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and have learned that this information, this thin web of understanding between human beings and plants is in great danger of being lost, and it is not simply that we are driven by the motivation of the anthropologist or the curator. This information has a vital potential impact on modern healthcare delivery, how long we live, how healthy we are. How clear our minds are may well depend on preserving the botanical heritage of folk information and identified species in the warm tropics. I don't know how many of you saw it. About a month ago on the front page of the New York Times there was a composite satellite photograph of the Amazon last September over a 15-day
a fifteen-day period in infrared and showing thousands of fires, literally millions of acres being burned to clear for cattle. The land can be used for cattle for three years after this process and then it becomes so brushy and scrubby that it is useless for any purpose. The Brazillian government commissioned these satellite photographs and they showed that 30% of the worlds yearly production of carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas was caused by these September burnings in the Amazon, and that the amount of particulate matter lifted into the stratosphere was equivalent to three eruptions the size of the El Chinchon volcano in Mexico. This is a massive ecocidal impact, a massive insult to the atmosphere of the planet
the planet and-a... these kinds of things imperiled all of us. We need to realize that if the new age means archaic revival. If it means reaching back in time for, a.., models in the past, that can study this culture as we move toward this ultra dimension that everyone can sense, lies just ahead of us, then, we are going to have to put on the brakes. We are going to have to act from a sense of the real needs of the planet. Well in our own small way that's what we are trying to do at Botanical Dimensions. Its where we anchor this high-flown rhetoric that I am going to lay on you [audience laughter]. Ah.. in political reality, its where we try to act to actually do something to save information
Say if information to save plants that people may be healed like that. I call this discussion the light at the end of history and in a way my remarks about botanical dimensions set the stage. I wanted to talk about the end of history in an optimistic way. I wanted to transcend the air headedness that harms the new age rhetoric and still be able to say something positive about the future both short term
Both short-term and long-term. And give a kind of sense of possibilities outside the oridinary political agenda. The new age, if it means anything, it must mean a revivification of values that are traditional. Because those are the only values that have ever worked and I dont mean traditional like 80 years ago. I mean like 500 years ago. In other words there is a need to spend(?) for a cultural answer that is not couched in the terms of western, european, male dominated, paternalistic, quiet (or white?) civilisation.
Now I dont suppose it´s any news to you, that my inspiration for
(My inspiration) ...for trying to take this position or trying to understand what this stand might entail, is an involvment with the sources of shamanic ecstasy. An involvment with traditional usage of vision-producing plants.
So in the moment when the whole world and the entire political apparatus is contorted by a fear of drugs, or at least an apparent state of fear of drugs (laughter), well these institutions are being pulled(?) many ways. I mean we`re talking about hounderts of billions of dollars in profits and who shall have it and some people think they should make the profit because they know best what to do with the money. And I welcome them after saying "this dude is here this evening" (<-??)
But..so in the atmosphere of the present situation, I bring the news that there is an older, different way of looking at these things. And that the aquisition of Moses, the aquisition of spiritual entailment is not a matter of following gurus or immersing oneself in mastering excruciatingly difficult physiological techniques. It has more to do with what Roy was talking about, which is courage. The courage to commit oneself to full experience, whatever that means.
To my mind the greatest undersold commodity, and it isn´t a commodity, in the world today, is the felt presence of immediate experience. And this is what I suggest that in part the new age should stand for. As I say, my own awareness of this emerged because I was willing to involve myself with the traditional vision-producing plants that have been used for millennia, in all cultures throughout the world. I was saying to someone today "the whole history of the world can be seen as a careening set of relationships between human beings and plants. Relationships made and broken. Weed, coffee, tabakko, tea, opium; all of these things bring with them a maze of dynasties and empires that rose and fell as these plants came into play and then disappeared."
So, what is there to hope about in the present situation, or what is going on in the world? Why is the 20th century such an apparent, bizarre aberration? And why is our culture apparently the cutting edge of either the absolute apotheosis of the species or its absolute transcendental transformation. And why is it so difficult to tell which it is? (audience laughing) Does anyone have any answer? (more laughing) There is a notion which is very usefull in physics to rescue it from itself, which is a singularity. A singularity is a place where the rules don´t work.
If you come to that place and you have enough faith in the rules — and they don't work, you call it a singularity and you get to keep your theory. (Laughter) ...but it's very bad to have a lot of singularities. The more singularities you have, the weaker your theory that's why Stephen Hawking decided that there weren't singularities at the center of black holes, because there were so damn many of them. Well my notion of what's going on involves a singularity, but, only one. The Orthodox story of how the universe got here demands a singularity as well, it's called the Big Bang, but again, revised after Hawking, only one.
