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Brian C. Muraresku with Dr. Mark Plotkin: The Eleusinian Mysteries, Discovering the Divine, The Immortality Key, The Pagan Continuity Hypothesis, Psychedelics, and More | Tim Ferriss Show #646

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Key Takeaways

  • During the classical period for about 2000 years, people made the pilgrimage to a town just northwest of Athens called Eleusis with the hopes of becoming immortal from drinking a potion there called Kykeon 
  • The secret potion Kykeon elicited a visionary experience with goddesses and strange beings 
  • The best, brightest, and wealthiest people in Rome and Greece visited Eleusis for thousands of years with the hopes of becoming immortal
  • Starting in the 1970s, the academic establishment did not want to believe that the founders of democracy would be so irrational to enter a psychedelic state of mind, least of all by taking drugs
  • But today, academia is more willing to accept and investigate the notion that the ancient Greeks, Romans, and various religions used psychedelics to have spiritual experiences
  • The key that Brian talks about is not psychedelics, but the notion of experience and the direct experience of the divine
  • At the time, wine was described as being unusually intoxicating, seriously mind-altering, occasionally hallucinogenic, and potentially lethal
  • We have actual literature that indicates how to create visionary psychedelic experiences in the first century AD at the time of the earliest Christians 
  • Around the same time that the Gospels were being written, the great physician Diosscorides was creating various wine potions to elicit desired, altered states of being 
  • It is believed that people would go to Gobekli Tepe for ritual purposes to commune with the dead, potentially over something like a “graveyard beer” 
  • Universities like Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins are increasingly interested in the meaning of psychedelic studies
  • Psychedelics are not for everyone and will not magically solve all of our problems
  • The infrequent, occasional use of these compounds under professional supervision could be an aid to a spiritual discipline that positively impacts the world         

Intro 

  • Brian C. Muraresku (@BrianMuraresku) is the author of The Immortality Key, a groundbreaking dive into the role psychedelics have played in the origins of Western civilization 
  • In this conversation, Brian Muraresku and Dr. Mark Plotkin discuss the Eleusinian mysteries, discovering the divine, the immortality key, the Pagan continuity hypothesis, the God Paradox, leading universities getting into psychedelic research, Gobekli Tepe, how wine was used to alter states of being, graveyard beers, and much more
  • Check out these Podcast Notes on the History of Psychoactive Substances   
  • Host: Dr. Mark Plotkin (@DocMarkPlotkin

Eleusis & Immortality  

  • A place called Eleusis is basically like the Vatican of the ancient world
  • Eleusis is a few miles northwest of Athens 
  • During the classical period for about 2000 years, people made the pilgrimage to Eleusis with the hopes of becoming immortal from drinking a potion there called Kykeon 
  • Many called this the experience of a lifetime, and all “seeing” before it felt like blindness
  • The secret potion Kykeon elicited a visionary experience with goddesses and strange beings 
  • The gods were called Demeter and Persephone, the Lady of Grain, and the Goddess of Death 
  • It was claimed that only people that traveled to Eleusis and drank the potion achieved immortality
  • The best, brightest, and wealthiest people in Rome and Greece visited Eleusis for about 2000 years 
  • Brain Muraresku believes that they went there to die, and be reborn 

Death & Rebirth 

  • The idea that they were on psychedelics while at Eleusis was not a popular theory in academia in the 1970s 
  • The academic establishment did not want to believe that the founders of democracy would be so irrational to enter a psychedelic state of mind, least of all by taking drugs 
  • LSD and psychedelic drugs were not popular in the 1970s as Richard Nixon had just launched the war on drugs 
  • But today, the culture has changed a lot with respect to psychedelics, and academia is more willing to accept and investigate the ancient Greeks, Romans, and various religions using psychedelics to have spiritual experiences 

Why Is Psychedelic Research Back In Vogue? 

