A successful scientific innovator who presents the species with a new technology for
changing human nature and human destiny is always in trouble with the politicians.
Artistic and scientific insight requires a touch of the same kind of loose thinking or
craziness that is found in altered states of consciousness.
Behind the apparent multiplicity of things in the world of science and common sense
there is a single reality in which all things are united.
Brilliant minds, some of the world’s leading scientists and artists, engaged in discovering
these drugs and applying them to a whole range of things.
Changes in human consciousness would make it possible for us to use the fruits of
modern science constructively and with wisdom.
Consciousness and alteration of consciousness cannot be studied from the standpoint of
external science, from the standpoint of look-at-it-from-the-outside science.
Consciousness is much more than mere cellular activity in the brain, but rather a chain of
reactions along a continuum of mindfulness distributed throughout the universe.
Creativity is often associated with psychosis, alienation and delinquency, the flaky artist,
the mad scientist, even Einstein as lovable, absent-minded clown.
Deep experiential work requires a vastly extended cartography of the psyche that includes
important domains uncharted by traditional science.
Eastern philosophical theories of 4000 years ago adapt to recent scientific discoveries of
nuclear physics, biochemistry, genetics and astronomy.
Elements of mystical consciousness can occur in psychedelic sessions of well-educated,
skeptical and scientifically oriented individuals.
Everywhere we look, we imagine solid objects, but science finds only a web of dancing
For the most creative research, men of science must be trusted and encouraged to let their
minds wander unsystematically without any pressure for results.
Here, in the far-out frontier of quantum mathematics, physics and psychedelics meet
How do we get to live according to the real laws of science rather than the local
ordinances of Prison Earth?
In cultures where truth-fact are tied to religious dogmas, their science wanes, practical
investigation languishes and thinking is subordinated to submissive belief.
In the LSD era, religion without drugs would be unnatural and pointless, like astronomy
Instead of religion and science being 2 different things, we need a view of the world in
which the reports of science and religion are as concordant as those of the eyes and ears.
It is the essence of scientific honesty that you do not pretend to know what you do not
It is unfortunate that most of the scientific studies on creativity have been done by
psychologists who don’t have a creative bone in their body.
Just as a microscope can help a biologist, LSD can remove the inhibitions to perception
which prevent us from seeing the central relationships of the world.
Just as the physicists have never been able to detect any spiritual stuff, they have never
found any material stuff, goo out of which forms are made.
Knowledge of the true nature of existence is perceived as being ultimately more real and
relevant than all scientific theories or perceptions and concepts of our everyday life.
Learning from a physics textbook about the wave structure of matter is one thing.
Experiencing it, being in it, is quite another matter.
LSD translates into the language not just of religion, psychology and psychotherapy, but
also of the physical and biological sciences.
Modern psychopharmacology is written and practiced by scientists who do not take drugs
and who therefore write textbooks about events they never experienced.
Mystics emphasize the direct experience of cosmic consciousness that goes beyond the
Objective reality, the world view produced by the spirit of scientific inquiry, is the myth
of our time.
Science and philosophy have been betrayed because of our irrational rejection of
psychedelic evidence. It is a professional duty to help redress this error.
Scientific description follows the pattern of nature; it does not lay down, like rails, the
rules which nature must follow because the pattern itself is developing freely.
Spiritual insights accompanying the psychedelic experience might be subjective accounts
of the objective findings of astronomy, physics, biochemistry and neurology.
Step by step, spirituality is making a comeback into modern psychiatry and into science
The breakthrough in neurology is going to come when the scientist puts his eye to the
microscope and the microscope of consciousness is your own nervous system.
The government wants to settle every issue by outlawing disagreement, but that is not
how science works.
The greatest advances in civilization, science and learning often result from new ways of
The healthy mystical core that inspired and nourished all great spiritual systems is now
being rediscovered and reformulated in modern scientific terms.
The historic role of states of consciousness in the humanities, arts, and sciences is
neglected in current education.
The literature on creativity clearly indicates that true artistic, scientific, philosophical and
religious inspiration is mediated by nonordinary states of consciousness.
The marijuana laws in this country were passed with no attempt to incorporate the
available scientific evidence on the effects of marijuana.
The most important scientific insights or intuitions come precisely through the somewhat
reluctant use of a nonthinking mode of awareness.
The mystic vision is one of unity and modern physics lends support to this perception
when it asserts that the world and its living forms are variations of the same elements.
The mystical world-view is surprisingly compatible with revolutionary discoveries in
modern science, such as relativity theory and quantum physics.
The nature of creativity does not lie within the realm of natural science because science
deals only with regularities.
The new physics seem to be approaching the mystic vision of which seers and sages of all
traditions have spoken.
The power of substances to produce altered states of consciousness is understood by
Western scientists in biochemical rather than supernatural terms.
The psychedelic experience can become a source of revelatory, aesthetic, scientific,
philosophical or spiritual insight.
The rejection of any source of evidence is always treason to that ultimate rationalism
which urges forward science and philosophy alike.
The scientist of consciousness must have courage. He must embark on a course of
planfully and deliberately going out of his mind. This is no field for the faint of heart.
The significance of the LSD observations transcends the framework of psychiatry and
psychology and extends to many other scientific disciplines.
The spiritual insights accompanying the psychedelic experience might be subjective
accounts of the objective findings of astronomy, physics, biochemistry and neurology.
The traditional scientific response to inner experiences is to declare them illegitimate
The transpersonal experiences revealing the Earth as an intelligent conscious entity are
corroborated by scientific evidence.
