The Power of Patience: A Sacred Path to Visionary Success


Episode 220

Stephen Dinan

In this Psychedelic Podcast episode, Paul F. Austin and Shift Network Founder Stephen Dinan explore spiritual cross-training, psychedelics, and balanced success.

Stephen and Paul explore topics like: How can psychedelics open people’s minds to spiritual dimensions? Can all religions and traditions play a role in elevating collective consciousness? How do ayahuasca’s masculine and feminine lineages contribute to wisdom and healing? And why do we need both spectrums to facilitate cultural progress?

Tune in for a diverse conversation on Stephen’s psychedelic path, Shift Network goals, and the power of patience on the path to visionary growth.

Stephen Dinan:

Stephen Dinan is the founder and CEO of The Shift Network and a member of the Transformational Leadership Council and Evolutionary Leaders.

The Shift Network was founded in 2010 and has served over 3M people worldwide, in 170 countries. It delivers virtual summits, courses, and trainings featuring over 250 core faculty and 3,000 thought leaders. The diverse domains include spirituality, sound healing, holistic health, psychology, enlightened business, shamanism, qigong, and psychedelic healing.

Stephen graduated from Stanford University (Human Biology) and the California Institute of Integral Studies (East-West Psychology). He helped create and direct the Esalen Institute’s Center for Theory & Research, a think tank for leading scholars, researchers, and teachers to explore human potential. As the former director of membership and marketing at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, he was the driving force behind the Shift in Action program and the One Minute Shift media series.

He has been a featured speaker at the World Cultural Forum in China, the Alliance for a New Humanity in Costa Rica, Renovemos Mexico in Mexico City, the University of Cuenca in Ecuador, and many US conferences, events, radio programs, and online summits. Stephen is also the author of Sacred America, Sacred World: Fulfilling Our Mission in Service to All, and Radical Spirit.


Podcast Highlights

  • Stephen’s early plant medicine experiences.
  • Paul and Stephen's spiritual awakening through psychedelics.
  • Ayahuasca lineages and masculine vs. feminine ceremonies.
  • Lessons from Shift Network’s 40-day program featuring 40 spiritual traditions.
  • Stephen’s tips for embarking on Vipassana meditation retreats.
  • Stephen’s challenges and joys running The Shift Network.
  • How Stephen patiently crystalizes visions into action.
  • Elon Musk and masculine vs. feminine leadership.
  • The future of The Shift Network.

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Podcast Transcript

0:00:00.0 Paul F. Austin: Welcome back to The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, where we bring you insights from the trailblazers shaping the realm of plant medicines and personal transformation. Today, I am speaking with Stephen Dinan, Founder and CEO of The Shift Network.

0:00:15.4 Stephen Dinan: For me, ayahuasca been very central, not just for my own personal healing and initiatory journey, but also for guidance around what I was here to do and how to do it, like the launching of The Shift Network. I originally had the download about creating The Shift Network in a meditation retreat. I also did a lot of meditation over those years too. I was at like 10, 10-day meditation retreats and used to meditate two hours a day before children and things like that. I did engage a pretty full spectrum of Human Potential Movement, which is part of why Shift has cast a wide net, and we work with a lot of different lineages, but for me, I haven't been super public about the plant medicine component because of legality and other misconceptions around. But now that it's moving into phase where we're making public offerings, we've done psychedelic healing summits, we've lead trips to Peru, stepping out more and sharing more about my experiences too.


0:01:12.7 Paul F. Austin: Welcome to The Psychedelic Podcast by Third Wave, audio mycelium connecting you to the luminaries and thought leaders of the psychedelic renaissance. We bring you illuminating conversations, with scientists, therapists, entrepreneurs, coaches, doctors and shamanic practitioners, exploring how we confess to you psychedelic medicine to accelerate personal healing, peak performance, and collective transformation.


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0:04:57.8 Paul F. Austin: Hey, listeners, this is Paul Austin, Founder and CEO of Third Wave, and welcome back to The Psychedelic Podcast. In this episode, we explore the concept of spiritual cross-training, the role of psychedelic wisdom and intuitive methods to achieve balance, success in life and business. Today, we have Stephen Dinan on the podcast. Stephen Dinan is the Founder and CEO of The Shift Network, a global online resource for transformational education. Stephen and I first met at a festival called Yearning Man, think Burning Man, but on a much smaller, more curated scale. And I invited Stephen on the podcast because I wanted to learn more about The Shift Network, and also dive into his personal psychedelic and spiritual journey. In this episode, Stephen and I go deep into our shared story of spiritual awakening through psychedelics, various ayahuasca lineages and the role of masculine and feminine ceremonies. Stephen's lessons from The Shift Network's 40-day program featuring 40 spiritual leaders, and the challenges and joys of running a medium-sized business. Stephen's insights on spirituality, masculine versus feminine leadership, and his unique method for crystallizing vision into action are absolutely worth the listen.

0:06:17.5 Paul F. Austin: Stephen Dinan founded The Shift Network in 2010, impacting over three million people across 170 countries through training programs featuring 250 core faculty and over 3000 thought leaders, topics span spirituality, holistic health, psychology and more. Stephen holds degrees from both Stanford and CIIS, and he's played pivotal roles in groundbreaking initiatives at organizations like Esalen and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. An esteemed global speaker, he's also the author of 'Sacred America, Sacred World' and 'Radical Spirit'. I really think you're going to love my conversation with Stephen. He offers incredibly thoughtful insights, wisdom and stories on psychedelics, spirituality, and business. But before we dive in, just a reminder that if you haven't already, to follow The Psychedelic Podcast on your favorite podcast app. You can also help others find the podcast by leaving us a review. All right, that's it for now. I hope you enjoy my conversation today with Stephen Dinan. Hey, folks, we're back with The Psychedelic Podcast. Stephen Dinan is joining us today. Stephen, welcome to the show. It's good to see you.

0:07:29.0 Stephen Dinan: Pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

0:07:31.9 Paul F. Austin: So Stephen and I met at an event called Yearning Man, which... How would you describe Yearning Man, Stephen? I'll let you take that one.

0:07:39.3 Stephen Dinan: It's like a boutique camp from Burning Man, where you take a curated group of people and more intentional about deepening of community connections and also working with some plant medicines in a lighter touch way that facilitates a deepening between people.

0:07:58.2 Paul F. Austin: Yeah, there were probably about 100, 120 people. We were at a place called Two Bunch Palms, which is a nice place in Southern California. They've set it up as a non-profit church and gone through that whole process, which I think is just so interesting in terms of what's now feasible from a psychedelic perspective. And it was the second time I had gone. I think it was your first time. And I just find a lot of the relationships and connections form there is a very LA, San Francisco crowd, like Cali crowd. Some of those people have become quite close friends or collaborators. And so after we met, we had a follow-up, a couple of follow-ups, and I thought it'd be cool to have you on the podcast because you've been building now The Shift Network since 2010, for the last 13 years, but doing psychedelics, drinking ayahuasca much longer than that. Tell us a little bit about where your journey starts with plant medicine.

0:08:57.1 Stephen Dinan: So, my first experience with plant medicines in general was, I was an atheist scientist at Stanford in my junior year, and my friends started to experiment with mushrooms and I was super judgmental, I was just like, "Man, you guys are crazy." And they finally convinced me to try and I had a full-blown spiritual awakening that I was communing with other beings and just in reverence for all of life and running through the foothills, and it was a very powerful experience. And so, that led to a fair amount of just loose experimentation with mushrooms for the last year and a half, I would say, of my school there. And it was interesting because it was definitely there wasn't a lot of structure to it, they didn't have any guidance. And doing things now that I wouldn't necessarily recommend to others like wandering around the golf course at night alone. [laughter] Not necessarily...

