THIRD WAVE PODCAST

Goodbye Industrial Capitalism, Hello Network States: Our Psychedelic Near-Future

Episode 127

Sean McCormick

In the three years since Paul and Sean last spoke, there has been huge growth in the psychedelic space, from legal retreats and clinics to corporate interest to personal education and use. In this episode, recorded for Sean’s podcast and shared here as well, Paul and Sean discuss the revolutionary changes psychedelics are bringing to mental and physical healthcare, as well as exciting upheavals in industrial capitalism, religion, and our concept of a sovereign state.

Sean McCormick is a life coach, the founder of Float Seattle, and the host of the Optimal Performance Podcast, focused on helping listeners take their mental and physical performance to the next level. Whether it’s through nootropics, cutting-edge biohacking techniques, or adjusting approaches to nutrition and fitness, Sean is dedicated to helping clients achieve optimal performance in all areas of their lives.

This podcast is brought to you by Maya, a measurement-based care platform designed to support psychedelic practitioners and patients. With Maya, you can provide a new level of clarity and care for your patients by tracking therapeutic progression using psychometric scales, digital biomarkers, and remote monitoring. For a limited time, ketamine practitioners get 20% off and exclusive access to Maya before it’s available to the public. Mention ThirdWave in “referrals” when you sign up at mayahealth.com/get-early-access.

This episode is brought to you by the Integrative Psychiatry Institute, which just launched a great program for licensed medical and mental health professionals. In this year-long online course, IPI will train you to become a Certified Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Provider (PATP). This is an awesome opportunity for licensed therapists and counselors, clinical psychologists, doctors, and nurses interested in accelerating their therapy practice with the power of psychedelic medicine. Plus, as a member of the Third Wave community, you may qualify for course discounts. Just go to https://psychiatryinstitute.com/thirdwave/ and book a call to apply.

Podcast Highlights

  • The early days of Synthesis Retreat.
  • Why Paul has turned his day-to-day focus to developing Third Wave.
  • Moving from a model of toxicity to one of regeneration and harmony.
  • Psychedelics as the introduction to the information age.
  • Third Wave’s upcoming psychedelic providers directory and certification program.
  • The importance of learning how to use psychedelics safely, for self and others.
  • The three core components of skillful psychedelic use.
  • What will psychedelic clinics, centers, and retreats look like in 5-10 years?
  • Will psychedelics usher in a new religious framework?
  • The advent of network states connected by mission and purpose, not geography.
  • Financial wealth vs. existential wealth: Which will we want more in the future?
  • Decentralization as a factor for psychedelics within capitalism.

Podcast Transcript

0:00:01.0 Paul Austin: So you are just outside Seattle, you just moved to a new island.

0:00:06.6 Sean McCormick: Yeah, yeah. Me and my wife and my two kids moved out on to an island where we could have a little bit more space and prepare and put down some different kinds of roots.

0:00:18.0 PA: For the apocalypse? Prepare for the apocalypse?

0:00:20.0 SM: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And because all my… I’m all-remote. You know, my coaching clients, some of my coaching clients are in Seattle, but you can do a podcast and do performance coaching and consulting from anywhere, so it’s nice, I like it.

0:00:38.0 PA: That’s great.

0:00:39.5 SM: Are you visiting Venice, or are you based out of Venice now?

0:00:42.6 PA: I’m visiting Venice. I’m currently living in my Tesla, is how I would put it. Bitcoin went up significantly. I was fortunate enough to inadvertently buy Bitcoin when I tried to get MDMA on the dark web in 2016, and it didn’t work out quite like I had expected, so I held on to the BitCoin, and then bought a Tesla instead of the MDMA.

0:01:07.0 SM: Really? [chuckle]

0:01:08.0 PA: That’s actually exactly how it worked out, yeah. Yeah.

0:01:10.0 SM: Oh, man! [laughter] That’s awesome!

0:01:14.1 PA: So now, I’m living in a Tesla. Yeah, I was in Miami for… When COVID hit, I moved to Miami. I saw that shit on the wall, dude. I was ahead of all the VCs and all the techies now going there. I was like, “Yeah, Miami’s gonna be free, it’s gonna be good weather, it’s gonna be like… ” There’s just more personal freedom there, it feels like a good… “I’ll go there.” And I had a few friends there, and so settled in there. And then Miami is great for about a year, and then it does its time, you know? You just, you kinda… I wanted a new place, so I moved to Whitefish in Montana and spent five weeks in an Airbnb just to get a feel for the wilderness. And I’m moving to Utah, to Eden.

0:01:57.5 SM: Ah! Oh! Is it as cool as the name implies?

0:02:04.8 PA: Oh, it’s cooler. Yeah, it’s cool. We’re gonna host a retreat there in September as part of this new practitioner training that we’re rolling out, and it’s in a valley about an hour north of Salt Lake City, five minutes away from Powder Mountain. 360 views, and cold plunges, and hot springs, and beautiful vistas, and all the good things. And so a guy who I’ve recently started working with at Third Wave, we hired… He lives there with his family. And it’s becoming sort of a new hot spot, we could say. So my point being, “Okay, turn Miami on. Now, gonna go to maybe a quieter place in Utah and see what vibes we can bring there.”

0:02:54.5 SM: Beautiful! Ooh! Well, that’s a really good place to begin. Before we hit the record button, we were talking about how long it’s been. It’s been three years since we spoke last, and the world is a different place. I mean the world is a different place two weeks ago, but you’re in a different place, you’ve got all sorts of cool things that you’re working on and developing. This is cool, I like this vibe. This very sort of chummy conversational. It feels nice to have open conversation. People can lean in and feel like they’re a part of it. Well, tell me about… I’m just gonna open up the doors for you to share. There’s so many questions I wanna ask you about the state of psychedelia and the use of psychedelics, the popularity. I mean in three years, it has just exploded, and that’s awesome and also sketchy, in a lot of ways, too, as we try to figure out what, how…

0:04:08.3 PA: A little bit. It’s a little sketchy these…

0:04:10.0 SM: Right, like lots going on. So I would love for you to just like, “Hey, man, what you’ve been up to for the last three years, since you were last here?”

