Tao Lin, celebrated novelist and poet, describes the perception-altering effects of psychedelics and microdosing, and how they’ve influenced his outlook on life. Tao discusses the importance of listening to ancestral wisdom, and how plant medicines can be used with other complementary practices to improve our lives. We talk about the damages of modern life, and what a rural lifestyle could offer us.
0:00:25 Paul Austin: Hey listeners, and welcome back to The Third Wave podcast. A little bit of a special episode for you today. Most of the interviews I've done as of late have been over Skype. But for this one today I went into Midtown, New York City, and interviewed Tao Lin, author of a brand new book about psychedelics called Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change. I first heard about Tao on Twitter when he was tweeting about microdosing. I just happened to come across his stuff. I had no idea who he was and then it turns out that a piece that the New York Mag published on microdosing a few months ago was including a diary from his book about microdosing.
0:01:08 PA: And so I dug a little bit further into Tao, looked at some of the past work that he's done, and then asked him for an advanced copy of Trip, so that I could read it and interview him for the podcast. And this is one of the better conversations that I've had on this podcast, partly because it was in person but also because this provided an opportunity for us to dig into some topics that I think relate to our co-evolutionary history with plant medicines. And not only how we have this co-evolutionary relationship with psychedelics, but also how we have it with what we eat, with how we sleep, with how we exercise, etcetera, etcetera.
0:01:46 PA: So this is going to be a fascinating conversation. So just to get a sense for what it is, I'm gonna read the Amazon description of the Trip so that if you do wanna pick it up you can do that. "Part memoir, part history, part journalistic exposé, Trip is a look at psychedelic drugs, literature, and alienation from one of the 21st century's most innovative novelists. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test for a new generation. While isolating himself to work on his novel Taipei, Tao Lin discovered the prolific work of Terence McKenna, the leading advocate of psychotropic drugs since Timothy Leary. Tao became obsessed with McKenna, whose worldview seemed to present an alternate way of being. In Trip, Tao's first ever book-length work of nonfiction, he explores parallels between McKenna's life and his own in a far-reaching search for answers to looming questions: Why do we make art? What is language for? And are there essential, universal truths out there, beyond our limited range of perception?"
0:02:38 PA: So, without further ado, I bring you Tao Lin.
0:02:48 PA: Cool. So we're in Tao Lin's living room talking about Trip, coming to you live. Tao, thanks so much for doing this.
0:02:56 Tao Lin: Thank you for coming here.
0:02:58 PA: I was just telling you the story of how I first heard about your work, which was I was on Twitter... And whenever I'm on Twitter, I like to search for microdosing so I can see what conversations are going on on Twitter about microdosing, and you were at the top. And you don't have a photo on Twitter, so it's like, Tao Lin. I'm like, "This guy is writing about microdosing and he's getting like 70 retweets, [chuckle] but I don't know him." And then that story eventually came full circle. So I'd love to just start with that. Microdosing, how was it for you?
0:03:27 TL: I liked it a lot. I did LSD microdosing for two weeks. And I should add a disclaimer because when I tweeted this, Hamilton Morris responded to my tweet saying something about how if it was blotter or acid, I shouldn't say the exact amounts. Or even that it is LSD because I don't know. And later, in person, he told me about how he's tested sheets of acid before and each... It varies a lot across the sheet. So with that disclaimer, I used between I think 10 and 15 micrograms of whatever that was.
0:04:06 PA: And was it LSD like you had tested it or you were like... Got it hooked up somehow, and then they told you it was LSD but you didn't check?
0:04:18 TL: They told me it was this brand called Aztec Xtal.
0:04:23 TL: And it was my friend who told me that, and he bought it from the person selling it as that brand. But I didn't test it, no. But it felt like LSD compared to the other blotter or acid I'd had [unclear speech]...
0:04:38 PA: So you've done LSD before, right? This isn't the first time that you've done LSD with your microdosing too?
0:04:44 TL: No, I've done LSD probably 80 times before that, but I had never tested it. It was always blotter so... But this felt like all those other times and I liked it a lot. The days that I used it, I would just feel okay to good the entire day until I went to sleep. And I'd work better, and I'd biked those two days. I just like wandered outside and started doing something that would be good for me on it. And I felt much less bothered by compulsive negative thinking, which can bother me, which bothers me almost every day. I just keep thinking these negative things that I've already thought about, or that I've already resolved at some point but now I'm doubting the resolve. It helped with that. You were telling me that LSD led you to an ancestral diet. And in my book, Trip, I also talk about how in 2014, I found this book Cure Tooth Decay. And in that book, the author references Weston A. Price. And this cookbook Nourishing Traditions, and I started reading all that. I was curious how LSD led you to that.
0:05:56 PA: That's a great question. I think it's a similar sense of view that you talked about, in terms of, you wanted... It was this enhanced sense of self-care. And I think philosophically when we go through these experiences, these post egoic experiences where we shed much of the particularly Western conditioning of really in the 20th century has been the exploitation of the individual psyche by corporate interests. Which is largely driven from an extractive economy that takes more than it gives, which creates this system of imbalance which is then what leads to some of the ecological issues that we're currently facing. And so, when I was able to step outside of those boundaries and look back and have perspective, and that combined with some of the reading that I had already been doing at the time, I don't think... It wasn't for me like, I did acid and then immediately I started an ancestral diet.
