Can Psychedelics Inspire A Lasting Paradigm Shift?


Episode 37

Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein, author and thinker, sits down with The Third Wave to talk about how a new story of ‘interbeing’ could help us break free from our destructive modern systems. We hear about the influence that psychedelics have had on Charles’ life, and the reasons why Charles remains optimistic about the direction of human society.

Podcast Highlights

  • At 22, Charles had a powerful psychedelic experience that he describes as “reorienting” his life.
  • He decided he wanted to tell a story that didn’t rely on social norms.
  • This new story fights the illusion of separation and creates a new fundamental concept of ‘interbeing,’ helping us accept that our actions affect the world and others.

Charles describes his early psychedelic experience as like a confirmation that reality was bigger than he’d been told. It showed him the existence of something to strive for; that it was possible to achieve something new and beautiful from the ashes of our current destructive society.

He decided to begin constructing a new story. Breaking down the old narratives of modern society that rely on concepts of separation (you against ‘others’) and exploitation, the new story relies on the idea of ‘interbeing,’ which posits that every action we make affects the earth and people on it. Harming anything around us will ultimately harm ourselves.

Charles believes that psychedelics are illegal because they’re a genuine threat to the current system – they break down that illusion of separation, leaving us with an awareness of interbeing that de-legitimizes standard cultural narratives. Psychedelics show us how we can live more compassionate lives – and nations that rely on exploitation to survive are afraid of that change.

Despite the current state of the modern world, Charles is optimistic about the direction things are going. He sees Trump and far-right politics as the death-throes of an old system. He sees this as an important process for humanity – a birthing of a new story out of the collapse of a diseased society.

Podcast Transcript

0:00:25 Paul Austin: Welcome back, listeners, to the relaunch of The Third Wave Podcast. I have been super excited to do this. I thought originally we would just take like a month off and then it ended up going much longer than that. We've had a number of things going on into Third Wave where we just had to really focus on some internal infrastructure things before we could continue our outreach. And so now it's back. I'm your host, Paul Austin and we're gonna be back with a huge lineup of exciting interviews for the reinstatement of our weekly show. We've listened to your feedback and made changes to our format so we can keep providing you with high-quality discussions about the direction of the psychedelic movement in 2018 and beyond. So first thing is first, is we are relaunching our microdosing course and community on January 13, that is everything you need sort of package about both how to microdose but most importantly how to live your best life with the help of microdosing, so looking at the intersection of self-optimization and microdosing.

0:01:24 PA: We've been doing that the past four months, really ever since we shut down the podcast, that's been our main focus as a way to make this project sustainable and so far we've enrolled about 350 people in the microdosing course, that is as of January 4, 2018. So stay tuned for that. If you're on our email list, you'll receive something about that. Also don't forget to leave a review on iTunes, if you enjoy the podcast and send us your questions via Facebook or Twitter so that we can answer them at the end of the podcast.

0:01:58 PA: So this week, I spoke with Charles Eisenstein who is the author of Sacred Economics amongst many other books. Charles tells us about the tired old narratives that have been a cause of division and separation in modern society and how a new story of inter-being, interconnectedness is beginning to emerge. Charles remains optimistic about the direction of society and partially thanks to Third Wave of the psychedelic movement. This was an excellent interview with Charles and actually, we did this interview at the end of August in 2017, right before we paused the podcast. I assumed we would relaunch in a month, but that didn't happen. So this is the interview that I did with Charles, I hope you enjoy it.


0:02:46 PA: What happened with Charles Eisenstein and psychedelics?

0:02:50 Charles Eisenstein: Well, my first exposure was, I guess it would be 1990, yeah, 1990. I was 22 and I was living in Taiwan and had a very powerful LSD experience and it was kind of like this confirmation, the feeling was I knew it, I knew that reality was bigger than I'd been told and also it kind of re-oriented my life, not in any direct way as if I suddenly found my mission or anything like that, but I knew that what I did in my life had to make sense in light of a much-expanded reality. So the life course that had been offered to me by the system was no longer an option and it never really had been an option because even though I didn't have a basis really in my experience to critique it, I also rebelled against it intuitively, just as many people of my generation have, and before and after, I mean...

0:03:56 PA: It's still happening. [chuckle]

0:03:58 CE: Yeah, it's still happening. Just like I can't make myself go along with the program. So becoming a slacker, procrastinating, self-sabotage, cynicism, going through the motions, like all these things. It's like, "I'm just not gonna do this. Even if I don't have the courage or the ability to articulate what's wrong, there's just something wrong and I'm not gonna comply." And so, yeah, the psychedelics were a revelation and a confirmation that my secret suspicion was true. So yeah, and then, yes, that was LSD, it felt like a tremendous gift and medicine. And I'm not like a super experienced psychonaut or anything like that, but...

0:04:42 PA: Me neither.

0:04:43 CE: And I also don't think that... I think that, yeah, I would say that they're a medicine and open to the proper use or abuse thereof. And they're not, I guess for me they're, well, okay, this might not be true of all psychedelics but for me, LSD was kind of, it revealed a place, a world, a reality, a state of being that guided me ever since then but it can't put me in that place and keep me there. And I saw kind of a danger to, I mean, I can see how they could be really addictive because they take you and put you in a place and then you're back to normal and how do I get back to that place, well, I do the same thing I did last time. But I think what they're meant to do is to show you the existence of a place. It's like you get flown there and then you fly back and you fly there again and fly back and then eventually you're like, "I'm just gonna have to walk and experience that terrain, the territory in between here and this incredibly magical coherent state of being."

0:05:47 PA: Place of transcendence, almost.

0:05:48 CE: Yeah, well, yeah, I mean, there's like, I'm just saying there's a long journey in between and the journey itself is not a mistake, it's supposed to be that way, like that's why we're here almost. So yeah, that was my introduction to psychedelics.

