50 Psychedelic Quotes To Get You Thinking About Life, Death, & Ego

By Justin Cooke Last Updated: June 26, 2023
Last Updated: June 26, 2023

There’s nothing like a good quote to get you thinking. 

Here are 50 of the best psychedelic quotes from GOATs in the space.

Including wisdom from Terence McKenna, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Alexander Shulgin, Alan Watts, John Lenon, Steve Jobs, and more. 

On The Importance of Psychedelics

Many people who use psychedelics have had life-changing experiences — almost always for the better. After using these substances it becomes clear how strongly society needs them as a whole. 

This is an idea shared by most (if not all) the influential figures behind the psychedelic scene. 

Here are some of the best quotes about the importance of the psychedelic experience for the general public — covering personal, societal, and environmental benefits. 

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

Psychedelics prove to you that there’s more than one way of seeing the world.”

— Jesse Lawler

Entheogens (or psychedelics, to be more historically correct) have now been recognized as the mother of our Western ecology and conservation movements, as well as the entire field of transpersonal psychology and our apparent desire to return to some firsthand spiritual and/or mystical understanding of god — rather than blindly accepting traditional religious dogma without an experiential basis.”

— James Oroc

The forest is not only good to eat but good to think”

— Unknown

“That’s why I always recommend a psychedelic experience because it makes you realize that all you’ve learned is in fact just learned and not necessarily the truth.”

— Bill Hicks

It’s very, very dangerous to lose contact with living nature”

— Albert Hofmann

On Ego Dissolution

The ego-death or ego dissolution experience is one of the primary reasons people turn to psychedelics. 

When the ego is cast aside, even just for a moment, we see the world through an unbiased lens for what it truly is. This experience can change the way we view life forever. 

Here’s a collection of some of the most impactful quotes on ego-death I’ve been able to accumulate from the books, podcasts, and lectures. 

Unlike happiness, unhappiness cannot happen without the presence of an ego.”

— Mokokoma Mokhonoana

The old you is only a shadow of the reality which is the new you. The shadow is useless without its reality.”

— Efrat Cybulkiewicz

Spirituality destroys the ego. Religion strengthens it.”

— Mokokoma Mokhonoana

The opposite of spiritual is not material but egotistical.”

— Michael Pollan

Psychedelics show you what’s in and on your mind, those subconscious thoughts and feelings that are hidden, covered up, forgotten, out of sight, maybe even completely unexpected, but nevertheless imminently present.”

— Rick Strassman

Subjects see new dimensions in the universe, have strong feelings of being an integral part of creation, and tend to regard ordinary things in everyday life—such as meals, walks in nature, playing with children, or sexual intercourse — as sacred.”

— Stanislav Grof

To use your head, you have to go out of your mind.”

— Timothy Leary

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

— John Lennon

You’re only as young as the last time you changed your mind.”

— Timothy Leary

Enlightenment is just another word for feeling comfortable with being a completely ordinary person.”

— Veronique Vienne

Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

— Albert Einstein

On Life, Death, & Existence

Psychedelics open the mind and help you dig deeper into some of the more ontological questions — like the classic “who are we, where did we come from, and where are we going?”

Here are some little snippets of wisdom dropped by some of the world’s most intelligent people — not all are psychedelic-related, but this topic is deep enough I thought they were fitting nonetheless. 

Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the Weather.”

— Bill Hicks

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

There’s this illusion that science and spiritual practices are separate. I actually don’t think that’s true.”

— Caitlin Thompson

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

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

With psychedelics, if you’re fortunate and break through, you understand what is truly of value in life. Material, power, dominance, and territory have no value. People wouldn’t fight wars, and the whole system we have currently would fall apart. People would become peaceful, loving citizens, not robots marching around in the dark with all their lights off.”

— Gary Fisher

The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

— Albert Einstein

Patients reported that their psychedelic sessions were an invaluable experiential training for dying.”

— Stanislav Grof

The moment is where we spend most of our time.”

— Terence McKenna

Does time bring events into existence, or do events bring time into existence?”

