Transcript: Healing Emotional Trauma and Embracing Personal Responsibility – Tucker Max
Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Tucker Max.
Paul F. Austin first learned of Tucker Max through his bestselling 2009 book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, chronicling his debauched and alcohol-fueled adventures. In the years since, Tucker has written three more bestsellers, launched a hugely successful media company, and embarked on a transformational therapeutic journey with plant medicine. In this episode, Tucker and Paul discuss the role of psychedelics in processing trauma, empowering individual choice, and guiding personal evolution.
- The connection between psychedelics and personal power and responsibility.
- Safely clearing out trauma with the help of MDMA.
- Creating productive relationships with substances.
- The concept of surrender as a consistent intention.
- Talk therapy as an effective lead-up to psychedelics.
- What it means to be “ready” to try psychedelic therapy.
- The evolution of the soul through trials and trauma.
- The power of the stories we tell ourselves, individually and collectively.
Tune in to hear about the specific ways that psychedelics help you confront trauma, the importance of creating productive relationships with therapeutic substances, and the power of the stories we tell ourselves.
0:00:00 Paul Austin: Hey, folks. In today’s episode, we have New York Times best-selling author, Tucker Max, who over the last few years has gotten into plant medicine, written extensively about his journey on Medium, and is currently working on a couple of undisclosed projects related to psychedelics.
0:00:16 PA: Welcome to The Third Wave Podcast. I’m your host, Paul Austin, here to bring you cutting edge interviews with leading scientists, entrepreneurs, and medical professionals who are exploring how we can integrate psychedelics in an intentional and responsible way for both healing and transformation. It is my honor and privilege to bring you these episodes as you get deeper and deeper into why these medicines are so critical to the future of humanity. So let’s go and let’s see what we can explore and learn together in this incredibly important time.
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0:02:00 PA: I’ve been using Magic Mind over the last couple of months to reduce my morning coffee and it works like a charm. With Matcha, Lion’s Mane, and several other nootropics, it lifts you up and doesn’t burn you out. So if you’re interested in Magic Mind, go to magicmind.co and enter promo code “THIRDWAVE” to get 10% off your first order. Tucker Max, man. So my first memory of Tucker Max, which I get into in the episode was in college, which was about 10 years ago, now I’m 30 at this point in time, so when I was 19 or 20. Around the same time that I started taking psychedelics, I also happened to be in a fraternity. And this was sort of a local fraternity, it was at this small liberal arts school that I went to in Michigan called Hope College. We were the cosmopolitan fraternity, the cosmos for short, and we were known as a fraternity for being the pot smokers, the kids who would go out to the woods and on the Seminar Day that we would do every year, every one would go and go to this special seminar, we’d go take mushrooms and hike around the woods for six or seven hours. We also had fraternity stuff, alcohol culture, and parties, and things of that nature, but there was a softer side to us as well.
0:03:07 PA: Anyway, we would do these weekly meetings every Monday, I think it was, in the basement of our fraternity cottage, and at that point, this would have been 2009, 2010, Tucker Max had recently published “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell,” which was The New York Times number one best seller and made the best seller list each year from 2006 to 2012. And it was essentially this hilarious, totally not PC book about his escapades with alcohol and women, as a short way of putting them. They’re hilarious and again, totally not PC, and I’m not encouraging or recommending it, just saying it’s a funny fucking book. So we had that read, I’ve known of Tucker Max for a long time, and then recently, within the last probably six months, he slid into my DMs. I’m on Twitter and just doing whatever, and then all of a sudden, boom, I get a DM from Tucker. “Hey dude, I saw your podcast. I love Third Wave, would love to chat with you about some things because I’ve been working on some psychedelic projects.”
0:03:58 PA: About a year before that, I’d seen some of the posts that he had done on Medium, which we will post in the show notes about how to get started with a plant medicine therapy and Tucker’s own journey with MDMA medicine. And if any of you have read Tucker’s earlier work, you can only imagine, sort of, the cognitive dissonance and going from writing a book like “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell,” to publicly acknowledging and even [unclear speech], is that even a word? Psychedelic medicine. And the way that Tucker has written about it in those two Medium posts, I now use those as core reference materials to anyone who wants to get started because they’re really that good. So I had a chance back in July of this year to go to Austin, Texas for the first time. Tucker lives on the outskirts of Austin so I ended up reaching out to him. We set up a time to sit down at his place and just sat down and talked for an hour and a half, drinking bottles of San Pellegrino and vibing on a number of levels.
0:04:57 PA: We all have different parts of our identity, part of my identity is sort of the fraternity bro element, and so, Tucker and I really dug into a lot of interesting topics in this episode, super long form, a little bit longer than normal, but he’s a brilliant dude and I feel like you guys will really, really enjoy this ’cause he’s also fucking hilarious. And the place that we recorded it in, it’s like a library, it’s his office. Literally, probably anywhere from 2000-3000 books, and I just walked in there and was totally in heaven. So great set and setting for an interview, really insightful stuff, and I won’t say anything further, I just wanna bring you right into this magical, magical conversation. So without any further ado, I bring you Tucker Max. What’s your typical drug intake like? Do you like caffeine, tobacco, Cannabis? We talked about MDMA and sacred use of psychedelic.
0:05:54 Tucker Max: I don’t use caffeine anymore, hardly ever. I’ll drink a little bit of tea or kombucha, but I’m not a weirdo about it. But I don’t know coffee and very little tea. Like the stuff I drink in the morning, I use cacao shells, which is like a type of tea, and then I put in cocoa powder, and cinnamon, vanilla, chaga, lion’s mane, like a few more things like that. Those type of things. I put in glycine for sweetness. It tastes kinda like thin hot chocolate. You would never think of it as like, “This is the best hot chocolate that I’ve ever had,” but it’s pretty good. It gets you up, but it’s not a stimulant. I’ve never really been a nicotine person, or any sort of tobacco. I can’t stand smoking anything. I’ve never really done pot or Cannabis at all.
0:06:40 PA: Really? Never?
0:06:41 TM: Never. It’s definitely one of those things where I associated that substance with losers. For me growing up. I have no problem if anyone wants to do it or anything like that. So I never did it growing up, but it’s like it’s one of those things where you don’t tend to get into pot when you’re like 38 or something. It just doesn’t make sense. And honestly, man, the times that I do it, I just get tired, like I just either get paranoid or get tired. I don’t… And everyone’s like, “No, you gotta try different strains.” and I’m like, “I tried all the fucking strains, man.”
0:07:13 PA: Nothing works.
0:07:14 TM: No, seriously, like weeks in Boulder I’ve spent, for something else, and I had sativa and what’s the… Indigo, or whatever the other one is and I don’t know, I tried them all. They all felt the same to me. They don’t do much for me. Caffeine used to be a big part… Well, actually, it didn’t, until I was about 31, 32. And then I stopped drinking coffee at like 38, 39. So there’s only, less than a decade there. For me now, it’s just… I only take substances medicinally. Like therapeutically. That’s it. So whether it’s MDMA or LSD or mushrooms or Ketamine or whatever it is, it’s only therapeutically. Nothing else.
0:07:53 PA: And what about alcohol? ‘Cause I mean… So much of…
0:07:55 TM: Well, yeah. Well, of course.
0:07:56 PA: So much of like, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” and kinda the pre-psychedelic Tucker Max. It was like booze galore.
0:08:03 TM: So you can’t find hard alcohol in this house, if you look.
0:08:06 PA: Okay.
0:08:06 TM: There’s not much stuff. And the reason that there’s any at all is because I invested in Deep Eddy, the flavored vodka company, which sold for almost $500 million to Heaven Hill. Paid for this house. More than paid for the house. And so that’s the only hard liquor I have, other than two random bottles of scotch people sent me and I’m allergic to whiskey so it’s like, “Thank you, you don’t know me at all.” [laughter] I do have a wine cellar. It is the only thing in the house insured. It’s the house itself and the wine cellar and nothing… I guess the cars, ’cause you have to. It’s… And an obnoxious, a good wine cellar. So my wife and I really like wine. And we probably drink twice a week, maybe. We’ll open a bottle of wine, and usually don’t finish it. That’s why we like to have people over for dinner, because the two of us are not drinking a whole bottle together. We’re just like, well, about four glasses per bottle. So when we have another couple or someone else over, then we can finish a bottle or two bottles or whatever. It’s just more of a social thing. But she’ll drink a half a glass of wine and I’ll drink a glass of wine. And then it’s like… And we have really expensive wine. So it’s like, we can’t really open a $500 bottles and throw in half out. That’s just… I’m doing well. But that’s just…
0:09:15 PA: Basically illegal, at that point.
0:09:16 TM: That’s like Roman emperor obnoxious rich. And we’re… You’re not even being rich anymore, you’re just being an asshole.
0:09:23 PA: Kinda like drinking San Pellegrino. Out of a full bottle like this. I love these. I used to do this back in college. I would just take one. I played soccer and I was known as the guy in the back of the bus.
0:09:34 TM: You could afford San Pellegrino in college?
