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Introduction - Mavericks of the Mind

Introduction to Mavericks of the Mind

The term “paradigm shift” was coined by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1961. It was an attempt to describe the changes that occur in the Belief Systems (BS for short) of scientists, concerning how they interpret their data, and how scientific models evolve. Paradigms are the glasses that one sees through which color how and what we see. When they shift, so does the world. Today it’s almost a cliché to speak about new paradigm shifts occurring. Paradigms are shifting kaleidoscopically these days. This makes sense in light of the fact that–according to the latest reports from quantum physicists–we inhabit a universe that is composed of undulating vibrations, oscillating in continuously and infinitely varied rhythms and frequencies. The universe is filled with ambiguity and mystery. It is a shifting cascade of relativistic perspectives, where nothing is really quite solid, and we exist as mostly empty space and waves of possible probabilities. Our beliefs are the brain’s attempt to freeze the flow of matter and energy into fixed states, so we can grasp onto something familiar and tangible in a shifting sea too grand for us to ever fully comprehend.

Paradigms originate from, and exist only within, the framework of the human mind, but they lead to technological progress and social transformation in the material world. In your hands is a collection of in-depth interviews with some of the extraordinary minds from whom these new world views, and ultimately new world and social structures, are emerging. Within these pages we meet with some of the most creative and controversial thinkers on the intellectual frontiers of art and science – the mavericks, those who have stepped outside the boundaries of consensus thought, sometimes risking their careers, always risking ridicule. These are experts from various fields who have seen beyond the normal and traditional view, who are concerned with the problems facing modern day society, and who have traveled beyond the edges of the established horizons to find their answers. In questioning old belief systems these remarkable individuals have gained revolutionary insights into the nature of consciousness, and with intelligence, clarity, and wit they offer some enlightening proposals for the potential future of humanity.

Inside these maverick minds we tiptoe along the fringes of reason, exploring the realms of morphic fields, chaos theory, virtual reality, quantum philosophy, the possibilities of time travel, extraterrestrials, nanotechnology, and out-of-body experiences. We discussed such general themes with them as technology, ecology, God, psychedelics, death, and the future evolution of consciousness. We learned a lot from doing these interviews, but most importantly we got a very strong sense of optimism and hope from these people. In a world infested with pessimism, fear, and doubt, these individuals offer fresh perspectives and possibilities. Taken together, common underlying holistic themes emerge in these interviews of new world views that are at once analytical and intuitive, compassionate and wise, practical and imaginative in their perspectives.

“Inspiration,” Allen Ginsberg told us? “means to breath in.” The original inspiration for this book partly grew out of our desire to meet with people whose writing had had a great impact on us. Wild late-night philosophical discussions that Rebecca McClen Novick and I had on the nature of reality and exploration of consciousness provided the alchemical ignition that got the fire burning. Why not, we thought in a grandiose moment of audacious innocent inspiration, seek out some of the most brilliant brains and illuminated luminaries around, and see what they have to say on the subject. We wanted to somehow tie them all together, into a larger, grander, more comprehensive view.

We figured that as a man/woman team we could interview these people from a more holistic perspective than any single person. It was very interesting that when Rebecca and I would collaborate on questions, we would usually brainstorm separately, then share ideas and mutually arrange the sequence of the questions later. Almost every time we both thought that we had covered the spectrum of important points ourselves, and we were astonished to discover that we had relatively unique lists of questions with suprisingly very little overlap. This demonstrated to us the biases of our own perspectives, and could be suggestive of the inherent difference in how male and female brains differ in their thinking.

Our central source of fascination was the timeless mystery of consciousness. It is our very sense of self–the most mysterious and mundane aspect of existence, the most essential part of us–and yet we don’t know what it is, where it comes from, or where it’s going. It is all around us in many forms, and yet when we try to define it–that is, to draw a boundary around it and distinguish it from the rest of the universe–it suddenly becomes extremely elusive. Alan Watts told us that the paradox that we experience when trying to understand consciousness is like an eyeball trying to see itself (without a mirror), or teeth trying to bite themselves. We are our own blind spots.

How does consciousness arise? Can consciousness leave the body? Is it limited to human brains, or does it exist elsewhere in other forms? What is consciousness made of! What changes it? How and why? What happens to consciousness after physical death? What do quantum physics, chaos theory, sociobiology, neurophysiology, and morphic field resonance suggest to us about the nature and potentials of consciousness? Where are we when we’re lucid dreaming? Do intelligent extraterrestrials exist? What is consciousness evolving into? How does the world change when consciousness changes? These are some of the questions we–with the help of some extremely gifted thinkers–try to take on in this ambitious book.