0:07:00 PA: To me, it was more like having those experiences with LSD got me to look at things in a different way. I could all of a sudden understand, based on science that I had read, based on stories, I could build this cohesive model of how I thought reality would be better. Because at the time I had struggled... I struggled, in some ways I wouldn't say it was clinical depression, but I was born into a place where I didn't fit or belong. And so there was never a sense of any belonging for me. So I always had more distant relationships. That was just difficult. So I struggled with a lot of things. And LSD helped me with that process of loving myself again and then picking out elements that I thought would help to facilitate that process, nourish that process. Diet, reading.
0:07:44 PA: I started to read quite a bit, because when I was younger I had read all the time. When I was seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 and then I got into middle school and high school. And then this conformist pressure that we go through. Which I think part of the reason it's so bad in today's society, we feel so much pressure from it, is 'cause we don't have these rituals of initiation that we go through at that 13 or 14-year-old level. So we have a lot of, particularly in the United States, immature masculinity of sorts. So to me, it just... Yeah, that was a struggle for me. And so I played soccer, at the time I was doing CrossFit and then I found that. And I'm like this, to me, seems to work really well. So I tried it and I noticed that I just had more energy, that I had better mood, that I would sleep better. All these things we were racking up. And so now I'm in and out. I think with some of these things I will do to an extreme. So with diet, I did the Whole30. Are you familiar with the Whole30?
0:08:43 TL: No.
0:08:44 PA: So the Whole30 is when you cut out all grains and all refined sugar, and you cut out most types of vegetable oils, almost all vegetable oils. So only coconut oil, olive oil, real olive oil. And then meats, meats that are pasture raised. It's like Nourishing Traditions and doing that every single day, that sort of diet and lifestyle. And it's extreme and it takes a lot. And so now I've come back to a place of balance. Yeah. It's just part of the self-optimization process that we, as a culture, are becoming interested in.
0:09:23 TL: Yeah. The big thing that made the ancestral diet convincing to me or made it seem like a good idea to look at Aboriginals for wisdom on diet and other things. But in terms of diet, I was really convinced by that by the Aboriginal aspect because I had been predisposed to be interested in Aboriginals, from encountering Terence McKenna a year-and-a-half before I read Cure Tooth Decay. Which I read because I saw that one of my teeth were turning black and I wanted to find a natural solution. So I went on Amazon and typed like, "Natural solutions for tooth decay," and found that book. So when that book started looking to Aboriginals for wisdom, I remembered Terence McKenna was also telling me to look at Aboriginals for wisdom on plants and drugs.
0:10:23 TL: And I remembered in middle school listening to punk music that told me to pay attention to Aboriginals. And then gradually I realized how big of the bias modern people have against Aboriginals, thinking they're just fighting all the time and having stupid names like Sitting Bear and stuff. I absorbed that a lot, I feel like. So it's exciting to find out that actually they have a lot of wisdom and it can help me become less depressed, 'cause that's been a big motivating factor for me in diet and drugs. I've always wanted to feel less bored and depressed and confused and anxious.
0:11:11 TL: I remember, I think that's how I found out about organic food. 'Cause in college I was googling how to be less depressed naturally, and I came upon people talking about pesticides, to avoid pesticides. And from there, I got into finally raw veganism and I was that for a while. But sometimes I would read articles about how fish oil can make you less depressed. And those would be convincing. But then I read this book called 80/10/10 by this guy Douglas Graham, who promotes raw vegan diet. And he had a sentence just saying, "It's absurd to think of people eating seaweed. That's never happened before." And I just believe that. And I really believe that book for some reason. And I was gonna re-commit to raw veganism and it was two months after that that I read Cure Tooth Decay. And it made so much more sense. But it just underscores how little I should trust my current beliefs, because for so long I thought this is it, vegetarianism or whatever. And it took so long to get to here.
0:12:37 PA: Yeah, for me, I try to base some of those larger models by which I live, that form the maybe epistemic foundation of how I perceive reality. I think if you can base those on the sense of co-evolutionary principles, with a mutual understanding of what it means to be a human. So, in other words, we've evolved to be this way, and granted now people would say in the colonialist era, so over the last 400 to 500 years, that's been heavily influenced by things like sugar, by things like tobacco, high percentage alcohol, so things like Jin and then coffee as well, right? So all of these substances that we've introduced, I think, have kind of pulled us away from some of this wisdom that we really evolved on because all those people who survived without tools, so to say, or survived without the amenities of modern civilization, like the safety of modern civilization, most people who die, died either very young, or very old. If you made it past a certain age, then you were much more likely to continue living for a very long time. And so, I think if... Then we can study. So Jared Diamond, you know Jared Diamond?
0:13:55 TL: I haven't read his work.
0:13:57 PA: But you know of him? Guns, Germs, and Steel?
0:14:00 TL: Yeah.
0:14:00 PA: He teaches Geography at UCLA but he's a popular anthropologist who writes about... He wrote this really good book comparing the pros and cons of modern and indigenous societies. So pros for indigenous society is child-rearing. The way they raised children is often, it's more warm, there's more time together. He talks about diet, he talks about sex. And then with modern civilization, he talks about things like vaccinations and what else, other elements of modern medicine. Potentially roads, the internet, for example, the communication style, styles of war, even. World War II compared to a war between two indigenous groups. Actually, with two indigenous groups, a much larger percentage of them die during war than even compared to World War II if you look at, for example, because the United States is a nation state of 320 million people compared to a group of 80, then...