0:06:05 PA: Now I'd like to go dig in then a little bit before that. Because you mentioned how your story is representative of so many other people's stories, having been raised in this story of separation as you define it, the separation of the self. How did that come to be, in your own younger years, in your adolescence, in your teenage, in your college years? How did you kind of intuitively rebel against this story that you were born into?

0:06:36 CE: I rebelled by not trying very hard to build my resume and to get the best grades possible. I still went to an elite university. I tried hard enough to at least get there, but then didn't do all the things that you were supposed to do to be successful and to build your resume. I just couldn't make myself care. So it wasn't... Yeah, it wasn't like a radicalized rebellion, it was an unconscious rebellion.

0:07:02 PA: And the reason I ask that is because you went to a prestigious university. You studied mathematics. You're obviously very well-spoken, you're very articulate and you're very intelligent. And so I think for me, it seems like you did pretty damn well, in a way.

0:07:19 CE: Yeah, I took kind of the first step down the path. I didn't have the courage or the awareness to not go to college, to step out before then. Like my own sons, I have a 21-year-old and an 18-year-old, none of them are in college. That would have been unthinkable in my time. Yeah, so I took a few steps down the path, but the steps that I took were enough to make me understand that this isn't for me. I also studied philosophy, searching for the truth of life. And mathematics in a way was also a search for the truth of life because that's the foundation of our culture's primary system of knowledge production, which is called science. Like math is at the foundation of that. Like anything that's really valid, for it to be real and testable and so forth.

0:08:07 CE: Anyway, so yeah, wanting to understand why am I here, what's the nature of life, and thinking maybe I would find it in mathematics or philosophy. And not finding any truth that I really cared about in those places. So there was like that... 'Cause like philosophy, like this age-old quest for truth, it's supposed to be there, and it's not there. So, I felt betrayed and intensely cynical after that. And also at the time I was also learning about globalization and imperialism, and the way that this planet works in the human realm, which also gave some form to my partial non-participation. It kind of justified it and said, "Yeah, here's why you don't want to become a success in a way that the story that you grew up in casts success." I have to say my father, he was... And my mother to some extent, they were politically... My father, especially, is politically aware and anti-war and anti-big business and so forth. So there was at least a partial critique.

0:09:17 CE: I wasn't pressured to pursue wealth or to pursue corporate status. Yet there was still, on a deeper level, a kind of an expectation that I would do something that would be prestigious in at least one world. Prestigious in... At least in radical politics or prestigious in NGOs or like something, I would... Or academia, especially, like I would... And all of these things in a way contribute to the world-destroying machine. They're part of the whole system, they're part of the integrity of the whole system. So maybe I was... I think a lot of people today, a lot of young people, are sensing that the places where you can make money and that are socially acceptable, the places where there is a place for you in the structure, those are not appealing because it's like, "I don't wanna be part of that. And what's the alternative, what do I do when I don't wanna be part of everything that's offered?" Well, you hope that there'll be some job for you doing what you love, or doing what's really meaningful. And sometimes there is, but not nearly as many of those jobs as there are people who want to do them. Because those jobs fundamentally don't contribute to the system of money production. They're actually opposed to the system of money production and there's some glitches in the system. Some people do wonderful things and they make a lot of money doing it.

0:10:40 CE: But, generally speaking, when money comes from the exploitation of human beings and the planet, then if you are not participating, at least in some facilitating role, in the exploitation of human beings and the planet, there's not gonna be a job for you. That's a gross generalization. Essentially that's the situation we're in. So it's like, "Okay, what do I do? What role can I occupy in a story that hasn't been told yet? In a story that hasn't been told in social terms, in the terms of having a social infrastructure, having a job description, having a role that is understood by a culture." And here, "Oh, you are a this, you are a that." So, it's a dilemma that doesn't have any easy answer.

0:11:25 PA: And it seems to be that a lot of these kind of new visionaries and innovators and people like yourself, for example, who are trying to weave this new story for people to step into, that's why I think it's still somewhat of a sub-culture in a way. Meaning it hasn't yet gone mainstream, because the infrastructure of the old story hasn't quite, quite disintegrated enough. So you kind of brought this up in the essay that you wrote, which was a phenomenal essay, after Donald Trump got elected. About how the wolf is now in wolf's clothing, instead of the wolf being in sheep's clothing. And I thought this perfectly encapsulated... This is the eventual break down and disintegration of the system so that we can create the space for the new story of togetherness and connectedness to come together.

0:12:16 CE: Yeah, on good days, I do believe that is what's happening and on other days, it looks like everything is just imploding and that there's no cause for any hope or optimism. But I think that even visiting that state of despair is part of the process. You have to really give up on making due, on getting by in the current system, you have to give up the instruments of security that draw from the existing system. So for a lot of people that might be your retirement fund or things that you own or like a recognized place in an academic institution or something like that, like these things, and I'm not saying that they're bad, they can kind of carry someone, like I just spoke at Goddard College's commencement and most of the students there, it's a very alternative school, so most of the students there are older, they've tried to make it in the old story, it hasn't worked, they've had some kind of experience that has set them in a new direction, so they go to Goddard College and get a degree or they go to some other, Evergreen or some other radical institution, but still, it's like they can still explain it to their parents, "Oh, yeah, I'm getting my master's degree."

0:13:32 CE: Like it's still, there's still a way that it's being carried in the understandings, the categories of the world as it has been, so it's... And I don't think there's wrong with that, really, but the places that we are going, ultimately, we reach a threshold where there aren't gonna be any of these assurances from the old world that, "Yeah, you're doing a valid thing." Like you're gonna have to step out into the unknown where there is no reinforcing structure that says, "Good boy, Paul. It's okay what you're doing." Like there's this moment of nakedness almost and vulnerability and, "Oh my God, am I just being naive?" Having like no assurance that it's okay. This is an initiation almost, that more and more of us are being invited into it and it happens repeatedly, because the boundary is moving farther and farther into the unknown and those of us who are following that edge have repeated invitations into the unknown, and sometimes it turns out to be a foolish disaster. But how are you gonna find that out unless you actually take that step?

