February 7th, 2022

Episode #42


The Pitfalls of the Psychedelic Movement
with Jamie Wheal

Laura Dawn drops in with best-selling author Jamie Wheal about the dark underbelly of the psychedelic movement and the pitfalls we urgently need to pay attention to.

The medicalized psychedelic renaissance is going to do what it does as best as it can with all of its dysfunctions and mixed incentives baked into that system, but really what gives me the chance of doing something useful is the cultural context surrounding spiritualized use.
Jamie Wheal


About This Episode:

What we are witnessing unfold in the psychedelic movement is truly unprecedented. We are reaching a tipping point where psychedelic medicines are rapidly entering mainstream society.  But is this really a good thing? And how do we make sense of the sacramental and sacred use of psychedelics within the cultural context of late-stage capitalism? 

In this episode, Laura Dawn drops in with best selling author of Stealing Fire and Recapture the Rapture, Jamie Wheal, who holds strong opinions about the dark underbelly of the psychedelic movement. Jamie shares the pitfalls we need to be aware of and how this psychedelic party isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Jamie shares his criticisms and cynicism with a twist of hope and invitation to tend to and feed the holy in our lives. This is how we build our lives around meaning 3.0.

Core Themes

Explored in this episode:
  • The dark side of Psychedelics
  • Pitfalls of the psychedelic movement
  • Big Pharma 2.0
  • Where to turn to for Hope
  • Advice for people stepping up as psychedelic guides
  • Feeding the Holy

Links &

useful resources

Episode Transcript

Episode #42: Jamie Wheal Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.

Length: 2:11:26

Laura Dawn: Alright, without any further ado, here is my fascinating conversation with Jamie Wheal. Hi Jamie, it’s so nice to have you on the show here, thank you so much for taking the time to join me here today.

Jamie Wheal: Sure.

Laura Dawn: Alright, so I thought we would dive into this topic of what we need to pay attention to especially right now as the Psychedelic Movement is moving quite rapidly. I’m curious just to get at your sentiment, if you were to take the pulse of the psychedelic movement at this moment in time, what’s your read on the situation right now?

Jamie Wheal: Well, it’s showing up precisely as you would expect it to and if anybody’s curious, there’s few books or few ideas that I’ve gotten more repeat mileage out of as far as a frame or a lens delay over reality and have it pop into helpful shorthand then Tim Wu’s book, The Master Switch. Tim Wu was the coiner of the Tim net neutrality, he was an advisor to a couple of white houses, he’s a law professor at Columbia, I believe and his whole idea was information technologies, whether it’s the telegraph, to the radio, to TV, to the internet and you can make a case that psychedelics are information technology. They provide access to non-ordinary states of making perception information, et cetera and so they follow a super-duper predictable path.

They start utopian and decentralized, this is going to revolutionize everything and they end up hegemonic and centrally controlled. The Facebook’s from the home-brew computer club back in the day, so the question here is; almost have to falsify that statement, if that’s been proven out time after time, over centuries across industries, you’re like, well, what if anything would make the psychedelic quote/unquote Renaissance, any different from following that trend? And so far, we’re not seeing a ton that’s different, we are seeing a consolidation move, and let’s not forget, the Psychedelic Renaissance is taking place entirely within neoliberal, Quasi open-market, consumer society. So we would expect the old wines and new bottles, we would expect that old wine of epiphany, of initiation, of access to the mysteries or whatever it has been in the past to conform to the bottle it’s in, the container it’s in which is late-stage capitalism and consumer society. I’ve got an itch, I’ve got a scratch, I’ve got a pain, I’ve got a diagnosis; give me the pill, give me the hit, give me the fixed, coded illness, reimbursements, copays, venture capital, return on IP, you know that stuff.

So while that stuff I think is far more inevitable and has far more nurture and just fundamentally mass momentum going for it, than you would ever read in the Buzzfeed, Huff Post, Wired Magazine, Fasco coverage of Psychedelic Renaissance-like it’s going to fix everybody, heal everybody. Look at these split, which has real truth to it, the studies are amazing, super encouraging way addressing our worried well status; on the other hand, it’s a stitch-up. We are moving towards centralized edgenuity quickly and predictably and the big companies that have giant billion-dollar market caps, and you see their boards, and you see their IP, and patent strategies and you see where this goes and it’s fairly straightforward. But for me, I’m not especially ambivalent about that, like dharma’s going to do what dharma does, VCs are going to do what VCs do.

And even though at the center of the Psychedelic Renaissance, is this supposedly profound, inevitable, transformative, personal experience that reorganizes our orientation to life, the universe, and everything. This morning I was reading, I just was scrolling through my newsfeed and I saw an article in town and country no less, and a hop, skipping, a jump, a jump-jump from Vanity Fair. And it was like, why all the rich people are spoken to, and you’re just like for fuck sake if you ever needed a marker, when did late-stage capitalism jump the shark? When did we know we were well and truly cooked? You could have said it was this morning when Town & Country published a piece on how 5 hao was the hit thing in the Hamptons.

So let’s just be super, I would say unemotional realistic, and pragmatic about the sociopolitical and economic forces that are coming to bear and what was formally this underground tradition. But it’s specifically that underground tradition and arguably even the initiatory mystery school, traditions surrounding these things, that’s what gives me long-term hope. So I think it’s without a doubt, I would take it to Vegas that we will end up with Prozac Nation 2.0, we will end up with denature Fast-Acting Psychedelics that strip out as much of the misto as they can while still getting the clinical efficacy. You’ll have the businessman strip that used to be the joke about DMT, you will also have the businessmen fill in the blank Ayahuasca psilocybin LSD, and many of those are already in either study, trials, or patent applications.

So we know that’s coming down the pike and I would also expect this to follow, if not chapter and verse certainly have rhyming echoes of the move to smuggle meditation into the corporate world via mindfulness-based stress reduction because on the one hand, those were original lineage traditions that were designed to dissolve the ego and provide one abiding connection to the non-dual suchness of the world, depending on the tradition and where they sent you. And on the other hand, became 15-minute apps to help stressed-out knowledge workers stay at their desks a little longer, call in sick a little less often and quit more infrequently, that was the business case ROI for MBS [inaudible 24:20].

Laura Dawn: But can’t we make a case that these apps especially in the context of microdosing for productivity, I’m so over this line of, how can we work with microdosing to improve focus? And you made reference to that for the meditation apps, but what about using technology and these meditation apps and these lineages to bring them into the corporate space and plant medicines too, to help reorient people towards greater meaning and purpose, isn’t that still possible?

Jamie Wheal: No, it’s a fools fucking errand, it’s not possible, it’s not happening, it’s never happened and all we do is anybody who’s on the progressive edge here of whatever they do, whether it’s a management consulting to life coaching, to like change the world into psychedelic advocacy, everybody’s just making a deal with the devil. How do I look myself in the mirror and say, I’m still doing the Lord’s work and what I tell myself is that I can go into the bowels of capitalism and I can collect better paychecks there and I can tell myself that I’m going to change the system from within and that’s how we’re going to get our ROI and that’s how I can look baby Jesus in the face the next time I see him in my higher trip. It’s not a fucking real deal because I’ve told this story infrequently, but I’ll tell it again.

Because for me it was one of those pivot points and to keep in mind, I spent a decade in the conscious capitalism movement beside John Mackey and the Whole Foods and all the good guys and the body shop and Ben & Jerry’s and all the good guys; the supposedly good guys. And trying to talk about triple bottom line people, purpose profits, and planet, what fill in the blank that you want and was working with the CEO in the YPO organization, which is one of the largest executive organizations on the planet. They control $9 trillion in collective market cap and one of them went with Lynne Twist in the Pachamama Alliance down to the river Amazon, took his son, sailed up the little boat; helicopters to boats, to planes, to canoes, up to the untouched indigenous folks who then shared their plant medicine wisdom with him and his son.

So lineage healing, all meaningful stuff and then at the end the predictable is asked, which was if you have had your life impacted by this and had your life changed, please consider donating and protecting some of this sacred rainforest land for these indigenous folks that have been holding it down for us for eons before we were born, would you? And he went back to his forum of YPO business executives and said, I have torn fellas, this is a quarter of a million bucks. I could spend to save the rainforest and the experience I just had with my boys or I’ve just got a Ferrari Italia on pre-order and I’ve always wanted a Ferrari Italia ever since I was a little boy and a unanimous recommendation of his YPO forum, his band of brothers dedicated to keeping each other and raising each other to the highest possibility of their inner selves and purpose and impact in the world said, bro, you deserve the Italia.

That thing sat in his driveway, sat in his enamel floored garage for three fucking years with less than a thousand miles driven on it; it eventually got sold as a recoup investment because they had depreciated it. Meanwhile, the rainforest is burning and we’ve spent time with all the big boys in Silicon Valley, we’ve gone into those organizations, we’ve done our level best to change them unless you change the cap table unless you change Milton Friedman’s fiduciary responsibility unless you change the operating agreements and the investor agreements and the governance stacks, people will continue to crank out the widgets that make them rich.

And I have seen precious few people with the balls, the sack, the integrity, the backbone, the heart, and the clarity to honor that, which they’ve been shown on the other side of the veil via the psychedelic initiatory experience unless they’re having a flaky midlife crisis and decide to check it out. And then they go off and become a massage therapist or life coaches themselves, which decouples them from any of the power and influence they would’ve had got into the system. Now they’re just one more talking point slash cringe event on Instagram, so I know that’s a long-winded, seemingly cynical summation of the impossibility of changing the system from within but trust me, I’ve been there, I’ve tried and I’m not buying it.

Laura Dawn: This is why I wanted to have you on here, Jamie and when I first met you at Horizons, that’s one of the first things I said to you, I was like, you have a pretty cynical perspective on things, let’s bring you on and have this discussion and bring it to a wider audience here because these are important things to be talking about. And I still believe in the goodness of humanity, I do and I believe that I have seen people go down and have these transformative experiences and then completely reorient their lives towards a different pathway that serves a greater purpose. Now, keeping in mind that we have this cultural framework, this system that’s rooted in capitalism, we have a monetary system, so we’re all playing this game within this very outdated structure and so I’m curious, do you think that not going down and having these experiences or not having psychedelics, it’s like, do we stay unconscious? Do we stay unaware? Or do we at least try to crack that open just a little bit at a time that can potentially support us on the evolutionary process of waking up?

