60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
...if you wish to stay the same because believe me, once you read it, you never will be. I got this book when I was about 26-27 years old when I felt as though I was just passing through life and not really living it. I felt like everything was "ho-hum". All of my senses were set to dull. Inside of me there was just this gnawing ache that there has got to be something more...not just "out there"...but "in here"...in my heart, in my soul, in my mind...
And then along comes Timothy.
Irreverent, Rebellious,Smart-Ass Timothy Leary espousing the Truth that all advancement in life is already in our very DNA. It dwells deep within the very marrow of our bones because we, as a species, were not meant to stand still...we were not meant to live lives of quiet desperation...we were meant to behold a world that burns and sparkles with Light.
People tend to think one is hallucinating when one sees vibrant colors, when everyday things seem to shine with a new brilliance, when even the song from a songbird feels like a musical triumph, but this is how life really is, boys and girls! We are hallucinating when we think that the world is dull and thick and leaden...we are hallucinating when we think that we are just these heavy clods of biodegradble clay that stalk the earth. We are here to discover...or should I say, uncover the paradise that is already within the invisible realms of the ancient mind that dwells within us and we in it.
Does this mean you have to take LSD in order to experience the jewelike radiance that all of life is made in and out of? Not neccessarily and I am not advocating that you do. What I am advocating is that you allow yourself to get enthused about life. Enthusiasm literally means to be filled with God. God wants to know Itself as you...as me...in each and every moment of creation.
Read Timothy Leary. Marvel at his excitement for life, join him in the mind & soul rebellion against flaccid governments and soul controlling religions and their warped politics and dissapointing creeds both of which are more than happy to think and decide for you, laugh in joyful relief that you are not a body with a soul, but you are a soul with a body,and be willing to stray from the pack of lemmings that's headed for the edge of the cliff only to drown in the shallow seas of mediocrity.
Open your eyes.
Open your mind.
Open your soul.
Open your heart.
Open this book and let the tingling in each of your 40 trillion cells remind you are here to do more than exist, you are here to LIVE and to LIVE WELL.
Peace & Blessings to this this place we call the world.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 1998
Timothy Leary gave us the following commandments for the Molecular Age:
1) Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy fellow man.
2) Thou shalt not prevent thy fellow man from altering his own consciousness.
Leary may one day be regarded as the first major pioneer in the revolution that replaces fear and religion with a love and fascination for the wonder of DNA. Politics of Ecstasy laid the groundwork for Leary's later explorations into Brain Change. smi2le!
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2004
Wow! What a book! Leary is a real psychedelic guru, not in the orthodox sense, but really a man ahead of his time, a Galileo in the charter exploration of the mind and consciousness. He started off as a conservative Harvard professor, yet not so conservative, as he had his own ideas. But after his religious experience, and that's what psychedelics do - the expanding of your consciousness to a religious experience - he became aware of the societal and cultural chessboards - the games - and here became outspoken apart from the Harvard rationalistic mindset which rests on only one static frame of a multi-dimensional, dynamic existence.
I read this book smiling, over and over again. I walked down the street with a smile, mostly for Leary's optimism, then his frank and bold statements, which in most part I agree with. His style sometimes just makes you laugh and smile and say to yourself "I wish I had the guts enough say this." And although his predictions did not come true, you can't help but subjectively comprehend the 60's atmosphere, enveloped with the baby boomers in their youth taking up the majority of the population and their experiential drug use in psychedelics, which in turn, brought forth all the femininity of creativeness, patience, tolerance, peacefulness and artistic development that was permeating the entire American culture and spreading around the world and thus brought on the male dominated aggression of control and police power. So Leary's optimism and predictions were really a good assessment of the time despite their failure to come true. And nothing makes me sadder than to see his predictions fail from the creative mind expanding youth to our current male power, controlling and agressive society.
You can write Leary off as a kook from the conservative's point of view, the rationalist who never "experienced," and that's the KEY here - never experienced a trip under favorable circumstances and environment. Leary is the same as other heretics and kooks of history, a Galileo of mind exploration and conscious expansion, a Guttenberg of exoteric enlightenment, as in this book as well as one who clearly recognizes the need for new symbols that relate the esoteric experience of LSD, of cellular memories, of DNA language outside the mind, of experiential journeys that can only be told under a new language, as the microscope discovered new world had brought forth, as quantum physics brought forth and every other new fields of exploration that can only be described outside the current symbols we currently use.