0:04:22.0 PA: Man, three years in my world is like, it feels like a lifetime, sometimes. So when we recorded last, I was living in New York, this was early 2018, April 2018. We were two, no, less than two weeks away from having our first Synthesis Retreat. And so about two weeks after that, we did our first Synthesis Retreat, legal, medically-supervised Psilocybin retreat in the Netherlands. We talked about it through Third Wave, enrolled about 25 people, it was beautiful, and continued to… The team at Third Wave was really solid and strong. And so, I was then traveling back and forth between New York and Amsterdam quite a bit because we did another retreat for Synthesis in June and July, after Michael Pollan’s book on psychedelics came out, for another 25 to 30 people. And then we did a retreat in November, three retreats. And each one of these was like… The first one was three, the second one was two, the last one was three consecutive retreats that we would have.

0:05:20.8 PA: So did a total of eight retreats for Synthesis throughout 2018. They’d landed on, you know, we landed on a beautiful church that was built in 1928 that had been renovated into a modern-day wellness center with a sauna and six apartments, and a beautiful sanctuary that had been turned into a common meeting space with couches and lounges and a fireplace and a beautiful wood table, and then another private space that was like a yoga room where we did the actual experiences. And they then facilitated, you know, we’ve facilitated, I think, over 700 people through those experiences. And then COVID hit and that the retreat part has been shut down. I think they will launch it soon again, but it’s still gonna be a little bit of time.

0:06:09.0 PA: So that was adventurous. That was interesting. That was tiring. That was a big thing to go from… I essentially went from… I built my first online business teaching English, built an online education school. And then built up that, started Third Wave as a hobby, sold that first business, focused on Third Wave full-time. Third Wave’s and microdosing generated a lot of energy, and that came in through Synthesis, and then I… I’m still involved with Synthesis, but not in the day-to-day, and stepped back.

0:06:42.7 PA: And in 2019, focused on Third Wave full-time and brought in a software partner. We started doing a lot more development stuff, and investing in software, operational processes, systems, vision, investment, going from this hobby lifestyle businesses to a much bigger vision. And the focus, really, at the last two years, has been on Third Wave, what it is, what it’s becoming, what the vision for it is. And as this space proliferates in popularity, for good reason, these are incredible tools, it’s a great thing that this is happening, it’s really important that you have, basically, actors that have what’s best in mind for the space itself for people, generally, for open source, for healthcare, for well-being. I think that’s critical to develop.

0:07:40.0 PA: So that’s where I see Third Wave, as this the sort of like mycelial ecosystem that is collaborative to everything. Like mycelial, yeah, it’s super collaborative. It’s open, it’s free, it’s anti-fragile. How do you created an organization, a system, a sort of cultural philosophy that embodies the sort of mushroom mycelialness? Even mushrooms are underground. Think of this current space as like psychedelics are healing the toxicity in individuals that’s so present in us, that we’re just becoming more and more aware of. It’s healing that toxicity that’s baked into us. And through that healing, we’re healing the world around us, the environment. And it’s the very beginning of that. This is really nascent and new, but it’s essentially the birth of an entirely new evolutionary ecosystem. It’s like what Buckminster Fuller said, you know, you don’t fight the old model; build a new model that makes the old model obsolete. So if the old model was one of toxicity and extractivism and suffering and pain, disconnection, then how are we creating a new model that is more regenerative, harmonized, interconnected? It’s really important that we utilize psychedelics to amplify that philosophy, that perspective, those values.

0:09:14.5 SM: Well said! Holy smokes! Yeah, the connection to the fungi, thinking of it as a mycelial network that often, most of it, everything but the fruiting body happens under the surface, quietly coordinated, is such a beautiful metaphor. I think of a couple of different… You, going back to where when I first heard about you and in your article in Rolling Stone years ago, you were obviously way ahead of where people were thinking about this, right? [chuckle] I mean in retrospect, that was so cutting-edge to approach it as a microdosing coach, which is… And now, it’s a ubiquitous term, and it is has been changed and morphed to include all sorts of different substances and practices, controlled and uncontrolled, different statuses, that it must be quite an undertaking, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, to try to stay ahead of the trends, to be able to have the vision for where psychedelics are going.

0:10:45.3 SM: And I wonder about where your head is now. And I mean I want you to be able to share anything that you feel comfortable with. I know that there’s some stuff that you are working on that you may not be ready to talk about, but building physical places where people can go is so essential to this work. We have to have that physical connection. We can’t be enjoying the full expression of these compounds without human connection, without a place to go to do this work, to grow ourselves. So I know that that’s a part of it. The website is so phenomenal. It is this incredible resource. If you have a question about a compound: How, what, who, where, what does it do, what does it feel like, what doses? I mean the website has just exploded, it’s so detailed. So you’ve got all of these different types of expressions of Third Wave. What’s that like to try to be projecting out five, 10, I don’t know, 50, 500 years in this work, man? How do you stay grounded?

0:11:57.0 PA: So the other evening, I watched this phenomenal documentary called We Are As Gods. And it was a documentary about the life of Stewart Brand, who was the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, the first man to think about looking at the Earth from outer space. He petitioned the government, had a huge movement around it, which is what actually influenced Earth Day. And Stewart is now working on a project that he is trying to de-extinctify the woolly mammoth to help regenerate the tundra steppe lands at the taiga of Siberia and Northern Europe and North America. It’s a really fascinating project. And in that, they talk about this concept of time, because Stewart’s also a co-founder of The Long Now Foundation, which has installed a 10,000-year clock in the side of a mountain in Texas with the help of Jeff Bezos because they’re really questioning like, “What is time? Are we looking at things very myopically? The next 10 years, doom, gloom, apocalypse, the world is ending?” It’s a lot of fucking fear right now that’s coming up. Or do we… Are we a little more reasonable and do we ask, “Where is this in 100, 500, 1,000, 10,000 years?”