The ultimate challenge to Newtonian science has been the discovery that clinically blind
people experiencing out of body experiences describe scenes that are visually accurate.
The use of drugs by witches appears to make intelligible to us on a scientific level many
phenomena formerly seen as involving elements of the supernatural.
The Western scientific view considers matter as primary. The mystical view regards
consciousness as the primary reality and ground of all being.
There is a close association between the cosmology of modern science and the
cosmology of some eastern religions.
To study drugs, one has to do it. It’s possible to be scientific about data of the internal
To the biological, physical and psychological sciences, man is a pattern of behavior in a
Transpersonal experiences have many strange characteristics that shatter the most
fundamental assumptions of materialistic science and of the mechanistic worldview.
Transpersonal experiences involve a strong, personal and conscious relation to reality that
goes far beyond the present scientific framework.
Transpersonal psychology brings together the ancient wisdom and spiritual systems of
the world and the pragmatism of Western science.
Visionary experience plays a dominant role in the creative process in art, literature and
We have in our culture, even in the scientific and professional literature, a bias toward
reporting only the negative effects of psychedelics.
What kind of world was it back when LSD could be discussed scientifically, objectively,
When the ego is dispelled, there is insight, the perception of a whole new pattern of
relationships comparable to scientific or artistic discovery.
Whereas the scientific comprehension of the relative universe is as yet largely theoretical,
Eastern disciplines have made it a direct experience.
After such experiences, contemplation may take on new meaning for the Western man
who finds little time to ponder the meaning of his own existence and the philosophical
presuppositions upon which his religious, political, scientific, and ethical convictions rest.
Art and religion, philosophy and science, morals and politics—these are the instruments
by means of which men have tried to discover a coherence in the flux of events, to
impose an order on the chaos of experience.
Consciousness expansion is as equally complex a problem as the study of physics
because the nervous system and the levels of consciousness available to man are infinite
in their complexities.
Consciousness is central and primary. This reversal of the prevailing scientific view
which sees consciousness as secondary and peripheral to material reality, changes
conventional ideas of cause-and-effect relationships.
Dependence on a narrow conceptual framework can prevent scientists from discovering,
recognizing or even imagining undreamed-of possibilities in the realm of natural
During the next few hundred years, the major activity of men will be scientific
exploration of and education in the many new universes of awareness which have been
opened up by psychedelic drugs.
Each new magnification structure required a new science, a new language to deal with
the new level of reality, formerly invisible to the human eye (microscope, telescope,
Even the uneducated layman can experience directly what is slowly deduced by
scientists. (Actually, the scientists are poking at straws. They have to take the LSD
themselves to understand what they’re working on or studying.)
Expecting scientific descriptions to discover the pattern to which nature conforms is
really assuming that law or verbal formulations precedes physical behavior. (Nature was
around long before man and his word games.)
If mysticism and mystical experiences can be freed of their supernatural connotations,
there is no reason why modern science cannot acknowledge and even absorb them into its
In light of the overwhelming evidence we have regarding visionary experiences in
virtually every area of life, it is remarkable to think that traditional Western science
continues to ignore this crucial force in human history.
In modern physics, matter becomes interchangeable with energy. Within this new
worldview, consciousness is seen as an integral part of the universal fabric, certainly not
limited to the activities contained inside our skulls.
In recent decades, after centuries of domination by Newtonian mechanics, scientific
understanding of time, space and matter has converged with visions of the universe
expressed in Eastern religious texts that are thousands of years old.
In the West, Nature has been completely isolated from the religious context in which our
ancestors used to view it. Our non-human environment and our own physical existence
have now become domains exclusively reserved for science. (What a mistake.)
Intellectual growth often shows that we were wiser than we knew, especially in the sense
that mythological images foreshadowed ideas which, at the time of their origin, could not
be expressed in some more exact or scientific symbolism.
It has mediated a profound spiritual opening in atheists, skeptics and materialistically
oriented scientists, facilitated far-reaching emotional liberation and caused radical
changes in value systems and the basic life style. (The “it” is LSD.)
Let us try to bring about a new and glowing synthesis, a new higher consciousness that
brings together the East and West, the head and the heart, science and spirituality and
knowledge and wisdom. (Knowledge and wisdom are not the same.)
Magic is a psychological branch of science, dealing with the sympathetic effects of
stones, drugs, herbs and living substances upon the imaginative and reflective faculties
and leading to ever new glimpses of the world of wonders around us.
Many of the statements made about the drug by professionals reflected a strongly
irrational emotional basis rather than solid scientific evidence. (Unfortunately, that is still
Many great scientists who have revolutionized modern physics, such as Einstein have
found their scientific thinking quite compatible with spirituality and the mystical world
Many observations from psychedelic research indicate that LSD can be of extraordinary
value to various scientific disciplines that are traditionally considered domains of reason
Many traditional scientists confuse the current Newtonian-Cartesian model of the
universe with a definitive description of reality, the accuracy and truth of which has been
proven beyond any reasonable doubt. (Those scientists have it all wrong.)
Much of the combined efforts of psychiatrists, psychologists, neurophysiologists,
biochemists and other related professionals is one-sidedly directed toward interfering
with processes that have unique therapeutic and transformative potential.
New scientific findings are beginning to support beliefs of cultures thousands of years
old, showing that our individual psyches are, in the last analysis, a manifestation of
cosmic consciousness and intelligence that flows through all of existence.
Observations indicating an urgent need to transcend the limitations of mechanistic
science come not only from modern consciousness research and new experiential
techniques of psychotherapy, but also from quantum-relativistic physics.
