150 Terence McKenna Quotes On Culture, Life, And Society

This collection of Terence McKenna will give you an in-depth understanding of his views on culture and drugs.

Terence McKenna was an exceptional ethnobotanist and mystic. His studies led him to come up with the idea of growing magic mushrooms at home.

There are many interesting things to learn from him.

So, if you want to know more about his opinions, then you’ve come to the right place! Be sure you add this to your must-reads!

Enjoy!

And don’t forget to check out these Ram Dass quotes and Alan Watts quotes.

Best Terence McKenna Quotes

1. “You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas.”

2. “You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.” 

3. “If the words ‘life,’ ‘liberty,’ and the ‘pursuit of happiness,’ don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the declaration of independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.” 

4. “Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored.” 

5. “We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” 

6. “What we call reality is in fact nothing more than a culturally sanctioned and linguistically reinforced hallucination.” 

7. “Life lived in the absence of the psychedelic experience that primordial shamanism is based on is life trivialized, life denied, life enslaved to the ego.”

8. “We do not birth our children into the world of nature. We birth our children into the world of culture.”

Famous Terence McKenna Quotes

9. “If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.” 

10. “Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.”

11. “Television is by nature the dominator of drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coercion, brainwashing, and manipulation.”

12. “The cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation.”

13. “The tension in the world is the tension between the ego and the feminine, not between the masculine and the feminine.”

14. “Psychedelics are illegal, not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third-story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

15. “The imagination is the goal of history. I see culture as an effort to realize our collective dreams.”

16. “Nobody is smarter than you are. And what if they are? What good is their understanding doing you?”

Terence McKenna Quotes That’ll Motivate You

17. “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment, and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles.”

18. “You are a divine being. You matter, you count. You come from realms of unimaginable power and light, and you will return to those realms.”

19. “The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer.”

20. “We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe.”

21. “The syntactical nature of reality, the real secret of magic, is that the world is made of words.”

22. “The only real experience that counts, is your own.”

23. “We are told, ‘No, you’re unimportant, you’re peripheral. Get a degree, get a job, get this, get that,’ and then you’re a player. You don’t even want to play that game.”

24. “Stop consuming images and start producing them.”

25. “I think that’s the job of each of us—to show our best toys and our best tricks that lift us and our friends to higher and higher levels. There is no end to this bootstrapping process. The future of the human mind and body and the future of humans together is endlessly bright.”

Terence McKenna Quotes to Help You Appreciate Nature

26. “The mystery is in the body and the way the body works itself into nature.”

27. “We are like coral animals embedded in a technological reef of extruded psychic objects.” 

28. “Nature is actually the goal at the end of history.”

29. “Nature is not the empty, despiritualized, lumpen matter we inherit from modern physics. But it is instead a kind of intelligence, a kind of mind.”

30. “Let us declare nature to be legitimate. The notion of illegal plants is obnoxious and ridiculous.”

31. “And if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish.”

32. “Nature is not simply the random flight of atoms through electromagnetic fields.”

33. “It is difficult to measure the ocean, but we can be measured by it, confront it, and be in it.”

34. “Nature is some kind of minded entity.”

35. “Nature is not mute; it is a man who is deaf.”

36. “It’s self-evident that nature is alive, cognizant, and responding.”

Terence McKenna Quotes on Understanding Life

37. “We tend to disempower ourselves. We tend to believe that we don’t matter. And in the act of taking that idea to ourselves we give everything away to somebody else, to something else.”

38. “Nothing lasts, but nothing is lost.”

39. “Every step into freedom contains within it the potential for greater bondage.”

40. “The most beautiful things in the universe are inside the human mind.”

41. “Our ability to destroy ourselves is the mirror image of our ability to save ourselves.”

42. “We are caught inside a mystery, veiled in an enigma, locked inside a riddle.”

43. “Beauty is self-defined, perceived, and understood without ambiguity. It’s the stuff that lies under the skins of our individual existences.”

44. “The purpose of life is to familiarize oneself with this after-death body so that the act of dying will not create confusion in the psyche.”

