march 10th, 2021

Episode #14


Charles Eisenstein on Psychedelics, Interbeing and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible

Laura Dawn speaks with influential thought leaders Charles Eisenstein on Psychedelic Leadership, offering wise advice for the heart-centered leaders of our time.

LSD confirmed a suspicion that I didnt’ even know that I had. But when I had the experience, I realized I had always been waiting for something like this to happen. And that suspicion was that reality, and self, and mind, and possibility are much much bigger than I’ve been told.
Charles Eisenstein


About This Episode:

In this episode, Laura Dawn speaks with influential thought leader and author of Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, Charles Eisenstein.

We discuss:

  • Charles’ recent psychedelic experiences of ego-dissolution
  • How psychedelics have influenced him as a thought leader
  • Wise advice for the psychedelic leaders of our time
  • The process of reintegration back into the matrix and old paradigm after psychedelic experiences. 
  • How this psychedelic renaissance is different than the 60’s
  • The role psychedelics are playing to help us move from the narrative of separation towards interbeing
  • The foundational importance of understanding our psychedelic experiences through the lens of relationship and connection. 
  • Charles’ thoughts on letting go, truth, trust and courage.
  • The subtleties of the “war on self.”
  • Reframing activism by moving away from the narrative of trying to “make things happen” versus connecting to the larger universal intelligence and listening, and then allowing things to happen. 
  • How plant medicines are helping us move through this time of upheaval and transition?
  • Conceptual frameworks (like eastern philosophy or quantum physics) he draws upon as helpful psychedelic roadmaps

Core Themes

Explored in this episode:
  • Ego dissolution
  • today’s psychedelic renaissance
  • re-integrating into the matrix after psychedelics
  • Letting go, truth, trust, and courage
  • psychedelic wisdom for thought leaders
  • relationship and connection
  • the “war on self”
  • reframing activism: forcing vs. allowing

Links &

useful resources

Episode Transcript

Episode #14: Charles Eisenstein Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.

Duration: 01:24:31

Laura Dawn [07:47]: Alright without any further ado, here is my fascinating conversation with Charles Eisenstein. Alright, welcome Charles Eisenstein, you know, I just want to start by saying thank you so much for all the work that you do. I’ve been admiring your work for so many years now, your writing and your speaking and your capacity to communicate really complex ideas. Has played such an enormous and influential role in my life, as I aspire to cultivate my own path of thought leadership, specifically in the psychedelic space. So, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

Charles Eisenstein [08:23]: Yeah well, I appreciate those kind words, and I’m just happy to be on anybody who isn’t a psychedelic activist. I feel like it’s my tribe because I think that these medicines are essential for that transition that we all sense. It’s possible that we want to see in our lifetimes. So yeah,

Laura Dawn [08:48]: I’m so curious to just start by asking you, you know, how have your direct experiences with psychedelics and sacred plant medicines directly shaped your thinking as a thought leader?

Charles Eisenstein [08:59]: Yeah, it’s not like I had direct visions that I’m then describing directly. It’s more than that, I guess, the most impactful psychedelic experience I’ve had, until recently, was an LSD trip when I was 22, which totally confirmed a suspicion that I didn’t even know that I had. But when I had the experience, I recognized that always been waiting for something like this to happen. And that suspicion was that reality and self and the mind and possibility are much bigger than what I’ve been told. So, like part of me when I had that experience and came down from it, I was like, yeah, I knew it. Thank you. I knew it. I knew that. It wasn’t just this narrow ghetto of reality. But then there was like this confirmation that. Without that, I don’t think that I would have had the courage to defy reality, as I know, as I’ve been told. That secret suspicion would have remained a suspicion.

Laura Dawn [10:21]: Yeah, you said until recently, do you feel like sharing recently? What happened?

Charles Eisenstein [10:29]: Yeah, I’ve had a really powerful medicine experience, just like a month or two ago. It’s kind of this underground thing. I don’t even know what the medicine is. But it was really powerful. It was it an experience of within minutes of total ego death, you know, like, Charles Eisenstein flew out the window like, like a scrap of paper out of 100 miles an hour car, gone. And in that fleeting moment, part of my mind is like, oh, but this isn’t a real this is just a chemical, you know, but then a split second after that. It was like, No, that wasn’t real, that Charles Eisenstein, that whole lifetime, that whole identity, that is what wasn’t real, this what I’m experiencing now, this is real. And it’s kind of hard to, people listening, who have done psychedelic work to understand what I’m talking about when I say that. It’s like, it’s a cliche, you can’t really put it into words.

And sometimes, I’ve noticed that the attempt even to put something into words can be a way to try to control it, to try to normalize it to try to fit it into the categories that the words represent that I came in with. And it can be not always, but it can be a way to confine the medicine to try to master the medicine rather than the other way around. I’m not saying like never tell your trip story or something like that. But I guess it’s more of like, I don’t want to try to understand it too thoroughly. I don’t want to try to explain it. I don’t want to try to fit it in a tiny box and oh, here’s what it is. Here’s what it meant. Maybe in five or 10 years, I’ll have a clear answer to that. And I’ll be able to say, yeah, here’s what it meant like I could say about that LSD journey when I was 22. That was 30 years ago, like I, I can say now, what it was in my life?

Laura Dawn [13:02]: Yeah, I have, let’s just go right off the deep end into o ego disillusion. You know, we know that psychedelic experiences can disrupt what we call our sense of self, but also, you know, what you call the defining mythology of our civilization, the story of separation. And, you know, we can go into these journeys and have these experiences of deep interconnection, and what you call interbeing, and I love that term so much. And yet afterward, we’re thrust back into the matrix of institutions that were literally designed for a different era, a different time that we don’t live in anymore. What advice do you have for people, especially leaders, who are really at the forefront of trying to contribute to paving a new path forward? But feel oftentimes, you know, we’re up against so much, and it’s easy to lose hope and to feel cynical.