0:09:54.7 Paul F. Austin: With clothes on. You weren't totally...

0:09:56.5 Stephen Dinan: Yeah, with clothes on. Yes...

[overlapping conversation]

0:09:57.5 Paul F. Austin:  You weren't like renegade about it... Yeah.

0:10:00.4 Stephen Dinan: But... Yeah. And I just found that it really opened up so many new possibilities and consciousness. And so there was a little bit of a rewiring of what reality is all about, that was taking place since I had been fairly atheistic from maybe 14 to 21 or so. So it was, a lot of those patterns and belief systems were a little more embedded in me, and so having some psychedelic experiences really opened my mind and horizon. And I recognized that it would be good to really engage in some practices to cultivate more of a daily relationship with spirit, and so I got involved with a Tibetan Buddhist group, I started reading more extensively, transpersonal psychology, got turned on to Stan Grof's work. My first year of out of Stanford, I actually worked on a book, and I was doing a lot of deeper explorations, and then we went to Ecuador and taught for a year, and I'd had my first ayahuasca experience with a German expat who'd been there for 20-plus years doing ceremony. And that wasn't a particularly meaningful event for me, but later, it became more clear that of all the different plant medicines, I'd found that ayahuasca is the most consistently rigorous and powerful teacher and opener.

0:11:16.9 Stephen Dinan: I find that, for me at least, I went through a phase where I didn't work with psilocybin as much, 'cause I felt like it was a little easier to get ungrounded for me or I could stay and, it wasn't quite as rigorous. There's a way in which ayahuasca would be like, "You need to look at this," and goes through different shadow... what's out of integrity, clean up different relationships. It was a little more... It felt like a more rigorous versus just expansive or sometimes trickstery. And so I appreciate the value of all different plants, but for me, I feel like ayahuasca has been the higher teacher, or more rigorous teacher. I ended up working with a Colombian lineage. I phased out the working with mushrooms for a decade or so, or maybe even longer. But then I did take up with a Colombian lineage of working with ayahuasca, and there's a lot of value in that, but they're a little bit more... There's more warrior energy, it's masculine-led, a lot of the lineages are masculine-led, medicine can be very fierce. And sometimes the ceremonies were rough and really, really tough. And so, I had a longer stint with that and experimented here and there with other things, but then eventually found my way to working with particularly women-led circles.

0:12:41.3 Stephen Dinan: And so I found that that actually created a nice balancing out and there was more of a gentle embracing, less warrior energy, less fierceness and more sweetness in many ways, and I found that that longer arc has been more operative for the last decade, or maybe 15 years or so. And then that direct experience is also in other places like Peru, working with lineages there. We've actually started leading trips as a company to work with plant medicines with a primary teacher there, Puma, who initiated both within wachuma and ayahuasca. So there's a lot of different forays you could... Directions you go, but I would say that, for me, ayahuasca has been very central, not just for my own personal healing and initiatory journey, but also for guidance around what I was here to do and how to do it, like the launching of The Shift Network and how to roll it out. I had originally had the download about creating The Shift Network in a meditation retreat. I also did a lot of meditation over those years too. I was at like 10, 10-day meditation retreats and used to meditate two hours a day before children and things like that. So...

0:13:53.1 Paul F. Austin: Wow.

0:13:53.8 Stephen Dinan: I do engage a pretty full spectrum of Human Potential Movement, which is part of why Shift has cast a wide net, and we work with a lot of different lineages, but for me, I haven't been super public about the plant medicine component because of legality and other misconceptions around. But now that it's moving into phase, we're making public offerings, we've done psychedelic healing summits, we've lead trips to Peru, stepping out more and sharing more about my experiences too.

0:14:21.4 Paul F. Austin: You mentioned you were an atheist from the age of 14 to 21. I'm noticing a lot of parallels between your story and mine, similar age when we first worked with psychedelics, I was also running around some type of foothills on the...


0:14:38.5 Paul F. Austin: Coast of Lake Michigan. Not golf courses as much, sand dunes. But, what was before that? Were you raised religious? Did you go to church? Did you... What was the context before becoming an atheist at the age of 14?

0:14:54.5 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. It's a more... I'd say, my parents are very wholesome people, they're very moral, very upstanding, virgins when they got married, they never experimented with any substances or drugs, and so they had more of that wholesome Midwest upbringing. And so their version of religion was not particularly ecstatic, mystic or devotional, it was more of a being part of a good upstanding member of the community. We were part of an episcopal church, which as a Christian denomination, has been open to gay priests early on, and it's had more progressive values, and there's definitely some good things about it, but it didn't really have much of a path of practice to access any sort of direct relationship, everything was mediated through belief systems and songs and stories about Jesus and disciples. So, it just didn't have much juice to it.

0:15:51.2 Stephen Dinan: And I saw that the primary thing that was binding people together was really the social fabric and having a social community, and it didn't seem to me that there was much reality there in terms of understanding the nature of the cosmos. And so it just seemed like a social club, in many ways, well-intentioned social club that helped people keep on a path of supporting their fellow Duluthians. But it didn't really have a lot of juice, and as I got deeper down different philosophical and scientific explorations, and it just felt like science was much more reliable, and there wasn't a lot that I had access to around scientists who are really taking seriously deeper notions of spirit, divinity or God, there was more of that current of to be a true scientist meant the skewing any sort of religious or spiritual impulse. And so I took that in and made it my own really.

0:16:48.9 Paul F. Austin: Did you ever spend time in the Boundary Waters?

0:16:51.0 Stephen Dinan: Little bit, yeah, not a lot. We used to camp a lot, but we went there a couple of times and had a few, three or four-day trips in. But we would camp in the wilderness every other weekend in the summers. In Minnesota, you spend as much time as you can outdoors in the three months that are gorgeous.

0:17:10.1 Paul F. Austin: Is Duluth by the Upper Peninsula? Is it over, in that direction or is it...

0:17:14.1 Stephen Dinan: It's a six-hour drive away, but it's similar 'cause it's on the tip of Lake Superior. So, similar kind of ecosystem.

0:17:21.5 Paul F. Austin: Right. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I went on a trip... I think when I was 16, we drove up through... 'Cause I grew up in Grand Rapids in Michigan, so we drove up to the UP and over to Eli, which is the entry point to the Boundary Waters, and we did a week in the summer back there, and it was... Your portage canoes and between these different little lakes...

0:17:40.8 Stephen Dinan: It's gorgeous.

0:17:41.0 Paul F. Austin: It's beautiful. We camped out and I was with my dad and two of his friends from the university that he taught at. And a lot of what you mentioned, this wholesome Midwest upbringing. I grew up in the Reformed Church of America, which has... It's West Michigan, it's Iowa, it's a little in New York, and similar, pretty open, but not a lot of vitality behind it, and I think I had similar insights. A little older probably, when I was 18, 19, when I started doing LSD, where I was like, "Oh, this is why I'm becoming more and more atheist." And then, when I actually started to work with LSD and mushrooms, that's how I discovered Aldous Huxley and The Perennial Philosophy and started getting back into spirituality. And the reason I'm asking this and clarifying this is because I find a lot of people who have maybe been raised in a religious environment that was reasonably healthy, I consider mine to be reasonably healthy, all things considered. There was no fundamentalism, there was no fire and brimstone and hell, it was people were good to each other, like good people or whatever.

