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150 Timothy Leary Quotes on Life and Culture

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1. “Life is the avoidance of boredom and routine.”

2. “If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.”

3. “To use your head, you have to go out of your mind.”

4. “The program is a voyage chart, a series of signals, which, like the pilot’s radio, provides the basic orienting information required for the trip.”

5. “I’ve left specific instructions that I do not want to be brought back during a Republican administration.”

6. “Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition.”

7. “Drugs are the religion of the people? The only hope is dope.”

8. “You’re only as young as the last time you changed your mind.”

9. “Almost everyone today is brain-damaged by our education, which is designed to produce docile automatons.”

10. “Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up like one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the ‘normal people’ as they go about their automatic existences.” 

11. “Like it or not, we are all insectoid aliens burrowing within our urbanoid bodies.”

12. “Grow with the flow.”

13. “Think for yourself. Question authority.”

14. “Each religion has got their own way of making you feel like a victim. The Christians say, ‘You are a sinner, and you better just zip up your trousers and give the money to the pope and we’ll give you a room up in the hotel in the sky.’”

15. “There are three side effects of acid: enhanced long-term memory, decreased short-term memory, and I forget the third.”

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16. “The universe is an intelligence test.”

17. “We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they’ve got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go.”

18. “LSD is a psychedelic drug which occasionally causes psychotic behavior in people who have not taken it.”

19. “Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

20. “I declare that The Beatles are mutants—prototypes of evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with a mysterious power to create a new human species, a young race of laughing freemen.”

21. “Emotions are the lowest form of consciousness.”

22. “You cannot use language to communicate with caterpillars.”

23. “Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time.”

24. “Seven million people I turned on, and only one hundred thousand have come by to thank me.”

25. “The most important thing you do in your life is to die.”

26. “I have always considered myself. When I learned what the word meant, I’ve always considered myself a Pagan.”

27. “Our assignment was to topple this prudish, judgmental civilization. And it worked.”

28. “Anything is possible after midnight.”

29. “I learned more about psychology in the 5 hours taking these mushrooms than in the preceding 15 years of studying and doing research in psychology.”

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30. “Information is power.”

31. “Take responsibility for making your own life beautiful.”

32. “Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others.”

33. “Give death a better name or die trying.”

34. “My advice to people today is as follows—if you take the game of life seriously, if you take your nervous system seriously, if you take your sense organs seriously, if you take the energy process seriously, you must turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

35. “A confrontation with divinity—your own higher intelligence—is going to change you, and some people don’t want change.” 

36. “If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people.”

37. “You are a powerful, unlimited, and eternal soul who is here to enjoy the experience of creativity and contribute to humanity’s evolution.”

38. “You are a god. Act like one!”

39. “Drop out—detach yourself from the external social drama which is as dehydrated and ersatz as TV. Turn on—find a sacrament which returns you to the temple of God, your own body. Get high. Tune in—be reborn. Drop back in to express it.”

40. “At one point, consciousness-altering devices like the microscope and telescope were criminalized for exactly the same reasons that psychedelic plants were banned in later years. They allow us to peer into bits and zones of chaos.”

41. “A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness.”

42. “You simply cannot understand psychedelic drugs, which activate the brain, unless you understand something about computers.”

43. “There are no bad drugs. There’s simply stupid people who don’t know how to use them.”

44. “People ask me how many times I’ve taken LSD and I don’t count. But it’s the same thing when they ask me how many times I’ve made love. The answer is, not enough.”

45. “LSD, wisely used by professionals, could reprogram enough nervous systems to accelerate.”

46. “Pursuing religious life today without using psychedelic drugs is like studying astronomy with the naked eye because that’s how they did it in the first century A.D.”

47. “Of course, the drug does not produce a transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key—it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns, and structures.”

48. “Acid is not for every brain. Only the healthy, happy, wholesome, handsome, hopeful, humorous, high-velocity should seek these experiences. This elitism is totally self-determined. Unless you are self-confident, self-directed, self-selected, please abstain.”

49. “I am 100% in favor of the intelligent use of drugs, and 1,000% against the thoughtless use of them, whether caffeine or LSD. And drugs are not central to my life.”

50. “Express the psychedelic with the cybernetic.”

51. “All religions are straight jackets, jackets for the straight.”

52. “After you turn on, don’t spend the rest of your life contemplating the inner wonders. Begin immediately expressing your revelation in acts of beauty. That’s very much a part of our religion—the glorification, the acting out, the expression of what you have learned.”

53. “The word ‘religion’ beautifully defines itself, of course. It translates ‘to bind’ from the Latin word ’re’ which means back and ‘ligare’ means ‘to tie up.’”

54. “There are three processes involved that every spiritual teacher has passed on to humanity for the past thousand years. First, look within glory in the revelation. Second, then express it in acts of glorification on the outside. And third, detach yourself from the current tribe.”

55. “The language of God is not English or Latin. The language of God is cellular and molecular.”

56. “Prayer is ecstatic communication with your inner navigational computer.”

57. “Fundamentalist Christianity appeals to pre-civilized, prudish tribal people who are not ready for urban feudal pleasures.”