Leary on page 141: The lesson I have learned from over 300 sessions, and which I have been passing on to others, can be stated in 6 syllables: Turn on, tune in, drop out. "Turn on" means to contact the ancient energies and wisdoms that are built into your nervous system. They provide unspeakable pleasure and revelation. "Tune in" means to harness and communicate these new perspectives in a harmonious dance with the external world. "Drop out' means to detach yourself from the tribal game. Current models of social adjustment - mechanized, computerized, socialized, intellectualized, televised, Sanforized - make no sense to the new LSD generation, who see clearly that American society is becoming an air-conditioned anthill. In every generation of human history, thoughtful men have turned on and dropped out of the tribal game and thus stimulated the larger society to lurch ahead. Every historical advance has resulted from the stern pressure of visionary men who have declared their independence from the game.
On page 196: My philosophy of life has been tremendously influenced by my study of oriental philosophy and religion. Of course, what the American, regardless of his religious belief, doesn't understand is that the aim of oriental religious is to get high, to have an ecstasy, to tune in, to turn on, to contact incredible diversity, beauty, living, pulsating meaning of the sense organs, and the much more complicated and pleasurable and revelatory messages of cellular energy. To a Hindu, the spiritual quest is internal.
Different sects of oriental religion use different methods and different body organs to find God. The Shivites use the senses; the followers of Vishnu are concerned with cellular wisdom, contacting the endless flow of reincarnation wisdom which biochemists would call protein wisdom of the DNA code; Buddhist manuals on consciousness expansion are concerned with the flash, the white light of the void, the ecstatic union that comes when you're completely turned on, beyond the senses, beyond the body.
On page 202-203: What we're doing for the mind is what the microbiologists did for the external science 300 years ago when they discovered the microscope. And they made this incredible discovery that life, health, growth, every form of organic life, is based on the cell, which is invisible.
You've never seen a cell; what do you think of that? Yet it's the key to everything that happens to a living creature. I'm simply saying that same thing from the mental, psychological standpoint, that there are wisdoms, lawful units inside the nervous system, invisible to the symbolic mind, which determine almost everything.
And I don't consider myself that mystical - unless you'd call someone who looks through a microscope a mystic, because he's telling you about something for which you don't have the symbols. Or the astronomer who detects a quasar and speculates about it.
On page 208: Every time you take LSD you completely suspend - you step outside of - the symbolic chessboard which you have built up over the long years of social conditioning. And you whirl through different levels of neurological and cellular energy, continually flowing and changing.
Your symbolic mind is flashing in and out. You never love your mind during and LSD session. It's always there, but it's one of a thousand cameras that are flashing away. Of course, the LSD freak-out, or paranoia, is where the symbolic mind freezes any aspect of the LSD session and defines a new reality, which can be positive or negative.
Read this book.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2004
This is the single most influential book I have ever read. Completely legitmizes and encourages religious experiences through psychedelic means. Anyone currently using psychedelic drugs or interested in them should read this to gain greater understanding of their power. Learn why LSD and other are really illegal, the government knows they free minds!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2010
I have read through many of Leary's books, and this is the best, hands down. This is Leary at his most coherent, insightful, provocative, and enlightening. Many of his other books fail in one or more of those areas, but this collection (of essays, interviews, magazine articles, and so on) of his work offers a huge amount of food for thought. I don't know if it is 'the most influential book I have ever read,' as one reviewer put it, but it is certainly among the top ten.
What's so great about this book? The insanely optimistic and original ideas, of course. The central idea running through the entire book, and much of Leary's life, is that YOU are responsible for your own neurochemistry, and hence states of consciousness. You have (or rather, ought to have, as no government in the world actually dares to follow such sane policies) the right to alter your own consciousness in any way you see fit, provided you don't harm or try to enforce an alteration of consciousness upon another.
This message almost seems simple, self-evident - yet as anyone can plainly see, nowhere is it legally permitted (never mind culturally encouraged). Many religious groups or philosophies advocate some kind of self-change or altered states, and many psychiatrists and neurologists will advocate some kind of improved neurochemistry to help prevent or ameliorate mental diseases and so on. But no one has ever before (as far as I know) or since (again, as far as I know) advocated such a radical and potentially liberating idea as: alter your own neurochemistry as you see fit; everyone is free to discover for themselves what is within/beyond.
It may be easy to be blinded by the fact that LSD apparently was not the wonder drug that Leary and his ilk were looking for. The changes don't seem to last for most people, and as is evident nowadays, it can be taken frivolously and with no insight gleaned whatsoever. But Leary was already (way back when this was written) talking way beyond LSD - the substances just didn't, and still don't, exist. He was advocating direct synaptic manipulation to engineer learning at the neuronal level (using RNA or proteins), and also to engineer the de-imprinting of fixed habits and concepts that are of no value to the individual, or even detrimental to him or her. He also advocated using various substances to enhance the sensitivity and sensuousness of sexual relations with one's partner. Further, he was recommending a thorough licensing system for psychedelic usage, such that people could be well trained by experienced guides to explore whatever it is that psychedelics have to teach us. If any or all of these ideas had been seriously followed up, we'd be living in a very different (and much improved, methinks) world today.