0:15:10 TL: A smaller percentage die.
0:15:12 PA: Exactly. And that's also, that gave me another really good model to look at, "Okay, what do I wanna choose from these co-evolutionary principles, the wisdom, and what do I wanna choose from what we've learned from modern day and science in terms of being able to manipulate reality in more precise ways?" And that's where I think a lot of this stuff is going with psychedelics, it's going to this sort of neo-indigenous way of living that combines what I call indigenous wisdom, with modern technology.
0:15:45 TL: What are some modern benefits you see to adding to a traditional shamanic psychedelic experience?
0:15:52 PA: I think really imbuing this greater sense of spirituality into the psychedelic experience. So, that's what modern researchers have done so well. The first research study that was published on Psilocybin in 40 years was out of Johns Hopkins, where Roland Griffiths showed that psychedelics could induce a mystical experience. Which has these five qualities, two of which I'm remembering off the top of my head, ineffability and a sense of noetic quality. There's three more others. That came from William James when he wrote The Varieties of Religious Experience, right? So the sense of laying the groundwork then for... 'Cause really what they're trying to do is they're trying to say... This is the story they're trying to build, is depression is not just an issue related to the biochemistry in your brain. That's one factor, right? Like lower serotonin, potentially, but it's really tied to larger psycho-spiritual factors about the fact that these... We both live in New York, it's a very alienating place. All the concrete, all the people. This is not what we've been accustomed to for many, many thousands of years.
0:17:01 TL: Yeah, I've just been reading about the effects of EMF, electromagnetic fields, and it keeps seeming worse and worse to me. I just read this paper about, they put these silver head masks on people while they slept, who had auto-immune diseases like celiac, multiple sclerosis, arthritis. And 90% of them reported "definite or strong" changes in their symptoms after doing this. So it has a huge effect. And then I followed that guy who wrote the paper on Twitter and I started looking at some of his stuff...
0:17:39 PA: Who was that? Do you remember?
0:17:41 TL: I don't remember his name, but I tweeted his paper and he's talking about how in airplanes, EMF is terrible, the amounts. And how that can cause headaches and other things that people probably mis-attribute to jet-lag. And I also learned this other thing that people might mis-attribute to jet-lag called aerotoxic syndrome. Have you heard of that?
0:18:04 PA: No.
0:18:05 TL: It's 'cause to get air into the cabin, they make half of it go through the engine to warm it, but then they don't filter it again. So there's all these tiny toxins in cabin air, except in the B787, the biggest and newest one. All the other ones have this. And I just learned of that two years ago, so now, after plane rides, I think of those two things, instead of thinking I've jet-lag.
0:18:34 PA: It could be something else that we haven't quite understood so well, that doesn't have mainstream recognition, right?
0:18:41 TL: Yeah.
0:18:41 PA: Yeah, 'cause I think they're talking about going to 5G. They're starting to roll that out and a lot of people are going to be interested to see what happens.
0:18:51 TL: Yeah, this guy had a link to something about how 4 and 5G are terrible for EMF.
0:18:57 PA: Even things like they're starting to study the effects of psychedelics on immunology. So yeah, we'll bring it back to psychedelics. On immunology because there's also been a direct link tied between reduction of inflammation and depression. So in other words, this... Diet, right? That significantly reduces inflammation. I'm assuming something like EMF probably significantly erases inflammation. It seems like a lot of holistic... A lot of health issues can be linked back to inflammation. But not only inflammation. What we're also learning is that we have more than just a brain in our head, but we also have a brain in our gut. And I think we have a brain in our... Maybe our heart or one other place. Three distinct areas with massive concentrations of things that are very important to regulate our system for optimal well-being. And so there's also something that happens from emotional repression. So, Gabor Mate, do you know Gabor Mate?
0:19:58 TL: No.
0:20:00 PA: He's done some really interesting work on addiction with Ayahuasca. He is out of Vancouver and he was speaking at The Assemblage. Have you been to The Assemblage?
0:20:10 TL: No.
0:20:10 PA: Are you familiar with The Assemblage?
0:20:12 TL: Yeah, Daniel Pinchbeck wanted to do an event with me but then he never emailed me. Did you read this paper recently where they coined the term psychoplastogens? It was this paper about how they found that LSD, nor Ibogaine, which is what Ibogaine metabolizes to, DOM, DMT and one more, I think. They grow dendritic spines, neurites, and they stimulate the formation of synapses also. And this paper talks about how there's been previous research showing that Ketamine does some of these things also. And this paper said that LSD is way more potent than Ketamine and others at doing this. And before this, I didn't know this. So now I have an explanation for why you can continue to feel good the day afterward or for weeks afterwards because it's literally growing your brain.
0:21:24 PA: You're literally repairing your brain. It's like food for the brain.
0:21:28 TL: Yeah. The paper was talking about how DMT's half-life is so brief, it's something like 15 minutes and yet it can create these lasting changes for days and weeks. And it seems kind of magical, like some video game item.
0:21:46 PA: Because it's so new, it's like... This is what I love talking about when it comes to psychedelics, is we've known we've had this tool box for well-being. And that's including meditation, that's including things like spending time in nature, diet and all of a sudden we have these little things over here called psychedelics, which are actually potentially way more potent than any of the currently tools that we have...