One thing for sure about consciousness is that–like matter and energy, time and space-it changes, flows, and there are varying degrees of it. Some people, neurobiologists for the most part, think consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, which evolved over a 4.5-billion-year evolutionary struggle 4 to survive and reproduce. Others, dubbed mystical (or kooks) by the former, think consciousness creates the brain. Chicken or egg? Mind in body? Or body in mind? Some think consciousness is the brain. Behavioral psychologists, such as B.F. Skinner, have claimed that consciousness does not even exist, while others, Zen Buddhists for example, say that consciousness is all that exists.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fascinating models for consciousness have sprung out of the human mind. Numerous esoteric mystical disciplines claim to have used techniques to alter and heighten consciousness since the beginning of written history. Lao-Tzu reminded us that it all comes from and flows back into the great Tao. Buddha contributed one of the first maps of human psychology, and some of the most enduring methods for changing brain states. Aristotle believed that consciousness was not constrained by physical processes. Descartes divided the mind from the divine. Darwin gave us the evolutionary perspective, and the mechanism of natural selection.

Wundt tried to make the study of consciousness a science through disciplined introspective techniques. Pavlov taught us about the roles of excitation, inhibition, and associative learning in the nervous system. Konrad Lorenz revealed the biological secrets of neural imprinting. Freud pointed out that part of us is conscious, most of us is unconscious. Jung went further claiming that all of the human species share a common rneta-cultural collective unconscious, full of genetic dreams, myths, and legendary archetypes. Does this imply the potential for a collective consciousness? Is the process of development and evolution one in which the unconscious is being made more conscious?

From William James we learned that consciousness is not a thing, but a process, and that there is a vast multitude of mostly uncharted, potential conscious states. Aleister Crowley integrated many of the esoteric mystical traditions of previous centuries with the scientific method, wedding them into a single system. Albert Hofmann discovered the explosive psychoactive effects of LSD in 1943, vastly multiplying the questions of spirit and matter. Neuroscientists, such as Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, are discovering that the brain is actually composed of many submodules, each like a miniature brain in itself, making each of us a multitude of potential personalities. Where these people leave off is where this book begins.

Charles Tart, a psychologist at UC Davis, has pointed out that the ways in which scientists theorize about the complex interplay between the brain and consciousness is highly flavored by the prevailing technology of a particular time in history. For instance, in the beginning of the century Freud built his model of consciousness in accordance with the technology that was popular in his day – the technology of the steam engine and the science of hydraulics. We can see this clearly in many of his concepts. There is reference to the idea of how drives build up pressure, which needs to be released, and how fluid-like energies such as the libido need to flow. The symbolic release of libidinal tension in a dream then, is seen as functioning like a safety valve for libidinal build-up-so the system doesn’t explode–like the safety valve on the boiler of a steam engine. The safety valve is there so if the pressure reaches a certain threshold, it just bleeds steam off in a

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Preface - Mavericks of the Mind

The four “isms” of the apocalypse: chauvinism, sexism, racism and fundamentalism are riding roughshod over the gardens of civilization. When we take a long look around at the effects of the modern world, it’s not a pretty sight. Blackened stumps of ancient forests smolder in the mid-day sun, young children stare from (and at) television sets, stunned with hunger and lack of love; torture and cruelty are the trademark of governments throughout the world; and wars are raging all over the face of our planet. For all the shimmering beauty of life, for all the exquisite potential waiting in the wings, when we take a long look around, we find ourselves none too sure about the future of our species, or for that matter, of any other. Perhaps we should be bidding our farewells to DNA, thanking it for having us and apologizing for being such sloppy guests. Or perhaps we should act “as if’ there is going to be a future, because the alternative leads down an ever-darkening path to humorlessness, apathy, and despair.

So, if we believe there is hope for our future, we must then get a grip on what it is that’s wrong with our present. At first thought this seems pretty obvious-our senses tell us so. You can see that the lower skyline of Los Angeles looks like the rim of a toilet bowl, you can hear the stories of battered women, you can touch the swollen stomach of a starving Somalian child, you can smell the choking fumes of Saddam Hussein’s mustard gas and you can taste the fruits of our labors with that nasty after-tang of malathion.

To attempt to exorcise these problems externally, without exorcising the mytho-scientific perspective which creates them, ensures that we will gain only temporary relief. A friend of mine defined insanity as repeating the same actions over and over again while remaining convinced things will turn out differently. The human species is in danger of being committed. What we need is a fundamental change of heart and mind, to shift the gears of our consciousness, and escape the temporal gridlock which has formed in the collective psyche.

Why take responsibility for our actions when we know that God is separate from us, directing our destiny? Why treat the ecosystem with respect, when we know that the universe is a machine? Why help one another when we know that competition is the key to success? Why express our sexuality when we know that it is something to be ashamed of! For all their genius, Descartes, Newton, Darwin and Freud had only part of the equation. We need to move on.

