Jordan Peterson on How Psychedelic Experiences Could've Shaped Religion


1 year ago



Jordan Peterson

8 appearances

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a clinical psychologist, the author of several best-selling books, among them "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos," and "Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life," and the host of "The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast."


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What do you think about those scholars in Israel that believe that the burning bush was some sort of a psychedelic experience? Oh, well, I think we have no idea how psychedelic experience shaped religious presumption. Have you read Brian Murrow Rescue's Work? Yes, absolutely. I interviewed him. Amazing. Oh, yeah. We know that the shamanic tradition, which is God only knows how many tens of thousands of years old, you know, might be, is it millions of years old? Maybe, you know, human beings have been using fire for two million years. Like it could be really, really old. And the shamanic tradition is definitely a psychedelic tradition. And one of the things Murrow Rescue did was show quite clearly that all of Greek culture was embedded in what looks like a collective psychedelic experience. And so, yeah, I think that I think the evidence like Murchia Elliott, a great religious scholar, studied shamanism. And he thought that the use of psychedelics was a degeneration of the original tradition. But I don't think that's true at all. I think that the psychedelic tradition is part and parcel of the universal religious heritage of mankind. And like, I don't know what that means. You know, I've talked to people like Robin Carhart Harris, who studies the neurology of psychedelic experience. And he said that what it does is produce something akin to a hyper-stress experience. Imagine you're extremely stressed, like your life's in danger. And so you have to open yourself up to the possibility of radically new ideas, while a psychedelic substance puts you in that state of mind. And so that can be hellish, because you can collapse into like a catastrophic fight-or-flight defensive response and magnified by the hallucination, and you're just in hell. But that isn't the only necessary outcome. And so the psychedelic experience definitely mimics something like radical learning. And it also seems to reduce the effect of memory on perception. Because most of what you see in the world is memory. It's just a short. You know, when you look at a word, printed word, you read the word. You can't not read the word. That's because you see in the memory. You're not seeing, like when I look at the sign behind you, I'm not lost in the yellow in the details. I see the Joe Rogan experience, right? It's part and parcel of perception. It's all memory. What a psychedelic does in part is remove the inhibition of memory from perception. That re-immerses you in the complex world and shows you how remarkable and beyond comprehension everything really is. That's real. But the question is what to do with that. You know, Timothy Leary, his doctrine was turn on, tune in, drop out. And that devastated the whole culture of that idea. It's like, well, if we just shed our presuppositions and the whole industrial nightmare, we'd all be freedom-loving hippies wandering around need. It's like, no. I wanted to do a line of psychedelic products, turn on, tune in, grow up. Right. I think that's much, much, much funnier, much better. Yeah. And that's also possible. That's a possible path through this sort of quest for spiritual enlightenment. And it's not... The Timothy Leary thing was, I mean, it was dismissed by a lot of other psychedelic pioneers of the time. They saw the flaws in that thing. Yeah, definitely. The people who were already experimenting with ideas of proper set. They knew that back in the early 60s. Yes. And also the people that had no desire to run a group of like-minded people, which Leary did. Yeah. He wanted to... He fell into that hippie culture, that hippie counterculture. And also, I think he fell into the cult of personality. He fell into this thing that happens when too many people are paying attention to you. Yeah. And you think you have all the answers. Yeah. It's very dangerous. If you combine that with psychedelic experience. Yes, yes, yes. That turns out to be a problem. Right. And the intoxicating grip of that, the power that you have over these people, which is very... It's unavoidable. And if you are a guru, air quotes, and you're the person doing that, how many of them just start cults? Oh, yeah. And how many of them... It winds up being sexual. It winds up... Well, Jung was asked once to comment on psychedelic experience. I think he was asked about what Huxley was doing. And Jung's answer was, beware of unearned wisdom. Right. Yeah. Very smart. Very smart. Very, very smart.