0:09:35 PA: With a full bottle of San Pellegrino…
0:09:37 TM: Fuck off. I couldn’t afford to. No, you know what’s crazy about this, is San Pellegrino is cheaper than the stuff they make in America. Stuff in Arkansas. I can’t remember what it’s called.
0:09:45 PA: Mountain Spring or whatever.
0:09:45 TM: Yeah, not Mountain Spring. It’s like [unclear speech] or something. It’s like a dollar and a half less per bottle, and it’s better. It is cheaper than Gerolsteiner, which is the German one. It’s really cheap.
0:09:58 PA: I love the German one.
0:09:58 TM: The German one is good. I just still believe there are times, we must subsidize this or something. ‘Cause it’s like a $1.50 a bottle or something. It’s obnoxiously cheap.
0:10:06 PA: With the same price as the Whole Foods.
0:10:08 TM: Right. It’s the same price as the shit from Mexico… Like…
0:10:13 PA: Topo Chico?
0:10:13 TM: Topo Chico. It’s basically the same price as Topo Chico.
0:10:16 PA: That’s all over Austin. I was hopping around taco stands yesterday, I’m like, “Topo Chico is [unclear speech] ”
0:10:21 TM: It takes a special kind of dumbass hipster to import water from Mexico. Think about that for a minute. We’re gonna import water from Mexico… No, that’s fucking stupid. But it is huge in Austin. I mean, it’s fine. But it’s not even good carbonated water. They just take whatever, normal water, and they just cram CO2 in it so it’s got these huge bubbles. You burp like a fucking Viking on it. Whereas San Pellegrino, it’s got nice little thin delicate bubbles…
0:10:51 PA: It’s Italian. It’s Italian. They do things well. They’re sophisticated.
0:10:55 TM: It’s got a good flavour. The food there. The food and cars, design anything like that. They’re like the Japanese. They nail that shit.
0:11:03 PA: So you live in Austin. How long have you been in Austin for?
0:11:05 TM: A decade. More than a decade.
0:11:06 PA: Oh, so you were here before it was cool…
0:11:07 TM: 2009.
0:11:08 PA: Or just when it was becoming cool.
0:11:10 TM: Yeah, it was starting to become pretty cool. I was… Early on, it was maybe 800,000 when I got here. And now it’s like 2 million or something like that. Austin’s like the eleventh biggest city in America now. I know, dude. It’s crazy. It’s crazy how big it is.
0:11:24 PA: ‘Cause all these people from San Francisco, and the tech [unclear speech]…
0:11:27 TM: California.
0:11:28 PA: Have moved over here now, a bunch of friends who are in New York, I think it’ll just become… Joe Rogan I heard is moving here.
0:11:33 TM: No. Really?
0:11:34 PA: Yeah, he just announced it on the podcast, earlier this week that he’s gonna move here.
0:11:38 TM: Really?
0:11:38 PA: Peter Rafferty is moving to Austin.
0:11:39 TM: Oh, wow.
0:11:40 PA: Who else? A handful of other people are coming to Austin ’cause Austin’s the spot.
0:11:46 TM: Rogan?
0:11:46 PA: Yeah. Rogan.
0:11:47 TM: Rogan is as LA as it gets.
0:11:49 PA: I know. Things are changing.
0:11:50 TM: Wow. Yeah, I mean, who wants to be in California… California’s a failed state, man.
0:11:55 PA: Yeah.
0:11:55 TM: California is a failed state. As beautiful as it is and the weather and blah, blah, blah, it’s a failed state, dude. I would… My wife and I can live anywhere and we picked… We met here so we didn’t pick it together, but we decided to stay here. And Texas, I think, is the best place to live. It’s one of three or four of the best places to live in America for the next 40 years.
0:12:15 PA: You think that?
0:12:16 TM: No doubt.
0:12:16 PA: Why is that?
0:12:16 TM: Well, I mean, dude, look around. The world is going through… Well, let’s just stay with America, even though it’s true for the world. Different places in the world, are at a different stages of enlightenment and consciousness. America is going through a very turbulent stage. It started years ago, but now people are starting to really realize it. I’m pretty confident that America is gonna… If not literally, then functionally break apart. And if that happens… There’s a lot of ways it could happen, like if Trump gets elected it’ll probably happen in a different way than if Biden gets elected or whoever… I don’t think he’s gonna be the nominee, but whatever… There’s no better place than Texas. You gotta always start with geography and fundamentals, right. So in America, there’s three power grids. There’s the Western power grid, the Eastern power grid, and there’s Texas. Texas has its own power grid.
0:13:04 PA: Does it really?
0:13:04 TM: I’m dead serious, its own power grid. We are energy self-sufficient, we are effectively manufacturing self-sufficient, not literally, of course, but we could be… We’re nearly resource self-sufficient, food self-sufficient, we can be. Either we are or we can be in all of these things. As a voting populace in the States, it’s got the right balance between not crazy, redneck, racist, awful, but not woke-ist cult crazy either.
0:13:29 PA: Cancel culture… All the bullshit that’s going on right now…
0:13:32 TM: It’s neither. It’s got, in a lot of ways, the best elements of both. I think it is also the only state, whether this gets respected or not is a different political discussion, but it’s the only state that can legally secede from the union. It’s in the Charter, Texas as part of becoming America, the state itself can vote, and I forget if it’s 2/3, but can vote itself out of the union.
0:13:58 PA: Because of its history and how it…
0:14:00 TM: It’s the only state that’s ever been its own country, right? There’s a huge movement called the One Republic. I think it’s called One Republic or Texas Republic movement or something like that, people… 15 years ago it had, it was like 20 crazy people. And now it’s like 5 million people in the state, it’s crazy. I don’t know if Texas is gonna secede, I don’t see that happening. Something is gonna happen, where the federal government is gonna essentially become a hollow state, and depending where you are, it’s gonna be really painful. If you’re in New York, I would not wanna be in New York or California. And not because of… California geographically and resource-wise is fantastic, but governance-wise it is… It’s as bad as it gets in the Western world. I could not imagine having to deal with that. Whereas in Texas, no state income tax… When I first moved here…
0:14:49 TM: I’ll never forget this, I remember walking around town like… You know what it’s like… And it’s beautiful, all these people, everyone’s fit, running or hiking, doing cool outdoor stuff, and I’m like… But they all have fanny packs. I’m like, what losers. This isn’t Illinois. Why the hell would all these losers have fanny packs? And I ask my friend, I’m like, “Everything seems so cool and awesome, but you guys have these weird fashion things, you’re like 20 years behind, everyone has fanny packs.” And he looks at me and he goes, “You’re an idiot.” He goes, “Look at them next time, look at the way that they’re sitting.” I’m like, “why?” He’s like, “They’re guns.” Like, “No!” He’s like, “Yeah.”
0:15:31 TM: And then you actually look and it’s like, oh, it looks like they have a bag of rocks in their fanny pack. Everyone’s packing. It’s like, “Oh, shit,” and… I grew up with guns, hunting, I have no problem with it, like I don’t carry guns around, at least I didn’t before, because we’re in America, why would you need to? Shit changes… But anyway, so two days or two weeks after I got here… I’ll never forget this. This rabid… Literally, a rabid dog got loose downtown. Four people shot at it and missed before a sheriff took it down. I couldn’t stop laughing. ‘Cause first off, it’s like everyone has a gun.
0:16:07 PA: Yeah.
0:16:08 TM: No one really doesn’t even use it, but everyone has it, right. And so that’s another thing where it’s like, I’m a big believer in the Founding Fathers… Certain ideas of the Founding Fathers like holding slaves, maybe not so much.
0:16:19 PA: Right to bear arms, 2nd Amendment.
0:16:20 TM: Right to bear arms. Armed populace, big fan as the ultimate check on government power and the ultimate sense of responsibility. Like, you have in your hand, something that can kill you or other people, so you need to be responsible and learn how to use it and all that kind of stuff. That was one of those things where I was like, “Oh, this is a good place.” This is a place where people take responsibility for themselves, understand and care about sovereignty, and can actually back that stuff up.
0:16:49 PA: And that’s the big thing, it’s like individual sovereignty. That’s what I keep coming back to. And what’s so interesting about your story, we talked about this, we had recorded a podcast a couple of months ago…
0:17:00 TM: Right.
0:17:00 PA: I didn’t realize after the fact that I sounded like a squeaky mouse, I don’t know, you never… And I listen again and I was like, “What was wrong with my audio?” It was terrible.
0:17:09 TM: You sounded fine to me, it must have been the recording of yours.
0:17:11 PA: Okay, okay, okay. It must have been the recording. So, we got into this a little bit, but I think one of the things with psychedelics that a lot of people talk about is like, they were used in the ’60s and ’70s, how it’s all love, how it’s all openness, and I’ve even been reading… You’ve been sending out these really interesting tweets like two or three tweets a day, which are like sort of unraveling your own onion and self-awareness and development as you’re like, oh, realizing that like my projection is actually X, Y, and Z, blah blah blah blah blah… So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on individual sovereignty, everyone carrying guns, Texas Independent Republic, and then like psychedelic medicine and healing and love and compassion…
0:17:51 TM: So, because they all come down… In my mind, they all come down to personal responsibility, right? I was born in ’75. So I don’t give a fuck about the ’60s. My parents were children in the ’60s, they were not boomers, and in my experience, the boomers are the dumbest generation of narcissists the world has ever seen, at least I’ve ever seen.