Well, so science puts its singularity at the beginning of the universe and here is what it is: It is that suddenly and for no reason the entire universe sprang from nothing. It was definitely smaller than a dime [audience laughter], and granted that, we can explain everything [audience laughter]. Well, I reason somewhat differently. I didn't... I agreed that there would be a need for a singularity in a good model of what's happening, but it seemed to me that the singularity would probably be more likely to emerge out of the very complex, uh, set of preconditions
rather than just springing from nothing. So I imagined that, well, why not put the singularity at the end of the life of the universe, when all kinds of complex things can have had ample time to evolve and put themselves in place? And then perhaps these complex things, whatever they may be, will generate a singularity. So, in fact, this is the notion. It's the notion that, uh, the whole history of the universe moves through a series of condensing stages, each stage requiring less time than its predecessor, and what these stages are is a gathering together of complexity. First you have the emergence of primitive chemistry
Chemistry and the hearts of stars. And that occurs a long long time after the big bang and then somewhat shortly after that in terms of hundreds of millions of years you get exotic chemistries on the surfaces of planets and then more quickly, life and then rather shortly after that consciousness and almost instantly then, this. [laughter] So what I take this to be is a leading toward complexity of all the processes in the cosmos as a set of nested entities. Now what's very interesting about this is suddenly, uh, human beings are moved center stage in importance. Remember I said that I thought the felt, the empowering of felt immediate experience was what it was all about. So suddenly human beings which in the scientific model are, uhh, epiphenomenal observers are centralized to the whole cosmogonic myth, why? Because people as we all know are the weirdest and most complex objects in the universe. And throughout time, throughout history we see that they become yet more complex and more bizarre through the generating of more and more codes, more and more bizarre interfacings with nature and self through technology, more and more self-reflection, more and more communication more and more flowing together. Perhaps you can anticipate what this leads to. It leads to ever more frenzied historical existence but it doesn't go on forever. You know the general theory of history taught, uh, say at Cal today is called the uh endless... the pointlessly fluctuating theory of history which is what it appears to be except for this factor of embedded complexity, movement towards concrescence I had an occasion to discuss this with Carl Sagan recently and uh, It was interesting. He pointed out that information has not moved faster since the discovery of radio. Radio moves at the speed of light. Since then, the plateau of the rate of information transfer, er, the rate of information transfer has been at a plateau. Uh the largest atomic explosion ever detonated was in 1958 there's been none larger since which is I think, something you can think about in the middle of the night [laughter]. And the fastest object ever created by human beings reached its top speed and continues to hold it uh in 1967. So what is it that is growing more dense around us that we can see and feel in uh, literal complexification of our own lives. Well I submit that it is connectedness and that this is a theme which is not arising out of sociological factors. It's arising out of the bones of the planet itself. We are not caught in some kind of universe where human beings are completely outside the plan. Rather I think history is somehow part of the plan. And by anticipating or somehow trying to uh, come into resonance with what history's part in the plan is, I think we can lift the pall of existential doubt that is the legacy of modern thought. In other words there can be a post modern philosophy that is organic, biological, human-centered, humane and even psychedelic [applause]. But now what about this singularity? Isn't this simply just the end of of the world that the fundamentalists are pushing and that the Hindus trot out every once in a while? Um, Is that what it is? Is this scholasticism uh, wearing psilocybin clothing?
