Q&A: Duncan Trussell Talks Corporations, Psychedelics And Meditation

Comedian and philosopher Duncan Trussell.


by Daniel Hand

on March 25, 2015

Duncan Trussell accepted this interview on the condition that I give flowers to a stranger. When I did (to teenagers at a nearby park), he scheduled the interview as promised.

Duncan Trussell is a stand-up comic who has made appearances on Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening and Drunk History, and co-hosted Joe Rogan Questions Everything on the SyFy channel. On his podcast, the Duncan Trussell Family Hour, ‘the only podcast that loves you,’ he takes long-form interviews with guests such as Dr. Drew, Dan Harmon, Pete Holmes, Tim Ferriss, Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Graham Hancock, Alex Grey, Reset‘s own Amber Lyon, and other comedians, artists, and spiritual teachers. He is forthright about the role psychedelics have played in his life, and the way in which psychedelics can help to expand one’s consciousness and positively affect humanity in general.

Duncan Trussell will tell you that the singularity is coming; extra-dimensional elves are a fact; and the universe hums with an omnipresent love-force that would make Luke Skywalker blush. A religious studies major and lifelong psychonaut, Duncan interviews spiritual teachers, like the aforementioned Ram Dass, who come from a wide range of disciplines, some traditional and some occult, like modern day Satanists, magicians, and even a witch. His website forum is a bustling hippie commune in cyberspace, and has nearly two hundred thousand comments, including a thread where fans can make plans to hang out in “meat space.”

Since his podcast started, Duncan has probably single handedly introduced more people to contemporary spirituality, Buddhism, and Christian theology than the Catholic Church has successfully introduced to Catholicism in the last decade. And, according to this treatise on the ‘New Age,’ the Vatican does not approve.

On the day of our interview there was, sadly, a police shooting in the news, and Duncan explained how the corporate media harvests viewers’ attention and converts it into capital.

It was an enlightening talk, and we hope you enjoy it. At the end of the interview Trussell gives some great advice on how to ‘reset’ your perspective if you’re having a stressful or difficult day.

Here are some of the most enlightening moments from Reset’s conversation with Duncan Trussell:

Reset:  This morning, in Los Angeles, there was a police shooting caught on video. You live in LA. Did you hear about it?

Duncan Trussell (DT):  Yes, I did.

Reset: I remember, as I tried not to click on the video, similar to the way you describe the urge to watch ISIS footage, which is that there is a draw to it, to watch upsetting violence. What’s the pull to news like that?

DT: “If it bleeds, it leads,” as they say. The media makes lots of money from acts of violence. I wonder if it’s not unlike prairie dogs constantly scanning the horizon for danger, but it seems like there’s a part of people that wants to scan our environment for danger.

We’ve confused the news with being the savannah. But the problem with that, of course, is that the illusion — presented by the news as reality — is a very dangerous confusion. The news is not a pure representation of reality; it’s something that has been twisted by business people to harvest attention, which is then converted into money. That’s where it gets incredibly nefarious. If you really want to know what the news is, watch the news commercials.

If you read vampire mythology, one of the first rules of vampires is vampires only go where they’re invited. You have to invite the vampire in. So, when you get that itch in your chest to see somebody die, or you get that desire to gaze out through the apocalyptic window that is the rectangle sitting in your bedroom when you turn it to any news station, you have invited a vampire into your home. So you made the first mistake. You said, “Come inside apocalypse. Let me gaze upon you.”

Reset: I’ve invited in the vampires?

DT: You’ve invited them. And the way you let the vampire get its fangs into your neck, so to speak, is by watching the commercials that spring up between the images of death and destruction that the news is using to create a… It causes your brain to create a fear lubricant.

All that fear lubes up your brain so that the corporate advertising can then penetrate, just thrust their corporate cocks deep into your subconscious and ejaculate seeds of materialism into your brain so that you start getting the itchy feeling that makes you want to get a new phone, or a new car, or a new prescription.

That is how you become a slave to a vampire. Not that new cars are horrible things; they’re wonderful! They become horrible things when you end up taking out loans for these cars and you can’t afford pay them back.