0:18:52.0 Stephen Dinan: Same here.

0:18:58.1 Paul F. Austin: I find a lot of these people go through a phase of becoming an atheist and then they work with plant medicine or psychedelics, and it all of a sudden opens up this whole new world for them that they knew before, but they didn't really know before.

0:19:11.5 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. It certainly makes it... The mystical teachings, which are at the heart of any of the major traditions, really makes them much more descriptive and accurate and really understand them in a whole different way. It's definitely opened up a much deeper... It took a while, I think, for me to circle back to really seen Christianity and just the whole lineage out of Jesus and Mary as important, but I still consider them really foundational teachers for me on account of solo level. And so, when I first launched The Shift Network, I had the sense that, actually came... The guidance came in an ayahuasca ceremony about how to launch it, which was 40 days with 40 spiritual leaders from every major tradition. We actually had everything from Orthodox Christians to rabbis to Native American shamans to Hindu gurus. And so basically, I tried to have a truly inclusive global 40-day series that was free. And the guidance was to start 40 days after my 40th birthday, which happened to be this first day of Lent, I have found out later after I had already...

0:20:15.9 Paul F. Austin: Oh wow. That's crazy.

0:20:17.5 Stephen Dinan: I had already started the 40-day season. I had already invited people and had the dates before I realized we were starting on the first day of Lent. There were some very magical things about how the guidance came in, it was almost like an impulse to upgrade the Christian form into a more global-centric inclusive space that really creates space for all the different traditions.

0:20:43.8 Paul F. Austin: So you mentioned the Colombian lineage with ayahuasca, that more warrior-like. And I've sat with a Shipibo, I have sat with quite a few neo-shamanistic groups that I think are somewhat rooted in Shipibo. I haven't really sat with the Huni Kuin or the Yawanawa or the Asháninka. I know the Shipibo and the more feminine, soft. What is the Colombian lineage? What makes that more warrior? How do they structure their ceremonies the way they drink medicine?

0:21:20.4 Stephen Dinan: Yeah, they're good questions. It's just a little bit more of the intensity, it's not a lot of, that some people will lay down or be more relaxed about it, it's like there's more of like, you're sitting up or standing up. There's sort of a limpia's process where you really stand in a row and you're being covered in Agua de Florida and all this cleansing. And some of the medicine itself is just stronger. They had this stuff that I don't even remember what it was called, but we called it the tar. They would go up to the next level, and you could barely choke this stuff down, it was like molasses and it was so fierce and so intense, and it would just pop you into very high states of consciousness, but also very rigorous cleansings as well. I just remember... And then there was a lot more different kinds of work. There's a fire. Which I always find, it's like when you have a fire in a circle, it also is bringing that fiery energy, and there was more just that sense of the chance just having a certain level of intensity versus the gentleness and...

0:22:26.3 Stephen Dinan: So what I took away from that is... So many of these lineages have really been built and sustained by a male lineage, and that men tend to prioritize those things that are initiatory for men, and which is great and has its place, but then it's also there's, I think sometimes lack some of the more comforting, embracing feminine kind of qualities that I think are really helpful for a healing process too. I found that sometimes I would almost strive too hard, I would be too fierce about things, "I'm gonna take this on." And there's something about the deeper level of surrender that wouldn't happen for me as much in that kind of a format. I found a similar thing. I've only sat one ceremony with a Native American Church in peyote, but that's all fierce and fire, it's got this...

0:23:18.7 Paul F. Austin: Oh, yeah.

0:23:21.1 Stephen Dinan: Blazing inferno in the middle and sitting up all night, and you don't get to go out of the tent and lay down. It was just like, ooh man, it's rigorous, and it really was very tough. And I think that there's a role for that, but it's... I almost feel like I wanna see more feminine-led medicine circles, because I think that's in some ways more of what we need collectively now. And so I think some of the lineages are evolving to embrace more feminine leadership of ceremonies now too.

0:23:54.2 Joseph Anew: Hey, I want to interrupt the podcast for just a second to invite you to our favorite conference of the year, Wonderland in Miami. We cannot recommend this event highly enough. It is the closest thing that the psychedelic world has to an annual gathering of the tribes, from shamans to entrepreneurs and investors, neuroscientists, energy healers, sex therapists, plus artists, yogis, coaches, journalists and more, every perspective gets their voice heard at Wonderland. It's really about creating cross-community dialogues and conversation around psychedelics. There's also a near 50-50 balance between men and women, which you do not see often at these high-profile conferences. Last year was absolutely epic, and this year seems like it's going to be even better.

0:24:42.8 Joseph Anew: You'll get to hear from Hamilton Morris, Dave Asprey, Dave Rabin, and many other of our past podcast guests. If you have any interest or aspiration to be involved in psychedelics professionally as a coach, a therapist, a practitioner, or a business, this is the one event you should attend. And as a listener of The Psychedelic Podcast, we've got a special offer for you. By using the code THIRDWAVE20, you can save 20% on your ticket to Wonderland. Just head on over to and use code THIRDWAVE20 at checkout to join us at Wonderland in Miami this November 9th through the 11th. That's November 9th through the 11th in Miami, Florida. You can find these links and codes in the show notes, so pause the episode if you need to, and we'll happily wait for you right here to hit play again. Now, enjoy the rest of the episode.

0:25:34.2 Paul F. Austin: And why do you sense that's important? Why is it important specifically to have more feminine-led, why do you think there's a greater alignment there? Also, there's a case to be made historically, that's how it's been with these types of medicines that they by and large have been women-led, but a lot of the history has been covered up or...

0:25:55.2 Stephen Dinan: Yeah, that may be true...

0:25:55.7 Paul F. Austin: Whatever that might be right.

[overlapping conversation]

0:25:56.0 Stephen Dinan: I think it seems more masculine in a lot of places. But I think that part of it is, it's like, if a lot of the wounds that people carry are essentially sourced from the imbalance in our culture of masculine primacy. Without using terms like patriarchy, it's like we've had, there's been more of a masculine flavor to culture or a dominance of the masculine in terms of power leadership and those sorts of qualities. And so a lot of the wounding that we have that we have to unravel is sometimes sourced from that, even as men too, because it's like people sometimes they, "Oh, the men have been in power." But it's like mostly have been cannon fodder, and most people have, carry a lot of negative conditioning or distortions really from the harshness of the brutality of a more war-like masculine dominant culture. And so as we look at the collective wound patterns, it feels like the empowered feminine is better at seeing, healing, mirroring and holding through those, rather than just cultivating more warrior discipline.

0:27:01.9 Stephen Dinan: I think the warrior discipline has its place, and I think men do need to go through an initiatory process to claim their manhood, their power in a deeper way and to own some of those qualities, but I think that the healing part is actually tends to run deeper and be easier. Now, what I have seen also now is that I have sat in circles where there's a really deeply loving couple leading, and I think that also has a really interesting templating where you have a modeling of sacred mother, sacred father, within the circle, which creates a almost like the next pattern that we're moving into, it's like we're moving out of the masculine dominant kind of healing and dissolving a lot of those wound patterns, and then we're moving in to the sacred balance or union of masculine and feminine, and to have that in a ceremonial context, I think, sinks in in a deeper way than just feminine-led. I think they all have their point, but for me, it's evolved that I prefer the women-led for the most part.