Charles Eisenstein [13:55]: Yeah, yeah, I have two pieces of advice that totally contradict each other. One, so yes, like, I’m well familiar with this despair, even that, that, you know, you’ve come to see something that doesn’t even have to be through a psychedelic experience. But I’m given a glimpse, or an experience in one way or another of what the world could be, like, I could be that world, what’s possible, the true vastness of reality, of our capacities as human beings, etc. Like, you see that then you come back up to a world that lives as if that didn’t even exist. And then, because all of my reference points are in that world, and all of my conditions, my conditioning, circumstances, the expectations around me, the acceptable behavior in that society, it’s all defined by those institutions. And so, I snap back into conformity with it as well. I am not separate from my conditions. When you invoke the word interbeing, which I believe was coined by [inaudible15:11] originally.

But interbeing, what it really means is that you are a relationship, you’re not a separate being having relationships, you are the totality of the relationship. So, it’s, so this is one piece of advice is actually don’t be too hard on yourself, for not being able to hold the psychedelic state after the medicine is gone. Like, don’t beat up on yourself for, snapping back into conformity, and have some mercy on yourself. Because, boy, that is a painful thing, to have that knowledge and that state of being in this like shrinking little bubble inside of you, that just diminishes and diminishes and diminishes until you don’t even like maybe it’s not even there anymore. It’s painful, like that cut-off, and it’s better to never have known God at all than to have seen God and then be cut off from Him. So, like, that’s the one piece of advice is, yeah, it is hard.

And then the second piece of advice is to stop feeling sorry for yourself, and just do it. And ultimately, these two are our one, because of this shrinking bubble, because you can’t actually unsee it once you’ve seen it. And the experience operates on you and part in fact, even the despair, the agony of the cut off of being cast out of Paradise, once you’ve seen it, that is part of it working on you. Because you have to be shown the reality of the condition here. Ordinarily, we make it hell palatable through all kinds of distractions and delusions. And medicine can remove those. So, the initial phase or part of the integration can be an intensification of the experience of hell. Now, why do I say hell? I’m not saying that there is not a lot of beauty enjoyed and offer in this world, that we are born in.

I say hell in a sense, it’s actually a very classical sense of perdition, you know the term perdition used to be a synonym for hell and you know, pilgrim’s progress and stuff like that. Perdition literally means the state of being lost. So, the experience of being lost intensifies. The experience of disconnection becomes more tolerable when you’ve already when you experience connection. Because, because we this is actually all about disconnection. It’s built on disconnection, it’s built on separation, in so many ways, economic, infrastructural, it put it into little boxes. Metaphoric and literal boxes. So, this is the separation of how our whole civilization is built. But we’re acclimated to it. And that knowledge that there is a state of greater aliveness and greater beingness. That comes through the restoration of relationships. That knowledge is what I referred to before as a secret system. We don’t know what we are missing. And so that acclimatization process is the process of addiction and distraction and pretense, all the things that we use to cope in modern society.

And the medicine makes those inoperative. So then like we know, I was right secretly. It wasn’t supposed to be, it’s not supposed to be this way, there is something more and. But I even know that, how do I get there? Because I might feel incapable of getting back to that place. With everything that I know, I can remind myself of all those teachings, I can discipline myself to do my practices, and still, I don’t know how to get back. This is, I think, for most people, it’s an inevitable stage that happens sooner or later. It is a stage, but we are telling you that it’s just the stage that won’t help. Because in that stage the logic of it is total. It’s consuming.

Laura Dawn [20:19]: Yeah, one of the things like on a really practical level that I personally struggle with. I’m so curious how you navigate this as well, is like for people who do really want to influence real change, all of a sudden, we’re still operating within the systems. And now one of those big systems is social media and technology. And sort of like the bar it feels like higher and higher and higher in terms of, you know, having influence and in some ways, I have moments of like, yeah, maybe I could just be just as much influence gardening every day and letting it all go. And not doing the podcast and getting on clubhouse now, and all of the things that do bring a sense of inherent joy, I love communicating and speaking and writing. And then it gets to a point where like, it almost tips over and it’s like, wow, this is a lot to carry. Do you struggle with that at all especially with technology and just the amount like you put out so much content? It’s really amazing, actually. Yeah. Where do you find that balance in your own life?

Charles Eisenstein [21:25]: Oh, I don’t think I find that balance. I think I vacillate from one imbalance to another imbalance. Yeah. Very flattering of you to think that but. I’m probably the last person to ask about how to balance that. It’s not so much about, for me, it’s not just like, getting into nature, like going for hikes. I mean what do you do in nature? That only meets a very small edge of what I really want, which is to be in full relationship to the beings around me, that relationship is not the relationship when I look at them. Where we came from, hundreds or 1000s of years ago, was a very intimate relationship with the beings around us, using them for food using them for medicine, observing their life cycles of being stung by them, being scratched by them, like, having a lifetime of stories that refer to them. These are multi-dimensional relationships.