Our so-called scientific attitude destroys faith and throttles the spiritual development.
Things of real worth can never be proved: God, love, compassion, mercy, kindness,
charity and dozens of other wonderful values.
Our society and our intellectuals and our scientists externalize the psychology of
behaviorism. Neurology today is poking at the brains of other people. You have to
experience what you are symbolizing.
Parts of the scientific community have difficulty accepting data from other states of
consciousness, just as our ancestors found it hard to accept observations from the
telescope and microscope.
Physicists and mystics agree that what we call “objects” are really patterns in an
inseparable cosmic process and they also agree that these patterns are intrinsically
Professionals are in a very paradoxical situation: they are expected to give expert help in
an area in which they are not allowed to conduct research and generate new scientific
Promoting their methodological ineptitude to the rank of a criterion of truth, dogmatic
scientists have often branded everything beyond the pale of their limited competence as
unreal or even impossible.
Psychedelic drugs offer new perspectives on every aspect of human thinking, human
behavior, human searching. There is no issue in psychology, physics, biology and
theology which cannot make use of these microscopes of consciousness.
Science and technology has given us wonders but wisdom is languishing. Knowledge
grows and wisdom languishes. (Knowledge here means what the ego “knows”, not real
knowledge or wisdom.)
Scientific theories are but conceptual models about reality not to be mistaken for correct
descriptions of reality itself. (There are no correct descriptions because reality is
infinitely beyond limited words.)
Scientists have no right to complain of the spread of an antiscientific mood and
pseudoscientific belief systems if they continue to regard all these matters as unworthy of
respect or attention.
The current preoccupation with these latter-day mind modifiers ranges from a hedonistic
sensuality to a search for the highest of philosophical abstractions, from a tool for
deriving scientific data to a sacrament taken to achieve loss of self and union with the All
The greater the scientist, the more he is impressed with his ignorance of reality and the
more he realizes that his laws and labels, descriptions and definitions are the products of
his own thought.
The importance and value of transpersonal experiences is extraordinary. It is a great irony
and one of the paradoxes of modern science that phenomena with a therapeutic potential
transcending what Western psychiatry has to offer are, by and large, seen as pathological.
The impressive mosaic of new observations and theories that are already available
suggests that in the future the old/new discoveries in regard to consciousness and the
human psyche might become integral parts of a comprehensive scientific worldview.
The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the source of all true
art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger is as good as dead. (That was
Albert Einstein. That’s right, Albert Einstein.)
The mystic’s subjective experience of his identity with “the All” is the scientist’s
objective description of ecological relationship, of the organism/environment as a unified
The possibility of consciousness after death was rejected not because it contradicted
clinical observations, but because the concept was incompatible with existing scientific
The presupposition that one’s own religion is, even without examining others, the best
and truest of all is stupidity. Science, too, has a mythological level, which is the fiercely
held position that the physical universe, outside man, is dead and stupid.
The recent rapid convergence between mysticism, modern consciousness research and
quantum-relativistic physics suggests that psychedelic research could contribute in the
future to our understanding of reality.
The scientist of consciousness must have courage, take the drug himself, the courage that
comes from faith in your body, cells, the life process, conscious faith in the harmony and
wisdom of nature.
The study of psychedelic-stimulated states of consciousness is, in principle, not opposed
to science and reason. On the contrary, the refusal to study them is both unreasonable
There are dedicated scientists trying to find some way in which supplies of LSD may be
made available for important research in brain physiology, psychology, theology or
There is a need for dedicated scientists willing to take the calculated risk of ingesting the
psychedelics themselves, for the sake of the understanding that such an experience will
There is evidence that the spiritual insights accompanying the psychedelic experience
might be subjective accounts of the objective findings of astronomy, physics,
biochemistry and neurology.
This century, the scientific understanding of reality has undergone dramatic changes, but
traditional psychologists and psychiatrists have not yet accepted the inevitable
consequences for their disciplines.
Those aspects of the psychedelic experience which subjects report to be ineffable and
ecstatically religious involve a direct awareness of the energy processes which scientists
Those who were burned or jailed at the beginning of the 17th century (Bruno, Galileo,
etc.) were forerunners of the Revolution of Outer Technology. Those who were jailed or
beaten by cops in the 1960’s were forerunners of the Revolution of Inner Technology.
To construct a more adequate picture of man and the universe, we have to redefine
science as well as demystify mysticism. (That doesn’t mean taking the mystery out of
mysticism, but waking up and respecting mysticism at least as much as science.)
Tom Robbins said “Science only gives people what they need. Magic gives them what
they want.” We agree, but hasten to add that science can give people magic. (That was
Traditional science looks upon consciousness as an exclusively human phenomenon and
tends to treat even the highest non-human life forms as little more than unconscious
Traditional Western scientists like to assume an all-knowing position and discard any
notion of spirituality as primitive superstition, regressive magical thinking, lack of
education, or clinical psychopathology.
Unlike Freud, Jung was aware that his findings were incompatible with the existing
philosophy of science and required an entirely new paradigm. (Jung was a friend of
We cannot wait around, dealing with energies which are so insistent and important, until
scientists or government agencies tell us that we can take that risk. (Don’t wait until the
power forces tell you that it’s all right because it will never happen.)
A science which fails to address itself to spiritual goals becomes secular, political and
tends to oppose new data. A religion which fails to provide direct experimental answers
to these spiritual questions becomes secular, political and tends to oppose the individual
Any serious scientific theory has to be an attempt to organize the existing facts, rather
than a product of speculative extrapolation. It has to be based on observations of the
universe and not on the beliefs of scientists as to what the universe is like or their wishes
about what it should be like to fit their theories.
