An elf told me that – now, there’s a fine thing for a scientist to say – an elf told me that time travel is possible, but it is constrained in ways which are not normally part of our expectation of time travel. The way in which it’s constrained is, once time travel is discovered, you can travel as far into the future as you wish, but you can’t travel into the past any further than the, uh, moment of the invention of the first time machine. The reason for this is: that before the invention of the first time machine, there were no time machines and how can you take a time machine into a domain where there aren’t any? [Audience laughs] You see, it’s just to preserve logical consistency.
[Audience] – That’s like saying that you can’t drive a car where there hasn’t been a car driven before.
That’s right. You can’t take a car where there are no roads. When cars were first invented, the main objection to them was, "What are you going to do with this thing? It can’t go where a horse can go, so what good is it?" Um, so here's a fantasy scenario which, for a while, I liked very much. It’s that quantum physics and nanotechnology, and all this malarkey is, uh, refined and focused towards the notion of building a time machine, so that then on the morning of December 22nd, 2012, at the World Time Institute in the Amazon, the first time journey is about to be taken. And, the whole world is watching on holographic television as the Lady Temponaut is strapped into the machinery that will hurl her centuries into the future. And, there's a countdown and a button is pushed, and off she goes. Now, most people’s interest would be to follow this woman wherever she’s going, but let's forget her for a moment. The point has been made. She disappears. We assume she went off into the future, but what happens right there, right then?
It seems to me in the very next millisecond, thousands of time machines would begin arriving from the future simply because they had driven to the end of the road. They had come back in time to witness the first journey into the future. It’s as though you could take your Piper Cub and fly it to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1906 to see the Wright Flyer take off. You see? Are you all with me so far? Oh yeah, right! [Audience laughs]
Now, there is a problem with this which some of you, I’m sure of, are thinking. I hope, anyway. Uh, it’s what is called, "the grandfather paradox," which is the old conundrum that haunts all time travel schemes which is: if time travel were possible, you could go back in time and kill your own grandfather. Well then you wouldn’t exist. Well, so then this sets up a logical impossibility. Either you exist or you don’t exist, and some science fiction authors have assumed that somehow massive influxes of synchronicity would preserve your grandfather. You know, you would approach him with your Saturday night special, but it would blow up in your hand or it would ricochet off the St. Christopher medal he always wore [audience laughs] or something like that because he cannot be killed by you because, in that case, you wouldn’t exist, in which case, he couldn’t be killed by you.
And this troubled me for a long time. What exactly would happen in this situation because, according to Hans Moravec of the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, I mean, time travel is no big deal? The first paragraph, uh, of this paper, “The last few years have been good for time machines,” Kip Thorne, from the renowned General Relatively Group at Cal Tech, invented a new quantum gravitational approach to building a time gate. And, an international collaboration gave a convincing rebuttal of the grandfather paradox arguments. Another respected group suggested time machines that exploit quantum mechanical time uncertainty. The technical requirements for these suggestions exceed our present capabilities, but each new approach seems less onerous than the last. There is hope yet that time travel will eventually become possible, even cheap.
So, I then saw another possibility and this is the way we can fulfill the expectation of Christian hermeneutics, but not require the second coming of Christ or the intercession of God Almighty into history or all these other extreme unlikelihoods. And, to understand it, we have to have recourse to, uh, uh, physical model in a very simple realm of chemistry and physics, which is the Bernoulli gas laws. Some of you, I’m sure, are familiar with these and they’re very intuitive and easy to understand. Uh, we have a cylinder and it's a vac -- it contains a vacuum. At one end of the cylinder, we have a valve and the valve is connected to a line, which is connected to a tank of some inert gas – say, nitrogen. So, we open the valve to let the nitrogen rush into the cylinder, uh, that previously was a vacuum. Now, what happens inside that cylinder, I think, is intuitively obvious to all of us. The pressure equalizes over all points equally. In other words, you can’t have 50 pounds of pressure at one end of the cylinder and five pounds of pressure at the other. We understand that, in a gas, pressure distributes itself evenly in order to achieve equilibrium. Okay. Hold that notion in your mind.