0:28:09.9 Paul F. Austin: You mentioned the 40 days, right, 40 days after your 40th birthday...

0:28:20.0 Stephen Dinan: Right.

0:28:20.1 Paul F. Austin: Sort of a 40 times three. You're turning 40, it was 40 days after that, and the program was gonna be 40 days of 40 traditions. Which I love. Tell us about a few of the traditions that are maybe surprising or that would maybe be less known that you chose to weave into that. Who were some of those teachers or some of those folks that, as you were doing that research and looking into, "Okay, which 40 traditions do I wanna bring in?" Which one surprised you or were interesting that you had never known about?

0:28:49.9 Stephen Dinan: Yeah, it wasn't so much... I'm trying to remember, there was... They weren't all people that I stayed in deep relationship with. I'm trying to remember, there was one Sufi master that we had that was from Turkey that I really liked a lot, and... But it... And there was an Eastern Orthodox teacher that we brought in that hadn't really had much of a bridge with the Eastern Orthodox tradition. And then some of the... There was Sequoyah Trueblood who's a Choctaw elder, I thought was really amazing and great. There was, yeah, several... Yeah. I think it wasn't so much like it was surprising, is it more was, it was validating of how much at the deepest core, whatever the mystics that emerged from the different traditions, really had a deep resonance with each other, you could feel the unit of spirit, people who did the whole series.

0:29:49.8 Stephen Dinan: And at the time, it was the biggest series of any of spiritual teachers that anybody had ever done. And I think because I dug a little deeper into different domains, and it wasn't all just recycled, best-selling authors. There were some. There was Barbara Marx Hubbard and Marianne Williamson and people who are better known in our space. But there's probably two-thirds were not people that others had necessarily heard of. And so that was... It was interesting because it gave, it had like a parliament to the world religions quality to it where you really see the unit of spirit at the upper echelons or the more advanced tier of each religion.

0:30:36.5 Paul F. Austin: What are the three traditions that resonate with you most? Vedantic, Sufi, Orthodox, Indigenous, Native American Indigenous?

0:30:47.4 Stephen Dinan: I think there's different things with different...

0:30:49.2 Paul F. Austin: The ancient Greek gods. Maybe you're a fan of Zeus and Olympus.

0:30:54.0 Stephen Dinan: I end up often taking a practice that I really like from each tradition, so in some ways it's like I really appreciate the purity of Vipassana meditation and just... I've sat that a lot, and I really feel like there's a cleanness about Buddhism that doesn't require a lot of artifices or belief systems. And I love yoga, particularly hot yoga, I think. Even though... I don't wanna associate with Bikram, who is really a disaster. But just the yogic tradition is, I think, really solid as a way to really incarnate spirit in a deeper way, so I do make that part of my journey. I love the Indigenous traditions in general and been developing more relationship with Peru and Puma, our teacher down there has been really seminal. There's also... There's a teacher in the Yucatan. I had an interesting story one year that I got the message that we needed to go to the Yucatan and do ceremony with Mayan elders on New Year's and just didn't have any particular guidance around who, but... I told my wife and like, "Well, let's go." And so we just showed up. And basically, we didn't have a place to stay for New Year's, and it was like two days before New Year's, we still hadn't met any Mayan elders. We kept asking around, and she's like, "What is this guidance of yours?" And then we meet this beautiful, very short yoda-like Mayan elder, Abuelo Antonio Oxte on the beach, and he's like, "Oh, you came. We've been waiting for you." And he'd been sending me emails...

0:32:23.0 Paul F. Austin: Really?

0:32:24.1 Stephen Dinan: At The Shift Network, but it never got through because it was broken English and our customer support was like, "What does this guy want? Or... " [chuckle] And so, anyway, we ended up... Long story short, is that he ended up... His elder, a 90-plus-year-old Mayan elder who didn't even speak Spanish, ended up doing the ceremony to pass his powers to Abuelo Antonio, and we got to witness that deep in the jungle on New Year's. And then spend the whole rest of the night with them.

0:32:49.3 Paul F. Austin: Wow.

0:32:51.4 Stephen Dinan: He's really beautiful because he's also, I think the senior most Santo Daime person in Mexico, Mexico. He had a near-death experience and was told he had to set off on foot without any money, and he basically spent 10 years walking the Americas, all the way to the tip of South America and different Indigenous tribes. He's super connected all over the different Indigenous tribes. He's a really luminous being and works a lot with different plant medicines. And so he's been a source of inspiration and guidance as well. In my heart, I still feel like, I often will make prayers to Yeshua or Mary Magdalene, I still feel like there's a hard connection there and a guidance. We're going to Egypt next year. I feel like there's some...

0:33:31.5 Paul F. Austin: Oh cool.

0:33:31.7 Stephen Dinan: Egyptian roots to things. I love Shabbat or the Sabbath practices. We tend to have a lot of Jewish friends, and I find that Kabbalah is a very sophisticated metaphysical system, and when I have more time, I'd like to go deeper into it. I've done some studies. But as a balanced system, I really like Kabbalah. And then some of the Sufi poets are just really, touched and moved me as well. So we try to... I think you can stay within one lineage, but nowadays it's really like you can take the best in some ways of what each has to offer. I like to... I use a term called spiritual cross-training that I feel like... Physical cross-training, it's like each tradition is going to work you in a certain way and help you grow and open in a certain way, and then each one has its blessings, but it tends to maybe be a little lopsided. If you don't do yoga, your body may not open up in a certain way, if you don't do... If you don't meditate, you can do all the shamanic work, but you don't necessarily cultivate the same level of refined presence or awareness and so on and so forth.

0:34:40.4 Paul F. Austin: Okay. I'm going... I love that, by the way, Egyptian, Sufi, the Mayan elder. There's the Vipassana you mentioned at the beginning. I'm going on my first Vipassana in Joshua Tree in three weeks. For someone who hasn't done a Vipassana before, what advice would you give?

0:35:05.2 Stephen Dinan: That's probably more in the Jack Kornfield kind of lineage that you're doing there?

0:35:09.9 Paul F. Austin: It's the Goenka.

0:35:10.1 Stephen Dinan: Oh, you're doing Goenka. Yeah. With Goenka, the first thing is...

0:35:15.2 Paul F. Austin: 10-day silent Vipassana...

0:35:16.6 Stephen Dinan: Yeah, I've done 10 of those, and they... The first one can be really kick your butt. [laughter] So be prepared, that you are going to want to leave desperately.

0:35:27.4 Paul F. Austin: Okay.


0:35:30.5 Stephen Dinan: So just be prepared to make the commitment. You're gonna stay no matter what until the end, 'cause it will open up, but by day three or four, you will probably be ready to lose your mind.


0:35:39.8 Stephen Dinan: Because it's rigorous. And the thing that... The one thing that felt like a torture chamber the first time I sat was they have sittings of Adhiṭṭhāna, which are strong determination, which basically you try not to move for an hour. You're already... Your body is cooking, pains are coming up, all this stuff, and then you're trying to sit without literally moving a muscle for a whole hour, and it's like turning the heat up on the stove and things just start to boil over. And at first, I was like, "What the hell is this? This is weird Buddhist torture chamber, hell realm." And I was just like, "Oh." I was like, "Oh, my body is breaking down." It's just all this stuff. And then when I really got how powerful that practice was to really cultivate equanimity at a cellular level of whatever is emerging in your body, then eventually I've done sittings of three hours, where without moving a muscle. And it really...

0:36:34.0 Paul F. Austin: Wow.