I get Yes, it has helped me to get out to the woods. I do that sometimes. There’s part of it’s like, but why, you know. Like, for that part to be nourished. I want to be somehow taking care of the woods. I want to be interacting with the woods, not just leaving no trace, but leaving a positive trace. And this points to a Universal need in human beings, which is to serve life, to be in relation to life to serve life. And I wouldn’t say that Zoom and Podcast and social media are outside of that service. I really resonate with the train of thought you were going down. Like I get that too. Knowing that change in this world is not a function of how many followers you have, how big your audience is. That mindset is the mindset of separation, it’s the mindset of domination. I have more than you. I’m going to make a big change, but who are the really powerful people on earth? It’s the people who go out in some direction we’re talking about psychedelic leadership here.

I want to say this because leadership is a function of courage. Because you’re going in a direction, you’re the first one to go somewhere. Well, becoming a, you know, popular podcaster like there’s a map for that. You’re not a leader just by doing that, I’m not saying that if you do that, you’re not a leader. Doing that does not make you a leader. What makes you a leader is doing something from the guidance that’s not already part of the general failing belief system. And that’s the kind of thing we need. Right now. We need people to follow that impulse and be like, yeah, I’m going to spend five years learning to communicate with nature. And learning to plant by the moon. And I recently reread Foucault Walker’s classic one straw revolution. The Japanese farmer, you know, who quit a prestigious agronomy job and went back to the family farm.

And learned how to farm with this minimum of effort in this incredibly elegant way that can use fertilizers or chemicals, or even compost and just basically letting nature do the work with these minimal interventions. The deeper his understanding, the more minimal his intervention can be. And, you know, equaling the yields of like, the most industrialized high-tech farms, and he had, he was not doing it to change the world. Yet after 20, or 30 years of total obscurity people start coming, people start learning from him. He writes the book it’s a bestseller. And his influence now has rippled out the entire planet. If he had set out with the agenda of, I’m going to become famous, I’m going to become an opinion leader. How do I do that? What do I put in service to that? Well, I have like, then you’re actually not serving. You’re not going to do anything new that way. So yeah,

Laura Dawn [26:42]: I love that. I love that. That story. Thank you for sharing that. You know, I also just love the concept. You know, you speak about this. I also read Yuval Noah Harare, his work that the stories we tell create our reality. And I’m so curious about your thoughts around this extreme non-cohesiveness and cultural narrative, which of course is very different than even a few decades ago. It’s like the cultural narrative was a plate and that just got smashed to the ground. And it puts us in this interesting juxtaposition of division yet a possibility. It’s like, on one hand, like each space between the broken piece now becomes an opportunity to not just adopt the cultural narrative, but to discover what’s true for me. And yet, on the flip side, people are more divided and polarized than ever before. What’s your perspective on this?

Charles Eisenstein [27:35]: Yeah, yeah, just like reality has splintered into many, many shards. It used to be that even if people had disagreements, they at least agreed on what is a valid source of facts. And they can refer to those facts in an argument and persuade each other. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I agree that this is a fact. Maybe they didn’t know it, but that’s a valid source of information that’s valid. Like they held in common knowledge, like sources of knowledge, and we don’t have that anymore. You know, one person will cite evidence from one source. Now they’ll say, well, that’s not valid. Has that been fact-checked? You know, that’s a conspiracy theory. Here’s what’s valid. Even the New York Times is telling us we read anything disturbing. Basically, did you read this article in your times, it’s like four or five days ago, basically, saying critical thinking is leading us astray. And if you read anything, any dissenting opinion, anything disturbing.

Go to Wikipedia first and check out the source and make sure that it’s okay before you waste any time. And then they gave the example of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Like, you don’t need to read them. This is what the Times article said. You don’t need to read it stuff on vaccines, for example, just go to Wikipedia, and it says he’s a conspiracy theorist, problem solved. So basically, this is a, it seems like there’s a kind of desperation in that. It’s like the dominant reality is unraveling, like, threads are peeling off of it. And they’re desperately trying to hold it together by saying don’t even look outside this reality. And some of these threats, not like every one of these threads is the truth. Like, although these conspiracy theories can’t all be true because they contradict each other. Like, but I can’t say that any one of them is patently absurd. It only seems absurd from within the core narrative, which defines it as absurd. So yeah, like how do we communicate now across these gaps?

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot because I’ve noticed a narrowing, it’s like I’m standing on a shrinking iceberg. Because I’ve held countercultural positions for 20 years. But the information that I can cite, to argue for these things, is getting exiled. Charles Eisenstein o the forbidden realms. Sometimes, like, you know, in the form of videos getting taken off YouTube, like I, for example, I’ve been writing about homeopathy for a long time, not that much, but I cite homeopathy as an example of something. I’m like, Hey, you know, here’s a medicine that is based on very different mythology, of self and world. That says that the inner and the outer are connected, that any condition in the human being is mirrored by a substance in the universe. And this can be used for healing.

So fine, as long as it’s theoretical, I can still say that, but if I’d say we should devote even 1% of the research money going towards vaccines to homeopathic treatments for COVID. If I say that, I put it on YouTube, that that can get taken down. It probably will get taken down because it is quite thick. You know, it’s Yeah, so I guess I don’t have the answer to your question. I don’t really know what to do about it. I thought, but it’s occurred to me, maybe I write fiction, you know, maybe I instead of shouting louder, at those who are in a different reality, like if I do that their experiences of me shouting. You see this online, you’re hysterical? Their experiences of me shouting. So, maybe it’s, you know, yeah. Maybe we don’t try to convince, sometimes maybe, maybe there are other ways of being and other ways of communicating. I could say more about that. But I think I’ll pause and see what you want to add.