Now, think of our world in the late 1990s, uh, as a, uh, sphere or a cylinder of that sort and think of cultures as gasses at various pressures. And, let’s assign low pressures to the bare-assed folks in the Amazon and eastern Indonesia and let’s assign high pressures to the folks in Manhattan and at Cal Tech and Cambridge and Los Angeles and London. Well then we can predict, correctly, in fact, what is happening sociologically on this planet. What is happening is that the high tech cultures are totally overwhelming the traditional cultures. The values of Manhattan and Los Angeles are flooding everywhere, and in spite of the tiny lip service we give to shamanism and body painting, the truth of the matter is Amazon cultures are not really, uh, making a major contribution at this point to the evolution of high tech, global, information-dense, electronic culture.
Okay. That’s the second level of this Bernoulli metaphor. So, now, lets go back to situation where we send the Lady Temponaut off into the future. I’m not familiar with how they overcame the grandfather paradox, so we’ll pretend that the grandfather paradox is very strong.
[Audience] – I want to say something about the grandfather paradox.
Okay. Let me -- I’m close to question time. Let me press forward relentlessly here because the coffee is running out. I can feel it. [Audience laughs] The equilibrium density is dropping.
Okay. So, we send the Lady Temponaut into the future, but now with what we know about the equalization of high cultures vs. low in a temporal medium, what happens from our point of view is that the rest of the history of the universe happens instantly. That, even if it’s billions of years of, uh, of human culture and downloading into machines and claiming star system after star system and so forth and so on, somehow that -- the state vector of all those event systems collapses. I call this, "The God-whistle principle." It’s that we can actually call God into history. We can summon the end state of human evolution to appear a millisecond after we successfully achieve the implementation of this technology of time travel in order to avoid all the paradoxes that would prevail if there were any extension to the post time travel era beyond the moment of its inception.
So, uh, this is a -- this is a way of, in a sense, forcing the evolution of, uh, the universe and it creates the phase transition of the eschaton. And, us, is, to my mind -- it creates the basin of attraction within the domain of our own lives. Now, is there any kind of precedent for something like this, even metaphorically, in our own experience? Well, it turns out, yes, there is, in a kind of bizarre anecdote, which should sober us considerably as we think about these things. When the first atomic weapon was built by the Manhattan Project in the desert of New Mexico, Fermi and Oppenheimer and all these people got together the night before the test at Trinity, and Fermi had, uh, uh, a pad like this on which he had scrawled some equations. And, he had reached the conclusion in the week before that they were not sure how high the temperature would go when they triggered this device and Fermi had some back-of-the-envelope calculations which caused him to believe that the nitrogen in the atmosphere of the planet would begin to burn if they tested this thing.
And, they would, in effect, ignite the atmosphere of the planet and the whole - the fireball would spread around the entire planet and destroy everything. And, they spent half the night going over these things and they finally decided that the information necessary to make the decision was not available and so, they said, "Well, Hell! Throw the switch! You know, at least, it'll show those 'Japs' and Germans that we mean business!" [Audience laughs] Of course, the test was carried out, the nitrogen did not burn and, instead, we were ushered into the glorious era of weapons of mass destruction.
So, let me see if I’ve got some notes here. I think I’ve covered everything. What’s interesting about this is, for the first time… In this article by Frank Tipler called, "The Omega Point as Eschaton," he seems - and this is why Paul is here and I couldn’t really get into it 'cause it’s crazy to repeat what you can’t understand [audience laughs] - but by an analysis and interpretation of quantum mechanics, Tipler reaches the conclusion that there is an omega point and it does represent the funneling together of all the, what are called world lines.And, he, for purposes of mental comfort, sets it far in the future, but in principle, there is no reason to do that. Uh, 12 or 13 years ago, the Swedish cosmologist Hannes Alfven wrote a wonderful little book called, "Worlds and Anti-worlds" in which he, uh, made the suggestion that, um, that the, uh, entire universe is what’s called a vacuum fluctuation ex nihilo, literally out of nothingness. However, there’s a caveat which is - this creation ex nihilo can only occur if what’s called parity is conserved. Now, what this means is that, um, these particles, uh, which come into being out of nothingness must come into existence paired with their anti-particle. And, so it comes into being, let's say, an electron and an anti-electron and they divide on separate trajectories and then they reconnect, and collide with each other and parity is conversed. In other words, nothing really happened. No laws of physics were violated because they annihilated each other.
Now, for a long time, a while, this was thought to be entirely a kind of a theoretical construct. But, then it was noticed that the theoretical models of black holes, which we referred to a few days ago, seem to imply that no radiation could leave a black hole and yet certain kinds of black holes were observed to be giving off hard radiation in the form of x-rays. And, it was realized, uh, that what was happening was, uh, vacuum fluctuations were taking place in the vicinity of the black hole and, because one particle went one way and one the other, the black hole interfered with the conservation of parity, and one of the particles was being sucked into the black hole and the other particle was flying off into the ordinary universe and being seen by astronomers as hard radiation. So, the fact that this process goes on has now been confirmed.
