All behavior involves learned games but only that rare Westerner, we call “mystic” or
who has had a visionary experience sees clearly the game structure of behavior.
If the religious vigor of a Westerner is enhanced by rich, mystical understanding, this is
certainly preferable to a foolish allegiance to a dead faith.
If we could translate the modern Western theory of relativity into experience, we should
have what the Chinese and Indians call the Absolute.
Many non-Western cultures provide occasions during which their people may become
familiar with a broad range of nonordinary realities.
Mysticism in the form of realizing that one’s true self is the Godhead is something that
Western society would not tolerate.
Our Western culture makes virtually no use of altered states of consciousness and tends
to regard all of them as pathological states.
Some of the highest spirits of the West have spoken through music, expressing through
sound something of the upper reaches of consciousness.
The either/or insistence of the Western mind is abandoned in favor of a both/and
approach to life.
The intelligent use of psychedelic drugs required a new professional, unfamiliar to the
Western world, the brain guide. The multiple-reality coach.
The kingly concept of God makes identity of self and God or self and universe,
inconceivable in Western religious terms.
The power of substances to produce altered states of consciousness is understood by
Western scientists in biochemical rather than supernatural terms.
The spiritual crisis pervading all spheres of Western industrial society can be remedied
only by a change in our world view.
The usual Western concept of God is the conscious ruler and controller, the absolute
The very use of the term “the unconscious” for the inmost depths reveals how little
Western man knows of what is actually his central consciousness.
The West knows all about machines and fails to realize that all the wisdom has come
from the East.
The Western scientific view considers matter as primary. The mystical view regards
consciousness as the primary reality and ground of all being.
There has been no recognition of spirituality in Western psychiatry and no notion that
there might be some difference between mysticism and psychosis.
Transpersonal psychology brings together the ancient wisdom and spiritual systems of
the world and the pragmatism of Western science.
Unfortunately, most Western neuroscientists look down their noses at the Oriental
literature of consciousness.
Very few people, and we Westerns call them mystics, are willing and able to admit that
the game is a game.
Western culture seems at the moment spiritually disintegrated beyond hope of
Western civilization, since the Renaissance, is one of the few social orders that does not
provide for emotionally powerful rites of renewal and emergence.
Western literature had almost no guides, no maps, no texts that even recognize the
existence of altered states.
Western psychology has ignored the possibilities of mind-expansion and has become
almost externally oriented.
Western psychology is so narrow as to be mostly trivial— consciousness is eliminated
from the field of inquiry.
Western psychology recognizes no methods or possibilities of getting off the imprint
Western religions call any idea about an inner level at which God and man are identical,
Western scholars have greatly underestimated the importance of these drugs to the
cultures that use them.
Western theology has tended to be out of touch with the mystical roots of religious
Westerners see the ego-loss experience confused with schizophrenia because they can’t
label it and therefore it can’t be investigated.
What is lacking in the Western mind is the sense of connectivity and relatedness to the
rest of life.
With LSD, we had found the means with which our Western kind of civilization could be
renewed by the discovery of new mysteries.
With very rare exceptions, that which is truly subjective and interior has thus far
remained entirely hidden from Western man.
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.
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 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.)
It was clear that the range of lifestyles and outlook that my society had shown me ran the
gamut from A to B; so like many others of my generation, I began exploring non-Western
philosophies and concepts.
Jung and his followers brought to the attention of Western psychology the utmost
significance of all the symbolic variations on the theme of death and rebirth in our
archetypal heritage. (This is way beyond what Freud knew, wrote or talked about.)
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.)
The difficulty of making equations and comparisons between Eastern and Western ideas
is that the two worlds do not start with the same assumptions and premises. They do not
have the same basic categorizations of experience.
The existence and nature of these experiences could not be explained in the context of the
mainstream theories and seriously undermined the metaphysical assumptions on which
Western culture is built.
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 Western discovery of the creative power of “no-thought” and contemplation without
strained attention. Such a mode of awareness is essential when research is expected to
bring forth new concepts.