Even positivistically oriented scientists, hard-core materialists, skeptics and cynics,
uncompromising atheists and antireligious crusaders such as Marxist philosophers and
politicians, suddenly become interested in the spiritual quest after they confront these
levels in themselves.
I would not be allowed the freedom to discuss the reasons why these laws should be
changed. This is a clear violation of the American Constitution, academic freedom,
scientific openness and of all the principles upon which democratic societies are based.
(That was Timothy Leary.)
If the history of science teaches us anything, it is that uncomfortable data cannot be swept
under the rug indefinitely. Galileo, we know, was not silenced; his manuscripts were
smuggled out and published after his death, laying the groundwork not just for the
science of astronomy, but for experimental physics in general.
In the midst of our emotional turmoil about the drug problem, many of us fail to notice
that most of the authorities who are supported by public funds, quoted extensively in the
scientific and lay press, and sought out for advice by policy makers have never
themselves experienced highs in association with drugs.
In view of the enormous variety and scope of these phenomena, most of which lie far
beyond the conceptual framework of traditional psychology and the philosophy of
Western science, it is not surprising that Western scientists and educated laypersons alike
tend to take these claims with a grain of salt.
Introducing transpersonal experiences into psychology creates a conceptual bridge
between Western science and perennial philosophy. It also throws new light on many
problems in history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, and
It is not uncommon for subjects reporting evolutionary experiences to manifest a detailed
knowledge of the animals with whom they have identified—of their physical
characteristics, habits and behavior patterns—that far exceed their education in the
Lama Govinda says that to Tibetans, the attempts of modern psychologists, who try to
“prove” extrasensory perception by scientific methods, would appear crude and
laughable: one might as well try to prove the existence of light which is visible to all but
LSD subjects sophisticated in mathematics and physics have repeatedly reported that
many of the concepts of these disciplines that transcend rational consciousness can
become more easily comprehensible and be actually experienced in altered states of
Many of the experiences and observations from psychedelic sessions seemed to seriously
challenge the image of the human psyche and of the universe developed by Newtonian-
Cartesian science and considered to be accurate and definitive descriptions of “objective
Our mental functions are linked to biological processes in our brains. However, this does
not necessarily mean that consciousness originates in or is produced by our brains. This
conclusion made by Western science is a metaphysical assumption rather than a scientific
fact, and it is certainly possible to come up with other interpretations of the same data.
Physicists and mathematicians report that after using LSD they have developed “a
feeling” for such concepts as the photon, the hypercube or imaginary numbers. Similarly,
philosophers have reported they have “understood” the meaning of existentialism, and
theologians report having “experienced” that which they had been preaching for years.
So many practitioners of the inexact sciences (e.g., psychology, anthropology, sociology)
let it be known most clearly that they already know what reality is. For these poor
drudges, reality is the world of nonpoetry in accordance with the great Western myth that
all nature outside the human skin is a stupid and unfeeling mechanism.
The capacity of LSD and some other psychedelic drugs to exteriorize otherwise invisible
phenomena and processes and make them the subject of scientific investigation gives
these substances a unique potential as diagnostic instruments and as research tools for the
exploration of the human mind.
The everyday clinical practice of LSD psychotherapy brings repeated evidence of the
powerful healing potential of the death-rebirth process. The discovery of this potent
therapeutic mechanism, as yet unrecognized and unacknowledged by Western science,
represents one of the most surprising findings of my LSD research.
The historic role of states of consciousness in the humanities, arts, and sciences is
neglected in current education. A truly liberal education should teach students about this
part of themselves and our civilizations, and should also give them rudimentary
experience with selected states and their resident capacities.
The history of science makes clear that the greatest advancements in man’s understanding
of the universe are made by intuitive leaps at the frontiers of knowledge, not by
intellectual walks along well-traveled paths. Similarly, the greatest scientific thinkers are
those who rely on sudden intuitive flashes to solve problems.
The language of science is increasingly a language of process, a description of relations
rather than of things. The world so described is a world of actions rather than agents,
verbs rather than nouns, going against the common-sense idea that an action is the
behavior of some thing, some entity of “stuff.”
The mechanistic image of the universe created by Newtonian-Cartesian science is no
longer an accurate and mandatory description of reality. (It never was an accurate
description of reality because there is no such thing as an accurate description of reality
by using words, and not even mathematical or chemical formulas can do it.)
The most direct challenge to the principles of mechanistic science are phenomena from
transpersonal experiences, such as “the relativity and arbitrary nature of physical
boundaries, nonlocal connections in the universe, memory without a material substance,
nonlinearity of time, and consciousness associated with inorganic matter.”
The theoretical formulations and practical principles that LSD psychotherapy has
discovered or validated include a new, expanded cartography of the human mind, new
and effective therapeutic mechanisms, a new strategy of psychotherapy and a synthesis of
spirituality and science.
The training for this new profession of psychedelic guides will aim at producing the
patience of a first-grade teacher, the humility and wisdom of a Hindu guru, the loving
dedication of a minister-priest, the sensitivity of a poet and the imagination of a science
There appears to emerge a universal central perception, apparently independent of the
subject’s previous philosophical or theological inclinations. It is that behind the apparent
multiplicity in the world of science and common sense, there is a single reality, infinite
and eternal, all beings united in this Being.