0:18:12 PA: That’s quite a statement.
0:18:13 TM: Do you know any of them? It only takes a few, ’cause obviously not every single one, you can’t say any generation of anyone is anything. The overwhelming majority of boomers that I know are just so… Even the good ones are so fucking, they’re just less narcissistic than the others. So clearly something was fucked with that generation, and it makes a lot of sense. I grew up, my grandparents or their parents, that was the greatest generation. That was probably the most disconnected group of people in American history, ’cause think about it, they were raised during the Depression, came of age and had to fight Hitler. So I get that they didn’t really feel a lot of… Everything was trauma for them, for their whole fucking life.
0:18:52 PA: Everything.
0:18:52 TM: Right, I get it. Okay, right, it makes it… You’re born actually during World War I, you grow up during the Depression, and then you become an adult, and have to go fight to stop Hitler. It sucks. They don’t know how to connect with themselves, they raise a bunch of kids who come up in the consumerist boom, that become the dumbest narcissists in the generation that we’ve ever seen. It makes sense, I get it. Okay, so why am I talking about that? Because I think most people’s impressions of psychedelics come from that generation. I know mine did. But then once I experienced them, I was like, “This has nothing to do with the ’60s and with those ideas.” I don’t want to say nothing to do with any of the ideas, but think about the people who popularized a lot of the psychedelics, not Terence McKenna, who are the ones everyone knows? Timothy Leary.
0:19:39 PA: Ram Dass.
0:19:40 TM: Ram Dass, right. Timothy Leary… Ram Dass is actually not that bad, but Timothy Leary, what’s it, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, these were the most irresponsible motherfuckers you could imagine.
0:19:52 PA: The bohemian beat generation.
0:19:53 TM: Oh dude, they were so irresponsible, and they’re so romanticized, and they were fucking punks. They were punks and bitches, and I mean that in all the worst ways, right? They were the most… Irresponsible is the word I keep coming back to, ’cause I can’t… Reckless, and not in funny ways, they were just destructive, right? God, even ones like Hunter S. Thomson, he was like a better version, was still incredibly reckless and destructive. And look, I kinda get where they were coming from. I don’t know any of them, but knowing their grandparents, or their parents, who were my grandparents, I probably would’ve acted the same way man, I don’t even kinda blame them. All the greatest generation I knew were pretty awful people in a lot of ways, and mainly ’cause they were completely disconnected from themselves, and so they just dumped all their shit on everyone else.
0:20:42 TM: First time I took psychedelics I was 41 or 42, and I was like, “Oh, dude, I got it totally wrong.” All my impressions of this were based on second-hand knowledge, and now, once I did it, okay, now I understand what Terrence McKenna was saying when he’s like, “This is completely experiential, and you can’t talk about it. You can’t explain it. You just have to do it.” And then the first thing that hit was love, love for everyone and everything, and then the connectedness of all of it, and the oneness. Those two things are very intertwined, at least for me, and I think the concepts are very intertwined. They’re not the same thing, they’re very intertwined. But then the thing that flows off of that, the weird thing is the responsibility, right? ‘Cause like, for some reason, somehow, the idea that love and oneness meant lack of responsibility, I don’t know where that came from, but like, I see it as the opposite. Because we’re all connected I don’t exist alone on an island.
0:21:36 TM: We know… The experiments have been run, we know what happens when humans are raised without contact with other humans. They’re not human, they’re primal animals, because humans are network beings and we negotiate our reality and we understand reality off of each other. And so, what that means is we’re not just responsible for ourselves. You can argue obligation and all that sorta shit, at a minimum I am not just responsible to myself, I am responsible to others, at least insofar as how I act to them, right? Number one. And then number two, I realize the other big shattering thing with psychedelics for me was realizing, “Oh, dude, I get to essentially create my own reality.” Not literally, ’cause I don’t get to create this table, or something.
0:22:19 PA: There are still rules that you have to follow, and there’s like gravity…
0:22:23 TM: Well, sort of. Dude, you’ve gone on very deep trips, I’m sure, there are rules. I think the only reason we can’t break the rules is ’cause we don’t know how. Well, first off, if you understand physics, and I mean modern quantum physics, most of what people think of reality is just… Made up is the wrong word. It is one construction of reality that is true in a certain way, but you go a little outside of those bounds and it breaks down. Like, Newtonian physics, which is what most people think of as physics. You drop the ball, it falls, gravity, all that kinda stuff. It got us to the moon, right? It works in a certain bound. But as soon as you start looking deeper at energy and particles, all of it breaks down. None of it applies, none of it. And the more research is done into subatomic particles, the more it looks like all the kooks we talk about, manifestation and creating… It looks like what they’re saying is at least somewhat correct, like, it’s directionally correct.
0:23:20 TM: Even if you don’t believe The Secret, it’s a dumb book, fine, but it is more directionally correct than objective reality, and notion of objective reality, right? And so, once you understand all of that, it’s all summed up by, Einstein said, in the ’20s, the two big camps let’s call it objective reality physics, led by Einstein. And he basically said, “I refuse to believe God plays dice with the universe,” right? Niels Bohr was quantum physics, and he said, “Don’t tell God what to do with his dice.” I was so fully in the relative of the Einstein camp until I did psychedelics, and I was like, “Oh, he’s wrong. Niels Bohr is totally right.” I don’t know how to explain it, I can’t manipulate this table into an energy pulse with my mind, or any stupid shit like that, right?
0:24:09 PA: Not yet. Not yet.
0:24:10 TM: Right. Right. Wouldn’t that be cool.
0:24:12 PA: You’d go to Hogwarts and train in some of the…
0:24:15 TM: Right. [chuckle] And so, anyway, what this means is so many people, I think, see themselves as either cogs in the machine, or servants, or low on a hierarchy. Once I did psychedelics, I realized that that’s just not true. That every single one of us have immense power, and whether we use it or not is essentially a choice, and that we are responsible for that choice. It is a choice. Dude, it was the craziest thing, man. I’m kinda rambling a little bit. It’s almost hard to use words to talk about these concepts. It was the craziest fucking thing. I grew up going to an Episcopal church, and I was a choir boy. Episcopal is like Catholicism without the guilt and the shame, right? So it’s like a country club.
0:24:57 TM: Like, I didn’t even know anyone believed any of that stuff until I was like 10. ‘Cause I thought we just went to socialize. I mean, I was like, clearly this isn’t true, there’s no God. I never see like… I had a very empirical mind, even as a kid. And anyway, so, I think it was my first time on mushrooms… No, it was the first time on LSD, I was like, “Oh, this is what Jesus meant, the kingdom of Heaven is within. This is what he’s talking about.” The whole fucking New Testament, this is everything he’s talking about. I don’t know if he ever did any psychedelics or not, who knows, but some people can get there without this stuff man, some people are just tapped into that layer. He appeared to be tapped into that layer. And this exactly… And then I went like, “Oh, yeah, I have that power in me. I’m not a God, but I have… ”
0:25:41 TM: What Christians call God, or Muslims call Allah or psychedelia, Wu people call universal source, it’s the same thing. And it is essentially the unifying… Whatever you wanna call it, the unifying energy that binds us all which if you study high school physics, you understand, “Oh yeah. That’s obviously true, that’s the second law. First and second law of thermodynamics.” Then it’s like, “Oh, well, shit, okay.” And then you understand every… You get to essentially create your life. And I mean that almost literally almost as almost literal as I can be with that. It was crazy to me, man. And then from there responsibility exposed naturally, I was like, “Oh, okay. I’m responsible for my actions outside, but I’m also responsible… ” I’ll tell you I’m… One of my big LSD sessions, I saw like… Do you know “The Tibetan Book of the Dead?”
0:26:39 PA: Mm-hmm.
0:26:39 TM: Okay, I read it in college for a course, and I’m like, Okay… It’s right over there. It’s like two or three chapters.
0:26:43 PA: It’s right over there on the bookshelf. Yeah, yeah.
0:26:45 TM: I’m like, “These Tibetans, they’re very creative.” This is a cool story, and I interpreted it and read it as a story in college. And then my first big… It was on this sofa, my first big LSD session. I did LSD, MDMA combined. And I was like, “Oh my God, this is like… It was like the whole fucking knowing. They were exactly right. Everything they… We’re energetic beings, having a physical experience. And you have to come into physical experiences because that’s how our energy evolves, but we come in without any knowledge of everything. And that’s part of the point is you gotta figure this stuff out, and then you’ve gotta evolve, but either you can do it in one life but it’s really hard. And then karma is real and past lives. They are essentially like… It’s an energetic sort of karma. And all of it, it was like, “Oh fuck, I can’t believe. Fuck, it was all right there.” These motherfuckers 5000 years ago figured all this out?
