“The shaman basically, uh, is an exemplar, a model, for how to be. Not simply how to be in the psychedelic or the trance state, but how to be in the act of wooing; how to be in the act of hunting, child-rearing, so forth. It’s a kind of exemplar that bursts through cultural conditioning. Cultural conditioning is like bad software. It’s over and over, it’s diddled with and rewritten so that it can just run on the next attempt! [laughter] But there is cultural hardware, and it’s that cultural hardware – otherwise known as authentic being – that we are propelled toward by the example of the shaman and the techniques of the shaman. You know, if someone tells you that vast spiritual riches await you if you will but give up sex, interesting food, and your own thoughts for 10 or 15 years, and follow along with them, then something will be attained; this is no challenge to most of us, because we have our lives to lead, mortgages to pay, children to feed, car payments. But, if someone tells you, “Eat this plant, and you will come into your birthright,” that’s a real existential challenge. The excuse that it’s difficult, or unattainable, has been removed. There can no longer be shilly-shallying around that issue. Shamanism, therefore, is a call to authenticity.” -Terence Mckenna


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