Jamie Wheal: Well, I want to be clear, my cynicism and at times even outright contempt is not for the deeper human project, consciousness project, cosmos project at all, I have a deep commitment to that work and none of these things leave me remotely tempted to abandon it or give in to despair or anything else. So I think there’s an interesting question we can hopefully come back to which is, if all that’s for naught then what on earth gets you up in the morning because to me, that’s hopefully the Wendell Berry thing would be joyful though you had considered all the facts. Most of us are not considering all the facts, most of us are settling for platitude and nostrums, just happy little things that let me get through the night that I was thinking whistling past the graveyard.

If there was a spooky monster in the graveyard, you think your whistling going to fix it and if there’s probably not, then why are you fucking whistling? So, we do an awful lot right now of crossing our fingers and hoping and leaning on fundamentally soft denialism, and by that I mean, an area that we might be predisposed to be an advocate for whether that’s climate or psychedelic run or whatever it was. But then just again, settling for platitudes and going cross-eyed and fuzzy and therefore not acting with clarity and agency and urgency now which amount to the opposite of the very thing we say we value. So if, for instance, if you’re like, I think the Psychedelic Renaissance is going to work out and it’s such a beautiful experience and there are so many good people doing good things, then you know, that everyone from Compass Pathways to Pfizer to whomever else is going to stitch this thing up while all the happy-go-lucky people are burning their Palo Santo and hoping for the best and the same with environmental stuff. If you’re like, I think the Paris Accords going to work or Cop 26 in Glasgow were like, and maybe I still recycle and we’ve all got to do our part.

And I got to Tesla-like that is soft denialism weirdly because it removes us from acting at the levers of power that are going to call the ball game make the difference. So for me, that’s the interesting thing, at least on the level of Psychedelic Renaissance it’s going to bleed out and do its goofy thing, and it’s going to get medicalized and standardized homogenized and all of that stuff. And in some respects, not only is it inevitable given the inertia, given the market trends, given Tim Wu’s information theory, models, that kind of stuff. But it’s okay because it’s not the whole ball game, never has been and in 99.9% of human experience, the psychedelic experience has always been contextualized as a religious and sacramental and initiatory experience, so it’s super weird to pull it out into a pharmacological medicalized intervention.

That’s never been done desacralized taking that yanked out of any context or explanation of the newness; we now consider access to the numinous, the John’s Hopkins, MEQ30 mystical estate, a state assessment, etc. As you know trattoria excitement as dissociative visions, gets written into the literature like the whole point, the whole shooting match of getting to kneel in front of the burning bush is now marginalized as a side effect to the clinical impact of the compound. So we’ve never done that before and that is doomed to have underwhelming and adverse effects as much as initial studies are showing also promising turnarounds, but it doesn’t get us off the hook for the human experience. And the only thing that gets us quick is the biggest kicker for those initial studies and experiences.

I go from deconditioned zoo animals, living in a socially defined reality tunnel like the Truman Show, or Neo as the computer coder, Mr. Anderson. I go from that world to realizing magic is afoot and that goddess is alive that’s a fucking steep ass and fun, hockey stick part of the curve but the moment that I’ve had that experience, the human condition is still interwoven in that capital and more that I’ve just glimpsed in the same way that the second Harry Potter movie, the second Star Wars, the second Matrix aren’t nearly as cool because they weren’t world-building movies. You already knew the world and now you’re coming back and you need a lot more clout for that story to be even remotely satisfying. Godfather 2, is probably the only film on record that’s done better and they built a new world.

They went back to Janeiro’s childhood and had that origin story woven, so fundamentally initial exposure to psychedelics, especially in a clinical therapeutic setting is world-building events but fourth, fifth, 10th, hundredth times are no longer. And when we realize that we have had in the same way, that there’s the argument for nature deficit disorder these days, like the lost child left in the woods or whatever that book was saying, we are massively denatured humans who have never done that. We should see sunrises and sunsets and we should be really hot and really cold and we should be amongst forest and trees and growing things and we’re not, and we’re suffering because of it. You could also say that we have a mystical, experienced deficit disorder.

So we get this asymmetric boost by having that atrophied muscle or diminished nutrient whatever model we want to think, like put back into our system and get an IV of the misto. And once again, I am alive in a desacralized landscape and that is profound, I don’t want to diminish that experience in the slightest, but that is simply to bring us back to normalized equilibrium as a human living in the wonder of existence. And then what do I do on the rainy cold Tuesday morning in February when my dishes are in the sink and I hate my job and I have to get back in rush hour to go sit chain to a desk, or I’m doom scrolling the news and I see the state of the world, we haven’t solved for any of those things, not even remotely.

And I think to honor psychedelics is also to allow them to be in their appropriate place in the lexicon or the paint palette of human experience and culture versus putting them on a pedestal and hoping that they’re going to be our panacea and the miracle code that gets us out of the pickle we’re in. And so that would be my sense, that’s why I’m not overburdening the medicalized Psychedelic Renaissance, it’s going to do what it does as best as it can with all of these functions and mixed incentives baked into that system. But what gives me the chance of doing something useful is the cultural context surrounding fundamentally spiritualized use, meaning it doesn’t have to be hierarchical religious systems and that kind of thing, but what does it mean to contact the numinous and how do we make sense of it together and what are the ethics and the stories and the guidelines and the context and the interpretations and the ritual and the customs that surround this experience and what ought we do with it. And then that to me is a fascinating deeply needed project and if we get cracking on it, then we have a real chance at creating a Psychedelic Renaissance that has not just double-blind placebo control stats behind it but has the depth and the breadth of being held in an appropriate cultural container.

Laura Dawn: And it seems though that some people are engaging in it that way, that it’s not necessarily this mainstream massive medicalized movement, there are also these people who are holding it in a certain way that does tend to the sacred. So, I do think that is simultaneously happening and so I’m hearing you say a few things; one, it sounds like we need to find other ways to connect to the mystical in our everyday lives and reorient our lives towards tending to the sacred that don’t necessarily require psychedelics at all because we can have peak experiences and awe-inspiring moments. And it also sounds like a very real, tangible thing that someone can take away from this conversation is to readjust our expectations around what psychedelics can do with us and for us. And you quoted Chogyam Trungpa in your book Recapture the Rapture, which I loved reading that book.

And a big part of that lineage of Tibetan Buddhism talks about cultivating a daily practice and it takes lifetimes to step out of the rigidity of mind, this is the way it is, this is who I am, and we know that psychedelics catalyze change. So to me, it seems we need to reorient a slow and steady win the race narrative, and that psychedelics can help us change, they can catalyze change, but the adjustment towards how much we’re embodying this radical expectation of transformation. You said that in your book, there was a story about you being a child and that you were still that same little kid that your personality didn’t change that much, but what if it changed a fraction in a healthier direction than it was like when Pema Chodron or trogon talk about you can spend a whole lifetime of practice. And if you create a moment’s pause between stimulus and reaction, then that’s a worthy path to take, so it’s readjusting these narratives that we’re not going for the big transformation, but if they do help us change a little bit step-by-step, isn’t that good and necessary, especially right now?

Jamie Wheal: Well, I don’t disagree but I’m just going to play the devil’s advocate for a fun conversation but no, totally inadequate and this is just the nature of our beast right now. So these aren’t disconnected thoughts, so we’ve laid a couple of foundational planks coming into this point here, which is, that we are still in late-stage capital neoliberal, fractured individualistic, consumer society, producing the latest and greatest hits for our mixed spirituality, which is well documented from the fifties onwards had this seemingly Revolutionary pairing, which ultimately got entirely co-opted of Eastern mysticism non-dual thought, et cetera. So, now that whole notion and Adam Curtis, the British documentarian, who does all those wacky ass documentaries on the nature of self and all these things. One of his most recent points was that stuff like that upwelling of consciousness and you can throw it back to Aldous Huxley and Albert Hoffman and the psychedelic revolution back then you can weave in all those elements.

But they were also directly connected to social justice at the time, specifically civil rights and Vietnam, and the then-nascent environmental movement. And that in 1968, that shit was popping off, there were revolutions and that’s summer from Prague, to Paris, to London, to Detroit, all over things were happening and young people on the ground were convinced that this was the moment it was all going to change to goodness, truth, and beauty. And then they all got shut down and between those MLK and RFCs assassinations dragging into Watergate and the utter dissolution like that, there was an inward cynical turn and that went from we’re marching on the streets and changing civilization to we’re going back to the land and we’re withdrawing and change, wouldn’t, you know it, nicely, conveniently now comes from within.

The New Age Movement, began self-absorption like Gordon Gekko, greed is good coexisted with new age, change comes from within and they were doppelgangers of the same cultural substrate and that’s a hard one for progressive to accept, acknowledge, and wrap our heads around. We are ultimately complicit and the same thing with the secret, the same thing with prosperity, gospel, the same thing I deserve what I can manifest for myself and it’s the big Air B&B mansion, it’s the Lambo, here I am in Bali or Fuji or [inaudible42:35] the whole lifestyle branding, all that stuff snuck in and lured us back to sleep. So my sense is, and this goes back to, let the medicalized Renaissance do what it’s going to do, it can only do so much because it has no cultural context at this point, but the religion mystical one, like go back to the Eleusinian mysteries, go back to any of the old school traditions.

There was always a sense of you’re about to be initiated in something, you’re in no way the first and you won’t be the last. There is this fucking lineage, including the priest, the hierophant that you’re in a relationship with, but who had one before them back to the beginnings of time, this is who we are, this is what this is about, these are who our gods are. And crucially, these are your duties and obligations as an initiate, this is what you’re supposed to do to serve, so this notion of like, if it just changes me and makes me a little happier isn’t that enough, don’t we have to do this one person at a time. No, the idea is an obligation and a duty serve is arguably the critical element that has been missing from the DNA of personal growth in the west in the last half-century to 75 years now.

