Shane Mauss, psychedelic comedian, explains his transition into the world of mind-opening substances, and how they influenced his career in stand-up. Shane describes how his experiences with DMT and psilocybin mushrooms have shaped his view of the mind and the world, and what psychedelics can do for people who have developed unhealthy modern habits.
Raised in a small town, with a sheltered upbringing, Shane Mauss became a natural rebel. First taking psychedelics at the age of 16 was purely an attempt to get in trouble – but led to some genuinely profound experiences. Shane describes the therapeutic benefits of his early psychedelic journeys, allowing him to understand the aesthetic beauty of the world and expand his consciousness.
Shane began his career as a short-joke, absurdist comedian, but eventually decided that he wanted to start performing themed shows with a more serious and informative angle. He realized that, having so many stories of psychedelic experiences under his belt, it would be possible to theme a show around psychedelics.
He was hesitant about the idea first – being aware that audiences could react negatively when the topic was breached unexpectedly in his stand-up shows. But after being interviewed on several podcasts about his experiences with DMT, Shane decided that the audience was there, and performed a trial run of 100 tour dates.
Now, Shane is preparing a documentary about psychedelics, and a stand-up special for TV. He hopes that this will lead to a follow-up cross-country tour of his psychedelic comedy show.
The experiences with DMT that propelled Shane to podcast fame are evocative and intense. Shane describes being transported to a ‘hologram computer-chip city of lights,’ that felt immensely familiar and more real than reality. “I thought I had broken my brain,” he says.
Shane encountered entities in the DMT world. He reacted with fear at first – and when he panicked, they told him to calm down. They showed him how they communicated. He describes how they messed around with his mind – playfully but with purpose. Eventually he was shown a 2D plane that looked out of place – and he was suddenly back in this reality.
His experiences with DMT gave Shane something to focus his life on. He hails their ability to open the mind – bringing us back to a childlike sense of curiosity. DMT, he says, can show us the mechanisms our brains create to help us cope with the modern world. Being able to see these mechanisms can help us break free from harmful habits and unhealthy tunnel vision.
0:00:29 Paul Austin: Hey, listeners, and welcome back to The Third Wave Podcast. I'm your host, Paul Austin for all of you new listeners. And I'm excited to bring you another show, this time with psychedelic comedian, Shane Mauss. Before I get into the details of that show, we will start with this week in psychedelics as we always do. This past weekend, the team and I attended Breaking Convention. So Patrick who handles our content, and San who's another team member, and myself, all went to the Breaking Convention Conference in London for three days of talks, parties, photos, park walking, and a bunch of other stuff. My probably personal favorite part of Breaking Convention was its location in Greenwich. I'd been to London maybe four or five times in the past. This was the first time that I stayed in Greenwich or that I'd even visited Greenwich, and it is a beautiful, beautiful place. It's like a little town in itself with a gorgeous campus at Greenwich University, a really pretty park where the Royal Observatory is, where the Greenwich line, the Meridian Line is, and lots of cute little marketplaces and shops and everything. So I really enjoyed my time there. I had an Airbnb about a 15-minute walk away from the conference center. And I think because of that, was just really, really happy with how the conference went.
0:01:43 PA: I'm now getting a little bit sick. So, please excuse me if I'm clearing my throat. I've had a fairly rigorous past six months, I would say, as I really pushed hard to help Third Wave grow, and now it has some legs under it. So I'm finally back in Berlin for a few weeks, and I'll be resting here before I have a few speaking engagements in the States. Then I'll be back to Berlin in early September, hoping to move here. I've been popping around as some of you know, quite a bit, looking for a home, and Berlin seems like a good fit at this point in time.
0:02:17 PA: So, this week in psychedelics, again, Breaking Convention. Sorry, I got a little off track. I only went to a few talks at Breaking Convention. On a personal note, struggled with some of the talks at psychedelic conferences. Many of them are not curated and geared towards engaging the audience. I think this is something that a lot of people who give talks at conferences in the psychedelic space lose sight of. The reason you're giving a talk is not to transmit information. We can do that through a book, we can do that by reading an article online. The reason you're giving a talk is because it's an experience that you're creating and curating for your audience. And as an experience, it's up to you as the presenter to make that interesting for the individuals that you are talking to.
0:02:55 PA: And I find that about 80% to 90% of talks in the psychedelic space lack this very thing. And for that reason, when I go to psychedelic conferences, I usually do not attend a lot of psychedelic talks. I'm not there for information, I'm there for the experience. And I think this is something important to consider for people who are part of conferences, who are organizing conferences, who are handling conferences, as a community and as a... Yeah, as a community, we need to bring a sense of professionalism with us, and although many of the people in this space right now are academics and researchers, you are still publicly representing the psychedelic space. And so, if new people are coming into this space and they go to conferences and they can't stay awake through half the talks, that is a serious issue and problem and something that needs to be addressed.
0:03:39 PA: So with that being said, and that's a slightly critical initial look, there were a few talks that I really enjoyed. One was by Ken Tupper about the limits of quantitative data, Ben Sessa talked about MDMA and his work with MDMA as a child psychiatrist, and Ben is an excellent presenter and he did a really phenomenal job with his presentation.
0:04:00 PA: Psychedelic Stories was hosted by Psymposia. I went to the first evening where I heard Rick Doblin give a story and Stefana from the London Psychedelic Society as well as one other woman who told a really sad and tragic story about something that had happened to her, and how that related to her psychedelic experience. And in the show notes, we can include a link to that live stream so that you can watch the Psychedelic Stories as well.
0:04:24 PA: Moving onwards, after Breaking Convention, just a few other notes from it as well, besides my own. I know Patrick also included a few notes, our content guy, included a few notes on what he enjoyed. Apparently, Dr. Ben Sessa is doing an upcoming trial MDMA treatment for alcoholism in the UK. This is an important step to bringing the UK closer to the United States for MDMA treatment. And there's an excellent article in The Guardian that has been published, which Patrick will find a link to in the show notes.
