest; they like to do that to reassure you. And they said, "Do it." And I felt language rise up in me that was unhooked from english, and I began to speak...
McKenna Terence
What's happening is that 8% of the world's people use 35% of the world's petroleum, and are ready to blow everybody off the map to keep it that way. This is nothing more than a manifestation of junkie psychology on a mass scale. We're addicted, they got it, we're happy to pay for it, but if they won't sell it we'll break into their house and take it, because by god it will go into our right arm. that's the plan.
Terence McKenna quotes
To my mind this makes psychedelics central to any political reconstruction, because these are the only force in nature that actually dissolve linguistics structures; lets the mechanics of syntax to be visible, allows the possibility for rapid introduction and spread of new concepts; gives permission for new ways of seeing; and this is what we have to do, we have to change our minds.
Terence McKenna
What you see, I think is the morphogenetic field. The invisible world that holds everything together. Not the net of matter and light, but the net of casuistry — of intentionality, of caring, of hope of dream — of thought. That all is there, but it has been hidden from us for centuries because of the exorcism of the spirit that took place in order to allow science to do business. And that monotonous and ill-considered choice has made us the inheritors of a tradition of existential emptiness — but that has impalded to us to go back to the jungles and recover this thing. ... The question is, can we dream a dream that is sufficiently noble that we give meaning to the sacrifices that have been made to allow the 20th century to exist ... I am convinced that if there were no shamanic pipeline, there would be no higher life, as we know it, on this planet. ... We are all cells of a much larger body, and like the cells of our own body it is hard for us to glimpse the whole pattern of the whole of what is happening, and yet we can sense that there is a purpose, and there is a pattern...
McKenna Terence quotes
"We have to stop CONSUMING our culture. We have to CREATE culture. DON'T watch TV, DON'T read magazines, don't even listen to NPR. Create your OWN roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are -- NOW -- is the most immediate sector of your universe. And if you're worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered. You're giving it all away to ICONS. Icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that, you want to dress like X or have lips like Y... This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion. What is real is you, and your friends, your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And, we are told No, you're unimportant, you're peripheral -- get a degree, get a job, get a this, get that, and then you're a player. You don't even want to play that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world."
McKenna
The nightmare of every government on earth is a million people assembled in the town square of your capital city, demanding that you pack up to Switzerland. no body can say No to a million people on the streets.
McKenna Terence
The psychedelic community has not yet recognized or named itself as a community. We are well behind gays and black people and all those other mi-...we are still trying to figure out if we are a community. And if we are a community, and we have a domain of action, I think where it lies - it's not that we are all supposed to become dope dealers, it's that we are all supposed to become artists; that the transformation of culture through art is the proper understanding of what you can do with psychedelics besides blow your own mind. And I really think, you know, what we need to do is put the art-pedal to the floor, and understand that this is art - we are involved in some kind of enormous piece of performance art called Western civilization and, you know, it's been a C-minus performance so far... And they are just about to reach out with the hook and drag us offstage, unless we begin pulling rabbits out of the hat pretty furiously.
Terence McKenna
Virtual reality is a fairly new concept to us; but once you grok it, it seems clear that any civilization that was capable of starflight and longevity extension, and so forth and so on, would also have a full VR toolkit under control. Well then, that means that when we go looking for the extraterrestrial, what will be the footprint? Perhaps vanished races are all around us, but downloaded into solid-state matrices that we have only recently come to the point where we could even recognize that possibility.




Terence McKenna quotes
A lot of people pass through the thinking I'm a guru and take enough trips to understand that no, I was just a witness. I was just a witness.
Terence McKenna
I think we have to have character models built of ourselves, and turn the whole thing over to our writers; and we'll just go off to Tahiti, and the writers can — it's the "Uncle Duke" solution. If you can turn yourself into a cartoon character, you can retire, and a whole team of people will keep you au courant. ... You know, I think the only way to keep your career going is to retire the "bod", and create an online character– a Saturday morning cartoon show apparently is where the action is.
McKenna quotes
Because the fact is, what blinds us to the presence of alien intelligence is linguistic and cultural bias operating on ourselves. The world which we perceive is a tiny fraction of the world which we can perceive, which is a tiny fraction of the perceivable world, you see. We operate on a very narrow slice based on cultural conventions. So the important thing, if synergizing progress is the notion to be maximized (and I think it's the notion to be maximized), is to try and locate the blind spot in the culture — the place where the culture isn't looking, because it dare not — because if it were to look there, its previous values would dissolve, you see. For Western Civilization that place is the psychedelic experience as it emerges out of nature.
McKenna Terence
You need an Ego, if you didn't have an ego you wouldn't know who's mouth to put food in, when eating in a restaurant.
McKenna Terence quotes
What blinds us, or what makes historical progress very difficult, is our lack of awareness of our ignorance. And [I think] that beliefs should be put aside, and that a psychedelic society would abandon belief systems [in favor of] direct experience and this is, I think much, of the problem of the modern dilemma, is that direct experience has been discounted and in its place all kind of belief systems have been erected... If you believe something, you're automatically precluded from believing in the opposite, which means that a degree of your human freedom has been forfeited in the act of this belief.
Terence McKenna
We must begin to send out ideological visions rather than be the consumers of them. We need to turn off the metaphorical televisions which are hooking us into the network of cultural assumptions dictated from the Pentagon and Madison Avenue and what-have-you. We need, instead, to turn on our terminals, and to begin to interact with like-minded people throughout the world and establish this new intellectual order, which will be then the salvation of mankind, I firmly believe– because it is a collectivity, and people will then feel the interrelatedness of their fates, feel the interrelatedness as a thing which transcends national divisions, ideological divisions, feel the primacy of being part of the human family.
Terence McKenna quotes
It's pretty simple, the ethical life - it's just demanding . . . The moral life does not consist of wheat grass diet, or affirmation, or any of that. The moral life is - unless you're at Esalen - you should clothe the naked, you should feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, bury the dead, and there are a couple others - obvious - things to be done. It's not about how many prostrations you do, or what lineage you've associated yourself with, or how much cholesterol is in your diet. And somehow we have confused the ethical and moral dimension with the dimension of physical practices - probably because we have been too infected by the memes of tired Asian religions that long ago gave up moral philosophy in favor of rotational activity - because the social problems of Asia are overwhelming - that's a response to an overwhelming human tragedy - the quietude of Asian religion, I think.
Terence McKenna
People had group values, because the children were group-owned. and that made a tremendous difference in the way the society imaged it self. people lived for the group, and in the core of the group were the children, and people always put them first. So everyone identified with the children, everybody was willing to face risk to preserve the younger gene pool. This concern for male paternity is really a poisonous factor...
McKenna Terence
For approximately 500 years [science's] argument for its pre-eminence was that it could create beautiful toys: aircraft, railroads, global economies, television, spacecraft. But that is a fool’s argument for truth! I mean, that’s after all how a medicine show operates, you know: the juggler is so good, the medicine must be even better! This is not an entirely rational way to proceed.


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