The root of the thing is that desire is the cause of suffering. The commercials are designed to inflict desire into humanity, which means that commercials are literally trying to make humanity suffer by creating the ridiculous idea that the way to extinguish the flame of suffering inside of your heart is by buying product ‘X’.

Reset: How can we relocate our autonomy inward, to be less at the will of, essentially, evil corporations that have taken over our minds? What’s the antidote?

DT: Well, I don’t like to use the term [pause]. I have used the term before, but I think it’s the wrong term, ‘evil’. I don’t think corporations are evil. I think corporations are hives of human beings generally sharing a similar intention, which is to create more profit for the corporation, no different than a coven, a group of people who, by sharing specific intention for other members of the coven, create changes in the world…

It’s a very fascinating thing. But I don’t know that this is evil, any more than it’s evil for a lion to eat a gazelle, or any more than the predatory nature of carnivores is evil. It seems to be just built in to the dimension that we exist in for entities to, if possible, rob or take energy from other entities.

The question is, how do we identify what inside of us is original versus what inside of us has been planted there by entities who are trying to harvest our energy for nefarious reasons, and that’s a very fun activity to take part in, which is to look through all your built-in beliefs and find out how many of them seem to actually be sound bites that have been laid in your brain like a fly laying eggs inside a steak, or anything rotting for that matter — not that your brain is rotting, but you get the idea? [Laughs.]

This is a fun thing to do to start trying, to list the various masks that you are wearing and to see what is your true nature, because just by realizing your true nature — that is the antidote to a great deal if not all of the suffering in the world, the realization of what lies beneath the layers and layers that have been placed there since you were a little baby.

Reset: What is it about religion, or the term God, that can be off-putting? I think a lot of people have an aversion to that language.

DT: When it comes to waking up, I love the Buddhist idea of the two hindrances: desire and aversion.

If you have aversion to any symbol like the word ‘God’ then you’re doing yourself a disservice because you’re removing from your toolbox a handle that can be used to open up a specific category that contains within it a lot of great sub symbols, so to speak.

The term God is a great word if you can remove from it whatever conditioning you have. Some people were raised in systems of religion where God equals shame, or God equals punishment, or God equals patriarchy, or God equals delusion, or God equals the invitation to ignore logic; God involves overwriting your sense of what’s right and what’s wrong and replacing it with a right or wrong that comes from a group of very frightened people. And I think when a lot of people hear ‘God’, they think, “Fuck that. I don’t want anything to do with that concept because when I heard about it, it was an angry ‘being’ inviting me to not be myself.”

That is a great reason to not use that symbol, the word, ‘God’. There are a lot of other great reasons not to use the word, it’s ambiguous, it’s confusing, it could be considered lazy. There’s so many great reasons to not use that word.

But there’s a lot of great reasons to use the word too, because how are you going to say the total of all information that exists in our genetics since the beginning of time, or the aspect of the universe identified by Ray Kurzweil of accelerating returns, or the sum total of all the healing force that exists not just on this planet but on all potential earthlike planets that have life on them, or that which made nothing transform into something, or the series of incredible synchronicities that allow nothingness to transform into somethingness. [Laughs.] There’s so many ways to say it that are really clunky and clumsy, so it’s easier to just shove it all in this box called God.

Then once you shove it into the box called God — you’re free. You can now freebase that idea. Now, the question is, can I talk to it? If I do talk to it, who am I talking to? What am I talking to? Am I just talking to myself? Okay, fine. You’re talking to yourself, but now you’re talking to yourself wearing the mask of that force that goes from a singularity to an everything-ness.

That’s an incredible thing that really happened. We went from a singularity to doing everything-ness. Within that everything-ness, there are pixels that we call human beings that are creative and are capable of love, and are capable of healing not just themselves but other people.

So, we do know that one facet of this explosion of somethingness has within it — love. We know that is a characteristic in this expansiveness that’s happening and because we know that it’s a characteristic in the small sector of infinity that we call planet earth, then I think it’s safe to assume that it’s everywhere. I think it’s safe to assume that love doesn’t just exist here, but love exists in all sectors and quadrants of the known universe. If love exists in all sectors and quadrants of the known universe, then love must exist in varying quantity.