0:04:52 PA: Imminent results about the role of the default mode network and the combination of meditation and psychedelics. So Fred Barrett, who works for the Johns Hopkins team had talked about the combination of meditation and psychedelics at Psychedelic Science. And I don't think he talked about the combination of both, he just talked about comparing one to the other. And I think the results that show the combination of meditation and psychedelics, and its role in the default mode network will be really, really interesting because what it will do, it will show the ability to synthesize different modalities to accelerate the healing process for people who are struggling with issues that are tied into the default mode network. So, I'm really excited to see those results come out.
0:05:34 PA: There also was more evidence that was presented about how DMT is produced in the human brain. I also just read a recent article on WIRED, which we'll also provide in the show notes, about a study that Imperial College is going to do about mapping DMT in the brain. So once more of these results and studies become publicly available, we will certainly be publishing them on the website, as well as updating any guides that we have, to integrate and include all of this new information.
0:06:00 PA: One last note, Reason.tv have produced a short video about microdosing in the business world, and it includes an interview with Jim Fadiman. They shot this series at the Psychedelic Science Conference. I have not watched it myself. However, I think this is another important step forward as ReasonTV has a really intelligent educated audience, and I think to continue to spread this message of microdosing to these people will help to de-stigmatize psychedelics as tools and medicines.
0:06:30 PA: One other thing before we get into the intro for Shane Mauss. As I've mentioned in the past couple of podcasts, we are introducing a text to donate for listeners in the US and Canada. If you text the word give, G-I-V-E, to 616-918-3200, 616-918-3200. Once more 616-918-3200, text the word give then you can actually donate directly to Third Wave and to our show from your phone, if you are listening on this. Or you'll be prompted for how much you can give, it can be a dollar or $100 or anything else in between, and the payment is taken through credit cards. And again, these donations will help to fund
Third Wave. I emphasized this in a podcast that we did a couple of weeks ago, I stole it from Sam Harris's playbook.
0:07:19 PA: Basically, there is right now still an apprehension to pay for digital media, and I think it's important to remember that your donations help to create a listener-supported podcast, which enables me to be completely independent in my voice. However, having said that, if we don't raise enough donations within the coming probably next two months, I've said before in the show that I do not wanna do advertisements, however, this requires a lot of time and effort and money. And frankly, I am running low. And so, if we don't receive enough donations in, probably in the next couple of months we will switch to a different model, which will probably include advertisements.
0:07:54 PA: So I think that's up to the choice of the listeners, if they want their attention to be sold, that's how it will be. If you want to maintain authority and autonomy over your own attention, I encourage you to make a donation. So now let's go into the intro. So we got Shane Mauss on the show. Shane, I first saw Shane when he was doing his psychedelic comedy tour. He came to Grand Rapids, Michigan, my hometown, and I went to his show with Jonathan Thompson from Psychedelic Parenting, and had a really fucking good time. Shane is hilarious. And I wanted just to get his thoughts on the DMT experience, on mushrooms, on his personal experience with psychedelics, especially about his transition into the world of these mind-opening substances and how they've influenced his career in stand-up. Shane will describe his experience with DMT and psilocybin mushrooms, and how they've shaped his view of the mind and the world, and what psychedelics can do for people who have developed unhealthy modern habits.
0:08:48 PA: Shane's a really fascinating guy. He's someone who's extremely well-read, he runs his own podcast called 'Be Here Now,' where he interviews top-notch scientists about various aspects. I think sometimes when we think of comedians, at least for me, we don't really recognize just how fucking brilliant they are. And Shane is one of those people. So I think you guys will really enjoy this podcast. If you do enjoy the podcast, please leave a review on iTunes, and also remember we have a Patreon donation page, patreon.com/thethirdwave, if you want to become a monthly supporter and get some nice little cool gifts and shit, you can do that as well. So again, thanks so much for tuning in and enjoy this week's podcast with Shane Mauss.
0:09:44 Shane Mauss: The Shane Mauss story, who am I? I had a very small town, Midwestern upbringing. It was outside this city called La Crosse which is, it's on the border of Minnesota and Iowa and the city of La Crosse is like 50,000 people, it's not tiny or anything but it was like a small city outside of it. So I was like eight minutes from La Crosse which just seemed like a whole different world, because my parents never went... I never went more than a few minutes away from my house.
0:10:20 PA: Okay. [laughter]
0:10:21 SM: It was a very Midwestern thing, I guess, or at least it was. I had a very... My relatives were definitely very conservative, including my mom. My dad, maybe not as much, but when I was a kid, he was more. So, I was like, I had a very sheltered kind of upbringing, which drove me insane. From a very early age, I was just exceptionally rebellious and I was a real nightmare for my parents and everything, and any authority figure. So, no, I got into psychedelics when I was like 16. I'm just trying to get into trouble really. And then I really took to them, mushrooms especially. And it was... So there were a lot of really incredible therapeutic and consciousness expanding... I'm always a little unsure of how pretentious some of it sounds because it definitely expands your kind of mindfulness and awareness of, for example, little things like... When I was a kid, if someone was like, "Hey, look at this scenery." I'd be like, "What the hell are you talking about?" Like, "Why would I look at a hill?" Like, "Why would I care about that?" And after mushrooms, it's like, "Oh, okay, I get why that's aesthetically pleasing now." So I do feel in that regard they are expansive.
0:11:49 SM: There was also like, I thought, I didn't know if I was a crazy person or if everyone else was crazy because I didn't buy into organized religion from an exceptionally early age. But I didn't know that was a thing that other people did. I thought everyone was religious. I didn't know there was such a thing like agnostic or atheist or anything. And so that made me kind of feel like a crazy person. And so, I'm sure for a lot of people that are just going around through life, just like, "Yeah, you just go to work, and you get down the street like, run your errands, and life is grand, and sure you'll work here and there, and that's just how it goes." And I'm sure for some of them, a psychedelic would be really rattling and unsettling. For me, it was just such a relief to be like, "Oh, okay, this perception and this world is just kind of crazy." And like our perceptions are fickle. So it was just kind of reinforcing that for me.