0:14:44 PA: Well, I think when you talk about even how there's a lack of assurance, I would even go beyond that and say there's almost like still an active call to not be doing this, there's active critiques of people who are trying to step out into the unknown, which makes it even more difficult. I mean with what we're trying to do with, for example, psychedelics, which is why we even started having this conversation, because they are, like you mentioned in your piece in the MAPS bulletin they're so threatening to system changes, they're so threatening to the infrastructure and they do it in such a dramatic way, they're... It has... Cannabis is starting to get this from big alcohol, big tobacco, you know, that push back. Psychedelics haven't reached that point yet, but they're still going, eventually, they're going to enter that space where people will try to really actively ensure that they don't become integrated.

0:15:40 PA: And it's at that point, I think, that it will be interesting to see what infrastructure has already been built to support, because I think a lot of what you're talking about, this when we're going out into the unknown, when we're going beyond the story of the separation of the self, what makes it challenging now which you've made very clear in your work is like, we don't have the support system yet built, we don't have the infrastructure yet built for when, for example, people come out of a psychedelic experience. They've had these transcendent experience but the story of self is so encapsulating that it just draws everyone right back in.

0:16:14 CE: Yeah, although I'd say now, there is something of a support system, people know about, like it's informal and underground almost, but people are a bit familiar with the psychedelic territory, what kind of experience you're likely to have, what it takes to integrate it back in, what to expect in that process, or how to support each other. There is something of a culture of it, now. I mean, gosh, you can imagine in the '60s, when this thing hit like a tsunami and no one knew what to do with it. Now it's been 50 years, and there's a bit of a knowledge base, so that doesn't mean, but it's still not very, very solid and it's certainly not institutionalized. We think of institutionalized as a bad thing, but institutions can be beautiful and supportive as well.

0:17:00 PA: Pillars of stability.

0:17:01 CE: Yeah, we don't have that yet. And so people can get... There's predators out there too, in the psychedelic world. And I've heard of various stories about that because here you are in unknown territory and someone comes offering you a guide, a map, and someone comes, "Here's how to make sense of this. Here is a new mythology to replace the one that's been shattered" and that does this person really know, how can you be sure? So people are very vulnerable in that time.

0:17:34 PA: So try to see where we, people are vulnerable in that time and I think that's why building, actively building infrastructure is so important and I guess that's one big question that I had for you is, I think you wrote that piece in the MAPS bulletin, was that in 2014?

0:17:51 CE: Yeah, that was maybe two or three years ago.

0:17:54 PA: What have you seen develop from an infrastructure perspective specific to the psychedelic space, that gives you hope for accelerating the transition into this new story that you often talk about?

0:18:09 CE: Just like from random conversations or hearing someone talk about the group that they're in, it seems like there's really deep and conscious support and also a growing recognition of various red flags that come up in that world and people find out by word of mouth, who is a shady character. So I think it's... But I really don't know that much about it. And then of course on the more visible level, there seems to be some progress in scientific research on the therapeutic properties of psychedelics and stuff. It's kind of creeping back in, but I'm not really the one to ask that question.

0:18:49 PA: Okay, that's good to know. Well, I do wanna get clear for our audience and listeners just so that they're kind of caught up on a lot of the things that we've even been discussing so far, just kind of talking a little bit about this story of separation that has been going on, I'd love to hear just if you have kind of like a... Read a four-minute overview of what that is, so our listeners can really become familiarized with it and then I wanna kind of bring that into kind of the practical means of what's developing with crypto currencies and shared living facilities, and some of these things.

0:19:23 CE: Yeah. Sure. So the idea is that the way that we see the world and the way that we see ourselves is strongly influenced by a story that we inhabit. That tells us who we are, why we're here, what humans' role on earth is, where we came from, where we're going, how to live, how to be a man, how to be a woman, what a man or a woman is, all these things are answered by a cultural story. And the one that has dominated our culture and increasingly the globe says it has many variations, from place to place, but the basic elements are that you are a separate individual, in a world of other, of competing other individuals and of natural forces and substances that are not really selves. They're just a bunch of stuff out there. Therefore, I'm separate from you, you're separate from him. Your well-being, doesn't depend on my well-being. In fact we're probably in some kind of competition. How many followers does your podcast have? How many does mine have? And if you get more sign-ups then they're not gonna have as much time to listen to mine, and we're in competition for audience, that's a basic mindset of the story of separation.

0:20:40 PA: Scarcity.

0:20:42 CE: Scarcity. Yeah. And apply it to the world. We are maybe not in competition with hurricanes and floods and locusts or whatever, weeds, but they're indifferent to us. They are just the out-playing of mathematical forces at bottom. So our well-being comes through mastering them, through dominating them, through insulating ourselves from that messy storm outside of ourselves. Outside... So human progress means domesticating the wild and coming to dominate the world. So that's all that is. You can decry our destruction of nature and so forth, but if you fix the blame on humans are just bad, then you're identifying the wrong culprit. That's what humans do when they are immersed in a story that holds the world as just a bunch of stuff. Why not rip off that mountain top and get the coal to serve our well-being, like it's just a bunch of woody tissues growing on this scrim of carbonaceous dirt on top of a ball of rock, what does it matter? Your sentimentality is irrational in the story of separation.

0:21:56 CE: So my work basically is to serve the transition out of that story. And I think that that story is indeed falling apart and no longer calling to us. Like someone, I don't know, you look like you're pretty young. If you were 50 years ago or 70 years ago, you'd be like, "Hell, yeah, I'm gonna participate in this grand project of dominating the world." And if you saw a Jetsons future with robot servants, and nothing alive in bubble cities above the smog, you'd be like, "Yeah, I'm gonna make that a reality. A clean electrified automated world." That was an appealing thing where everything was under control, that was good. But now that story is no longer compelling. And so when you were talking, like some of the things that you were talking about, different living arrangements. People want to share and take care of each other and not separate themselves off into separate competing boxes, inhabited, each by nuclear family or even less than a nuclear family.

