Let’s begin with the beginning… that’s how this captivating conversation between two remarkable minds begins. As part of the Serpentine Gallery’s 2016 Miracle Marathon, Hans Ulrich Obrist speaks with John Allen and goes directly to the source of his life-changing epiphany about the biosphere.
For a fifteen minute conversation, these two cover a lot of ground. From discussing Benoit Mandelbrot’s epiphany about fractals to Albert Hoffman’s discovery of LSD, John tells Hans about how he began understanding the biosphere through his discovery of humanity. When we understand that humanity is part of the biosphere, we understand that we are part of the overall unity of all the kingdoms of life.
According to Allen, the study of biospherics forms a separate line of planetary evolution. Biospherics studies the systems of the earth that support and include life. Buckminster Fuller influenced John to consider life from the perspective of total systems. Allen was inspired by Fuller to use synergy in bringing together technics, or advanced technology, with biospherics. The result was Biosphere 2, which made a model of the Earth’s biosphere (or Biosphere 1).
Sailing the Amazon River on RV Heraclitus, a ship that Allen helped to design and build. Photo from Me and the Biospheres: A Memoir from the Inventor of Biosphere 2.
John also discusses how he was influenced by Amazonian explorer and ethnobotanist, Richard Evans Schultes. Inspired by Schultes, Allen traveled the Amazon River by boat and drank ayahuasca with a traditional shaman. The experience changed his level of consciousness and communicated to him the objective truth of the biosphere.
One of the most poignant moments in the conversation is when Hans asks about miracles:
Hans Ulrich Obrist: What is a miracle to you?
John Allen: A unique, non-repeatable experience.
Our entire lives are made up of unique, non-repeatable experiences. Understanding our lives like this adds a miraculous quality to each moment. John goes on to say that all of modern life is based on miracles, but in modern life we have separated ourselves from the larger system of the biosphere. Instead of thinking about the environment, as something external that is around us, we can shift our thinking to a biospheric perspective, to seeing ourselves as part of the miraculous system of life.
In its eleventh year, the Serpentine Marathon series continued on its exploration of activism, art, anthropology, architecture, literature, music, philosophy, theology and science through a specific theme or topic of particular relevance in artists’ practice and in the wider contemporary context… the 2016 Miracle Marathon focused in on ritual, repetition and magical thinking to consider ways in which the imaginary can not only predict, but also play a part in affecting long-term futures.
You can hear more from John Allen in person at the Synergetic Symposium and Salon at the October Galley on 5 November. This Symposium and Salon on Understanding Ayahuasca brings together diverse perspectives on this sacred plant medicine from the Amazon. The event is celebrating the release of the new edition of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine, a collection of shamanic stories, myths, research, songs, poems, and art that share the wisdom of ayahuasca.
You can get your tickets to the Symposium and Salon here, and you can get your copy of Ayahuasca Reader here.
Written by Michael Gosney
Here’s a report from our last symposium. New events coming in London and NYC this November, details found on this link: https://www.synergeticpress.com/understanding-ayahuasca-indigenous-origins-neo-shamanism/
On Wednesday April 6, 2016 a Synergetic Symposium and Salon was held at Synergia Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This symposium and salon marked the first in a series of events with the goal of raising Earth Consciousness. One hundred and fifty people attended this high-frequency gathering entitled “Earth Consciousness and the Lore of the Amazon – Conversations on Ayahuasca, Ethnomedicine and the Biospheric Imperative.”
The crowd gathered in the geodesic dome at Synergia Ranch
The primary inspiration for the event was the forthcoming July release of the Ayahuasca Reader, but it also served as the launch of the Synergetic Press Earth Consciousness Campaign and seemed to be the perfect timing to bring together leaders on the cutting edge of psychedelic research in this year of rapid evolution. The event, featuring a 4 hour symposium, a gourmet dinner, and an evening Salon and dance party, was a resounding success. Video of the presentations will be available at synergeticpress.com.