0:12:50 SM: So it actually, psychedelics, I feel like made me much more sane. So that's how I got interested in psychedelics. Comedy was something that I wanna do since the age of 9 years old. I didn't ever pay attention in school or anything, I was like, "I'm gonna be a stand-up comedian. I don't know why I'm... As soon as I get out of this prison, when I'm 18 years old, I'm gonna move and become a stand-up comedian." And I've ended up putting that off for a few years, trying to save money, but when I was 24, I moved to Boston just before I turned 24, and I started doing stand-up. So at first, I was just like a kind of short joke absurdus comedian. I always had a couple of jokes about psychedelics here and there in my act, but I eventually started doing themed shows that were a little more informative. And I have a natural interest in science. I have a science podcast called, Here We Are, and I don't really like physics and stuff like that. I was really big into math, I had just a natural gift for it, but I got into life sciences more and more, like evolutionary theory more and more. And I've wanted to incorporate that into my act.
0:14:02 SM: And so I started doing themed shows, so I have a Netflix special called Mating Season, which it's fine enough. It's the least favorite thing that I've ever recorded because it was also a really transitional time in my career and having to figure out that part of like do a themed thing, and more serious thoughtful thing, and something that's supposed to be comedy, but you wanna say something meaningful. And then I made an album called My Big Break which was... I used an experience of having broken both of my feet to explore this idea that I was already talking about on stage about the evolution of negative emotions, and why we tend to remember negative things a little more as the survival function that is maladapted for our modern world, which is safer than we are built to perceive it to be. And that's when I was like, "Okay, yeah, I figured this out. I was really, really happy with that." And then I went to explore what the next subject that I was going to talk about was, and I had just endless amounts of material about psychedelics.
0:15:12 SM: I would always do a few minutes in my act, I found that talking about them much more than that people would start looking at you like you're a lunatic. And so, I didn't think the world was ready for a show about psychedelics, in the sense of... And I believe to this day, if I were to go and do my act to a bunch of unsuspecting people, it's actually happened before at a comedy club. People would be like, "What the fuck is this?" I always knew I'd be doing a show about psychedelics eventually. I thought it would be five years from now or something. I thought I was going to have to be a bigger name comedian before I could get away with it. So, I've just on podcasts, promoting the album about breaking my feet, people who were like, "Where were you?" "I was in Sedona." "What were you doing in Sedona?" "Oh, I was going there to do ayahuasca for the first time, which I never got to do because instead, I was out hiking and jumped off a thing that was too high, 'cause I'm an adrenaline junkie." "What's ayahuasca?" "Well, I smoke this stuff, DMT, all time." "What's DMT?" "Oh, well, here's the first time I smoked DMT, this is what... " And then people are like "What the fuck is that?"
0:16:22 SM: So then the next thing I know, other people are asking me to be on their podcast to talk about DMT, and then I'm becoming this DMT comedian all of a sudden. It wasn't anything that I was... It wasn't like, "Here's an angle that I can explore." It happened just really naturally, and really by mistake. And then my agent at the time was like, "What is that damn piece? That was the most fascinating conversation I've ever heard." And I was like, "Well, just so you know, since we're working together, one thing that I haven't told you is that I have endless amounts of material about psychedelics, and I always planned on putting together a show. I just don't think now is the right time culturally." And she's like, "We should try it," and lined up a couple of small indie venues to experiment with it. And right from the get go... So it took me about six months to figure out how to reliably get an audience in. Sometimes, it'd be full, sometimes there'd be hardly anyone there. I was really at the mercy of the venue and the booker, but it didn't matter. If there's only 10 people there, it was still like those 10 people were still like, "That was the best show I've ever seen!"
0:17:29 SM: And so I knew I was on to something right away, so I just kept on trying to figure out how to get more people out. And then once it started drawing a little more regularly, put together this tour that was originally gonna be like really thinking like 40 cities maybe, and then I was like, 50 sounds better. And then in the course of reaching out to venues and lining up podcasts, I was able to... When you have a tour or something to promote, it makes it a little easier to get on podcasts, rather than reaching out to someone and them not knowing what to talk about, or in the interview or whatever. So I was getting on bigger and bigger podcasts to promote the tour and because I was getting on bigger and bigger podcasts, I was having an easier and easier time booking more dates on the tour. And it all just kinda snowballed. And so, I'm now just wrapping up about 105 or 110 city tour. There's been a couple of cities that I've gone back to but it's definitely over 100 cities.
0:18:32 SM: And originally, it was everyday, it was a new city. And then that started last fall and then I slowed it down a little bit once I started extending it in February. So now that tour is coming to an end, I'm hoping to make it a special. And then I'm on tour with a follow-up tour. I've about three hours of material that is pretty solid that I rotate in and out, and a special is like a hour 15, hour and a half. And I'm hoping to use this one as an introductory for people that maybe have never done a psychedelic before, just trying to explain it in a way that anyone can understand. And then hopefully in the next one, if people are able to go on HBO or Showtime or Hulu or Netflix or wherever it ends up and stream it, and watch it ahead of time, then they'll have that introduction to me and the subject, and then I'll be able to take things a little further. And then, it's all just about me trying to work out how to put my cult together and I'm like impregnate a lot of fertile women, and so that's the plan.
0:19:37 PA: That is ultimately the goal, isn't it? That's what everything leads back to. That's what Freud would say, right? I'll summarize a bit just because that was a lot to process. So basically you grew up in a Midwestern town, a small Midwestern town, and you were like basically, "Fuck this." And you took some shrooms and you're like, "Oh, that hill, now I get why it's beautiful," and then that led into you knew you wanted to be a comedian from the age of 9, you ended up moving to Boston when you were 24, started doing comedy and after you so beautifully explained your first DMT trip on a couple of podcasts, that happened to catapult you into doing a comedy tour about psychedelics. Would that be an okay way of summarizing it?
0:20:20 SM: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Now let's do an extension of your summary and... [chuckle] no, I think that's great. My friend Myq Kaplan has a podcast, I think it's called Hang Out With Me, and after the podcast he does a summary. The podcast has a separate three-minute podcast and then he does another minute long summary of the summary. [chuckle] Holy fuck.
0:20:44 PA: It's like hitting all the attention spans in people so they can actually get the info. What was that first DMT trip like for you? So what was that experience like for you?
