Terence McKenna

Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) American ethnobotanist and mystic who advocated the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants.

I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about. The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature.
When you take into your life the gnosis of the light-filled vegetables, the psychedelic plants that have stabilized the sane societies of this world for millennia, the first message that comes to you is: You are a divine being. You matter. You count. You come from realms of unimaginable power and light, and you will return to those realms.
I am . . . sure that the answer to all of the mysteries that disequilibrate our view of the world are to be understood by looking within ourselves. When we look within ourselves with psilocybin, we discover that we do not have to look outward toward the futile promise of life that circles distant stars in order to still our cosmic loneliness. We should look within; the paths of the heart lead to nearby universes full of life and affection for humanity.
If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.
What in the world is going on, what is going on? I mean what does it mean to be incarnate in a human body, in a squirrely culture like this, trying to make sense of your heritage, your opportunities the contents of the culture, the contents of your own mind? Is it possible to have an overarching viewpoint that is not somehow canned or cultish or self-limited in its approach, in other words, is it possible to cultivate an open mind and sanity in the kind of society and psychological environment that we all share? And it grows daily and weekly, as you know, harder to do this, weirder to integrate more on your plate, to assimilate and I certainly don’t have final or even merely final answers. I think it all lies in posing the questions in a certain way, in feeling the data in a certain way. And one of the things I try to convince people is it’s not necessary to achieve closure with this stuff. And in fact any ideological or belief system that offers closure, meaning final answers, is sure to be wrong, sure to be self-limiting, sure to be inadequate to the facts. So one of the ideas I’d like to put out is the idea that ideology is not our friend, it is not a matter of choosing from the smartest board of ideologies and rejecting the flawed, the self-contradictory and this over simple, in favor of the un-flawed, the complex enough. Where is it written in adamantine that semi-carnivorous monkeys can or should be capable of understanding reality? That seems to be one of the first delusions, and one of the more prideful illusions of human culture, that a final understanding is possible in the first place. Better, I think, to try and frame questions which can endure, and leave off searching for answers, because answers are like operating systems, they’re being upgraded faster than you can keep up with it.
We cannot afford the continued existence of the unconscious. It is a neurotic excuse for not getting our act together as a species. The way in which the unconscious is eliminated is by turning the language machinery back upon itself and reflecting on the process of attention. This is what Buddhism is all about; attention to attention. Awareness of the modality of the cognitive process. Doing that to oneself has a kind of morphogenetic field effect, a kind of chain-reaction which sweeps through society. It's simply that the act of conscious self-inspection creates more conscious people which creates a more conscious society, which erodes the possibility of the poisonous and toxic effects of ideology.
I will add a cautionary note. I always feel odd telling people to verify my observations since the sine qua non is the hallucinogenic plant. Experimenters should be very careful. One must build up to the experience. These are bizarre dimensions of extraordinary power and beauty. There is no set rule to avoid being overwhelmed, but move carefully, reflect a great deal, and always try to map experiences back onto the history of the race and the philosophical and religious accomplishments of the species. All the compounds are potentially dangerous, and all compounds, at sufficient doses or repeated over time, involve risks. The library is the first place to go when looking into taking a new compound.
We will amuse and entertain ourselves into extinction.
Worry is betting against yourself.
You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding,
i think what these psychedelics do is they put you very much in the here and now and it's nothing more than that i mean obviously i'm an egghead and an abstract thinker and i hope to make my reputation in mathematics But feeling is the primary validator of existence and if you dont know that you gotta go back to square one. these things empower feeling they are catalysts for the imagination. You may not like what psychedelics do to you - they may terrify you. But if it terrifies you, then surely it must have catalysed your imagination - otherwise you wouldn't have known that terror!
We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.
What we call imagination is actually the universal library of what's real. You couldn't imagine it if it weren't real somewhere, sometime.
What I've done here this evening is just create a string of metaphors to try and pique your interest. Not once did I do justice to the truth of the situation or the depth of the psychedelic experience, because it cannot be told. It cannot be told. My technique is to tell the wildest, strangest story I can think of, claim that's the psychedelic experience, and leave it at that. But you should all know that the journey begins where the words stop.
I speak about the power of the psychedelic experience because I think people should be informed of their birthright, and I feel very antsy around the notion that someone might go from birth to the grave without ever having a psychedelic experience. It makes me as antsy as the notion that someone might go from birth to the grave without having a sexual experience. It's a strange kind of protective denial.
Worry is praying to the devil.