Well, now, an interesting thing about these vacuum fluctuations is that quantum physics places no upper limit on the size of a vacuum fluctuation. What it says is that the smaller the vacuum fluctuation, the fewer particles that are involved, the more likely the vacuum fluctuation is. And, obviously, from observing black holes, we can see that very small vacuum fluctuations occur quite frequently. Well, Alfven took all this and said, well then is it not possible that the entire universe, our entire universe, is simply a very large vacuum fluctuation? A vacuum fluctuation involving something like 10-high-50 particles and they have poured into, uh, the manifold in which we find ourselves and an anti-matter universe, invisible to us because it’s in another dimension, was born at the same time. And, so, one universe went off into a higher dimensional manifold this way and the other one went off in the other direction, and what this sets us up for is the possibility allowed by this interpretation of quantum physics that the entire universe could disappear instantly; not gradually. You wouldn’t see the stars going out, but the -- because this is all happening in a hyperspace of some sort which treats this manifold as a point-like entity.
So, what you would have is just “click” and all particles in the universe would disappear and the original unflawed nothingness would be restored. Actually, no, there’s a further caveat to all this, which is: all particles have their anti-matter, anti-particle twin, except - except the photon. The photon is this mysterious particle which is different from all other particles. It either has no anti-particle or somehow it has its own anti-particle embedded within it. So, what would happen in the case of a universe which was a vacuum fluctuation which encountered its ghost image and conserved parity and cancelled all particles except photons is that you would suddenly have a universe made of nothing but light. Nothing but light! We then have to model the physics of a universe where the only kinds of particles that exist are light. Well, it’s interesting that all these human traditions of transcendentalism make a big deal about light. I mean, light is the metaphor for spirit. And, the supposition is that the rarefaction of matter and of the flesh releases us into a realm of light.
And, I am not physicist enough by a long shot to say what the behavior of a universe made of light would be, but I do know enough to say that, if you or I were made of light, uh, our subjective experience of the universe would be ruled by relativistic physics. And, we would have the impression that we could go anywhere instantly and we would have the impression that the universe was aging around us at a tremendous rate because, you see, the time dilation of the general theory of relativity, um, says that as you approach the speed of light, time slows down. Now, it’s assumed that you can’t reach the speed of light because as you approach the speed of light, your mass asymptotically increases, so that to push a single atom to the speed of light would require more energy than there is in the entire universe because this particle would have become so massive that there isn’t enough energy to propel it. But, a photon never moves slower than the speed of light. It never moves faster than the speed of light either. So, the photon - if you were made of photons and you went from here to Zubenelgenubi, let's say, a star in our galaxy with a wonderful name, uh, your impression of the travel time would be zero. You wouldn't and so -- again, here is a way without invoking God Almighty where physics seems to lay into our hands, uh, metaphors for the anticipation of the, uh, eschaton. Paul do you want to say something at this point?
[Audience] – It’s fascinating. You’re playing with physics. Um, you know, everything has to be conserved; it’s not just parity in the vacuum fluctuation. I mean, matter and antimatter are just one of the dozens of the conservations that has to be conserved in those phenomenon. And, um, they’re happening all the time from the point of view of physics. Inside our body there are trillions of these virtual, um, reactions occurring all the time and they can be intercepted. I mean, you can have a -- a gamma ray break into a particle and an anti-particle, and you can intercept before they come back together again. And, that’s how they detect them on photographic plates on cloud changes. But, everything you say is right. One thing, I don’t think this notion of the big bang – and I’m not sure whether I subscribe to the big bang model – but, it sounds so far fetched because if, uh, if there there was something in the universe then we’d have a real problem explaining how it got here. So, the simplest thing to us humans is nothing here.
You mean that we are in a vacuum fluctuation?
[Audience] – No, it's just that there’s nothing here. I mean, there is nothing before the big bang and there’s nothing after.
This sounds like Buddhism.
[Audience] – A vacuum fluctuation includes everything; good/evil, male/female, the whole thing added together like a zero. Just like it always was.
Well, then what are the complex appearances that impinge upon our senses and what are we then?