Laura Dawn [32:06]: Yeah. It’s just interesting. You know, on my last solo episode, I also do really solos for this podcast, I released one called truth triggers and getting right with yourself. And I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that as we’re in the midst of so much chaos, and upheaval, and this great tide of change is happening, that we’re also witnessing an explosion of interest in psychedelics and plant medicines that offer us really, it’s like, they’re reaching out a hand and saying, hey, maybe instead of focusing outward, let’s go inward. And let’s look at where we’re out of alignment in our own life, get right with ourselves, as a primary pathway towards influencing change around us. But it is interesting to just riff on this around. Yeah, this time of finding what’s true for ourselves. And instead of shouting at other people, where there’s just so much division, finding what’s true for each of us, and then owning that from a place of integrity and kindness, and with the intention of looking for common ground to stand on. So, it’s like holding the juxtaposition of the division towards unity, in a sense.

Charles Eisenstein [33:19]: Yeah, well, I’ve been around the block on that, you know, but I say something like that, and I don’t like I’m not actually advocating, withdrawing from collective life, withdrawing from political social community engagement. I do think that any effective activism in the world has to correspond to a kind of inner activism, because of the way the world is projected into the way we are, and vice versa. Inner and outer exchange happen in tandem. When I say anything like that, you know, then in this current political climate, I, you know, I’m accused of being you know, a white privilege male who, yes, you have the luxury to do inner work, but a lot of people don’t have that luxury. And in fact, you are by just focusing on inner work and not being a vocal, anti-racist, anti-this anti that you are actually enabling all of that to happen because silence is violence.

So, get off your ass and stop resting in your privilege that goes that narrative that I think is a misunderstanding of what I’m saying. Because It’s not an escape from the action, like, the more that we heal the, to the story of separation, and the experience of separation within ourselves, the more compassionate we become, the more able in the world we become to affect change. And a lot of people like, you know, it’s not like they go into spirituality. To avoid engaging the world, a lot of people come to spirituality or come to psychedelics, after they’ve burned out, they tried really hard, using the tools available to them, using what they’re received tools and their received worldview, they tried really hard to stop the violence, they’ve tried really hard to change the world. And it didn’t work. You know, they worked for peace in Palestine for 20 years, they worked. I mean, so many stories, where they’ve tried and try and try and get burned out.

And they realized that there is a higher level of effectiveness that also might be less invisible and less celebrated. And less like it doesn’t, you don’t get the affirmation of other activists necessarily for doing this kind of work. But it is a 500-year timescale that we can sense it’s more powerful. Because this, you know, the machine that we live in has tremendous momentum. I’ve taken some solace recently in understanding, like, this is just kind of play itself out, I can’t stop it, I tried to stop it. I was writing about the dangers of, you know, biomedical security. A long time ago, and when this whole COVID thing happened. I was like, I knew this was going to happen. I tried to stop it. This obsession with safety, you know, this sacrifice of all other values, for the sake of minimizing risk, like so much that I’ve been dreading, it’s happening, you know, and that’s some antiquated tailspin of despair.

But realizing that, yeah, this has to play itself out. And a lot of the work that we’re doing, it’s planting a seed. In the future, maybe it’s operating on a very long-time scale. And even if it is not on a long timescale, like maybe the things that we’re doing, we don’t know it, but in 10 years, the world would be totally transformed. But we can’t see that from a linear mind. We can’t predict how that’s going to happen. When we can make a scenario. Usually, there’s an element of magical thinking, as an element of, and then everybody’s Consciousness Changes, there’s a shift in content there is like, how do I make that happen? I cannot make that happen. That is, that phrase, that’s a key pivot.

To think that our impact on the world is the things that we make happen. And one thing that psychedelics can open us to, is the presence of a larger intelligence, which then brings up a different kind of leadership, a different kind of change agency, which is no longer imposing our will on the world, for which you have to have a plan. But instead, it’s participating in a process of change, that starts not with the plan, but it starts with listening. Starts raw, it really starts with first reconnecting to this intelligence, and then learning to listen to it, and be guided by it. So, it’s totally opposite the industrial or Newtonian mindset of making something happen. If you need to make something happen, then first you have to become powerful. And then you just like doing it, what everybody else has been doing.

I’ve got to get a lot of money first. Because if I don’t have a lot of money, I’m not going to go to scale it up, I’m not going to be able to do a big thing. So, then all of a sudden, you’re competing for a lot of money with other people who also think, who are telling themselves that it’s all for a good cause. This is what George Orwell described in 1984. The goal of the party he said was the greater good. And to do that they needed power. So, power becomes the end. Starts as a means and it becomes the end. More power. So, we’re just back in the same playground, as everybody else. When we buy into making change happen. Now, it’s not that our 3D capacities are never used, but they’re not useless. But we have to understand that the scope of this problem, the scope of the illness on earth is beyond anything that we can address through our plans and our force.

Laura Dawn [40:20]: Do you think that psychedelics and sacred plant medicines are like at the sort of forefront of quote-unquote, our best bet for helping us through this time?

Charles Eisenstein [40:33]: Yes. Yeah, you know, there’s one of the mythologies that explores the New World Order mythology, you know, where there’s a ball of Illuminati, maybe reptilian aliens, you know, satanic forces, etc., they have the world in their grip. And then there’s in somebody mythologies, there’s also the guardians, or the benign angelic extraterrestrials and these other forces. Now this whole setup this whole mythology of good versus evil, I think it’s ultimately part of the problem. However, I can enter that mythology, but then I think, Okay. How, okay, so they’re these guardians, let’s say that they’re these guardians, that are here to help humanity, transition, past this initiation, here to help us become, to reach our potential and to become full citizens of the galaxy. Okay.

