60+ Best Terence McKenna Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Terence Kemp McKenna was an U.S. author, mystic, lecturer, ethnobotanist and also an advocate of sensible use of psychedelic plants.

He wrote and spoke about a variety of subjects other than psychedelic plants and some of his favourite topics included culture, philosophy, technology, alchemy, culture, the environment and languages. Inspirational Terence McKenna quotes will philosophically expand your horizons, nourish the mind and soul.

If you’re searching for best quotes from authors that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of best Aristotle quotes, powerful Alan Watts quotes, and top Socrates quotes.

Thought-Provoking Terence McKenna Quotes

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.

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.

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.

Nowhere is it writ that anthropoid apes should understand reality.

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.

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.

Stop consuming images and start producing them.

Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored.

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.

In trying to think conservatively about the possibility of a non-human local intelligence, it seems to me that in a way nature herself presents as an intelligence—that the understanding of nature is the understanding of complex integrated systems of such complexity that to deny them consciousness is just a reluctance of the reductionist mind; that for anyone not burdened by that prejudice it’s self-evident that nature is alive, cognizant, responding.

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.

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 existence is defined in terms of control.

The male dominant agenda is so fragile that any competitor is felt as a deadly foe.

If the ego is not regularly and repeatedly dissolved in the unbounded hyperspace of the Transcendent Other, there will always be slow drift away from the sense of self as part of nature’s larger whole. The ultimate consequence of this drift is the fatal ennui that now permeates Western Civilization.

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

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.

What is needed is a spirit of boundary dissolution, between individuals, between classes, sexual orientations, rich and poor, man and woman, intellectual and feeling toned types. If this can happen, then we will make a new world. And if this doesn’t happen, nature is fairly pitiless and has a place for us in the shale of this planet, where so many have preceded us.

I think that’s the job of each of us: to show our best toys and our best tricks that lift us and our friends to higher and higher levels. There is no end to this bootstrapping process. The future of the human mind and body and the future of humans together is endlessly bright.

Half the time you think your thinking you’re actually listening.

The word ‘self’ is as great a mystery as the word ‘other’. It’s just a polarity between two mysteries.

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.

My voice speaking is a monkey’s mouth making little mouth noises that are carrying agreed-upon meaning, and it is meaning that matters. Without the meaning one has only little mouth noises.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

The spiritual atrophying of contemporary culture may be due in large measure to its loss of sensitivity to processes in the collective unconscious.

The shaman is not merely a sick man, or a madman; he is a sick man who has healed himself.

You see, a secret is not something untold. It’s something which can’t be told.

Inspirational Terence McKenna Quotes

You don’t go on bended-knee to petition the official culture for your rights. You have to take them.

If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.

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.

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.

The major adventure is to claim your authentic, true being, which is not culturally given to you. The culture will not explain to you how to be a real human being. It will tell you how to be banker, politician, Indian chief, masseuses, actress, whatever, but it will not give you true being.

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

We cannot evolve faster than our language. The edge of being is the edge of meaning, and somehow we have to push the edge of meaning. We have to extend it.

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.

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.

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.

Part of what is wrong with our society, and hence with ourselves, is that we consume images, we don’t produce them. We need to produce, not consume, media.

Some kind of dialogue is now going on between individual human beings and the sum total of human knowledge and nothing can stop it.

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.

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.

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

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.

Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The movement of a single atom from one known position to another known position changes an experience from nothing to overwhelming. This means that mind and matter at the quantum mechanical level are all spun together.

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.

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.

It is the imagination that argues for the Divine Spark within human beings. It is literally a descent of the World’s Soul into all of us.

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.

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.

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