[Audience] – Because we choose to pay attention to only half of the situation. But, if we could -- if we would let ourselves be and experience the whole, then it’s all unified.
[Audience] - It all cancels to zero.
Well, this refers back to something you and I were talking about at, at, uh, dinner. We all assume that there is one past and one future, but it’s not clear why we assume that. I mean, think about it for a moment. We’re all here gathered in this room, sharing this moment, but we all have different pasts. Not one of us has the past of another and so what we have in this room is a convergence of pasts. And, when this meeting is over, we will go our separate ways into a variety of futures. So, the assumption that there is one past and one future is just some kind of convenient mental bookkeeping.
Uh, we could -- and we are tremendously under the spell of this illusion. I mean, we worry about ‘the’ future all the time. Well, notice that you could just move to an island somewhere and get a brown-skinned girl and then you wouldn’t have to worry about anybody else’s future because you would have made your own future. We can step out of the assumption of a universal history in which we’re trapped. And, I think realizing this is the beginning of a kind of liberation. Our assumptions, uh, are the edges of our worlds and this is one of our strongest assumptions. The assumptions that there is a past and a future and our destinies are all caught up in that. But, actually you can – a word that rarely passes my lips – you can deconstruct that assumption and, uh, and then you’re given back a-a whole different way of looking at the experience of being, which is empowering. Because, somehow when we are embedded in the future, we feel we have no control whatsoever. We’re like corks in a raging river. But, in fact, that’s a false model, I think. Anybody want to get in on this?
[Audience] - Sometimes when I’m listening to you, um, I have sort of the troubling thought that Terence hasn’t done enough psychedelics. Or, I think that you’re too straight in some way. When you get onto some of your scientific tracks, and as you put it, you’re a rationalist, I start thinking, um, why get lost? I start thinking -- I start referring to experiences I have had of being altered where a lot of this seems, um, incidental to the experience to one experience of eternity, which I know you had. And, how do you reckon with yourself sometimes and think when you doubt yourself and think this is just my ego, um, concocting things to make me feel good, etc., etc. whatever would be the worst-case scenario for you?. It’s hard for me to express this sort of well , but there’s something about the way you often refer to what seems to be a scientific model that’s, um, very linear even as you talk, you know….
Well, I would certainly say that I haven’t taken enough psychedelics. [Audience laughs] Um, reading these people, it seems like, uh -- I mean, I doubt these guys are real psychedelic heads and they’re much further out than I am. Um, the real truth -- the real truth is and I’ve said it many times that the world is not only stranger than we suppose, it’s stranger than we can suppose. And, in a way, that’s either permission to suppose anything you want or to just stop supposing, you know. Um, these things are models. The real -- nowhere is it writ large that bipedal apes should be able to understand how the universe works. Still less likely is it written anywhere that Terence McKenna should be able to understand how the universe works. Were you here the other night when we talked, uh, about the black hole theory of enlightenment? It was two nights ago?
[Audience] – I was here. [Audience laughs]
Well, that’s the idea - that the real truth can’t be told. I’m very aware, uh, that all of this is just stuff to support me, to make a living, in other words [audience laughs], you know. Um, that, in fact, what’s really going on defies rational apprehension. I hope! [Audience laughs] I mean, I would hate to think -- I would hate to think that we could understand what’s going on. Nevertheless, there’s something to be said for this modeling process and I agree. I think I’m getting old. Uh, you can only push yourself so far. I mean, when I read one of these things today and he was off on some tear, and I just realized, you know. It struck fear in my heart. And, I said, "My God! You know and I actually did a, mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the weirdest one of all?".And, it said, "Hans Moravec is the weirdest one of all." I said, "Shit!" I should bring him here and sit at his feet! I don’t know. Am I talking about what you’re talking about? Oh good!
[Audience] – I find a fantastic parallel between psychedelic experience and physics. I mean, I haven’t found anything in the psychedelic experience that would be any problem to relate to the point of view of the physicist. And, actually, I think that all the stuff in physics got out of the bag because of the psychedelic, you know, breakthroughs in the ‘60s. Fritjof Capra and others had psychedelic experiences and then started to ferret it out. I mean, In the 1920s, people were puzzling about these things and having the spiritual crises and throwing away all of their assumptions about reality and having these types of breakthroughs, and then it go lost because we started to bag physics to use for the military. It was all an environment that opened up because of the psychedelics.
