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I have to write a paper on a mystic. I have chosen McKenna to be the subject of my paper. Do you think he qualifies as a mystic? Here's the definition of mysticism as defined by Webster:
. (Eccl. Hist.) The doctrine of the Mystics, who professed a pure, sublime, and wholly disinterested devotion, and maintained that they had direct intercourse with the divine Spirit, and aquired a knowledge of God and of spiritual things unattainable by the natural intellect, and such as can not be analyzed or explained.
If so, please reccomend some of his works that would best be used in a paper defending him as a Mystic.
If there are any good biographies on him, I'd like to hear of those as well.
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Extract from a Terence McKenna interview with Neville Drury
ND: You feel, don't you, that you are accessing quite different spiritual realms from those described by mystics and gurus from the Eastern traditions?
TM: Yes. Their stress on energy centers in the body, levels of consciousness, the moral perfection of spiritual dimensions - none of this I found to be reliable. What the psilocybin experience seems to argue is that there is a kind of parallel universe that is not at all like our universe, and yet it is inhabited by beings with an intentionality. It is not recognisably the universe of astral travel or of the Robert Monroe out-of-the-body experiments. What has always put me off about occultists is the humdrum nature of the other world. They talk about radiant people in flowing gowns ? ascended masters and so on. My overwhelming impression of the other realm is it?s utter strangeness - its "Otherness." It is not even a universe of three-dimensional space and time. The other thing about it, which the esoteric traditions never confront directly is the reality of it. I am not an occultist. I am spiritual only to the degree that I have been forced to be by experience. I came into it a reductionist, a rationalist, a materialist, an empiricist - and I say no reductionist, no empiricist could experience what I have experienced without having to seriously retool their philosophy. This is not a reality for the menopausal mystic, the self-hypnotised or the soft-headed. This is real, And the feeling that radiates out of the psychedelic experience is that it has a historical implication, that what has really happened in the twentieth century is that the cataloguing of nature that began in the sixteenth century with Linnaeus has at last reached its culmination. And the cataloguing of nature has revealed things that were totally unexpected - for example, the existence of a dimension that our entire language set, emotional set, and religious ontology deny.
What has happened in the twentieth century is that we have found out what the witch doctors are really doing, what the shaman really intends. This information cannot simply be placed in our museums and forgotten: it contains within it a nugget of incontrovertible experience that appears to argue that our vision of reality is sorely lacking. Somehow we have gone down a road of development that has hidden from us vast regions of reality-areas that we have originally dismissed as superstition and now don't mention at all.
ND: Do you feel that the shamanic reality is now the broadest paradigm available to us? Is it broader, say, than the Eastern mystical model?
TM: Oh, yes, I think so. What I think happened is that in the world of prehistory all religion was experiential, and it was based on the pursuit of ecstasy through plants. And at some time, very early, a group interposed itself between people and direct experience of the "Other." This created hierarchies, priesthoods, theological systems, castes, ritual, taboos. Shamanism, on the other hand, is an experiential science that deals with an area where we know nothing. It is important to remember that our epistemological tools have developed very unevenly in the West. We know a tremendous amount about what is going on in the heart of the atom, but we know absolutely nothing about the nature of the mind. We haven't a clue. If mathematical formulation is to be the bedrock of ideological certitude, then we have no certitude whatsoever in the realm of what is the mind. We assume all kinds of things unconsciously, but, when pressed, we can't defend our position.
I think what has happened-because of psychedelics on one level and quantum physics on another - is that the program of rationally understanding nature has at last been pushed so far that we have reached the irrational core of nature herself. Now we can see: My God, the tools that brought us here are utterly inadequate.
ND: Is the human potential movement currently re-evaluating the role of psychedelics in understanding the nature of consciousness? Or do you find yourself somewhat out on a limb among your contemporaries?
TM: Well, it's a little of both. The human potential movement at times seems like a flight from the psychedelic experience. It will do anything provided there can be certain confidence that it won't work. Therapies have their place, but they are not addressing the question, What is the ground of Being?
Look for Terence @ http://www.deoxy.org/yippie.htm
Look at the difference between the definitions for mystic and mysticism. Mystic is probably more appropriate.
I think Terence definitely qualifies, but he wasn't pious about it, he was a reluctant mystic (maybe a good title for your paper!). I think that The Archaic Revival is probably his most mystical book, especially the parts where he describes the mystery of nature and dmt experience. Parts of True Hallucinations get into the nature of the psilocybin mysteries as well. I've collected some of his comments on dmt experience at http://deoxy.org/hs_cehn.htm and you should definitely listen to the lectures located at http://www.elftrance.com/mckenna.htm. I don't know of any biographies on him.