The Symposium featured Dennis McKenna, providing an overview of the 45 year history and his journey of discovery with ayahuasca; Rick Doblin, presenting the new era of entheogenic/psychedelic-assisted therapy and the cutting edge research underway with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS); and Ralph Metzner providing a framework for understanding the process of shamanic use of psychedelics and consciousness expansion, along with an addendum to his talk on the importance of activism on both the drug decriminalization and environmental frontiers. The Symposium concluded with a panel discussion and Q&A with the presenters and moderator George Greer.
(Left to Right) Allan Badiner, Gay Dillingham, Valerie Plame Wilson, Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, Michael Garfield
After dinner in separate Synergia Ranch buildings, guests returned the dome for the evening Salon portion of the event. Kicking off the evening was the Earth Consciousness Roundtable moderated by Zig Zag Zen editor Allan Badiner, with Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, author and ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame, filmmaker Gay Dillingham (Dying to Know), and musician/artist Michael Garfield. The discussion touched on the broader aspects of raising Earth Consciousness, including biospheric science and social and political opportunities and challenges as well as further examination of the applications of plant teachers and synthetic compounds for therapy, personal growth and transformational work.
A “biospheric poetry” reading by John Dolphin Allen with Robert “Rio” Hahn providing visuals, provided the transition to the evening’s entertainment, starting with a dance performance by the Daughters of Lilith followed by musician Michael Garfield and DJs offering attendees a chance to dance with the incredible energy of the day.
More Synergetic Symposium Salons will follow, as well as the launch of the Earth Consciousness Campaign. This multi-level initiative will not only promote the release of the Ayahuasca Reader, but also widely disseminate essential information from the book and the work of its multiple contributors, who are in fact the world’s leading authorities on the subject. In addition, informing people and groups about the eco-evolutionary side of the equation, which means human stewardship vs. destruction of the biosphere. Indigenous wisdom/eco-psychology + biospheric science/sustainability solutions = Earth Consciousness.
In conjunction with the Synergetic Symposium and Salon, Santa Fe Radio Café host Mary Charlotte welcomed several of the contributors to the salon to her show to deepen the discussion in raising Earth Consciousness. You can listen to the episodes below.
Don Lattin, Allan Badiner and Ralph Metzner
April 15, 2016
Allan Badiner activist and writer, contributing editor to Tricycle Magazine, editor of the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics, published by Synergetic Press, on the board of the CBD Project
Ralph Metzner Psychologist, writer, founder of the Green Earth Foundation, author of many books, including Allies for Awakening and Green Psychology
Don Lattin Author and journalist; his books include Distilled Spirits, The Harvard Psychedelic Club, and his forthcoming books is titled, Changing Our Minds: The Reemergence of Psychedelics for Mental Health and Spiritual Growth.
Ralph Metzner, Don Lattin, Allan Badiner interview by Mary-Charlotte for Santa Fe Radio Cafe
April 11, 2016
Dr. George Greer conducted over 100 therapeutic sessions with MDMA for 80 individuals from 1980 to 1985 with his psychiatric nurse wife, Requa Tolbert. Their review of this work remains the largest published study of the therapeutic use of MDMA. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Past President of the Psychiatric Medical Association of New Mexico. He is Co-Founder and Medical Director the Medical Director of the Heffter Research Institute since 1998.
Mary-Charlotte interviews George Greer, Santa Fe Radio Cafe
April 11, 2016
Dr. Dennis McKenna is an American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and author. He is the brother of well-known psychedelics proponent Terence McKenna and is a founding board member and the director of ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit organization concerned with the investigation of the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines.
Mary Charlotte Interviews Dennis McKenna, Santa Fe Radio Cafe
April 7, 2016
Dr. Rick Doblin is founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a twenty-five-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment. He wrote his doctoral dissertation (in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist.
Mary Charlotte interviews Rick Doblin, Santa Fe Radio Cafe
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