But, I don’t think that science -- that the purpose of science is to understand reality. This may go to what your saying. I think the purpose of science is to advance technology, which is a heresy. I don’t think reality can be understood and that it’s absolute hubris for science to, you know, cloak itself in the mantel of philosophy. All it’s for is to make better toys or, if you're nuts, better weapons. And, um, ultimately there’s not going to be any closure in the effort to understand and I think that the real -- the thing that you take away from psychedelics finally is that all models are provisional. That there is no truth.
We talked at one point in here about Wittgenstein’s phrase, "true enough" – true enough to get you to the gas station – true enough to get your taxes paid. But, uh, there'll be no, uh -- there'll be no closure on this stuff. We have to live in the light of the mystery. But, I think we also said in here, you know, it’s the death of conversation, if we glorify the mystery too much cause then I’ll be just like everyone else here and I’ll announce that we’re now going to have a meditation, which I’ve never done to you, I want to point out! [Audience laughs, applauds] Somebody wanted to say something?
[Audience] – With that in mind, I wonder how you can project an end to eternity at a certain time?
Well, I didn’t mean to imply a nothingness beyond. It isn’t like that. I think it’s an everythingness. That when I talk about what I envision it as - as boundary dissolution. If all boundaries dissolve then, you know, I am you, and you are me, and we are all together. [Audience laughs] It's a -- it’s an exfoliation of the human experience. The great boundaries are -- no, the small boundaries are man/woman, self/world. And then the big boundaries are life/death, uh, past/future. All of these will be dissolved into something like William Blake’s Divine Imagination. And, we will become, you know, our, our grandest dreams. And, so, the whole challenge is to dream a dream worthy of that dimension. I mean, it’s a very interesting exercise. I don’t know if you’ve ever done it. God! It comes close to being a visualization, I’m sorry to notice, but have you ever played the game, uh, "What would I do if I could do anything?"
First of all, you have to wrap your mind around the concept "anything." What would I do if I could do anything? And, I used to think about it in terms and for some reason for me it takes the form of an architectural fantasy. You know, first of all, I just locate myself in the house featured in last month's Architectural Digest. Then from there, I begin to work it out. Well, if you could do anything within a few minutes of entering into that exercise, you’re unrecognizable to yourself. I mean, you don’t even have to exist in a forward flowing casuistry of three dimensions. Uh, you can be a number of species and all possible sexes. You can be translocated at many points in time. Uh, you begin to realize that you are tremendously limited by your assumptions. And that, this is sort of what I imagine death is: It’s release into the divine imagination and if you’re, you know, blown up in an airliner, then immediately after dying, you’re just a dead person, but then you begin to unfold and test the boundaries.
And, you know, as James Joyce says in Finnegans Wake, uh, "up n’ent prospector, you sprout all your worth and woof your wings." And that’s just in the first 30 seconds that you woof your wings. And then you’re able to assume to divide your consciousness to assume any form, to be any place, to know anything. Anything recognizable as human, I think, would quickly drop away or would just become a tiny and familiar touchstone that you would occasionally return to, to touch. And, somehow the dying, which occurs to each one of us, that’s the microcosm of the planetary and historical process that we're caught up in. It’s the thing that we hate most of all. We fear it. We really get agitated when death is raised as an issue. James Joyce called it, "The Grim Reaper"—a blessing in disguise. “If you want to be Phoenixed, come and be parked.” Meaning: You know, you have to die to fully exfoliate into this dimension.
And, sometimes I think – and I don’t often say it to groups because I fear I’m misunderstood and I don’t want people to go out of here depressed – but, sometimes, I think that what human history pushes for is the extermination of all life on the planet for the simple reason that we’ll never be free till then. That we are in some kind of hell world and we are locked in a world of matter and energy and space and time, and that it is not – you know, my God! this sounds like, you know, Southern Baptists – [audience laughs] but, we are living death at this moment and that we must die in order to be born again. In other words, that somehow what we are has become trapped in a lower dimensional matrix and our greatest delusion is to cling to this most tenaciously.
