The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America (2010)
Being relatively new to the psychedelic scene, the swirl of new names was initially a bit confusing. Speakers would refer to 'Leary' or 'McKenna' as if we all knew - of course! - who is being talked about. Meanwhile, I'm googling to see which version of 'McKenna' gets the most hits so I can figure out the guy's first name and why people are talking about him. After a few years of this (and just when I think I've got a handle on this who's who), another few names pop up on the radar - Houston Smith and Andrew Weil.
“They came together at a time of upheaval and experimentation, and they set the stage for the social, spiritual, sexual, and psychological revolution of the 1960s. Smith would be The Teacher, educating three generations to adopt a more tolerant, inclusive attitude toward other people's religions. Alpert would be The Seeker, inspiring a restless army of spiritual pilgrims. Weil would be The Healer, devoting his life to the holistic reformation of the American health-care system. And Leary would play The Trickster, advising a generation to "turn on, tune in, and drop out." --from the introduction to 'The Harvard Psychedelic Club'Actually, I did recognize Weil's face from his work with integrative healthcare models but was unaware of his role in the psychedelic sixties. But thanks to Lattin's book, the way in which all four men - Weil, Dass, Leary and Huston - deeply influenced the cultural revolution of the 1960s has been more fully revealed. To be clear, these aren't the usual stories of acid trip bus rides or commune living adventures but tales of academic in-fighting, political upheaval and personal relationships amid genius-level intelligence. Lattin's writing style is quick and dispassionate, letting the color of the events and characters shine through. And in a nice surprise, Lattin devotes the eighth chapter to (brief) revisits with each man, giving the reader some sense of how these experiences continued to unfold in their lives. The final chapter, 'Conclusion', also offers keen insights about the lessons time has continued recover from these events. Overall, an excellent read for anyone interested in the psychedelic culture.
The Psychedelic Experience (1964)
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Richard Alpert
Since my awakening came by way of psychedelic mushrooms, reading up on the topic has become my new favorite past-time. It used to be gaming ... I miss gaming.
"You must be ready to accept the possibility that there is a limitless range of awareness for which we now have no words; that awareness can expand beyond range of your ego, your self, your familiar identity, beyond everything you have learned, beyond your notions of space and time, beyond the differences which usually separate people from each other and from the world around them. You must remember … millions have made this voyage." --The Psychedelic ExperienceBy now I've listened to at least a few dozen people recount their psilocybin experiences; the descriptions that have so far resonated with me most are found on the pages of this book. No surprise, perhaps, considering the group of experienced psychonauts who are the authors. They've combined their experiences to both describe the psychedelic experience and help prepare those getting ready for their own explorations. The book is only about 100 pages, which was fortunate as I was immediately hooked by the clear, practical and yet compassionate writing and couldn't stop until the end. As I read, I could feel the echoes of my own journey burbling up in the background; I'd say these three nailed something essential about the psychedelic encounter. And the way the authors set their descriptions against backdrop of the Tibetan Book of the Dead provides a nice peek into a details of that tradition. (I'm sure I encountered the essence of the Tibetan's Bodhisattva Chenrazee during my first frantic journey back to Source.) I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to prepare for their own spirit quest with a few possible spoilers on board. I will definitely be reading this book again. Free pdf version