0:27:47 PA: Well, that’s what these truths are like when we come to them like when I did acid for the first time 10 years ago or when you had your first psychedelic experience or Terence McKenna, whoever it is. We are like, “Oh, we recognize these truths that are fundamentally like old Shit.”
0:28:04 TM: They are as old as people, but Buddha said like some one of his disciples was like, “How long has this been going on?” And I remember his quote was… His quote is recorded as, “It’s something like if a dove were to fly over this mountain with a silk scarf once a year, as long as it would take for that bird to wear this mountain down it’s been going longer.” And I was like, at first I was like, “What the fuck is this dude talking about?” When I heard that. And then now I’m like, “Yeah, he’s right, I get it.” It’s so fucking weird, man. I didn’t think I was an old soul before, ’cause nothing about me says that, but then in one of his sessions I was like, “Oh my God, I don’t know if I’m an old soul or not, but I’ve been around a lot and done a lot of shit,” and I saw it all. And this… Dude this all sounds crazy, it all sounds totally crazy, and I completely understand if you’re listening to this and being like, “Okay, this dude is a nut.” Oh, I get it. I would have said…
0:29:10 PA: You’re a total nut. Yeah you’re a total nut.
0:29:12 TM: Few years ago I would have been like, “Yeah, what the fuck’s wrong with him?” I would tell… Go have your own psychedelic experience and see. Like that’s… I’m telling you that’s… That’s one of the… I’m convinced that it’s not that hard. Jesus’ whole message was, “You don’t need the church, you don’t need any of this. Kingdom of heaven is within. We all have this power. We’re all children of God.” He’s saying the exact same thing. Buddha was saying the same thing. Krishna was saying the same thing. Like go down the list of all the great Avatars man, they all said the same thing, and now I get it. I had no connection to this before psychedelics, and now it’s like, I’m 100% on board. Like I get it.
0:29:55 PA: Well, so, something I wanna talk about are the two pieces that you wrote on medium about… One was, I think was about your own MDMA therapy, where you said something along the lines of what the rich and wealthy are doing now.
0:30:09 TM: On their weekends.
0:30:09 PA: On the weekends, everyone is gonna be doing it in 10 years which I thought it was such a good line. And then the post about plant medicine therapy. If I wanna get started with plant medicine, how do I start? And what I’d love for you to… We’ll link those in the show notes, but I think one thing that’s coming up for me as you’re talking about God and psychedelic experiences and the seven barges that you can go through and all these sort of mystical esoteric stuff. From my experience, it can be hard to access those points until you’ve sort of…
0:30:43 TM: You’ve delt with your trauma.
0:30:44 PA: Cleared the detritus, and so I’d love if you could explain to our listeners sort of the analogy that your MDMA therapist talked about when it came to…
0:30:54 TM: Yeah, the lotus flower.
0:30:54 PA: The lotus flower. Yeah, it’s probably my favorite analogy to explain…
0:30:58 TM: It’s so good.
0:31:00 PA: Like spiritual bypassing the necessity of healing trauma, why people who have been doing Ayahuasca for 25 years keep doing Ayahuasca every month.
0:31:08 TM: And they haven’t made any progress.
0:31:10 PA: And haven’t made any progress.
0:31:10 TM: Yeah, yeah exactly. So, all right. We’re coming up on my two-year anniversary of the first time I did MDMA, which is actually breathtaking to me. I kind of feel like a vet, even though compared to people even like you. I’m still a babe in the woods dude. But I’ve done a lot of medicine for the last two years, and I had a strong therapy background so I was able to go faster than most. So I got lucky, I had some really good experienced guys, really three people who have been… All three of them and have been doing this the least amount for 10 years, the most for 30 and it’s 30 years.
0:31:49 TM: Another, she’s been almost 30 years. She knows everybody. She knew Terence McKenna. She’s as old school, I mean she was living in the West Village and whatever, 30 years ago. And so she knows all these people. And so all of them basically told me the same thing. But she gave me a really good analogy. That lotus flower analogy, she said, “Think of the practice, your work as growing a lotus flower.” And she said, “When you start with lotus flower, what do you start with?” And I’m like, “You start with the seed.” And she’s like, “No, you’re the seed. You need to start with the dirt first.” Because, I guess to grow a lotus flower, you’ve gotta have the right kind of dirt with the right water and ratio and whatever, you can’t just throw it anywhere and it grows. That’s not…
0:32:34 PA: That’s the lotus flower, it’s not a weed.
0:32:35 TM: Right. It’s very delicate. It’s not a dandelion. And she’s like, in this analogy the dirt is MDMA. MDMA for most westerners, we live in a culture that you can’t even realize how traumatizing our culture is until you start to heal and then you’re like, everything is fucked up and terrible.
0:32:55 TM: Seriously, it’s like being drunk all the time, and then getting sober and then looking around like you ever been sober at a college bar, it’s like this is the worst thing ever. But if you’re drunk, it all seems normal. So that’s exactly what it was like. And so then, she’s like, “You gotta really start with MDMA.” For most people. She’s like, “Definitely for you.” Because that will help you clear out… First that’ll connect you to yourself and your emotions, help you start to feel them and help clear out a lot of the top layers of trauma and junk and so maybe you can really start do the work there. So it took me four MDMA sessions before I stopped having somatic release. Like physical shaking, which is essentially… If you read the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. Basically what that is, is a stored up traumatic response. That’s stored up somatic… Like fight or flight. Fight flight or freeze. And so four fucking sessions. Halfway through the fifth session…
0:33:57 PA: Which are like five to six hours.
0:34:00 TM: Yeah. So it’s like…
0:34:00 PA: That’s like 30 hours of shaking.
0:34:03 TM: Dude, it’s weeks of it. [laughter] It’s crazy.
0:34:06 PA: It’s like eight generations that you’re trying to get out.
0:34:10 TM: Seriously. And like I was wondering if it wasn’t past generations, I don’t think it was, man. I’m a sensitive dude and I’ve dealt with a lot of stuff so I just had a lot of stuff to get out. So I… Halfway through my fifth session, it was like it stopped and it was like, “Oh, wow.” And then I went through and had like a “normal” MDMA session while I thought about past relationships and be like… All this stuff, the normal stuff people have, I didn’t have it until my fifth session. It was nuts. And so then she’s like, “Okay, after you’ve planted the bulb in the right dirt, then the next medicine, generally, you wanna look at either mushrooms or LSD or both. Not usually combined.”
0:34:52 TM: But you think of those two as the stem. And so it’s very dose-depending. ‘Cause if you do a bunch of mushrooms, that’s fucking nuts, that’s a lot. But if you’re doing 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 grams of mushrooms is a good entry point for most people or like 50 to 150 microgram LSD, those are about equivalent-ish. That’s kind of the next step. And then I combined MDMA and LSD, they were an amazing combination to me. Because the… Dude, the LSD is rough, man, it shows you reality with no blinders and no bullshit, it’s rough.
0:35:28 PA: It’s that clear crystal that just gets, boom.
0:35:31 TM: Man… And you can hide, it’s like here, look, look at this. But not… It’s just weird, it’s just very abrupt and rough. And so MDMA really helps smooth it out. That was a great combination for me. And then mushrooms, I just did… Mushrooms were great for me at breaking ego structures. I had do 8 1/2 grams my second, sure thing. Yeah, seriously which is a lot but it really kind of melted and then reset the full mode network and all that. And so I did about a year. It took about eight months of MDMA. Then about a year or so of really just mushrooms and LSD. And then a lot of times what I would do is MDMA in the morning, and then mushrooms in the afternoon. I kept doing MDMA but on a much more spread out schedule. And so when I was… Well, I’m basically now, I just had my last… I did MDMA and LSD for the last time… I did my last big trauma session. It was about two years, and so I’ve gotten to the point now where my guides are like, “Okay, you’re good to go.” And so that’s kind of the stem. And then what they… She said is like, “The flower are like the higher medicines.” Which would be like Ayahuasca or maybe 5-MeO-DMT or DMT or those sorts of things.
0:36:49 PA: Peyote, San Pedro…
0:36:50 TM: Right, exactly. San Pedro, Peyote, those are really for mind expansion exploration. Look, don’t get me wrong. Plenty of people have used those medicines for trauma work. It’s just very, very rough. If you are… Or Iboga or Ibogaine, you use those for trauma work, you’re gonna get the shit kicked out of you. It’s gonna be really, really hard. And, she said, especially with Ayahuasca, you will will fall into a high… It’s a high risk of spiritual bypass. Which is where you keep going for the experience, but you don’t really do the integration work. Because MDMA and LSD [unclear speech] mushrooms kind of force integration work on you. Not totally, you can still avoid it with that stuff and plenty of people do.