0:20:54 SM: I mean it was, I made it. [chuckle] A lot of people unfortunately don't break through their first time. I've talked with people where they're telling me their reports, and I'm like, "Oh, you haven't broken through yet," and they've done it 10, 20 times and never broken through. But I'm an adrenaline junkie and when someone was like, "Just smoke as much as you can," a lot of people will be like, "Well, that sounds nerve-racking," I'm like, "I will accept that challenge and I will smoke more than you think that I can." And I'm just very juvenile in that way. So yeah, I ripped right through. I landed in a hologram computer chip city made out of lights that looked exceptionally familiar and more real than this world, which I find suspect by the way. And then the lights were communicating with me in this way that I just really understood perfectly like thoughts without words and right away. My memory of it is that, which is important to point out because I think that memory is already pretty undependable and eye-witness testimony is really, really shaky already with this perceived consciousness and existence that we're exceptionally familiar and experienced in. And so I really think it's worth questioning an experience that only last for five minutes that has a dream-like quality to it.
0:22:33 SM: But my memory of it is that right away it was like, "Oh, welcome," it was waiting for me like, "So happy to see you," and I was like, "What the fuck?" At first I was just like, "I broke my brain." You knew this was gonna happen one day. [chuckle] You knew you're gonna keep on pushing it and then eventually things are gonna go bad. And you've been heading this direction for a long time and it happened. Your brain is broken and I don't know how this is gonna... I'm like, "So I guess I'll just be in a mental institution or something, and I'll have feeding tubes in me or something. How do I feed myself? How do I keep the machine functioning that my brain exists in?" So that was my first thought and then I wasn't freaked out, I was just like, " Yeah. Shit, sorry mom." It wasn't scary or anything. It was just embarrassing. And then knew that that's what I was thinking because either it's gods, aliens, or the inside of my head. I believe it's the inside of the mind, but honestly tough to tell. And it was like it knew that, what I was feeling, how it hits my brain, and right away it goes, it was like, "Calm down, focus, pay attention," and it started explaining how it communicates which in this particular trip, which DMT trips can vary wildly.
0:24:12 SM: And then also at the same time they can have a lot of similarities. Or like I might have five different common DMT trips that I'll have, and then a whole bunch of other ones that's like, "What the fuck was that?" I thought I had DMT all figured out. I've done it a hundred times, and then I'm like, "Surely I won't see anything unexpected on the 101st time." And then you'll do it and then you're like, "Oh, all of those hundred times were wrong." [chuckle] They were completely wrong. And it's a different thing entirely. So this first time was it trying to explain to me how it communicates, and then toward the end just kind of like, it was fucking with my head intentionally, like as a trick which I thought was wonderful. I was like, "No matter what it is, they're like a god, a alien, inner world of like a multiverse of existence in different consciousness that we aren't normally able to access. The idea that any of those things are fucking with you in a playful way just brings me so much joy.
0:25:19 IV: I saw this like, and when I say, "Fuck it," it was after it was explaining to me how it communicated it was like, "Now do you really wanna see something?" Like it was gonna show me the meaning of life, and then it was like, "Look over here," and then it was just this weird out of place two dimensional, really didn't fit into this DMT landscape at all, like cartoon Cheshire cat just laughing at me. I'm like, "What the fuck?" And it's like, "I'm just fucking with you," and I'm like, "What?" And then I was just immediately out of it and back to normal and I'm like, "What the fuck was that?" So I knew after the first time smoking DMT that it was most likely going to be a life long pursuit for me. I'm a naturally inquisitive person and having new experiences and those a-ha moments in the mind are what I obsessively chase after. And I don't really even like reading, but I do it all of the time just for the I'm like 'ahh' for like hours sitting there reading this thing that I'm kind of bored by and then like something clicks and I'm like, "Ohhhh."
0:26:31 SM: All I do is, I read pretty dry science stuff and that's me, that's what I chase and DMT. You don't have to labor through a jargony neuroscience book for five hours to have that feeling. DMT, you'll have that feeling a thousand times a second, and it's just this incredible mystery to me. Maybe it eventually won't be that much of a mystery, who knows? But we're a long ways off from that. And yeah. So I find it endlessly fascinating and I'm always trying to think of science-y kind of explanations for my DMT trips. And then sometimes I have some that are like, "Fuck, all those ideas are wrong. It's something else entirely."
0:27:22 PA: Well, it seems like with some of these other substances like mushrooms or ayahuasca or even LSD, you go into these deep states of whatever altered... Like an altered consciousness and oftentimes it's a little easier to identify why you had a bad trip, or why you had a good trip or what these underlying motifs or symbols or whatever were in some of these really intense experiences. But it seems like what you're describing with the DMT experience and what I've heard from other people, it can sometimes be like that, but it's often more just like a, "What the fuck?" How much meaning do you ascribe to the DMT experience? Do you just pick and choose what you've seen, what seems to be desirable or impactful and you just do away with the rest? Or do you just go in with a completely open mind and you're like, "Whatever happens, happens."
0:28:06 SM: Yeah. So if I remember something from the DMT experience. So if I smoke it and I'm like, oh there's like this loop, this inescapable loop of time going both into the future and into the past and it's this eternal loop that we're stuck in and all of this happens over and over again, then I go, "Well, why would my brain perceive things that way?" And so then I think about how our inner worlds have to be running these simulations all of the time to predict... I'm starting to shoot a documentary, I have an idea for a docu-series, I have a couple of TV shows that I'm working on pitching eventually and my mind has to be able to simulate what that might look like for this kind of future event. And so, our minds do have this ability to do that seemingly and then we can also look back on things and remember things and go back in time a bit. And so, if potentially during these hyper-salient moments when, like say, you'd break your feet and then what your brain then has to do is go, "Okay, how do I get myself out of this situation? Do I call? Am I gonna need to be airlifted outta here? Can I make it down? Would an ambulance with a stretcher be able to come up here? Is this terrain gonna be too difficult to navigate? And kind of what is... Am I gonna be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life? Or do I need to call and cancel my gig for this Friday?"
0:29:48 SM: And so, you're just like in no time your brain is just running through all of these various simulations. And then also drawing on past experiences too, simulating the past. So yeah, "Did I see a show about 127 hours or something like that? How did I get through?" And drawing on past experiences to help make better future plans. So the brain on some level of perception is able to do this really rapidly. When people say life flashes before your eyes like that, it's really under-selling it. Not only is your life flashing before your eyes, but everything that could have been does and everything that might be in the future does as well in seconds. But there would be only so much processing power to simulate some... So I can think about what I'm going to do tomorrow and picture it pretty well. If I'm trying to put together a five-year plan, things start getting foggier and foggier.