There is apparently nothing in the Bill of Rights to protect scientific freedom. The
Constitution was written in the horse-and-buggy pre-technological era. But there was a
First Amendment protection of Freedom of Religion. After all, Catholic priests were
allowed Communion wine during Prohibition.
To discard the extraordinary features of these experiences and the conceptual challenges
associated with them just because they do not fit the current paradigm in science certainly
is not the best example of a scientific approach. We must accept the universe as it is,
rather than imposing on it what we believe it is or think it should be.
Transpersonal psychology and the mystical world-view are frequently and erroneously
referred to as unscientific. This reflects the fact that psychology and psychiatry, as well as
the general public, still adhere to the old model of the world, based on the Newtonian
image of the universe and the Cartesian dichotomy between mind and matter.
Unbiased systematic study of this material would lead to changes in our understanding of
the human psyche and of the nature of reality that would be as far-reaching and radical as
those that were introduced into physics by the theories of relativity and the quantum
We are dealing with an issue that is not new, an issue that has been considered for
centuries by mystics, by philosophers of the religious experience, by those rare and truly
great scientists who have been able to move in and then out beyond the limits of the
We are trying to apply the concepts of an outdated world view—the mechanistic world
view of Cartesian-Newtonian science—to a reality which can no longer be understood in
terms of these concepts. (This reality never could be understood in terms of these
We hoped that fellow scientists and administrators, recognizing the power of drugs to
change behavior, would support our work. The opposite reaction developed. The more
successful our research, the more grumbling from the bureaucracies of science. (That
was Timothy Leary, referring to his days at Harvard.)
We seem unable to free ourselves from preconceptions imposed on us by our culture and
by what we believe to be common sense. However, it we are to maintain these illusions,
it becomes necessary to ignore a vast body of observations and information coming from
modern consciousness research and from a variety of other scientific disciplines.
What we’re doing for the mind is what the microbiologists did for the external sciences
300 years ago when they discovered the microscope and they made this incredible
discovery that life, health, growth, every form of organic life, is based on the cell, which
is invisible. (That was Timothy Leary.)
When the non-ordinary states are opened up to them, even scientifically cautious and
highly intelligent people of our own time and culture find these experiences deeply
moving and personally meaningful, providing them with dramatic breakthroughs in their
When Western science dismissed the concept of consciousness after death as a
fabrication based on wishful thinking and superstition, this judgment was not based on
the careful study of the area in question that is otherwise characteristic of the scientific
Words like hallucination and psychosis were loaded; they implied negative states of
mind. The psychiatric jargon reflected a pathological orientation, whereas a truly
objective science would not impose value judgments on chemicals that produced unusual
or altered states of consciousness.
You are right about the hopelessness of the “scientific” approach. Those idiots want to be
Pavlonians not Lorenzian Ethnologists. Pavlov never saw an animal in its natural state,
only under duress. The “scientific” LSD boys do the same with their subjects. No wonder
they report psychosis. (Aldous Huxley wrote that in a letter to Timothy Leary.)
Although scientific interest in psychedelic substances is relatively recent, their ritual use
can be traced back to the dawn of human history. From time immemorial, plants
containing powerful mind-altering substances have been used for the diagnosing and
healing of diseases, enhancement of paranormal abilities, and for magical or ritual
America is an irrational, materialistic, intolerant, religious state. General Motors is a
religious institution that worships mechanical power and money. Harvard University is a
religious institution that worships intellectual power and dogmatically clings to academic
taboos and empty rituals. Science itself is a religion defending its superstitious rites. The
American government is a monolithic religious structure.
Detailed study of psychedelic phenomena would require a long-term systematic team
cooperation of experts from diverse disciplines, such as psychology, psychiatry,
neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, ethno-botany, modern physics, zoology, ethology,
genetics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, anthropology, history of art,
theology, philosophy and comparative study of religion and mythology.
Each human being is equipped with a 120-billion-cell brain, but we haven’t learned how
to use it. Few of us are aware of our neural ineptness. The organized religions have
comforted us by providing infantile fairy tales about God and promises of discarnate
immortality. Pray and obey, keep your legs crossed, avoid orgasms, and you’ll get the
one-way ticket to heaven.
Eighteenth century churchmen criticized experiments with vaccination as blasphemous
attempts to deprive God of his prerogative of punishing the wicked through smallpox and
it was dangerous for a God-fearing scientist to look through Galileo’s telescope. Even in
our own century, teachers have been dismissed at the instance of the pious for declaring
that creation took longer than six days!
Harvard—Over 400 “subjects” shared high-dosage psychedelic experiences with the
researchers in an atmosphere of aesthetic precision, philosophic inquiry, inner search,
self-confident dignity, intellectual openness, philosophic courage and high humor. The
historical impact of this “swarm” of influential scholars has not yet been recognized by
the still-timid press, popular or scientific. (That was Timothy Leary.)
If all this ends with the human race leaving no more trace of itself in the universe than a
system of electronic patterns, why should that trouble us? For that is exactly what we are
now! Flesh or plastic, intelligence or mechanism, nerve or wire, biology or physics—it all
seems to come down to this fabulous electronic dance, which, at the macroscopic level,
presents itself as the whole gamut of forms and “substances”.
In the LSD state, the old conceptual frameworks break down, cultural cognitive barriers
dissolve and the material can be seen and synthesized in a totally new way that was not
possible within the old systems of thinking. This mechanism can produce not only
striking new solutions to various specific problems, but new paradigms that revolutionize
whole scientific disciplines.
Let’s come on as psychologists and develop a research project that aims at producing the
ecstatic moment. Develop a science of ecstatics. Train graduate students to illuminate
themselves and others. We have statisticians who systemize the static—how about
ecstatisticians who systemize the ecstatic? (That was Timothy Leary talking to an
associate at Harvard.)