There’s a certain amount of love on planet earth. There’s a certain amount of loving that happens every single day, people giving their lives up for other people, people volunteering with rescue animals.

It’s in this universe, so it’s safe to assume, I assume, it exists everywhere and in varying quantities, and it could be that there is some super condensed, ultimate version — or thing from which all love originates from. And I call that God.

Reset: Can you describe an encounter you’ve had with other entities?

DT: If you want to talk about slippery words, ‘entity’ is a very slippery word to use. It sounds so evil. I have definitely experienced very vivid hallucinations. I’ve seen elves on mushrooms — fuck it.

Reset: Thanks! Next question…

DT: [Laughs.] You know man, I don’t know what they are but I always see — if I take a large enough dose of mushrooms — inside the walls of any place that I happen to be, or looking down at the load or concrete or the road, quite often I will see what appears to be elf-like nature-beings like wilder versions of human beings, which exist in a realm outside of this realm. They’re layered on top of this realm, like some form of projection, but they tend to be alive. I’ve seen that for my whole life. I don’t know what they are. I don’t see them when I’m not on a psychedelic. If I’ve taken a high enough dose of a psychedelics, then I have had interactions with those beings.

I wouldn’t say that those interactions have always been great — in the sense that they’ve been fun. Sometimes they’re not so keen on people seeing them. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it’s something that actually exists in the external universe or it’s a manifestation of a deeper layer of myself. It could just be the way my own life energy projects itself onto inorganic matter.

Reset: Terence McKenna talks about them as ‘true hallucinations’ because they tend to feel true. Why pretend and say they’re not?

DT: Why pretend and say they’re not? Well, one good reason to pretend and say they’re not is because if you get too caught up with those beings, which, if you want to use some great language to describe them, are beings that live on the astral plane, if you get too caught up in those beings then you could potentially become disconnected from the beings that exist on your plane: your friends, your family, your dog, your cat, your girlfriend.

On this point, I love the way in Buddhism those beings are acknowledged, but, while being acknowledged, the advice is: “Let’s worry about this place here that we’re in right now.”

When I interviewed Maja D’Aoust, the white witch, we talked about this a little bit. She explained that those beings are just like beings here. Some of them are great, they’re altruistic, they’re going to help you, they’re going to want to help you, and some of them are going to want to trick you. Some of them are going to want something from you. They’re out there, and some magical systems advise working with them, communicating with them, and getting power from them.

I can understand those systems, but I think before you go swimming into the part of the inter-dimensional swimming pool that we’re all currently bobbing in, it would be more efficient to see what kind of heightened communications you can have with your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your friends at work.

You know what I mean. Deal with those things first and then when you’re on a nice mushroom trip, if the sweeties come and want to say hi, approach them with good intention and respect and trust that it’s a benevolent universe, ultimately, and that those beings are the children or the sparks emerging from the Mother. [Laughs.]

I don’t know; I guess right now I’m just in a point in my life where I’m enjoying the experience of practicing mindfulness and meditation that the light show aspect of psychedelics, though I will always love it, has become less of a focus.

Reset: On your podcast, you often ask your guest for an exercise, or for advice for anybody who’s feeling depressed or stuck. What’s something someone can do right now to ‘reset’?

DT: Wherever you’re sitting — this is something I learned at a Ram Dass retreat from a conversation I had with somebody whose job it was to go to the hospital rooms of people who are about to have surgeries or in crisis situations — wherever you happen to be sitting, let the chair that you’re sitting in or the bed that you’re lying in, let it support your weight, let it completely hold you.

Often, when I’m sitting, I’m trying to do the work of the chair. I’m trying to hold myself up. It’s like you don’t trust that the world will hold you, the world will hold you completely just in the same way a mother holds a baby. If you lean into the world and allow the chair to do its job and just hold your body, and then let your body sink into the chair, and feel how good that feels, and trust for a second that you’re going to be held up by the world and that, in fact, its entire function is to hold you up. You’ll feel how the chair, how inorganic matter, is actually embracing you in this fascinating way of serving you without any thought at all.

If you let the world hold you, and as much as you can abandon all the over-efforting that you’ve been doing to hold yourself up, you can quite often feel a unique peacefulness that will remind you of the way you felt when you were a kid.