0:13:30.8 PA: So how does that relate to psychedelics? How does that relate to Third Wave? Well, Stewart Brand, in the 60s, was instrumental in the early psychedelic movement. He was part of the Merry Pranksters with the Grateful Dead. His work with psychedelics helped to then inspire the computer revolution. He was the sort of… Steve Jobs was enamored with Stewart Brand. And Stewart Brand held court there, with the guys who were inventing the computer revolution and inventing… Douglas Engelbart, all these folks. So that computer revolution was indicative of this desire to live in an interconnected world because back there, it was much more you had to call the telephone or you had to send post or it was very industrial. And what psychedelics did is they introduced the information age, the information revolution. Information wants to be free and so, when we free information, we allow ourselves to live in a more sort of powerful, sovereign, beautiful way, expressive way.

0:14:39.3 PA: So what psychedelics do then is they really help with a sense of, I would say deconditioning from the ills of modernity, is how I’ve put it. Deconditioning from the toxicity of industrialism. Deconditioning from the lack of awareness, the unawareness of our pain and our suffering, and helping to build, essentially, what I would term to be a more integral society, a society that views itself as interconnected, basically. And if that is true, how does that influence our values, our perspectives, the way we treat people, the decisions that we make, the way that we choose to communicate. I think this is the opening that psychedelics allow for.

0:15:25.2 PA: Now, psychedelics are catalytic in that they can put you into that perspective. It can put you into that mind’s eye, that third eye of the mystical experience, and they don’t necessarily guarantee enlightenment or guarantee whatever else it might be. There’s a lot of psychopathy that come up as a result of psychedelics. There are lot of folks that can’t do psychedelics. But generally, the trend is definitely towards people, when they do psychedelics, they learn that the external space, the external world is largely illusory, and that basically, there’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to dying because death is an illusion as a result of that. And so there’s a really like, “Oh, you can just relax into life a little bit more,” because it allows and it opens up for a place of courage, but this is it. Some folks take that as a Messiah complex. Some folks take that as it’s a power thing, so there are definitely… We all have darkness and shadow, and some people, it’s a lot more discussing than others, so I think it’s…

0:16:40.0 PA: And it’s really good to be having that level of discernment, that awareness as you’re choosing, for example, which providers to work with because if you’re choosing to put yourself in this vulnerable and suggestive state, then you wanna be in the graces of someone who can care for you, who can listen for you, who can guide you. And this is the question, the core question that we’re asking with Third Wave, then, is: Through our platform, how do we help enable that level of trustworthiness between providers, practitioners and those who wanna work with psychedelics? And then how do we just take care of… ‘Cause a lot of this is about the skill of working with psychedelics. So how do we just teach that as a… Think of it as basic psychedelic literacy. Just like we all learn our basic financial literacy, we learn how to pay taxes, we learn how to check our bank accounts, we learn how to get a job. There’s a lot of people that could go a long way with getting basic psychedelic literacy. So let’s help to build that through Third Wave as a platform, which we’ve already done, we already have a good start on, I would say, and it’s continuing to grow and evolve, and then let’s roll what…

0:17:49.5 PA: So the next project that we’re rolling out soon, as it relates to this, is this directory, which is then a listing of providers, retreat centers, clinics, therapists and coaches, where you can find someone, if you wanna do this work, you can find someone to do it with, essentially. And so with that, we’re rolling out a certification program. So there’s a lot of coaches then that can hold space for psychedelic experiences, that can coach people through this. And a lot of the programs, so far, are focusing explicitly on clinical outcomes: Depression, addiction, anxiety, alcoholism, PTSD. And these are necessary and important, and it’s the first round of what psychedelics will do. But in the spirit of being a little forward-thinking, we’re focusing on non-clinical outcomes. So how does psychedelics help with flow, creativity, leadership, optimal wellness? It could be things like chronic disease or chronic inflammation that can also be healed through this, and bringing together a very diverse and incredible faculty to essentially teach that.

0:19:00.9 PA: And then not necessarily doing it for folks who don’t have a coaching practice and wanna become a coach, not so much, but for those who already have established coaching practices and recognize psychedelics as what I would call a potent tool for behavioral change. And as we know, as both of us are coaches, when you’re working with clients, you want to help them accelerate or help them accelerate behavioral change. You want it to feel easy. You want it to go smoothly. You want to hold them when it’s difficult, but also inspire them and help them understand their goals and objectives.

0:19:40.6 PA: And psychedelics, if used with clients in a great way, can catalyze incredible change and transformation in an accelerated window. And I think there’s likely, from my humble perspective, nothing, or maybe biased perspective is a way of putting it, there’s probably nothing more valuable as a tool in your toolkit to really learn how to work with well because of the way that it can accelerate change. And if you don’t, it’s kind of like playing with fire a little bit because if you don’t learn how to use it well, it can potentially cause more harm than good. So you got it? It’s a little bit like Mickey in Fantasia with the wizards, mops and buckets. If you’re gonna be using the magic, you gotta learn how to work with it first.

0:20:24.1 PA: You know?

0:20:24.6 SM: Yeah, right. Oh, yeah. So as I zoom out and think about, “Okay, what’s Paul really focused on now?” It’s allowing, empowering, educating individuals who have their own networks, who have their own connections with different people to really understand and cultivate practices for, best practices for use to really help people transform in their coaching practice.

0:20:58.7 PA: And a lot of it, a lot of the way that I love to teach is experiential. In other words, the coaching is you going through this.

0:21:02.9 SM: Gotcha, yeah. [chuckle] Yes, yeah.

0:21:09.8 PA: Yeah, we’ll teach theory, there’s classes, there’s Q&A, there’s… It’s definitely, yeah, it’s integrative, so there’s intellectual component, certainly, but this is also very experiential. This is asking you to commit to the changes and shifts yourself and teaching through that lens, as well as these are all, this is… These are the menu of options, if you will, if you’re going to work with these tools. And the way that I look at psychedelics as a skill is there’s three core components to consider, which is macrodoses, microdoses, and then supporting modalities. Meditation, breath work, yoga, neurofeedback, float tanks, anything that helps you with cultivating presence, awareness, letting go of stress, etcetera, etcetera. So learning how to work with a client as it relates to those three things, there’s actually… There’s a relationship there. There’s a harmony there. There is a way of harmonizing those components to be optimal for the client that someone might be working with because you don’t want to, for example, start with the wrong type of medicine. You don’t want to give too much of that medicine the first time. And you also don’t want to do it too often, right? A macrodose is good once, one…

0:22:33.3 PA: Usually, the way that I work with clients is we’ll do two to three experiences over six months. Higher dose as like an initiation, sort of initiation and opening, right? This is based on the MAPS trials, MAPS for their MDMA for PTSD trials. They do three experiences in 12 weeks, three experiences in three months, right? So spread it out a little bit more. Some of it may be front-loaded on the front end to catalyze significant change. And then you wanna ensure people feel helped and supported to integrate these new behaviors like a meditation, or journaling, or fasting, or whatever you decide is optimal for the client that you’re working with.