58. “There is only submission or Heresy. The word Islam means ‘submission.’ The basic posture of Christianity is kneeling. Thy will be done.”

59. “Sacraments are the visible and tangible techniques for bringing you close to your own divinity.”

60. “God #1 is the single-cell intelligence—the collaborative brain that knows how to run a simple protozoan. The first God is the one-celled God. The first and original craft of God is protozoan.”

61. “Philosophy is a team sport. Learning how to operate your brain, learning how to operate your mind, learning how to redesign chaos.”

62. “I believe that a new philosophy will be created by those who were born after Hiroshima which will dramatically change the human condition.”

63. “The goal of an intelligent life, according to , is to pursue the philosophic quest—to increase one’s knowledge of self and world.”

64. “We were thinking far-out history thoughts at Harvard. Believing that it was a time for visions, knowing that America had run out of philosophy, that a new empirical, tangible meta-physics was needed.”

65. “Millions of Americans accepted the ‘head philosophy,’ the belief that ego and social reality are neural fictions.”

66. “In the information age, you don’t teach philosophy as they did after feudalism. You perform it. If were alive today, he’d have a talk show.”

67. “And a new philosophy emerged called quantum physics, which suggests that the individual’s function is to inform and be informed.”

68. “A country run by law is a country ruined by lawyers. It is neurologically impossible for a lawyer or a military man to think creatively or to act in harmony with nature.”

69. “Just as every Hollywood picture is put together by producers, who are always in tight control of the enterprise and reap the lion’s share of the profits, so is the outlaw industry managed by lawyers.”

70. “American civilization—for certain explicit biblical reasons—apparently requires that its leaders, its political heroes be publicly sacrificed.”

71. “Crime does pay, however, and handsomely, for the attorneys who produce the national crime-sin show.”

72. “Civilization is unbearable, but it is less unbearable at the top.”

73. “One of the many curious aspects of American culture is the absence of an ‘upper’ class, a ‘high’ society, and ‘hedonic’ aristocracy.”

74. “Nobody ever understands what a pioneer is doing.”

75. “Followers do not like themselves, of course. That’s why they crawl. And masters have nothing but contempt for their sub-servants, which is why they impose such colorful embarrassments upon them.”

76. “The 20th century may well find historical status as the epoch in which man began to study himself as a scientific phenomenon.”

77. “I’m looking forward to the most fascinating experience in life—which is dying.”

78. “The aim of human life is to know thyself.”

79. “The movement is the fire of life from which we all come. Join it. It is part of you.”

80. “Courage is the key to creativity and to any relinquishing of ego structure.”

81. “Learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerability, open-mindedness, chaotic, confused, vulnerable to inform yourself.”

82. “We live our lives from A-Z, but forget the other 24 letters in between.”

83. “A man without justice is a beast, and a man who would make himself a beast forgets the pain of being a man.”

84. “All suffering is caused by being in the wrong place. If you’re unhappy where you are, move.”

85. “My favorite three words in the English language are, ‘I don’t know,’ because every time I say them, I learn something new.”

86. “Start a new sequence of behavior that reflects your vision.”

87. “When the individual’s behavior and consciousness get hooked to a routine sequence of external actions, he is a dead robot, and it is time for him to die and be reborn.”

88. “Living, dying, and thinking—they’re all team sports.”

89. “The act of the ride is the epitome of ‘be here now,’ and the tube ride is the most acute form of that. Which is, your future is right ahead of you, the past is exploding behind you, your wake is disappearing, your footprints are washed from the sand. It’s a non-productive, non-depletive act that’s done purely for the value of the dance itself. And that is the destiny of man.”

90. “Beware of emotions. Any child can tell you that. Watch out for the emotional person. He is a lurching lunatic.”

91. “Do not trust anyone who comes on emotional.”

92. “Emotions are all based on fear.”

93. “The only state in which we can learn, harmonize, grow, merge, join, understand is the absence of emotion. This is called bliss or ecstasy, attained through centering the emotions.”

94. “Emotions are caused by biochemical secretions in the body to serve during the state of acute emergency.”

95. “Emotional actions are the most contracted, narrowing, dangerous form of behavior.”

96. “The emotional person cannot think and he cannot perform any effective game action except in acts of physical aggression and strength.”

97. “The great kick of the mystic experience, the exultant, ecstatic hit, is the sudden relief from emotional pressure.”

98. “Emotions are addictive and narcotic and stupefacient.”

99. “Did you imagine that there could be emotions in heaven? Emotions are closely tied to ego games. Check your emotions at the door to paradise.”

100. “The romantic poetry and fiction of the last 200 years has quite blinded us to the fact that emotions are an active and harmful form of stupor.”

101. “Conscious love is not an emotion; it is serene merging with yourself, with other people, with other forms of energy. Love cannot exist in an emotional state.”

102. “Secrecy is the original sin. The fig leaf in the Garden of Eden. The basic crime against love.”

103. “Close your eyes and listen. Learn that it’s the oldest message of love and peace and laughter, and trust in God, and don’t worry. Trust in the future, don’t fight, trust in your kids, and don’t worry because it’s all beautiful and right.”