And we positively have to put that back in because if it just becomes this solipsistic narcissistic, when you crawl out my household with new improved twinkly lights, I will stay firmly wedged up in my household just with more twinkly lights and that can aid and abet egoic development. So when you were saying, aren’t there a lot of people fundamentally accentuating the sacred and the sacramental, well you have to take them on a case-by-case basis and by their felt-woolen broad brim hats, you shall know them like fucking hell. It’s such a pretentious assemblage of dogary masquerading as the sacred at this point that, it just curdles your skin and your blood; I suppose is what we get cuddled with.

So there is the capacity to do it, there is the opportunity to do it but once again, market economics incentives of I’m an Instagram life coach, I’m a medicine server, I’m a whatever, fill in the blank. And look at me, here’s the imagery of myself projected to you as a way to exact commerce or likes or clicks or following or whatever it would be. The spiritual marketplace has been hijacking co-opted by false incentives because again, back in the proverbial day, there was always ritualized value exchange around access to the mysteries, it wasn’t pay-to-play, Ii wasn’t Venmo, it wasn’t overpriced personal growth workshops in sexy locations. There was often gifting for sure, there was something that happened and it’s the acknowledgment of the priest, the acknowledgment of the shaman is whatever it would be, but it was circumscribed. And that didn’t mean that there were never abuses or anything like that, it just meant there was a place and a way to embed value exchange that also was enculturated within the sacred experience and wasn’t somehow co-opted by a transactional personal growth marketplace dynamics. So yes, there are still sacred movements going on and yes, some folks are still holding that candle and keeping it clean, but it’s precious few among a whole bunch of money changes in the temple.

Laura Dawn: But would you still include yourself in this equation? I mean you have a beautiful lifestyle from the outside, I see you on Instagram, you also have the program that you charge for, there’s monetary exchange. We live in a monetary culture, so at what point do we pull the threads apart on this?

Jamie Wheal: We do what we have always done, we are guides and instructors and teachers, and we train people in hard important things. So for me, whether I was working in grad school or an outdoor boarding school or a mountaineering school, it’s always simply been tuition for training and that’s it. And to me that just seemed the cleanest, it’s not imaginative, it’s not even a good business model because if you want to get valuations, you get valuations, sums of recurring revenue and this and that and the other, it’s a lousy business model, but it’s the most honest one that ever occurred to us. We train people to do hard things in cool places with kickass instructional design if you want to do it; do it, if you don’t, don’t and we do no upsell, so if anybody’s in-state, which you probably will be at the end of a kickass week, doing something fun and transformational go home, cool your jets we’ll still be here.

So that’s our best effort at it, different people do different things, some people will do podcasts, and then they monetize via ads, some people do Patreon and they’ll say, here’s the tin cup if you like what I’m doing, or substack a similar model. There’s the whole red bull model and sell something high-margin and cheap like carbonated sugar, water, or supplements and then we use the profits from that to do something cool, like red bull athletics or any other organization that does that thing. So there are a lot of different ways people are trying to metabolize starlight at this point, how do I take whatever insights I’m getting from my particular sneak root up into the numinous, and then how do I come back and fundamentally put a roof over my head and food on the table.

But for many people, it doesn’t necessarily stop there; I mean for us, you’re asking about my life. Our life hasn’t changed a lick from when we were broke-ass grad students, our goal then was like, man, if I can just buy a mining claim, put a yard upon it, throw a solar panel and we’ll ski or buy again. And then can we just write and paint and be humans on this earth in a beautiful spot and what’s what with a $2,500 Volkswagen Westphalia to noodle around it, and so now a quarter-century later, we’re building an off the grid cabin on a mining claim up in the mountains in Colorado and our Volkswagen has grown into a sprinter, but it took 20 years of saving and waiting.

So it’s ironic, it’s not like we are and then we’ll get a boat and then we’ll get a plane but my plane doesn’t have as many portals, my plane has repeller and all my buddies have jets, no, there wasn’t scope creep in our life. And I would make the case that there wasn’t and this wasn’t intentional, but it just happened we found ourselves pledged to do our level best, to live up to what we were shown in a series of accidental initiatory psychedelic experiences. And that guided our life as a couple, as a family, as entrepreneurs, like everything, it was okay, that’s the motherfucking capital to your truth, so the rest of our life will be just attempting to live as close to that as we possibly can.

Laura Dawn: From that initiatory psychedelic experience and so there are other people just like you who have had initiatory psychedelic experiences who have reoriented their life for deeper meaning, and that’s what I’m rooting for here. And so it is interesting to hear that you had that experience and that you’ve stuck to the path and I appreciate you sharing that so much, but there’s still cynicism of the corporate space and the C-suite that if medicine enters that culture, that it won’t be able to change that culture.

Jamie Wheal: Well, I want to shout out to fellow travelers, that Horizons Conference, one of the things that I was most moved and touched by was A: the elders who were there, the folks that it’s easy to dismiss or skip, everybody knows Stan Grof and everybody remembers Terence McKenna because you get sampled on their playlist. But there is a long list, throw and break, there’s a handful of folks that are prominently known, but then you go into that is part of a community that is a brotherhood and sisterhood that’s been holding it down for 50 plus years and there are some deeply wise and ethically principled carriers of the flame in that community.

And there’s also the rising generation and whether that’s organizations like North Star or India or you name it, there’s some, why am I spacing on the name? Who are the folks that are doing the open-source access research projects? [inaudible51:15] And so you hear what they’re doing and you’re just like this is from the heart, this is the principle, this is thoughtful and so there are tons of amazingly dedicated people doing their level best to fix this, save this, solve this, preserve this, and take care of action verb. They’re doing their part and to me, that is profoundly hopeful and encouraging, regardless of whether Rick ultimately works as a rearguard action to protect against this rising tide.

For me when I’m speaking to you and when I speak most of the time in public, it’s not to that community, that community I think is deserving of infinite amounts of love, respect, depreciation, support, encouragement, and acknowledgment, it’s more to what is in the zeitgeist? What is in people’s news feeds? What is the pop media coverage of this stuff? And what does it look like in Huff Post and Vice and the occasional New York Times and those kinds of things as to say, that narrative not so much, and you got to go through the trough of disillusionment of what’s going on to then go start climbing the hill of realistic optimism which includes all those wonderful advocates and allies that are doing their level best to help steer this thing.

Laura Dawn: I appreciate this conversation so much and I have this conversation a lot, for those of us who have been in the psychedelic space for many years, you cannot help but look around it and feel the overzealousness of the movement and the investment bros. I can’t even tell you how many people I met at the parties at Horizons who are like, I’ve had three psilocybin journeys and now I’m investing millions of dollars into the psychedelic space and I’m like, for the love of God please you’re shaping the movement; your money is shaping this movement. And then I have been in this inquiry about not wanting to be the judgmental person being I’m morally superior because I’m coming from this good place and then that’s this Catch 22 that puts me in that same box.

So I’m like, and then I’m just judging other people who I don’t think are doing their best and so it is just this process of holding space to the best of my capacity like other people are doing, just like showing up and doing our best and also trying to influence in a good way, which I think comes down to supportive scaffolding and curriculum that we can create that supports a psychedelic sacred experience that helps to reorient people. So, I think integration is being talked about a lot more now, but do you think it’s enough? What’s your narrative around everyone that’s talking about integration?

Jamie Wheal: It’s oftentimes a lot of lip service. I asked a functional medicine doctor here in Austin who was doing a fair amount of rogue and a fair amount of in-depth psychedelic therapies after being relatively novices themselves like maybe three, four years of personal experience and straight into full-send psychedelic dosages for their folks. What kind of integration are you doing? And he’s like, no don’t worry we’re doing lots. Afterward, we sit with them for a couple of hours and talk about what happened and then we send them home and you’re like for fuck sake. Once again the lens that we lay over the act of a human, consuming a psychoactive compound, and then having a rich interior and neurophysiological experience and then dot what’s next depends entirely on, is this sacramental initiatory experience? Is this a medical clinical therapeutic experience? Is this recreational get thrown around.

Laura Dawn: I’m curious, I wanted to ask you because recreational could also be this portal into the awe-inspiring moments of peak experience.

Jamie Wheal: My favorite recipe is straight-up for life, for marriage, for meaning, for growth is get you to someplace wild in the backcountry, natural hot springs, preferable kick-ass, celestial event, new moon, full moon, meteor, shower, optional, but suggested. And throw the fuck down with a handful of people you love and be remade on this earth as a human, and then spend a few days basking in that with no superego, no socially defined anything, no phones, no bullshits just you like the humans. This little band of people mulling infant and put yourself back together and watch a few more sunrises and sunsets and bask in the National Geographic slender of being in one of those sacred places in 3D. And let yourself knit back together and then have that as a somatic marker, a felt-sense and bottling memory of what it feels like to be alive, aware, and in tune on this earth and then go back to your life. And if you want to call that recreation, and I suppose it’s a default category like none of the above, I would see it much more as DIY sacramental and available to all of us.

Laura Dawn: And even in an experience like that, let’s say you go, you have three very profound days that are significant, and you go back to your life and let’s say, no change happens at all, wouldn’t we call that beneficial still at the end of having that three days?

Jamie Wheal: Well, I think it’s just there’s a lot embedded in the phrase, no change, right? If it’s meaning I stick with my job, I stick with my life, I stick with my wife, whatever, then that could be nominally no change, but the inside could have been massively re-shifted. And if nothing else, that could have gone from borderline depressed and suicidal to optimistic and focused, still doing the same stuff. But a total in a shift, it could be that; and this is the thing for most of the changes that will likely be most meaningful to any of us and for all of us, they’re going to be orthogonal, they’re going to come at an angle from the direction of impact. So a clinical trial that has people in it for two weeks, six weeks, 12 weeks, or whatever the period would be.

And its marking and measuring right is a blunt instrument on trying to trace and track and attribute orthogonal change, it’s much closer to a pool break. When you’re playing a game of pool and you whack the white ball into all the other balls and then they scatter, you don’t know and chaos, mathematicians cannot accurately map which ball goes in which pocket, which time. But the only thing we can do is make sure it’s a tight rack and all the balls are as close together as possible to transmit as much energy as possible and a clean break and I whack that white ball for all I am worth in a straight line and that’s arguably the psychedelic experience. Can I create a clean break, a clean injection, or infusion of energy into that complex chaotic mix?