0:23:15.7 PA: And what I found in my work with clients is that most folks are best starting with MDMA or Psilocybin. And most folks are best starting with MDMA, has been my perspective because it’s very easy to work with, it’s very healing, it’s very just loving, and it’s a great opener, initial opener for something like Psilocybin because once you start to fuck with psychedelics, that is… MDMA is a different type of thing. MDMA helps with what I would say cultivating the soil, but the psychedelic is the seed that you plant. It’s the new self that you’re planting. And Psilocybin is catalytic for that reason, and it needs to be eased into for a lot of folks.

0:24:16.3 PA: So how do we, based on the client’s needs, based on the outcomes, based on: Are they more from a leadership perspective? Are they more from an optimal wellness, a peak performance, whatever it is, right? Like life coaching, even, this can be very useful for life coaching. What are the client’s objectives? What are their pasts? What questions are you asking them in the onboarding process to ensure you have a full scope of who it is that you’re working with? What’s their psyche? What’s their emotional history? All of these questions are really important. And then based on that, how can you help them piece together a more cohesive, interconnected sense of self? And that’s, I think it’s difficult just because it’s so new, but it doesn’t need to be. In other words, the skill to work with it is very intuitive to develop, and it’s a lot about listening, just learning how to listen. I find that to be, what I come back to again and again is the value of that.

0:25:17.0 SM: Yeah. The importance of this work, this new thrust of educating people on how to do this in a responsible way is so important now because there are lots of folks out there who are have tried, and have some experience with psychedelics, and have had profound experiences that have helped them change their lives. And those folks, because they’re excited about the potential of these compounds because they have, one, experienced these changes for themselves, they feel a sense of purpose, they feel a sense of duty to pass that knowledge along to help light other people up, to help them learn and grow. And a lot of those people maybe shouldn’t be running co-pilot on these programs. They don’t have any coaching background. They don’t have any coaching experience. They’re wonderful people. They’re warm people. They’re beautiful and thoughtful and they are great listeners, but they don’t understand the importance of neutrality within an experience. They don’t know how to respond when someone is having a hard time. And this petting the bunny too much, too tightly, and squeezing the shit out of that bunny when you’re holding space for someone who’s going through this experience, you wanna love them and help them grow and have the same experience or a beneficial experience for themselves with these psychedelics, but they have no tools. They’ve got no contacts. They don’t know. They don’t have the background. They didn’t ask the right questions.

0:27:14.0 SM: Now, of course, as I look back in my history of my experiences with psychedelics, in addition to the 120-hour life coaching certification that I went through, it’s you gotta do the work. You’ve gotta go through these experiences a number of times. You gotta understand how you respond, how you react when things get weird, when your body doesn’t work the way that you expect it to, when you go into a dark place, when you begin to loop. And that is so important. I see you, I feel you, I hear you. It is so important to empower other people to have tools, have practices. You can’t just… Well, it’s fairly irresponsible to walk around and say, “Oh, I’m a psychedelic practitioner and I can help you. I can help you grow with these mushrooms, and so here you go. Here we go. We’re gonna do this thing. I’ve got a set-up,” and you really don’t have any tools to help people. You don’t have the contacts and you don’t have the background.

0:28:25.0 SM: In my life coaching certification, I shed some tears. I did the actual practices. I did the tools that I now coach around. I did these exercises, and I had first-hand experience with them, and I know how to navigate through those waters. And so the situation we’re in now where everybody wants to try it, everybody is interested in the what there is to learn from these compounds, but they’re just the blind leading the blind a little bit, and that does make me nervous. Before we turned the microphones on, I was like, “Hey, we’re in a different place than we were three years ago, Paul. This is a new psychedelic world, bro. We’re deep in the third wave now. And it’s also a little sketchy. It’s fucking exciting and sketchy because there’s a lot of folks out there that have great intentions, but don’t have the skills and the tools to help.” So I, for one, think that this focus for you is so important. So geez!

0:29:33.0 PA: Well, and that’s why I keep talking about microdosing. [chuckle] This is the core of what you’re getting at because we haven’t necessarily trained a culture on the skills that… The holding space that high-dose psychedelic experiences would require. It’s a whole new perspective. It’s a whole new way of co-existing with the world. So the reason microdosing, I think, carries so much weight is it really helps people to experience it without needing to necessarily go and have that super high-dose experience right away. And I think that’s valuable as more and more people hear about it because if the benefits still turn out to be significant, and based on a lot of what we’ve seen, they are quite significant, then it can be a useful tool until we become a bit more sort of trained. We have more and more people who can actually hold the space, but that’s only… Think of it this way: That’s only gonna be a few years. There’s several good programs popping up, several great trainer… Synthesis just rolled out an 18-month program, 12 months of training, and then a six-month sort of internship that they enrolled a hundred, more than a hundred people in. And CIIS has theirs. And I know another friend who’s training 500 to 600, and he’s great and has put together an incredible faculty.

0:31:07.9 PA: So I think this will happen rapidly, to some degree, which is the, obviously, upside to working with psychedelics is like we’ve talked about, they accelerate behavioral change. That’s the huge plus to them. So psychedelics will help in this adaptive phase. And there is a lot of sort of hoopla right now because of all the financing that’s coming into the space and the stock market, and so we’re just seeing more and more coverage from a financial perspective, but I can tell you as someone who actually helps who does this for real people and doesn’t just talk about how we’re gonna do it in five or seven years for real people, which that’s a path, it’s a biotech route. I like to be as practical on the ground, innovative as possible.