0:30:52 SM: So maybe in this level of perception, you're seeing these simulated states going forward and backwards at the same time and as it's running out of processing power, that those kind of timelines start getting foggier the further away they get. And as they get foggier, it creates a horizon look to it, like a bend. And then it creates this thing that looks like a loop and what looks like a thing that comes together, which is the future and the past is actually just your brain filling in this... It's like object permanence. It's like a baby, a baby doesn't... Like when I play peekaboo with a baby, it literally thinks my face disappeared and then when it comes back like, "Oh, my god! That face is back. Woohoo! I thought it was gone forever." And it takes your brain a little while to learn this object permanence stuff, but then once it's built into the brain, maybe the brain's perceiving things like that all the time. And so, maybe rather than being in this inescapable loop, it's just the outcome of object permanence filling in what's actually a gap and no connection. And perhaps when people are really deep thinkers and deep meditators they're accessing little aspects of these inner worlds that they are projecting onto the outside, and that's where ideas of reincarnation and stuff like that are coming from naturally in the brain.
0:32:14 SM: Or when Elon Musk is going on and on about how this world's definitely a simulation and simulation theory. And one, this is a very sexy idea that he's getting publicity for. And two, what if he's an exceptionally deep thinker? And on these levels, there are these odd simulations going on all of the time that seem very different than this consciousness does. Would you then project that outwards? So that's like one example of one thing that I'll notice in the DMT space that I then try to dissect, to figure out what's maybe happening in the inner world and then how it's being expressed through people and in our culture and in our environment without knowing why it's... Without people consciously knowing why they're doing it. We use these metaphors all the time too, like you call someone cold and it's not their temperature, or you call someone distant when they're standing right next to you. And so, we use all these metaphors all the time and some of them, if you pay attention to 'em can be really... I think that it can give you insights into some of what the mental processes are. Or if you say someone's hooked on something, that's a metaphor, it doesn't mean there's a psychological hooks, like an addiction or like you fell for somebody.
0:33:38 PA: But even falling for somebody is a metaphor in itself, right?
0:33:41 SM: Exactly. Exactly. And what does that mean? Does that mean you were duped then? Falling over can mean having been tricked when you're falling for something? And then are we evolved to... There's a lot of evolutionary theory about the evolution of self-delusion and 95% of people think they're more intelligent than half the population, think they're better drivers than half the population, so on and so forth. And confidence can go a long ways in life, especially the dumber you are, the more confident you're going to need to be because it can really drive you and motivate you. So the dumbest people are the most sure of themselves.
0:34:23 PA: Which is an issue in today's day and age.
0:34:26 SM: It is a little bit. But so when you say falling for, is it like your brain is deceiving you into actually being tricked intentionally by this other person because within that you can fall in love, which is this bonding mechanism that will help you stay together and committed because our offspring are incredibly expensive and having two people around it. And so this is just how my brain works.
0:34:56 PA: Hey, listeners, this is just a quick interruption from our regularly scheduled programming. We are introducing a text to donate for listeners in the US and Canada. All you need to do to donate to Third Wave is text the word give to 616-918-3200. Again the word give, G-I-V-E, to 616-918-3200. Give 616-918-3200. It'll prompt you for how much you can give $1, $5, $10 or anything else and the payment is taken directly through credit cards. Your donations will go, again, into our Patreon campaign, into the general funds to make sure that we continue to create a high quality podcast for all of the listeners who are currently tuning in. We're hoping to set up funds for special projects later on like psychedelic sponsorships. But we believe that engaging the psychedelic community is an important part of building something together and so we are now offering this option. That's it, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
0:36:04 PA: I'm gonna add something because basically, I read this book, Metaphors We Live By. Have you...
0:36:09 SM: Oh, wonderful. I'm gonna write that down.
0:36:12 PA: Yeah, read that because everything you're talking about right now is basically about how, as a culture, we create these containers in which these metaphors exist that then dictate our actions and behaviors without we recognizing it. So kind of what you're talking about like DMT and seeing into and under these, once... This is why psychedelics and DMT can be so interesting because they help us to disassociate or dis-identify from cultural metaphors that we find to be poisonous or unhelpful in a way.
0:36:38 SM: Yeah.
0:36:39 PA: And with as you're talking about evolutionary psychology, it seems to me more and more people who are reconnecting and getting in touch with these basic human principles and values that we've lost touch with as a result of modern cities and civilization, consumerism, materialism, these sorts of things. And I'm just contextualizing this to.
0:37:00 SM: Yeah, you mean we didn't evolve to work in cubicles?
0:37:04 PA: Weird. It's a really weird thing.
0:37:06 SM: And that us hyper-social primates are isolating ourselves and undergoing tremendous amount of stress and loneliness and completely unsure why, it's strange. We fucked up a lot of things for ourselves, but we might be sorting it out.
0:37:28 PA: I do like to keep an optimistic somewhat perspective, it's like this model has worked until it's not working anymore and it's like we've gotten to a point with, for example, capitalism that like, it's lost its usefulness because we now have all these technology and tools available that we can start to evolve basically as a global species in a global society. Because industrialization was great because it helped a lot more babies survive and healthcare is a lot better and we had all these vaccines, and at the same time now we recognize that there are all these really, really negative things as well as a result of 40-hour work weeks and very, very time slots and religion. A lot of these things are now more poisonous than helpful. And so it seems like psychedelics are helping to facilitate this kind of transition for a lot of people from kind of be more in dis-identifying from these cultural values and starting to recognize that the values that we should hold true are like, for example, when we talk about evolutionary psychology the importance of connection of community with nature and the earth.