How do they actually intervene? It’s not that they. It’s not that they contend with the negative violent forces, at their own game, it’s not that they’re going to swoop in with superior force, to those and, you know, come in and arrest all the Illuminati and the, you know, human trafficking, elites and all this kind of stuff. The way that they intervene is that they? Well, one way that they intervene is that they send us medicines, that have just an enormous impact. I mean, our, like the 60s, as we know it, the 60s, that happened because of honesty, that entire cultural transformation, that never would have happened if it weren’t for psychedelics. So, if you look at the history of LSD, I mean, like, you know, it was discovered pretty much by random,

Laura Dawn [42:39]: But then one could make a case that, you know, look what happened, subsequently, the forces that be we had the war on drugs, you know, we had mass propaganda, a lot of the hippies went on to become brokers. It’s like, and so, some people call this the third wave of the psychedelic Renaissance, like, is this different?

Charles Eisenstein [43:01]: Yeah, one medicine wasn’t enough. I mean, you know, we’re talking about healing a 1000s of years old process, like healing. It’s a process of separation that’s reaching one extreme and a further extreme and a further extreme in our time. But it goes back to the mindsets, the institutions, the perceptions, the beliefs. Like these inhabit us. On an unfathomably deep level? One medicine, they can show us something, but they don’t, automatically in a split second, undo all of that, like you come down from that trip, and you are yourself again, almost. Like, you know, you’re still you know, in your family, you still have your same friends, you still have the same job. Like it doesn’t magically change any of that.

The Guardians don’t work that way. They don’t magically change things. But they see the process of change. So yeah. Yeah, you know, a lot of the tech tyrants of our time, you know, they took LSD and so forth, but still, it opened a door that then makes the next door available, the next door available, and is going also this doesn’t fit necessarily into linear time. This intervention could have been initiated 1000s of years ago for seeing exactly what’s happening today, as is the case with a lot of the traditional plant medicines. You know, I lost guy he Boga Simon, right? These were suddenly invented in the 1930s or 1940s and 1950s. But they were not in reality, not in the dominant reality. They might as well not exist. And they only came in when the physic conditions were ready for them. So, this is still happening, the physic conditions have been evolving. And the earlier medicines like LSD. They prepared a collective field or some of the medicines that have been coming in more recently. The one that I was talking about earlier, I think is going to be one of the big ones. Now there are various questions about supply and like, you know, integration itself, is not really ready to be let loose. I think, but it will be soon.

Laura Dawn [45:54]: Do you think that we are going to need to see a full collapse to rebuild something new. I don’t want to get too deep into the COVID rabbit hole but we’re in an interesting sort of second part of the COVID. Where it’s like so many people are celebrating like yes this is the collapse and now it’s like oh you know things are still kind of chugging along. Like maybe not really the full collapse. We’re pulling through, you know, what’s your, what’s your perspective on that and do you just trust the process.

Charles Eisenstein [46:34]: No. I don’t just trust the process. I’m not quite there yet. Agonizing over the process. I cling to things, and I’m only shaken loose like creative force. It’s not actually wrong to hold on to the whole collapsing reality, to desperately cling, to definitely try to make that relationship work. To desperately try to hold on to what you’ve known. In fact, the muscles that you get doing that, make you strong. Eventually, though you have to let go. It’s like, you know, getting off hanging by the bridge. And the [inaudible47:22] whip wraps around his leg. Like at some point he lets go. That thing was inevitable. So, yes for COVID. The collapse will not save us from ourselves. There is no such thing, I could be wrong here, but I’m just going to lay this out. There is no such thing as a collapse so total that we have to change. What these crises do is that they make our choice more stalk. They make it more clear what exactly we’re choosing.

So, I’ve written a book on climate change, and one of the things I say is that climate change isn’t going to save us. We’re not going to all of a sudden be forced to be ecological because otherwise, we’re not going to survive. In fact, that whole mindset of respect nature because otherwise, we won’t survive. Respect nature for its use to us, that’s not the transition. The transition is to respect nature because we see it as a full sacred being. So, that choice, we can cut carbon emissions to zero, with geoengineering you know, and carbon-sucking machines and it’s continued. At the same time, to destroy and delay waste to the biosphere, and it won’t be global warming crisis. It will be some other crisis. We will not be forced to choose. The same thing with COVID, we’re being shown the direction we’ve been moving in. Nothing that has happened under COVID is new. The obsession with safety, the distancing from each other, social distancing.

I mean, you know, we were getting less and less social already. More and more friendship was moving online. More and more education was moving online. More and more shopping was moving online, but. Local Places communities were in decline for a long, long time before COVID. So, it’s showing us. Here is what you’ve been choosing, humanity. Here, let me show you the destination. Let me accelerate it for you so that you can choose all the more clearly because before it wasn’t quite clear. You were kind of unconsciously choosing something and, now here. Here’s what life will look like; do you want that? And maybe as a collective, we’re saying yeah. Well, keep going with that. Okay. The next crisis will be further clarification of our choice. And I don’t know how I guess it’s just a matter of when will we choose life. How much of what’s good and beautiful has to die. Before we turn to a different choice. And I guess I’m here and you’re here and the medicines are here to empower our choice, with a clear view of what’s real and it’s the trust that if I show you what’s real, you will choose differently. That’s what the medicines are saying.