0:31:56.1 PA: We’re definitely seeing an uptick in interest and we haven’t quite breached the sort of early… We breached now the pioneer phase, but I don’t think we’ve breached the early adopter phase at this point. But I think within the next five to seven to 10 years, we will start to breach that and it will become fairly ubiquitous in the next, I would say seven to 10 years, in most places, working with these different compounds, these different types of molecules. They’re just gonna show greater efficacy, greater safety than typical pharmaceutical medications. And so my sense is pharmaceutical corporations will divest from typical conventional psychiatric medications, and replace them with these psychedelic compounds or these new psychedelic molecules that are being developed, and instead, will focus more of their efforts on gene therapy and vaccinations because that’s going to become more and more of a thing with these viruses that will continue to emerge as we figure out how do we vaccinate ourselves to everything ever made, which I don’t think is wise ’cause that will just create a massive immunity outbreak, and then we’ll all be fucked. [chuckle] But I’m not a public health expert so please take my opinion with a grain of salt.

0:33:17.0 SM: Well, we can really easily go down that path, and I’ve learned my lesson.

[overlapping conversation]

0:33:22.8 PA: Well, I just wanted to say… There, yeah.

0:33:27.4 SM: I’ve done, yeah. I’m curious about the marriage between the clinical studies and applications, the well-researched, well-documented sort of applications of a psychedelic experience, versus a non-clinical, non-white coat lab style sort of experience. And for me, I’m really torn here because I cannot imagine getting anywhere near the sort of benefit that I’ve experienced using psychedelics, sitting in a doctor’s office, listening to somebody’s music that they picked out with a blindfold on. And I’m curious about how you are thinking about marrying the… You talked about the MDMA study with PTSD, like ground-breaking. How do therapists tie into this? Can you go outside even barefoot and have that be part of your experience as well? When you think about putting together these sorts of best practices, how challenging is that to honor the clinical science and research, but also honoring the sort of primacy of finding something, eating it and enjoying nature a little bit? You see where I’m going with that?

0:35:07.0 PA: Oh, yeah. I see where… [laughter] So part of it is re-imagining clinical spaces, to be integrative, to be re-wild, to have nature as part of an integral element of those clinical spaces. I think these new churches that will start to pop up, that are a synthesis of science and spirituality, which will essentially be these new sort of community spaces where there’s meditation, and breath work, and yoga, and a sauna, and a hop… A cold plunge. And you go to work with psychedelic medicine there, they’ll be in beautiful outdoor locations. I think those are the future of clinical spaces. And then they will have specific slots where you’ll come out to get treated for PTSD, or depression, or addiction, and that’s where you go to have that therapeutic experience. So I think… And that will sort of coincide with also the greening of cities. So I sense that more and more clinics are going to look to roll out really just like even field trip. They’ve rolled out these ketamine-assisted psychotherapy clinics, and they’re stunning, they’re beautiful. So more attention will be paid… There will be more attention paid to aesthetic and vibe than the typical sort of white lab coat clinical space, is my sense.

0:36:25.7 PA: That, I think… And that’s the future that Synthesis is holding. Looking at, with Oregon legalizing Psilocybin therapy, what does it look like to open a retreat space there, potentially? And then being able to host both clinical and non-clinical work out of that center on a beautiful retreat center, basically, retreat outdoor location, right? So I think they will pioneer that and likely expand on that, and that’s how I sense… We’ve seen a significant die-off and lack of interest in traditional mainstream religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam because it doesn’t vibe with sort of our scientific materialist reduction kind of framework. And I think what psychedelics will help to do is re-inspire a birth of something that’s beyond the atheist materialist perspective. And I think that will influence these new religions.

0:37:33.0 PA: Ken Wilber wrote a fantastic book called The Religions of Tomorrow. And what he talked about in that was how, when the printing press was invented in 1451, it made literacy, on a widespread scale, feasible, possible. And then the enlightenment occurred because of that because you had the top 10% of the population, right? It wasn’t everyone that became literate, but the top 10% of the population became literate, could read, could learn to think, started going to university. And then all of a sudden, ushered in this massive period of growth, which led to the industrial revolution and incredible abundance for many of us, who are even listening to this.

0:38:15.6 PA: So what psychedelics are doing is they’re doing a similar thing, where they’re helping with awakening. So it’s a philosophical value that is transcendent to reading. Reading is more, I would say basic, so to say. But we’re transcending beyond that, beyond the rational mind, back into the mystery, and learning how to be comfortable in that space of uncertainty, and then building new systems, again, these systems of interconnectedness based on these awakening things. And that’s where I go. See, not everyone needs to do psychedelics, not everyone needs to have a mystical experience, not everyone needs to wake up. There will always be sheep, that’s just human nature. But what we do need is we need sort of the people who are responsible for creating the systems that the sheep will live in to be awakened. And like Wilber talked about, with literacy and the enlightenment, it was only top 10%. We just need 10% of folks to really wake up in a significant way. And I don’t even think it needs to necessarily be that’s global population. It could be… Think of it, 10% of North America, which would be 35 million people.

0:39:23.0 PA: In a way, we’re almost there, we’re very close to that. We’re just learning how to integrate it. Because of the second wave, there are 30 million people who have done LSD, already. Now we’re like… The second wave was the opening, it was the catalyst, now with the third wave, this is the integration. This is where we actually integrate that altered state of consciousness into our societal systems to create regenerative infrastructure that we exist with, and through, and within, rather than that exists for us. Right? So there’s more of a harmony, there’s more of a togetherness with that.

0:40:02.3 SM: Yeah, and those folks who have opted into that awakening, who have sorted out, who are asking big questions in doing the work to get greater perspective on themselves and their roles in reality, when you get to that… What did you say? 30 million is that what it was… Or 300 million?

0:40:23.9 PA: 35, 40 million. We could even say 50 million, if we wanna include Europe, maybe 100 million if we’re including Europe.

0:40:31.3 SM: Yeah so those 100 million are also, if it were a Venn diagram, they also probably crossover as leaders, they also probably crossover as visionaries with great ideas, the energy and enthusiasm to push the theme forward. And so, it’s as that grows, again, using that mycelial metaphor, that grows everywhere. It touches families, it touches institutions, it touches the fabric of the way that our… The commerce works and governments work. I was… I did some plant medicine work couple of weekends ago and met a couple of vets who… This was their first real psychedelic experience in plant medicine ceremony, and they all had the same… There was four of them, they all said the same thing like, this is far, in a way… Far none, the most important work that I’ve done since being out of the military. I am ready now to make some of these changes. I don’t have all the answers, but what I now know about myself after three nights is more than I’ve ever known before in my life. Why can’t this be done at scale, everywhere.