0:38:31 SM: Yeah, I mean the brain's really good at learning and the brain doesn't like having to relearn things over and over again so it creates these efficiencies and these what habits are and addiction is like addiction's just like hyper-learning too, but it's just so the brain doesn't have to sit and crunch every possible... You can just go through the motions and get through your work day and it just gets more and more efficient in that way. Well, unfortunately, as we all know, [chuckle] some of these habits that our brains have worked out for us are really detrimental and can create stress and stress really creates a lot of tunnel vision. And so then you miss a lot of opportunities and you're not making new connections and you're not having the same kind of neuroplasticity that you might have in a more stimulated environment, like actively... Not passively watching TV, but having to go out and find food and try new food, and sort of taste this plant. And having to have all these new experiences all of the time keeps the brain young, and fresh, and able to figure out when there's behaviors that need to be changed.
0:39:50 SM: But psychedelic seemingly create a whole lot of new connections in the brain at least temporarily, it can induce anesthesia and have all this cross-talk in the senses, which is really incredible because there's this "synaptic pruning" like those connections have been gone since you were 2 years old, where the brain had to be like, "Okay, this is what a smell is, and this is what feeling is... This is what a texture is, and those are two different things and we got to really create this separation within the mind." But the thing is once, because it makes it easier categorizing things, it's a really nice way to just pick things out of face value, and just be like, "No, I know what's going on there, I don't need to look into it anymore."
0:40:40 SM: Well, as we get older most of us are self-fucking bored to death anyway. Our brains, our brains could definitely handle a little more than they could when we were 2, and our brain's kind of isolated and like, "Okay, let's go about blocking out all of this information and stick to what is the most important things. " And I think that psychedelics can create that... A very child-like curiosity again, and I think it can quite literally open the mind as cliche. I think it's just like there's a lot of ways you can open your mind and expand; you can travel and go and visit different cultures, and read books that you never thought you'd read, and start opening doors with your non-dominant hand, or even introduce new connections in the mind. Just having new experiences and mixing it up. But a really quick way to do that is the trip, and it could be a stimulating as like a European vacation and like...
0:41:49 PA: Even more, it's like a European vacation condensed into 15 minutes sometimes, it's like a DMT trip, right?
0:41:55 SM: Exactly, yeah. So that's what's exciting. And because I think there is a subset... I think the more habits you have and especially threats in your environment which make you psychologically just more careful and less likely to seek out new experiences because there might be additional threats out there, and there's like a ton of threats in your pre-existing environment and you at least know this one, you at least know these threats and you're doing everything you can to manage that. I'm not gonna go out and seek out more dangers, I'm doing everything I can to keep up with these ones. As far as I know, out there it has even more threats than here. So the people that are what we would call closed-minded and very set in their ways, that's only going to get worse, it's only going to lead to more neural atrophy. And a lot of people are going to be really... To try to convince someone like that be like, "Hey, maybe you should try meditating, or yoga, or go and see a therapist," they're gonna be like, "Well, I'm not a faggot, why would I do those things? I'm not a horrible, horrible sinful faggot." But what people might do is try a drug, people like drugs.
0:43:11 SM: And so it could be this incredible opportunity to reach people that need it the most. I don't think that there's a lot of in-roads there with ayahuasca or iboga because if... How are you... You're most close-minded like racist person is really the person that needs the help the most. Well, at least second to the people left there hurting. But to be like, "Hey, you're gonna go to Peru, and there's gonna be a shaman, some black foreigner wearing face-paint, half-naked, and playing weird music like you've never heard before," those people aren't gonna do that. But I think DMT, "Oh, only 10 minutes? Ooops. Oh, let's see, I can do anything for 10 minutes." Trouble is, as DMT can be exceptionally jarring, I'm not sure it's the best first psychedelic for everybody.
0:44:08 PA: Like MDMA, I feel like that's what MAPS is doing kinda, right?
0:44:12 SM: MDMA I think it's like a really exciting possibility in that regard because MDMA is like it's nowhere...
0:44:18 PA: It's nice. [chuckle]
0:44:21 SM: It is. It's nowhere near my favorite psychedelic, but I...
0:44:25 PA: Well, you're a risk-taker, right? You're an adrenaline junkie, and MDMA it's just this very kind of soft kinda like.
0:44:31 SM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:44:32 PA: But I think that's... 'Cause psilocybin mushroom is also really effective, but I think the reason MAPS focused on MDMA was because for the exact reasons that we're talking about. It's like, it's a synthetic, it's more comfortable for people probably who are suffering to become acquainted with it, and I think Rick just loves MDMA, in general, Rick Doblin. And so I think that was also like, it was probably maybe a bit of a personal thing is there.
0:45:00 SM: Yeah. I don't even think he does MDMA that much, not as much as you would think. But I think that he genuinely very much believes passionately in the therapeutic benefits of it. I don't like speaking for anybody, but I think that's pretty safe to say. But in talking with Rick, I was actually surprised that I was like, "Oh, do I do more MDMA than you do?" And I don't really even like MDMA that much. I don't dislike it, I find it to be, when me and my girlfriend do MDMA, holy shit, it's like we work some stuff out...
0:45:25 PA: See, that's... It's like relationship deepening, right? And that's what it's really, really good for if you're like...
0:45:25 SM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so I do love it in that regard, but again, I'm a fucking juvenile adrenaline junkie, and I like it that way. I don't wanna grow out of that anytime soon. That means I'm dying.
0:46:00 PA: Or not doing comedy anymore for that.
0:46:02 SM: Right, right.
0:46:03 PA: How often do you trip? We were talking about before, these experiences are intense. For me, I microdose a lot because it's a little bit of a better way to have some of these input from the substances in your every day life. But intense trips, just going and traveling, or just reading a really intense book, these things take time to process, especially like high DMT. So for you, what have you found to be like a good... Kinda like once every month, once every three months, once every six months, what for you has worked out?
0:46:33 SM: It changes wildly. I've smoked DMT 10 times in a weekend before, and then I've also... I see that face so often whenever I tell people about my DMT use, but at the same time I have not done DMT since last August because I'm still integrating my last one. So it just depends how intense the particular experience was. If you do DMT 10 times in a weekend, a lot of times it's like the same sort of narrative over and over again, so you're just getting a little more clarity. And then when you haven't done it in a while, sometimes it can be exceptionally jarring. And so, I'm always figuring out... I'm always just winging it. So on my tour, because I was traveling, for most of it I was traveling to a new city every night, I didn't really get to have the opportunity to trip. I'm doing this whole big tour about psychedelics, and it's the least amount of psychedelics that I've done in a long time. And then, I went through... I'm in a kind of a transitional time right now because this tour's wrapping up, and I have a really exciting opportunity fall in the air stuff that seems like something's definitely going to land at least, if not all of them, but I don't know which one right now, and I don't know which one I should be putting my time and energy into.