0:23:04 CE: That's not appealing anymore. Because it's not just the story, it's also the infrastructure that comes from the story and that then creates more of the story. When you're living in separate boxes and immersed in a money system that creates competition and scarcity, then the world sure does look exactly as the story of separation tells us it does. So we're drawn to change the consciousness, and also to change the surroundings that interact with the consciousness. So how do you get out of that trap? How do you get out of the trap of the story creates the system, which then creates the story. You need an intervention of some sort. Psychedelics is one of the ways that the intervention comes.

0:23:43 CE: It can also come through a spontaneous spiritual experience, a brush with death, there's many ways that the interventions are disrupting the story that we've lived in and the story is growing old. It's not working very well anymore and its promises have not come to pass. So yeah, so we're attracted to different communal living arrangements, we're attracted to healing modalities that are not based on control and domination of the body. Birth practices that trust the intelligence of the body, the intelligence of nature, agricultural practices that are not about dominating anymore, but that say, the qualities of a self are not just in human beings. There is intelligence, consciousness, agency in the land also, in the ecosystem also. Let's listen to that, let's participate in that, let's cooperate with that, let's serve its unfolding.

0:24:41 CE: These are the mindsets of a new story or a new and ancient story, that I call inter-being. It says, "Yeah, we're not separate. You're part of me and the rainforest is part of me and the marginalized people of the earth, they're a part of me, and anything that happens to them happens to me." So, let's recognize that. How do we live when we really understand that? So, it's not about, "Oh, I'm gonna be a good person now and be blameless and ethical." That's still from separation. It's about, "How do I live the truth? How do I... When I take that truth in... " And it was like the psychedelic experience I was telling you about in my early 20s, it's like, I saw truths that had been invisible before. So how do I take that in? How do I live knowing this new knowledge? That's the challenge in front of us.

0:25:30 PA: And that is the question, and I kinda wanted to dig back into that with your story, like what... You know, you had mentioned this point of... This crystallization that the old story isn't working for you anymore. And that you do need to step into this new story. What was that point for you in your life?

0:25:45 CE: Yeah, it wasn't like one point. It was a series of experiences going back, that built on each other. It was the experience of reading Silent Spring, and A People's History of the United States. It was the experience of going to another culture where reality was seen differently. In Taiwan at the time, it was... Still had very strong connections to its agrarian, kind of animistic, taoistic past. So, like kind of the unquestioned default belief system that I had taken to be reality itself was revealed by contrast, to be just another belief system. And it wasn't that if you just, you know... Because growing up and going to a university, I'd kinda taken for granted that if you, for example, believed in unmeasurable body energies, and just carnate spirits and astrology, and these kind of things, that you were irrational. That you were less capable than I was of objectively evaluating evidence.

0:26:54 CE: But over time, going to Taiwan and seeing perfectly intelligent, rational, humble people, sane people operating in a different reality, very effectively, and then me having experiences that seems to confirm that reality, experiences of body energies, experiences of ridiculously detailed predictions coming true. Okay, maybe Chinese are experiencing... Like a Chinese doctor, fix severely sprained ankle that was swelled up to double its size. I knew that that was not possible. But it happened. So, okay. So anyway. So yeah, years and years, including the psychedelics, of experiences that dislodged me from the story that I had taken to be reality. But it wasn't through my own efforts that I was dislodged. It was a process that I was taken through.

0:27:50 CE: And for many people, the process can be ruthless and painful, which stands to reason. If you're attached to something that's part of your identity, part of who you think you are, then for that to dissolve means the loss of part of who you are. It's like something gets ripped out, almost. Doesn't have to be a ripping, but it's often like a painful ripping, and a letting go of something that had seemed precious and necessary and indispensable. And then afterwards, you're like, "Yeah. That wasn't actually me and I'm glad it's gone." But before and during, it seems like the end of the world. And in a way it is. It's a kind of a death.

0:28:29 CE: Now, we're going through that on a cultural level too, a political level. Part of this stuff about the Confederate statues and things like that. You know, it's not just racism, it's an attachment to a certain version of history, and to the sanctity of history. Donald Trump said something about, "Where is it gonna end?" you know, "Are we gonna tear down Washington and Jefferson too?" Maybe we are. Washington, I mean, how many... Like there's a whole mythology built around the deification of men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who then when you look into their lives, like at one stage they were slave owners, they were horrible people. George Washington loved public hangings. He suppressed the revolts after the Revolutionary War when the farmers who served in his army went back home and discovered that their lands had been appropriated by banks because they couldn't pay their mortgages. And then George Washington wouldn't help them.

0:29:22 CE: And they rose up in rebellion and they were crushed. So you're like, "Wow, this whole narrative is wrong. And these were bad people." But then later, you realize they weren't bad people, actually. If you were born into the aristocratic planter class in Virginia, you'd have owned slaves too. You would have been a racist too. So then you come to the point of saying, "Well, do we... " Like anybody you build a statue of is gonna end up having feet of clay. I mean, is it gonna be Albert Einstein, who would beat up his wife? Or is it gonna be Martin Luther King, who was a womanizer? Or is it gonna be whoever, like you can dig up dirt on anybody. So do you want a statue made to you? I don't want a statue made to me. I mean, that would be of so...

0:30:05 PA: No statues. No statues.