— Alan Lightman

I’ve practiced death.”  

— Chemical Ali

Wisdom requires not only the investigation of many things, but contemplation of the mystery.”

— Jeremy Narby

If god dropped acid, would he see people?”

— Steven Wright

There is only one of us. One consciousness manifesting into different forms.”

— Ram Dass

The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words, and that if you know the words that the world is made of you can make of it whatever you wish.”

— Terence McKenna

All great music is in one way or another psychedelic.”

— Genesis P-Orridge

Once you’ve seen the void, part of it comes back with you forever.

— Ricky & Peggy-Sue Jones

On Integration

Integration is a core aspect of the psychedelic experience. The idea is that entheogens and hallucinogens can show us something we were otherwise unable to see — but it’s up to us to take that information, ponder it, and integrate it into the way we live our lives. Otherwise, this information is useless. 

Here’s what some of the greats say about the concept of integrating after a psychedelic experience. 

“Psychedelic experience is only a glimpse of genuine mystical insight, but a glimpse which can be matured and deepened by the various ways of meditation in which drugs are no longer necessary or useful. 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

“When you get the message, hang up the phone.”

— Alan Watts

“The rule of thumb is the more profound the experience, the longer you should wait before doing it again. The Guild of Guides suggests a minimum of six months between entheogenic journeys because it takes at least that long for the learning and insights to be absorbed and integrated into your life.”

— James Fadiman

Psychedelic Safety

Psychedelics are great tools — as you’ve probably noticed from the rest of the quotes on this page — but they aren’t without their risks.

Here are some words of caution coming straight from the mouths of experts operating in this space. 

Related: How to use psychedelic substances responsibly.

Psychedelics can open the gates of perception and flood you momentarily with information of genuine cosmic significance. That doesn’t mean you’re the sort of character … that can tolerate being filled with that kind of divine fluid, it might just break and crack you.”

— Jordan Peterson

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

[Psychedelics] are powerful tools and, like any tool, they can be used skillfully, ineptly, or destructively. The result will be critically dependent on the set and setting.”

— Stanislav Grof 

If you want to have fun, take them (psychedelics) alone or with friends and spend the day in a beautiful setting. If you want to learn something about yourself and your relationships, take them with a therapist.”

— Rick Strassman

While I do agree substances can lead people — especially young people into problematic territory (indefinitely even)… those being so predisposed with a seeker mentality will eventually find their mark through substance or more mundane trauma. A seeker seeks “trouble” to be transformed by it. The hero’s tale of initiation is as old as time.”

— Pendomatic

Acid allows you to walk through the door to an alternate reality, but most people have no idea how to walk back through.”

— Robert Pirsig

On Drug Policy

The drug war has already failed. There are now more drugs on the streets, more drug addicts incarcerated, and more money in the hands of drug dealers than ever before. All of this despite trillions of dollars spent on the drug war. 

The new phase is to accept addiction for what it is and reclassify a drug policy that never made any sense, to begin with. 

Here are some interesting quotes to get you thinking about drug policy & decriminalization in the modern era. 

Related: Comprehensive list of legal psychoactive substances.

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 

What if, through responsible exploration with psychedelics, we free our minds? Free-thinkers are more difficult to manipulate and control, which begs the question: Why are psychedelics illegal?”

— Zoe Helene

Fuck the drug war. Dropping acid was a profound turning point for me, a seminal experience. I make no apologies for it. More people should do acid. It should be sold over the counter.”

— George Carlin

We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD, by the way. Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn’t it? They brought out LSD to control people, and what they did was give us freedom.”

— John Lennon

I see the psychedelic experience as a birthright, and we can’t have a free society until people are free to explore their own mind.”

— Terence McKenna

A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.”

— Frank Zappa

I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police.”

— Keith Richards 

By banning psychedelic research we have not only given up the study of an interesting drug or group of substances, but also abandoned one of the most promising approaches to the understanding of the human mind and consciousness.”

— Stanislav Grof

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