Jorge Luis Borges, in one of his stories, has this idea that, uh, the species, uh, any species, is somehow not completed in eternity until the last member of that species dies. And, it is interesting that if you think about biology, 95 per cent of all species that have ever lived on this planet are extinct. This is what happens to species: they go extinct. And yet, we’re driven to pursue immortality. It pains us greatly to imagine the death of all life on this planet, and particularly, the death of our individual selves or our species. But, the fact of the matter is, we don’t know what death is. I mean, one of the puzzling things about the DMT trance is, you know, these creatures, made of light, in the mind, that are so different from us, but have such affection and love for us, they seem like relatives. They seem like – dare we whisper the word – they seem like ancestors. And yet, you know, we would rather believe that they were aliens from Zeta Reticuli or elves in a parallel continuum than apply Ockham’s Razor to the phenomenon, and say – since we are the only intelligent entities that we have ever contacted in this universe – these things which we contact in our minds in the center of the DMT flash, they must be human beings of some sort, but they don’t look like human beings. But, they love us so much and understand us so well!
Well, is it possible that the kind of human being that they are is a dead human being? That we’re actually breaking through into an ecology of souls. I mean, if we say that the psychedelic experience is an experience of boundary dissolution and, if we say that DMT is the strongest of all psychedelics, then may it not be that it is dissolving the most resistant of all barriers, which is the barrier between the living and the dead? And that what you actually come into is the antechambers of eternity for a brief glimpse. If you were to take that rap and properly translate it into Witoto or Munangi, or something like that, and go to the Amazon and query those folks, they’d say, "Of course. I mean, your own Mircea Eliade tells you that shamanism depends on the spirit ancestors." And, for all the credit we give shamanism, we’ve never actually come to grips with the possibility that, uh, shamans really do work with the spirit ancestors, that there really is an ecology of trans- trans-material human beings in a nearby continuum that can be approached by a boundary-dissolving drug.
And, it’s because, you know, we and certainly I – and certainly proven by this rap tonight – are obsessed with technological explanations of it and how it’s going to be the flying saucers, or it's going to be the time machine, or the collapse of the quantum vector or something like that. But, because the forward thrust of our technology is toward immortality. I mean, that’s what gnawing at the back of our minds. And yet, what may actually be coming towards us, orthogonal – meaning at right angles to the historical process – is the dissolving of the barrier between the living and the dead, which is so unsettling and mind boggling to us that we'd take a flying saucer invasion any day over having that happen to us! [Audience laughs] And yet, it’s very, very late in the game. You know, human nature is going to have to undergo a radical, vertical translation of some sort, if we are to avoid, um, the extinction of ourselves and all life on the planet. Well, so then, you know, uh, maybe that’s what it was for. If we believe that we were always embedded in the machinery of nature - that we could never act outside the purposes of nature - then this must be what it’s for.
It’s very interesting in embryology. I think most people think, you know, of a fetus in the womb, um, as you all know – we begin as very fish like creatures in the womb and then out of what are essentially little paddle mitts, the human hand appears. I think most people think that the tissue retracts tightly and that the human being emerges, but if you’ve seen fetal stages in bottles in medical schools, what’s actually going on is that cells die off. And, massive amount of dying goes on in the womb in order that the human form may emerge out of the fetal form.The webbing between the fingers doesn’t retract. Those cells die and are released into the amniotic fluid. The growth of the fetus involves the death of millions and millions and millions of cells. So, we are born, we are -- you could almost say sculpted into life by the hand of death. I mean, I feel as nervous about all this as you must, uh, but, you know, this is what we’re here for, right? – to stretch the envelope. Yeah.
[Audience] – Terence, I would like to go back to something you said about the beings of light and the shamanic capacity to see and interact with these beings, and they could be the ancestors. Thinking in terms of those individuals who refined their senses to being able to see more than the average ability to see and to hear more than just the normal ability to hear; where there’s a growing awareness of inner-penetrating planes of beings that are actually co-existing with us, but we can’t hear them or see them because we haven’t refined those senses enough. And, the more psychically sensitivity individuals have an increasing ability in a non-drug state to be aware. It's just that they can see more and hear more, and I haven’t heard you say that.
Well yeah, I mean, that’s a very good point. The perfect example of it in terms of a cultural tradition is, uh, uh, Fairyland. Fairyland is, uh -- the pre-Christian Celtic peoples believed that dead souls stayed around in the immediate vicinity and that there were thousands of them all around. The accumulated dead, very much in the way that when you smoke DMT, then there are thousands of these things and it raises the question – were they always there or what’s going on?
Saint Patrick, who, uh, brought Christianity to Ireland, found this belief (and also Anita makes the point about sensitivity). In Irish folklore, there’s the idea that if you have the eye, you can see these things, uh, and no drugs are required. It’s a psychic ability which the country Celtic people have sometimes claimed. So, when Patrick came to Ireland on his mission of conversion, he found this belief in Fairyland so powerfully entrenched in these people that he invented purgatory. Purgatory was invented by St. Patrick to convert the Irish. And then when word was carried back to Rome that Patrick, who was this great bishop of the early Church, that he had made this doctrinal concession to Celtic folk thinking – the Pope thought it was such a fine idea that they just wrote it into dogma.
