Timothy Leary’s Philosophy, Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

According to some, Timothy Leary was the high priest of LSD, and his assertions about chaos being the natural state of the human brain are not far off, especially given new discoveries in Quantum Physics and our modern understanding of the unreliability of matter.

Leary saw the human brain as a massive neurological  computer. The human brain contains 100 billion neurons with each neuron having around 10,000 connections with other neurons.

Leary said;

Within our foreheads, there is a chaos, inside our brains a galaxy of information …

Such gigantic numbers are hard for the human mind to grasp.  Leary compared the human-mind-computer to outer space, with its multitude of galaxies and star systems.  He considered the human brain to be as chaotic and incomprehensible  as outer space, the magnitude of which is certainly beyond full human understanding.

In his lifetime Leary was imprisoned multiple times for his advocacy of illegal psychedelic drugs.  Leary claimed that he wasn’t an advocate of psychedelic drugs any more than he was of nuclear fusion, which exists as a useful tool for humankind.  As a psychologist, his contention was that psychedelics (used wisely) can act as a tool to liberate human consciousness, and free us from a rigid dependency on ‘order’.

Throughout his life Timothy Leary argued that human beings are afraid of the natural chaos that exists within all life, and beleived that we purposely limit our experience with an over dependence on order, and on rules.  In order to reprogramme (or restructure) our brains towards greater conscious awareness, it was necessary first to break down the unconscious limitations set up in our minds.  This meant tearing down the rigid rule-based systems that block our understanding.

On the question of religion and politics Timothy Leary was unequivocal. Throughout his life he was against authoritarian systems.  Leary advocated finding a personal religion based on a personal understanding of events.  The safety valve to cultish-type behaviour was the idea that one must never blindly follow another’s perception or ideology, but work it out for oneself.   He was against religious orders of any kind.

Accused of misguiding the young and of fostering a dangerous drug culture, Leary claimed that his motivation instead was to teach people how to operate their brains.  In this sense, LSD was an instrument to achieve greater knowledge and understanding of the human mind, not a substance to be used for recreational purposes alone.

At Millbrook, the experimental ‘college’ set up by Leary in the late 1960’s to explore the realms of LSD, his aim was to teach people how to “surf the waves of chaos” and to “learn how to redesign your own realities”.

With his mantra of  “question authority, think for yourself,” Timothy Leary fell foul of Nixon and the establishment in the 1960’s.  He was quoted by Nixon as being the “most dangerous man in America.”

In the 1980’s Leary coined the phrase, “power to the pupil.” He understood how the focus of one’s vision affects one’s reality, and in our hyper-televised age, his concern was that human beings are stupefied and brainwashed by manipulative media imagery.

Leary’s invocation to question authority and to find one’s own religion was not without precedent.  In the time of the ancient Greeks, Socrates called upon his pupils to think rationally, to free themselves from the shackles of religion, and to reject the notion that their lives were ruled by Gods.

Tim Leary

 

 

 

 

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