It always takes one generation for a new idea to become accepted.

from Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out (1966)

Portrait of Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary

Psychonaut
October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996

Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer known for advocating the exploration of the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs under controlled conditions. Leary conducted experiments under the Harvard Psilocybin Project when LSD and psilocybin were still legal in the United States, resulting in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment. The scientific legitimacy and ethics of his research were questioned by other Harvard faculty because he took psychedelics together with research subjects and pressured students in his class to take psychedelics in the research studies. Leary's colleague, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), was fired from Harvard University on May 27, 1963 for giving psilocybin to an undergraduate student outside of their research study despite the university only allowing graduate students to receive psilocybin as research subjects. Leary was planning to leave Harvard when his teaching contract expired in June, the following month. He was fired, for "failure to keep classroom appointments", with his pay docked on April 30. National illumination as to the effects of psychedelics did not occur until after the Harvard scandal.

Leary believed that LSD showed potential for therapeutic use in psychiatry. He used LSD himself and developed a philosophy of mind expansion and personal truth through LSD. After leaving Harvard, he continued to publicly promote the use of psychedelic drugs and became a well-known figure of the counterculture of the 1960s. He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy, such as "turn on, tune in, drop out", "set and setting", and "think for yourself and question authority". He also wrote and spoke frequently about transhumanist concepts involving space migration, intelligence increase, and life extension (SMI²LE), and developed the eight-circuit model of consciousness in his book Exo-Psychology (1977). He gave lectures, occasionally billing himself as a "performing philosopher".

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was arrested often enough to see the inside of 36 different prisons worldwide. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as "the most dangerous man in America".

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Mentioned in 38 documents

Laura Huxley

A Beautiful Death

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

Terence McKenna

A Weekend with Terence McKenna

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

Robert Anton Wilson

Acceleration of Knowledge

Throughout history we hairless primates have been jumping higher, living longer, and getting smarter every century. From Thai stir-fry to Roman roads, knowledge doubled faster as it drifted West—till now it jumps each year! Space migration? Check. Intelligence increase through yoga, drugs, or machines? You bet. Genetic tinkering? It's coming. And indefinite lifespans? We're on the yellow brick road to divinity, to roam the stars forever, to boldly go where no ape has gone before. The future's so bright I gotta wear shades. Keep hope alive and party on!

Terence McKenna

Appreciating Imagination

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

Terence McKenna

Awakening to Archaic Values

A weekend workshop in which Terence encourages humanity to return to harmonic habits which have been lost in the tide of time.

Ram Dass

Beyond Success

Ram Dass investigates the effect of success upon our individual consciousnesses and how one may see beyond mere egocentric opportunism.

Alan Watts

Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown

Over the course of nineteen essays, Alan Watts ruminates on the philosophy of nature, ecology, aesthetics, religion, and metaphysics. Assembled in the form of a mountain journal, written during a retreat in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais in California, Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown is Watts’ meditation on the art of feeling out and following the watercourse way of nature, known in Chinese as the Tao. Embracing a form of contemplative meditation that allows us to stop analyzing our experiences and start living into them, the book explores themes such as the natural world, established religion, race relations, karma and reincarnation, astrology and tantric yoga, the nature of ecstasy, and much more.

Terence McKenna

Culture and Ideology are not Your Friends

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

Alan Watts

Does It Matter?

In this short collection of essays, Alan Watts explores modern day problems from the outlook of his own philosophy, inspired mainly by Mahayana Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Tackling problems of economics, technology, cooking and clothing, Watts offers a fresh perspective which is all too foreign to Western society. Published in 1970 just shortly before his death, this book is as relevant now as it was when it was written.

Terence McKenna

Eros and the Eschaton

Delivered in Kane Hall at the University of Washington, Terence points out the universe's peculiar tendency to seek out complexity and novelty, and that humanity seems to be the focal point of this process.

Alan Watts

Future of Communications

Terence McKenna

Hallucinogens: Before and After Psychology

What mushrooms uncover is the slumbering Lógos, the primordial inner voice, psychedelics' telepathic tidings heralding our exile's end. Visionary technologies shall synergize humanity's dreams, fusing inner and outer worlds, truth and imagination reconciled. To break ancestral chains, we must meet the paradoxical with minds ablaze, escaping platitudes’ prisons through ecstasy’s portals, whereby we’re transfigured, phoenix-like, rising renewed from the ashes of history—life’s fiery genius unbound.

Terence McKenna

Intentionality of Meaning

McKenna takes us on a mind-bending ride about language, questioning if words unveil reality or cloak it. He suggests peering behind the linguistic curtain with nature and psychedelics, helping reveal life's magical depths where fairies and elves await to make deals that unleash self-transforming possibilities. But he cautions, the storytelling mushrooms can dupe you with their wit. Tread lightly.

Terence McKenna

Light of the Third Millennium

Speaking at the Whole Life Expo in Palmer Auditorium, Terence says our task is to surf the accelerating wave of novelty to dissolve cultural delusions. Psychedelics and technology can download new perspectives, stripping away outdated assumptions. Through imagination, language, and art we can meet the eschaton: the transcendental object at the end of time. Our task is liberate ourselves, take responsibility for our ideas, make visionary art, and find community without fear.

Terence McKenna

Mushrooms, Evolution, and the Millennium

Terence McKenna asks the fundamental question concerning natural hallucinogens: is it an accident of nature that certain plants and mushrooms can alter human awareness in profound ways? He argues that man and hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms have co-evolved. These botanicals provide a way for people to experience their spiritual nature, and throughout history have been used by shamans whose function is to enter altered states in order to perceive the spiritual causes behind ordinary reality. Delivered at the Masonic Temple during a gathering of the Los Angeles Mycological Society.