Laura Dawn [50:48]: You know, this leads me to ask you about how we prepare ourselves, physically, mentally, emotionally, for a more beautiful world our hearts know as possible, you know, I love this notion that it’s like we can hold the intervention of a more harmonious chapter of human history and that that division actually can have something that shapes us, that we have to become the people who can anchor that vision, so it’s like, let’s say we’re using the analogy of, we’ve clearly pushed off the one shore of safety. We’re collectively in a boat and we’re hitting really choppy water, we’ve completely now realized that there is no solid ground to stand on. The next shore is not in our sight. What do we have to let go of, at this critical moment in time, not just to prepare ourselves for landing on that next shore, but for making it through these choppy waters? What would you say is like the primary things that we really need to cultivate whether it’s like mindsets what I call heart sets or skill sets that will really allow us to actually physically embody the people who can live harmoniously on this planet?

Charles Eisenstein [52:10]: I’m having trouble answering that because, you know, it’s not. Maybe it’s not a universal question. What, what do we need to let go of? Maybe it’s a different answer for every person. The important thing is to recognize that there is something to let go of. Something that’s weighing heavy. Right now. And to trust the readiness to let go. And to know yourself as someone who has the courage to let go when the moment comes. Maybe you let go when you’re tired. Maybe you’re like holding this rope to the anchor and you become tired, and you’re like, I can’t hold on anymore. That’s not something you can make yourself do.

This attitude of the war on the self is so subtle. Like just questions like this What do I have to do. What’s the next thing I have to do? Imagine if you’re a baby being born, and you’re talking to your life coach, and you’re I’m afraid I’m not going to get born here. It’s working really bad; the womb is squeezing me you know. I don’t think I can make it through this passage, what do I have to do? Actually, you’re going to be born. And your struggle in response to these Titanic pressures bearing down on you is part of the process. You don’t have to tell a baby how to do it. The baby’s responses to help the birth. It’s much easier to deliver, to birth a live baby than a stillborn. There’s life, like our liveness is part of what ceases through the birth.

Laura Dawn [54:28]: But inherently, in that answer, though Charles you’re also pointing to the second part of that question which is, what are, what can we cultivate what can we focus on cultivating and you named courage and that these are maybe one could argue or maybe not that that’s a universal heart set, and trust, trust that will know when the time is right to go. Like with the example of Gandalf or that I’m tired and it’s clear, I need to let this go at this point, I appreciate your perspective on that subtle, sort of a war on self as you call it, and I do really appreciate that. And let’s say that we’re framing it from like a self-love perspective, that isn’t inherently sort of self-critical. Like, the whip on the back, that it’s actually like, I want to love my way to the other shore. For the sake of life for the sake of humanity.

Charles Eisenstein [55:32]: Yeah. Okay, well let’s talk about trust then. I’ve noticed, maybe you’re different but I’ve noticed that I can’t actually make myself trust somebody. Either I trust them, or I don’t. Or maybe I trust them, to some extent, there’s a level of trust that’s there or it’s not there. I can make myself pretend to trust somebody, I can say I trust somebody, but do I actually trust that person? Some people I see them once and I just trust them. Like, you know, I would put my child in their hands. This is obvious, and other people like every reason why they’re totally, reliable, I just don’t trust them. So, when I think about the capacity of trust in the process. Trust in the orchestrating intelligence of this world. Again, it’s not. How do I make myself trust this? Yet there is work to do. There is a process of cultivation, and it is a little counterintuitive to the mind that is steep in separation, domination force. And what that process is. Is the process of attention.

So, I find a place that does trust. That does trust the process, that does trust this intelligence. that does know that a more beautiful world is possible. That there is a path and that coexist with profound despair. But there’s also this knowledge, there’s also this trust it’s there. Maybe it’s a tiny little flicker. But it’s there. And I can get my attention to that attention Kindles that flame. It fans that flame, it nourishes it. It’s not only my attention. But what even points my attention there might be a psychedelic journey, that might be a teacher, that might be an experience. That puts you in that state of trust, and when I put it that state I know that it’s not just a familiarity there. It might be a very deep echo, it might be something that I haven’t even known in this lifetime, but I’m sure you understand what I’m saying. When I speak of a homecoming. It’s our native territory. So that would be the second practice then to when that gift is given of home to receive it fully. To be grateful for it, to know that it’s precious, to trust. I mean there again it’s coming back to getting attention to that preciousness to that gratitude, ultimately our only power is our power of attention.

Laura Dawn [59:06]: I appreciate that. I hold the perspective that or the narrative that the story I tell myself is that these altered states of consciousness in the psychedelic landscape can actually act as a very incentive to foster more resilience in us emotionally, physically to get through times from a place of more centeredness, you know, and roundedness. It taught me so much about trust you know that through the most challenging moments of Osaka ceremonies knowing that actually, I’m going to get through this. And now I draw upon that strength, and I bring that actually onto my path every day as I walk. And we all encounter enormous amounts of challenges, through our day-to-day reality subtle, subtle things that are we don’t even consider as traumas, but that really deeply impact our psyche and our emotional bodies that we take for Oh, this is my life now. And so, I frame it that way, actually, that our psychedelic experiences can shape us into more heart-centered leaders that can embody, the narrative of change and embody who we need to become to anchor a more harmonious future into reality.

Charles Eisenstein [1:00:23]: Yeah, the psychedelic medicines are, they act in so many ways. What I was talking about is just one of the ways. I mean they can even be medicine, a lot of purely physical level, you know they can be neurodegenerative. And maybe there is another question kind of lurking in all of this. Which is like imagining things. So, all well we have to do is take this medicine. And I think that there’s an aspect of the community. That’s really important here because of this scenario we mentioned earlier about. You take us, you go this trip you know you have this incredible experience then you’re back into reality. Well, our reality. Is socially held. We hold each other in reality, and if we don’t have enough people in our sphere. Who has experienced a different reality?  If there is enough of us, we can hold each other in that reality. And remind each other that acting from this place of interviewing is not crazy like you weren’t imagining things, this is real.