0:37:41 TM: But if you’re really doing them right with good guys and therapeutically, you face your shit. ‘Cause there’s no crazy… You’re not going talking to space aliens and you’re not living past lives and you’re not doing the crazy mind explorations stuff. You’re just sitting in your stuff working on it, especially with the lower doses. And then once you’ve done that, even if you had… Like, let’s say you’re one of those people who had no trauma. You still have all kinds of work to do. Like on the higher medicines, it’s just like the normal human soul work. Like fear of death, whatever your soul’s purpose is for this life, all of that stuff, that’s still waiting for you on the other side of trauma and that’s a whole life’s work. So it’s almost like… It’s almost like…
0:38:29 TM: It’s sort of like a lot of guys celebrate. I have a couple of buddies in the NFL. They’re vets and they’re like, “Yeah, a lot of guys celebrate when they get drafted.” I’m like, “Guys, this is just the start. All that work you did, it’s just got you to the league, right?” That’s sort of the same thing, it’s like… And so in October, I’m doing 5-MeO for the first time. I was supposed to do it about now, but then coronavirus and my guy can’t travel and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So I’m gonna do it in October, that’ll be my first flower medicine. But yeah, now I see a lot of people who are like, “Oh, I’m gonna go do 5-MeO-DMT” and I’m like, “Have you done that?” “No, I did some molly in college.” I’m just like, “Oh, man. That’s… ” and then they’re like, “That was fucking crazy” and I’m like, “Yeah, well… It’s like the first time you shoot a gun and take a 50 caliber on top of it.” [laughter] No, that’s not where to start. No, don’t start there.
0:39:22 PA: No, that’s not how you do it. And that’s why we started… That’s why even with Third Wave and a lot of the educational stuff that we’ve had, I focus so much on microdosing, ’cause it’s like, create a relationship with the substance, understand how you work with it…
0:39:37 TM: That’s even a better place to start, probably microdosing…
0:39:39 PA: Totally, because a lot of people have these peak experiences, these flowering experiences with Ayahuasca or 5-MeO and they have no idea what to do. And it’s sort of like what you said, especially with something like Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca in itself has this sort of spirit and energy that comes with it and so oftentimes, you’ll just blast through all the stuff and you’ll just be left totally raw, with no idea of how to integrate. And so a lot of people leave traumatized… Even more traumatized than how they went in.
0:40:04 TM: Yes, yes.
0:40:04 PA: Whereas I think the beautiful part with MDMA, which you talked about in that Medium piece, it’s like there is literally no better substance that we have to deal with trauma.
0:40:17 TM: It’s always your friend. It’s so soft and gentle.
0:40:21 PA: Always.
0:40:21 TM: Because that’s the crazy thing about it, it’s almost a problem with it, because someone like me, I have such good psychological defenses that I can manipulate MDMA. If I sit up and take off my eye mask, I can take the impact from a 9 to a 1. Which is both good and bad. It’s good because I probably helped at this point, God, at least 50, maybe 100 people do their first sessions. I haven’t sat for them, but I’m directing them to guides and whatever and a lot of my friends… And it’s funny because they… So many of them do the same thing I did, which is the first session just talk and deflect and distract, ’cause it’s your ego trying to just keep you the same. And so that’s why MDMA is both good and bad, because you take five grams of mushrooms, you’re in… That’s it. There’s no counteractive…
0:41:15 PA: You buy a ticket, you take the ride. It’s not gonna stop inside there.
0:41:18 TM: The store is sealed.
0:41:19 PA: Exactly.
0:41:20 TM: But MDMA, you can essentially… You can pull your parachute. Basically, sort of. You can get up, walk around, drink some coffee, and you’re basically going to… You can will the impact down very low, which keeps people feeling safe. It’s part of the thing, and then as you feel safer, you can lay down, you can relax more, you can let the hard stuff come up and then it’s all there to help you process it. It really… It’s such a beautiful introductory thing. You’re probably right though, for most people, microdosing… Although, I’ll say in my experience, at least, my friends are more willing to do MDMA than microdosing. I don’t know why but… I microdose. Microdosing’s way too… It’s had a major impact. I just do 25 to 30 milligrams of mushrooms with… Stamets Stack I got from you… With 200 milligrams of lion’s mane and 200 milligrams of Niacin. It’s fucking great. It’s fantastic.
0:42:25 PA: And how do you use it? How like for the microdosing?
0:42:28 TM: In the morning I just…
0:42:29 PA: Do you have an intent?
0:42:30 TM: No.
0:42:31 PA: Is it on writing days? Do you just sort of do it as like a two or three times a week thing?
0:42:36 TM: This is a big thing where I diverge from not all the community, but a lot of the community, I don’t believe in setting intention. At least with any of the medicines I’ve done or in my work. Like I said, I’m only two years in, I’ve only done trauma work. I haven’t done Ayahuasca or anything like that. So, I don’t know about that. At least for me, what I’ve found is surrendering. I have one set intention, which is I’m gonna surrender to the medicine and to the universe and let it guide me where I need to go and bring up what needs to be brought up and that’s it. Because surrendering is something that… I’m always trying to be in control. I just let it go where it needs to go, ’cause I believe most of these substances, either they have an intelligence or you have an innate intelligence or both…
0:43:31 PA: It’s sort of the combination.
0:43:33 TM: Well, I’m not sure how much intelligence LSD has, whereas mushrooms clearly have an intelligence and agenda. God, they’re so different than LSD, it’s crazy, the difference. Whereas LSD just seems like an amplifier to me, whatever comes up in me, it’s like, “Okay, we’re gonna do that” and it’s like… And there it goes. But I definitely believe that there is a deep intelligence and that we’re connected obviously energetically, to everything around us, and to something like a higher source. And so I’ve learned that the best I can do is just surrender to that and try and go with it instead of being like, “Okay, my intention today is… ” It’s not… Some people love that, it just doesn’t seem to work well for me ’cause it gets me too much in control mode.
0:44:25 PA: I have the same thing. I don’t really… I’ve set intentions or done some clarification like with journaling and self-reflection when it comes to the Ayahuasca experiences that I got into. But when I’m working with MDMA or even something like mushrooms or LSD, it’s much more just like, surrender, what happens will happen. Don’t try to control it too much. And for us intense type A men, we’re just… To have that release is where a lot of the healing is, to not feel like we always need to control it. And that’s something we haven’t talked about yet in the podcast, which I wanna get into, which is your story of healing which I think is so interesting. I first heard about your work because I was in a fraternity in college…
0:45:04 TM: Of course.
0:45:05 PA: And we read I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell in the basement. It was fucking, every time, hilarious. Everyone would just laugh their asses off. And then, probably like a year ago, 18 months ago, at some point, I, like… I don’t know how I found it, but I came upon… I think through a friend, sent me your Medium post and I was like…
0:45:26 TM: That can’t be the same guy. [chuckle]
0:45:27 PA: Tucker Max?
0:45:28 TM: Yeah, right.
0:45:29 PA: And so now, I mentioned it to a few friends, I’m like, “Oh yeah, Tucker Max. I’m gonna interview him for the podcast, right?” They’re like, “That Tucker Max?” And I’m like…
0:45:37 TM: Yeah.
0:45:38 PA: “That Tucker Max.” Let’s talk a little bit about who were you before psychedelics? What was going on there and what did you learn from psychedelics that helped to heal a lot of that energy that you had before?
0:45:57 TM: So, I did four years of talk therapy before I did psychedelics, so I was in a different space than a lot of people, and all like psychoanalysis. I was going four times a week, so it was… A decade for most people of therapy, I condensed in the four years, so I had a really good sense of myself. I had a good map of my brain and my emotions. The problem is I hadn’t walked beneath the territory, I hadn’t felt any of it. And so, when I was writing all that stuff, I was both things. The things you read about in the book… And all the stories were true. I was fun and funny, and happy-go-lucky, and out for a good time and partying and all that. That was all true, but like anything that is promiscuous, and I don’t even necessarily mean sexual, I just mean anything that goes too far, it’s done as a compensation for something else. And the compensation for me was, like most people who drink and party and do all that stuff as an identity, it was a way for me to escape sadness, loneliness, pain, depression. To get rid of the… To push away emotions I don’t wanna feel. That’s what it was.
0:47:19 PA: Yeah, deny it.
0:47:20 TM: Exactly. And so, whether you are a named addict or you’re a driven entrepreneur, or you work relentlessly hard at your sport or you do what I did, anything you’re doing as a distraction from emotions is gonna come back and get you. And so, I was in that space, and so the difference between me and most people is I was just able to write about it and got famous for it, but that’s it. What I did and why I did it is no different from almost any… Then as I got older, it just got… Like any addiction, and I use the word addiction not in a clinical sense but any activity you use to distract yourself from emotions, let’s say that, it eventually stops working. And I amped it up for a while. It was like, “Oh, fucking one girl’s a week isn’t enough, I’ll two a week, and then one a day, and two a day and blah blah, whatever.” Okay, this isn’t gonna work. Yeah, I can have a floor full of women, it’s not going to stop.
0:48:41 TM: So it’s not women, it’s not… Drinking never really distracted me. Drinking was just fun. That’s what’s funny. People were like, “How much do you drink?” I’m like, “Really not that… I only drink socially.” I didn’t even have beer… People would come over to my house like, “You don’t have a beer in here?” I’m like, “No, why would I have beer in my house?”
