73 Mindblowing Terence McKenna Quotes

Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) was an American philosopher, psychonaut, ethnobotanist, lecturer, writer and author of several books. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, culture, technology and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. He was also the creator of a mathematical theory of time based on patterns found in the I Ching which he termed novelty theory.

Here are 73 mindblowing quotes from the mushroom ambassador Terence McKenna:

“I think of going to the grave without having a psychedelic experience like going to the grave without ever having sex. It means that you never figured out what it is all about. The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

“If you don’t smoke cannabis, you may spend your evening balancing your checking account. If you do smoke cannabis you may spend your evening contemplating the causes of the Greek Renaissance.”
-Terence McKenna

 

“Stop consuming images and start producing them.”
– Terence McKenna”

 

“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

 

“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

 

“The male dominant agenda is so fragile that any competitor is felt as a deadly foe.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

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

 

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

 

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Half the time you think your thinking you’re actually listening.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

“The artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns.  If artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.”
-Terence McKenna

 

“Animals are something invented by plants to move seeds around. An extremely yang solution to a peculiar problem which they faced.”
- Terence McKenna

 

“The syntactical nature of reality, the real secret of magic, is that the world is made of words. And if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

“We tend to disempower ourselves. We tend to believe that we don’t matter. And in the act of taking that idea to ourselves we give everything away to somebody else, to something else.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“The shaman is not merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“You see, a secret is not something untold. It’s something which can’t be told.”
– Terence McKenna

 

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

 

“Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

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

 

“It’s clearly a crisis of two things: of consciousness and conditioning. We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; But we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds. We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior. And, it’s not easy.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

“Some kind of dialog is now going on between individual human beings and the sum total of human knowledge and nothing can stop it.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Nothing comes unannounced, but many can miss the announcement. So it’s very important to actually listen to your own intuition rather than driving through it.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“We need to interact with like-minded people throughout the world to establish the new intellectual order which will be the salvation of mankind.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coersion, brainwashing, and manipulation.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

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

 

“It is the imagination that argues for the Divine Spark within human beings. It is literally a decent of the World’s Soul into all of us.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“The apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it’s only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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.”
- Terence McKenna

 

We are so much the victims of abstraction that with the Earth in flames we can barely rouse ourselves to wander across the room and look at the thermostat.
– Terence McKenna

 

“If you keep yourself as the final arbiter you will be less susceptible to infection by cultural illusion”
– Terence McKenna

 

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

 

“The way you stretch the envelope of culture is by creating language.” – Terence McKenna

 

“The real tension is not between matter and spirit, or time and space, the real tension is between information and nonsense.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Nothing lasts but nothing is lost.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Matter is not lacking in magic, matter is magic.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“People are so alienated from their own soul that when they meet their soul they think it comes from another star system.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Ideology always paves the way toward atrocity”
– Terence McKenna

 

“The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas.  It is the night sea journey, the lone fisherman on a tropical sea with his nets, and you let these nets down – sometimes, something tears through them that leaves them in shreds and you just row for shore, and put your head under your bed and pray.   At other times what slips through are the minutiae, the minnows of this ichthyological metaphor of idea chasing.  But, sometimes, you can actually bring home something that is food, food for the human community that we can sustain ourselves on and go forward.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“You don’t want to become so open-minded that the wind can whistle between your ears.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“If you’re not the hero of your own novel, then what kind of novel is it? You need to do some heavy editing.”
– Terence McKenna

 

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

 

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

 

“This is a society, a world, a planet dying because there is not enough consciousness, because there is not enough awareness, enough coordination of intent-to-problem. And yet, we spend vast amounts of money stigmatizing people and substances that are part of this effort to expand consciousness, see things in different ways, unleash creativity. Isn’t it perfectly clear that business as usual is a bullet through the head?”
– Terence McKenna

 

“The culmination of man’s effort in time will be the perfection and the release of the human soul. And it’s not that we are ‘doing’ it. It’s that a natural law that we are still unaware of is inexorably unfolding.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Our world is in danger by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. And so to whatever degree any one of us, can bring back a small piece of the picture and contribute it to the building of the new paradigm, then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit, and that after all is what it’s really all about.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

“What civilization is, is 6 billion people trying to make themselves happy by standing on each other’s shoulders and kicking each other’s teeth in. It’s not a pleasant situation.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Culture is a perversion. It fetishizes objects, creates consumer mania, it preaches endless forms of false happiness, endless forms of false understanding in the form of squirrelly religions and silly cults. It invites people to diminish themselves and dehumanize themselves by behaving like machines.
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

“Personal empowerment means deconditioning yourself from the values and the programs of the society and putting your own values and programs in place.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existance is defined in terms of control.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

“You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“The apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it’s only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse. If you go to Bosnia or Somalia or Peru or much of the third-world then it appears that the apocalypse has already arrived.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“We are so much the victims of abstraction that with the Earth in flames we can barely rouse ourselves to wander across the room and look at the thermostat.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“The cost of sanity, in this society, is a certain level of alienation.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“The future of communication is the future of the evolution of the human soul.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Our need to feel part of the world seems to demand that we express ourselves through creative activity.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“Culture is not your friend, it’s an impediment to understanding what’s going on. That’s why the words cult and culture have a direct relationship to each other. Culture is an extremely repressive cult that leads to all kinds of humiliation and degradation, and automatic, unquestioned and unthinking behaviour.”
– Terence McKenna

 

“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

 

“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

 

“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

 

“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

 

“The internet is light at the end of the tunnel…it is creating a global society”
– Terrence McKenna

 

“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

 

Books by Terence McKenna:

     
The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching Food of the Gods: a Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelic Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFOs, Evolution

 

 

Mark David (447 Posts)

When I was 12 years old, my mother died of Cancer. A shift in perspective over many years has turned my greatest tragedy into the greatest gift I've ever been given. My mother died so my life could have purpose and meaning. An inexhaustible passion to create a world based on love and truth is the driving force behind the creation of this website, the collection of information on it, and the books and reports that I will write in my lifetime. Subscribe to watch it all unfold.


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