0:36:34.6 Stephen Dinan: Cultivates a capacity to let things burn through and cook through you while holding a steady presence. So if you can just embrace that there's a real power in it, which at first it'll be like, "No way, I can't sit an hour," [laughter] 'cause it's just like there's so much, it starts cooking as you just day after day, there's so much that's boiling up and you just wanna escape. But stay in the ring, do the Adhiṭṭhāna. And, it eventually is a very powerful practice to cook things through, but it's hard to stay in the room at first.

0:37:11.4 Paul F. Austin: Have you done dietas before, like ayahuasca dietas, longer periods of silence and...

0:37:17.6 Stephen Dinan: Nothing super substantial. I've done four ayahuasca journeys in a week before, and I've done a certain amount of preparation and follow-up with, but never, I've never gotten done like a 21-day or something or things like that. Which I imagine would have something similar... You'd probably have something similar that emerges.

0:37:37.4 Paul F. Austin: Well, and so I sat with a Shipibo in Costa Rica at a center I love, Brave Earth, and it was 10 days of silence with four, no, five ceremonies.

0:37:46.0 Stephen Dinan: Wow. That's Brave Earth.

0:37:48.3 Paul F. Austin: No eye contact. No... One meal a day, very bland and very plain. But I brought my violin, you could play music, you can read, you can write, you can go for walks in nature. The ceremonies are and were at times intense. But with Vipassana, I was talking with a dear friend of mine after that, who's done both Vipassana and dietas, and he's like, "Vipassana is another step-up 'cause there's nothing to hide with it, there's no way to distract yourself."

0:38:15.7 Stephen Dinan: Right. There's no distractions. There's no distractions, and so...

0:38:19.0 Paul F. Austin: I'm like, "Fuck!"


0:38:23.3 Paul F. Austin: "I'm gonna sign up for it."

[overlapping conversation]

0:38:24.0 Stephen Dinan: It sounds malicious but I tell you, it's like...

0:38:25.0 Paul F. Austin: I was like, "Okay, let's do it."

0:38:27.7 Stephen Dinan: By the end of the 10 days, it's like... Every single retreat that I did, of those 10 that I did, it's like I did not wanna come out of noble silence, it's like... The experience...

0:38:37.3 Paul F. Austin: That was my feeling too. With the dieta, my feeling too.

0:38:40.5 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. It was just like, "Oh, these ecstatic realms," and just, there's this ring of awareness that can just be like...


0:38:46.6 Stephen Dinan: Up and down your body, and it's just like ecstatic ring and it's clearing things as it goes, and it's just like the level of purity, and I had some of the most amazing spiritual openings in my life. And you're just sitting in this pure noble silence. It's very powerful. And so, it's rigorous, but it gets you to... It gets the job done. [laughter]

0:39:09.5 Paul F. Austin: There's a payoff, so to say. You notice...

0:39:11.1 Stephen Dinan: There's a payoff. Yeah.

0:39:14.4 Paul F. Austin: It was the same for me with the dieta, for the two months after the dieta I was in an impeccable state, it felt like. And then, it's like, then I went back... I was in Costa Rica for two months, I was living in the jungle, we did a retreat, all that, our own retreat, but when I came back in everyday reality, it's like, you get beat up a little bit. And so what I've learned is that I wanna do a Vipassana for 10 years, and I was looking for one at the end, I was like, "All right, I have this weekend open at the end of October." And I knew it was 10 days and I'm like, "If there's something in the States that's close by, I'll go to it." And it turns out that Joshua Tree, the one in Joshua Tree, which is about two hours away from where I live, just happened to offer one at that time. And so it just felt like, "Okay, this is super easy. It's working out... "

0:39:58.8 Stephen Dinan: Super easy.

0:40:00.2 Paul F. Austin: And...

0:40:00.9 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. Well, I look forward to hearing how that goes. I feel like it's been such a blessing. And the other thing that's really nice about that lineage is it's super pure around, you don't get charged up front, it's like the whole thing runs off of, at the end, if you feel like you've got enough benefit, you contribute to enable the next people to come. Which is a really beautiful purity about it, that you're paying for the next person or you're supporting the next person rather than paying for yourself. It creates an intrinsic sense of generosity and service that's really quite beautiful.

0:40:32.9 Paul F. Austin: Let's talk a little bit about The Shift Network. We already touched a little bit on the launch. You launched it in 2010, 40 days. It's the 40, 40, 40, 40, 40 sort of synchronicity. 40 quadrupled, four to the thing of four. We got a lot of fours going on here, Stephen.


0:40:52.0 Paul F. Austin: I don't know what to do with all of these fours. It's now been 13 years, you've been building this, you have, I think over a 1000 teachers that have been on and taught courses. You have one of the biggest transformational networks online. What has it been like, is it... Let's say as a CEO, first and foremost, the last 13 years, building and growing The Shift Network, what have been some of the things you've most enjoyed? But also what have been some of the greatest challenges?

0:41:25.6 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. I think the things I most enjoy are really, where I feel the most, what we built serves humanity is breaking out teachers who otherwise wouldn't have a global audience, like Puma Quispe Singona who's our primary teacher in Peru. He was trained from a young age by his grandfather to carry on the lineage, like six years old, he started training and his grandfather would tell him he's gonna be a world healer some day, and he had no idea what that even meant. And he was running a tour group company, was fairly successful, and then things went on the fritz with COVID, and so he was... They were literally running out of money. But he had been doing this work for his community, but he hadn't really integrated that or offered it to the larger world, but somebody brought him on to a summit, and his English is great, and he's super charismatic, his heart is so wide open and people just love him. And so we built all the... I think that first program during COVID, he had maybe 1200 or 1300 people in it, he made well over six figures teaching this, which then supported his entire extended clan. They were running out of cash down there with no tourist economy during COVID, and this was this huge blessing to the whole community.

0:42:38.9 Paul F. Austin: Wow.

0:42:40.2 Stephen Dinan: I felt like moments like that are when, oh, somebody who really has important work to bring out to the world and it's good medicine for people, and we can create something that allows people all over the world to engage with them is really such a blessing. Or Andrew Harvey, who is really a mentor and friend, he was living in Arkansas in some kind of backwards place, he felt like he'd run out of steam on his mission, he was sour on the whole New Age scene, and he had all this brilliant mystical work, but he was mainly trying to be an author, and it's just tough to make a living as an author. And so, we got him on the platform, and after a couple of really good launches, he was able to buy a place in Chicago with cash and...

0:43:23.4 Paul F. Austin: Wow.

0:43:23.5 Stephen Dinan: Transformed his life and created this global audience, and so it really gave a second phase to his whole offering to the world, and we have more than a dozen programs on The Shift Network with him. And so, we... And also live into posterity. He did a program before Stan Grof had a stroke, where we just really got him to do a way of the psychonaut, that would be a compendium of his deepest thoughts on a whole range of things, and so with this beautiful asset now that is essentially un-replicable 'cause he's no longer teaching. I think it's those teachers that, it took a long time to find. It's like when you started off at 21, started reading this book, "Oh, Stan Grof and go to CIIS and start to do this, and... " You ave to follow all these little trails or down to Costa Rica or Puma and, yeah, I was talking about Abuelo Antonio Oxte, and what led me to him and we'll eventually do a program with him as well. And so, there's a way in which it takes a while to really find the wisdom keepers, they're not necessarily always the best at marketing, or they're not necessarily on Oprah, and they don't have the New York Times best-selling book necessarily.