0:22:11 TL: Yeah, and I feel like people throughout history were probably microdosing psychedelics just from their diet. 'Cause this tribe, the Sierra Miwok, they ate over 100 different plant species and used over 160 for medicine, and from all those plants, so many plans have DMT. And then a lot of plants are also MAO inhibitors. So you can create tiny Ayahuasca trips just by eating a huge variety of plants and herbs. So by taking more psychedelics, it can be kind of like eating more animal fats just to return ourselves to how we once felt.
0:22:53 PA: Right. Again, these co-evolutionary principles that we've developed over thousands and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years of wisdom and evolution.
0:23:01 TL: Yeah, 'cause people now only eat like 10 different plants. They're getting way less of all these compounds, many of which... Turmeric's a MAO inhibitor, I learnt in the past year. And tobacco also is a MAO inhibitor.
0:23:17 PA: And that's another interesting thing about how it's often indigenously before it was basically commodified by Europe to sell. Before that period, it was largely used... Tobacco was used as a medicine by people in the Amazonia area.
0:23:36 TL: Yeah, they put it in Ayahuasca, they used it in snuffs. But they never smoked it until centuries ago. But I feel like smoking it probably still isn't that harmful. I feel like the thing people are missing is all the pesticides and additives in it. 'Cause tobacco isn't viewed as a food, so they don't test the amount of pesticides in it.
0:24:00 PA: Right.
0:24:00 TL: There's probably huge amounts of glyphosate in it.
0:24:03 PA: Which I think you wrote about in Trip. I was actually just reviewing my notes right before I came over here, and I only made a few notes. It was at the very end of the book where you mentioned, what is this?
0:24:14 TL: Glyphosate. It's this compound that's in this herbicide round up that Monsanto began selling in 1974. And this compound also, it's in everyone now. It also has something related to microdosing. Because in 2017, they discovered that the body changes these compounds that your body makes out of DHA and EPA, which are found in animal fats, into these other compounds. Which they change again into these other compounds that this paper announced that it discovered, and these compounds are endocannabinoids that are more potent than the ones they make them out of. And the thing that connects us to glyphosate is because the conversion is made by CYP enzymes. And glyphosate inhibits CYP enzymes. So your body, if it has glyphosate in it, it won't be able to convert these endocannabinoids into even more potent ones that we've always had before glyphosate, and also other pesticides that do this. So just by detoxifying ourselves of glyphosate, we can get gradually more stoned. And not just stoned, but inflammation will go down 'cause these compounds, they act both on CB1 and CB2 they found.
0:25:46 PA: Yeah, I read that and I was like, "Oh, that's a really interesting connection that I hadn't really recognized before." But of course, made a lot of sense based on all these other topics that we've been speaking of. I'd love to go into, a little bit, your experience with psychedelics. So I remember reading your book and reading the story of how you threw out your MacBook after or during the midst of a suicidal experience. When that happened, how did that impact you? Were you just like, "Oh fuck, I just have to go get another one." Or were you like, "Man, I really wish I hadn't tripped that hard."
0:26:32 TL: I was really happy after it 'cause after the trip for 12 to 24 hours, I was really convinced that I was just gonna move to a rural area within weeks or months and just stay there and not do much. And read and study and explore psychedelics, so throwing away my computer seemed like a really good step towards that. But then after 24 hours or so, I was still glad I threw away the computer because my brother a month ago, had promised me he would buy me another computer, so I got that computer. But my idea to "leave society" which is what I viewed as the message of that trip, continued. I just began to view it as a long term like decades or just something I'd work on for the rest of my life instead of something I'd do immediately.
0:27:33 PA: So, over time de-domesticate yourself.
0:27:38 TL: Yeah. De-domesticate and change what I fill my head with. And what I think about in my habits, what I eat, all these things we have talked about. And I have been writing about that, and that's my next novel. It's called Leave Society. In Trip, I focused a lot on psychedelics' role in my recovery, but in this other book I focus more on other things like nutrition. And then I convinced my parents to get their mercury fillings removed and stuff like that. And I work on their health also, and their dog's health.
0:28:25 PA: It's so interesting 'cause after I went through these experiences on acid and I woke up to the sense of de-domestication, I remember telling my mom that she should probably feed my dog, or the family dog that we had, real food. That's a thing you think about, right?
0:28:40 TL: Yeah, my parents' dog was drinking this drink, Ensure, which is pure sugar with all these synthetic vitamins in it that they give to elderly people, I think, which was terrible for her. And now she's been drinking raw eggs which she likes a lot, and eating other kinds of meat.
0:29:05 PA: Fixing one dog at a time. See, it's like that's really what the new slogan of psychedelic should be. Saving all the dogs. We love dogs.
0:29:13 TL: That's just a secondary effect.
0:29:16 PA: Exactly.
0:29:16 TL: It's so powerful that things around you start changing.
0:29:20 PA: Exactly. So you tried... So you had the suicidal experience. Was that the first psychedelic that you had done? So I know I remember reading your book, you hadn't tried any drug up until the age of 27 and you're 35 now?
0:29:43 TL: Yeah, I'm 34.
0:29:44 PA: 34? Okay, so you first tried "what you thought was a drug" seven years ago, even though you I think had consumed maybe antibiotics before that, and you mentioned...
0:29:54 TL: And coffee.
0:29:55 PA: Coffee.