Yet it is not in order to overthrow the existing governing belief systems, but to reform them, that the people in this book speak out. Their concern is the promotion of evolution rather than revolution. They have built upon the established foundations of knowledge but have each added a story of their own, connected by the spiral staircase of integrity, wisdom and compassion. The men and women in this book are not afraid of change. They have questioned the stone-carved rules, which have been handed down to us from the summits of orthodoxy and in choosing to climb the mountain for themselves they have come up an alternative set of revelations which begin, not with, “Thou Shalt,” but with “Why Not?”

We are the protagonists and the authors of our own drama. It is up to us; there is no one left to blame. Neither the “system,” nor our leaders, nor our parents. We can’t go out and hang the first amoebae. Upon these pages are some alternative responses to those of despair and disillusionment in the face of our global crises. The purpose of this collection is not to convince you of any particular point of view, but to encourage a deeper exploration into the universe of your own mind, and the discovery of your own innate truths. Use what works, discard what doesn’t and above all enjoy the show!

Rebecca McClen Novick

Acknowledgement - Mavericks of the Mind

Mavericks of the Mind - print edition

An important lesson that we learned from doing this book is that cooperation, patience, tolerance, and communication are the keys to solving most of the world’s problems. We really worked as a team to put this book together, and it was a balancing act that required much delicate coordination. It took about four years to complete, and although there was a great deal of work involved we did have a lot of fun. The collaboration of many others made it possible. We would like to extend special thanks to Carolyn Kleefeld and Nina Graboi who both helped tremendously in arranging many of the interviews. We would also like to thank our favorite magazine editor Judy McGuire at High Times for her support, and Jeanne St. Peter, who helped conduct the interview with Oscar Janiger while Rebecca was in England.

In addition, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to Gabrielle Alberici, Randy Baker, Bob Banner, Debra Berger, Steven Brown, Allyn Brodsky, Brummbaer, Linda Capetillo-Cunliffe, Barbara Clarke-Lilly, Robin Christianson-Day, Elizabeth Gips, Deborah Harlow, Betsy Herbert, Larry Hughes, Dan Joy, Jeff Labno, Lisa LyonLilly, Joe & Nina Matheny, Ronny Novick, Andrew Shachat, Douglas Trainer, Silvia Utiger, Victoria Vaughn, Nur Wesley, Arlen Wilson, and wonderful friends too numerous to mention, for their contributions and support during the development of this project. We would also like to express our deepest appreciation to all the people we interviewed for their invaluable time and energy.

Stephen La Berge

Waking the Dreamer

“In the lucid dream you look around and realize that the whole world… is all something that your mind is creating.”

with Stephen La Berge

Stephen LaBerge is the first scientist to empirically prove the existence of the phenomena of lucid dreaming. His work has developed this technique into a powerful tool for studying mind-body relationships in the dream state and he has demonstrated the considerable potential for lucid dreaming in the fields of psychotherapy and psychosomatic medicine. His book on the subject, Lucid Dreaming, Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming and his more academic Conscious Mind, Sleeping Brainhave received enormous popular interest

Born in 1947, he obtained a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Arizona. At the age of 19 he began graduate studies in chemistry at Stanford University, but in 1968 took a leave of absence to pursue his research interest in psychopharmacology. In 1977 he returned to Stanford to begin studies on dreaming, consciousness and sleep, and received his Ph.D. in Psychophysiology from Stanford’s Graduate Special Program in 1980.

He has taught courses on sleep and dreaming, psychobiology and altered states of consciousness at Stanford University, the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and San Francisco State University. Currently, Stephen is a Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, and Director of Research at the Lucidity Institute; a center he founded to further explore the potential of lucid dreaming. Here he is developing user-friendly technologies such as the DreamLight® to help people to learn the art of lucid dreaming and disseminating information on the conscious dream-state through a quarterly newsletter.

Stephen ‘s energy and enthusiasm for his work is highly contagious and he has a way of dissecting information so as to always speak to the heart of the matter. His large eyes and animated features reveal an impish, child-like spirit and at the same time, an extremely sharp and analytical mind.

This interview began at the Lucidity Institute on July 8, 1992, and was completed on the evening of the same day, in the impressive grounds of Stanford University. In the evening after-sunset glow, Stephen addressed the questions of why we sleep, where we really are when we think we ‘re out of our body, and the spiritual implications of taking responsibility for our dreams.



(The following is a somewhat longer version than the one printed in the book.)

DJB: What was it that originally inspired your interest in lucid dreaming?