0:30:10 CE: Be like, what you don't know about me. If you knew everything about me. All of my selfish spots. Like everything. You'd know, I'm just human too. We're all playing a role in a big process. But anyway, so coming back to the politics, the idea of taking down the statues, really what's happening is the unraveling of a narrative. And in the dominant political narrative, the enslavement and genocide is, I wouldn't say it's invisible, but it's seen as this kind of... It's not seen as being central to the whole enterprise of America. So really, what's underneath this, is the breakdown, the collapse of the story and of an identity that comes along with the story. That is very scary. Like the breakdown of... It's like the world is falling apart. That's how it feels to the people who are attached to it. When we understand that, we will be much more effective politically. Instead of just labeling them as racists, white supremacists, and so forth, like, yeah, they might be racists or white supremacists, but why? What's underneath that? If we understand that, then we will be much more effective in changing the conditions.

0:31:28 PA: And do you think this is also indicative of what could happen on a larger scale to America in general and nation states? Because from my perspective, you know, the readings that I've done especially particularly yours, you know, is as part of me stepping in to this next story of togetherness away from the story of self and separation, which has really been amplified by industrialization. And if we track industrialization and the growth of industrialization, we track it with nation state building. So, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on like, how does what you were just talking about also map on to the disintegration of, you know, the nation state? Or does it?

0:32:09 CE: Yeah, yeah, I think that, I mean, obviously the nation state is itself a story. America doesn't exist in physical reality, like birds do not recognize America. It's only our agreements, and the agreements build on deeper narratives that are semi-conscious about... That locate our identity in the world. And that... And that for America there's a certain story about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and, you know, all these ideals, and things. Like you know, different countries have their own stories, but the more general story of... That makes a nation into something real is also coming into question. Like why should we identify as citizens of a nation when competition among nations has been so tremendously destructive? Like maybe we could organize in different ways.

0:33:08 CE: The nation state has been a very effective vehicle for capitalism, although now it's becoming less necessary. In fact, perhaps even sometimes an obstacle to the totalization of capital. So it's, you know, the nation states are having actually less and less power, less and less sovereignty, especially with some of the new trade treaties that strip nations of their ability to determine economic policy. So for example, under a lot of these trade treaties if your local government bans fracking or bans GMOs or something like that, the corporations can sue the government for lost profits in a secret court that is staffed by unelected officials who are drawn from, like... Do you even know this is happening?

0:34:01 PA: This is like a... This is basically like an oligarchy, is what we have is with corporate politics, corporatism.

0:34:06 CE: I mean, it's not even quite an oligarchy because if you... Like an oligarchy basically says that, you know, a very few people are in control of the whole thing.

0:34:16 PA: Sure.

0:34:17 CE: But it's almost like you could kill all of the oligarchs, and then the vice-president would become president, the vice-CEO would become CEO, or the vice-chairman would become chairman, and they do the exact same things. So it's it's more like the system is in control of the oligarchs, like they step in and they play a role. And if they... As long as they continue to exercise their job description and play their role, they get to stay in "power," in a semblance of power, but as soon as they deviate from their job description, they will get sacrificed, they'll get fired, and someone else will be installed in the role.

0:34:57 CE: So, I understand that because so much political energy gets directed toward personalities, rather than towards systems. It gets directed toward the psychopaths rather than a system that elevates psychopaths and, yeah... Anyway, I won't rant on about that.

0:35:15 PA: Well you could, because I really, I mean, that's kind of like the epitome of what where we find ourselves is like we elected a reality TV star who's psychopathic, who's kind of like our, the entire shadow side of us as a nation that we never wanted to face, but now we have to.

0:35:32 CE: Yeah. Yeah it's making a lot of things visible that were not visible before.


0:35:44 PA: Hi, everyone, Paul here, your host, I've just got some quick announcements and pieces of news for you this week before we get back to the interview with Charles. This our classic This Week in Psychedelics, and we're now spicing splicing it in to the middle of the interview. So first of all, Norway's parliament has voted to decriminalize all drugs, meaning that drug users will be treated in the healthcare system rather than as criminals. It's still unsure when this will be put into practice, but it marks a significant change in the country's stance on drug enforcement. Portugal was the first country to decriminalize all drugs in 2000, and it's great to see that now almost 18 years later, a second country has done so. And I think this will soon become the norm, at least that's my hope for many Western countries.

0:36:27 PA: Recreational Marijuana sales have officially begun in California. You have to be over 21, you can't ingest it public and, of course, driving under the influence is still illegal. However, they expect tax revenue to be over $1 billion for the first year, I believe, or maybe just revenue to be over... I believe just revenue to be over $1 billion in California for Marijuana the first year. California also has the world's seventh largest economy. So this is a huge sign that legal Marijuana is now going mainstream.

0:36:56 PA: And the final announcement or the final piece of news for This Week in Psychedelics is MAPS, that is the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, has received a $1 million donation from a cryptocurrency philanthropist. It's called the Pineapple Fund Philanthropist, gave $86 million in cryptocurrency to this fund. And he gave $1 million of that towards MAPS to help with their phase three clinical trials for MDMA in the treatment of PTSD. This is huge. I mean, really since we even had the last podcast crypto has just taken off, and I have my own kind of funny crypto story, which I will share probably on some future podcast about basically how I bought crypto to do certain things on the dark web, forgot about it, checked it like a year later, and all of a sudden I had a lot more money, which was cool.

0:37:48 PA: Brief announcement as well. As I mentioned in the beginning of the podcast, we have now re-launched or we are relaunching our microdosing course in community and it's now at its full maturity. So if you want in on that, we're doing that January 13th, the re-launch. We also have microdosing kits also available which come with everything that you need to safely and effectively microdose, including a bottle of distilled water, a drug testing kit, a syringe without a needle, just a syringe, to measure the distilled water. Latex gloves and a little pair of scissors with directions in a nice little package for you.

0:38:22 PA: So those are the announcements. Let's get back to the interview with Charles Eisenstein. And please, if you enjoy the podcast, leave a review on iTunes. And don't forget to send us your feedback and questions on Twitter or Facebook.