Is this scholasticism wearing psilocybin clothing? Could be, folks. No, I don't really think so though. The Mandaeans who are a very obscure religious cult and hence very dear to my heart have a very interesting myth which is, their eschatology is, they believe that at the end of the world, a savior will come, called 'the secret Adam'. And 'the secret Adam' rather than teaching a message will build a machine of some sort, they are very explicit about this, and the machine is a light pump for gathering souls together and projecting them beyond the machinery of cosmic fate and back to their awesome and hidden home in the "Himmaminade" with the All Father which is hidden
all father who is hidden. They love that sort of thing. In any case uh, this notion is very interesting, that somehow toolmaking is a kind of salvational exercise, that somehow technology, which we have tended to abhor because in its present stages it is so toxic and vulgar, and so badly manipulated, and unethically manipulated. Nevertheless what it represents is a continuation of a process which seems to be very dear to human beings, which is the process of fashioning ideas into matter. And I think that what we're moving toward, if we can, if we can come out on the other side
we can come out on the other side of the very narrow political neck, the crisis that looms ahead of us, because there is a historical crisis. Make no mistake about it. But I'm speaking, actually, to a world that survives that crisis. A world beyond the century. And I think that world has a crack at uh, allowing us to become what we wish to be, to project ourselves out of the monkey nature and to really explore what self-reflection means. This could easily turn into an outlandish nightmare. The challenge is very real. I know that man people who uh, follow ideas and come to these events are psychotherapists, and psychologists, and, and therapists of all sorts. There is a great responsibility here to the creation of the future image of the human mind because what we are moving toward is a technological singularity. In other words, the process of technology has been dominating our evolution since at least 25,000 years ago. For far longer than that as a physiological type we have been steady. There's been very little variance. But the proliferation of cultural artefacts has been ever-increasing, asymptotically increasing now toward the point that one can see that what is actually being uh, proposed by whatever this force is that is driving the human unconscious and releasing ideas into the stream of historical time, what is actually being proposed is a full self-imaging of the soul. I've thought of this in terms of turning the human body inside out so that the soul is visible and the body becomes and object freely commanded in a realm which we call the imagination. These things are possible. This stuff is being labored toward in these tall, glassy buildings all around us even as we speak. A technology, information, transformation of coding. It has a life of its own. If you were an extraterrestrial staring down at this planet, you wouldn't see a human civilization. What you would see is a swarm of codes. Some of them genetic, some of them electronic, some of them pheromonal, acoustic codes. Information is what's loose on the surface of this planet. Why? Why not? We have nothing else to compare it to. Perhaps this is what biology always rushes into is this ever more intense, ever more accelerated self-reflection, self-expression. What is to be done with it? Well, I think that in a way it is doing what is to be done with it, and that a great deal of uh, political education consists in standing back. What we are moving toward has a sense of itself. What we must provide is a channel of communication for a guiding image. A guiding image for the lives of each one of us. A guiding image for society. And what I think it is is this, the felt presence of immediate experience. That's what sex is about. That's what psychedelics are about. It's what good philosophy, good food, decency, it's what all these things are about. Valuing people. Valuing the moment in which you are in as a cog in a wheel. Not defi-, you know it was a great poet who said, "it is not he, or she, or them, or it that you belong to." There's something to that I think. But in combination with this technological thing, it isn't simply a call to uh, dignity and uh, and presence in the moment. It is a call to dream because we are going to become whatever it is we wish to be. We stand on the brink of entering into a kind of hyperspatial dimension. The entire culture is poised on the brink of an ocean of imagination. The mind, which began, you know, 50, 100,000 years ago, a tiny spark pulled forth out of the darkness in the dim recesses of these pack uh, hunting primates on the plains of Africa, and then slowly, slowly. All that looking into the campfire. All those eons of boredom. Somebody had to invent canasta.
No, the game, the game which was invented, the game which invented itself, was symbiosis. Symbiosis with plants. Out of this primate stock there came one species that had the habit habit, the weird predilection for addicting to almost anything. To its mate, to its territory, to its place in a hierarchy, and to plants. And this symbiosis between people and plants ha- is what gives us the legacy of our great religions. Soma, this mysterious vegetable concoction which drove the imagination of Vedic thinkers as they moved out of Caucasian Asia and into India over a 3,000 year period. The whole of the Rig Veda is a hymn to soma. What are these things that drove these civilizations, the Assyrian civilization of Egypt? Did it depend on tryptamines native in local acacias? What is the relationship of ergotized beer or mushrooms to the Eleusinian mysteries which put their stamp on the thinking of Plato, Aristotle, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, the whole pantheon of Greek thinkers? And then you see, in cold Europe, a cultural aberration arose. And with a religion with a peculiar suspicion of nature, a suspicion of nature so complete that when it resolved itself into a dualism and defined its Satan, the power of Satan had to rest entirely within himself. And thus plants, as a tool of feminism which was associated with satanism and demonic magic, you bet your booties, knowledge of plants completely disappeared on the European continent on any serious level. I'm talking now about ecstatic, visionary things. There were also botanical problems. The, the cold nature of Europe seems to give it a predisposition toward the, uh tropanes, belladonna, the solanaceous plants, that are not true psychedelics but really deliriants and frenzy-inducing kinds of nearly toxic superintoxicants. And with European civilization comes the fullest expression of male-dominated paternalism which of course had been brought through from Judaism into earlier Christianity, but it reached its fullest expression in the feudal ideal and chivalry which was the final degradation of women, essentially. It carried out a process that had been going on since the fall of Mycenean Greece. And with this comes an enormous legacy of neurosis and an enormous reluctance to be involved in the real, but rather to stratify, and to remove, to dominate, and to abstract. Abstract, abstract, abstract. Leading to modern science, leading to the ability to answer all questions which are irrelevant. The further the question is from relevancy, the more likely you are to get an absolutely down to a gnat's eyebrow answer. Again, this tension between the need to center the human being in our models and the willingness to leave human beings completely out of the picture in order to answer a whole different set of questions. So I think it's a challenge to all of us, to each of us, to make this kind of an agenda count, to look into the future, to see that the image of what we are going to become is so important that we need to realize we are creating it by our acts, by our acquiescence in the acts of others as well. We are sitting through a particular period of idiocy and there will be other periods of idiocy. But we can each move into the future, I think, at our own speed, at our own rate of understanding. The best ideas will win. It isn't a matter of great power. It's a matter of having the clearest image of the human soul, the clearest image of a historical goal that would be worthy enough to rescue meaning from the pyre of ruin that history is when you look back over it. All those pogroms. All those burning villages, those migrations, wars, and epidemics.