0:42:00.0 SM: We’re being… They’re failing us at the VA. They’re failing us in these institutions that are supposed to support us, and it just so happens that those types of guys that are involved in doing this type of work are also the guys that are going to be change makers, that are going to go out and make major, major influences in the world. If you just took that population alone, that’s the veteran population who obviously had been part of the PTSD studies with MDMA. My goodness, just imagine how quickly things would change, policies would change, family dynamics would change, how quickly that would change if they had access to this type of work.

0:42:41.5 PA: And we had the system available and the training available and the education available to guide people through that and then the vision of how does that shift and change our external world so that we don’t live in such a sort of depressive melancholic state. Because I think that’s the challenge and difficulty for a lot of folks right now. There’s just life… Life for some is great, but it kinda sucks for a lot of people, and I suppose that’s how it’s always been. So, this is partly perspective, but there also seems to be a way that this is just not working, particularly in a post-COVID era. So, we really have to start to imagine what are the new spaces. I’m really interested in the folks who are buying property in Costa Rica or islands in off of Canada or chateaus in… Old chateaus in France buying land and re-imagining what can be done with that land with a partner or a group of friends or community, whatever it is. And especially with remote work and everything going online and the advent of cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, there’s this opportunity, this availability for network states to start to pop up.

0:43:47.6 PA: We’re no longer… You tied together by geographic location, but you are more importantly tied together by common purpose and mission. And so I think that’s what businesses are becoming and so if you hold a vision of what you want your business to be, how you want it to land, think of it as a community, think of it as a network state, think of it as… Not something that people are doing to make money because money will soon become irrelevant, is my sense, and sooner, much sooner than people think. At least the way that we know it, money will always be relevant, but Fiat currency and the… Yeah it’d just be way different very soon. So I think instead, focus on what’s the mission that you wanna create? What do you wanna bring into the world? How it is your mission. How is it trans-visual? How does it align with the missions of other people? How do you tap into that sort of soul that we all wanna uncover and bring to the world? And tie that into building something that’s really beautiful and helpful and sustainable. I think that is the sort of new work, that’s the way that people will interact with reality, so to say is everything becomes integrated. They live with the people that they also sometimes work with, and those people are working on a common mission. And that doesn’t mean it’s a commune in Arkansas in 1860, and you can never leave.

0:45:18.4 PA: What that might mean though, is like you mutually own a chateau in France, a monastery in Japan, a tree house in Costa Rica, an island off British Columbia, and it’s part of this network state that you’re building. And then you just have your team off sites there people can live there when they want, it’s open, it’s spacious it’s dope as fuck. That, I think is the future of work of existing is giving people those options in a way and building and creating that for them. And then it’ll be easy to… How do you figure out food and can you grow your own stuff on that land? We’ll have technology available that’ll make it easier and easier to grow really nutritious food for ourselves. We’ll have self-driving cars and planes, and drones, and we’re going to Mars. I think there’s a lot of innovation to be optimistic about in the next 10 to 20 years. I mentioned this earlier, I touched on this earlier, but it’s also, I think, important to think of time as something of the industrial era, and with the advent of psychedelics in the ’60s, we learned to re-evaluate time, to be not so linear, if you will.

0:46:27.5 PA: Industrialism needed time to be linear because we needed to have a clock that people punched out at, we needed a nine to five, we needed to keep track of things and pay people by the hour and measure things in a very linear fashion for the success of capitalism, but as we move into a post-capital world, a post-material world, it’s critical, that we have a clear sense of how… What role, information will play in that, and what role staying connected will play in that, and the role that general integrated systems will play in that. It’s an exciting future, like I said, it will come much quicker than people think, because time is circular, as we know. And we’re sort of just living in neutral recurrence is my perspective, and it just… What we’re coming into is what we’ve always have come into, what we always have meaning to come into, which is that singularity, essentially.

0:47:39.3 SM: What stands in the way of that process? And when I say that process, I mean true synthesis and harmony within these changing structures, these changing paradigms of currency, of togetherness. What in your mind are some of the major obstacles getting in the way of the vision that you’ve laid out?

0:48:09.2 PA: Well, one is, don’t focus on fixing the problem, so don’t focus on what the… Yeah, don’t focus on what are the problems that need to be fixed, instead, focus on what’s the solution that we wanna create. So there’s this…

0:48:28.4 SM: Back to the Bucky Fuller example.

0:48:31.6 PA: Back to the Bucky Fuller quote, exactly, yeah. And there’s this fantastic book called The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz, and it’s a phenomenal book, I would highly recommend everyone read it. And in that book, Fritz talks about the importance of focusing on the outcome and being in a creative orientation. When we get stuck in a reactive responsive orientation, it’s like we’re being rubber banded. So, if there are problems that arise through that creative orientation, in other words, this is what we wanna create, then they will naturally resolve themselves on the way to that path, because you get… You remain clear on the outcome, you revisit that outcome, you sort of see the mountain top for what it is. And then we come back down and we do the work and we make the secondary choices, but our primary choice is always to that mountain top, depending on the mountain top of course. And I think what psychedelics will help us do is to focus on vision and creative solutions, and then as problems arise, we simply need to adapt to that, because of what we’re building is anti-fragile, it’s robust, it’s resilient, it wants disruption, it wants things to go wrong because it goes like mushrooms, it adapts and it learns and it grows. I think the things that will potentially go wrong will be the over-pharmaceuticalization, the over-medicalization, the bio-medicalization of psychedelic substances.