0:38:45 CE: What I was talking before about how people are vulnerable when psychedelics demolishes their story, and then they become vulnerable to charlatans who offer them a new story. And the same thing is happening politically now, where the story of America, the most prosperous country on earth, the land of opportunity, land of the free, home of the brave, like that whole story, which reached its zenith post-World War II is really falling apart. And then along comes Donald Trump or other demagogues, who say, "Here's a story for you. Here's how to make sense of things."

0:39:27 CE: So, I see Donald Trump as actually a stage of a social process of letting go of our old national mythology and to some extent our human mythology, the story of separation. It's that stage of, "Let me try to make it work one more time." You may have experienced that in a job or a relationship. Like grasping on to some idealized view of the past, perhaps, or another stage would be finding someone to blame and directing your pain and fear at this breakdown, of directing that at a scapegoat. I feel, actually, I think both sides in these polarized debates are doing that.

0:40:13 CE: It's kind of comforting in a way to say the problem with this country are those racists and white supremacists. Like that's something that you can criticize and fight against without really having to question the foundations of the system. You can put them in jail, or it's like, get those vicious clowns out of the way and things go back to normal. That's kind of... That's almost a comforting narrative, to locate the problem of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. But you know, it's not like the country was in great shape five years ago when you hardly heard anything about white supremacists, and a black man was president. I mean, the incarceration nation was alive and well.

0:41:02 PA: War on drugs.

0:41:04 CE: These violence, war on drugs, the neo-liberal policies, the imperialism, the bombing of how many countries, the destruction of any regime that resists, any government that resists, austerity, all that stuff was... And the destruction of the ecological basis of life on earth. That has remained constant through Democrat, Republican, left, right, black, white, everywhere. So, let's not think about that, let's talk about transgender people in bathrooms. Let's talk about all the political energy gets incinerated on superficial issues that are these kind of distractions or these spectacles almost. That leave the generative conditions all of those evils untouched.

0:42:01 PA: And what are, if these are superficial issues, those underlying issues, then what are they in particular?

0:42:11 CE: Yeah, you gotta dig layer, after layer, after layer down so you could dig down to the layer of suburbanization. This nuclear family, the money system that generates scarcity and competition, the ideology of separation, the global industrial processes and systems that distance us from our food, that distance us from the people who suffer as the result of our choices. This is the story of my life, actually. Once I had those psychedelic experiences and around that time also just became aware of how wrong everything is in the world, from our system of birth to our system of death, everything completely wrong.

0:42:57 CE: To take a baby away from the mother, immediately, to subject it to mutilation, that's a male, that's a boy on its most sensitive part of the body, to put it under the fluorescent lights. To subject it to a feeding schedule, to poke it and prod it. How does that program you for your relationship to the world? Once, when that's your immediate experience. You're supposed to be born, you're supposed to come to the breast, you're supposed to have completed this journey, this harrowing journey, and come back to the one, you're supposed to re-establish a basic trust in the universe and to learn that the world is a good place.

0:43:36 CE: That's what birth is supposed to be. And instead it gets turned into its opposite, to death, where it's hidden away. Contributing to the pretense that isn't really, that you can live forever. That your money, that your possessions, that your castle of the ego will last forever. Like the whole thing is wrong. So I became aware of that, and industry, agriculture, medicine, education, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And so, I began to ask where does the aloneness come from?

0:44:07 CE: What's the deepest root? What isn't a superficial response? And that's how I came down to the level of mythology, of story, and learned how that story of separation emerged over tens of thousands of years, if not more, reaching its pinnacle, reaching its culminating expression in our time and only then being able to give way to something else. That's the big picture.

0:44:34 PA: And you talk about almost the necessity of this story to get to where we are now, so that we can transition into the next part.

0:44:41 CE: Yeah, this age of separation didn't happen by accident. It's part of a larger process, it's part of... I think humanity's birthing. As individuals, we also go through often like a period of separation, a maturation of our process of individuation that happens by the time you're like a pre-teen or an early teen and then something else is supposed to happen. The ego itself is supposed to give way to a larger identity and you're supposed to reacquaint yourself with ways of knowing that are transrational, that are holistic. Like there's supposed to be another process that happens, but our system keeps people in that kind of adolescent, pre-adolescent hyper-rational state of separation.

0:45:29 PA: Why is that? Because, I mean, for example, you know, in ancient Greece, they had Eleusinian mysteries where they drank Kykeon and they went through that. Why is it that in this particular slice of time that coincides with nation state building and industrialization, that we've completely eliminated this kind of initiation process of ego-transcendence?

0:45:53 CE: Yeah, right and illegalized it.

0:45:55 PA: And illegalized it.

0:45:57 CE: Yeah, and that's ultimately why the psychedelics are illegal, because they are a genuine threat to the system, and as for why, and I suppose I can give us kind of cynical reasons, but I think really it's because it's necessary to make the system work. It's necessary for us, on a cultural or civilizational level, to fully experience the world of separation. Society as we know it wouldn't work if these psychedelic and other paths to ego transcendence were actively encouraged, or tolerated even. Well, they're kind of tolerated on the margins, as long as they don't get too big. You can have mystery schools and things that are constantly persecuted or co-opted, but anything that becomes a mass movement, as LSD was in the '60s, that has to be repressed.

0:46:46 CE: Yeah, 'cause the world as we know it just would be impossible if people had a living experiential awareness of their inter-connection and inter-existence with all beings, like we just wouldn't be able to clear cut forests and poison rivers and deafen whales with sonar, like super powerful sonar systems that rupture the ear drums of the whales and... It would be unthinkable. Unthinkable.

0:47:15 PA: Yet, we do it.