Stephen: I had been interested in lucid dreaming, in a way, since my childhood experience. When I was five years old they had these adventure serials and I would go to the matinees. I had the idea, after a particularly fun dream where I was an undersea pirate, wouldn’t it be fun to go back to that same dream and continue it as in the serial? Nobody told me you couldn’t do that sort of thing, so that night I was back in the same dream, and I remember doing that for weeks. I would have the experience of seeing the surface of the ocean far above me and thinking, I can’t hold my breath this long! Then I’d think, but in these dreams I can breathe dream-water. (child-like laughter) That was all, at that point, that I made of the lucidity, in the sense that I knew it was a dream and that I could have fun in it. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I became interested in the mind. At that point I was interested in the natural world and assumed I was going to become a chemist or something like that, and when I came to Stanford in 1967 I was a graduate student in chemical physics. Being in the Bay Area in those days, you can imagine what kinds of things I got interested in (sly laughter) which told me that there was a world inside that was of as much interest as the world out there. I took a workshop from Tarthang Tulku, a Tibetan Buddhist, at Esalen and I was surprised at the topic of the workshop, which was essentially asking us to maintain consciousness throughout the twenty-four hours. Tarthang’s English was limited at the time, he’d just arrived from India, and he would repeatedly say nothing more than, “This dream!” and laugh. He was trying to get us to think of our current experience as a dream and to see what it had in common with the nocturnal experiences and the day experiences. After focusing my mind in that way over the course of this weekend, I noticed on my way back to San Francisco, that I felt high. I associated it with the exercise and the expansion of awareness that came from thinking of my waking experiences as a dream and trying to maintain a continuity. A few nights after I came back from the workshop at Esalen, I had the first lucid dream I could remember since my childhood. I was climbing K2 dressed in short sleeves, going up the mountain through the snow drifts. I had the thought, look how I’m dressed, how could I be doing this? It’s because this is a dream. And at that point in my youthful folly, I decided to fly off the mountain and dream big. Personally, sitting here now, I would like to see what it’s like to climb to the top of the second highest mountain in the world. So that piqued my interest in the topic of lucid dreaming and it gradually developed over the next five years and along the way I had an experience that convinced me that developing lucid dream- ing could be something of great value to me. I had a dream in which I was going up a mountain path, and had been hiking for miles and miles. I came to a very narrow bridge across an immensely deep chasm, and looking down I was afraid to go across the bridge. My companion said, “Oh you don’t have to go that way, you can go back the way you came,” and he points back an immense distance to the long way around. And somehow that just seemed the hard way of doing this, and I had the thought, if I were to become lucid, I would have no fear in crossing that bridge. Then I sort of noticed the thought, became lucid and crossed the bridge to the other side. When I woke up I thought about the meaning of that and saw that it had an application to life in general. Life is, in a sense, a kind of bridge, and what causes us to lose our balance is fear of the unknown, death, the meaninglessness around us, whatever it might be. Yet if we maintain the right awareness and context, it is possible to cross the bridge. About that same time I decided that I’d finished my seven years in search of the Holy Grail in hippydom and that I should get back to being a scientist. It occurred to me that lucid dreaming could be a dissertation project and that it could be scientifically researched. The experts at the time said it was impossible but I had thought of a way which it could be proven that it was possible.

RMN: Tell us about the experiment you did with Lynn Nagel, which first empirically proved that lucid dreaming existed.

Stephen: Lynn Nagel was a research associate at Stanford in the sleep center when I had the idea of doing something with lucid dreaming. Without Lynn, it might never have happened. He helped me set it up, and taught me how to do sleep recordings. In our first studies Lynn stayed up all night while I slept as the subject. The basic idea of proving lucid dreaming was a simple one. It was based on earlier studies that showed that, if a person in their dream happened to be watching a ping-pong game and they’re looking from left to right, the eyes of their sleeping body would show a corresponding pattern of eye-movement activity. So I had thought that, since in a lucid dream I can volitionally do whatever I want, why not make a signal that we could agree upon in advance; a pattern of eye-movement signals that could then be used to prove that I had a lucid dream and that I

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Allen Ginsberg

Politics, Poetry and Inspiration

“Language joiins heaven and earth and joins the mind and the body.”

with Allen Ginsberg


Alien Ginsberg’s poem “Howl, ” published in 1956, caused such a controversy that it was the subject of an obscenity trial. Having received the court ‘s “approval, ” it went on to become one of the most widely read and translated poems of the century. He is an extraordinarily prolific artist, having had over forty books published and eleven albums produced.

Alien’s friendship and literary experimentation with Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs began in 1945, and a decade later as this core group expanded to include other poets and writers, it came to be known as the “Beat Generation. ” He has received numerous honors, including the National Book Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, National Arts Club Medal, 1986 Struga Festival Golden Wreath, and the Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins Medal of Honor for Literary Excellence 1 989.

A potent figure in the cultural revolution of the sixties, he has been arrested with Dr. Benjamin Spock for blocking the Whitehall Draft Board steps, has testified at the U.S. Senate hearings for the legalization of psychedelics and been teargassed for chanting “Om” at the Lincoln Park Yippie Life Festival at the 1968 Presidential convention in Chicago.

His Collected Poems 1947-1980, were published in 1984 with White Shroud and the 30th Anniversary Howl annotated issue in 1 986. Several books of his photographs and a recordlCD of his poetry-jazz album, The Lion for Real, appeared in 1989. He is a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and is a Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College and a member of the Executive Board of PEN American Center. A practicing Buddhist, Alien cofounded Naropa Institute’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado.