0:49:56.1 PA: It’s important to emphasize that psychedelics are not pharmaceuticals, just like solar is not gas, they both serve a common goal, but gas and oil are fossil fuels, and solar is regenerative. Pharmaceuticals are like the fossil fuels of medicine, they are going out of… Whatever, they’re gonna go extinct to some degree, the conventional psychiatric medications that we know, and they will replace more and more by plant medicine, by psychedelics, by herbs, by a more sort of herbalist, plant-based way of being because it’s simply healthier for you. And I think incentives are going… Again, as we step into a post-material world, the incentives are transitioning from what I would call from financial wealth to experiential or even existential wealth. If the orientation is towards, let’s say, existential wealth, then you are naturally in that evolution of human development, we will naturally choose incentives that align with that, and that is to exist and thrive and existing requires being discerning about your well-being and how you take care of yourself and the sleep that you get, and the sun that you get, and the food that you put in your body. That is core to existential wealth. And so my understanding is people will orient… Some of us, not all of us, the 10%, so to say, will orient towards that, and then help build the new… Again, and then build anti-fragile adaptive systems that respond to other issues and challenges and things that may arise.

0:51:30.5 PA: I think to get a bit more practical and grounded, you also have issues with providers, unlicensed providers, providers who have a history of things that related to sexual… Whatever, sex and psychedelics don’t typically mix. So, it’s good to be mindful and aware of provider quality. I think it’s also important to be mindful of spiritual bypass. That’s why I talked about before the need to start with something like MDMA and do deep trauma work before getting into Psilocybin. There’s a lot of spiritual bypassing, people just go into 5-meO-DMT and then think they’re enlightened and they don’t realize they have this stinking shadow that is projecting all over the place that they have no awareness of. So I think it’s good to first do a lot of inner work, work with these tools and substances in a significant way. I’ve been working with psychedelics for about 11 years now, and I’ve always done them by and large, not necessarily in a therapeutic context, sometimes in a therapeutic context, but always in an intentional context. It’s always been sort of my way of doing… I’ve dropped acid a couple of times at a party, sure, but that’s more the rare situation than the common thing.

0:52:36.5 PA: So spiritual bypassing, it’s not for everyone, there are some people… Psychedelics are really great at addressing rigidity, interrupting rigidity. Someone called that interruption of the default mode network, so that’s why it’s so helpful at treating addiction and alcoholism and depression and anxiety is, it disrupts that rigidity. Fantastic, great. But it introduces more entropy and more chaos into the system, it introduces openness, but if you’re schizophrenic or if that veil’s already been opened or if you’re very sensitive, it’s really best to be mindful of how much you take of these and who you take them with and that sort of thing. And then I think…

0:53:28.9 PA: Other challenges just come from within the psychedelic space itself. There is, I would say… It’s becoming bigger, which I appreciate, but still in some of the, I would say more sub-culture, there’s a lot of victimhood. There’s a lot of, what I would call, drama and cattiness and a lot of focus on things that just don’t really serve the greater good and the vision, and I think are more harmful than good. And I think that’s not only true of the sub-culture, I also think that is true of the biotech and overly medicalized plays that are coming into the space, in that there’s a lot of attempts at patenting and what I would call rent-seeking. In other words, trying to, “patent something that is really not an innovation whatsoever.” You’re just patenting a molecule that already exists, and your strategy is no better than a non-profit strategy, for example, and mushrooms grow everywhere anyway. So I think I’m not anti-synthesis. I think synthetic molecules are valuable and great, I just think the over-emphasis on how necessary they are plays back into the industrial FDA approval model. And as we’ve talked about this entire conversation, everything we’re building with psychedelics is to go beyond that model. Beyond the FDA approval pharmaceutical model, and beyond the healthcare system that we have out now into something that is radically different and more cohesive, more inclusive, more integrative, all those sorts of things.

0:55:17.0 SM: Yeah, those are great… Those are great examples. Those are certainly… Certainly things that you have to consider for what comes next, variables in the process of evolution. One thing that I sort of wonder about is as more and more interest from more and more institutions comes into the psychedelic space, this is like you spoke of… Spoke to with the patenting thing, that was one of the questions I was gonna ask you is you can say, “Hey, I wanna patent this because I wanna protect it.” We’ve heard that before and, “I wanna be involved because I wanna do this the right way. I mean well. I have great intentions in protecting this so that it doesn’t get into the wrong hands, or so that it doesn’t get bastardized or abused or misused.” And I think that sentiment makes sense, and also, I have experienced and I know you have too, is people who have had deep experiences, who are involved in psychedelics or in communities or organizations in this work, I think there is a tendency to be like, “Hey, I’ve got all the answers. I got it all figured out. I’ve done… Hey, I have thought about this a lot. I got this figured out, just let me kinda do my thing ’cause I’m gonna make it work.”

0:56:42.7 SM: And so I wonder about the full stack process of: How is it grown? How is it studied? How is it applied? How is it researched? What are the applications of it? There’s aims to really control that whole entire process, and I wonder what your… Those are kinda two questions is the patenting thing, how that… How you assume that’s gonna evolve and also the need or want or the compulsion to try to control the entire process of cultivation to testing to publishing and the actual practitionership, not to mention the follow-through of the integration out for the experience. Those are kind of two different things, but I’d want your thoughts.

0:57:29.4 PA: Yeah, so my sense is patents just like horse buggies are a thing of the past, and they’re not really gonna come back in a significant way. It’s harder and harder to protect patents and things are becoming more open source, information wants to be free after all. So my sense is, particularly as it relates to psychedelics, that the patent model is great for pharmaceuticals, it doesn’t really work as well for psychedelics. I think there will be money in it, but I don’t think it would be near as lucrative as people anticipate. I think what’s more lucrative is, as we were talking about earlier, these network ecosystems, these communities, this ability to help, what I would say the second part of that is to create that for folks in a really beautiful, health-supported way.

0:58:12.6 PA: So I think the second element of what you asked about… The first element… There will be patents on certain things. There will be molecules, I don’t think they’ll be that widely used, and I think patents are a thing of the past. With the second thing, that depends on the company. There are some behemoth companies that do wanna own obviously end-to-end, which makes total sense from a business sort of vertical integrated perspective. My sense is how business is going as we sort of reach… And I’m not totally convinced of this perspective, but it’s my sense that we’ve reached peak centralization and there will be more and more sort of fractaline of income and resources as for example, something like even what Tesla is building as they’re building redistributed energy. So you’ll be able to soon charge other people for just having solar panels and redistribute energy. You’ll be able to self-drive your car, it’ll go around, It’ll make money for you. There’s just gonna be more ways to provide and receive value that keep us in a very… Like I said, most of our basic needs are covered.