I feel this review has failed to convey the truly revolutionary nature of what is being said in this book - you should really just read it for yourself. I am about to start my PhD in Psychology and I only wish someone like this, with this kind of originality and vision, was still stirring things up in the academic world. Rest in peace, ye Irish madman. I encourage everyone to read this book and take to heart the wildly optimistic vision of humanity's potential and future contained therein.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 1998
This book is an exploration of religion, politics, and psychology. A great read with historical significance (this was one of the books that sparked the 60's revolution), The Politics of Ecstasy will leave you with a desire to learn first hand how your own mind worships.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 1998
Dr. Leary maintains a high ground in his defense of the value of the psychedelic. This is the early work and a must have.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2013
Forgotten Books continues to STEAL our property. FB knows that the Leary Works including this book is NOT in pub domain. They have repeatedly stolen our various Leary properties Nonetheless they continue to poach our property. We are a small press struggling to survive and Forgotten Books comes in the back door and steals from us AND STEALS FORM THE LEARY ESTATE - STEALS FROM TIM - because they are NOT paying any royalty - just sucking and stealing. They have repeatedly assured us that they have removed their copyright-infringing rip-offs. But here it is again.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2012
Timothy Leary avoids the type of academic back-woodsman ship that demands only cautionary and balanced statements, every statement backed by a footnote. Instead, he gives a free-wheeling vent to his opinions and judgements, and they are amazing opinions and judgments!
Tim showed me this style, his style, and I suppose that the baton has been passed from generation to generation, throughout the ages, to us all.
This is for my sanity, and hopefully, yours too and Leary makes no apologies for many passages being in the style of a polemic, because the polemic is a form of therapy, my therapy, and the higher therapy is something we should all aspire to. This sort of therapy, I hope, will benefit the reader and reach the parts Simon Cowell and Oprah cannot reach.
Most mystics came to this idea independently of each other, throughout history, and chemistry now allows a verification of this ancient Vedics philosophy. Not only does Tat-Tvam-Asi come with less baggage, it is full of meaning, God and science have little meaning. The word God shuts down the mind, meaning cannot do this; meaning opens the mind, to the spiritual.
Timothy Leary's ideas will make you feel better about being here; they really will. Special relativity won't do this to you and neither willl Barak Obama. This is the higher happiness, not in a Prozac way, but in a concrete way. People mix up happiness with euphoria, but euphoria is canned happiness; concrete happiness is the real happiness because it lays foundations that stick like cement. Once the teaching sticks, it sticks forever, you see. Prozac won't get you there and neither will book buying or watching the Discovery Channel; only experience will get you to the place; experience, you already know, is the opposite to reading or believing in experts or leaders. Have you ever met an expert or have you ever been made happy by reading a book, but happiness that sticks? Even science, the mete-theory of our age, the theory that they promised would have us living in luxury condos on the Moon by the year 2000, fails to light the way and touch the human condition, because it is not a direct experience. Science as God isn't therapeutic because it will never creat purpose in your life; it will drain purpose instead. I read magazines magazines just to kill boredom, I know I did! Genes and atoms and quasar this and Higgs particles that; these ideas leave little room for questions like; what is life all about? Look at it this way, in ignoring the inner God, scientific ontology is offering a death wish, but in high definition, this is worse than you being God Almighty.
What I mean is, we can ponder God, LSD, and string theory and neutrinos and ghosts, without ever witnessing or experiencing these things. Who's ever seen a quark or a tensor equation of the third degree or a self transforming machine elf? I certainly haven't. Equations are not our experience and this is why we quickly forget that what we have been told, because all we ever know is our own experience. These questions pre-date narcissism anyway and, as I shall explain below, smarter people have trodden this path. I
Leary stumbled upon this path by ignoring the never-ending chatter of tongues and swords and the crackling of flames bellowing out of the organs of mass culture. Instead, I took the advice of Socrates and accepted that I knew nothing; this is when the real wisdom begins.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2002
This work is a hallmark for questioning authority, pursuing individual freedom and happiness, and working to build a more enjoyable and enriched world. Lovers of liberty would be well-advised to study this work thoroughly, and then pass it along to the nearest religious extremist. It will surely get a reaction.