Psychedelics are useful tools for stimulating remembrance of important truths that we already know but may have forgotten, or deliberately chosen to ignore. Here are a few of my most ‘memorable’ psychedelic takeaways…
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of appearing on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. Our conversation was wonderful and wide-ranging; Tim is an excellent interviewer. We touched on a number of topics of course but I was reminded of something his assistant suggested I should ponder, ahead of our interview, namely, if I had the opportunity to rent a billboard someplace, what message would I post there? It was an interesting question, especially since I’m not used to thinking in this way.
Actually what I would like to post would fill more than one billboard but if I had to boil it down to some overarching theme, I think it would be, “Remember to Remember”.
Remember how little you know
For me a consistent takeaway from my psychedelic experiences is a humbling reminder of how little we actually know — and its corollary: there will always be far more beyond the boundaries of our knowledge than within them. For some this may be a rather depressing realization, because it means that, however much we strive to expand our knowledge, it will always be a tiny fraction of what there is to know.
For me, far from being depressing, this insight is actually reason for joy, because it means that if you enjoy learning (and I do) you will never exhaust the opportunities to expand your knowledge. There is simply no end to what there is to know. But you will never be able to know everything; there will never come a point when you can say, ‘we’ve got all this figured out.’ In fact we have almost nothing figured out, and never will, and that’s a good thing.
There will always be far more beyond the boundaries of our knowledge than within them.
Even Science Has Its Limitations
Science is one of the most powerful tools we have for asking questions of Nature and getting meaningful answers back. Meaningful in the sense that they can be verified (within limits) through the ‘scientific method,’ the iterative process of developing hypotheses and testing them against observation.
But science is often blind to its limitations, sometimes displaying a certain arrogance, an unspoken assumption that if we just keep applying the scientific method long enough, eventually Truth will emerge. Of course this is not the case (vide infra). Science is very good at studying and explaining tiny slices of reality in great detail. It is not so good at explaining the whole of existence from the cosmic perspective, or even fitting all the pieces together.
Hence there is no room for arrogance in science, but it is far too prevalent, and it is a threat to true understanding.
In my opinion all scientists should be required to take a course in philosophy of science that forces them to consider what it really is in its purest form. True science is the search to discover the nature of reality, within the limits of what we can comprehend. We will never arrive at the Ultimate Truth, there may be no such thing, but Science can aim for that as an aspiration.
Science is most effective as a tool for discovery if it is practiced with humility, and a recognition that there is always more knowledge to be uncovered, and some of it will occasionally overturn much of what we think we know. That is the challenge and promise of Science.
Listen to the Podcast with Dennis McKenna & Tim Ferriss.
Read the FULL article on the author’s site: https://mckenna.academy/ .
Dennis McKenna is an American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, thinker, lecturer, author and the founder of the McKenna Academy of Natural Philosophy. For more than forty years he has focused on hallucinogenic plants as well as the quest for synergy between Western science and ancient indigenous knowledge, between science and mysticism.
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