So, uh, purgatory, which as you all know is neither heaven or hell, but a place where you expiate your sins for some amount of time before you pass on to heaven, is nothing less than a cleaned-up version of Fairyland written in to Christian theology. Now, I don’t know why the Celtic people had, not a monopoly but a firm grip on this. I mean, it may be their innate gloominess, their obsession with death, their, uh, uh – it’s called the "Ayenbite of Inwyt": it’s that, we just chew on ourselves until we dissolve – but, there was something about that character that set it up for perceiving, uh, these entities. Although, in all traditions all over the world, uh, if you dig deep enough, you can usually find a tradition of small people that live in the hills or under the hills – meaning graves, right? – under the hills and they are the ancestors. And, the best that straight folklorists can tell is they have some weird law that as a people recedes into time, they shrink, which seems to me preposterous. I mean, I just don’t understand that.
I think the evidence is pretty good that this is going on. The fact that DMT is, uh, a naturally occurring neuro transmitter is very suggestive. Rupert Sheldrake has made the suggestion that dying is a unique chemical experience and he calls DMT a necrotic hallucinogen. That, that you actually -- if you are truly dying, your brain will be flooded with DMT and then you will see the ecology of souls waiting to receive you. I once questioned a very well known Tibetan teacher, uh, about what was going on in DMT, and he said, "Yes, these are the lesser lights." He said, "You can't -- if you go further than that, you will break the thread of connection and be unable to return." And, so, you know, I think this is the most challenging idea to us on the conscious and unconscious level because we may, you know -- I mean, I’m only speaking for myself, but it seems to me true that we really have, at a profound level, accepted the scientific lie that death is non-entity, you know. And it gives us -- it’s a permanently weakening idea because it makes us each such a finite being. I mean, it means that no matter what you do, eventually, you know, it will all end in the cold, cold ground.
You know, "But at my back I always hear / Times wingèd chariot hurrying near;" "This coyness, lady, were no crime." "Had we but world enough and time." "The grave's a (fine) and private place / But none, I think, do there embrace." Well, maybe Andrew Marvell was wrong. Maybe there’s more fun on the, uh, other side than, uh, you might wish to be congealed. Anybody? Save me from myself! [Audience laughs]
[Audience] – What I’m wondering, I have the impression of what comes to mind is a world that you project where everybody is schizophrenic. So that today I can be Napoleon, tomorrow Jesus, and then I can meet somebody else who also believes that he is Napoleon, Jesus, Buddha or whatever, and back and forth in time. I’m just wondering what kind of a place that's going to be.
Well, I would buy into that. I think schizophrenia is the absence of cultural expectation, you know. In the most profound sense. I mean, the casuistry doesn’t even apply. I mean, I consider myself schizophrenic and I have observed schizophrenia in other members of my family at close up and in great detail. And, what it is, is simply the breakdown of casuistry and then ordinary people - imprisoned in the hallucination of culture, language and linear time - lock you up and put you away because, uh, you’re reporting from outside the cultural envelope and carrying information that terrifies, alarms, disturbs and just... You drive other people crazy is what it is! [Audience laughs]
I’m talking now about process schizophrenia, which is the spectacular kind: where you bring back information that is absolutely incommensurate with the models of your culture. No, I think -- It’s been said that the world is becoming more schizophrenic. Well, that’s just because they didn’t have the word "psychedelic." Psychedelic experience is essentially a kind of schizophrenia and the people who, in the early phase of psychedelic research – they wanted to call it a psychotomimetic, meaning it mimics psychosis. It doesn’t mimic psychosis; it’s a schizomimetic of some sort. Psychosis is a whole different pathology. But, uh, schizophrenia is simply a, uh, uh, category for, uh, behavior and insight that the rest of society is unable to do anything with, I think. Yeah. No, that doesn’t trouble me at all. I like talking about how I’m schizophrenic. Maybe this answers your, uh, criticism that I’m linear and running down and old. I can always go nuts. [Audience laughs] You know, if all else fails, you can go bananas, I suppose. [Audience laughs]
The schizophrenics return with the great aesthetic visions and the scientific breakthroughs and the poetic understandings, I mean, uh, and, it’s almost as though they have been aided by the demon artificers. They have taken into their, uh, retinue, uh, supernatural helpers and a shaman would say, of course, allies. And, I’m sure you all know the way in which schizophrenia and shamanism map together. I mean, our own Julian Silverman is the great pioneer in the one-to-one mapping of shamanism and schizophrenia. And years ago, when I was completely bananas, every time they would approach from three sides with nets, I had Julian’s paper called, "Shamans and Schizophrenia," and I could quote it chapter and verse and back them off [audience laughter] because, uh, what is called the initiatory crisis in shamanism is nothing more than a schizophrenic break with ordinary reality.