Newspaper headlines describing the horrors of LSD “bummers” and drug-related
accidents ignited a witch-hunting response in legislators, politicians, educators and many
professionals. Ignoring the data from almost two decades of responsible scientific
experimentation, the anti-drug propaganda presented LSD as a totally unpredictable
devil’s drug that represented a grave danger.
Newtonian-Cartesian science views matter as the foundation of the universe. Scientists
who adhere to this system of thought portray consciousness as a product of physiological
processes taking place in the brain. From such a perspective, each of our consciousnesses
is confined to the inside our skulls, absolutely separated from the consciousnesses of
other people. (These scientists have it all wrong, of course.)
Openness to new data challenging traditional beliefs and dogmas has always been an
important characteristic of the best of science and a moving force of progress. A true
scientist does not confuse theory with reality and does not try to dictate what nature
should be like. It is not up to us to decide what the human psyche can do and what it can
not do to fit our neatly organized preconceived ideas.
Our ordinary Newtonian-Cartesian consciousness can be invaded with unusual power by
various archetypal entities or mythological sequences that, according to mechanistic
science, should have no independent existence. The myth-producing aspects of the
human psyche will portray deities and rituals from different cultures that the subject has
never studied. (eyes closed)
Rather than being from two distinctly different realms with discrete boundaries,
consciousness and matter are engaged in a constant dance, their interplay forming the
entire fabric of existence. This is a notion that is being confirmed by research in modern
physics, biology, thermodynamics, information and systems theory, and other branches of
Reports created a witch-hunting response from parents, teachers, ministers, police
authorities and legislators. Unfortunately, many mental-health professionals participated
to some extent in this irrational approach; although the reports of two decades of
scientific experimentation with LSD were available in the psychiatric and psychological
literature, they allowed their image of this drug to be fermented by newspaper headlines.
Science could make no sense of certain evidence about the world or the mind that had
been considered central in older traditions, and therefore paid as little attention as
possible to that evidence. Whole areas of experience and fields of intellectual endeavor
were relegated to the domain of religious faith or consigned to the categories of fraud,
folly, and disease.
So many practitioners of the inexact sciences (e.g., psychology, anthropology, sociology)
let it be known most clearly that they already know what reality is and therefore what
sanity is. For these poor drudges reality is the world of nonpoetry in accordance with the
great Western myth that all nature outside the human skin is a stupid and unfeeling
Spiritual experiences of this kind can occur in individuals of high intellectual caliber and
rigorous scientific training, in fact, they are fully compatible with observations
accumulated by various branches of modern research. An important illustration of this
point, for those who emphasize the scientific world-view, is the recent convergence of
quantum-relativistic physics and various mystical traditions.
The CIA and military investigators were given free reign to conduct their covert
experimentation. Apparently, in the eyes of the FDA, those seeking to develop
hallucinogens as weapons were somehow more “sensitive to their scientific integrity and
moral and ethical responsibilities” than independent researchers dedicated to exploring
the therapeutic potential of LSD.
The experience of cosmic consciousness provides important insights for deepening our
understanding of the highest forms of creativity. The literature on creativity is filled with
examples of extraordinary artistic, scientific, philosophical, and religious inspiration that
came from a transpersonal source and that occurred in non-ordinary states of
The individual is flooded by light of supernatural beauty and experiences a state of divine
epiphany. He or she has a deep sense of emotional, intellectual and spiritual liberation
and gains access to breathtaking realms of cosmic inspiration and insight. This type of
experience is clearly responsible for great achievements in the history of humanity in the
area of science, art, religion and philosophy.
The new data are of such far-reaching relevance that they could revolutionize our
understanding of the human psyche. Some of the observations transcend in their
significance the framework of psychology and psychiatry and represent a serious
challenge to the current Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm of Western science. They could
change drastically our image of human nature, of culture and history, and of reality.
The process I was witnessing in others and experiencing myself had a deep similarity
with shamanic initiations, rites of passage of various cultures, and the ancient mysteries
of death and rebirth. Western scientists had ridiculed and rejected these sophisticated
procedures, believing that they had successfully replaced them with rational and
scientifically sound approaches.
The reality and concrete nature of these experiences, as well as their convincing quality,
presented for a while a very serious conflict for the “scientist” in me. Then, all of a
sudden, the resolution of this dilemma emerged; it became clear to me that it was more
appropriate to consider the necessity of revising present scientific beliefs than to question
the relevance of my own experience. (That was Stanislav Grof.)
The traditional definition of sanity involves perceptual, emotional, and cognitive
congruence with the Newtonian-Cartesian image of the universe, not as a pragmatically
useful model, but as the only accurate description of reality. Substantial and critical
deviations which seriously challenge the Newtonian-Cartesian postulates are labeled as
There had been previous explorations. There was a history, a tradition. There were maps
and guidebooks. Though trained in the Western methods of scientific research, Leary
(and the rest of us) felt affirmed in our spiritual approach to psychedelic experiences by
the discovery of these ancient writings. Our initial work on this text was later developed
and published as The Psychedelic Experience. (That was Ralph Metzner.).
They’re not interested in mystical experience at divinity schools. They’re interested only
in words and in history. If someone had a mystical vision a safe 2000 years ago and left
some record of it, that might interest them. But mystical experience, the raw and vital
force that gives rise to a religion, is too much for them to cram into their semantic,
pseudoscientific endeavor to understand God.