The Western man who claims consciousness of oneness with God or the universe clashes
with his society’s concept of religion. In most Asian countries, however, such a man will
be congratulated as having penetrated the true secret of life. He has arrived.
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.
Western psychology and psychiatry are seriously biased. They consider their own
idiosyncratic point of view to be superior to that of any other cultural group and label as
pathological any activities that they cannot understand in their own framework.
With the ego and mind unplugged, what is left? It’s something Western culture knows
little about, the open brain, the uncensored cortex, activated, alert, open to new realities,
open to a broad sweep of internal and external stimuli hitherto screened out.
As many began to experience the kinds of images and symbols Jung ascribed to the
collective unconscious, as well as episodes of a classic mystical nature, this wave brought
strong supportive evidence for Jungian ideas and a powerful validation of the mystical
traditions of the world, Eastern as well as Western.
How can we Westerners see that our own potentials are much greater than the social-hive
games in which we are so blindly trapped? Once the game structure of behavior is seen,
change in behavior can occur with dramatic spontaneity. The visionary, brain-change,
consciousness-altering experience is the key to behavior change.
I would say that the mind is not insular, but an interconnected part of a universe of both
physical and symbolic substance, whose linkages extend throughout space and time. The
Psychedelic has helped me to feel like a part of this connection. I feel like I have a much
greater understanding of non-Western and pre-industrial mind-sets.
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 most curious to find, from Japan to Western Europe, these same images coming
through again and again, showing how universal and how uniform this kind of visionary
experience has been and how it has constantly been regarded as of immense importance
and has been projected out into the cosmos in the various religious traditions.
My understanding of mystical teachings, both Eastern and Western, Hindu, Buddhist,
Christian, and Sufi alike, took on a quantum leap. I became aware of the transcendental
unity at the core of all great religions, and understood for the first time the meaning of
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.
Repeated experiences of the transpersonal domain can have a profound impact on the
individual involved. They tend to dissolve the narrow and limited perspective
characterizing the average Westerner and make one see the problems of everyday life
from a cosmic perspective.
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 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 idea of drug use as a religious practice—in fact, of any connection between drugs
and religion—is one we are willing to indulge in pre-industrial cultures but violently
reject for ourselves. Orthodox religion in the West long ago abandoned the sacramental
use of drugs.
Theoretical speculations in Western academic psychology and psychiatry are based
exclusively on experiences and observations made in the ordinary states of
consciousness. The evidence from the study of non-ordinary states of any kind are
systematically ignored or pathologized.
Transpersonal experiences involving entities and realms that are not objectively real
according to the Western worldview can convey absolutely new information. For
example, in nonordinary states, many people have encountered deities and mythological
realms specific to cultures about which they have no personal knowledge. (eyes closed)
Until Western science is able to offer plausible explanations of all the observations
surrounding such phenomena as spiritual experiences, the concepts found in mystical and
occult literature have to be seen as superior to the present approach of most Western
scientists, who either do not know the facts or ignore them.
We were on our own. Western psychological literature had almost no guides, no maps, no
texts that even recognized the existence of altered states. We had no rituals, traditions or
comforting routines to fall back on. We avoided the sick-man atmosphere of the hospital.
(That was Timothy Leary.)
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
While these new territories have not yet been recognized by Western academic
psychiatry, they are not, by any means, unknown to humanity. On the contrary, they have
been systematically studied and held in high esteem by ancient and pre-industrial cultures
since the dawn of human history.
Abraham Maslow urged that there was a need to “depathologize” the psyche, that is, to
look upon the “inner core” of our being not as the source of metaphysical darkness or
illness but as the source of health and as the wellspring of human creativity. It was his
belief that Western civilization had obscured the importance of this inner core by
approaching it more as a superstition than as a reality.
All the learned games of life can be seen as programs that select, censor and thus
dramatically limit the available cortical response. Consciousness-expanding drugs unplug
these narrow programs, the social ego, the game-machinery. And with the ego and mind
unplugged, what is left? What is left is something that Western culture knows little about:
the uncensored cortex, activated, alert and open to new realities.
