One of the more controversial topics in the world of self-actualization is the use of psychedelics. So do you need a psychedelic experience to begin overcoming the self? No, but it can certainly help.

The psychedelic experience’s reputation has become a bit tarnished over the years in no small part due to their irresponsible overuse. However, psychedelics have been used throughout human history to great effect in lessening the effects of ego and gaining a new perspective in ways that few other methods are able to boast. Misuse has caused psychedelics to become discredited and caricatured, which is unfortunate as these can be important tools for many people.

While psychedelics are certainly not for everyone they can be a powerful tool for self-actualization when used properly. This includes careful study of both the theory and the practice of psychedelics.

Below are a number of quotes from some of the leading lights of psychedelic research and mysticism. The point is less to “sell” you on the notion that a psychedelic experience is necessary and more to frame the experience in the proper context. Psychedelics are for obtaining insights into the self. They are not for “partying.” They can more properly be thought of as belonging to the same class as meditation or yoga than narcotics.

Quotes About Psychedelics

“If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen.”

– Alan Watts


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“Psychedelics, used responsibly and with proper caution, would be for psychiatry what the microscope is for biology and medicine or the telescope is for astronomy.”

– Stanislav Grof


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

– John Lennon

Terence McKenna quote on psychedelics

“When we look within ourselves with psilocybin, we discover that we do not have to look outward toward the futile promise of life that circles distant stars in order to still our cosmic loneliness. We should look within; the paths of the heart lead to nearby universes full of life and affection for humanity.”

– Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna quote on psychedelics

“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third-story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

– Terence McKenna

Joseph Campbell quote on psychedelics

“The LSD phenomenon, on the other hand, is – to me at least – more interesting. It is an intentionally achieved schizophrenia, with the expectation of a spontaneous remission – which, however, does not always follow. Yoga, too, is intentional schizophrenia: one breaks away from the world, plunging inward, and the ranges of vision experienced are in fact the same as those of a psychosis. But what, then, is the difference? What is the difference between a psychotic or LSD experience and a yogic, or a mystical? The plunges are all into the same deep inward sea; of that there can be no doubt. The symbolic figures encountered are in many instances identical (and I shall have something more to say about those in a moment). But there is an important difference. The difference – to put it sharply – is equivalent simply to that between a diver who can swim and one who cannot. The mystic, endowed with native talents for this sort of thing and following, stage by stage, the instruction of a master, enters the waters and finds he can swim; whereas the schizophrenic, unprepared, unguided, and ungifted, has fallen or has intentionally plunged, and is drowning.”

– Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By


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

– Timothy Leary


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“Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

– Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary quote on psychedelics

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

– Timothy Leary

Aldous Huxley quote on psychedelics

“How odd it is that writers like Belloc and Chesterton may sing the praises of alcohol (which is responsible for about two-thirds of the car accidents and three-quarters of the crimes of violence) and be regarded as good Christians and noble fellows. Whereas anyone who ventures to suggest that there may be other and less harmful shortcuts to self-transcendence is treated as a dangerous drug fiend and wicked perverter of weak-minded humanity.”

– Aldous Huxley

Steve Jobs quote on psychedelics


“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”

– Steve Jobs

“LSD was an incredible experience. Not that I’m recommending it for anybody else; but for me, it kind of it hammered home to me that reality was not a fixed thing. That the reality that we saw about us every day was one reality, and a valid one but that there were others, different perspectives where different things have meaning that was just as valid. That had a profound effect on me.”

– Alan Moore


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“Life lived in the absence of the psychedelic experience that primordial shamanism is based on is life trivialized, life denied, life enslaved to the ego.”

– Terence McKenna

Quotes About Mysticism and Ego Loss

“Lao Tzu once said, ‘Nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything is accomplished.'”

“A single seed planted, eventually becomes a garden in time -when things get tough, tend to the garden in your mind.”

– Jennifer Sodini

“It’s a very salutary thing to realize that the rather dull universe in which most of us spend most of our time is not the only universe there is. I think it’s healthy that people should have this experience.”

– Aldous Huxley, Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics & the Visionary Experience

“The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which he tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.”

– Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception


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“Unitive knowledge of God is possible only to those who ‘have ceased to cherish opinions’ even opinions that are as true as it is possible for verbalized abstractions to be.”

– Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy

“There are experiences that most of us are hesitant to speak about, because they do not conform to everyday reality and defy rational explanation. These are not particular external occurrences, but rather events of our inner lives, which are generally dismissed as figments of the imagination and barred from our memory. Suddenly, the familiar view of our surroundings is transformed in a strange, delightful, or alarming way: it appears to us in a new light, takes on a special meaning. Such an experience can be as light and fleeting as a breath of air, or it can imprint itself deeply upon our minds.”

– Albert Hoffmann


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“When you study natural science and the miracles of creation, if you don’t turn into a mystic you are not a natural scientist.”

– Albert Hoffmann


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“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”

– Meister Eckhart

“Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot? But there are things old and new which must not be contemplate by men´s eyes, because they know -or think they know- some things which other men have told them. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.”

– Bram Stoker, Dracula

“Surely we cannot take an open question like the supernatural and shut it with a bang, turning the key of the madhouse on all the mystics of history. You cannot take the region of the unknown and calmly say that, though you know nothing about it, you know all the gates are locked. We do not know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.”

– G.K. Chesterton


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

– Timothy Leary

“Mysticism and revolution are two aspects of the same attempt to bring about radical change. Mystics cannot prevent themselves from becoming social critics, since in self-reflection they will discover the roots of a sick society. Similarly, revolutionaries cannot avoid facing their own human condition, since in the midst of their struggle for a new world they will find that they are also fighting their own reactionary fears and false ambitions.”

– Henri J.M. Nouwen

“There is a wealth of information built into us…tucked away in the genetic material in every one of our cells…without some means of access, there is no way even to begin to guess at the extent and quality of what is there. The psychedelic drugs allow exploration of this interior world and insights into its nature.”

– Alexander Shulgin