We talked with Allen at the house of his cousin, Oscar Janiger, in Santa Monica. He presents a very dignified and unassuming figure, his non-conforming and wildly creative persona loosely disguised in a professorial suit and tie. We asked Allen about his relationship with Burroughs and Kerouac, his thoughts on madness and creativity, and the nature of politics and revolution. This interview took place on April 23, 1992, six days before the Los Angeles uprising.



DJB: What was is that originally inspired you to start writing poetry?

Allen: It’s a family business. My father was a poet, his Collected Poems were posthumously published - they just came out recently, in fact, from the Northern Lights Press in Maine. My father was in the 1930-50 Untermeyer anthologies, a standard poet of that genre, lyric poetry, that included Eleanor Wiley and Lisette Woodsworth Reece.

DJB: Was it something that you always knew you were going to do?

Allen: No, but I always wrote poetry; since I was a kid I knew poetry. My father taught high school and college, so I knew a lot of Milton, Poe, Shelley and Blake when I was five, six, seven years old. And I memorized it, or it just sort of stuck in my head. I started writing when I was maybe fifteen, or younger, but I never thought of myself as a poet. I just thought that it was something you did on the side, like my father had done. But then, when I met Jack Kerouac at the age of seventeen, I realized that he was the first person I had met who saw being a writer as a sacramental vocation. Rather than being a sailor who wrote, he was a writer who also went out on ships. That changed my attitude towards writing, because now I saw it as a sacred vocation.

DJB: How did you mother’s struggle with mental illness affect your development?

Allen: I’ve written a great deal about that in the poem “Kaddish,”

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Laura Huxley

Bridging Heaven and Earth

“When the body/mind has been attended to, then, as a flower free of weeds, the Higher Self will naturally emerge…”

with Laura Huxley


Laura Archera Huxley has received wide recognition for her humanistic achievements including that of Honorary Doctor of Human Sewices from Sierra University, Honoree of the United Nations, Fellow of the International Academy of Medical Preventics, and Honoree of the World Health Foundation for Development and Peace from which she received the Peace Prize in 1990.

Born November 2, 1911, in Turin, Italy, she expressed a great talent for music and went on to become a concert violinist. She played all over Europe but her American debut was at Carnegie Hall, just before World War II. She played in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra from 1 944 until 1947 and then went on to produce documentary Films and become an editor at RKO. During the fifties Laura worked as a psychological counselor, a lecturer, and a seminarist of the Human Potential Movement, in which she is still involved today. She is the founder of Our Ultimate Investment, a non-profit organitation for the nurturing of the possible human.

In 1956 she married the renowned writer and philosopher, Aldous Huxley, and lived with him until his death in 1963. She has written a number of books which focus on the development of psychological freedom: You Are Not the Target, Between Heaven and Earth, OneADayReason to Be Happy and The Child of Your Dreams which she wrote with Dr. Piero Ferrucci. She is also the author of This Timeless Moment, a book describing the life she led with her husband and a beautifully touching tribute to his genius.

We met with Laura on April 8th 1 992 in her lovely, chapel-like home in the Hollywood Hills. Her easy smile and bright-as-button eyes spoke of a serenely playful spirit. Together with her gracefuI posture, they revealed that after eighty years of life she has succumbed neither to emotional nor Newtonian gravity.



DJB: What originally inspired your interest in mysticism, personal growth, and spiritual development?

LAURA I don’t know that there was one moment that it happened. It was just a natural development. You can call it whatever you want to-the creative forces, an inspiration. But all my life, and now at this very moment, I have wanted to go farther. It is so clear that there is so much more. This immensity, this beauty, this mystery all around us-and we perceive such an infinitesimal part of it. I guess it is greed to want to be more than a limited being with a limited body-mind. But you feel that the potential is so much greater than what you have actualized, and then something happens showing that you can go farther. That is a wonderful aspect of life.

DJB: So you see it as a natural extension of your own development?

LAURA Yes. When you feel the immensity of the possible, naturally you are interested in plunging into it. When you feel good, you plunge deeper. However, at my age-I am eighty-I often am exhausted. Then I have to stay quietly-I have no choice. And then again something new happens. It may be something distressing and I just have to deal with it however I can. Or something wonderful happens, giving me again the overwhelming apprehension of life’s renaissance forever, even when death may be around the corner.

RMN: How did your interest in psychotherapy develop?

LAURA In 1949 Ginny Pfeiffer, my best friend, was diagnosed as a terminal cancer case. The Mayo Clinic declared with total certainty that there was no possibility for her to get well. Death would come in six months, or if a miracle would happen, in two years. It was a shock. It plunged me into all kinds of exploration. Until then, my life had first been devoted to the violin, totally. After that, I had started to work in films. I had never studied medicine, psychology, nutrition or healing. Actually, I had left school at fourteen so I could concentrate my energy on practicing and concertizing.

