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42 Breathtaking Quotes by Terence McKenna On Psychedelics, Death And More

Terence Kemp McKenna was an American ethnobotanist and mystic who advocated for the use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants in a safe manner. He was born on November 16, 1946, and passed away on April 3, 2000.

He lectured and wrote extensively on such diverse topics as entheogens, psychedelics, shamanism, alchemy, metaphysics, language, ethics, culture, tech, environmentalism, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness.

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Alternatively, he also believed in his conviction that medications developed in the lab had no place in medicine, and that only natural herbs should be utilized. Altering one’s state of mind, according to McKenna, was the key to unlocking the secrets of the cosmos and gaining new insights into the workings of the universe.

So, I have compiled a collection of some of Terence McKenna’s most mind-boggling quotes about psychedelics, mushrooms, nature, death and more.

Terence McKenna Quotes On Psychedelics

1. “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third storey window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.” – Terence McKenna

2. “Life lived in the absence of the psychedelic experience is life trivialized, life denied, life enslaved to the ego.” – Terence McKenna

3. “The psychedelic inner astronaut sees things which no human being has ever seen before, and no other human being will ever see again. But in fact, this has no meaning unless it is possible to carry it back into the collectivity.” – Terence McKenna

4. “The pro-psychedelic plant position is clearly an antidrugs position. Drug dependencies are the result of habitual, unexamined, and obsessive behavior; these are precisely the tendencies in our psychological makeup that the psychedelics mitigate. The plant hallucinogens dissolve habits and hold motivations up to inspection by a wider, less egocentric, and more grounded point of view within the individual.” – Terence McKenna

5. “Part of what psychedelics do is they decondition you from cultural values. This is what makes it such a political hot potato. Since all culture is a kind of con game, the most dangerous candy you can hand out is one which causes people to start questioning the rules of the game.” – Terence McKenna

6. “When you take into your life the gnosis of the light-filled vegetables, the psychedelic plants that have stabilized the sane societies of this world for millennia, the first message that comes to you is: You are a divine being. You matter. You count. You come from realms of unimaginable power and light, and you will return to those realms.” – Terence McKenna

7. “Even as the nineteenth century had to come to grips with the notion of human descent from apes, we must now come to terms with the fact that those apes were stoned apes.”

8. “Part of what psychedelics do is they decondition you from cultural values. This is what makes it such a political hot potato. Since all culture is a kind of con game, the most dangerous candy you can hand out is one which causes people to start questioning the rules of the game.”

– Terence McKenna

9. “A hallucination is to be in the presence of that which previously could not be imagined, and if it previously could not be imagined then there is no grounds for believing that you generated it out of yourself.” – Terence McKenna

10. “Inevitably out of the psychedelic experience emerges not despair, not self-indulgence, but wild-eyed idealism, that’s the inevitable product of any psychedelically driven social process.” – Terence McKenna

11. “LSD burst over the dreary domain of the constipated bourgeoisie like the angelic herald of a new psychedelic millennium. We have never been the same since, nor will we ever be, for LSD demonstrated, even to skeptics, that the mansions of heaven and gardens of paradise lie within each and all of us.” – Terence McKenna

12. “The psychedelic experience is simply a compressed instance of what we call understanding, so that living psychedelically is trying to live in an atmosphere of continuous unfolding of understanding, so that every day you know more and see into things with greater depth than you did before. This is a process of education.” – Terence McKenna

13. “The only difference between a drug and a computer is that one is slightly too large to swallow. … And our best people are working on that problem, even as we speak.”

14. “Sometimes people say to me ‘These states that you’re talking about, can’t they be achieved without drugs?’ And my answer to that is, ‘My God, who would want to?’ What would be proved by achieving these things without drugs? If the things I’m talking about began to happen to me without drugs I would be very, very concerned and alarmed. And also I think there is something to be said for admitting that we cannot do it alone. That if you want this spiritual insight, if you want the Gaian matrix to welcome you, then humble yourself to the point of making a deal with a plant. That’s the key.”