The problem is, we freak out completely and rush to drug people and give them electroshock and tie them down and slap them around. Well, so then the, uh, unfolding of the process is interrupted and it’s as though you were to, you know, perform surgery on a fetus or something and then be amazed when it turns out a monstrosity. When, if you would have just left it alone, for crying out loud, it was unfolding along its own cryodes of morphological development. This is why people like R. D. Laing seem to me to be the ones who thought most deeply and correctly about schizophrenia.
To become schizophrenic is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity. The trick is to make sure that you’re nowhere where straight people can get at you. [Audience laughs] And, uh, my schizophrenic episode occurred in the Amazon basin and, you know, it was five days march to just a mission. And, I’ve always felt that evading modern mental health care facilities saved my mind. Absolutely! And, in a traditional society, it’s supported, you know. If someone shows signs, uh, because their dreamy or they hallucinate or they’re epileptic or something like that then this is encouraged and they’re put under the care of shamans, and drugs are used to initiate the crisis in some cases. And, it’s a cause for great rejoicing to have these personalities because -- in the culture -- because they’re the antennas of culture that are contacting the, uh, raw stuff of real being and transducing it down into, uh, cultural artifacts and institutions that then are useful. Anything else?
[Audience] – The grandfather paradox.
Oh, yeah What did you want to say?
[Audience] – I don't think, I mean -- your idea of the end point makes perfect sense to me and I don’t think the grandfather paradox is an objection. It’s not really a paradox.
No, I don't think it's a paradox.
[Audience] – It’s a self-consistent universe. You’re here so you didn’t kill your... If you killed your grandfather, you wouldn’t be here to ask us the question.
I think that’s the way to handle that. I think that when we finally really understand time travel, we may find out that it’s common as dirt and has been going on all around us in all kinds of physical processes.
[Audience] – We make up stories. I mean, the human mind likes to make up stories. So, if you came back and killed your grandfather and you’re still here then we’d have to make up a story. Like somebody else got -- even your grandmother.
But, since that isn’t how it works.
[Audience] – Well, it may be working that way. I mean, people disappear mysteriously and all sorts of things happen and we just fit them into a framework that makes sense to us. When we’re in the realm of time travel, then maybe we’ll have to reinterpret all that weird stuff that occurred in history.
That’s an excellent point. That all kinds of stuff goes on around us that may be, in fact, the collapse of paradoxical situations that we don’t understand. Like, you know, all these well-documented cases of spontaneous human combustion and stuff like that. I mean, unless you just flat out deny that this goes on, which is a kind of cop out, I think, because it just means that you don’t believe large bodies of evidence. I mean, not everything weird that’s claimed goes on, but on the other hand, I don’t think God is a republican. I think that there's plenty of weird shit flying around and as I said, nowhere is it writ that anthropoid apes should understand reality. And, every culture that’s ever existed has operated under the illusion that it understood 95 per cent of reality and that the other five per cent would be delivered in the next 18 months.
And, from Egypt forward, they’ve been running around believing they had a perfect grip on things. Yet, we look back at every society that has preceded us with great smugness at how naïve they all were. Well, it never occurs to us that then maybe we’re whistling in the dark, too. That the universe is stranger than you can suppose. And that that openness that that perception imparts is a great joy, a great blessing because then you can live your life not in service to some fascistic metaphor, but in service to the living mystery. The fact that you’re not going to understand it. It is not going to yield to logic or magic or any other technique that’s been developed. It's bigger -- you know, the novelist John Crowley has this wonderful aphorism: The further in you go, the bigger it gets. And, I think this is true of most things.
That’s all, folks! [Audience laughs] We got through another one of these. [Applause]
Okay. Thank you all for coming. I do not understand why you put up with this [audience laughs], but I appreciate it. I do appreciate it!