Terence Kemp McKenna was a writer, philosopher, psychonaut and ethnobotanist. He was noted for his knowledge of the use of psychedelic, plant-based entheogens, and subjects ranging from shamanism, the theoretical origins of human consciousness, and his concept of novelty theory
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We've made this hand-picked collection of quotes to show you what is Terence McKenna truly willing to say and leave for generations. Whether an inspirational quote or a motivational message about giving your best, we can all benefit from the wisdom, captured within these words.
We are so much the victims of abstraction that with the Earth in flames we can barely rouse ourselves to wander across the room and look at the thermostat.
I can't think of a society on Earth where people don't take drugs that any of us would want anything to do with.
If in fact the conservation and complexification of novelty is what the universe is striving for, then suddenly our own human enterprise, previously marginalized, takes on an immense new importance.
If you don't have a plan, you become part of somebody else's plan.
Although whenever you have intelligent life in the presence of large explosions, a safe bet is that the intelligent life is responsible for the large explosion.
Chaos is roving through the system and able to undo, at any point, the best laid plans.
The leading edge of reality is mind, and mind is the primary substratum of being.
Nature is not mute, it is man that is deaf.
I don’t know what life is like without cannabis, I hear there is such a thing.
Anything which must be understood by millions of people is so hopelessly divorced from how it is that it becomes a form of fiction.
We are led by the least among us - the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary.
I started out in psychedelic drugs, and people said it was a flight from reality. It still is a flight from reality, but I think reality is now a bit more scary than the drugs we used to fly from it, so long ago.
I think the real test of psychedelics is what you do with them when you're not on them, what kind of culture you build, what kind of art, what kind of technologies... What's lacking in the Western mind is the sense of connectivity and relatedness to the rest of life, the atmosphere, the ecosystem, the past, our children's future. If we were feeling those things we would not be practicing culture as we are.
LSD is different. LSD is like psychoanalytical Drano. It's not a personality.
History is anomalous, and there is no way to get used to it.
The shaman is a very peculiar figure.
He is critical to the functioning of the psychological and social life of his community, but in a way he is always peripheral to it. He lives at the edge of the village. He is only called upon in matters of great social crisis. He is feared and respected. And this might be a description of these hallucinogenic substances.
You will ride the Tao
toward the concrescence
and will be able to live in the light
of its anticipation.
The party impulse is a very subversive impulse.
I mean, you know, a lot of artists have too much integrity to sell their art as a brand; but who has so much integrity that they would turn down a party?
If we were to place our power at the service of our imaginations rather than our primate politics we would create a civilization worthy of the name.
Only responsible human beings can exist in an anarchistic society.
When we free ourselves we are not freed into a void.
When we free ourselves we are freed into a dimension in which Art is an obligation.
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.
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.
Language is something that springs from the biological matrix, and the neurological matrix, within us.
People have a right to get stoned. They have a right to think and explore their own minds. This is as intimate a part of their being as their sexuality. Any culture which mitigates that is clearly afraid of a full and fair and open dialogue about what reality is and what real human values ought to be.
There's something in the Western mind that gets very nervous when you try to talk about the bedrock of ontology.
We want freedom. We want freedom from the constraints of the cycles of the sun and the moon. We want freedom from drought and weather, freedom from the movement of game, the growth of plants, freedom from control from mendacious popes and kings, freedom from ideology, freedom from want. This idea of freeing ourselves has become the compass of the human journey.
DMT seems to argue, convincingly I might add, that the world is made entirely of something, for want of a better word, we would have to call magic.
Your memories are eroding away. The futures you anticipate, will mostly not come to pass, and the real richness is in the moment. And it's not necessarily some kind of 'Be Here Now' feel-good thing because it doesn't always feel good. But it always feels. It is a domain of feeling. It's primary.
This is a general comment that you should take a committed dose of whatever it is you're taking so that there is no ambiguity, because there's nothing worse than a sub-threshold psychedelic experience.
We're not mere spectators, or a cosmic accident, or some sideshow, or the Greek chorus to the main event. The human experience IS the main event.
What I like to talk about, and what I have very little competition in terms of talking about, is the content of the psychedelic experience.
Meaning lies in the confrontation of contradiction - the coincidencia apositorum. That’s what we really feel, not these rational schemes that are constantly beating us over the head with the “thou shalts” and “thou should”, but rather a recovery of the real ambiguity of being and an ability to see ourselves as at once powerful and weak, noble and ignoble, future-oriented, past-facing.
We [psychonauts] are all going to go into the books as pioneers, because it's too early for us to be anything else. There's no map, no finished database, just anecdotes of the crazy, crazy stuff that goes on. That's why it's so important to try and share [our stories].
Clearly, what is happening, I think, is there is a kind of global emergence of a new mental order.
This is the nature of going forward into being: A series of self-transforming ascents of level.
The question is being asked, 'Are we alone?' And though we now focus on that question we need to think beyond that to what if we're not alone? Then what becomes the next imperative question?
No more do we create cultural artifacts that are simply our furniture, but now it's our thoughts, our values, are embodied in this [digital] stuff.
Being imposes some kind of obligation to find out what's going on.
Ecstasy is not simply joy. Ecstasy is an emotion of great complexity that hovers almost on the edge of terror sometimes.
And the whole schtick of the psychedelic experience, I think, is reclaim immediate experience, realize that you out vote all parliaments, police forces, and major newspapers on the planet because, who knows, they may be illusions.
We were essentially torn from the Gaian womb, thrust into the birth canal of history, and expelled sometime around the fall of the Roman Empire into the cold hard world of modern science, existentialism and all the rest of it.
Thinkers are not a welcome addition to most social situations.
...the mind is more powerful than any imaginable particle accelerator, more sensitive than any radio receiver or the largest optical telescope, more complete in its grasp of information than any computer: the human body- its organs, its voice, its powers of locomotion, and its imagination- is a more-than-sufficient means for the exploration of any place, time or energy level in the universe.
And science, when it examines psychedelics, as it will and must, is going to discover a revolution, I believe, that will put all the previous revolutions in perspective.
Obviously, it's some kind of freely commanded modality in the psyche with which we can have a relationship if we will but evolve a control language and a dialogue. And it remains mysterious.
It was the fall into history that enslaved us to the labor cycle, to the agricultural cycle. And notice how fiendish it is.
What is always left out of descriptions of the psychedelic state, the deep psychedelic state, is how weird it is.
The message coming back at all of us is: live without closure.
The Gaian mind is what were calling the psychedelic experience.
Its an experience of the living fact of the entelechy of the planet - and without that experience we wander in a desert of bogus ideologies. But with that experience the compass of the self can be set.
What is happening here is we are living past the age, by the millions, living past the age where cultural values make any sense at all.