The doctors of the Mayo Clinic kept telling me, “Miss Archera, you must face reality. Your friend is going to die in about six months.” I just could not accept what the authorities

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Nina Graboi

Stepping into the Future

“I think of my body as my spacesuit which I will discard once it has grown threadbare-but I will go on.”

with Nina Graboi

Nina Graboi has had a remarkable life which covers over seven decades of some of the most transformative years in human history. Born in Vienna, Austria in 1918, she fled the Nazi takeover of her country and spent three months in a detention camp in North Africa. Through a mixture of ingenuity and good fortune she managed to escape and came to America with her husband in 1941.

Arriving as a penniless refugee, she went on to become a society hostess in an exclusive Long Island community. At the age of 36 she was living what most people considered the epitome of the American Dream, yet Nina felt a great void in her life. In search of this missing link, she plunged into the study of esoteric subjects and became an avid practitioner of meditation. When she was 47 she left her husband and became deeply involved in the counter-culture of the sixties.

Nina had her first psychedelic experience in the company of Alan Watts and she frequently spent time at the famed Millbrook estate where a group had gathered around Timothy Leary to study the mind-expanding effects of LSD. She was the Director of the New York Center of the League for Spiritual Discovery , a nonprofit organization which operated to help and educate people engaged in exploring the potential of psychedelic consciousness.

In 1969 she opened a boutique in Woodstock and lived there for the next ten years. Her recently published autobiography, One Foot in the Future, chronicles her remarkable spiritual journey and has been described by Terence McKenna as “an extraordinary tale of humor and hope. ” Today, Nina lives in Santa Cruz and gives talks on the relationship between the psychedelic experience and the spiritual quest. She is a frequent radio talk-show guest and is the subject of a television documentary entitled, Voices of Vision.

We interviewed Nina on January 12, 1992, on a rainy day at Two Bat Ranch, in Malibu. Her face dramatically contradicts her 72 years and she presents the demeanor ofa woman who is in the spiritual prime of her life. Nina talked with a gracious calm in the warming glow of a log fire, about the politics of sexuality, the use of psychedelics and the future of the human race.



RMN: Nina, in the fifties, when you were living in Long Island, you had what most people would consider the pillars of success-wealth, social status, a loving family-and yet you gave it all up. Why?

NINA: When I was the woman who had everything, I realized that everything is nothing. I had been busily pursuing the American Dream, and when I had it, it tasted like ashes. I was raised in an atmosphere where success was the goal and only superstitious peasants believed in anything beyond the physical. But unless I could discover that there is more to it than being born, getting married, having children and scrambling up the ladder of success, life lost all meaning for me at that time. I felt a yearning for more so profound that I was ready to die if I could not find it. That was in 1956. There were others who searched as I did, but I did not know them. I was very alone. Books were my only source of information, and for the next twelve years I read my way through psychology, psychic research, philosophy and comparative religions. This brought me to Buddhism and Hinduism, and I felt I’d come home.

RMN: You were divorced at a time when far fewer couples than today split up. Didn’t that take a lot of courage?

NINA: It wasn’t a sudden decision, you know. My children were both in college, and I had planned for a long time to end my marriage once the kids were on their own. But yes, it took a lot of courage to end a marriage of twenty-seven years in those days. Aside from the emotional toll, I had no legal rights because I was the party who wanted the divorce. Feminism was still a long way off, and the fact that I’d helped build the business, raised the children, and taken care of the home, counted for nothing. As I had no marketable skills, my financial future could not have been more bleak. It took courage, but it was the only thing I could do if I wanted to continue to grow.

DJB: What kind of life did you move into?

NINA: I moved from a fourteen-room house to a one-room studio in Manhattan. I was heading The N.Y. Center for The League of Spiritual Discovery at the time -a labor of love that paid nothing, but was as rewarding as it

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John C. Lilly

From here to Alternity and Beyond

“The explanatory principle will save you from the fear of the unknown. I prefer the unknown…”

with John C. Lilly

How does one briefly describe a man as complex as John Lilly? Whole books barely provide an overview of this man’s extraordinary existence, amazing accomplishments, and contributions to the world. His list of scientific achievements covers a full page In Who’s Who in America. John C. Lilly, M.D. is perhaps best known as the man behind the fictional scientists dramatized in the films Altered states and The Day of the Dolphin. He pioneered the original neuroscientific work In electrical brain stimulation, mapping out the pleasure and pain pathways in the brain. He frontiered work in inter-species communication research with dolphins and whales. He invented the isolation tank and did significant research in the area of sensory deprivation.