wars and epidemics. Those are our people back there. If it weren't for them we wouldn't be here. The human enterprise does not exist to gutter out like a river flowing into a desert. We have to be smart. Obviously there is a great crisis. Obviously no one can speak in terms of anything we can conceive of existing on this planet four or five hundred years from now. The historical neck is upon us. There is a concept, the concept of forward escape. This is what we need, a forward escape into another dimension. Now, perhaps it's off the planet, perhaps it's into the bones of the planet, perhaps it's into a parallel dimension, perhaps it's forward into time a million years, but we need, we must have,
need, we must have, we will create, this forward escape. It is the only possibility. It is not something to doubt. It is something to see as written in to the record of events as we behold it, the steady acceleration of novelty, the ever-concrescing and densifying of connectedness means that we are riding the forward crest of a kind of informational wave, and what history is is a buildup of a kind of pressure. You know, in engineering school they have what they call "Q", vibration as a structure approaches the speed of sound, and that right before you rupture the sound barrier you are at max Q, and the airframe is bucking and threatens to pull itself apart, and then you slide through into the other dimension where it is smooth as glass. And this is what the 20th century is. It is this enormous culmination to a thrust toward another world that began about twelve, fifteen thousand years ago. It's a geological microsecond in which a species that was pawing for roots turns itself into some kind of arch-angelic, hyperdimensional creature that goes off into the realms of its own imaginings. It is possibly the purpose of the planet. In any case, it is necessary for the planet as much as it is necessary for us. The metaphor that we should hold in our minds as we confront the chaostrophe of the late 20th century is the image of birth. It is bloody. It is messy. It does not look like part of the ordinary, run of the mill of how life works, but it is. It is the sine qua non. That means you can't get along without it. If the child and the mother are not parted at a certain moment, toxemia can set in. This threatens the life of the infant. It threatens the life of the mother. This is all part of nature. These microcosmic processes are repeated in the macrocosm of the life of the planet. We are that infant, and we have come to term, and what awaits us can hardly be imagined any more than a fetus can imagine being Ben Johnson. He looked good, I thought. So I said this with a message of hope, and it is because I believe this process is built in and that the way we can participate in it is by talking about it, by telling each other about it, by flexing the muscle of language to communicate with each other to dispel the fear. This is the great weapon of simple people, is plain talk with each other. It's always plain talk that topples governments. Nothing else will do. It's always plain talk that brings on great new ideas, and plain talk is an art. It's an art that we all need to cultivate. It's the personal facet of this projection of a clear self-image, and plain talk empowers the felt presence of immediate experience. In fact, it's one of the best things you can do with immediate experience. It's amazing how the most intelligent of us go through the day basically communicating in grunts and groans. You know, I can be cleaning up my house and uh, in the course of half an hour Rome will fall and I will reinvent the Polio vaccine in my mind, and if someone comes to the door and asks me what I've been doing, I say, "nothing." And I think everyone is like that. What the
what the psychedelics argue, you see, is that we have universes of beauty, and wonder, and meaning locked up inside of ourselves which we must find a way to share, and the only way we know is language, and art, and the transformation of language and art. And this is what we are called to, to grow closer to one another, to make ourselves part of this unitary entity. It was anticipated in the 16th century by the great alchemists. Then it was called the philosopher's stone. What we are moving toward is a concrescence of ourselves, and our technology, and our past, and our future, and our intentions that will allow us to do anything. I remember uh, a very B film I saw many years ago and the flying saucers were appearing all over the earth, and you didn't see the flying saucers, but you saw people planting rice in paddies in Asia suddenly looking up at the sky, and their eyes filling with tears, and tears beginning to run down the wrinkled cheeks of these elderly, oriental women. And then it flashed to uh, people in an African village pounding taro and then looking to the sky, and people in the huge modern city. This is the kind of singularity that I'm talking about. Not piloted by friendly visitors from another world, or unfriendly visitors from another world, but piloted, essentially, by the better half of ourselves called by us from the future to join with us in rescuing the human and planetary enterprise through and act of understanding. Now, I've been accused of mysticism and worse, but uh, my image of the concrescence that culture is moving toward is something like this: it is the discovery of a principle, or an attitude, or a drug, or a device. It doesn't really matter which. You can choose the metaphor that you like. A principle, an attitude, a drug, or a machine, but what's important