0:47:16 CE: Right, and we're able to do it because our empathic capacities are numbed, like we do it because we don't feel. And that they're numbed through trauma on a individual level and systemized trauma like the birth trauma, the trauma of being shamed by parents, the trauma of being sat in a classroom on a beautiful day and made to do tedious worksheets that no one can really explain why you have to do them. Like there's all these kind of muted traumas in addition to the outright trauma that so many people experience. So that's one thing that suppresses the empathic knowledge of inter-being. But then also just like the way that the system distances us from "cause and effect," like you go to the store and you buy something and you just have no feedback mechanism that tells you that this was produced at the cost of great suffering, that it was made in a sweat shop, that it was made with pollution, that like you just don't know, like it's not obvious in the way that if you are a subsistence farmer and you pollute your well, then you can't drink the water.

0:48:29 CE: If you damage your soil, then the crops stop growing, like the feedback is quick, but we are super distanced through technology. So that's another reason why we continue doing what we do. And then, thirdly, there's the ideological distancing that says that it's just a bunch of stuff out there. So your empathic response is a delusion, it's a primitive sentiment.

0:48:54 PA: Primitive. I think that's, it's like it's often kind of tagged as this like irrational kind of lower way of...

0:49:03 CE: Right.

0:49:03 PA: Of thinking, even though it's...

0:49:06 CE: It's childish.

0:49:07 PA: It goes beyond thinking, you know.

0:49:09 CE: So yeah that's why we continue, that's why we're able to continue, because there's trauma and systemic distancing and ideological distancing.

0:49:17 PA: And yet there are, I mean... And we've kind of touched on this earlier in the conversation, but what are the things that make you optimistic that we are transitioning out of this and that we can build the infrastructure necessary to enter this new story? So that could be as specific as the development of crypto currencies, or it could be something more abstract, like these changing narratives that we see on a large scale.

0:49:43 CE: Yeah, I mean, I have a lot to say about crypto currencies. I have very mixed feelings about them but I don't think I want to go into that right now. Would take a bit too much time but as far as optimism goes, there's a bunch of reasons why I'm optimistic on a good day. One of them is that the way that big change happens is through a process of intensifying crisis, followed by collapse, followed by space between, an unknowing, uncertainty, followed by the emergence of something new. Like that's how it happens in life even, people don't change in significant ways unless what they were doing falls apart, stops working, it's called hitting bottom. Like something has to happen, and that crisis is generated by the problematic way of being, like the crisis that delivers someone from addiction is caused by the addiction. So humanity is addicted, you can say, to fossil fuels, or addicted to money, or addicted to technology, solving the problems caused by previous technology with even more technology.

0:50:48 CE: So it's the same as an addict. So this system generates its own crisis and its own collapse and its own ordeal that transitions us into something new. That's one reason I'm optimistic. Another reason is I would say basic human goodness, that love just keeps coming back under every circumstance. Lock yourself up in a room with your enemy and eventually, love is born. Also, I keep meeting people, especially young people, who I just can't be pessimistic when I look into their eyes and when I hear their thoughts and their conversations. I have conversations with my sons sometimes, and I think that conversation didn't exist when I was their age. I never would have said that to my dad. That amount of truth, that amount of openness, that amount of trust. And just their level of consciousness and their awareness, their perceptions, their sensitivity, their ways of conceptualizing the world, their awareness of story, for example, and projection and their consciousness, really. And maybe it seemed like that in the '60s, too, but I think that the '60s were like a pre-vision, a preview of what's happening on a much bigger scale right now.

0:52:04 PA: In a way, the counter culture of the '60s has now become the mainstream culture of the here and now, so this is something that even Rick Doblin, he was quoted in a New York Times piece saying that we aren't the counter culture anymore, particularly to like MDMA and psychedelics, but we're becoming the mainstream culture. And that's not only with psychedelics, but that's all of these states of ecstasy, is the phrase that I like to use. I got it from Steven Kotler who wrote Stealing Fire, these states of ecstasy that we can access through meditation, through breath work, through yoga, through really intense exercises of wilderness survival. And that goes back into this sense of intervention. This goes back into this sense of initiation. This goes back into what you're talking about of the maturation process of humanity.

0:52:57 PA: But I think what I'd really like to end on is hearing your thoughts on what are the practicalities? What does that look like for people in the United States, for people who live in Ashville, for people who live in New York? What does a story of togetherness look like on an actual human scale in a way that we can implement before our role is done here, before we die, before we pass on? What does that look like to you?

0:53:29 CE: I wish I could offer a recipe or how to do it, like what's the most important thing you can do to bring inter-being into your life and into to your community?

0:53:38 PA: Just letting go.

0:53:41 CE: Even letting go, when it becomes a thing to do, you end up with fake letting go. We are in a process far beyond us, and we are naturally, as that process recedes, we're naturally attracted to next steps that could be... For one person, it might be learning acupuncture. For another person, it might be permaculture design. For another person, it might be some kind of a regenerative, I don't know, sort of justice, empathy circles. In fact, like I said before, every aspect of our culture is wrong, also means that necessary healing actions are available in every realm. And I think so yeah, we could talk about what does it look like in terms of relationships and love? What does it look like in terms of health or diet or school? And depending on where you are in life, one or another of these might be the one that calls most strongly. But I'm not gonna say what it has to look like for any listener, but I'm just saying once you immerse yourself more and more through whatever means in a story of inter-being that holds us not separate, that holds us each as a mirror of all, that understands what happens to the other happens to me. The more we immerse ourselves in that, the less crazy it feels to do these holistic and alternative things, and the more able we are to recognize what the next step is.

0:55:10 CE: And even the things that we're called to in the end, they might turn out to be just another version of the old story, and a humiliating realization that I was just replaying the same old traumas. I was replaying the same old power dynamics. I thought I was fighting oppression, but I became the oppressor of the people who I had seen as the oppressors. It's called sub-oppression. But even that is a useful process. It's the unconscious coming into visibility that happens especially rapidly when the conforming old story begins to dissolve that held us as who we were. That dissolves, and all kinds of stuff bubbles up, and the internalization of that old story bubbles up. So we're in an early stage of a very long healing process. And so I feel very wary of jumping to solutioneering and designing the future.