0:48:56 TM: They’re like, “To drink.” I’m like, “I only drink when I go out. Why would I wanna drink beer here? Beer’s shitty.” I’ve never seen people who were… Oh, I guess I do… They drink to get drunk. I just would do it out. Anyway, so I just got tired of it, man. I got tired of it because I think, subconsciously, I realized it wasn’t working anymore. And so, then eventually I started therapy, and therapy was great for a while. The problem with therapy is that it’s all intellectual, it’s all left-side. It’s all talking, it’s all thinking, it’s all rationalizing, it’s all logic, and those things all have a place in human life and culture but they are not the only thing.
0:49:51 TM: And that’s essentially, at least for me, all therapy was. There was very little emotion, very little feeling in it, mainly ’cause I just… Look, I had parents who were terrible at being parents, who did not care about me, who never emotionally connected with me, so I had no idea how to feel. No one had never modeled any of this stuff for me. And so, it wasn’t like my therapist did a bad job. She did a perfectly fine job, she wasn’t bad, she wasn’t good. She was just, whatever, a solid therapist. But I just could not connect with these emotions in me and so I eventually stopped therapy and I tried a bunch of other stuff like yoga, which is just shitty meditation combined with shitty exercise which I…
0:50:35 TM: Some people love yoga, bless their hearts. I can’t stand it.
0:50:38 PA: You’re not into it.
0:50:39 TM: Meditation didn’t work for me. What was funny is meditation was working and that’s why I couldn’t do it, because I would stop and sit still and focus on my breath and then get flooded with these emotions. And I’m like, “I’m going crazy, I’m not meditating right.” No, I was doing it exactly right. I just didn’t understand that’s actually the point, and you’re supposed to… But I didn’t have anyone around me who was explaining that and I didn’t have the…
0:51:05 PA: You just felt overwhelmed by everything that’s coming.
0:51:07 TM: Yeah. I didn’t have the tools or capability to either understand or deal with meditation. And so, a bunch of other things and then… It’s funny, a buddy of mine, he was very famous, everyone who’s listening would know his name, told me maybe about four or five years before I did it my first time, he was like, “You should really try mushrooms.” And I was like… I remember I had a whole conversation with him about this and I remember the conversation. I’m thinking about it now.
0:51:42 TM: It’s the strangest thing. It’s like I couldn’t hear him. Even though I remember the conversation, I remember him saying it. It was like… It’s almost like remembering a… Like something I saw in a movie or a different person, or it did not connect with me at all, at all. And I understand now it’s just like I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to feel. I wasn’t ready to whatever. And then, three, four years after that, the guy was, I worked with did… We did the… My company did the book, Trust, Run, Receive, and another was a client of ours. And the guy who worked on the book did MDMA therapy, and I saw the change in him. And I was like, “Oh, my God, what happened to you, dude?” In the best way, and he’s like, “Dude, MDMA therapy.” And I’m like, “No, bullshit.” I’m like, “Come on.” I’m not gonna do drugs, he’s like, “Trust me on this.” It’s like and like he… It was so weird. There was nothing he could have said. It was a combination of I was ready to start to feel my shit. And I saw the change. He didn’t try and convince me when I was like, “No,” he was like, “Okay, if you’re not ready.” And I was like, “Fuck you. No, you’re supposed to sell me on this. What’s wrong with you?”
0:53:00 TM: Like you’re not… I’m used to cross-fitters and vegans who are like, “You have to join my cult.” Right? And people who do this work for the most part, if you’re doing it, right, don’t preach it. They just live it. And then people asked them what happened to you? And so I kept pestering him. And so he set me up with her. And then we set up the thing, and then I was like, “Oh, my God.” Like, this is it. It’s so crazy, man. It’s like, as soon as that shit hit my… Whatever, crossed the blood-brain barrier. As soon as it hit me, I knew, I realized the whole point of this is to feel our emotions. And I had never really done that in my life. I had never felt true, real love in my life. And at that point, I had a wife I loved. I had a son.
0:53:58 TM: My wife was pregnant with kid three, actually, I had a son and a daughter. And it’s not like I didn’t… I loved all of them as much as I could. But I had just never grown… I had never… I had grown up in such a dysfunctional, traumatic, toxic environment, where no one loved themselves. And so it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t like they were happy elves and just beat me for fun. They were totally fucked up. And so they had no love to give me ’cause they had none for themselves, you know? And yeah, dude, and so that’s kind of… That’s the thing… And the funny thing is, man, it’s not everyone. It’s so many are like, “Oh, so you like, this is how what you’re used to doing?” “No, fuck no, of course not.” I had a great time. It was super fun. Of course, I did individual things that we’re totally fucked up.
0:54:45 TM: And I absolutely apologize to the people who I wronged in certain ways, or whatever. But in no way, shape, or form do I disallow my paths? Absolutely not, you don’t curse the path. I’m not gonna curse the path that brought me here. I’m pretty happy with where I am.
0:55:02 PA: Yeah.
0:55:03 TM: And I’m pretty convinced I had to go through all that to learn the lessons I need. That’s another thing I got on one of my LSD sessions was like, this is just gonna sound crazy. But it’s exactly what the medicine showed me. Apparently, we pick our lives based on the lessons that we need to learn, and the levels we have to evolve to. And I guess I’ve picked this life. And I picked a really hard childhood because I needed that in order to learn all these sorts of things. And I remember sitting there thinking, “Why the fuck would I pick this?” But then, it was like, the realization was… And I don’t know if this is like the medicine or the universe talking to me or my own brain. I’ve no idea.
0:55:47 TM: But it’s like, the realization was the only way you can learn, you can evolve is going through trials. And so the souls that want to evolve a lot, pick the hardest trials. And I was like, “Oh, that makes total sense.” I get that. That makes total fucking sense. It sounds absolutely crazy, but it makes… And then by the way, then my friend’s like, “Oh, you should read this book The Celestine Prophecy. Have you heard of it?” I’m like, “That book sold 50 million copies in the ’90s. Of course, I’ve heard of it. I’ve never read it.” He’s like, “Oh, he talks about all of this in the book.” I’m like “No.” Have you read that book by the way?
0:56:26 PA: What’s it called?
0:56:26 TM: “The Celestine Prophecy.”
0:56:27 PA: No.
0:56:28 TM: That book was super famous in ’90s, it was on the bestseller list for a decade.
0:56:32 PA: I was born in 1990, so…
0:56:33 TM: Okay.
0:56:33 PA: I wasn’t… It was still…
0:56:34 TM: Yeah. It was…
0:56:35 PA: Doing Teletubbies at that point.
0:56:37 TM: It was on the bestsellers for a decade. And it’s crazy ’cause no one talks about it now. This guy James Redfield he’s still alive. I’m going to see him in August in Sedona. But he wrote a book that described all of this. By the way, doesn’t mention any medicine… That’s one of the thing I want to talk to you about. It doesn’t mention any medicine at all. But a big part of the novel happens in Peru. I’m like, “You had to have been taking Ayahuasca.”
0:57:02 PA: Obviously.
0:57:03 TM: Like come on, man. All this stuff. It’s crazy. Once you start to look, it’s like, oh, wow, people have been talking about, not necessarily plant medicines, but all the stuff you understand on it. People have been talking about this for thousands… The Tibetans for thousands of years, and maybe they just got there through meditation. I don’t know.
0:57:26 PA: Unlikely. I feel like we’ve had relationships with mushrooms and other psychoactive substances…
0:57:32 TM: I mean, this is what Terence McKenna says, and his stuff’s pretty persuasive. Man, I’m a big fan of Stoned Ape theory. And the idea that humans developed higher levels of cognition through our relationship with Psilocybin makes a lot of sense, especially when you do it.
0:57:48 PA: Yeah.
0:57:49 TM: Especially when you do it, it’s like, before I did it, I was like, “Okay, this is interesting.” Anthropologically, I get it, wasn’t persuaded. Then I did mushrooms. I was like, “Oh, of course.”
0:57:58 PA: Yes. Totally yeah.
0:58:00 TM: A 100%. Yeah. Especially, if you realize how your brain changes on it, how different you are. How much smarter I am, how much more in tune with everything I am. Like, I am so elevated as the… At least relatively to who I was. I don’t wanna say relatively anyone else, just compared to who I was. It’s like, it’s crazy, man. It’s almost like… You remember in The Lord of the Rings, you saw the whole series, right? So you remember when Gandalf takes them through Moria, and then the Balrog comes and he has to fight the Balrog and the Balrog pulls him down. And then Gandalf is gone for like the next movie. And then he shows back up, and they’re like, “Gandalf, Gandalf,” And he looks at them and he’s like, “That was my name once. I do seem to remember that.” And he’s like a different dude, and then he kind of tells them the story and he basically, died. That’s what I feel, like me before medicine and me after. I feel like Gandalf fighting the Balrog is like… Like I remember all the stuff I used to do and who I used to be but it feels like literally a different life.
0:59:12 PA: A different lifetime.
0:59:13 TM: [laughter] Yes, seriously man, even though something is like only a few years ago. It’s like, “Oh yeah, no, I totally said that. I totally did that. And I have no idea what I was thinking or why I would do… ” Even if I understand why it’s like, “I don’t know who that person is.”