There are processes, nuclear waste build-up, urbanization, land disturbance, there are processes which, if allowed to run on indefinitely, would wreck the whole system and pitch it into chaos. Buy Confucius said "No tree grows to heaven," and what he meant by that was: it's fruitless to project any process to infinity because any process projected to infinity creates some kind of catastrophic scenario. If no fruit flies died in six months the Earth would spin out of its orbit from the weight of fruit flies. Now, I don't thing that's true. (laughs) But what an image!
If you'll cast your mind back to the situation in the early years of the Christian era and imagine the mentality of a Roman aristocrat, a person of power in Roman society. Their physics is drawn from democritean atomism, in other words they are thoroughgoing materialists. Their social theory is drawn from Epictetus and Plato. They are in fact extremely modern people by our own standards. However, among the gardeners and kitchen help and stable boys, there is news of a momentous event in the Middle East - a Jewish rabbi has triumphed over death and risen after three days in the tomb. Should the master of the Roman household have caught wind of this kind of superstitious talk among the help, he would have just dismissed it with a sneer, "What preposterous idea!" And it is a preposterous idea, nevertheless, the fact that an idea is preposterous has never held it back from making zealous converts, and within a 120 years after the annunciation of the birth of Christianity, its missionaries were beating on the gates of Rome attempting to convert the Emperor.
I have been vehemently accused by people who didn’t understand me of not believing in anything. I don’t believe in anything. This is not a statement of existential hopelessness for which you should light a candle for me at night. It’s a strategy for not getting bogged down in some weird trip. After all, what is the basis for believing anything? I mean, you have to understand: You’re a monkey. In some kind of a biological situation where everything has been evolved to serve the economy of survival—this is not a philosophy course. So belief is a curious reaction to the present at hand. It isn’t to be believed, it’s to be dealt with—experienced and modeled.
If you cross an onion with a UFO, what you get is a flying saucer that brings tears to your eyes.
It’s very important that people take back their minds and that people analyse our dilemma in the context of the entire human story from the descent onto the grassland to our potential destiny as citizens of the galaxy and the universe. We are at a critical turning point and, as I say; the tools, the data that holds the potential for our salvation is now known, it is available: it is among us, but it is misrepresented, it is slandered, it is litigated against, and it’s up to each one of us to relate to this situation in a fashion that will allow us to answer the question that will surely be put to us at some point in the future, which is: What did you do to help save the world?
You either have a plan or you become part of somebody else's plan.
Don't worry. You don't know enough to worry. That's God's truth. Who do you think you are that you should worry, for crying out loud? It's a total waste of time. It presupposes such a knowledge of the situation that it is in fact a form of hubris.
We are not primarily biological, with mind emerging as a kind of iridescence, a kind of epiphenomenon at the higher levels of organization of biology. We are hyperspatial objects of some sort that cast a shadow into matter. The shadow in matter is our physical organism.
Mystery is alive in the moment, in the here and now. It just simply lies on the other side of a barrier of courage.
Take it easy man, but take it.
Sometimes people say to me 'These states that you're talking about, can't they be achieved without drugs?' And my answer to that is, 'My God, who would want to?' What would be proved by achieving these things without drugs? If the things I'm talking about began to happen to me without drugs I would be very very concerned and alarmed. And also I think there is something to be said for admitting that we cannot do it alone. That if you want this spiritual insight, if you want the Gaian matrix to welcome you, then humble yourself to the point of making a deal with a plant. That's the key.
My faith is with technology and with psychedelics. Politics aren't going to take us much further. We're awakening as a planet to the very good news that all ideology is parochial and culturally defined, like painting yourself blue or scarifying your penis. A culture is a limited enterprise. How could someone be so naive as to imagine that an ideology, a thought system generated by the monkey mind, would be adequate to explain the universe? That's preposterous. It's like meeting a termite who tells you he's a philosopher. What could you do but smile at the very notion.
I could see the light of eternity, a la William Blake, shining through every leaf. I mean, a bug walking across the ground moved me to tears.
In fact, we are most in agreement when we are silent with each other, because then our assumptions about how we are in agreement are able to fully unfurl themselves, but all it takes is someone breaking that silence and stating the contents of their mind, for the assumption of our shared reality to completely collapse upon us. Because it turns out, you know, I think it's one way, you think it's another, I believe we're doing X, you think we're doing Y, I think we're serving so and so, and you think we're serving somebody else. And this is why I think great relationships are built in silence, because then nobody ever finds out what's really going on.