0:29:56 TL: And I had gotten morphine in a hospital and I also listed all these pesticides, and things. That's the only drugs I had encountered, but then the mushroom trip I described, that was the first time I'd weighed and dosed and done it with some amount of deliberation alone. Before that, I'd used it in seeing movies with friends or done other social things. That was the first time where it was all allowed to just act on me. And what was going on in my life, at the time I was trying to get away from pharmaceutical drugs. And I had encountered Terence McKenna seven months ago and all his ideas were in my head, and that led to me throwing away my computer. And then eventually writing a chapter about it. So this idea of leaving society keeps influencing me. I've nurtured it.
0:30:52 PA: And then you smoked DMT.
0:30:54 TL: Yeah, I smoked DMT. The one I described in my book, I did that like a year and a half after the mushroom trip, because I was really interested in psychedelics and was just also exploring that as part of leaving society. And I smoked it and I think I had a really good trip because I recorded video of it and during it, my face seems really expressive and at times happy and just really engaged. Seeming like I was engaged in really complex, fun phenomena but I don't remember any of it. And then when I came back, my friend who had given it to me, I had never met in person. And when I came back, I forgot everything, my life and everything. And I saw this person and began to not know who it was and throughout the night, I suspected her of being a CIA agent or a journalist or someone who hated me and wanted to set me up for something. And that lasted for two hours and it was the most scared I'd been in my life, I think. Just thinking that someone had set me up and I was going to jail for 20 years or something. It was so terrifying but then it wore off really quickly to the point where I forgot how terrified I was, and I would have forgotten if I didn't write a chapter about it.
0:32:23 PA: I had a similar experience when I did mushrooms when I was 19. Was I 19 or 20? 19 or 20. I think I was 20. And I used to sell weed in college, got caught, got out of it, thankfully, without too much. And was traumatized by it, because it was a three-week ordeal where I didn't really sleep much, and etcetera, etcetera. So about five months later, I tried shrooms. I took some shrooms. I think that was the first time I had done psychedelics since that incident. I had a really bad trip, and the bad trip was this paranoia that these friends that I was with were actually the cops, police, and they were keeping me in this prison of sorts. And I was dead or I was dying or it was really like there was a sense of complete alienation and disconnection. And I realized that that had surfaced because I was needing to face how I had been hurt by this experience five months prior. And that story didn't really come full circle for me until I smoked DMT in 2016.
0:33:47 PA: So for five years, whenever I would take high doses of psychedelics, I would get this recurring sort of paranoia with people around me. And then I smoked DMT, and I came out of it, and I had a... I smoked DMT and I had that bad trip for 10 minutes where the people who sitting for me, who, one of whom I knew quite well, the other was his partner. And we had spent the whole day together and so I knew her well, definitely, well enough. It came up that I thought, again, that they were these CIA agents, and they were out to get me. And then I came out of it and I talked to my friend about it, Brian, and at the crux of it was this sense of shame that I had around the fact that I was doing illegal drugs. And what Brian said, I forget what he said, but he said something like, "And we can't believe that these are illegal, right?" It's fucked up that they are.
0:34:38 PA: So there's nothing that's wrong with you. There's nothing to be ashamed about. The issue is not with you, the issue is with society, the issue is with... And so that comes back to a part of your book that I was reading earlier today, which was Terence McKenna had this quote, which is like, "When you raise your children, do you want them to be raised as these cynical, intellectual assholes or do you want them to be raised as these people who are just fed the bullshit of the society and eat it up?" And so it's like then how are we changing these systems so that there's less of this paranoia, because clearly that paranoia wouldn't exist if you had done this in a therapeutic center where you paid maybe $2000 or a retreat center where these substances are legal. That probably wouldn't have happened.
0:35:27 TL: Yeah, I could have planned better also. I think something that would have helped is if I wrote down something, a note to myself, and gave it to Tracy to give it to me afterwards. Or just talked about what to do if I forgot everything. And also one thing is that I didn't wear my glasses during it, and when I came back, I didn't remember that I used to wear glasses, so everything was blurry. And I was just like, "I didn't think this was because I'm not wearing glasses." But yeah, there are all these obstacles to exploring metaphysical realms for modern people, like the CIA and all the stuff, the aboriginals didn't have to deal with any of that stuff. They could get to it. So it's even harder for us to get to explore what aboriginals explored.
0:36:28 PA: Right. Which is why some people predict with things like climate change, that's gonna wipe out most of humanity, leaving us potentially back to a similar population size as what was the case in pre-civilization times. I don't know if we'll ever be that low, but I think there is this impending sense of apocalyptic doom.
0:36:53 TL: Yeah. We're also really far into an ice age. The last 12,000 years have been remarkably steady climate-wise. And also, it's been a long time since a major comet impact. The last one was 12,000 years ago. And people who write about this, Graham Hancock and others, they think another one's coming soon. And that could set us back to aboriginal times.
0:37:23 PA: And I don't know... And this gets to the question then, I think an important, maybe metaphysical question is, is that good or bad? In other words, what do we value most? The sense of human life, which is increasingly seeming to be the case. This basically obsession with this reality, this concept of reality that we have. Or is it about something larger on an organismal level like Gaia, the sense of the earth as an organism. Is that the priority? 'Cause if that's the priority, then shedding... We like to talk about people who are maladaptive. There's this sense of... This separation that we're seeing right now, I think on a cultural basis, which speaks to that. Some people are willing to adapt to new realities, the sense of legal Cannabis, the sense of legal psychedelics. And they're adapting based on scientific principles, and often principles of ancient wisdom. And there are a lot people who are not adapting and that's why Donald Trump is President.
