Podcast Interview In a time when Artificial Intelligence is getting all the headlines, English author and film-maker Simon G. Powell is making the case for Natural Intelligence - the idea that life itself is intelligent and nature has solutions to problems we have yet to even understand. And it was a series of mushroom trips - "like insights into the essence of existence" - which initiated and propelled his work.
Powell describes these first revelatory experiences in the latest podcast from The Eternities: "I had a mystical experience, what felt like divine energy [was] pulsing through me. It was like I tasted something that most people don’t taste and it was absolutely astonishing. "
Powell went on to write The Psilocybin Solution: The Role of Sacred Mushrooms in the Quest for Meaning (2011), which traced the history of the sacred psilocybin mushroom and discussed its visionary effects, also examining the current science and lasting spirituality that surround it.
Though he concedes that not everyone will have the same experience of mushrooms and other such psychedelics, he nevertheless argues for their potential to effect in their users extraordinary transformations. "Even though the average human psyche might not think about these global issues, and our relationship to the web of life, through psychedelics they might well confront all this. They might well have all these profound thoughts. They can be forced to confront such things. You can have a normal, regular person who never thinks about those things, then suddenly their life is changed, they see things totally differently, and they are much more sensitive to these larger contexts within which we live."
In 2012, Powell published his second book, Darwin's Unfinished Business: The Self-Organizing Intelligence of Nature, and recently spoke on the same topic at the Annual International Bioethics Forum in Madison, Wisconsin.
He is currently working on his third book, Magic Mushroom Explorer: Psilocybin and the Awakening Earth, to be published in early 2015.
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Podcast Interview "Agriculture is really the dominant system of 8,000 years, and it's more than a way of growing food. It's a way of domesticating humans and organising humans. It is 'the' system." So says the environmental author and journalist Richard Manning in the latest podcast from The Eternities. "And the system that brought us here and made us sick is not going to fix us."
Manning is the author of Against the Grain: How Agriculture Hijacked Civilisation, which argued that major world shaping forces, such as trade, imperialism and disease, were conditioned and driven by agriculture, both for good and ill. But, mostly ill.
Manning has now returned for another tilt at civilisation with Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization, co-authored with John Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of such titles as A User's Guide to the Brain. The book attempts to show that our human physical evolution is lagging far behind civilization's socio-cultural advances, significantly affecting health and wellbeing.
Podcast interview. “You only need to do something as stupid as a detox because you’re eating stupid things,” said the nutritional researcher Dao Earl.
Dao is co-founder of Sura Detox, a retreat centre in Devon on the south coast of England. “I was troubled for a long time in bringing people into the retreats. They go through this fantastic process [then] go back out into the world and do exactly the same things and come back next year. The retreats allow me to nail home this nutritional information. It’s about making conscious eaters.”
I thought I knew a fair amount about diet and nutrition until I attended one of Dao’s public talks. I was quickly engrossed, the whole room united – all of us sinners – but I felt inspiration rather than shame. We don’t know any better - until now. Effectively our taste has been corrupted from a finely tuned sensory apparatus and commandeered for use in a pleasure circuit, blurring its capacity for determining the most applicable nutrients.
Podcast interview. It's over thirty years since his death, but fascination for the work of science fiction author Philip K. Dick continues to grow with more than ten major Hollywood movies based on his novels and short stories, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. A new biography shines further light on the man himself, attempting to sift the details of his complex personal life and penetrate the unique inner life that fuelled his work with something that may have been more than merely imagination.
"What I wanted to do was get into the man's head," said author Antony Peake. "His psychology is as interesting as his novels [as is] his life itself." A Life of Philip K. Dick: The Man Who Remembered the Future is the first biography to emerge following the publication of Dick's Exegesis, the fabled million word, late-night diary, that was his attempt to fathom the bizarre visionary experiences of 1974, which he termed "2-3-74" and described as, "an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane."
Podcast interview. Humankind was expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. But, according to a radical theory, it was actually for not eating enough of the stuff.
Consciousness theorist Tony Wright argues that human evolution stalled around 200,000 years ago, an event that may have been recorded in the world’s myths as “the fall from grace”, humanity’s rude ejection from a “golden age”. According to the theory, climate change forced humans from tropical forests where a high fruit diet had fuelled the rapid development of the brain. Beyond the forests, with fewer nutritional components present, the brain degenerated, a trend which included the growing domination of the left-hemisphere over an actually better preserved right.
Podcast interview. Pascal's Wager demonstrated a certain rationality to a belief in god. The seventeenth century philosopher, Pascal, argued that if one believes, yet god does not exist, nothing is lost in death. But, if god exists, the reward is eternal happiness.
For the transhumanist thinker, Giulio Prisco, if god doesn't exist, he believes we will create him. Or her. Or, more accurately, perhaps - them. Prisco's reasoning results not so much in a wager as an expectation.
Speaking to The Eternities podcast, he said, "Richard Dawkins … the atheist mastermind … writes in The God Delusion [that he] finds it very plausible in the universe that there may be very powerful beings like gods. He thinks these beings are a product of natural evolution like ourselves. That's exactly what I think myself. I don’t place any artificial limits on the achievements that will be possible to intelligent life in the future. And I do think that some of our descendants, perhaps in a few thousand years, will be so advanced … that we could only call them gods."
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet.
The idea for my first novel, Human+, came from a desire to write about psychic phenomena. That is, to write persuasively about psychic phenomena. Telepathy, astral travel, precognition, discarnate entities. There truly is more in heaven and earth, and I know through personal experience.
“I have seen little evidence of the paranormal,” said one reader who, nevertheless, enjoyed the novel, drawn to the story more for its technological and transhumanist themes. I still find myself surprised by people who tell me such things.
Podcast interview. Graham Nicholls claims to have experienced hundreds of out-of-body experiences (OBEs) since his first spontaneous one at twelve years old. Over the years he has sought to hone the art in his efforts to increase the number of his own experiences and their attainability for others. Graham has for several years offered one-on-one coaching and in 2012 published Navigating the Out of Body Experience, detailing his techniques alongside an exploration of the science and philosophy of the area, as well as what to expect from an experience.
Podcast interview. Spiritual gurus have often warned against disturbing those still "deep in role" with reminders of their transcendent nature. There is a reason for what Alan Watts called "the taboo against knowing who you are", and this evasion from ultimate truth, they say, is all part of the divine play.
Dean Radin, the famous researcher into psychic phenomena and Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), feels no such compunction, at least when dealing with those unenlightened scientists still happily ploughing reductive-materialist furrows.
Podcast interview. With the announcement earlier this year from Dr Rick Strassman’s research foundation regarding the discovery of DMT in the pineal glands of live rats, modern science took a huge step forward in the understanding of this gland.
But, according to the consciousness theorist, Anthony Peake, the pineal’s central role in transcendent experience has long been known by the world’s esoteric religious traditions, often venerated as the ‘third eye’ that needs to be opened in order to see the inner worlds of the mystic.