0:48:06 SM: And so, during a transitional time, I typically get exceptionally depressed because I'm a little bit manic depressive, and so my brain will just naturally... Depression will be a way of my brain just putting the brakes on everything like, "Let's just make sure you're not fucking up and going down the wrong path." So when that happened a few weeks ago, I knew it was time to start doing mushrooms regularly again, and so I've been doing mushrooms every three days. And so I'll do that for a month or two to come up with new ideas to figure out microdose.
0:48:41 PA: Like at what dose level?
0:48:42 SM: Pretty medium doses. I haven't done a super dose in two years. I'm saying around... Is it easier for people to say it in terms of eighths? I always think like if you're a casual user, you would think like an eighth because that's what you're buying. So I'm doing a half a eighth to a full eighth, to maybe sometimes 5 grams. I don't think that 5 grams is the super trip that Terence McKenna talks about it being, at least not for me. If I'm by myself with my eyes closed, I can get into some really intense spaces, but 5 grams, I can also be walking around, I can run to a grocery store, and I could fucking run errands if I want to.
0:49:30 PA: So 5 grams is like your microdose?
0:49:32 SM: I'm doing a lot of half a gram and gram trips as well. I'm probably doing three mushroom trips a week, and it will be, one will be around 3 grams, one will be a half a gram or a gram, and then another one will be like 2 grams. And then once a month, I do a 5 gram one, and probably another I would say in July. In July I'm having a bunch of experiences for my documentary, doing frog and toad, and a bunch of things that I haven't done because I'm also... I have July and August off, and I'm hoping to use that opportunity to really get a handle on my physical and mental health. And so I'm hoping that will be able to help or springboard me into building better habits again. I was in a really great shape before I hurt myself for the first time in my life, and I would love to get back there, and it's just hard when you fall out everything. And so I imagine after that time, I will probably then and not do psychedelics for months.
0:50:42 SM: So it's not uncommon for me to go almost six months without doing a psychedelic, but then it's also not uncommon for me to do a psychedelic every two or three days for a month or two straight. But I don't notice any difference in a level of craziness, I just, sometimes I feel crazy, sometimes I don't. Psychedelics don't really have... It's all just part of the process. So I've never felt like, "Am I losing it right now because of these psychedelics that I'm doing?" Well, maybe during a trip, but not in my everyday life. I haven't really ever felt that way. It's just sometimes I'm like... If I wanna start exercising and building habits, psychedelics aren't always the best for that. Psychedelics are really great for coming up with new ideas, finding some solutions, figuring out some directions, but then the actual act of like, "Okay, here is the mundane horse shit that I have to do to. Okay, fucking push-ups I'll do it anyhow." Stuff that I just can't be bothered with, not in an arrogant way. I just have an exceptionally hard time getting myself to do the small minutia, like booking a dentist appointment and shit like that. And so, when I'm trying to get on top of things in that regard, I don't find psychedelics to be terribly helpful.
0:52:09 PA: I've been talking about this with a few friends of mine, it's like this balance between internal work and external work we do. And internal work, in terms of what you're talking about, setting the compass, setting the direction, coming up with new ideas, kind of facilitating transition, psychedelics are really good for that. But when you actually put each foot in front of the next, and take the initiative, and start driving the bus.
0:52:32 SM: Cocaine.
0:52:32 PA: Cocaine. Okay. [chuckle]
0:52:33 SM: I'm trying to commit to my first joke.
0:52:38 PA: Speed. Amphetamines.
0:52:40 SM: I'm like doubling down on that joke. [chuckle]
0:52:44 PA: That's where we go. No. So it's like they're not great driving forces, they're really good at helping us reposition. And I think for me, this is something that the psychedelics space, as a big thing, is struggling with, is where is that balance? Because a lot of people in the space are very internal, and because they're into psychedelics there's a lot of work being done. But something that I see missing is where's the initiative, where is the drive, where's... When shall we see that from organizations like MAPS and Beckley and what you're doing with the comedy tour. But I think I really would be interested to see more of that kind of entrepreneurial drive and initiative and spirit, balanced with some of the internal work that's already being done.
0:53:26 SM: Man, it seems like Aubrey Marcus is trying to explore that.
0:53:32 PA: He's doing a good job as well. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:53:33 SM: I'm not terribly familiar with him or his work or Onnit or anything, but I've been on his podcast, he is on my documentary and the little bit that I do know, it seems like he's pretty integration-oriented. Unfortunately, he's too fucking handsome for me to stand, but that's his curse and he's gonna have to live with it.
0:53:54 PA: He's gotta deal with that. Well, let's wrap up and just before we wrap up, what's next for you? So we were just talking about all these transitions and things, obviously you're wrapping up the comedy tour, right now what is on the horizon for you in terms of projects?
0:54:08 SM: Well, so there's documentary that I'm doing, I just watched some footage the other day and it's like... I've never done a documentary before, and so some days it's like, "Oh, I hope that we got something out of that, out of that eight hours of filming me on mushrooms, talking." As we started doing this documentary it's actually part of what was happening with my depression, and I was like, "I already committed to doing this." And then as I was filming stuff... I've never done a documentary before so I was like, "I don't know, is any of this gonna be entertaining or good?" And I finally watched some of the first parts of it, and I'm like, "Oh, this is gonna be so good." So I'm really, really excited. I would like to do a docu-series about psychedelics, but that part hopefully. So basically the plan that I can share, I have a lot of things that are just too uncertain to really be plugging, but I should be done filming this documentary in mid-July, and we're hoping to be submitting it to festivals in September.
0:55:14 SM: And then late September, the plan is to record the show, A Good Trip, my stand-up show that I've been touring with. Also in mid-July is when we're starting the process of figuring out distribution, if someone's going to buy it or if I have to pay for it ahead of time and then if a place will acquire it later, or they'll give me the money up front. So it's the details like that need to be worked out. I need money guys, is what I'm trying to tell you if you're listening to this. I'm doing some really important stuff and I just need all of your money and your women as well. But it's a great cult that I'm building, it's a fun one. There's cool drugs, everyone's pretty chill.