– Terence McKenna

15. “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.” – Terence McKenna

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Terence McKenna’s Quotes On Culture

16. “We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”

– Terence McKenna

17. “Ego is a structure that is erected by a neurotic individual who is a member of a neurotic culture against the facts of the matter. And culture, which we put on like an overcoat, is the collectivized consensus about what sort of neurotic behaviors are acceptable.” – Terence McKenna

18. “The imagination is the goal of history. I see culture as an effort to literally realize our collective dreams.” – Terence McKenna

19. “We can begin the restructuring of thought by declaring legitimate what we have denied for so long. Lets us declare Nature to be legitimate. The notion of illegal plants is obnoxious and ridiculous in the first place.” – Terence McKenna

20. “You simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead and get with the program of a living world and the imagination.” – Terence McKenna

21. “The message of psychedelics is that culture can be re-engineered as a set of emotional and spiritual values rather than products. This is terrifying news.” – Terence McKenna

22. “We are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get this, get that.’ And then you’re a player, but you don’t want to play in the game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.” – Terence McKenna

23. “If you keep yourself as the final arbiter you will be less susceptible to infection by cultural illusion”

– Terence McKenna

24. “Culture is the effort to hold back the mystery, and replace it with a mythology.” – Terence McKenna

25. “Unexamined cultural values & limitations of language have made us unwitting prisoners of our own assumptions.” – Terence McKenna

26. “Culture is not your friend. Culture is for other people’s convenience and the convenience of various institutions, churches, companies, tax collection schemes, what have you. It is not your friend. It insults you. It disempowers you. It uses and abuses you. None of us are well treated by culture.” – Terence McKenna

27.“We are caged by our cultural programming. Culture is a mass hallucination, and when you step outside the mass hallucination you see it for what it’s worth.” – Terence McKenna

Death Quotes By Terence McKenna

28. “The purpose of life is to familiarize oneself with this after-death body so that the act of dying will not create confusion in the psyche.”- Terence McKenna

29. “I’ll try to be around and about. But if I’m not, then you know that I’m behind your eyelids, and I’ll meet you there”- Terence McKenna

30. “[I often like to think that] our map of the world is so wrong that where we have centered physics, we should actually place literature as the central metaphor that we want to work out from. Because I think literature occupies the same relationship to life that life occupies to death. A book is life with one dimension pulled out of it. And life is something that lacks a dimension which death will give it. I imagine death to be a kind of release into the imagination in the sense that for characters in a book, what we experience is an unimaginable dimension of freedom.”

– Terence McKenna

31. “Right here and now, one quanta away, there is raging a universe of active intelligence that is transhuman, hyperdimensional, and extremely alien… What is driving religious feeling today is a wish for contact with this other universe.”- Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna On Love

32. “We have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know-how, the love and the community to produce a kind of human paradise. But we are led by the least among us – the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary. We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.”- Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna On Life & God

33. “The reason for the emphasis on shamanism and on other techniques is, you will need techniques if you go into the deep water. And they can make your life very simple and save you from unnecessary suffering. Not all suffering is necessary. Maybe no suffering is necessary.” – Terence McKenna

34. “The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer.” – Terence McKenna

35. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel. The problem is that tunnel is in the back of your mind. And if you don’t go to the back side of your mind you will never see the light at the end of the tunnel. And once you see it, then the task becomes to empower it in yourself and other people. Spread it as a reality. God did not retire to the seventh heaven, God is some kind of lost continent IN the human mind.”

– Terence McKenna

36. “If the words ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.” – Terence McKenna

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37. “You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.” – Terence McKenna

38. “You are a divine being. You matter, you count. You come from realms of unimaginable power and light, and you will return to those realms.” – Terence McKenna

39. “We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” – Terence McKenna

40. “My technique is don’t believe anything. If you believe in something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite.” – Terence McKenna

41. “This is the message of your life and my life – it’s that nothing lasts. Heraclitus said it: Panta Rhei. All flows, nothing lasts. Not your enemies, not your fortune, not who you sleep with at night, not the books, not the house in Saint-Tropez, not even the children – nothing lasts. To the degree that you avert your gaze from this truth, you build the potential for pain into your life. Everything is this act of embracing the present moment, the felt presence of experience, and then moving on to the next felt moment of experience. It’s literally psychological nomadism is what it is.”

– Terence McKenna

42. “If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.” – Terence McKenna

Liked these Terence McKenna quotes? You’ll find more inspiring quotes on Mukund Kapoor’s Blog, take a look:

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Written by Mukund Kapoor

I'm Mukund Kapoor, a reader, thinker, and self-taught writer. Welcome to Mukund Kapoor's blog. I love to write about Spirituality, Success and Self-improvement. I sincerely hope my articles help you find the answers you're looking for, and I wish you a pleasant voyage over the vast expanse of existence. Wishing you all the best.

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