As knowledge of the existence of mind-expanding plants and chemicals dawned upon the
consciousness of Western man, swift re-evaluations of our attitudes toward certain so-
called “primitive” tribes became necessary. It became apparent that some of these
cultures had preserved the key to higher knowledge which the civilized world had
relegated to the status of myth.
In Road to Eleusis authors Albert Hoffman, Gordon Wasson and Carl Ruck present
convincing evidence that the Eleusinian Mysteries, the oldest religion in the West,
centered around a mass tripping ritual. For 2 millennia pilgrims journeyed from all over
the world to take part in the Mysteries and drink the sacred kykeon. Plato, Aristotle and
Sophicles were among those who participated in this secret ritual.
In the Western world, visionaries and mystics are a good deal less common than they
used to be. In the currently fashionable picture of the universe, there is no place for valid
transcendental experience. Consequently, those who have had what they regard as valid
transcendental experiences are looked upon with suspicion, as being either lunatics or
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
The average Westerner is naive about nonordinary states of consciousness and has many
misconceptions and prejudices about some of the experiences that are potentially the
most healing. We try to convey a clear message that such phenomena as death-rebirth
sequences, archetypal visions and states of cosmic unity are absolutely normal and that
having them in no way implies pathology.
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.
There exists ample evidence that the transcendental impulse is the most vital and
powerful force in human beings. Systematic denial and expression of spirituality that is
so characteristic for modern Western societies can be a critical factor contributing to the
alienation, existential anxiety, individual and social psychopathology, criminality,
violence and self-destructive tendencies of contemporary humanity.
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.).
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?)
Western cultures have bred a type of human being who feels strongly alienated. He has
lost his connection with the surrounding universe. He does not know that the “ultimate
inside” of himself is the same as the “ultimate inside” of the cosmos or that, in other
words, his sensation of being “I” is a glimmering intimation of what the universe itself
feels like on the inside.
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.
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.
You are holding in your hand a great human document. But unless you are one of the few
Westerners who have experienced a mystical minute of expanded consciousness, you will
probably not understand what the author is saying. Too bad, but still not a cause for
surprise. The history of ideas reminds us that new concepts and new visions have always
been non-understood. We cannot understand that for which we have no words.
In the West, we are a cult of the ego.
LSD is Western yoga.
The sexual orgasm has lost much of its mystical meaning in the West.
The Western world has been on a bad trip, a 400 year old bummer.
The Western youth today is truly seeking. (That was written in 1969.)
an exciting adventure into new territories of the mind as yet uncharted by Western
characterized the reality in which self and world are separated as “the schizoid
catastrophe, the Western neurosis”
experiential dimensions that are clearly beyond the confines of what is agreed upon in the
West as objective reality
non-ordinary states of consciousness, an area grossly neglected not just by traditional
science, but by the entire Western culture
to seriously review ancient and non-Western knowledge about consciousness and to aim
for a genuine synthesis of age-old wisdom and modern science
the new worldview emerging in Western science, the new thinking in psychology, a new
image of the psyche
the other dimension that Western man has pretty much closed off and doesn’t even look
ways of knowing and feeling that the categorical rationalism of the West fails to pick up
or even denies
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
the fundamental importance of a mystical experience for the recovery of people in
Western industrial societies who are sickened by a one-sided, rational, materialistic world
Western culture’s preference for consensus reality, lack of a genuine understanding of
altered states of consciousness and strong tendency to pathologize all such states without
discrimination (It is “consensus reality” based on ego that is really pathological.)
a lack of real understanding about nonordinary states of consciousness in Western culture
a territory so alien to the Western mind
a voyage much richer in scope and meaning than any Western psychological theory
as God is generally conceived in the West—to be dictator of the world
biochemical keys which unlock experiences shatteringly new to most Westerners
exploration of domains that in Western culture are not considered part of objective reality
the alienation of Western man from nature
the limitations of “Western rationality”
to free Western man from the limitations of consciousness as we know it
Western mind—a restricted view of human knowledge
Western scientists with their limited model of the human psyche