Terence McKenna

Our Cyberspiritual Future

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

Terence McKenna

Permitting Smart People to Hope

Delivered at Esalen in California, McKenna traipses through a mélange of scientific and technological folderol—the detection of the top quark, swift progress on sequencing the human genome, newfangled theories about the origin of the moon, quantum bafflements like non-locality, the proliferation of the interwebs and information technology, speculations on the nature of time from that Prigogine fellow, and sundry other bamboozlements. He elucidates how these breakthroughs in diverse fields might converge to profoundly transform human civilization, culture, and consciousness in the imminent future.

Terence McKenna and Ram Dass

Prague Gnosis

Shot on location in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the International Transpersonal Conference in June 1992, this two-part series features Terence McKenna in dialogue with some of the foremost thinkers of the Global Consciousness movement of the time: Ram Dass, Angeles Arrien, Kenneth Ring, Rupert Sheldrake, Jill Purce, David Whyte and Alexander Shulgin.

Ram Dass

Promises and Pitfalls of the Spiritual Path

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham

Psychedelics and Mathematical Vision

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

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham

Psychedelics and the Computer Revolution

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

Terence McKenna

Seeking the Stone

What if psychedelic plants sparked humanity’s awakening? McKenna (speaking at the 1991 Whole Life Expo) contends these mind-altering substances dissolved the egos of early humans, bonded communities, and revealed cosmic consciousness, catalyzing rapid cultural progress. He asserts modern society suffers from severing this link to nature and spirit, and calls us to reclaim this “archaic revival” before consumerism leads civilization over the brink.

Terence McKenna

Shedding the Monkey

Presented at the Shared Visions bookstore.

Terence McKenna

Spirituality and Technology

Terence McKenna discusses psychedelic philosophy and the interconnectedness of all things, referencing Moby Dick as an allegory for the quest for transcendental truth.

Terence McKenna

The Gnostic Astronaut

Going off the deep end at Shared Visions Bookstore in Berkeley, trailblazer Terence McKenna plunges into freaky psychedelic phenomena that unravel consensual reality. He describes gonzo techniques for sparking glossolalia on 'shrooms—speaking pure alien word salad in an ecstatic state beyond language. McKenna argues these kooky experiences expose the limits of our linguistic operating systems, suggesting our minds are hardwired into a deeper bio-lingo. He ponders far out connections between psychedelics, paranormal events, and alien contact, and emphasizes riding the wave of raw experience over textbook pharmacology in grokking the psychedelic sphere.

Alan Watts

The Joyous Cosmology

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

Terence McKenna

The New Psychedelics

Held at the Ego-Soft event, Terence presented his philosophy and eschatology rap in accompaniment with a rhythmic didgeridoo and bell performance.

Terence McKenna

The Plot Thickens, the Stakes Rise

Alan Watts

The Psychedelic Experience

Alan says psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin can provide religious insight, but should be used with spiritual discipline to integrate the mystical experience into everyday life. He critiques psychiatry’s lack of metaphysical grounding and calls for medical and religious professionals to work together on psychedelics. Watts emphasizes psychedelics’ potential as a bridge between mystical and ordinary consciousness, while warning against spiritual inflation or romanticizing substances. Overall he presents a balanced perspective, exploring psychedelics as tools for self-knowledge that require wisdom in application.

Terence McKenna

The Psychedelic Society

One of Terence's early presentations at Esalen—shocking, astounding, and amusing his audience with outlandish ideas.

Aldous Huxley

The Ultimate Revolution

Huxley outlines what society’s ultimate revolution would look like: a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and who will pose little opposition to the ruling oligarchy, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book Brave New World to George Orwell’s 1984, and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation. Delivered at the UC Berkeley Language Center.

Terence McKenna

The Winter King

This talk was recorded during the time that Terence McKenna and Sheldon Rocklin were filming the Coincidencia Oppositorum: A Union of Opposites documentary for Mysic Fire.

Terence McKenna

The World and its Double

This workshop, held at the Nature Friends Lodge, revolves around how psychedelics dissolve boundaries, connect us to the transcendental, and reveal the novel realities underlying our perceived mundane existence. Terence explores how shamanic techniques give access to higher dimensions of consciousness, and describes history as an ever-accelerating process approaching an eschatological transformation or singularity.

Alan Watts

Turning the Head, or Turning On

Talking to an audience at San José State University, Alan Watts recounts the first time he tried consciousness-altering substances after meeting Aldous Huxley. He argues that Western society largely isn’t ready for the mystical experience which can be triggered in these mental states, but nonetheless advocates for them, as they may arouse positive transformation in the human collectivity.

Terence McKenna

Understanding and Imagination in the Light of Nature

The Great Mystery whispers through psychedelics as it unfurls revelations beyond language’s grasp. Here, ego-bound shells crack open as cosmic minds reborn beyond confines of space and time. We thus commune with the endless Imagination—holographic spirit-stuff whereof worlds are wrought. Invariants of the eternal suffuse temporal shadow-play, the mundane ever aflame in subtler dimensions. All form awakens, ascends, drawn unto consummate transcendence as history’s fever dream blossoms into timeless infinitude.

Terence McKenna

Unfolding the Stone

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

Terence McKenna

Walking Out Of The Ordinary

Journey with Terence McKenna into the mystical depths of the psychedelic experience, where alien dimensions beckon and unseen vistas await. McKenna describes fantastical realms beyond ordinary conceptions of reality—worlds that hold promise for expanding human consciousness. He argues persuasively that plant medicines like psilocybin can serve as a key not only to self-knowledge, but to rediscovering our cosmic belonging. McKenna's uncanny ability to articulate the ineffable allows him to initiate audiences into the revelatory power of psychedelic states. Join him on this quest, and you too may glimpse the infinities within.

Terence McKenna

What I've Learned from Psychedelics