And that in itself, on the one hand, freewill determinism take your pick but on the other hand, that’s the one thing I can do and it’s going to increase, it doesn’t guarantee, but it is going to increase the likelihood of sinking some balls and some pockets that I’m trying to. And to me that would be, it’s a way of holding these experiences tightly, but loosely like I’m not aware of too many people and if they have, most of them have gone insane, who has ever attempted a one-to-one linkage between the magical mystical realms and bending 3D reality. Magic is almost exclusively orthogonal otherwise everyone just running off and winning the lottery but still shit happens, anybody who’s dabbled in non-ordinary realms has experienced black cats in the matrix, has experience upticks and synchronicity, has experienced the wibbly Wobblies between realms of cause and effect, but it’s orthogonal. And so that would be my sense too, is that arguably the best place to hold all of this power and potentiality is not to try and grasp it and manipulate it for any goal, no matter how seemingly noble, is to just bear a witness to it as also a part of this human experience and to hold it loosely and to return to love and service that to me feels like a good center that to me feels good center point that will almost never lead us astray.

Laura Dawn: And it kind of comes back to this place of when you tune into the spiritual traditions, there’s a reason that they talk about the Path of Awakening being a slow evolutionary process. It’s okay, you dedicate lifetime after a lifetime, and even if you just open and awaken just a little tiny fraction more than that’s time well spent. And again, I do think that even if you go through those three days, and you have this like the inner transformation of 1%, like, I’m still in the narrative that this is still beneficial and helpful. And that what the key takeaway here is in how we hold it, and the narratives we hold about it, and the expectations that we imbue these experiences with?

Jamie Wheal: Well, just think timeframes, I would agree with you up in most conditions, if the hierophant, priests, elders, whatever the sort of authority structures passing on this wisdom might hold would be like, hey, yes, even 1% even if we just are, you know, the arc of justice, is long but whether the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. So, the arc of becoming or selfhood is long, but it bends towards love, we can hold that, provided we’re fundamentally running a cyclic model over time, the goal is to run out the clock on these lifetimes of ours with as little damage to self another and as much growth is possible, greater than 1%, you’ve earned your right. If on the other hand, we’re entering some form of linear mapping, beginnings, middles, and potential ends, if we’re understanding some potential time or resource scarcity approaching, then you have to run a different set of trials, which is like, hey, if you are having open access to these deep healing experiences, Congratulations, you won the lottery, you’re in the top 1% of 1% of humans who have ever lived, it’s a profound blessing given too few. And, and you’re on the hook, there’s a responsibility that comes with this access. This is not just a lull around on the floor wrapped in plushiest and tetragon each other, this is like, oh, shit, okay, I am being gifted and burdened with the responsibility of knowledge, wisdom, compassion, capacity, whatever it might be. 

And I am acting on behalf of 1000s to millions who will never get a crack at this. And so if I just fritter it away, if I just turned it into 1% better for me, and I forget my part to play, then I feel like there’s a profound ethical breach and whether that’s Trungpa and others, by the way, honking great, but now, Donald Trump has additional research has come about abuses in their community, but let’s say, Trump’s first half of his career laying down some valuable shit. Whether it was Trungpa or looking to redeem the Dalai Lama looking to redeem Chinese genocide against the Tibetans with the upside of bringing the Dharma to the west. Or decimation of the Amazon with prompting the diaspora of Ayahuasca wisdom, these are fucking blood prices that have been paid for us to dabble. And so you realize that, that it’s not just a party trick, it’s not just something to fit on my calendar on Friday or Saturday nights because friends in Williamsburg or Wimberley invited me out to have a little look-see. That these wisdom traditions and these sticker technologies have come at literally at the price of genocide, ecocide, and decimation then we have some real responsibility as we just shoot the moon for shits and giggles to come back and honor what we’ve been shown and it’s fucking painful. 

Because of the gap on Monday morning, between my easy comfortable life between a job where I get income but if I trace it all back, there are all sorts of ambiguities and conflicts there. Or it’s just simply not my work life’s work to do, or that there’s somebody who’s that least my brothers and sisters that I feel compelled to serve and I’ve just been dialing that noise down in my head because it’s just too much if I heard it on adulterated. That’s what we need to be waking up to, not self-serving stories of moving into the fifth dimension, not that I got access to my guardian angel, not that I’m actually from the Pleiades, none of that shit matters a damn unless or until I mean it might super-duper matter but not unless or until we stabilize this shit show and earn the right for everyone to play the bigger game with us. [Cross-talking 1:05:12].

Laura Dawn: Totally. And I just want to acknowledge that you’re bringing a perspective to the table here that I appreciate and it’s making for a very interesting and unique conversation, so thank you for that. And I want to touch on service here because it seems a lot of people do have this trigger around monetary exchange for psychedelic medicines and these initiatory experiences that are very profound. And I do believe that people are doing good work, they’re holding the ceremony and we live in a monetary-based culture, where that is the current method of exchange. So, people are offering these beautiful and profound experiences, this comes with a total dark side, there’s a complete shadow side to this, where many people are just profiting from this experience. And so, I want to acknowledge that, but some people are doing good work, and deserve to receive compensation for this. So, I just want to unpack service here, so can you speak more to that?

Jamie Wheal: The first just do nice things for free, that’s a very clean and easy way to describe it and define it the whole random acts of kindness and senseless beauties was, it was a viral bumper sticker for a reason that kind of like, It interrupts people’s brains. And so it does and I think Tim Ferriss put something out that I enjoyed, about a month ago, where it’s kind of don’t get so high on your supply, it was somebody else’s writing, but it was if you think of a 100-year-old person as a century and then how many people have lived since these wildfires out 300 people have lived since the pyramid? And 50 people have lived since, God knows what, 500 years ago, so it’s just like that notion of, we haven’t been around that long. Not that much has happened. And even the biggest wigs, like Steve Jobs, will vanish into the footnotes of history, lickety-split. So do your thing and don’t be so obsessed with does it scale, or am I going to get a million fans or a million likes, or whatever the metric might understand that we all are laboring in anonymity. And arguably, it’s love that’s eternal. So, if you can just increase that piece then being nice to the homeless person, then doing an after-school program then baking cookies for the poor all Amazon delivery person. 

The random acts of kindness and the senseless beauty of just being humans together, being good to each other matters a whole lot. And I don’t have to become the next one on Oprah about this thing just start doing this thing, is this that sweet little cartoon of, somebody terrified about the future. And they were like, well, what do you think next year is gonna bring and it’s like, well, I think it’s going to bring flowers. Well, why on earth do you think that is like because I’m planting them now? On the one hand, super sweet, saccharin, and cute but on the other hand, you’re like, actually, that is solid, that’s an essential social nutrient, the other version of that is that the best time to have planted a shade tree was yesterday, or 30 years ago and the second-best time is today, we need to start stretching out our ROI window. How do I calculate how many of us calculate return on investment? Do I do the thing? And do I get paid back? And if so, how quickly and get it beyond our lifetime? Because the odds are, that we’ve had it as good as we’re going to get it for a while and that everything from material abundance, to ease of liquidity of money to livings, house, to mobility to even to stability, prosperity and peace. 

Odds are, that somewhere in the last 50 years was the high watermark, and it may take a lumpy bumpy die from that for a while, in which case. What do we have to inoculate ourselves against anxiety, depression, suicide despair, which is what is increasingly engulfing folks? And arguably, what that is, is it’s getting out of that rational, fragmented, indent consumer identity, where I’ve been conditioned, again and again, to expect that whatever itches, or ails me, even if you’re the one who’s been poking and prodding me to agitate that lack in me in the first place, isn’t fixable in six hours with a pill or I pull a Karen and call the manager like that’s our MO right now. I want mine and I want it now and I demand satisfaction via consumption.

And you can loop in psychedelic Renaissance to that exact, I’m going to go to Jamaica, I watched goop, I’m going to do the thing. I need the thing. I want the thing. Where is it for me? And right and so that notion of intergenerational forbearance, we’re going to go into the shit, but we’re going to go into it on behalf of our children and their children. So, now I have the capacity in my tank that is infinitely greater than if I was just in it me now if I was just in it for me now, it’d be like, this is not what I thought my happy life was supposed to look like right around now. I was supposed to be traveling around Europe on a Eurail pass and standing in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and here I am, in a soup kitchen doing this thing Poor me. Instead of the can, we keep the light going? And my job is not infinite and complete satisfaction for myself in bypassing the human experience. My job is can I just keep this little fucker flickering, pass it down the line and that’s a fundamental recalibration again, it’s arguably how all humans ever used to operate and still do around many parts of the displaced world. Refugee movements, diasporic communities you name it, there are so many humans other than the consumer zoo animal, developed West that has never abandoned that kind of intergenerational and immigrant families, constantly have that dynamic where second third generation is like, I don’t understand you, grandma or parent, why are you so uptight? 

Why are you so driven? Why can’t you just relax and ticket and let me have a nice life however I want to? And they’re like, you have no idea, my brother’s girlfriend, family is ethnically Chinese, they laughed, they fled the Cultural Revolution in China, to land smack dab in the Vietnam War, to flee to Cambodia and get swept up in the Khmer Rouge. All in one, families 10 to 20 years to finally make it to Southern California and now she’s doing microbiology for the Department of Environment, helping oil slicks, and giant scale environmental remediation, and she’s like, yes, I’ve got to give it up to my grandma. She led through things I have no comprehension of, so, to me, that’s where the bottomless hope comes from, is not hanging our hats on psychedelics as some miracle cure to the human condition, or as some absolution from this late-stage capitalist, neoliberal consumer society that we’re all coming up in, which completely shapes the Overton window of even what we think we want, or what is the good, the true and the beautiful, even our good friend beautiful? You’re like, Is that Tom Brady and his function? I don’t know, what is it? Even our notions of that so thoroughly degraded, that it’s time for healthy dust off, and a reboot on Western serve. And then if you wanted to use psychedelics as a radical tool, to reconnect us back to the insights of Eleusinian mysteries, and to leave, initiates want wandering back out into the world pledged, like gorilla Gnosticism I’m all for that.

