Podcast 563 – “Plants and Mind” (Part 1)


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Guest speaker: Terence McKenna


Date this lecture was recorded: April 1993

[NOTE: All quotations are by Terence McKenna.]

“I think the great overlooked factor in any model of human evolution, and indeed of evolutionary models of many other species, is we have not given enough emphases to diet.”

“What seems to me to be one of the most centrally interesting questions to be asked of this world, and that is: What is human consciousness? Where did it come from? And why does it exist at all?”

“It still is a very challenging thing to dissolve your ordinary state of consciousness, and abandon yourself to the dynamic of the larger mind that we find ourselves embedded in.”

“I think this is a frightening thing to contemplate, but the earliest cities, I will argue, were pens for human beings. That’s what a city is. They’re a pen for human beings.”

“What is the plant hallucinogen experience in all times and all places for all people? I don’t know if you can be that general, but it’s important to try. What it is, is it’s an experience of boundary dissolution. It’s an experience of having categories obliterated, of having previously defined boundaries and differences eliminated.”

“History is a progressive de-humanizing of the human experience.”


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Posted in Consciousness, Culture, Evolution, Imagination, Myth, Psilocybin, Psychedelics, Religion, Shamanism, Terence McKenna (mp3).


  1. Sorry about my earlier post. I have been tensed up around this whole issue of human consciousness being so unique and superior, and pretty much over-reacted. This broadcast and the broad based research that went into this theory is the most interesting aspect of McKenna for me. And there are nuances of his thought in this tape that opened fresh ideas. Thanks for posting it, Lorenzo and for your work within the psy community.

    I Would like to see some discussions about psychedelics that allow for respectful disagreement and dialogue from various explorers of the field. Probably a hard thing to do but …

  2. Why does Terence ask “what is human consciousness?”?
    Why not simply ‘what is consciousness’?
    Because whatever consciousness is, it is clearly not limited to humans or words.

    It seems to me that part of the effects of the psychedelic experience is to break down and bring into question the centrality of the human point of view and actually”expand” the boundaries of consciousness beyond the human. So much of human consciousness is delusional and has to do with the myopic ego of daily struggle for survival or the mythic ego and a fairy tale version of eternal life- achieving human fame, sitting on a lotus, virtual bionic machine meld, playing a cosmic harp, or living life after life in a karmic wheel of morality plays. Can any form of consciousness exploration escape these limits and know trees, fish, whales, or perhaps cloud/star/or forest spirits, some thing able to mediate between humans and non humans?

    What is consciousness exploration today among those who are well-along in their journey and open to conversation? I want to hear a conversation between Bruce Damer, Sun Ra, avante garde german artists, aya shamans, Laurie Anderson, Dennis McKenna, feminist psychonauts, earth-firsters. We are in a generation that claims to break -down walls but fears being mocked for the unconventional. I long for more courageous boundary crossers like Aldous Huxley. The problem with Terence may be related to a limit that is inherent in psychoactive substances, that he began to advocate what he was no longer able to do. The question of why this is has yet to be fully understood. The discussion of the medicines needs to include those who through direct experience have come to question an overly positive mythos, who step back in fear or confusion or simple unpleasantness, as well as those who go on.

    I am not saying no to the enduring and profoundly needed progress toward the integration of psychedelics into the human healing medicines, but am worried that something of the wildness and unchartability of consciousness exploration is being lost. Am I alone?

  3. so uhh… whatever happened to Salon 2.0? hope Lex is doing okay…

    thanks for keeping the vibes jamming Lorenzo!

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: That’s my fault. I keep forgetting to update everyone. Lex is now a proud father and will return to the salon in a few weeks after he settles into a new routine. Thanks for asking.]

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