0:44:33.9 Stephen Dinan: There's a tendency sometimes to just showcase whoever's already famous, if you will, and there's good financials, or that's easier to run a business that way. But I feel like what I'm most proud of Shift is when we really find these gems of teachers who other people otherwise wouldn't be able to connect with, at least at that global scale. And sometimes they're not the best at self-promotion, they're not the best at building an engine, they just wanna share their wisdom, and when we can really build something around them, I feel super proud and really happy, that that's like fulfilling our dharma in the deepest way. And some of those teachers are often the ones that I make the most profound personal connection with as well. In terms of things that have been hard is, as things scaled up, it's like, I didn't... When I got the download in the Vipassana retreat about creating The Shift Network, I didn't really have any aspirations to create a business. It wasn't on my roadmap. It was never a part of my personal vision to create a business. And I was much more of a scholar, thinker, writer. And so, there's a lot about business, it can be intense. And I've had to deal with a couple of lawsuits, there's the things that... It's like HR issues.

0:45:46.4 Stephen Dinan: We've had up to 100 employees at our apex and we've had to shrink some because post-pandemic things shrunk, and so then laying people off was like, woah, that's really intense. And also some of the financial pressures too, it's like when... If you've got a half a million dollar payroll, it's like there's a lot of people whose lives and mortgages and children, everybody are depending on your good decisions, and so when I make a wrong call and do a launch with somebody, it fizzles or this, something falls through and it's like... It's like walking this tightrope of building, reaching more people and also having a lot on my shoulders, which was more than I originally ever envisioned. I think that those stressors have been certainly a challenge to bear. And the blessing has really been to... I think that maybe one thing I didn't say is, getting to be super creative and visionary, so to create things from scratch. Just a few months ago, I got the hit that we needed to activate this trip to Egypt, and I was like, "Okay." And then I started asking around, turned out Isis, who we know is, activates all these trips to Egypt without any business. She says, "I'm in, whatever you want me to do, I'm in." And then the other people start falling into place. In fact, we just went live with registration, we already have more applicants for the pilgrimage...

0:47:09.6 Paul F. Austin: Wow.

0:47:11.1 Stephen Dinan: Then we have slots within five days of launching it. And so getting to be creative like that to just have an idea and translate that into making something happen in a couple of months or very quickly, and having teams of people to do that, that's really gratifying and quite a blessing to do, and to do so with some of the coolest people in the world, in areas that I didn't really know a lot about, like sound healing. I didn't know anything about sound healing when I started The Shift Network, and now we have the best sound healing programs in the world. And there are some seriously cool cats. I've been in studio with The Brothers Koren working on my first two songs that I'd written, I never would have considered writing a song, and when their faculty, their friends, and so... And then my wife gave me a present to do songs in the studio, so I'm like, "All right, great. Let's create a song." And it was an amazing experience. [chuckle] And so getting to... I find that it's... You tend to rise to the level of your environment or who you're connecting with, and so just getting to connect with hundreds and even thousands of the most leading lights on the planet just... It lifts me in subtle... Little subtle and overt ways each day.

0:48:21.6 Paul F. Austin: What you brought up is interesting, which is, out of the many things, one of the things was when you have a download and insight, you're like, "We should make this happen." It could be a very quick turnaround and timeframe, because you already have an audience build, you have a community, you could put it out there and it can do really well, or sometimes it doesn't go so well. Like what you had mentioned, there's a lot of responsibility in that way. How do you discern, what's your process for vetting and discerning which launches you move forward with and which ideas get killed? Basically after discussion or reflection, how do you navigate that?

0:48:56.6 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. I try to... There's things that are more, within the calendar that we have. We have usually three launches a week going on. So we have every... We have 12 different verticals, we've consolidated a little bit for next year, so we have 12 different verticals, there's a launch each month with one of them. We have a top 10 people on that vertical, then we're trying on new talent and assessing them for a variety of things. We basically have a process of multiple people vetting, putting estimates of likely outcomes and assessing the quality, all that, and then they move through this greenlighting process and eventually get a slot. So that's a little bit more structured. The new things is where there's sometimes more tension because I'll get a hit like, "Oh, we need to do Egypt," and the team is like, "Oh God, no, not another trip. We don't know how to do trips." And so then I do it a little bit on the side, I turn into a partner. Isis is producing it through her company and we're just marketing it, so it didn't put as much burden on the team.

0:49:55.2 Paul F. Austin: Got it. Smart.

0:49:57.1 Stephen Dinan: Creating fundamentally new things, which is part of being the visionary and CEO is, it does create tension 'cause the bigger the system is, the more everybody knows how the existing things work, and so new things mess things up. It's like, oh, it's like... Now we're talking with this woman, Jothi, about a psilocybin guides program, and that would be a totally different structure than anything we've done, 'cause it has online components and practicum components. And, so then it's like, ah, people have to figure things out and they break systems down and you get... What I find is, we're now in that middle stage of organization where there's more momentum with everything that we've done. And so if you're introducing new elements or new patterns that don't fit the system, then that creates tension and stress patterns. And so, there's a cumbersome aspect about sometimes middle-sized organizations that it's hard to avoid, so trying to balance that is... My commitment is to the best degree possible to make Shift a download-led company to... I'm trying to tune in what is the highest use of our time and energy and focus, and so I'm asking for guidance all the time. The trip to Peru that we started with Puma just came really clearly, and actually meditation that he was leading, and he said, "Connect with an intro call, connect with the spirit of ayahuasca and just ask for any guidance."

0:51:22.2 Stephen Dinan: And I just... Boop. It's like you need to activate a trip to Peru, I'm like, "Oh, no." [laughter] So I get those things a lot. And so I try to basically do a one-page overview, I structure, I start to find pieces come together a little, so that there's a little... I can get more organizational buy-in. 'Cause if I just keep throwing things into the organization without people bought in to the concept, it can create some less desirable patterns. So it's a tension thing, it's like... Just as an example, I was sitting at a ceremony recently, and I got this whole thing around, "Oh, you need to activate a healers camp for Ukraine and bring the best healers in the world to train the Ukrainian, so to work out the trauma." I'm like, "I don't know where that's gonna fit in to what we're already doing." But it's like... [chuckle] I'm sitting with it at the moment, it's like, okay, it's a good idea, and I don't wanna overwhelm myself either. So, yeah, activating 100 healers to go and train a 1000 Ukrainians who then help to dissipate the war trauma, I think that's a great contribution to humanity, but it'd take a lot of time and effort to do.

0:52:32.5 Paul F. Austin: I have a similar, not problem, but tendency. When I was talking with our main investor earlier today, 'cause I had written this tweet that was, "Hey, I'm looking to purchase a five to seven million-dollar retreat property, that can host up to 50 people. I wanna spend the next chapter focused on retreat center development, as we build out The Third Wave ecosystem and then, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, this is how psychedelics really, truly became integrated." So we hopped on the phone today. And look, I'm just... This is a tweet that I put up and then I put it on Instagram, it's like the timelines are very loose, but he was basically... 'Cause I was expressing, "I do so much tech stuff, I'm behind the computer all the time, I'd really like to build something with my hands. I just read Elon Musk's biography over the weekend... "


0:53:25.7 Paul F. Austin: "He's building rockets, he's building cars," I'm like, "There's just something that I am really wanting about a physical place, being in-person with people, touching things with my hands." And this guy, he was like, "Yeah, it's enjoyable for three months or six months, but a lot of people, they find there's a reason we moved to the tech stuff." And I was like, "I could see that as well." So where we landed was, I wanted to do this next year, and I'm still gonna start looking for places, so if anyone who's listening to this is like, "I know a great retreat property that would be perfect for this," holler. 'Cause part of what we're gonna do are more and more retreats, and I'd just like to have a home for those, it's just a matter of time. And it's like the best time to buy a center is when you're doing so many retreats. That, it's just... It's a no-brainer to just have your own place. Right?