0:59:26 PA: Well, it’s going back to what you had mentioned before, you choose the trials that are most difficult, so if you’re giving the examples like Gandalf and the… That…
0:59:36 TM: The Balrog, yeah.
0:59:38 PA: The Balrog that gets by the…
0:59:39 TM: With the bull whip, yeah?
0:59:40 PA: Yeah, with the bull whip, it’s like that is such an intense example. And I feel like mythically, when we play at those levels, when we’re choosing those trials and tribulations. Then the level of transformation is mirrored in that, and I feel like, especially someone like you, you’ve written what? Four New York Times best sellers at this point. You have a company with dozens and dozens of employees, you’ve just signed, which I think is amazing, Nassim Taleb to do his next couple books…
1:00:04 TM: His book just came out.
1:00:05 PA: Did it?
1:00:06 TM: It just came out, yeah, he’s doing those others with us too but he… His next… It’s a two book… No, volume one, and it’s two volumes, it just came out last week.
1:00:14 PA: What’s it called? Do you remember?
1:00:16 TM: Dude, it’s this math book, it’s called Statistical Consequences of Fat Tails or something, it’s like this big, it’s all over… But you don’t wanna read… It’s… [laughter] No, no it’s…
1:00:24 PA: I loved Skin in the Game ’cause Skin in the Game was like 200 pages.
1:00:26 TM: It’s an amazing book. It’s an amazing… It’s all of the math behind all of his books. He’s doing… It’s a two volume set, and I forget, he already told me what is his next book is gonna be or what he thinks it’s about. He’s doing all of those with us. Yeah.
1:00:39 TM: And so with that, you’ve gone through these trials and tribulations, you faced your demons, you feel the trauma, you planted the seed, the stem has started to grow, and…
1:00:49 TM: One level of it.
1:00:49 PA: Yeah.
1:00:49 TM: There’s still… It’s like an onion dude.
1:00:51 PA: It’s still half of…
1:00:52 TM: I’m only a few layers deep dude.
1:00:52 PA: But you’re… My point is you’re a very powerful person.
1:00:56 TM: Right.
1:00:57 PA: And you’ve taken a lot of responsibility for that. And you have an incredible platform, and you have an incredible influence and I’d be really curious, just kind of as the cherry on top of this interview like, what’s next for Tucker Max? Like…
1:01:09 TM: Yeah, it’s funny to hear you say that, because in my mind, I feel like I haven’t even fucking begun. Honestly. It’s the weirdest thing. I feel… Part of this might be ego defense, right, but in a lot of ways… I lit… I had a session Sunday. Like literally…
1:01:26 PA: Three days ago?
1:01:26 TM: Four days ago. Right, three days ago. [laughter] And a big part of what came up there was, how I’m being afraid and holding myself back. How like… And it’s not necessarily shitting on anything I’ve done in the past, like everything you’ve said is true. I’ve done a bunch of best sellers, and our company is well into the eight figures, and we have 50 whatever full-time and 170 part-time and a big office, and blah blah blah. But like… I almost feel like… ‘Cause we know, we know who we are. Especially due to this medicine, you know who you are, I know who I am, right? And compared to who I am, and what I know I can do, I feel like I’ve only just started. And that if I… The God’s honest truth is the thing I’m most afraid of, and this is part of probably what’s holding me back is actually the fear of it, the thing that I’m most afraid of is not being who I… The full expression of myself. I know I can do way more. And I don’t mean that money necessarily, I don’t mean it in fame or stature, although those things usually come. I mean it more of like… I don’t know. It’s hard to even describe man. I just know the full expression of me has only just begun. Which is the craziest thing to think about man.
1:02:57 TM: Like, it is… Clearly, I’m sitting here thinking in my mind, it’s almost like I haven’t done anything, and I don’t mean that as to put anything down or whatever, it’s just like… I guess just ’cause I… When you do enough of this and you do it, so you take this work seriously, you see… You feel. You feel the… Not unlimited potential. It’s like you connect with the full power of the energy in the universe. And it’s like, “Oh. I’m not the full universe, but that part… I am part of that. And I can channel parts of that. And I can use… I can do parts of that.” And sometimes shit for good or for bad, right? But I feel almost like I’ve been a kid playing with Legos and now it’s time to go build an actual bridge or something.
1:03:56 TM: I still feel that way. I still feel like… And the… It’s the weirdest thing like… And it doesn’t matter what I do, I do something and it’s cool and good, and then I’m like, “Okay, and well now I’m here, what’s the next… I wanna evolve more.” So like the endless Hero’s Journey cycles, I’ve finished one, you come back you’re a different person and you start on another one. Different person start… But you’re going in loops but you’re ending at the same place but not really, it’s like an evolved place. And so that’s what’s the craziest thing is that I’m 44… I honestly… I had this thought someday. I honestly feel like… Thus far, my life has been training for what my life will be for the next half… Like this ain’t… Let’s say I’m about halfway through my life, right? Let’s say I’ll die between 85 and 90 probably, right?
1:04:53 PA: Maybe. We could figure out some, some…
1:04:55 TM: It’s possible, it’s not unthinkable.
1:04:56 PA: Some longevity tools of expansion…
1:05:00 TM: It’s not unthinkable but it’s realistic to say that I have 30-40 more very productive years. It’s great, I think… I honestly feel like… I really felt like that this is just training. I literally was like, “Okay, now you’re ready to actually do your serious high-level work.” So, I don’t know.
1:05:23 PA: Do you think that’s because you… A lot of the work that you had done before psychedelics was… It wasn’t from your soul… It was from your soul, but it wasn’t that…
1:05:34 TM: Yeah. It was very clouded with… Yeah.
1:05:36 PA: It was very clouded with ego and with other things that I wonder almost as if you feel like…
1:05:40 TM: I’m stripped so much of the…
1:05:42 PA: Once all that stuff gets stripped away and cleaned away, then the greatest gift that you can give is gonna come from a very clean place.
1:05:50 TM: I feel like that, yeah. And I feel like just multiple ones. I don’t know if it’s just one. I don’t know, we’ll see. I honestly don’t know, that’s the only part that’s difficult and scary is… It’s hard to explain. I feel like we’re playing a game, and the biggest part of the game is figuring out what the rules are. You know what I’m saying? And specifically, it’s like if we’re an energetic being, having a physical experience, a huge part of our reason of being here is figuring out why did we choose this life? What’s the goal? And the goal, I’m sure is some sort of spiritual evolution, but what type? And how do we do it? And not necessarily… I know I write books or whatever, but what exactly… ‘Cause right now I have five, 10 things in front of me I could be doing.
1:06:47 TM: And it’s like, I don’t know which one I’m supposed to do, or maybe that’s the point is I’m supposed to pick one or the other, and that’s part of the thing… I don’t know, man, that’s what’s so fucking weird about this, is that it’s… You’re playing a game where the main object of the game is that you have to figure out the rules. I had that feeling very clear in one of my, two of my LSD sessions was like I had the feeling that really the reason you’re here is to understand why you’re here and as soon as you get it, you can go, you get to evolve up. And I had this very distinct feeling that if I choose I could just leave emotionally or spiritually, energetically, and then I was like, “No, no, I don’t wanna leave my wife and my kids. I like it here.” It was the weirdest thing, man. I don’t know dude, it’s… Again, this all sounds like fucking cookie talk, if you know what I mean. If you haven’t experienced this, there’s just nothing… I don’t know what to tell you. And it’s a, we don’t… Verbal communication…
1:07:53 PA: Doesn’t do it justice.
1:07:54 TM: Not even close.
1:07:55 PA: It’s like 10% of it.
1:07:57 TM: Not even, hardly… I can’t even think of a good metaphor to explain it. It’s so different, it’s so…
1:08:03 PA: Well that’s oftentimes what we can only rely on are metaphors and analogies, there’s no way to sort of like… I love the… There’s an Alan Watts quote that goes something along the lines of, “You can never describe… You can always describe the hand or the finger, but you can never describe what the finger is pointing at,” and that’s the ineffability of any mystical experience of… That’s the whole point, is to get beyond this, this whatever duel.
1:08:32 TM: This Sunday, part of it is our brain, it just cannot handle certain realizations or thoughts or… I felt it physically, I was just like this is… It’s like over-taxing my processor, it’s too much for it to handle and it frustrates me ’cause I… It’s like I feel like I know my energetic being can know this, right? But my physical being can’t or isn’t going to, it drives me fucking nuts. I didn’t know this before, I had to take this stuff, these medicines, but man, it’s… And it’s like I can see it sometimes, and I kinda get it, but… I don’t know, I don’t know, man. I don’t know, it’s really hard to explain.
1:09:20 PA: Well, but then on a high note, what are you most excited about right now?
1:09:26 TM: Oh dude, everything. Oh no, I’m very excited about everything. There is…
1:09:30 PA: Is there a project or a collaboration or just an idea, or are you working on your own call. What’s happening?