0:59:12.7 PA: And so I think from that perspective and view, we just look to focus on new ways of expressing ourselves, new art forms, new creations, new whatever else it might be. And we’re all becoming sort of artists and creators. And so what does that mean for the specifics of your question? There will probably be 50 to 100 companies who do that for folks in the psychedelic space. And they’ll all have their sort of different methodology and different way of doing it. And there will be some that are bigger than others, but I think it’ll be a very sort of fractalized space. It’s going to be more difficult in psychedelics, again, this is just my sense, to build a massive, massive corporation because of the power of the sort of underground decentralized network. And decentralization is in many ways antithetical to corporations. It’s more aligned with these network states that we’ve been talking about.

1:00:23.9 SM: So again, back to the Bucky quote, is the systems will get so good and so agile, so mutually beneficial, so supported within these networks of different people from all over the world who are doing these things, that the old guard, the old process, the old institutions that are trying to hold on to the old way of doing things, are just gonna sort of like, “Well, that just doesn’t work anymore. We’ve moved past that”. The fact that charismatic, influential, highly-networked people, talking to other charismatic, intellectual, smart, visionary type of people, helping other people all across the world create these new systems, that’s… It’s where it’s headed anyway, and then… And you’re suggesting that it’s coming… It’s coming real fast. I love that.

1:01:15.9 PA: Well, I think it has to. There’s sort of a… We’re on a bit of a time crunch, folks, let’s get our shit together. Let’s get in the van, we’ve got 10 minutes. Okay, so it’s one of those situations where humanity has brought itself to this precipice, but ultimately I believe in our adaptive ability and it’s just totally new. It’s like… Imagine going through the middle ages, right? We’re kinda going through the middle ages right now a little bit, a little bit. And it’s gonna be much quicker than it was before, ’cause time, again, is not linear time, time is circular. So it’ll go much quicker in sort of these days, years, months, time framing that we have, and it’s because it’s necessary, and I think we’ll see it… A shrink. We’ll see a contraction, I think viruses are gonna kill tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people, potentially even billions, but I don’t think we’ll go extinct, I think most… There will be a good chunk of us that survive. It’ll be up to us to build in these new systems and make them as regenerative and holistic as possible.

1:02:11.9 PA: But we didn’t really get into the dark side so much today, but I definitely think there will be massive widespread suffering for the next 10 to 20 years, right? This isn’t gonna be like fucking walk in the park, right? Like any shedding process, any process of significant transformation comes with some rocky times at sea, and I think we’re starting to get into that a little bit. But I hope I’m wrong, I hope all things go well, and I’m out holding the vision that all things will go well and that there won’t be more and more viruses and other things like super flus or whatever it is. It just feels like we’re a little fragile right now, and these institutions of industrialism, in particular, are fragile, and attempting to replicate them with something like psychedelics will fail without a doubt. It’s just a matter of time, and what infrastructure is built with it that helps to bring in this new regenerative system, but my bet is that most of these for-profit… Not for-profit, most of these public market plays will either shift and transform into something different, or it’s just… I don’t think they have legs, frankly.

1:03:23.9 SM: Yeah, well, we’re beginning to see that the fragility that we are experiencing in this generation that we didn’t have two generations ago, is because of the systems that promote lifestyles that are unhealthy, food choices that are unhealthy, over exposure to media, staying inside, not getting love and support from a tribal standpoint. So, we’re beginning to see now this sort of post-modernist expression of, “Well what the fuck happens when people eat McDonald’s four times a week?” Like, “What the fuck happens when people watch seven hours of screens a day and sit and work 50 hours a week for not enough money? What happens, what’s the result?” Well, the result is people are less resilient, the result is people are closed off to re-inventing new structures, to reinventing themselves like it just this… We’re seeing it. We’re seeing it right now unfold. I agree, I think that we’re in this… We’re in this fulcrum point where things… This shift is happening. It’s happening in every industry all across the world, in every country, and in every soul, right? We’re all like, “What the fuck is going on? What are we supposed to do?” And it just so happens that some of the answers include, “Well, slow down, go outside, get your feet dirty, unplug, relax, space out”. That seems to help.

[chuckle]

1:05:02.5 SM: And the amplification of that, that shift in lifestyle, the amplification of the taking one’s ownership, and again, this is a drum I’ve been beating for years and years and years, from starting float centers, to coaching, to the podcast, is like we have to own our own health and well being. We cannot expect Daddy to come in and make us healthy and happy. We cannot expect some institution to just come in and like, “Hey, we’re gonna make you right, we’re gonna make you healthy. Don’t worry, we got you covered”. It just doesn’t happen that way. It just doesn’t exist. And they’re also not going to expand your consciousness and help you create a vision for yourself, like you have to do that work yourself, and, I think we’re growing up to a certain extent. We’re in this point where we have to grow up, and these psychedelic compounds are, in my experience, and I know yours are the most… The most important tools for doing that.

1:06:01.3 PA: They are. They are incredibly important.

1:06:05.5 SM: Yeah. Well, this has been great. I know that you’re a busy guy, I don’t wanna take up any more of your time, we could… There’s lots of different other sort of roads we could’ve gone down. Where can… What would you like people to do? Where can they find you? Where can they learn more about the training that you’re doing? Where should you direct people?

1:06:23.7 PA: So, if you would wanna learn more about the training, that’s, I think thethirdwave.co/coaching-certificatiion. You can also send our team an email [email protected]. If you are a coach who wants to become more skilled at working with psychedelics, and that will include an in-person retreat, in Eden, Utah, September 9th through 12th, which will be really dope. So that’s a good first place. And then thethirdwave.co, for the website, the psychedelic education, and paulaustin.co, if you just wanna learn more about… A little bit about my background and history and whatnot.

1:07:03.8 SM: What’s your favorite social media platform? Where are you most active?

1:07:07.7 PA: Twitter, as of late, Instagram as well, PaulAustin3W on both platforms.

1:07:14.3 SM: Cool, okay, real quickly. The fill in the blank question that I ask every single one of my guests. You can elaborate as much or as little as you like, and this can be based on anything that you know, any of your experience, but please fill in the blank. Everyone would benefit from knowing…

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