0:54:14.3 Stephen Dinan: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I had a similar download in Peru last year, where it came in to create a center, the Medicina Sagrada that would be a premier plant medicine center, working with all the different major Indigenous traditions and in the Sacred Valley. And I started... There's a lot of details that have been coming in around that, but it's... What I find is, it's helpful to crystallize a vision in a one-page summary and don't put a timeline on it necessarily, but just let it be an attractor, and then you start to see who shows up when, and it's like... And then things start to coalesce. If there's one thing that's been shifting for me in my 50s, I'm 53 now, is I'm starting to really align better with organic timing. I think there's a natural impulse, and particularly in male bodies, there's a lot of drive and we're gonna make things happen, versus there's that really the deeper listening of when is the universe aligning for something to happen? And so I like to have these one-page summaries of all these different visions and... Or I usually park a domain, I do a one-page version and then I try to listen for when the timing is lining up or when something is lining up. And some things may not manifest, but it's like if you've got that vision, you're holding it, you're sharing it, you'll pull in the right people in the right time. In the right location.

0:55:31.8 Paul F. Austin: I love that. Yeah, it often is a matter of timing. Patience is helpful. And, then this is a theme that came up, right, we're talking about masculine ceremonies versus more feminine ceremonies being in the waiting, being in the question, being in the inquiry. And I think as CEOs, at least I'll speak for myself here, I balance that tension with urgency, accountability, deadlines, [chuckle] things gotta be done... And I can be a little crazy. People will tell me, "Oh, this is gonna take two months." And I'm like, "No, you have two weeks to do it. Get it done."

0:56:07.4 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. That's... Elon Musk is certainly a crazy example of that, it's like people tell him it's gonna take three months, he's like, "Let's do it tomorrow." [laughter]

0:56:16.2 Paul F. Austin: Right. Which they tell a story in the biography, actually a precise thing happened, they needed to move all these data center storage... It's...

0:56:26.1 Stephen Dinan: That's what I was referencing, yeah. I was referencing that. Yeah. [laughter]

0:56:26.2 Paul F. Austin: Yeah, insane. Totally insane. And I'm just gonna read this algorithm and I'd like to hear your thoughts on it just as a CEO and a business leader, just... Especially being in the plant medicine space, because I find that the engineering of the car building, the mechanical, it is more linear than transformational education, it's more masculine in a way. But I'm curious to hear... As context, Elon Musk has an algorithm, and it's basically a methodology for shipping everything from electric cars, to Mars rockets, to flamethrowers, to humanoid robots. And I'm not gonna read the full thing, I'll just read the five parts of it. "You question every requirement. Requirements from smart people are the most dangerous because people are less likely to question them, always do so even if the requirement came from me. Delete any part or process you can, you may have to add them back later. In fact, if you did not end up adding back 10%, then you didn't delete enough. Simplify and optimize. Common mistake is to simplify and optimize a part or a process that should not exist. Accelerate cycle time, every process can be speeded up, and then automate. So question every requirement, delete any part or process you can simplify and optimize, accelerate cycle time, and automate. What resonates with you about this language or about this frame, and what maybe doesn't resonate with you about this language or the frame?

0:58:02.1 Stephen Dinan: I would say that he's really good at crystallizing this masculine creation pattern, if you will. It's like it's more mentally-driven, accelerated, it's like, "How can we do it faster, faster?" Which is very Silicon Valley, it's built on speed first to market, the most audacious size. And so I think that in our space, it's important to also have the more feminine track, which is the more, receive a vision, let it gestate, really tune in about what's the most optimal vision... What's the most optimal form? And somehow you have to... I think the best things are gonna include both. Because, Musk makes a lot happen, but he also does an incredible amount of damage in people's lives, the people who work for him. And some of the company... I think he's made a complete mess out of Twitter. So it's like, this masculine pattern by itself doesn't necessarily lead to wonderful things that are serving humanity, can lead to really dark corners too. I think that he doesn't really do the more integrative, really deep listening, and also coalescing the right people and teams, he just is driving from end point goal as fast as possible, which makes him great from a Silicon Valley money standpoint, but it makes him also a disaster in other ways as a leader.

0:59:22.1 Stephen Dinan: And so it's, in some ways, he becomes the exemplar of like, how to... The apex of the current system and the shadow of the current system. And I think it's coming at us to create something that's more balanced and whole. So it's like, there's a... I almost feel like there's a subtle energetic field that is getting created around new initiatives and projects, and the more... The design for things I often think reside in the un-manifest form that we've actually collaborated on them as souls, and we're in the business of out-picturing. So when I got the download about Shift, it wasn't like, "Oh, you need to start working on building something." It was like, "This is what you contracted to create in this lifetime, and it's this vast architecture," and we're still only 3% of what I... The original download I got. It was just like, I was given a glimpse in that meditative state. I think it was day three or four after the harsh part of really getting into the deeper zone, and then it's like, "Oh, it just downloaded in."

1:00:23.7 Stephen Dinan: And so what I'm always trying to do now with creation is, if you download things in and you're aligning with the subtle energy behind something, and the sense that there are all these different collaborators who have worked on creating something together at a higher level than we're consciously aware of, and so then we're just trying to align and out-picture it. Then I think it can be a lot more... It can be easier and it can be more of a flow state that complements the other. Now, I think what he's doing is, he's building... It's an interesting discipline, it's a rigorous discipline, it's cutting away what doesn't serve, challenging things, pushing things. And this other process, I think is really vital. I don't know exactly how to balance those things, but in a way, I think that's what we're aiming towards is, can we integrate both wings in a way that actually leads to really integrated whole systems that aren't built on suffering of one kind or another, forcing people to have meetings away from their family and sleep in the office Saturday night? It's like that's brutal to families.

1:01:30.9 Stephen Dinan: And the amount of damage that Elon Musk has caused the families of his employees is enormous. He's probably... There's gonna be tens of millions of dollars of therapy required [chuckle] for some of the people who are kids of his employees. And he's also created breakthroughs in multiple industries. And I always will give him credit for, really, electric car adoption. It's like we would not be where we are without the Tesla. So there is sometimes a need to push things through, and it's like war time footings, you need that masculine discipline. And it's like if you've got Russia coming in, it's like you need to have that level of discipline and the fierceness and the focus and the iterations that's required. And if you're building a growth center for human awakening and flourishing, it's gotta have this other component too, or else something's gonna tear in the fabric.

1:02:24.9 Paul F. Austin: Right. Yeah. And I think in some ways, the future is, how do we do both? How do we... Now, Elon... And I bring up Elon as an example, 'cause I think in some ways he's more likeable than Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett, and even Steve Jobs. And I think on another hand, he's... I wrote, he's a somewhat benevolent autocrat. A somewhat benevolent autocrat. He really does, and has done things that are great for the world, and will be great for the world. I truly believe that. And like you said, and I think he's aware of this, it's like their shadow that he has, his demon mode, as they call it, where it can cause and create a lot of havoc and damage. And so it's like a lot of the employees that he ends up attracting are people who don't have families, or single men who wanna go and be really intense about it. And as soon as people start to have families, they're like, "Forget it... "

1:03:32.2 Stephen Dinan: Done.