0:38:21 TL: Terence McKenna's idea on whether that's good or bad, or he had an idea that relates to that, the end of history. He views the past 15-25,000 years as a brief transformation called history where the species will somehow emerge into a higher dimension or something like that. So in that view, everything matters because there is only a limited amount of time to get to that point where we'll be at the end of history. And it's interrupted often and there is a lot of dangers to it like nuclear war and nuclear power plants and stuff. In that way of viewing it, Gaia also can be prioritized 'cause when we leave the universe in the transformation, no one actually... Then the Earth would either be left behind as a placenta or a mother. Those are two things Terence McKenna says for earth. You've heard of the End of History?
0:39:30 PA: Not really, no. Was this the work that he did in 2012?
0:39:37 TL: Yeah.
0:39:37 PA: Or about it 2012? I see the I Ching right there, I'm noticing that, 'cause he obviously came up with the sense of the time-wave theory, that he wrote about... Did he write about that in True... It wasn't True Hallucinations, it was the Archaic Revival, maybe?
0:39:51 TL: I think he writes about it in more than one book.
0:39:54 PA: Okay.
0:39:56 TL: Yeah, this was related to that 'cause he theorizes that time is a fractal wave that works on many levels. During our talk right now, we've resonated with the entire history of the universe from the Big Bang to the end just by having a beginning and end. And to graph this theory, he had to choose a date so he just chose 2012, but he stressed that the date can't be known. He just predicts it will occurs decades to centuries from now, this transformation. He can't see history going on for millions of years and people are just going planet to planet. He thinks like we'll leave the universe.
0:40:47 PA: And what does that mean to him, that we'll leave the universe?
0:40:52 TL: I think he stresses that we just can't imagine it. In a similar way that a microbe couldn't imagine that trillions of it would become a human because the microbe doesn't even have a brain. That's how far away it is from imagining its future. That's how far away we should think we're away from being able to imagine the future.
0:41:20 PA: Yeah, I read something about this recently but I forget the exact wording. But it was something along the lines of what you just mentioned as a comparison, the... These intellectual leaps, we could say, are... We can't understand them with our current framework or hard-wiring or perception of reality. There is a sense of needing to live outside, I think. Well, what we've gotten into is this sense of three-dimensional... Yeah, a recognition of three... Yeah, yeah, obviously three-dimensional but things beyond that as well.
0:42:02 TL: Yeah, and time. We have [unclear speech] time.
0:42:04 PA: And yeah, it's a lot about time, especially with industrialism. When we started actually having hours and minutes and seconds and nanoseconds and this atomistic. We approach things at the atom level, the very individual level, the sense of separation emerges, I think, from that. And I think maybe what Terence is talking about is a re-acceptance or a re-emergence with both... With first, probably, neo-indigenous wisdom, but then second, something like the singularity or... I think that's what psychedelics are going towards as well, this sense of enlightenment or being able to kind of wake up, so to say, about how we live and what consciousness is and some of these questions.
0:42:52 TL: Yeah, psychedelics I think, give us intimations of the after-death state. If there is anything in life you could do to try to get close to that or try to predict it in some way experientially, smoking DMT or taking Psilocybin can give you that.
0:43:10 PA: Tell me about the hardest part of just writing the book. Was it the organizational process, was it deciding to write the epilogue in third person, was it your own personal transformation? What was the hardest part of, yeah, going through that process?
0:43:29 TL: I just tried to think about it and there weren't that many hard parts. I enjoyed it a lot.
0:43:36 PA: Good.
0:43:36 TL: Probably the hardest part was just my life during that time. Often, I would feel uninspired and just depressed about life, but that wasn't that hard either. 'Cause since I started using psychedelics more, I don't feel terrible for days at a time like I would when I used Adderall and Xanax. So relative to that, that's still good but that's still something I'm trying to improve, being more stable, having a more stable better mood throughout days and weeks.
0:44:09 PA: And microdosing, would you say microdosing... What was more effective for you? The maybe higher dose experiences, and I don't know how often you were doing them, but interspersed, or something more consistent like microdosing? Or were they equally effective or... Yeah, I'd love to hear you talk about that difference for you.
0:44:24 TL: I think something in between has been most effective to me, like microdosing or between micro and medium dosing once every weekend. But also something that influences that is my life, 'cause in Taiwan when I was with my parents every afternoon I would eat Cannabis and we'd go hiking and I'd enjoy that everyday. But if I eat Cannabis and do other things that aren't as reliably synergistic with it, then I don't have that thing to look forward to everyday. So having some kind of steady life would work good with psychedelics, I think.
0:45:17 PA: Yeah, a life where you're like... This is what I've struggled with in New York, is New York is a city that can be very anxiety provoking. It really creates a lot of anxiety for me. In fact, earlier today, just one of those days where I didn't sleep well last night and then kind of woke and I had an early call. And then lost my MTA card, which I'm not happy about. I had a month pass on it. I've had to use it for like a week. I don't know if you've ever done that, but it's just like, "Fuck." And then I'm becoming more attune or aware of my anxiety while here. And I've noticed that, for example, I know that tomorrow I'm pretty busy, but on Thursday I'm just gonna take like a full day off, just not work. Give myself a break.