1:09:41 TM: I don’t know how you can do this stuff and not get excited, some people don’t… Okay, I don’t know how you can do this and not… Because you do this and you realize, oh, I remember this pretty quickly, that as much as I like this life and this existence, this is like… In no… Everything that we think is permanent and important is dust in the fucking world. It’s so very clearly, and I mean, right now, literally cosmic dust. I’m not gonna go through all the physics of it, like here’s the energy spectrum, we see that much, we feel even a smaller percent blah, blah, blah, blah, right? So it’s all meaningless. And so that seems like nihilistic to a lot of people, but then I think it’s freeing where it’s like, “Oh shit, we’re playing a game, this is a game, and the object of the game is to figure out the object of the game. But then in the meantime, do stuff that is fun and enjoyable and that… Makes the world better ’cause that’s all… Drink good wine, have sex with your wife, play with your kids, create cool art, all that sort of stuff,” right?
1:11:00 TM: So no, dude, I’m excited about almost everything. The only time I’m not excited is of course, ’cause I’m human, man, I get stuck with, “Shit I hope this business deal goes. I want… ” I still want things. I’m definitely working on that. But in terms of specific… Like I said, it’s hard to say, it’s funny you’re interviewing me right now, ’cause I am right now at a very deep inflection point. I literally just finished a bunch of projects like the one book I sent you, some others. And I have this weird open… The next two months, ’cause I’m not doing any medicine, anything, no energy, nothing until 5-MeO, ’cause my last session wasn’t that deep, the one Sunday. It was pretty light, and so I’m just gonna rest and relax and it might even be three months, but two, three months. That’s it, nothing.
1:11:50 TM: And so I’ve created space and see kinda what comes. But I’ll say this, we’re at a very weird part or place in human history where it’s clearly an inflection point, things are clearly gonna change. I think that we could… It’s very, very possible to make it through this and go into an incredible golden age in our lifetimes, we’ll probably be… I’m a little bit older than you, so it’ll be a few years, but it’s more than capable for that to happen. It’s not a given at all. It’s not determined that way at least I don’t think. Who knows? Maybe it is, I just don’t realize it. But I don’t think so, because it seems to me this is one of the things I figured out on medicine is that the whole reason we have this experience is choice. If choice doesn’t exist, then none of this actually… I don’t think any of this would exist. That’s the whole point of consciousness, is seeing itself, yourself and then choosing, right?
1:12:58 TM: So we have a choice to make, and that’s both obviously frightening, but then exciting, because we get to make the world that we want. And so I’ll tell you man, the only two things that I think really matter right now, in the long run everyone’s bickering about bullshit. There’s only two things that matter, the healing work that that works around this, and then the stories that we all decide to tell each other about our lives and ourselves, ’cause that determines everything else. That’s how we negotiate reality as humans just telling stories. And so, everything I do is gonna line up with one of those two things, if not both. I don’t see myself getting into the medicines as a business, ’cause that’s not my thing. But telling stories around that, around other things…
1:14:00 PA: And you have that capacity. ‘Cause I mean you’re…
1:14:00 TM: It’s what I’ve done my whole life man.
1:14:02 PA: You have a publishing company.
1:14:04 TM: And if you look at my life, if you had to draw a line to the problems in my life that it would line up on how… It would line up on what kind of problem… Like if you’re trying to create enough problems for a person to get them to something, what would mine be? And I think mine would be, how do you get someone to the point where they can see through bullshit, but at the same time, recognize the… How people create… How do you see through other people’s bullshit, but help other people create the frame where they can tell their story? ‘Cause most people either know how to tell stories or they know how to call bullshit out, but very few people can do both. ‘Cause like look, everyone arguing now is like, “Do Black Lives Matter? Do White Lives Matter?” This, this. They’re all arguing about stupid shit.
1:15:15 PA: It’s petty bullshit.
1:15:15 TM: Well, no one’s telling a better story. Everyone… The stories that are winning right now, for the most part, are toxic destructive stories on either side. I’m not saying red or blue or no fuck they’re, both sides are being dominated by destructive toxic stories. So it’s not so hard to see through those, although most people don’t. The hard part then is to tell a story that beats them. The American story used to be the most powerful… It was definitely the most powerful nation since… We were ever told without a doubt, at least it has been so far. And it was incredibly powerful for years. It had fundamental flaws that eventually broke it, and it’s not working anymore. So what story replaces it? Right now, nothing’s replacing it in terms of like an actual life affirming positive story. So you have everyone bickering about bullshit. And then the smart people are like, “No, no that’s not what they… ” They’re arguing in the toxic frames instead of telling a different story, right? So you asked me what am I gonna do next? If I don’t at least try to tell that story, whatever it is, I don’t know what it is then, or be part of the group and the team that helps form that story. It’s not like it’s all on me. Then I don’t know what I’m doing, ’cause that’s all that really matters. Does that makes sense?
1:16:51 PA: Makes sense.
1:16:52 TM: I’m still, like you caught me in a weird time, I’m still trying to work it out myself.
1:16:55 PA: It’s like the story of… I love… Do you know Charles Eisenstein?
1:17:01 TM: No.
1:17:02 PA: He wrote Sacred Economics. He talks a lot about the story of interconnectedness. And he says, “There’s two stories that we’ve been going for.” We’ve had the story of separation, which is this story that keeps bubbling up, blue versus red, me versus you, X versus Y, whatever. We keep telling that story as if… Our culture is so used to…
1:17:22 TM: That’s what is embedded in our genes in a lot of ways.
1:17:24 PA: It’s just embedded into us. And so a big process of evolution that we’re going through is to evolve out of that narrative, to realize that the next stories that need to be told are the stories of coming together and the story of interconnectedness. So I think that to me represents the cultural story of, how do we transition from a story of separation? I am separate from nature. I am separate from whatever… Which is embodied disconnections…
1:17:50 TM: Yeah.
1:17:51 PA: Into the story of like, “No, we need to figure out how do we evolve this thing together.”
1:17:54 TM: Well, there’s two parts; one is experiential, which is the medicines. But then, like I said, healing and storytelling. That’s healing. Experiential part is a healing part. And so most people are gonna have to… There’s no story you could have told me that would have… I would not have been ready for… I could not have heard a connectedness story until I experienced that. I just couldn’t. I know myself. I couldn’t have heard it, it’s not possible. And I’m way smarter than most people. I’m way more likely to be behind that, even though I couldn’t. So people have gotta experience it first. What that story is, I don’t know. I don’t know, man. What absent… Because the problem is our biology.
1:18:40 TM: The human physical organism is designed to be tribal, and to see the world as us versus them. So outside of an alien, that makes the story easy. [chuckle] The story writes itself then. Outside of an alien encounter or experience, I’m not sure how to tell that story or how that story can be told. I’m not saying it can’t, that’s just a problem to be solved. But people that… With the experience of, “Oh wow, I’ve done some of these medicines. I get it. Now I’m ready to hear that story.” ‘Cause that story is not… I’ve never heard… Have you ever heard a connectedness story that really worked? The closest I can think of is Christianity. Religion. Not just Christianity, but religion.
1:19:32 PA: Well, and this is the thing, what are the new religions of tomorrow? And how do they… The big question that I’ve been going on is like, how do these new religions of tomorrow grow out of these intentional communities that are starting to pop up everywhere? So you’ve probably experienced this as well, all those people buying land in Costa Rica and private islands and everything… I think we’re gonna see a big movement in the next 10 years, especially with the hollowing out of urban centers where people go, “Well, fuck that, I’m gonna start my own city-state.”
1:19:58 TM: That’s what we’re doing. We’re buying a bunch of… A big ranch in Texas, and a bunch of families are moving. We’re gonna be our own city-state, but we’re gonna be in Texas.
1:20:06 PA: Yeah.
1:20:06 TM: No, it’s 100%… That’s going to… But that’s the opposite of… It’s connectedness… It’s nodes of connectedness.
1:20:14 PA: Like the mycelial network?
1:20:16 TM: It is exactly like that.
1:20:17 PA: And I think that’s the best representation that we have of connectedness, it’s mushrooms.
1:20:21 TM: That’s true. No, mushrooms are a very, very good example. Yeah, but humans still need an identity. And so mushrooms don’t need identity.
1:20:40 PA: Yeah. Humans are complex. Complex creatures. A lot to meditate on, huh?
1:20:49 TM: That’s what I’m telling you, man.
1:20:53 TM: No, seriously, it’s like we’re trying to run 2020 programs on a 386 or something, man. It’s too much. It’s not undoable, it’s just a lot, man. It’s just a lot of bandwidth for a device that’s not well optimized for that.
1:21:12 PA: Nope. Well, thanks for coming on the show, Tucker.
1:21:16 TM: Of course.
1:21:16 PA: For doing this again.
1:21:17 TM: My pleasure.
1:21:18 PA: Now we have part two of Tucker Max.
1:21:19 TM: Yeah, right.
1:21:19 PA: We’ll weave it together with part one once we fix the audio. But no, I appreciate you opening up your home and having me over and…
1:21:26 TM: Of course. My pleasure.
1:21:27 PA: It’s so great to have you.
1:21:29 TM: Awesome. Yes, thank you, brother.
1:21:30 PA: Totally.