This transcendence of time and space is a key concept in all mystical experience. In our
present mode of mental consciousness, we experience the world in terms of space and
time; we experience everything separated in space and going from point to point in time.
It is well known that modern physics calls this whole space-time system in question, and
the transcendence of the space-time dimension is central in mystical experience.
Traditional scientists often attribute the appreciation that non-Western societies show for
shamans to the fact that these societies are unable to discriminate the abnormal from the
super-normal because of their lack of education and scientific knowledge. (This is an
example of how ignorant and arrogant Western societies really are. The West has
advanced in technology, but where is the wisdom?)
We find drug subjects with little or no scientific training describing evolutionary
processes in some detail, spelling out the scenery of microcosm and macrocosm in terms
roughly equivalent to those used by the modern physicist, empathizing with primal states
of matter and energy and then recounting this experience in terms more reminiscent of
Heisenberg than of a hallucinatory state.
Western science recognizes as real only those phenomena that can be objectively
observed and measured. (That’s a very naive, narrow, limited scope. Cells of the body
were real before the discovery of the microscope. The earth was always round and always
revolved around the sun regardless of what Western scientists know or could “objectively
observe and measure”.)
Western scientific disciplines have described the universe as an infinitely complex
mechanical system of interacting, discrete particles and separate objects. In this context,
matter appears to be solid, inert, passive and unconscious; life, consciousness and
creative intelligence are seen as insignificant accidents and derivatives of material
development. (Einstein understood. Will the other Western scientists ever wake up?)
Western scientists view their own particular approach to reality and psychological
phenomena as superior and “proven beyond a shadow of doubt,” while judging the
perspectives of other cultures as inferior, naive, and primitive. The traditional academic
approach takes into consideration only those observations and experiences that are
mediated by the five senses in an ordinary state of consciousness.
While samples of psychedelic drugs of doubtful quality are available in the streets and on
college campuses, it is nearly impossible for a serious researcher to get a license for
scientific investigation of their effects. As a result of this, professionals are in a very
paradoxical situation: they are expected to give expert help in an area in which they are
not allowed to conduct research and generate new scientific information.
With the advent of modern science, the notion of acceptable reality was narrowed to
include only those aspects of existence that are material, tangible, and measurable.
Spirituality in any form was exiled from the modern scientific worldview. Western
cultures adopted a restricted and rigid interpretation of what is “normal” in human
experience and behavior and rarely accepted those who sought to go beyond these limits.
Adventurous and creative people have always been willing and have usually been
encouraged to take the most serious risks in the exploration of the outer world and in the
development of scientific and technological skill. Many young people now feel that the
time has come to explore the inner world and are willing to take the unfamiliar risks
which it involves. They, too, should be encouraged and assisted with all the wisdom at
Leary the scientist, Alpert the intellectual and later the mystic, Metzner the scholar: what
held these three together was their shared faith in the power of the transcendent
experience to remove the blinders that keep us at odds with each other. A world where all
humans have access to the mystical experience would be a world transformed, they
believed. Everyone would then directly see what Jesus, Buddha, Moses and Mohammed
The richness of the experiential content is augmented by the fact that the process involves
an endless variety of illustrative material from biology, zoology, anthropology, history,
mythology and religion. Psychedelic sessions focusing on the death-rebirth process not
only have great therapeutic potential, but are a source of invaluable scientific,
sociopolitical, philosophical and spiritual insights. (That material is seen with the eyes
All scientific revolutions have had this quality of being revelations.
Consciousness is a biochemical electronic network.
Consciousness is a biochemical process.
Consciousness is chemical in nature and changes as chemistry changes.
Every atom contains the “brain” of the whole universe.
Intelligence evolves when the occult and magical become the objective-scientific.
Leary sought to find a common ground on which both science and religion could meet.
LSD offers vast possibilities for accelerated learning and scientific-scholarly research.
Man can become conscious of each level of energy defined by scientists.
Only in measured reality are we limited by the laws of physics.
“Pure science” and religion address themselves to the same basic questions.
Reality is infinitely more complex than any scientific theory or ideological system.
Science without wisdom can destroy the world.
The knowledge acquired in altered states demands new kinds of scientific theory.
The laboratory equipment for experimental theology, for internal science, is chemicals.
The paradigms of science should not be confused with reality or truth.
The scientific approach views changed behavior negatively.
The spirit of the times and customs dictate what will and will not be science.
The subatomic structure of the universe is not absolutely static or solid.
The wisdom of the East is not physical, but psychic and spiritual Science.
There are no books written by scientists about ecstasy and cosmic orgasms.
There is an enormous ignorance about the science of consciousness alteration.
Wisdom takes Science in its stride and goes a stage further.
A professional engineer-physicist who was skeptical about the enhancement of creativity
through LSD was surprised by the “intensity of concentration, the forcefulness and
exuberance” with which he could work.
The individual is feeling his relationship to the world exactly as it would be described by
a biologist, ecologist or physicist, for he is feeling himself as the unified field of
organism and environment.
I felt totally new, as though I’d just been born. Having had so much ego burned away had
cleared and refreshed my spirit. It was a grace that profoundly changed my life by giving
me a reason to override my scientific skepticism and accept the reality of the spirit.
Mathematicians and physicists reported remarkable experiential insights into various
problems related to astronomy and astrophysics that can be expressed in mathematical
equations, but cannot be fully intuited in the ordinary state of consciousness.
Science states that all things are in motion; that there are no solids; that everything is in a
gaseous state. The molecules of matter are always in motion. This was what I was
actually seeing. The constant motion of the molecules made everything seem alive The
wall, the table, everything had the same sort of aliveness that the human being has.