1:03:33.9 Paul F. Austin: "Forget it. You can't have both." And I think the future that we're envisioning and dreaming and hoping to create and build, it's like it's fully integrated in that vision I don't think is integrated. It does one thing at the cost of another.

1:03:44.4 Stephen Dinan: Yeah, we have to raise families in a great way. We've gotta have really deep sacred relationships with our beloveds. We've gotta create systems that are really healthy and whole and ecosystems. And it's like... I think... I see him playing a certain role, and I don't think he's going to be one of the primary leaders leading us to the future that we really need on this planet. He's bringing in some important pieces and he's also creating some toxic patterns that we're gonna have to outgrow too.

1:04:15.9 Paul F. Austin: Okay. Last 10 minutes. No, last five minutes. We're coming up on time here. Final question that I have for you is vision of The Shift Network. We know it as this transformational educational platform, you have a lot of different teachers and courses, you started to do some incredible retreats and events. You've been on this path now, building for 13 years, but just dating many years before that. If you look 20 years from now, what impact do you want The Shift Network to have? How do you see it continuing to grow and evolve?

1:04:45.7 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. My inner guidance says that we need to focus on reaching 100 million people, we have about three million or so on our list right now, 100 million people really liberating their potential. And so this first phase, we've created a lot of courses in different verticals, different wisdom streams. Those are just gonna evolve into schools, more professional schools like we're just doing year one of a school for evidential mediumship as an example, very niche, but when you really give people evidence that you're talking to somebody on the other side, you can have a life-changing experience as an example. And so, there's all these different niche specialties within the transformational world that we wanna empower with schools, basically, online schools. And so that's the maturation of this education phase. Then we move into more of a media phase where we create more media that's really just designed to outreach in different ways. Then the phase after that is creating hubs of local centers, the Shift Hub, Shift centers, where people convene in real-time real spaces, and I think those will probably include a plant medicine component 'cause it'd probably be tiny wise about when things start to legalize.

1:05:53.4 Stephen Dinan: And then more like full residential villages of the future sort of thing has been on... It was part of the original download. We're in the later half of stage one out of four stages. And so that's been my sense. And frankly, it's just taking a long time to get all the different foundations in place, and that's where it's like, I wanna push things faster, and sometimes it's like I just have to trust the organic unfolding that the collective is ready. And then, there's a lot of detail within that, have a more unifying membership program, eventually have Shift World where people can engage each other in a virtual time and space, and that allows them to try on new identities. I've been working on a WISE AI vision that would be a potential spin-off that would be training AI and the wisdom content of humanity, and basically having... That would be... There're some things that would eventually be more like spin-off companies. And like the work in Peru, the Medicina Sagrada, I get the sense that's supposed to be a separate company, but primarily Indigenous-owned, so have 51% Indigenous ownership, for a council to do that. So there's some different structures and forms that wanna be created, and... But I think that the long range is...

1:07:16.8 Stephen Dinan: What we're really here is to bring together all these different threads of the transformational movement and showcase and amplify them, and partner with the people who are doing good work in each domain and really provide this... It's almost like a nervous system to distribute more awakened consciousness and practice. And we've talked about who we could potentially collaborate on a school for psychedelic healing, or there's these different schools and a platform for different schools that can have their own identity and sovereignty within the larger framework that I think is part of what... Where will things would go technologically. And... Yeah. And then I also feel, personally, I wanna spend more time on empowering other visionaries. I do some side coaching and empowerment. And I find it really gratifying because I don't have to take... It's not the heaviness of my own operational responsibilities and making this happen, but it's like somebody else has got a piece of the puzzle that's really important, and just empowering them to really shine and step up is really gratifying. I wanna create a school for visionaries as part of it, that's where imparting what I know about how to build and grow into different visions.

1:08:32.1 Paul F. Austin: Stephen Dinan's Academy, is that what you're gonna call it? The Academy?

1:08:35.6 Stephen Dinan: Something like that, yeah.

1:08:37.6 Paul F. Austin: There you go. I like that. Stephen, thanks for joining us. As a final close, if folks wanna learn more about The Shift Network, if they wanna learn more about your work, if you wanna point them in any way...

1:08:49.3 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. Just I do have a, but I frankly haven't updated it in several years, and so I'm just not really on it right now with my own personal brand and stuff, but... The easiest thing is to get on The Shift Network email list and see what's coming up and check out the website. And there's a lot... We didn't really go into all the different stuff we cover, but we have qigong teachers, we've got energy medicine teachers, intuition teachers, we'll have things on Kundalini or shamanism or... We're doing a Druidry course this week. Or, that's... It's like...

1:09:19.6 Paul F. Austin: Cool.

1:09:22.8 Stephen Dinan: So we're trying to have our fingers...

[overlapping conversation]

1:09:26.0 Paul F. Austin: I think I'll join that. Get me on the list for that, Stephen. The Druidry course.

1:09:27.0 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. Which is actually, yeah, really cool. I was really pleased, we found a great Druid, and it's like it's actually a really rich tradition of like, wow, this is actually right at the heart of what...

1:09:35.6 Paul F. Austin: That's the Merlin tradition, right?

1:09:39.5 Stephen Dinan: Yeah, Merlin would definitely be coming out of the Druidic lineages and so... So yeah, it's very Earth-centered, trees are really central, this connection with trees, meeting in groves, living in reverence for the Earth, being in community, creating creativity and expression of music and arts and poetry is really central to it. It's actually a really cool tradition. It's like things like that that are fun to learn about and dive into that I didn't know much about before, that, it's like a lineage that got so squashed by the Christian church, but it had thousands of years of practice in particularly British Isles.

1:10:16.5 Paul F. Austin: Now, I'm gonna buy a book on the Druids, you've now piqued my interest.


1:10:20.4 Paul F. Austin: And maybe I'll take the course after that. I tend to read books more than I watch video courses.

1:10:24.8 Stephen Dinan: Yeah. That's the irony too, is that I've primarily been a reader in terms of my own learning and practice too. [laughter]

1:10:33.5 Paul F. Austin: But not everyone's like us. It's like a lot of people do enjoy the videos and everything like that. All right. Well,, check out all their teachers and their courses, they have quite a few psychedelic summits. I'm sure will be supporting another future one. And Stephen, I just appreciate you coming on the podcast and sharing some time with us and some wisdom.

1:10:49.8 Stephen Dinan: Awesome conversation. Thank you for leading the way and really doing some really visionary stuff in the psychedelic space.


1:10:57.1 Paul F. Austin: This was fun. Thanks, Stephen.


1:11:02.3 Paul F. Austin: Hey listeners, Paul here, I hope you enjoyed our episode today with Stephen Dinan. Remember to head to, and go deeper into this episode with full show notes, transcripts, and all of the links that we mentioned in this conversation. That's, and scroll to Episode 220 with Stephen Dinan. What moved you in today's conversation? What inspired you? What new insights did you generate? Do you have more questions? Continue to dialogue with us in Third Wave's community forum at, sign in or create an account first, once you're logged in, navigate to The Psychedelic Podcast and leave us a comment. And while you're at it, check out the rest of the platform to find support, generate meaningful discussions, and get a chance to check out high-quality education resources and providers across our global ecosystem. You can sign up for free at We hope to see you there.


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