45. “Nothing comes unannounced, but many can miss the announcement. So it’s very important to listen to your own intuition rather than driving through it.”

46. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel. The problem is that the tunnel is in the back of your mind. And if you don’t go to the back side of your mind, you will never see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

47. “You don’t go on bended-knee to petition the official culture for your rights. Take them.”

48. “Life, carefully examined, is actually a form of allegorical literature with a tight constructional grid laid over it.”

49. “We are all cells of a much larger body, and like the cells of our own body it is hard for us to glimpse the whole pattern of the whole of what is happening, and yet we can sense that there is a purpose, and there is a pattern.”

50. “We should look within; the paths of the heart lead to nearby universes full of life and affection for humanity.”

51. “There are times when everything seems to go right, and times when everything seems to go wrong.”

Terence McKenna Quotes on Drugs

52. “Drugs induce paranoia and psychosis in people who have never taken any.”

53. “This is in fact what shamanism is all about, what the end of history is all about, what psychedelic drugs are all about, we are edge-walking on an ontological transformation of what it means to be human.”

54. “Transformation of language through psychedelic drugs is a central factor of the evolution of the social matrix of the rest of the century.”

55. “Drug dependencies are the result of habitual, unexamined, and obsessive behavior; these are precisely the tendencies in our psychological makeup that the psychedelics mitigate.”

56. “The terror of drugs is a terror of giving up control. This is what people are most alarmed about by psychedelics—is the giving up control.”

57. “Drugs are not comfortable and anyone who thinks they are comfortable or even escapist should not toy with drugs unless they’re willing to get their noses rubbed into their own stuff.”

58. “When humanity understands the potential of the hallucinogenic drug experience, it will have discovered fire for the second time.”

59. “An interesting thing about drugs is often, when a new drug is discovered, it takes a long time to figure out how to do it.”

60. “What the psychedelics are for us as a species, rather than for each one of us as an individual, what they are for us as a species is an enzyme that catalyzes the language-making capacity.”

61. “There is no question that a society that sets out to control its citizens’ use of drugs sets out on the slippery path to totalitarianism.”

Eye-Opening Terence McKenna Quotes on Civilization and the World

62. “Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet.”

63. “Right here and now, one quanta away, there is raging a universe of active intelligence that is transhuman, hyper-dimensional, and extremely alien.”

63. “What is driving religious feelings today is a wish for contact with this other universe.”

65. “Human history is a Gaian dream.”

66. “It’s clearly a crisis of two things: consciousness and conditioning. We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; but we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds.”

67. “We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior—it’s not easy.” 

68. “I often like to think that our map of the world is wrong, that where we have centered physics, we should actually place literature as the central metaphor that we want to work out from.”

69. “I am sure that the answer to all the mysteries that disequilibrate our view of the world are to be understood by looking within ourselves.”

70. “The world is not an unsolved problem for scientists or sociologists. The world is a living mystery—our birth, our death, our being in the moment―these are mysteries.”

71. “The world could be anything, you know. It could be a solid state matrix of some sort, it could be an illusion, or it could be a dream. I mean, it really could be a dream.”

72. “We are not making the waves in this ocean. We are corks riding the waves of the ocean.”

73. “But we are privileged, by perhaps chance alone, to occupy a unique moment in the history of the universe. When the universe goes through some kind of self-transforming, evolutionary, inflationary expansion―that’s what’s happening.”

74. “We are led by the least among us; the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary. We do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.”

75. “We are so much the victims of abstraction that with the earth in flames we can barely rouse ourselves to wander across the room and look at the thermostat.”

Terence McKenna Quotes to Take on What’s True and Real 

76. “Nowhere is it written that anthropoid apes should understand reality.”

77. “The truth for sure, when it arrives, will make you smile. If it doesn’t, you should seek a deeper truth.”

78. “Belief is a form of infantilism. There is no ground for believing anything.”

79. “Only psychos and shamans create their own reality.”

80. “For all we know, we know nothing.”

81. “If you believe in something, you are automatically prevented from believing its opposite.”