They had understood for the first time what the sages of pre-scientific and anti-scientific
traditions were talking about. Psychedelic drugs opened to mass tourism mental
territories previously explored only by small parties of particularly intrepid adventurers,
mainly religious mystics.
What saved me from despair of my encounter with the Nothingness that lies at the heart
of All was the realization that what I had witnessed was the destruction of matter, not of
spirit. Modern physics tells us that matter is composed of atoms that stick together for a
time to form an object—a table, a wall, a human body. Matter is energy; I saw it re-
Everything in this universe appeared to be conscious. After having had to accept the
possibility of fetal consciousness, I was confronted with an even more startling
discovery: consciousness might actually pervade all existence. My scientific mind was
heavily tested by this possibility until I realized that although many of these experiences
were incompatible with our common sense, they were not necessarily out of the realm of
Without being a mathematician, I understood the infinite.
a direct awareness of the processes which physicists and biochemists and neurologists
a state of consciousness in which he experiences directly and vividly what our own
scientists know to be true in theory
an exciting adventure into new territories of the mind as yet uncharted by Western
at Harvard, scientific enthusiasm, scholarly fever, experimental dedication (Timothy
Leary’s psychedelic research)
Einstein’s discovery that there is no “time” or “space” that a physicist can measure, but
only a “space-time” event which is the unit of modern physics
experiences that underlie and yet are beyond our everyday perception of the world and
outside the reach of traditional scientific method
how to explain in scientific terms the mechanism that allows psychedelics to change
knows directly the mysterious workings of Nature which science is only beginning to
latent forces of vitality which we have not yet included in our physical or psychical
LSD one of the most important scientific discoveries of our time, the significance of
which has yet to dawn on modern man
nondefinable aspects of reality far beyond accepted limits of science (Science has limits.
Reality has no limits.)
non-ordinary states of consciousness, an area grossly neglected not just by traditional
science, but by the entire Western culture
ontological and cosmological insights and their relationship to the revolutionary concepts
of modern physics
other kinds of knowledge, “higher” and more satisfying than the knowledge attained
through the abstract, hyper-intellectual process of ordinary science
states of consciousness that transcend ordinary space/time limitations and operate in a
reality that is more aptly described in the language of subatomic physics
that psychedelic insight can supercede both science and religion as we presently
that scientific freedom was no more secure in the 20th Century than in the Dark Ages, if a
scientist became too revolutionary in his thinking
that self-discovery could be pleasant, that philosophy was fun, that science could be a
pagan love of life, that revelation way joyful, the positive spirit of the 1960’s
the enormous potential importance of psychedelic research for many scholarly and
the idea of launching a new discipline that would combine science and spirituality and
incorporate the perennial wisdom concerning various levels and states of consciousness
the intolerance of science for such phenomena, her denial either of their existence or of
the new relationship between religion and science that seems to be emerging from the
study of unusual states of consciousness
the new worldview emerging in Western science, the new thinking in psychology, a new
image of the psyche
the rejection of classic spiritual and mystical experiences as symptoms of mental illness
by modern science and psychiatry
the traditional scientific framework which holds that consciousness resides solely in the
organ within our skulls (They are wrong because it doesn’t.)
the view that science as a branch of human endeavor is socially and psychologically
conditioned just as any other human activity
to move consciousness from the usual objective level back to the process or energy level
found by modern mathematical physics
to revise his present scientific beliefs rather than to question the relevance of his own
to seriously review ancient and non-Western knowledge about consciousness and to aim
for a genuine synthesis of age-old wisdom and modern science
whether man is ready to move ahead and make use of the new tools provided by modern
activities of those circuits of the brain that lead to philosophic inquiry, scientific
curiosity, somatic awareness, hedonistic lifestyle, humorous detachment, high-altitude
tolerant perceptions, chaotic erotics, ecological sensitivity, utopian communality
levels of reality denied by Western mechanistic science, but recognized and
acknowledged by many ancient and non-Western cultures and by the great mystical
traditions of the world
science—the systematic attempt to record and measure the energy process-data,
religion—the systematic attempt to provide answers to the same questions, by direct
the goal of internal freedom, the ability to move voluntarily from one level of
consciousness to another, just as the scientist focuses his vision from the microscopic to
the Primordial Tradition: an age-old wisdom of humanity, neglected only where modern
science and secularism rule, its truths revealed to the interior eye in altered states of
consciousness and now, finally, in natural science itself as it reaches its limits and begins
to glimpse something beyond
a new positive humanist science
a new reality-view based on post-Einsteinian, DNA science
a scientific and philosophic adventure into the vastness of the universe of the mind
a scientific tool of enormous potential
a scientific world view incorporating the mystical dimensions of existence
a vision of higher reality such as comes in moments of scientific or psychological insight
“Beyond theology: the science and art of Godmanship”
Einsteinian physics and Buddhist philosophy
enhancing the scientific imagination
external look-at-it-from-the-outside science
neurologic or neurophysics, the “scientizing” of internal experiences
the gap between theoretical description and direct awareness among scientists
the intolerance of science for such phenomena
the need for more sophisticated religious language coordinated with the scientific data
the spiritual implications of a science of consciousness
the transcendental implications of modern science
the true union of the mystic and the man of science
this emergent scientific philosophy of expansion
this new science of precise, disciplined brain-change
this new scientific frontier
to bring together visionary mysticism and modern science
to scientize myth and mythologize science
Western scientists with their limited model of the human psyche