0:56:13 PA: Sure.

0:56:13 CE: I think anything that we can design is gonna carry a lot of the past, which isn't to say then don't design, don't plan, or anything like that, but really, to be very aware that whatever you plan and design and create is going... If it's successful, best case scenario is that it's going to provide the opportunity for all kinds of hidden programming to come to the surface, all kinds of the runes of the age of separation is gonna come up to be dealt with. And that might mean that it looks like a failure, but it's still worth doing. The universe is generous. Trusting that, I think, might be a more powerful internal guide, but even that, how do you trust that? How do you know the universe is generous? It is it 'cause you tried harder than someone else to believe it? It's probably because you were shown generosity. How do you know that basic human nature is love? It's probably because you were shown it. So maybe the best thing we can do is to show it when we are able to others and to use whatever books we write, whatever plans we make, whatever we build, whatever groups we form to use those as a vehicle for another agenda, which is to spread love, compassion, empathy, kindness.

0:57:30 CE: And that doesn't mean you can do without the vehicles, and just sit around trying to emanate love and look kindly and send light to the people across the world, whose lives are being destroyed by the system that we are complicit in. That doesn't mean that. It means even, as we try to make changes on the outward levels, to remember the deep level too.

0:57:50 PA: That was beautiful. I think that's a great way to end the podcast. I think embodying, but not only embodying, but going out and sharing and interacting. I think this is something that, like you have said, it is... Like I couldn't give a timeline for it, but it's seeming to be... It'll be a generational thing, because all of this trauma has been so...

0:58:18 CE: Many, many generations.

0:58:19 PA: It's so integrated into our way of interacting and way of like being with other people, many generations. [chuckle] Thank you so much for joining me for this conversation and sharing your wisdom. It was really an honor and a pleasure to do this interview on the podcast.

0:58:38 CE: Thank you for the opportunity.

0:58:39 PA: And I would love it if you could just tell our listeners just where they can find you. I know you have a website where you write as well. Do you have anything else that you would like to tell them in terms of where they can find you? I think...

0:58:52 CE: They can find me themselves.

0:58:54 PA: Okay.


0:58:56 CE: If they're interested.

0:58:57 PA: Okay. So, Charles Eisenstein, you guys, you can find him yourself.

0:59:03 CE: On the interwebs.

0:59:03 PA: On the interwebs. Google, Google is very good for that. Well, thanks again, Charles.

0:59:07 CE: Yes, thanks, Paul.


0:59:17 PA: Hey, listeners, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Now, we have just a few questions to answer for you this week. If you have questions that you would like to get answered, just go to our Facebook or reach out to me on Twitter @PaulAustin3w, that is PaulAustin3w, and I will make sure that your questions get in to a future podcast. So, first of all, question number one, from FishInTheGeorge on Twitter: Are there any known prescription drug interactions with LSD or Psilocybin?

0:59:46 PA: So, some antidepressants can interact with psychedelics. The resource that I will point you to is Jim Fadiman's website, we'll include a back link to this, where him and his co-researcher, Sophia Korb, listed out a bunch of pharmaceutical and medications that are okay to take while microdosing. Now, what's important to note is that some, particularly antidepressants will potentiate and some will diminish the impact of psychedelics. So if you are on any sort of medications and you're thinking about taking psychedelics, first, we recommend doing your research. We have an article on this on our website. Like I said, we'll also point you to Jim Fadiman's microdosing psychedelics website. And we'd say, if you can, if possible, talk to your doctor or prescribing psychiatrist, because they'll probably know even more about that, than at least we can provide.

1:00:38 PA: The second question is from Andrew Reeves on Twitter: What drug has the most beneficial impact on a person's sense of long-term well-being? Well, first of all, my initial answer to that is it depends, but I think since this is a psychedelic podcast, let's talk about specifically classic psychedelics, particularly Ayahuasca, Psilocybin Mushrooms, LSD, DMT, these sorts of things.

1:01:04 PA: My understanding is that the benefits of psychedelics outweigh the risks and the costs. So that we know psychedelics are risky for people, for example, who are predisposed to psychosis, but we also know that by and large, they're very inert and very safe substances. And I would even argue because of the impact that they have on, for example, reducing inflammation, psychedelics are impactful on the serotonergic system, particularly the 5-HT2A receptor. And when that receptor is activated in the gut, it has that a relationship to reducing and decreasing inflammation. And we also know that it is beneficial on the mind, that it could help with rewiring the brain, that it can help with neuroplasticity, because again, of its activation of the 5-HT2A receptor. So, from my perspective, the classic psychedelics, LSD, Psilocybin in particular, just because it is a plant medicine, so there's a slightly lower risk profile than LSD, Ayahuasca, these sorts of things, as long as you pay attention to, and setting, and you do your research beforehand, I think the benefits of them far outweigh the risks.

1:02:04 PA: And then from Bjorn on Facebook, can you microdose every day? Well, yes, you can certainly microdose every day. However, the classic psychedelics have short-term tolerance. So if you microdose on day two, you're really not gonna feel any sort of impact because of microdosing on day one. So, the reason we recommend just microdosing twice a week is because when you microdose on day one, then day two, you still feel some of the afterglow. Day three gives you a chance to go back to baseline. And then with day four, you are back up with the microdose to see the impact that it has on you. And this allows us to integrate microdosing responsibly, so we don't become psychologically attached to it, and instead we just utilize it as a tool to enhance our well-being, but not to become dependent on it. So while the answer is yes, you can microdose every day, there's really not much of a reason to do so.

1:02:53 PA: So, a sneak peek for next week, we will have on Caitlin Thompson, who is the founder of EntheoZen and helps out with the Aware Project in San Diego. So, that's a little sneak peek for next week. I thank you all again so much for tuning in, and if you enjoyed it, please leave a review on iTunes.

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