Terence McKenna on denouncing relativism

I have so few mentors (and a lot of them are dead), but I really like this guy (also dead).  I have to give a hat-tip Henry Jekyll at High-Grade Discourse, because I discovered Terence McKenna from him when he shared one of his other videos.  Henry Jekyll may have shared this one too, I’m not sure, I haven’t been reading him long.  At any rate, many thanks.


About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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4 Responses to Terence McKenna on denouncing relativism

  1. Henry Jekyll says:

    Hi Casey, thank you very much for the nod. And thank you for sharing this vid, as it is always a treat to listen to McKenna’s ability to wield the logos. I don’t completely agree on this one though as I prefer to allow each his own “ox.” Imho “ox-goring” only becomes necessary when one seeks to compel others to dine on his particular cut of steak. In case you’re interested the video is from the “Trialogues” w/ Ralph Abraham and Rupert Sheldrake. It’s also avail on YouTube. (Sure do love having an audio-visual library but a mere mouse-click away)
    I definitely look forward to reading more of your writings. Keep well

  2. Casey says:

    Good morning, Henry.

    This clip made me laugh out loud. I took the ox comment to be, in particular, about people’s religious beliefs, though I’m sure other things, like political ideologies, can be seen as oxen, too.

    I know it’s not going to be a popular thing, but after some of my personal experiences and observations of the contradictory nature of human behavior, and particularly after starting to read Sam Harris’ The End of Faith (which has been criticized for being heavily political), I think, if we don’t drop the political correctness and challenge some of these long standing beliefs, which, in many cases lead to neurosis and hidden addictions as they try to cope with the shame many religions induce in people, and taken to extremes, mass murder, we are going to continue to destroy ourselves. It’s not that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, necessarily, but perhaps create a new vision based on life-affirming values in the traditions held dear.

    I took the “goring of the ox” as a tongue-in-cheek metaphor, albeit a rather shocking one. It actually made me laugh and I was kind of in awe that he had the cajones to be so direct. However, by choosing an emotionally charged metaphor, his message might be obscured because he ruffled feathers. In order to win friends and influence people, it’s best not to cause them to shut down and stop hearing your message. On the OTHER hand, we spend so much time trying to NOT ruffle feathers, that NOTHING gets challenged and reasoned out.

    I’m rather blunt in relating with others. I don’t ever try to hurt people. I realize I just have a sense of urgency sometimes (and often very little time with the people I care about to get a message across) and I also have the mistaken belief that they will be able to see the reasonableness of what I’m saying.

    The urgency tends to make me reply with passion, but I might not choose my words to suit the state of mind/heart the other person might be in. Yet I believe pretty strongly in some things, and overconfident that they will take my message just like I intended, caringly. Apparently, how I say things has gotten in the way of how I MEANT things. My message obscured, AND, while I feel quite “right” for having said my peace in the way I’ve preferred to communicate, I’ve hurt the ones I really wanted to educate.

    If the tables were turned, and they weren’t cued into MY state of mind/heart, I might equally be perturbed. I would not like it either.

    Hurting them hurts me. This isn’t fruitful and I spend a great deal of energy in self-reflection about what I did, could have said better, etc.

    I like direct communication.

    I prefer direct communication that does not wound, yet, I’ve managed to offend or hurt 5 people this week alone.

    I’m in the process of re-thinking my communication tactics. And choosing with whom I might expend the energy communicating with. Given that I’m the common denominator in all this, I’m realizing if I want my messages heard, I might have to rethink the way I speak my mind.

    I get the spirit in which McKenna speaks. Also, after reading up/experiencing some of Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, many of these long-standing beliefs hurt us needlessly. We spend a great deal of time distressed, not just about a particular event, but how we FEEL about the event, because we have distorted beliefs embedded in our psyche (unfortunately, often not even our OWN distorted beliefs, but those we inherited from our parents).

    Must we “gore” the ox? Well…I think we need to apply rational thought and see if these long-standing, often antiquated belief systems, still fit our modern world. If you were to believe Sam Harris, and I’m not sure I do, the answer is frighteningly no.

    Does this mean I know how to go forward in this life? No. But I’m thinking whatever I do, it has to be life-affirming.

    Some of the supposedly ‘enlightened’ people who’s ideas I have admired have taken a fall. I just learned that Ken Wilber succumbed, in the end, to his own ego. Does that mean his ideas are now worthless? No. But it goes to show that we can’t quite figure EVERYTHING out and ego creeps into the most enlightened figures.


    The lesson: never trust a guru, look within to validate your own experience (easier said than done).

    Thanks for letting me know where that clip was from. I did want to know.

  3. Henry Jekyll says:

    I am also a fan of direct communication but I’ve realized that adults are often very resistant to having long standing assumptions challenged. In an attempt to convey any meaningful information I’ve adopted the less “threatening” method of having the person with whom I’m communicating arrive at the conclusion on his or her own. Personal egos tend to be large yet fragile and words are not truth after all, but simply point the way to truth. Personally, I love to be told that my position is without merit as long as the claimant can articulate why.

    Love the “never trust a guru” philosophy as gurus often do not encourage the aspirant that the path to gaining any true understanding can only be achieved through introspective practice. All esoteric traditions seem to have some version of nosce te ipsum as the primary doorway through which any meaningful knowledge can be attained. I think that anyone claiming to have found an objective path is guilty of deceptive advertising practices. lol “Be a lamp unto thyself” so to speak.

    Trying to figure everything out does seem to be a position grounded entirely in ego. I once heard Terence say that primates aiming small mouth noises at each other cannot speak of ultimate truths or expect closure with regard to anything. Imho, “enlightenment” reveals insight into the tangential realm that lies outside the domain of language and it cannot be conveyed in a NY Times best-seller promising to contain a map.

    Definitely look forward to chatting further Casey. And feel free to ruffle my feathers about anything I share.

    • Casey says:

      I’m having trouble responding right now. Mostly because I spent a day with kindergartners (I substitute teach these days k-12th…those kindy kids are rough!) and because family of origin crazy-making going-on (my younger sister is harassing me – remember to never anger a drama queen). I have a tension headache. I’ll catch up to you when I’m able to be more articulate.

      Dinner is almost done – beef stew…want some?

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