0:46:11 TL: Yeah, rest is really good, I think.
0:46:13 PA: Rest is really good. And being in like in tune with that because when I first moved here, I started microdosing. And I was getting anxious and the microdosing was contributing to my anxiety because it can be so stimulating.
0:46:30 TL: Yeah. I found that also using it in a city. When I first started learning about the effects of EMF, electromagnetic fields, I realized that had been affecting me a lot and I hadn't attributed it to that because I'd been writing in the library every day, where I'm surrounded by all these people's cell phones and all these computers having microwaves come in. And I think it affected my ability to think and write sentences, and write and edit sentences. I would often spend a lot of time just feeling frustratingly unable to write. That got better when I came to my room. Even though my room, I can tell just from the wireless thing on my Mac book that there's 20 different modems shooting microwaves at me and all the other floors with people with TVs and stuff, I felt better here writing, more able to write and think. So I think I'll feel even better once I move somewhere more in nature.
0:47:37 PA: So you're thinking about moving soon. Is that in the near future for you, would you say?
0:47:41 TL: Yeah. I'm trying to move upstate somewhere. Pretty much anywhere compared to here would be better for EMF and all these other things like air pollution. So I'm looking forward to that. I've been here since 2001.
0:47:58 PA: Oh, wow. Okay. So 17 years, which is a long time. I moved here 10 months ago and I'm already like, alright. I'll give this about two more years.
0:48:17 PA: So just a brief, brief interruption. This is Paul, your host, just for some news announcements. There's been some big things since we had our last podcast. First of all, LSD and magic mushrooms could heal damaged brain cells in people suffering from depression because they are shown to stimulate the growth of new branches and connections between brain cells, which could help address conditions like depression and addiction. So we kind of knew this already and that psychedelics show this potential for generating neuroplasticity, and now we have additional data that proves that to be the case.
0:48:52 PA: Canada becomes the second country to legalize Cannabis use. And with that Act passing, the Cannabis Act, legislation will take effect in just a few months. So the first G7 nation to legalize Marijuana. This is a huge, huge step.
0:49:12 PA: Third thing, a new study has been released that shows that Ayahuasca tea rapidly helps people overcome severe depression. Long confined to indigenous societies of the Amazon rainforest, Ayahuasca is now being researched by scientists as a potential medicine for depression. In an article published in the prestigious journal, Psychological Medicine shows Ayahuasca providing rapid and sustained antidepressant effects for people with severe treatment-resistant depression, including 29 patients who were administered a single dose of Ayahuasca or placebo, and those who received Ayahuasca scored significantly lower on both depression scales. Exciting, but again, not really the newest of news.
0:49:55 PA: And finally, psychedelic drug use is associated with reduced partner violence in men. Psychedelics may help improve emotional regulation and keep our violent tendencies at bay. Our very own Patrick Smith published an article about this on Third Wave which will be linked back to in the show notes. And now we'll get back to the show.
0:50:23 PA: Have you noticed an improvement in your eyesight at all?
0:50:26 TL: No.
0:50:26 PA: While microdosing?
0:50:28 TL: While on it? Yeah, maybe.
0:50:30 PA: Okay. Maybe slight visual acuity. And this is what Terence McKenna wrote about in Food of the Gods with this sense of, we might've had this co-evolutionary relationship with microdosing. It helped with probably visual acuity. So you would have stories of like the Bwiti tribe in Gabon who uses microdoses of Iboga to help with hunting.
0:50:48 TL: Yeah. Psilocybin increases edge detection.
0:50:52 PA: Yes.
0:50:52 TL: So you can notice more, but I didn't think about that while microdosing. It affects so many things that if I don't think about something I won't notice it and try to use it.
0:51:02 PA: That'd be a curious, interesting experiment to do though is... It seemed, I don't know if it was with acid with me, it was definitely with Psilocybin. So there might also be a slight difference in how those are operating, but I think that, imagine if you could repair eyesight through microdosing Psilocybin. That seems to have happened with me. I don't really need glasses so much anymore. I might have to squint every now and then, but it's pretty good. So anyway, yeah, just like another interesting tidbit about what I've noticed with that.
0:51:40 TL: There's something that's, I think, in the brain that's also in the retina or something. It mentioned that in this paper about psychedelics being able to grow dendrites and things. I think it's that when you stimulate the 5-HT2A receptor, that eventually makes you grow more brain neurotrophic factor or something.
0:52:01 PA: BDNF.
0:52:01 TL: Which is a protein...
0:52:03 PA: BDNF, yeah.
0:52:04 TL: That stimulates growth of neurons and stuff, and there's something like that in the retina I think, so I could see that. But I've noticed psychedelics improving my sense of smell, just being able to smell more things.
0:52:16 PA: Does it help put you more in your body and less in your head. Do you notice any impact in that? So we've only been talking now for about an hour, but at same time I get the sense that you're a very cognitive person, what's... Do you know your Myers-Briggs?
0:52:30 TL: No.
0:52:30 PA: So mine is INTP. Do you know... Are you familiar with Myers-Briggs at all?
0:52:36 TL: Not that much?