82. “The bigger you build the bonfire, the more darkness is revealed.”

83. “A secret is not something untold. It’s something which can’t be told.”

84. “Reality is, you know, the tip of an iceberg of irrationality that we’ve managed to drag ourselves up onto for a few panting moments before we slip back into the sea of the unreal.”

85. “The real truth, that dare not speak itself, is that no one is in control. Absolutely no one.” 

86. “What is important is to understand the true boundaries of reality, not the probable boundaries of possible future events.”

87. “Belief is a curious reaction to the present at hand. It isn’t to be believed, it’s being dealt with—experienced and modeled.”

88. “Closure is a neurotic and infantile demand to make upon reality, other people, or language.”

89. “I believe reality is a marvelous joke staged for my edification and amusement and everybody works very hard to make me happy.”

Terence McKenna Quotes on Culture

90. “Culture is a plot against the expansion of consciousness.”

91. “And culture, which we put on like an overcoat, is the collectivized consensus about what sort of neurotic behaviors are acceptable.”

92. “Culture is the effort to hold back the mystery, and replace it with a mythology.”

93. “Belief is a toxic and dangerous attitude toward reality. After all, if it’s there, it doesn’t require your belief- and if it’s not there, why should you believe in it?”

94. “What blinds us, or makes historical progress very difficult, is our lack of awareness that our beliefs have grown obsolete and should be put aside.”

95. “Culture is the greatest barrier to your enlightenment, your education, and your decency.”

96. “Our culture, self-toxified by the poisonous byproducts of technology and egocentric ideology, is the unhappy inheritor of the dominator attitude that alteration of consciousness by the use of plants or substances is somehow wrong, onanistic, and perversely antisocial.”

97. “You simply have to turn your back on a culture that has gone sterile and dead and get with the program of a living world and the imagination.”

98. “Cultures are virtual realities made of language.”

99. “Culture is a perversion. It fetishizes objects, creates consumer mania, it preaches endless forms of false happiness, endless forms of false understanding as squirrelly religions and silly cults. It invites people to diminish themselves and dehumanize themselves by behaving like machines.”

100. “History is ending because the dominator culture has led the human species into a blind alley, and as the inevitable chaos trophic approaches, people look for metaphors and answers.”

101. “The culture will not explain to you how to be a real human being. It will tell you how to be a banker, politician, Indian chief, masseuses, actress, whatever, but it will not give you true being.”

102. “No culture on earth is as heavily narcotized as the industrial west in terms of being inured to the consequences of maladaptive behavior.”

103. “When you shed the cultural operating system essentially, you stand naked before the inspection of your own psyche.”

104. “If nature represents a principle of economy, then culture surely must exemplify the principle of innovation through excess.”

Terence McKenna Quotes That Will Subside Your Worries and Fears

105. “What is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears.”

106. “You are not naked when you take off your clothes. You still wear your religious assumptions, your prejudices, your fears, your illusions, and your delusions.”

107. “Don’t worry. You don’t know enough to worry. Who do you think you are that you should worry, for crying out loud? It’s a total waste of time. It presupposes such a knowledge of the situation that it is, in fact, a form of hubris.”

108. “Ecstasy is a complex emotion containing elements of joy, fear, terror, triumph, surrender, and empathy. What has replaced our prehistoric understanding of this complex of ecstasy now is the word comfort, a tremendously bloodless notion.”

109. “Worry is betting against yourself.”

110. “Worry is praying to the devil.”

111. “The worries and anxieties of reality are as effectively deferred by becoming absorbed in a television program as by going on a ‘trip’ induced by drugs or alcohol.”

112. “The fear of the psychedelic experience is quite literally the fear of losing control.”

Terence McKenna About Ego

113. “Ego is a structure that is erected by a neurotic individual who is a member of a neurotic culture against the facts of the matter.”

114. “If the ego is not regularly and repeatedly dissolved in the unbounded hyperspace of the transcendent other, there will always be a slow drift away from the sense of self as part of nature’s larger whole.”