It’s like I have this image of a drowning man. In this choppy water getting pummeled by waves, you know, like tugged under by the undertone and coming up for a desperate gasp of air. And seeing the sky. And then getting pulled under again. And coming up desperately again. And getting sucked under. And then he comes up and there is somebody else. Who has come up at the same moment? And they cling on to each other. And then they both get sucked under, then they come again, now there are 3 or 4 people. And 20 people, and eventually enough, more people there are, the more they are able to hold each other together above the surface. And that’s why community is so important around psychedelics. Why it can’t just be like your, you know, in your own room, like now there’s a nascent trend toward online ceremonies. You know and doing psychedelic work over Zoom.

You know, I understand yeah this is a response to the circumstances that we’re in. But I don’t think we should resign ourselves to that. There’s so much that happens in physicality. And, you know, we always just, you know. I was at Clubhouse last night. It’s okay but I’m like it’s not like a cocktail party. Where you can overhear a conversation and randomly drift from one to another. And bump into somebody who also overheard that conversation. There are so much complexity and dimensionality that happens at the physical place, that does not happen in the controlled interactions that are mediated by technology. So anyway, I wanted to add this element of community because these questions of like, what, like this is what the modern mind does, it makes it about me. It’s a question of self the separate self, how do I do it? What do I do, how do I, you know, integrate the medicine and really question if it is how do I do it? All we’ve got so far.

Because generally speaking, humans don’t have the capacity to hold a story on their own. If you hold a story that is completely divergent from the social story around, you. Guess what, you’re crazy like, that is why they lock people up people who are listening, hearing voices no one else hears, and operating by patterns that no one else seems to like that’s called paranoia. That’s called schizophrenia. It’s only, we can’t hold reality by ourselves. We hold it in agreement, we hold it in the story. And story and agreement, are, how we human beings create reality. That’s our primary technology, all other technologies come from that whether it’s, you know, electronic like conventional technology or its the technology of ritual. It’s all about shared meanings and symbols. So anyway, getting super here.

Laura Dawn [1:05:17]: I really appreciate that, when you ask that question that sort of underlying question around you know so just take the medicines. My first thought was, no I don’t think that that is, it’s not a panacea. You know, for me, in addition to like communities also like the framework that we, the conceptual framework that we work within, you know, now we could call it set and setting, mindset, and environment which also includes how we relate to other people, which I’m so curious about like conceptual frameworks that can also, that you might have found that act as a really helpful psychedelic roadmap like for me. You know when you talked about this. Yeah, the connection piece. I’ve been studying Pema Trojan’s work for about 15 years; I found her work while I was in a depression. And I remember listening to one of her audios and she was like, the secret to healing you know like if you really want to know the secret, I was like I remember the moment of being like oh she’s like on edge of my seat like I’m ready to do anything. Tell me, you know, and it was like, you have to take out of the cocoon, and make contact.

And I thought to myself, like, really, that’s the solution. And it was so profound. For me, being in a depression where that experience of being in a small dark room isolated, cutting myself off from other people. And that the solution was stepping outside of the room, and just even making contact with another human fundamentally in and of itself. And so that that framework that conceptual framework, Eastern philosophy has been for me my primary roadmap. And same with quantum mechanics, it’s been another very valuable roadmap. Do you feel like riffing on either of those two? Do other conceptual frameworks have been like interesting roadmaps for the territory specifically?

Charles Eisenstein [1:07:14]: Yeah. Totally make sense when, when we understand ourselves as not just separate units, but as a nexus of relationship that of course if you’re cut off from your relationships, you wither. That’s what’s happening to an awful lot of people under lockdown. Mental health problems are skyrocketing, psychiatric wards are overflowing. And even physical health. The biggest determinant of chronic disease is loneliness, not smoking, not drinking, people who smoke and drink, and have an active social life are healthier than abstemious people who are alone. So, and so it comes down to me if you’re asking for a framework. Just validating. I mean quantum mechanics does it too, like, in quantum mechanics existence is relationship is called a measurement, if you don’t take a measurement then that electron does not exist in, you know, at a point in space and time.

It is a field of potential. It’s a field of probability. It only exists. When you come into a relationship with it. You only exist. If you are in a relationship. If you go into a sensory deprivation tank. You stay there long enough; your identity begins to dissolve. If you’re put in solitary confinement. You fall apart. Unless you’re able to connect to some. There are other ways to connect, Timothy Vary when he was in solitary confinement, he didn’t go crazy. He just meditated and meditated the meditated. But, you know, the principles still remain that that sanity and health depend on the relationship. And when I go into a psychedelic experience. I don’t know if this is helpful, but I really conceive of it as entering into a relationship with this being. Like I see the chemical or the plant as a being, and as far as like setting go for me the most important who I’m with. Like, who’s sitting with, you know, sitting, who’s the sitter in the experience or who’s giving the medicine or holding the space. It’s not just biochemistry that’s happening here. But you know I’m not actually an experienced psycho naut, you know, I can probably count my psychedelic trips, on my fingers and toes.

Laura Dawn [1:10:17]: I like how you added in toes there. Have you noticed like any overlap between your, you know, metaphysical line of inquiry and your psychedelic experiences?

Charles Eisenstein [1:10:30]: Usually my psychedelic experiences are very physical. Things that happen to my body. I don’t get downloads, usually, on my psychedelic experiences. I get downloads in other ways.