Laura Dawn: I want to ask you a question, but before I do, I just think for people listening, who have never heard the Ellucian mysteries, do you feel like just explaining a brief synopsis of that just for people who don’t know?

Jamie Wheal: Sure. So, ancient mystery school in Greece was persistent uninterrupted for 2000 years, which is saying something as far as anything cultural and the odds are strong that it involved a psychoactive potion. It was nine days of fasting, theater pageantry, all sorts of state-inducing storytelling, transformational things. And it sort of seeded Western Side so everyone from Pythagoras to play to Socrates participated. And so, arguably just using it as a placeholder for an initiatory psychedelic experience that seeds, civilization, culture, and creates a cadre of initiatives that move culture itself. And actually, there’s positive, visible tracking of the impact of that into the wider world, which by the way, did also happen, if you, anybody hasn’t read what the doorman said is the classic sort of psychedelics as the seed to Silicon Valley, and those early moments in the sixties, and through mid-seventies in the psychedelic space coming out of Stanford, Stanford research Institute, Palo Alto, the whole neck of the woods, the redwoods to the Santa Cruz’s to Hondas, to Marin, that’s how we got apple computers, that’s how we got snow crash and met averse notions, that’s how we got it all. So, those kinds of concepts of the epic panic seeding the cultural tried and true and long-standing, we just need the next wave.

Laura Dawn: I wonder though if psychedelics could potentially catalyze the destruction of capitalism. What if psychedelics are the impetus for the restructuring right now and to take it down or do you think people are just doing psychedelics and being like, no, we can invest in the companies or we’re just going to keep her perpetuating the old systems.

Jamie Wheal: Yes. There was that funny onion article, which was parroting a guy I think, I know who was based in moron and was doing Ayahuasca retreats for tech bros to come up with their next disruptive idea, and like Shaman, Shaman took to Tos for not coming up with enough disruptive innovation in his Ayahuasca ceremony that kind of a thing. So, once again, on the paradox, I think of psychedelics is that if you are fortunate to find yourself in some truly non-ordinary domain, but it also appears to be coherent, it appears to have logic, it appears to have relevant information, or even, revelatory for you. It’s easy to assign a sort of fixity or almost anthropomorphize that experience as a teacher, as wisdom, as a source of something consistent with a point of view and a perspective.

And I think that is incontrovertibly subjectively true for the people who are of experienced something like that. But on the other hand, the cliché of tools are neutral and it’s how you use them like psychedelics are simply access to non-ordinary states and hyper-accelerated information fields and how you use them is culturally contextual bound. So, if I come back to tech bro land, venture capital on Sandhill road, what can we do to disrupt the next thing? And I’ve had a partial experience with no ethical context, no elders or mentorships, no one to clip my wings if I start talking about things I don’t know about, get what I mean, think about a Zendo, like you have some Kensho experience, you have some breakthrough experience.

The best thing you do is you go and you kneel in front of your teachers and they ask you a few questions, like, okay, what did he see? What does he think? How’s he holding it? And how does he feel? And nine times outta 10, it’s going to be slow your roll son you’re not, as far as you think you are. That’s what the lineages would typically do, go back and chop more wood carry water but I’m in late now. No, fuck you I go back and chop more wood and carry water and if you don’t do that with a smile, that’s all we need to know about how far you think you go. We don’t have those checks and balances so, I cannot advocate enough for the absence and the absolute dire need for cultural systems to hold and balance this stuff, because, as perspective, right, Sidney Gottlieb was the head of MK ultra-took 200 acid trips himself and dos Whitey Bulger, the mob boss in the Boston prisons.

And he was a borderline sociopath that just with people’s minds and souls for decades while having his little cabin and his little goats in the garden and meditating in the mornings and thinking he was doing the Lord’s work, or at least Uncle Sam’s. And bloody mushroom Aztec cults, ripping the hearts out of victims on the top of big pyramids, highest coons on psilocybin. It’s important to be on the one hand unlimited potential upside but on the other hand, all sorts of unstructured, squirrels and the potential for doom also.

Laura Dawn: But it sounds like context though, because I hold the opinion that, wow it would be so amazing to work with world leaders and bring them through these in initiatory experiences and then offer them the scaffolding and that kind of training to make sure that they’re deepening into a spiritual practice or listening to the wisdom of their heart and catalyzing. So, I don’t know if you know this Jamie, but I’m finishing my graduate degree and I’m focusing on the intersection between psychedelics and creative problem solving for leadership development. I believe that psychedelics can be an incredible tool for learning how to interrupt patterns and that’s exactly what we need right now, but it sounds like it’s your concern is the support scaffolding and the safety net on the other side of that, so that we’re not enhancing, ego inflation and superegos, but we’re rooting into daily practice and earning the wisdom, as you say be careful of unearned wisdom, but daily practice and training do point towards earning that wisdom. And what about a dual approach system that helicopters you to the top of the mountain and then offers a pathway and systems for people to take the climb after the experience?

Jamie Wheal: Well, yes, no, it’s got to be a hybrid both ends for sure. And if I’m doing anything right now, it’s fundamentally like, a half-ass effort to sort of play the role that Krishna does in the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna, the prince is on the verge of battle, both sides of his family or on either side. And he’s like, man, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t and Christian is like, suck it up fat kid, you got to play your pot anyway. He’s like, there’s no wiggling off the hook, yes. You don’t get to suck your thumb and go home, you have to do what you have to do and, your only redemption, and this whole mess is to play your part to fulfill your dharma balls deep that’s it. And so, this is a paraphrase of the Bhagavad Gita, but to me, so your, what you are doing is your work, your call to it. You’re trying to make it as beautiful good and true as you possibly can so have out it do that part to the fullest and it might work. And it probably won’t work linearly, it just might orthogonally we don’t know and that’s the leaving space for grace because there is this sense, that now you know, you run all the math on any trend line you want these days. And they all go sailing off a cliff in the next 30 years, overwhelmingly. So you’re like, what do we do? But then like, Kevin Kelly has this beautiful quote where he is like, “Hey, it’s always easier to imagine the devil than God.”

Because the second love thermodynamics everything tends the warrior’s decay but, life, an entire string of life is highly improbable. That flower beside you, highly improbable you and me highly improbable, but we exist anyway. So, how do we leave the space for grace? How do we celebrate the possibility of life and growth? How do we maintain radical hope that can survive contact with radical disillusionment, setback, and suffering, because we don’t need whistling past the graveyard hope, we need radical hope. As Jonathan Lear at the University of Chicago says hope transcends a vision for anything in the foreseeable future. It is hope for something we cannot see from here and this was after a study of 19th century, like Indian reservations and removal so like hardcore.

He’s like hope for something we cannot see from here but believe. And that psychedelic initiatory experience, if, and as it comes through us and for us, is to be twice-born. And many of those experiences, whether it’s five Mao, whether it’s ketamine, whether it’s nitrous oxide, there’s a host of compounds that do a very similar physiological thing, which is they do a reset at the level of the brain stem. They drop Neuro electric activity down to near brain death so Delta weight point 0.1 to five hertz. So, just barely doing anything and in that realm is the humanist is the reset is the chance to be like, oh my gosh, I once was lost, but now I’m found, I once was a firstborn human and trying to desperately claw away from this model, life seeking states and seeking transcend and trying to bypass the thing because I didn’t say yes to this.

I was just born by accident to die and be reborn and like the Dorothy’s, like the Ebenezer Scrooge be like, I choose it this time. I would give anything to be back in my meat suit with a name that I remembered, like kissing the ground, hugging the people I love, I come home by choice. So, for me, we asked about radical hope and the sea of all this cynicism, yes, I cut through the simple I hope to cut through the joy on the other side of all the facts. Wade through the grief of confronting all the facts and then reside in the joy, the peace that possible with all understanding that we are dead men walking and nothing we can do is going to matter over a damned except and only, but to live our Dharma to the fullest and let the chips fall.

So, to me, that’s the soul force, that’s unlocked, that’s what we need a billion humans to take to the streets with soul force. That sense of not, I’m not coming from anger, I’m not coming from rage, I’m not coming from judgment, I’m not coming from fear or for scarcity, I’m coming, singing my war song, which is my love song which is our, all of our song. And that’s what we need and if you want to say, that’s where I would hold out hope for the psychedelic renaissance, it’s right there. It’s can we initiate ourselves and each other into twice-born on humans and walk each other home.

Laura Dawn: I so appreciate that and there is so much that you speak to about what’s happening in the psychedelic movement right now that I do agree with and share a very similar sentiment with so, I appreciate that. I often just ask myself, okay, where I want to be placing my focus and my attention and I’m so grateful to people like you who want to speak to all of the crazy that’s going on in the movement right now. So, I can just keep doing the work that I’m doing and I am grateful that you do what you do and you do it very well. And so, many people listening to this come to me and ask me what psychedelic facilitator training should I do to become a guide or a facilitator? And it is such a challenging question, especially because we’ve lost this apprenticeship model to stepping onto this path. And so I’m just curious, what advice or wisdom you want to share or in part to the people listening to this who feel the call to be of service and to serve these medicines and to hold space for this kind of work. And even, feel like three years on the path is a very long time to be working with psychedelics, for example. So I’m kind of curious, what’s your sentiment around that?

Jamie Wheal: Well, step one is the world has way too many, wounded healers so, seriously interrogate your motivation to start with. And if you weren’t already in the helping professions in some form of therapeutic or supportive role of just helping men, people, it could be, I was a nurse or a paramedic, but I feel it’s more about hearts and souls or, whatever. If you weren’t already down that road inquire into the widest pivot now and in the same way that many life coaches are just broken people have sunk so much money to their personal growth and endless seeking that they now feel they have desperately had to turn around and monetize it somehow is always a greater fool behind them. So why not do that? Let’s not be, we don’t need any more of them.

Laura Dawn: My goodness, wait, I have to pause you for a second. So, I asked a lot of friends before we got all this call. I said, what do you want to ask Jamie wheal? And one of my friends, Adam said, can you ask him why Jamie wheal is hell Ben on hating life coaches? That was his main question.