115. “I will argue that suppression of shamanic gnosis, with its reliance and insistence on ecstatic dissolution of the ego, has robbed us of life’s meaning and made us enemies of the planet, of ourselves, and our grandchildren.”

116. “My idea of enlightenment is when ego and Tao are fused, and Tao is perceived as ego. Then everything happens with complete appropriateness.”

117. “We are killing the planet in order to keep intact the wrongheaded assumptions of the ego-dominator cultural style.”

118. “You put two egos together and you’ve either got a conflict, which is always interesting, or better yet, a love affair.”

119. “The overriding problems are brought on by the existence of the ego, a maladaptive behavioral complex in the psyche that gets going like a tumor.”

Valuable Terence McKenna Quotes on Language

120. “Language betrays, in order to mean.”

121. “If the world is made of language, then you can hack it in the sense that you can hack code.”

122. “The ultimate wellsprings of this creativity are hidden in the mystery of language.”

123. “Matter is simply a concept. The world is made of language.”

124. “It seems to me that, right under the surface of human neurological organization is a mode shift of some sort that would make language beholdable.”

125. “The way you stretch the envelope of culture is by creating language.”

126. “Some kind of dialogue is now going on between individual human beings and the total of human knowledge and nothing can stop it.”

127. “We cannot evolve faster than our language. The edge of being is the edge of meaning, and somehow we have to push the edge of meaning. We have to extend it.”

128. “Try to frame questions which can endure, and leave off searching for answers, because answers are like operating systems, they’re being upgraded faster than you can keep up with it.”

129. “You should all know that the journey begins where the words stop.”

130. “What is unusual about earth is that language, literally, has become alive. It has infested matter. It is replicating and defining and building itself. And it is in us.”

Terence McKenna Quotes About Art and Creation

131. “The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas.”

132. “The artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is dithering while Rome burns.”

133. “This is why the shaman is the remote ancestor of the poet and artist. Our need to feel part of the world seems to demand that we express ourselves through creative activity.” 

134. “If artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.”

135. “What’s lacking in the Western mind is the sense of connectivity and relatedness to the rest of life, the atmosphere, the ecosystem, the past, our children’s future. If we were feeling those things, we would not be practicing culture as we are.”

136. “Human beings are co-partners with deity in the project of being. This is the basis of all magic.”

137. “The main thing to understand is that we are imprisoned in some kind of work of art.” 

138. “When we free ourselves, we are not freed into a void. When we free ourselves, we are freed into a dimension in which art is an obligation.”

139. “You are some kind of mystery suspended between two eternities. And in that moment, when a mind looks out at a world and asks, ‘What is it?’ At that moment, art can be created.”

140. “I think the real test of psychedelics is what you do with them when you’re not on them, what kind of culture you build, what kind of art, what kind of technologies.”

141. “Language, thought, analysis, art, dance, poetry, mythmaking—these are the things that point the way toward the realm of the eschaton.”

142. “How do we fight back? By creating art.”

Terence McKenna Quotes That Will Make You Realize Your Uniqueness

143. “The imagination is the golden pathway to everywhere.”

144. “The monkey body has carried us to this moment of release, but we are coming more and more to exist in a world made by the human imagination.”

145. “What we call imagination is actually the universal library of what’s real. You couldn’t imagine it if it weren’t real somewhere, sometime.”

146. “Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under. It will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”

147. “We live in condensations of our imagination.”

148. “There is nothing as powerful as capable of transforming itself and the planet, as the human imagination.”

149. “It is the imagination that argues for the divine spark within human beings. It is literally a descent of the world’s soul into all of us.”

150. “Authority will lead you to ruin.”

Have You Gained a Better Understanding of Culture and Drugs Through This Collection?

Terence McKenna was an advocate for the responsible use of psychedelic drugs. As he learned more about their effects, he began to develop a unique view of the world and civilization.

His journey became the inspiration for extraordinary books authored by him. The books he wrote were enticing and entertaining as the ideas were from his journey.

Which of these quotes did you like the most? What did you learn? Tell us in the comments section below!

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