Educated at CalTech, Dartmouth Medical School, and the University of Pennsylvania, he did a large part of his scientific research at the National Institute of Mental Health and built his own dolphin-communication research lab in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. After experimenting with LSD in the sensory deprivation flotation tank, he left the academic world in pursuit of ever higher states of consciousness. From the Esalen Institute to Chile to ketamine-induced extraterrestrial contacts in other realities, this man’s life is more far-out than any science fiction. Always following the scientific tradition that carved his name into history, John Lilly systematically and courageously explored the states of consciousness produced by LSD and ketamine while in the isolation tank. His autobiographies The Center of the Cyclone, The Dyadic Cyclone (with Toni Lilly), and The Scientist, provide mind-boggling overviews of his amazing adventure of a life. His philosophy on how to reprogram one’s own brain is best summarized in Programming and Metaprogramming the Human Biocomputer, and Simulations of God.

Rebecca McClen and I interviewed John at his house in Malibu on the night of February 16, 1991. It was a magically enchanting evening. John was like a Zen master, with sparkling extraterrestrial eyes, in top form, more brilliant than ever at 76, laughing, creating and bursting realities like soap bubbles. John is very direct and ruthlessly compassionate, more knowledgeable than a library of encyclopedias yet as innocent and curious as a small child. The interview lasted over four hours. John spoke enthusiastically to us about how his early scientific research influenced his latter explorations in consciousness, from dolphins to extraterrestrials. He spoke to us about the distinction between insanity and outsanity, and about ECCO- the Earth Coincidence Control Office. We discussed and shared our ketamine experiences together. He discussed his ideas about how ketamine makes the brain sensitive to micro-waves, so that it can directly pick up television and radio signals. From electrical brain stimulation to interspecies communication to sensory deprivation to psychedelic exploration, John Lilly is a pure delight to be around




DJB: John, what was it that originally inspired your interest in neuroscience and the nature of reality?

JOHN: At age sixteen, in my prep school, I wrote an article for the school paper called “Reality,” and that laid out the trip for the rest of my life-thought versus brain activity and brain structure. I went to CalTech to study the biological sciences, and there I took my first course in neuroanatomy. Later I went on to Dartmouth Medical School where I took another course in neuroanatomy, and at the University of Pennsylvania I studied the brain even further. So I learned more about the brain than I can tell you.

RMN: In what ways do you think your Catholic background influenced your mystical experiences?

JOHN: At Catholic school I learned about tough boys and beautiful girls. I fell in love with Margaret Vance, never told her, though, and it was incredible. I didn’t understand about sex so I visualized exchanging urine with her. My father had one of these exercise machines with a belt worn around your belly or rump and a powerful electric motor to make the belt vibrate. I was on this machine and all the vibration stimulated my erogenous zones. Suddenly my body fell apart and my whole being was enraptured. It was

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Oscar Janiger

Psychiatric Alchemy

“I get more from wht great minds have written about human behavior, than any psychiatric text.”

with Oscar Janiger


Oscar Janiger was born on February 8, 1918, in New York City. He received his MA. in cell physiology from Columbia, and his M.D. from the UC Irvine School of Medicine, where he served on the faculty in their Psychiatry Department for over twenty years. His research interests have been wide, and he describes himself as a “tinkerer. ” He established the relationship between hormonal cycling and pre-menstrual depression in women, and he discovered blood proteins that are specific to male homosexuality. His studies of the Huichol Indians in Mexico revealed that centuries of peyote use do not cause any type of chromosomal damage. He is perhaps best known for establishing the relationship between LSD and creativity in a study of hundreds of artists. In addition to his research interests he has also maintained a long-standing private psychiatric practice, which he continues to this day.

Back in the late fifties and early sixties when LSD was still legal, Oscar incorporated LSD into some of his therapy, and is responsible for “turning on ” many well-known literary figures and Hollywood celebrities, including Anais Nin and Cary Grant. More recently Oscar has been involved in studying dolphins in their natural environment, and is the founder of the Albert Hofman Foundation-an organization whose purpose is to establish a library and world information center dedicated to the scientific study of human consciousness. He has also just completed a book entitled A Different Kind of Healing, about how doctors treat themselves. Jeanne St. Peter and I interviewed Oscar in the living room of his home in Santa Monica on January 3, 1990. Surrounding virtually every wall in his house is the largest and most interesting library I’ve ever encountered. Oscar spoke to us about his scientific research, creativity and psychopathology, the problems he sees with psychiatry, and his discovery of the psycho-active effects of isolated DMT. Oscar is an extremely warm, highly energetic man. There is a deep sincerity to his manner. He chuckles a lot, and one feels instantly comfortable around him.



DJB: Could you begin by telling us what it was that originally inspired your interest in psychiatry and the exploration of consciousness?