Jamie Wheal: Just generally people with no experience and no business charging others for their assets wisdom.

Laura Dawn: But don’t you think that that’s a little judgmental now, Jamie?

Jamie Wheal: A hundred percent, I own the judgment. But yes, the same with Neo tantra teachers, well, I banged a lot of these in my twenties and I’m getting tired of Tinder. So I guess I’m gonna be a Neo tantra coach now. You’re like, yes, probably not. So, this is just the nature of our age and it’s just the money changes in the temple so that I’ve got no qualms with, I have max loving support for anybody finding their way through this world and attempting to put a roof over their heads, however, they choose. I take the gloves off when people presume to speak of the sacred and monetize it and sell it to newcomers who can’t tell the difference. That’s the sole line that gets crossed at the sand for me, where then I’m not even pretending to be compassionate. So, then if you are, if you truly, I integrated your reasons, and it’s not just kind of a piece of driftwood and that you’re adrift in the sea of and it’s true for you at some deep and abiding level of your life Dharma. Then, by all means, go forward with it and there are map certifications that CIS, I’m imagining there’s just a whole mushrooming up as certifications. I would strongly encourage you to go with the handful of the few that are meaningful sanction requires additional certifications, etcetera, and are quite, oversubscribing hard to get into because they’ll matter as a carrying card for quality control and trust for patients.

And then the other is Matt Johnson, our friend, and colleague at John’s Hopkins published a piece last year in a peer-review journal on the challenges of therapists smuggling in their worldviews. And that can be something as subtle as I’ve got a Buddha on my windowsill, or its music selection, or you’ve had these experiences. And I’m presuming to tell you what that was, whether that was a past life regression or whether that was contact with entities or your future past self, whatever it might be. And his point, which I couldn’t echo more, is to get them out of your clients’ minds and souls and don’t take the claim as the privileged administrator of the magic. If you’re going to be in that space, it is highly suggestible, it is highly susceptible, it is not for you to claim even a fraction of the light. And be in that role of developmental support of midwife of whatever that might be, but be clear and don’t be skimming the cream via the proximity to the sacred and the newness. 

Because we see that even with professionally trained MDs who are now getting into this space, they are getting high on their supply. And when people come out of those state experiences, pie, eyed, and imprinting like little ducklings in the bond yard. There’s a quote from Ovid in Latin, which says, “Who looking down on 20 or 30 upturn shining faces does not sometimes say more than he knows.” And that temptation to take the claim, the temptation to funnel a little bit of that light through ourselves is probably one of the biggest pitfalls as folks rush into being in the healer facilitator space without actually being subject to say, 20 years of lineage progression and temporary.

Laura Dawn: It’s in a similar vein I also get so many people that ask me and that message me on Instagram. So, please do not message me on Instagram asking me where you can find a psychedelic experience. And it’s made me think about this lately, because I was like, wow, for so long where this wasn’t all over social media, people had to tune in and follow the signs and have like some synchronistic experience that led them to a medicine journey that was part of the in the initiatory process. And I’m also kind of curious; about you’re thought on that, the path of actually just staying open to the way the medicines find you.

Jamie Wheal: Well, yes, for sure. That’s hard if somebody’s just kind of isolated in a Middle American town or a country where things are hard or tougher and there’s not a sort of, even remotely visible underground to plug into. So, I, for a sure feel for folks that are trying to find a way into this world and just don’t even know where to find a door or a handhold, in the past, and this is not a nostalgic statement, but it is that sort of the Neuro anthropological assessment, which is like, hey, there was a thing there. What were the operating system’s instructions that made that work? It used to be great for dead shows; they were the predominant vehicle for moving psychedelics all around North America on an annual basis.

And all you had to do was get a ticket and your experience would be like, get a tab, get some mushrooms in the parking lot. Here’s your ticket to go to the ritual, you’d go to the ritual, and you’d combine it with the sacrament which was available there. And then you would have your boom, my gosh now I understand what a grateful dead show is about. Now, I understand why people run away and join the circus and what’s so key and I wrote about this in recapture the rapture, it came embedded, sacred scriptures via the song lyrics, which was an entire cosmology and worldview of what does it mean to be a psychedelic initiated human wandering around this earth, including good times and bad and there was an antinomian element, which was no one takes the claim.

If I knew the way I would take you home, but I don’t that’s the joke, that’s the mystic not knowing because we all know right now, and we’re singing it and we’re playing it so clearly somebody knew back when, but no one’s going to take you by the hand. His job is to shed light and not to master. There were so many, one man gathers what another man spills, there were these epigrams, and they’d show up on bunch stickers and t-shirts and all this kind of stuff to remember like Shazam, that is a Cohen. That is a psychedelic agnostic Cohen that guides the culture and establishes norms as far as how do we relate to the mystery and so that’s how it used to happen.

So, even if you just take that as a pop American, relatively modern expression of an initiatory Eleusinian mysteries, which Joe Campbell did say, he said, this is just like the diagnosis coats, back in the day you guys are doing the thing that was his commentary going to a Grateful Dead show you’re like, okay so out a bare ass minimum. We need to dust off some of those, psycho a technology, some of those rituals and handrails, which is what is a cosmology, serves? What are songs, poems, music, and art iconography, how do we hold this? And of course, Burning Man has done something comparable, the temples, the establishments, there’s anesthetic. There’s a sense of what this is and it looks sort of fractal alien intelligence, DVD.

So, if you kind of take a look at many of the screens behind a lot of the folks spinning late at night, you’re sort of like, what is that? What is this? It’s potentially, and this is a delicate work subject to capture the subject to over earnestness and subject to all sorts of potential artistic aesthetic fuckups. But fundamentally how do we start rendering in more semi-durable cultural artifacts that, which we’re all exploring to get there because it feels like we’re still talking about psychedelics as a substance or as a compound, that they’re either sacramental or their pharmacological they’re whatever and then you go and you have your experience. But what I haven’t yet seen is a conversation of kind of mapping shared cartography of the information layer, which appears to, you get lobbed in there better or worse for more or less hang time, depending on the compounds that you combine.

Each one tends to specifically tune the radio, dial to a certain channel or a certain frequency, but there may be a superordinate information layer that is the place we’re all going and just bungee jumping in and out of with little pinpricks of access. Can we start mapping an ontology that includes hyper dimensional or non-3d information, layers, realities, interactions, and then can we start going from there? Because if we could do that then we have the chance to go from random orthogonal impacts between realms. They sort of don’t know how this works and it’s never one, but it kind of seems to have some diffused how to predict impacts down here to can we connect in some form of stabilizing whether it’s group flow, community task, high mind take your pick where we’re actually.

And clearly, studies show that that happens in these gathered events like Burning Man, like the Oregon Country Fair, dead shows where people like, I just give up having to force anything. I just think a thing and then it happens and I was looking for you and then I couldn’t find you. And then you showed up and you’re sitting right beside me, isn’t that funny? Those are known issues in those spaces, where you get a whole bunch of humans psychologically wired and attuned to some shared focal point in non-dual space. You get ripples in 3d causation, and I’ll say that in a parsimonious way because this whole bunch more we shared, also happen, but we’ll just leave that on the shelf for now. So, the question is, is can we potentially stabilize some version of that without losing our wits or our tits without falling into bed with each other and just becoming Lizard brain, fuck monkeys, and blissing out on all the amazing can we do this special luck operator, galactic special forces come and go. Stabilized portals create anchored downlinks and actually like power upright. As shared anthropic here at the end of time to save the world just in time with actually the manifest expression of love and body.

Laura Dawn: Ahoy. I appreciate that I was thinking communitas so much and also just like how hard it is to cultivate communitas at a time during COVID. So, and that was a huge drop and you also earmarked something at the beginning of this conversation about what gets you out of bed in the morning. And so, orienting towards meaning 3.0, and you’ve also touched on, orienting towards service as simple, as active kindness and orienting out of individual self into group thinking and being able to engage in community tasks. And you mentioned hope so, what are a couple of others of these like meaning 3.0 elements that help and what gets you out of bed in the morning?

Jamie Wheal: Yes, I think it’s all the same good-hearted well-intentioned stuff it’s just with no illusions that any of it’s going to matter again, that’s the Bhagavad Gita. There’s a reason that the Gita was a seminal text for Amazon, for Thoreau, for Gandhi, and MLK. If you’re going to try and transform the world, there’s a world of hurt coming for you. And the reason I think that sacred scripture was so seminal for them is like, what happens when the best-laid plans of mice and men, including your sunny boy, get ripped out of your hands by a colon indifferent universe. Do you just crumple? Or do you have some deeper orientation? So, the whole die before you die, I think is essential because then you’ve just got nothing left, but hope you’ve got nothing left, but to try and play the infinite game.

For all the models, but without any bargaining, that winning saves me from anything so, for me, sweat your prayers and surf the earth and earn your terms. Go out and feed the holy each of those is a vignette that can keep you engaged for a lifetime but mountains and rivers without a bend, get out in big wild nature and experience the joys of gravity and embody that skiing and surfing and biking and it could be hiking and bird watching, whatever your jam is. You like to see the world of fresh and focused eyes and to be a part of the pulses and rhythms game-changing. Awesome and somebody’s still got to feed the holy because no matter how much hurt the world may be feeling both as the humans upon it and the planet itself. It is still popping off 24 7, there are beautiful snowstorms and incredible waves, there’s snow to be riding there are waves to be carved, there are sunrises and sunsets to bear witness to, to dance over, to pray over, to make love around like there are big trees, to go visit. We need to honor, it’s the whole EB white thing that Charlotte’s web guy, every day I wake up torn between savoring world and saving it but then I realized, that the savoring has to come first because if there was nothing worth savoring, there would be nothing left to save.

So in that respect, you can take it however we want, we could say this is our collective bucket list. So, if there’s, anything you have loved and appreciated, go back and do it again now while you can, if there’s anything you always dreamed or imagined you’d like to go see or be, or do one day go and do it. Now and shortly because these might be in our hope chests, these might be in our memory boxes. These might be the things that we look back on ourselves, or get to tell our, our children about one day there was like, let’s go out and bear witness to the beauty of being alive on this earth while we still have the privilege and the opportunity to do so. And the worst-case scenario is we’re super alive until we die.