0:52:37 PA: Okay, So it's I and E, so introversion and extroversion. It's N and S, so N is intuitive, S is sensing. It's T and F. T is thinking, F is feeling. And it's J and P. P is, I believe, perceiving and J is judging. So introverts get more of their energy by spending time alone. Extroverts get more of their energy by spending time with people. Intuitive people think about conceptual ideas. Sensing people think about the things tied to the five senses, what's going on around them. Thinking people are largely driven by logical, rational. Feeling people are very, they're empaths. They're really heart oriented, and then Ps can adapt easy. Js wanna go with a plan, right?
0:53:23 TL: I feel like I'm introverted, and then all of those other things, except I only became adaptive since using psychedelics and encountering Terence McKenna and trying to change. Before that, I was the other thing, not able to change.
0:53:40 PA: More judging, which is, and these are... So it's like you go, you're like an INTP or you're an ISFJ. Or you're a ENFP, so you're, kinda it's like I and E scale of one to 100. You're like 80I20E, right? Sensing intuitive scale of one to 100, you're like, I'm like probably 70% intuitive, 30% sensing. So I think more conceptually, but I still have, it's just not as strong. And so this, what's interesting though, what you mentioned about like psychedelics, and adaptive, like you've changed to be more adaptable. We A, know that activation of the five... It's in, like this is what's interesting about language because we've actually now tracked that sense of I'm adaptable to this phrase adaptability, which we've discussed, which is directly tied to activation of the 5-HT2A receptor and thus production of BDNF. So this ability to learn new things and adapt again, which is why microdosing as a tool is so interesting in terms of we're having so many people who are struggling to adapt and that's what leads to personality change.
0:54:47 TL: LSD does take me out of my head, but I think I view it more as it just puts me in a different metaphysical place where I have different associations and memories than I normally do, and I have a different momentum than I normally do. So I don't just keep thinking the same thing. I feel slightly outside of my mind and able to like think, actually think new thoughts, and focus on the world and my body. So it does do that.
0:55:14 PA: And I've seen in myself that link to a significant reduction in rumination, because when we're in our head so much in our heads we have this concept of time, past, present and future. I'm reading Ken Wilber. Do you know Ken Wilber?
0:55:26 TL: No.
0:55:27 PA: The American philosopher. He writes about integral theories, theories of the self and what plays a role in the development of the self, and these different, we have the level of the persona, we have the level of the ego, the organism, and then transpersonal realms, like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, down to unity consciousness. He has this kind of ascending and descending scale and Ken Wilber talks a lot about bringing spirit into various things and...
0:55:55 TL: Jim Fadiman has a big influence on your thoughts related to psychedelics, right?
0:56:01 PA: Right.
0:56:01 TL: And I just started reading Ayelet Waldman's microdosing book, "A really good day", and she has been talking to Fadiman a lot and she points out that psychedelics make her less impulsive, 'cause she notices that usually she just gets upset or irritated immediately and on a microdose day she feels there's some space where she can actually think about it and make a choice, and I felt that I related to that.
0:56:35 PA: So this is like emotional regulation in some ways, and they just published a new research paper in the past like month, month and a half, that showed that psychedelic users have better emotional regulation, right?
0:56:47 TL: Yeah. She talks about how psychedelics reduce suicide and depression, and wasn't there a study saying that men who've used psychedelics are less likely to be violent?
0:57:02 PA: And that's, that was the study that they linked it to emotional regulation then, because the ability to regulate your emotions and work with them then leads to usually better decision making, like more mature decision making, so to say. Right, the sense of evolving, the sense of adapting, right? And this gets right into then, when people use psychedelics they go through this post ego initiation, where they're able to see outside the boundaries of this individual ego, and really reflect on the self and I think that gives perspective and a lot of healing for a lot of people, because there's then the sense of connection to something greater than ourself, which I think provides hope and optimism. It's kind of what you were talking about. How you still see the world as kind of the shitty, tough, these elements of existentialist. You still see that, but now you also see the beauty and the awe and the mystery and the joy and this other half of the duality, which is what I was talking about with Ken Wilber is duality, and that's an important part to emphasize. Is the bad comes with the good, the light comes with the dark. This yin yang.
0:58:06 TL: Yeah, and I feel like the more I learn the more terrible it seems, but also the more hopeful. Like learning about MK-Ultra and going a few books deep into it. There's this one book that I don't talk about in Trip, called Surviving Evil and it's about this woman who in the 1970s, when she was like 18, she was put in near continuous seclusion with her arms tied behind her back and they gave her up to eight drugs at a time, and two complete drug washouts, which meant they just took away all the drugs at once and then let her go back to normal, and all these other atrocities. So, after learning about that the world seems more terrible, but the more I learned about nature and, for example, with the ancestral diet, the more I learn about these things the more empowered I am to change myself, which is good.
0:59:14 PA: And it's, I'm so glad you brought that up, 'cause this is exactly what we're doing research at Third Wave. Those are now... We wanna directly explore the relationship through microdosing and the sense of autonomy, ownership, like taking better self-care, and once we can tie that together with research then, I think, there's gonna be a lot of adoption of these substances that are really medicines and foods and things that can bring a lot of help. It's exciting, it's really excited. Well Tao, we should wrap it up. Any last things that you wanna say about where people can find your book. What are your future plans? A year, two years from now, are you giving any talks are you...
1:00:00 TL: I just put out my book and did all the, finished the book tour and all the readings. So I'll just be focused on writing my next novel, "Leave society." Thanks for having me on.
1:00:11 PA: Totally. Yeah, it was great to have you.