OSCAR: I was about seven years old and I was living on a farm in upstate New York. The nearest neighbor was a mile away. I would go for a walk, visit them, play, and then come home in the evening. This was a wild kind of country setting, and I had to get home before dark. Some evenings I would be coming home and the scene around me on the path was filled with menacing figures; pirates and all kinds of cut-throats ready to grab me and do me in. There was a place I called the sunken mine, where people had supposedly drowned and there was a frayed rope hanging from a tree. All of these menacing things gave the evening a very sinister cast, and I’d finally run to get home. Certain evenings I’d make the trip, and everything was just light and airy. Things around me were filled with joy and pleasure. The birds were singing, rabbits, squirrels and other animals were having a wonderful Disneyland time. So one day I was thinking, My God, that’s a magic road! One time it’s this way, another time it’s that way. So I puzzled over that. I finally came to the conclusion that, if it wasn’t a magic road, then I was doing something to these surround- ings and if I was doing it then I could change it. So the next time I came back from my neighbour’s place, and everything got murky, strange and sinister, I said, “No! If I’m doing this then bring back the rabbits, bring back the squirrels, bring back the fairies and let’s lighten this thing up.” Sure enough, it changed. That was the beginning of my interest in consciousness. It was all crystallized into a marvelous saying from the Talmud - “things are not the way they are, they’re the way we are.” From then on, when I’d get into situations, I’d determine what aspect that was within me was being projected outward, and what was a reflection of the world that others can validate along with me. That, of course, has been the theme of my work in therapy and as a scientist. The important distinctions regarding projection are among the fundamental things that one has to

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Colin Wilson

Outside the Outsider

“…we possess all kinds of unknown powers, and the science of the future will be an exploration of these powers.”

with Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson was born in Leicester, England, in 1931, the son of a boot and shoe worker. He left school at the age of sixteen, spent some time working in taxes and the Royal Air Force, then became a tramp and did various laboring jobs for several years while writing his first novel Ritual in the Dark and then his first book The Outsider. Living on almost no money, he would sleep outside at night in London, and spend his days writing in the British Museum. After his first book became a best-seller in 1956, he took to writing full-time and moved to Cornwall, where he lives to this day. In the mid-1960s, he was commissioned to write a book about the “paranormal, ” became fascinated by the subject, and has written a number of hooks on paranormal phenomena. He has also written several works on criminology, psychology, and numerous novels with science fiction and fantasy themes.

Colin is incredibly prolific, and has produced over sixty books to date. Some of his well-known titles include The Occult, Mysteries, The Mind Parasites, and The Philosopher’s Stone. His favorite recreation is listening to music and at his home he has a large collection of opera recordings. Except for occasional lecturing trips abroad he lives near Mevagissey in Cornwall with his wife and two sons. I interviewed Colin, while Rebecca was abroad, outside the cafeteria at the Esalen Institute on the afternoon of September 16, 1990. There is a laser-beam-like intensity to Colin, and he has an extremely focused and well-disciplined mind. Colin spoke eloquently about his interest in the paranormal, the relationship between sex and creativity, certainty and ambiguity, life after death, and the new emerging species that he believes is evolving out of humanity.


DJB: Colin, what was it that originally inspired your interest in the occult and the paranormal?

COLIN: I was simply asked to write a book about the paranormal by a publisher in 1968. At first I was not very interested, although I’d always been mildly interested in the occult. I would buy books in American airports about ghosts, weird coincidences, or whatever. Never the less I took it on as rather a lighthearted thing, and I would not have been the least upset to discover that the whole thing was just a tissue of nonsense and wishful thinking.

However, when I had agreed to write the book for the sake of money, and I

began to go into the subject, I became increasingly fascinated as I saw that there’s as much evidence for the paranormal as there is for atoms and electrons. Moreover, what excited me so much was that my work had all been about this recognition that we possess powers that we do not normally know about or use. This appeared to be the perfect example of all kinds of powers we don’t know about or use. So that it was a direct extension of my work in The Outsider, as it were. I stumbled upon it at just the right moment.

DJB: Aha, or it stumbled upon you. Why do you think that magic is the science of the future?

COLIN: In a way this supplements the last question that you asked. Because what I was saying is that we possess all kinds of unknown powers, and the science of the future will be an exploration of these powers. But at the present science does not accept the unknown powers, and it’s still putting up a terrific struggle against the paranormal. You know this Society for the Investigation of the Claims of the Paranormal, and so on. It seems to me that this is old-fashioned science, of the most narrow and materialistic kind. You have just got to be tolerant, and open up to this other possibility of unknown powers, which at the moment, we do not fully recognize.

DJB: I believe that you have said that if your first book made millions, you may have stopped writing at that point, implying that a lack of money motivated you to write more. Now I have always thought just the opposite-that a lack of financial freedom actually inhibits many people from creative expression. Are you saying then that it was money that motivated you to write your first book, and if not, what was it?

COLIN: Oh no, of course not. The first book, in any case, The Outsider, was written simply out of this compulsion that I have been speaking about all weekend.

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