0:55:52 PA: You have a commune yet? Like have you set aside land to move to?
0:55:56 SM: I would love a commune. Again, I kinda organize this money to go there so if you can just send me all your... If you could sell off all of your possessions, okay? So the idea is that the stand-up special should be a very easy sell, not necessarily easy but a sure thing. It will be sold, it will be on somewhere and people will be able to stream it. The documentary will be a little less certain than that as far as whether... I mean, you can always put something on fucking YouTube, but whether it will get real legitimate distribution and a big part of that will be... I think the stand-up special will help sell the documentary. And then at that time I'm hoping to do a follow-up tour, potentially a docu-series after this first one comes out, and then my Here We Are podcasts, where I travel around talking with scientists, which really has nothing to do with psychedelics or rarely does. I'm hoping to put a lot more effort into in July and August, and really taking it up a notch.
0:56:58 SM: We have a good number of listeners right now and looking for more. I've been in the process for some time working out structures of TV shows and other various projects that are taking what I'm doing with my science podcasts, and taking it to a bigger level of me going around and explaining a number of these studies and how they work, and going around and talking with academia in a fun and entertaining way. So yeah, that's everything that I have going on at the moment.
0:57:33 PA: Great, so you've got a lot going on. I'm looking forward to the docu-series. Now, if our listeners want to find you?
0:57:40 SM: Shane Mauss, M-A-U-S-S dot com, you can find everything else from there really. I made a little preview page; under the tour, there's a little tab and then you can go this preview page. And I have on all of the podcasts that I've been on, talking about psychedelics and stuff, like You Made It Weird and Joe Rogan, and Marc Maron's WTF, and all those. So, if people wanna just hear more of me talking about the exact same things over, and over, and over again with different hosts, they can check that out.
0:58:18 PA: Well, if they're gonna be part of your cult, I feel like that would be a really important way to start to get to know you, right?
0:58:23 SM: Repetition, repetition. And then I would just start figuring out... I'm always looking for ideas, if you think you have wardrobe ideas for what we should wear in our cult to anything like that, just reach out to me, we're very open to suggestions. And as long as you're more suggestible than I am, I will be slightly suggestible to it. So everyone gets sick, I'm sure of you. It's just people need to know the I am in charge of it, it's kind of my thing, I'm on the top of it, and so I do get all of the money and the women, but there's a lot of benefits for everyone else as well.
0:58:42 PA: Absolutely, a lot of benefits. So the great psychedelic comedian, Shane Mauss. Shane, thanks for joining us and being on the show.
0:58:42 SM: Thank you.
0:59:25 PA: Hope you guys all enjoyed the podcast. We have a couple of questions now that the podcast is done as we typically do answering listener questions at the end of the podcast. For this week, we just have two questions. One is from Paul Ratha who asked, "Will SNRIs, and this could probably be doubled for SSRIs as well, but will SNRIs block me from having a level five trip on mushrooms? I've taken 7.5 grams in several occasions and cannot reach a level four or five trip. Is it possible that I just have to take more?"
0:59:53 PA: I'm not going to give a straight answer to that mostly because I'm not a doctor. And I would feel very, very hesitant to give any sort of medical advice, especially when looking at how we're combining psilocybin mushrooms with things like SNRIs or SSRIs. I will point you towards an article that Patrick wrote about mixing antidepressants with psychedelic substances, it's on our website, we'll provide a link in the show notes. In short, it seems like there is something going on when we're taking antidepressants that requires us to take even more psychedelics in order to have the same effect. However, it is largely dependent on the specific pharmaceutical that you're taking. Some pharmaceuticals will actually require you to take fewer psychedelics to have the same effect. Some pharmaceuticals will require you to take more psychedelics to have the same effect. So I would check with your doctor.
1:00:42 PA: And if your doctor... This is something that I emphasize in some of these seminars and workshops that I've been doing. If your doctor doesn't approve of you taking psychedelics, find a new doctor because that proves that your MD is not staying up-to-date on the latest research and how it relates to mental health. And that should be a serious concern. There's enough research already to show that psychedelics are definitely effective dealing with depression. And as we get more and more research coming out, especially as we finish phase three trials, they will become a medically accepted treatment.
1:01:10 PA: However, you don't need to wait until you can get a prescription to do them because you can grow these things in your home. And I think it's up to us as individuals, especially as we live in an increasingly out of touch world, where our government and our political system is completely out of touch with the needs of people, it's up to us to put that into our own hands and make decisions for ourselves. We have the research that shows that psychedelics are much more effective than antidepressants at treating depression.
1:01:37 PA: Last question, second question from Anonymous: What can I expect to feel like the next day after a big trip? It depends a lot on your set and setting. It depends a lot on how that trip went. I think one thing that you could definitely expect to feel is this need to reflect and this need to process, this need to talk to someone. I think whenever we go through a psychedelic experience, especially one that is a higher dose, there's a lot that creeps up from our subconscious and our own conscious that we then need to process. So I think the day after a big trip, set that time aside to do nothing. Set that time aside to spend with your thoughts, to spend with a loved one, a close friend, a therapist, someone who you can talk to about your experience to really process it and understand it.
1:02:18 PA: I think the other thing that you can expect to feel if it's a really good trip is like a reset, kinda like a deep breath, a deep break from the chaos of the world that we live in. I've heard some people refer to it as resetting the hard drive. I think that would be fairly accurate, at least for me, in terms of how I've perceived my own psychedelic substances. It really does feel like a step back, an ability to take a deep breath and kind of start from new. Now this is probably because of its interactions with the serotonin system. I think it's also partly because psychedelics help us to really get some level of perspective on the kind of world that we often see ourselves tied up in.
1:02:54 PA: So those are the two questions for this week. If you guys have any more questions, please go to our Twitter or our Facebook page and post your questions there, we'll be happy to answer them. And enjoy the rest of your week and if you enjoyed this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks so much.
Psychedelic Stories from Breaking Convention 2017:
Taking Psychedelics with SSRIs: read our full article about the risks of mixing psychedelics with medication