Laura Dawn: Right. And is that how you sort of grapple with the unanswerable questions of society and the fact that like, we were speaking so much to the structure of capitalism, but individually it feels like we’re not able to take it down. And so that can lead us down this place of hopelessness is your advice that you offered, how you grapple with the fact that you individually can’t do anything about the system, or do you feel like you can?

Jamie Wheal: Yes, no. I think systems are pretty big and I think that’s probably one of the bits of hubris and slight delusion, even of many people I know and love. And once again, even if I don’t agree with their Dharma, I hope that those works for them, I wouldn’t bet on that horse, but I sure just hope it crosses the finish line. And so, no, in Glasgow and cop 26 were kind of my last-ditch, super-secret fingers crossed, look at it between my eyes, this hope that God, something interesting or novel emerges, and it went backward. She like, no, we’re still doing the stupid human thing. So no, I think we are structurally super-duper perfect, and all that means is we aren’t even close to acting in the absence of much more pain. Almost kind of just clinical level you’re like, okay there’s not enough input in the system to prompt changing from the status quo [inaudible 1:43:10] there are too many people still getting their bread butter this way for anybody to turn it off right now, or yet. And the capacity of our OODA loops, the fact that the only two decision-making apparat we have money and power, AKA the markets, the financial markets and government, and both of those OODA loops are either, everything from day trading to quarterly stock market signals, once every three months or two years, two-year election cycles, but four, if you stretch it, so there’s no overlapping between branches to government.

And so what that means is, is that you probably have 18 months max, and we’ve seen this, with this instant lame-duck presidency with Biden, but the poor bastard had 18 months to try and do something and he’s already out of time. And he is going to lose control of Congress and then they’re going to him in Stonewall things if they weren’t already, and that’s going to create a highly likely switch slash revert back to populous conservatism in 24. And wouldn’t you know, we’re going to be a decade underwater at a time we should have been paddling like motherfuckers. So you’re just like, okay, those are the OODA loops, three months and 24 months and they don’t work very well with things that take decades to centuries to either fuck up or fix.

Laura Dawn: Right. Hearing you say this, Jamie makes me want to drop a Tava acid and just go get lost in the forest.

Jamie Wheal: Yes, well, honestly, I’d say that’s way more valuable than like your 1% personal growth pitch, I’ll take, get lost in the forest on acid any day. So, the point being though is the feed the holy and that’s Martin [inaudible 1:44:54] term, Mayan, elder, and poet supervised badass fellow. But like he tells the, of the Mayan tradition where it accounts for the Western, Judeo-Christian notion of original sin, it’s like, look, we’ve always taken, we have to, we have to take to live, we chop down trees for our homes and we hunt animals for our food. And that’s necessarily wrong it’s the cost of us being here and being alive. So the way we balance that is not to ring our hands and say that we’re broken or fallible or sinful. The way to rebalance that ledger is to feed the holy, it is to put cornmeal in beautiful mandalas and to arrange pedals there, to sing a song when the sun comes up and thank it for shining that day as well. We reintroduce beauty to balance our extraction and our footprint and that is so much better than the kind of crypto puritan and guilty liberal, always trying to atone for the things that weren’t ours, that kind of, I don’t deserve all of this low jest but I’ll still take it, I’ll just feel bad about it and drive it [inaudible 1:46:06], like that.

Laura Dawn: Wait. Are you saying that you’re you don’t think crypto’s going to save us, Jamie? Is that what you’re saying?

Jamie Wheal: Yes. Well, I’ve got some super bullish friends, but they may be a little less bullish after this last week. So, you do notice, the number of cryptos-backed Utopian projects, the 100% rises and falls with the value of Bitcoin and Eth, you’re like, and then they just go quiet over those bear runs. You’re like, where’d you go? What happened about saving the world, bro? And you’re like, no, I’m just watching my NFTs, I’m watching my boy date, so hoping that it still goes up. So my sense is, is look if people want to do something specific, so feeding the holy is a beautiful concept, it’s potentially profound. And I would say it’s one to like go deeper on, the idea of it’s on us, and this goes back to the Kevin Kelly thing. It’s on us to rail against the second law of thermodynamics and makeup, make things that are improbable organizations of matter, and make art can be raising a family well. It could be a square foot garden in your backyard, it could be a soup kitchen, it could be a painting, it could be music, it could be whatever, and it could be an entrepreneurial project just like rail against entropy and decay. But a specific one where back to the Bhagavad Gita and you’re damned if you do, and you damned, if you don’t do it anyway. On the one hand, we can be aware and we should be aware that recycling’s a total sham and plastics don’t go anywhere, but landfills in China, and now they’re not going to landfills in China.

So they’re going to landfills and Laos and Vietnam, and they’re all ending up in the giant Pacific garbage patch, sorry, kids. That was pulled over our eyes by the plastic industry 25 years ago, and if you ever wondered why your friendly neighborhood garbage man suddenly stopped making us separate all those bottles that we used to when we were little and then now it’s just fine, just chuck them all in together. Well, that’s why, they’re going to a farm upstate kid, they’re not getting adopted they’re like that whole disillusionment with playing our part, reduce, reuse, recycle. But on the other hand, there is something called the two-kilowatt society, and they are based out of Switzerland and they’ve got a presence in Europe and their whole premise is can I reduce my annual consumption to two kilowatts a year on a sort of an annualized basis because that would be enough for all humans to be having some kind of stabilized, energy consumption.

And for baselines, I think that Europe is like eight kilowatts and the US unsurprisingly up 12, but what’s interesting is when cities in Europe have committed to that, and then they’ve measured quality of life. They’ve found that the people who are subscribing to it are happier, less stressed better sleep, more overall life satisfaction, tighter families, etcetera, better health indexes, and all these kind of things. So, their premise was, can we demonstrate not, can we fix the world by doing this, but can we just show it’s possible? And can we show that it doesn’t require degradation in these cherished Western standards of living? Can we be a lamp into others’ kind of thing? So, if we wanted to, and that’s in the building of our little off-grid cabin, we are a100% moving to those ourselves as a family. Not because we’re under the illusion that that does something like separating our plastics. It’s simply to say because we could, we ought to and then check that box and then get back to whatever frontline efforts, whatever else there is, wherever else, someone can be helpful of service or pleasant distraction, and then go play our parts.

Laura Dawn: With the help of your local meditation app.

Jamie Wheal: Yes. Called like the big sickest spruce, out on the back porch.

Laura Dawn: Yes, exactly. I so appreciate it, it’s almost like a little dose of nihilism is a little bit helpful just in the grand scheme of things that like, the earth is going to be swallowed whole by the sun in a few hundreds of millions of years. And we have such a brief moment on this planet and we happen to be conscious and we get to decide what we do during this very brief window of time.

Jamie Wheal: Well, and it’s something I read about in the book, but it was this coming alive arc of life versus the staying alive arc. The coming alive goes high into the right and its infinite possibilities and then the staying alive arc is like, it’s triage we might be running out of time and you might have, am I packing, am any my next amazing vacation? Or am I packing a bug-out bag? Which is it? And the schizophrenic toggling is getting higher and higher and people are even having those experiences in psychedelic space because typically there’s a known effect called scatter seizure, which is a sense of the impending end of time. And that typically, there’s a reason that term has been coined in the psychedelic space because it shows up so often, so somebody can be like, oh my gosh, I am a child of light or God. And I am whole and perfect and worthy of love. And I’ve seen the end of time and it all works out and then we get spat back out in a 3d like, shit.

Are we going to make it, do we have time? Does this work, or are we going to be in the civil war in a year or two? Or is my state evacuated for natural disasters? And that is of that is such a profound, but also destabilizing position that I don’t think we should be sending people into that realization on supported. Because the idea is sort of like good news is, it’s like unplugging people from the matrix, you can learn Kung Fu and you can fly like Superman, yay this is awesome. And like bad news is the machines are coming tomorrow night and they’re drilling through and it’s like, this is the last night in Zion. So, and that’s what I mean about it, it’s no longer adequate for just the 1% micro personal growth for me. It’s like we might be at this weird stage in history where it’s like, we’ve been gifted with more transformational in initiatory tools than any human civilization has ever had in such an open-source, decentralized, democratic, accessible way ever period, full stop outside priest, class, nominal, Shaman groups, etcetera. Never has everybody had a crack at this, the way we have with no training or preparation, but maybe if we do assign any overarching intelligence or direction to any of this stuff, and that’s a big if, then perhaps it’s the boot as many humans as possible, into soldiers at the light, into Shambhala warriors, which means you get a long weekend honeymoon, soak it in bask in the glory and report to the front lines on Monday, you’re well needed. And don’t forget there’s no wall slipping off the front lines to go back to the wishing well.

Laura Dawn: When you heard that Shogun had accusations because you just mentioned Shambhala and were exploring the full spectrum of what it means to be human. Did that just tarnish your like, do you hold the perspective of like, well don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater that man downloaded a serious amount of wisdom or do you think like, wow, well we’re just all human and he’s human too?

Jamie Wheal: Well, I had some mild discussion with what’s his name? Matthew Ramsey I think wrote the article he’s part of that spirituality podcast but he also, I think wrote the article for the magazine Walrus that, came out in and unfortunately it was a less productive conversation than I was hoping for. But the intention I think is legit inquiry, which is you take an Adi Da who was another wild and crazy, you could throw in Osho, mostly just because people know of him from the wild country, but that was a pretty flat documentary. It didn’t get into the actual miso of Osho himself or someone like a Trungpa and you’re like, okay, net was it better or worse than they would ever walk the earth for humanity? Including all the abuses, including all the accesses, including anything else that happened.

And the collateral damage for some of the people that were around them especially in the later stages of their careers, as things tended to get predictably squishy. If you take it from the trauma anti-cult side, then it’s a hell no, all of that’s rationalizations gas lighting excluding. If you pan back a little on, you’re like, okay, those guys were pushing the envelope of human consciousness. There was all sorts of collateral damage, no bones about it and did that in some way, lead to something either ephemeral or semi-stable that is seed code that can be built on more helpfully or wholesomely over time, to say take Aleister Crowley as another example, Aleister Crowley has a direct lineage connection to Jack Parson’s at Jet Propulsion Labs and what’s its face L. Ron Hubbard founder of Scientology.