Laura Dawn [1:10:50]: In what other ways?

Charles Eisenstein [1:10:50]: I go for walks. Just that simple,

Laura Dawn [1:10:54]: Totally there for me too.

Charles Eisenstein [1:10:56]: Yeah, and I pretty much start tripping when I, when I do that, you know, I mean sometimes I have visions and stuff, but they seem subsidiary, to something else that’s happening.

Laura Dawn [1:11:13]: When you say physical Do you think that there’s like some undoing physiologically of narratives, trauma, but you know looking at the intersection between the narratives we tell ourselves how that shapes our reality but then also how you know imprints from childhood traumatic experiences shape our narratives.

Charles Eisenstein [1:11:39]: Yeah, there’s truth in saying that our stories create our reality. Our stories create our systems. You know that mythology is primary, but it’s also true that our realities create our stories. It’s not like all of a sudden you had a bad idea that the world is out to get you. That’s probably a result of trauma. So, the experience then generates the story and then the story generates further experiences, and they form a holding pattern. That can be, and it’s physical too, it’s in the tissues also. So, when that holding pattern which is itself being, and the state of being when that has reached its maturity and is ready to transition to intervention on any of those levels can precipitate that healing process because it’s important like psychedelics are not the only way to heal. Like they are profound healing modalities. That operates on other levels. So, I hesitate to say that these are indispensable medicines. But I know that they are very important medicines. And I think that on a collective level right now. I think that they’re pretty indispensable.

Laura Dawn [1:13:12]: Yeah, I think this is why so many people are now, you know, at the forefront especially in my own community colleagues, who are weaving together other modalities. You know what I think we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible in terms of combining different modalities, with something that allows us to get out our frame of reference and be able to fundamentally shift our perceptual field of awareness and potentially access different parts of our consciousness that we can’t normally access in waking consciousness. Yeah. Before we wrap up, I just like to invite you to share anything else that might be at the forefront of your mind.

Charles Eisenstein [1:13:56]: This is coming come to this is you know here on this interview. On some of the levels oppose to redeem your choice of having me on by saying smart things or wise things or something. And that is not a bad thing. I mean it’s part of a culture that a culture expert, you know, one of the things that happen with psychedelics is this humbling. Where it’s not just me, a lot of people describe. Just being thrown to your knees in awe of the majesty and vastness and mystery of this universe. And I just want to invoke that. Not as like, you know, some kind of modesty or something like that. But if listeners have had this experience of just like wading into this ocean of mystery. Like this vast existence, of which one lifetime is like a scrap of paper flying out the window. Like on that scale, which the global situation now and all of our problems and our personal problems like these are just tiny filaments in an incomprehensible weave of stories.

I want to just remind the listeners of that. I want to present that. The mind wants to be like, oh okay so that means, that none of this is important. You know what’s happening. No that’s not what it means. It’s simple to hold that experience, to visit that experience sometimes to invoke it sometimes. And not to make it mean, that you know this life is not important or these problems are not big or something like that No. It’s not to make it mean anything. But it’s to [inaudible1:16:35] carry on Mesa, you know these this bundle of sacred stones. And that’s one of them in the mesa, like this, you take it out sometimes. And maybe sometimes you take out the stone of that connection or that gratitude that, like all of the most sacred places that psychedelics have taken you. Like those are stone, in the Mesa. And just to take it out, one time. And say right now I’m just inviting everybody to take out that one of being thrown to your knees in abject humility at the vastness. Of the mystery and hugeness of experience. And the smallness of self ourselves, our lives, our problems our individuality, pull that together for viewing.

Laura Dawn [1:17:34]: Thank you for invoking that. That sense of awe and the mystery. Like really zooming out and taking that larger perspective.

Charles Eisenstein [1:17:44]: Yeah, these medicines have so much to offer us. I feel so grateful. In this last trip, there was as a whole, a long stretch where I could only say thank you, like those were the only words that could come out of my mouth, yes, no, and thank you. Those are the three primal things, any organism like even a bacterium has yes and no. It moves towards the food. It moves away from the danger. Yes. No. And the synthesis integration transcendence built on yes and no and thank you. That’s the third thing.

Laura Dawn [1:18:43]: Thank you. Thank you for who you are, the way that you think. The way that you communicate.

Charles Eisenstein [1:18:48]: Well, thank you for hosting this conversation. I really enjoyed it. Yeah. Those are what’s important in my life. Not like what I did in my 20s and now, you know, set. It’s more relevant now more than ever for me. Thanks for inviting me on.

Laura Dawn [1:19:10]: Thank you, Charles, it’s a pleasure. Hi friends, thank you so much for tuning in to another episode of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast. If you’d like to get in touch with me about my one-on-one coaching, about my upcoming group programs, and my micro-dosing mastermind. Or if you’d like to book me on your podcast or in your Clubhouse if you are on that app. Then please reach out through my website, livefreelaurad.com or feel free to hit me up on Instagram at live free Laura D. I am so thrilled to leave you with this song by Shylah Ray called existence. Once again, I am Laura Dawn and you’re listening to the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast. Until next time.

Charles Eisenstein


Charles Eisenstein is an essayist and author. His books include Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible.

Featured Music

Episode #14 of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast features a song called
“Existence”  by Shylah Ray Sunshine


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About Laura Dawn

Through her signature Mastermind Programs and Plant Medicine Retreats, Laura Dawn weaves together science with ancient wisdom. She teaches business and thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals how to mindfully explore psychedelics and sacred plant medicines as powerful visionary tools for inner transformation, fostering emotional resiliency and unlocking new depths to our creative potential.