104. “If you listen to neurologists and psychiatrists, you’d never fall in love.”

105. “Whether you experience heaven or hell, remember that it is your mind which creates them.”

106. “You can be anyone this time around.”

107. “We translated the basic Hindu teaching that everything is an illusion into the modern neurological truth that everything is a figment of your own brain.”

108. “Essentially, there’s a universe inside your brain. The number of connections possible inside your brain is limitless. And as people have learned to have more managerial and direct creative access to their brains, they have also developed matrices or networks of people that communicate electronically.”

109. “As a guide and protection, rust your divinity, trust your brain.”

110. “Proper use of the brain is not endorsed by federal governments nor huge corporations involved in serious financial profit from a brainwashed and enslaved population.”

111. “The brain is not a blind, reactive machine, but a complex, sensitive bio-computer that we can program. And if we don’t take the responsibility for programming it, then it will be programmed unwittingly by accident or by the social environment.”

112. “The brain is the key, the brain is the source, the brain is God. Everything that humans do is neuroecology.”

113. “Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.”

114. “The free consciousness has only to hear and remember the teachings in order to be liberated.”

115. “Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their view of reality.”

116. “They should be warned that if you come into this temple, you’re going to face blazing activation of your brain. You’re never going to be the same.”

117. “Any reality is an opinion. We make up our own reality.”

118. “Remember, beyond the restless flowing electricity of life is the ultimate reality.”

119. “Inner reality is certainly more important than the outer reality.”

120. “We cannot study the brain—the instrument for fabricating the realities we inhabit and using the mental constructs of the past.”

121. “You really exist only when you’re in a field sharing and exchanging information. You create the realities you inhabit.”

122. “When you teach someone how to perform creatively, you expand his potential for experiencing more widely and richly.”

123. “There are direct brain or computer link-ups. You can just jack yourself in and pilot your brain around in cyberspace.”

124. “The PC is the LSD of the ’90s.”

125. “The level of intelligence has been tremendously increased, because people are thinking and communicating in terms of screens, and not in lettered books.”

126. “When people criticize the computer generation, the high tech generation, and say they neglect the body—well, just walk through a college campus, and you’ll see the healthiest, most physically conscious, and alert group of human beings I’ve ever met. They’re not nerds at all.”

127. “One cannot evolve from one’s robot hood until one realizes how totally one has been robotized.”

128. “Much of the real action is taking place in what is called cyberspace. People have learned how to boot up, activate, and transmit their brains.”

129. “When our systematic knowledge of human expressive behavior is more advanced, it will be possible to study the literary and historical documents of the past and to determine the expressed and implied views of personality that determined the behavior of our ancestors.”

130. “The role of anxiety in the development of human personality is central, and it is intricate beyond our understanding.”

131. “What human beings consciously wish is often quite at variance with the results their reflex patterns automatically create for them.”

132. “Human beings have a right to change their consciousness and it is unconscionable and absolutely wrong for any government or any person to stand in the way of someone choosing to change their consciousness.”

133. “One cannot understand the rhythms and meanings of the outer world until one has mastered the dialects of the body.”

134. “The general direction of evolution is to produce a serially imprinting, multi-brained creature able to decipher its own program, create the technology to leave the planet and live in post-terrestrial mini-worlds, and decode the aging sectors of the DNA code. Thus, assuring immortality, and act in harmony with stages of evolution to come.”

135. “The fact of the matter is that all apparent forms of matter and body are momentary clusters of energy. We are little more than flickers on a multidimensional television screen. This realization directly experienced can be delightful. You suddenly wake up from the delusion of a separate form and hook up to the cosmic dance. Consciousness slides along the wave matrices, silently at the speed of light.”

136. “Consciousness is altered by physical events and physical objects, which impinge upon my sense organs, or which I introduce into my body.”

137. “That intermediate manifestation of the divine process which we call the DNA code has spent the last two billion years making this planet a Garden of Eden.”

138. “There’s one uneasy borderline between what is external and what is internal, and this borderline is defined exactly by the sense organs and the skin and the introduction of external things within my own body.”

139. “Man’s best friend is his dogma.”

140. “People use the word ‘natural.’ What is natural to me is these botanical species which interact directly with the nervous system.”

141. “Surfers are the ‘throw-aheads’ of mankind, not the dregs. They aren’t the black sheep of humanity, but the futurists that they are leading the way to where the ultimately wants to be.”

142. “Science fictions are suppressed only when likely to contribute more knowledge and freedom than the defensive orthodoxies they challenge.”

143. “The danger of inner discovery is a danger to the establishment.”

144. “Higher has always been the trajectory of intelligent evolution.”

145. “At every level, there are eight stages of intelligence. You have to turn your brain on to the circuits that are used at that level of intelligence. And there are ways to change the human brain to different stages. The things that change your brain are called ‘drugs.’”

146. “We seem to inhabit a universe made up of a small number of elements, particles, or bits that swirl in chaotic clouds, occasionally clustering together in geometrically logical temporary configurations.”

147. “To describe externals, you become a scientist. To describe an experience, you become an artist.”

148. “Science is all metaphor.”

149. “Ritual is to the internal sciences what experiment is to the external sciences.”

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