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

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 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 MDMAon 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 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 Ketamine 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 DMT /” target=”_blank”>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.


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 You can also send our team an email [email protected]“>[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, for the website, the psychedelic education, and, 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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