And directly informed Tim Leary and Robert Anton Wilson and those guys cleaned it up quite a bit especially Anton Wilson and you still direct lineages, still 100% informed by what was much more volatile and less safe and it starts becoming something new and different you can still see the shock waves throughout the spiritual communities, etcetera, from Adi Da transmissions. And Trungpa laid down some definitively and enduringly, beautiful and important distinctions, especially in the first half of his career. So, I think it’s about an inquiry into what happens in crazy wisdom and why do teachers consistently get bent even if they showed signs of incredible talent gift insight as they got cracking, and then also what is the ledger from a sort of effective altruist perspective, harm benefit. And is there anything to rationalize or justify it?

I think there’s a huge question of consent because it’s one thing if a knowing adept goes and plays with fire and gets burned like John Lilly. There was minimal collateral damage outside his immediate family, outside his wives and potentially children, and that kind of stuff to watch the experiments he conducted. It’s much weirder when you start getting into followers, groupies, anybody with Celtic tendencies where full consent may not have been there. So to say, that knew collateral damage they knew what they were getting into was up for debate I think. But I think in some respects, for me, at least minus the Celtic tendencies so just back out all those for a sec I would say the most helpful frame on this is looking at it like big wave surfing and high altitude mountaineering, which is the best sometimes die and that doesn’t mean they were wrong.

It doesn’t mean the mountains or the ocean was bad, it’s just you roll the dice in those high stakes terrain often enough and from time to time, you’ll come up with snake eyes. Now there are always after-action reviews in those communities the same way there are with special operations communities and pilots as well. The big thing is when somebody dies, the question is, is, was that a pilot error? Or was this just Cali and your number got punched? And the question is important in those communities, because if it was a pilot error, then they can say, oh see, well that was his fuckup and I’m not going to do that. This may or may not be true but that is psychodynamic of it. And so the question for all of us is not to say if anybody comes a cropper pursuing, being a psycho, not let’s just say we’ll keep it focused on the topic, for your show. Do you then use that as a chance to clutch pearls and ring hands and morally touch about the nature of the pursuit? Or do you say, hey man, this is time in the death zone and, or in writing giants and the people who get into it they will want to know what they’re getting into? And sometimes there are fallen warriors as a result.

Laura Dawn: In terms of Chögyam Trungpa, that lineage, the Shambhala lineage has greatly informed and changed my life in such a profound way, mostly through the teaching of Pema Chodron, who is like, as you said, it’s like the next people on the lineage that it gets passed onto, they refine it in different ways and hold it in different ways. So, I think not to throw out all the wisdom teachings because one person did something, that was not in integrity and that there’s such a bigger perspective. And that’s kind of the same thing that I think about the psychedelic movement I have this conversation with people all the time. I believe that there’s collateral damage happening in the psychedelic movement right now. And yet on the whole do I think it’s positive and moving in a good direction for the support of change and to help catalyze much-needed change amid so much larger transition, but letting go of old systems and the rigidity of ways that don’t serve us anymore that we know, do I think that the overall movement is helpful?

Yes. I do think it’s going in an overall direction that we do have a lot of responsibility to steer. And so I know this is coming full circle back to all of the things that we’re talking about and maybe where we differ a little bit, but I do think that we hold an enormous amount of responsibility in this space and also to reduce collateral damage because we hear stories all the time. Can’t even tell you how many stories I’ve heard at this point of women being raped by Shamans. There are all sorts of charlatans happening from North America down to South America, including South America. So we do have to be super careful, but overall, do I think that more people, I’m curious, have you ever had this experience like on LSD where you genuinely thought to yourself, wow. If a lot more people had this experience that maybe we would come to know peace and love on earth.

Jamie Wheal: No, not at all, not ever. Usually, because I’m just like gobs mugged at, what’s coming down the pipes, in real time I’m not like, gee, well, set me a future date. Wouldn’t that be cool if a bunch of other people had their minds blown wide open to the back of beyond? No, because there’s no one there to have that thought. So no, look, was it Marilyn Monroe and Claire Boothe lose and the various other glitterati of the late fifties and the early sixties who were trying to hatch away to get it to JFK in the white house. That experiment has been conducted and at least attempted you know, as was Abbie Hoffman’s attempt to Levitate, the Pentagon as the kind of funny prank, that kind of stuff.

So, we’ve done that doesn’t mean we couldn’t continue to try it, but once again, I what you and I are poking at, we’re coming at it from a bunch of different angles is two fundamentally different world views as to the nature of human nature. And I just came across this distinction recently, which I thought was super helpful because it shows up in crypto, it shows up in the psychedelic space, it shows up in any semi utopian project we’re discussing right now. Who do we think humans are deep down and unconstrained? And so, there is a model that is constrained versus the unconstrained theory of human nature and the constrained is hubs. Life is nasty, brutish, and short and the best thing you can do is create governance and structures and systems that minimize how shitty people can be each of themselves and each other.

And then you might have a chance at free will. At least people will get to choose within that system, but you’ve limited the downside risk of people being shitty because they often will be. And then there’s the unconstrained vision, which is kind of embodied by Rousseau, tabula rasa, blank slates, indefinite, upsides, and possibilities. And there is, is that, can we arrange systems and structures to maximize the opportunity for human flourishing and becoming? And so quite often they will say, so these guys, they constrain will say, you’re never going to get to full of quality, love, and joy, but you can minimize the downsides via free will and choice. And that’s probably not about as good as it gets. And then the unconstrained is like, no, humans can be everything and we’ll save the life, the world in each other if we can only, and equality, even if it requires tops down control to assert that is the higher and better good.

And so fundamentally I would say I am in the culture architecture camp, how do you design stuff or how do you even critique or assess what’s going on? I’m in the constrained camp, I’m left to their own devices most people do kind of things. They seek pleasure and they avoid pain, and that will often leave you quite bummed out to the outcomes of people stepping up the better angels of their nature. And on the other hand, the actual agnostic in initiatory experience gives us all glimpses of our truest highest fullest best’s selves and that’s profoundly beautiful in the family. So, I think John Lennon embodied it perfectly he said, I love humanity, the unconstrained version it’s the people I can’t stand. The constrained version.

So, we’re dancing between these two and as we layover, well, what are the pitfalls and potentials of the psychedelic Renaissance again, or cryptocurrency and web three or whatever you want to lay over this, the question is, is what do we think is the fundamental nature of human nature? And therefore what ought we to do are we attempting to mitigate downsides and then allow whatever itsy bitsy flourishing can cobble itself together for a period to happen, to happen? Or are we getting rid of all the obstructions to allow the blossoming? And again, keep in mind that unconstrained versions led to Stalin and led to Mao as well. It sounds good upfront and potentially gets murderous on the back end because if the ends are heaven on earth, then the means are always justified. So, these are the sort of philosophical, guardrails, there was sort of dancing between them as we explore what well, sprinkle in a little magic psychedelic pixie dust to that. What do we think happens?

Laura Dawn: Everything happens.

Jamie Wheal: All the things, man. 

Laura Dawn: And amplification of all of the things I so appreciate you, Jamie, it’s a pleasure, and thank you for being willing to wrestle some of these topics to the ground and just being able to get into it. It’s like people listening, it’s not like anyone has the answer here, but it is fun to come at it from a lot of different angles and sort of bounce some of these nuanced, very tricky topics around and just kind of see what new insights want to emerge and evolve. So I appreciate that.

Jamie Wheal: Yes, for sure, for me that get out of bed answer is stayed awake and builds stuff, help out. Remember the things we’re shown, create because it’s fun too, and it’s why we’ve got opposable thumbs and it’s pretty much the only thing that humans can do. And help out because if you are doing your best to stay awake and you are creating and building then share those things with other people.

Laura Dawn: I’d love to bring you on for the second part of this conversation at some point where we can get into more of that intentional design, lifestyle design, where we can live into meaning 3.0. I’ll have to hassle your assistant to get on your calendar probably in a few months from now.

Jamie Wheal: Yes. In the meantime, I’m going backcountry skiing got to feed the holy, got to earn my turns got to do all of the good things.

Laura Dawn: I appreciate that perspective thank you so much, Jamie have a good rest of your day.

Jamie Wheal: Yes, for sure be well.

Laura Wheal: Thank you, bye.

Outro: Hi, friends thank you so much for tuning into another episode of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast. I’m so thrilled to be back with a whole new season and with this season we’ve launched a whole new website and each episode has a beautiful landing page where I’m linking to the entire resources mentioned full transcript, featured musician it’s all there. So, please go check out this episode @lauradawn.co/42. If you’d like to be in touch with me, you can send me an email through my website, lauradawn.co, or send me a message on Instagram at livefreelaurad. If you’ve been enjoying the show, I would so appreciate it. If you could leave a review on iTunes, I’m so grateful to have about 75-star reviews and they do help they help make a difference and I would love to reach 105-star reviews. So, thank you so much for your help with that I genuinely appreciate it. And I’m going to leave you with this song called Chosen Ones by my dear sister, Mary Isis. Once again, my name is Laura Dawn, and you’re listening to the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast.

Jamie Wheal


Jamie Wheal is the Founder of The Flow Genome Project, author of Stealing Fire and Recapture the Rapture, and leading expert in the neurophysiology of human performance. His work combines a background in expeditionary education, wilderness medicine, and surf rescue, with over a decade of advising high-growth companies on strategy, execution, and leadership. Jamie’s coaching ranges from Fortune 500 companies like Cisco, Google, and Nike, to the U.S. Naval War College, and Red Bull. You’ll find him speaking on the intersection of science and human potential to diverse, high-performance communities like Young President’s Organization, Summit Series, TED, and MaiTai Global. At the Flow Genome Project, he leads a team of the world’s top scientists, athletes, and artists dedicated to mapping the genome of the peak-performance state known as Flow. He lives on the Colorado River with his wife Julie, their two kids Lucas and Emma, and a righteous Golden Retriever named Cassie.

Featured Music

This Episode of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast features a song called
Chosen Ones by Mary Isis


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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.