is what it does, and what it will do is transmit information into the future, send information into the future. And when I first imagined this device, I, most people, I think, would put themselves, uh, would ask themselves what would it be like at the other end where this information appears in the future, but what I wanted to imagine was what would it look like in this laboratory when the first message was successfully transmitted to the future. Let's not call it a message. Let's call it a person for the sake of imagery. So, what would happen in this laboratory as the first time traveler is sailed off into the future? Well now, at first I thought that what would happen would be that suddenly all over the world time machines would appear piloted by people from the future who had come to see the first time travel. Are you with me on this? But it tugged at my mind that there was something wrong with this because, you know, when you talk about time travel you must never have what's called the grandfather paradox. This is if I go back and time and shoot my own grandfather then I won't exist so how could I shoot my own grandfather? And in any situation where this happens you're in trouble. So, the grandfather paradox would exist in that situation where a time traveler suddenly appeared with the first time travel experiment from the future. So then I had a different notion, slightly, I hope, more profound, and it is this, that if the technology were to be invented that could send some thing or person into the future and within the process of inventing this thing it would discover that you cannot send the, you can send the time machine forward in time, you can send it backwards in time, but you can never send the time machine further back in time than the invention of the first time machine. Why?
Because before that, time machines didn't exist. That would explain why we don't see time machines. So, I choose to believe, and will now attempt to convince you, that this is, in fact, the kind of universe that we are living in, and that what our technology is pushing toward is the invention of some kind of something which, in real plain talk, is a time machine. In slightly less plain talk, what is happening is that this concrescence, this singularity, this knitting together of everything is approaching the point where it can no longer be any more knitted together unless it expands into the future. You follow? In other words, it's becoming so complexified that it's requiring another dimension for its own self-description, and the only dimension available to it is the future, and so it's beginning to move into this other dimension, and we, standing in the macrocosm looking at this process, say, "Oh someone has invented a time machine," that this is how it would work. What's interesting about this idea is that if such a thing were to be created by any means, the effect would be to cause the entire rest of the future to happen almost instantly. In other words, uh, like heat distributing itself through a gas, the most advanced states that can possibly exist in the future lie just on the other side of this technological barrier of sending a person or a thing into the future because the most advanced state flows back through the system and converts all preexistent states to itself. So this is, to me, very interesting. It means, in a way, that we can toil toward a kind of psychotechnological switch which, if thrown, emerges us in bodhi-mind, emerges us in the highest hypostatization available to the religions of our planet, the white light, the bodhi-mind, whatever you care to style it. It actually may exist ahead of is in historical continuum. And of course, as in quantum physics, where particles can penetrate energy barriers and appear on the other side without actually having attained energy sufficient to go over the barrier, this is called virtual tunneling, information can make its way into the past. Even our past to a very slight degree. This is what has created these psychedelic visions, these religious hierophanies. They are the products of advanced human personalities, holy men and women staring at their minds in states of deep contemplation and anticipating the destiny of the human race, the destiny of biology on this planet. And I think that we are very close to being able to cross through the membrane and realize this eschatalogical possiblity to cross into a new ontos of being, the ontos of being that has called us forth across the millenia, out of the scattered jarring of the atoms into organic existence, up through the cultural experience, across the horrific leap of history, and into authentic meaning. This is what the shamans have been seeing for thousands and thousands of years. This is what the ecstatics have anticipated. This is what the great religions, however poorly, have attempted to communicate to the mass of humankind. This is our hope. It's our birthright. It's our destiny, and in my opinion it is soon for very good reasons, the reasons I have laid out tonight. We are to be, believe it or not, witness, I think, to the final act of the planetary drama of intelligence in three dimensions. Hard to believe, isn't it! I find it hard to believe. How lucky can you get? There's an Irish prayer which is, and I think I'll end the speech with this and then we'll take an intermission and come back for questions, but there's an Irish toast or prayer which is, "May you be alive at the end of the world."
And so I make that toast to you. I believe we are alive at the end of the world, and it's a wonderful world. Thank you. Thank you.