  • Brian Muraresku has no idea why psychedelic research is acceptable now whereas it was taboo since the 1970s 
  • Psychedelic research was a respectable pursuit up until the 1970s, then it all changed 
  • Brian thinks that society’s biases and prejudices are slowly melting away 
  • We are rediscovering what the ancient people knew, and what the indigenous people have been doing all along 

The Immortality Key, Experiences, Secrets 

  • Brian’s book The Immortality Key is about psychedelics, but psychedelics are not the “key” that he refers to 
  • The key that Brian talks about is the notion of experience, the direct experience of the divine  
  • The “key” is to encounter the divine within through experience 
  • Aristotle said that you went to Eleusis not to learn something, but to experience something 
  • There is no controversy among Christian scholars that Christianity is born with secrets 
  • In 1950, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity” which describes the continuity from the Pagan, pre-Christian world to what would become early Christianity in the decades and centuries before Jesus 

Religion & Mystical Experiences, Wine 

  • Further research is beginning to reveal to us that these mystical experiences, which seem to lay the basis of essentially all religions, may help explain what is missing from modern religion today 
  • Ancient wine is much different than the wine that we drink today 
  • St. Paul, the greatest missionary Christianity ever knew, referred to wine as “pharmakos”, which means “drug” 
  • Wine was routinely referred to as a drug from around the time of Homer to the fall of the Roman Empire 
  • At the time, wine was described as being unusually intoxicating, seriously mind-altering, occasionally hallucinogenic, and potentially lethal  
  • The great physician Dioscorides, who writes in the second half of the first century at the exact same time the Gospels are being written, created countless recipes detailing what to add to wine to produce any number of effects 
  • We have actual literature that indicates how to create visionary psychedelic experiences in the first century AD at the time of the earliest Christians 
  • Evidence shows that wine was mixed with things like opium, cannabis, henbane, and black nightshade, in addition to toads, frogs, and lizards 
  • They call beer and wine “spirits” for a reason!

Gobekli Tepe 

  • Gobekli Tepe is a place in southeastern Turkey with giant, megalithic T-shape pillars that are believed to have represented some type of deities 
  • The six pillars are massive limestone vasts that could accommodate 42 gallons of liquid
  • Drinking water was not safe at the time, so many drank beer and wine instead 
  • It is believed that people would go to Gobekli Tepe for ritual purposes to commune with the dead, potentially over something like a “graveyard beer” 
    • Evidence suggests that fermentation took place at Gobekli Tepe
  • It is possible that the agricultural revolution started with beer
    • Did people start growing wheat and barley to bake bread or to drink them?
  • Traces of beer, wine, and honey are found at sites believed to be funeral sites, possible to royally usher a king into the afterlife 

The Church, Universities, Therapies   

  • Brian was more concerned about the classical wisdom group coming for him than the church coming for him 
  • Universities like Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins are becoming interested in the meaning of psychedelic studies 
  • Psychedelics are increasingly being used to treat PTSD in Navy SEALs and the like; many SEALs report having “weird trans-mystical experiences” while taking these drugs in a therapeutic setting 

The God Paradox, Reaching Altered States 

  • The God Paradox describes the feelings of altered states of awareness under the influence of psychedelics
    • Simultaneously being here but also over there
  • These paradoxes convince us that life isn’t easily reducible
  • Psychedelics may help dissolve the false self (ego) and reveal the more genuine authentic self  
  • Discovering your authentic self allows you to reinvest it into everyone that you meet and interact with 
  • Dr. Plotkin believes that many people erroneously think that psychedelics are the cure for all the problems we see in society today 

God, The Spiritual Boomerang 

  • If your rational mind can fix in on the concept of God, you’re probably not right about God 
  • Psychedelics are not for everyone
  • The infrequent, occasional use of these compounds under professional supervision could be an aid to a spiritual discipline that positively impacts the world 
  • Dr. Plotkin’s Spiritual Boomerang: The world would be a little better if each of us did something small to help someone less fortunate than us 
  • Try to make the world a less bad place 
  • To every complex question, there is an answer which is both simple and wrong 

The History of Hallucinogens at Harvard 

  • Timothy Leary remains a “four-letter word” on campus
  • Timothy Leary was the “pied piper” of psychedelic enlightenment; he is commonly criticized for what happened at Harvard in the 1960s in regard to psychedelic research
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Notes By Stan Rizzo

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