Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Timothy Leary, fully Timothy Francis Leary

American Psychologist, Educator, Author and Advocate of Psychedelic Drugs

"If you take the game of life seriously, if you take your nervous system seriously, if you take your sense of organs seriously, if you take the energy process seriously, you must turn on, tune in and drop out."

"Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition."

"A man without justice is a beast, and a man who would make himself a beast forgets the pain of being a man."

"Actions which are conscious expressions of the turn-on, tune-in, drop-out rhythm are religious."

"Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the normal people as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like Have a nice day and Weather’s awful today, eh?, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like Tell me something that makes you cry or What do you think deja vu is for?. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…"

"A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of space-time dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Such experiences of enlarged consciousness can occur in a variety of ways: sensory deprivation, yoga exercises, disciplined meditation, religious or aesthetic ecstasies, or spontaneously. Most recently they have become available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, etc. Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures."

"All suffering is caused by being in the wrong place. If you're unhappy where you are, MOVE."

"And a new philosophy emerged called quantum physics, which suggest that the individual’s function is to inform and be informed. You really exist only when you’re in a field sharing and exchanging information. You create the realities you inhabit."

"Anything else is a competitive quarrel over (or Hollywood-love sharing of) studio props."

"Art's certainly made a lot of money, and got on a lot of shows — he got himself into the Nixon White House riding on the death of his daughter. And I think that's ghoulish! That's ghoulish."

"Anything that affects your senses ... is your business. If you want to kill yourself through nicotine or cyanide, it's your business."

"At one point consciousness-altering devices like the microscope and telescope were criminalized for exactly the same reasons that psychedelic plants were banned in later years. They allow us to peer into bits and zones of Chaos."

"Drugs Are the Religion of the People - The Only Hope is Dope"

"Civilization is unbearable, but it is less unbearable at the top."

"Drop Out--detach yourself from the external social drama which is as dehydrated and ersatz as TV. Turn On--find a sacrament which returns you to the temple of God, your own body. Go out of your mind. Get high. Tune In--be reborn. Drop back in to express it. Start a new sequence of behavior that reflects your vision."

"Essentially, there’s a universe inside your brain. The number of connections possible inside your brain is limitless. And as people have learned to have more managerial and direct creative access to their brains, they have also developed matrices or networks of people that communicate electronically. There are direct brain/computer link-ups. You can just jack yourself in and pilot your brain around in cyberspace-electronic space."

"Each religion has got their own way of making you feel like a victim. The Christians say "you are a sinner", and you better just zip up your trousers and give the money to the pope and we'll give you a room up in the hotel in the sky."

"Fundamentalist Christianity appeals to pre-civilized, prudish tribal people who are not ready for urban feudal pleasures."

"Give death a better name or die trying."

"Higher has always been the trajectory of intelligent evolution."

"I declare that The Beatles are mutants. Prototypes of evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with a mysterious power to create a new human species, a young race of laughing freemen."

"Grow with the flow."

"I am 100 percent in favor of the intelligent use of drugs, and 1,000 percent against the thoughtless use of them, whether caffeine or LSD. And drugs are not central to my life."

"I have always considered myself, when I learned what the word meant, I've always considered myself a Pagan."

"I wanted to scientize myth and mythologize science."

"I learned more about my brain and its possibilities and more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than I had in the preceding fifteen years of studying and doing research in psychology."

"If you are serious about your religion, if you really wish to commit yourself to the spiritual quest, you must learn how to use psycho-chemicals. Drugs are the religion of the twenty-first century. Pursuing the religious life today without using psychedelic drugs is like studying astronomy with the naked eye because that's how they did it in the first century A.D., and besides telescopes are unnatural."

"If you don't like what you're doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove."

"If you listen to neurologists and psychiatrists, you'd never fall in love."

"If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people."

"In the information-communication civilization of the 21st Century, creativity and mental excellence will become the ethical norm. The world will be too dynamic, complex, and diversified, too cross-linked by the global immediacies of modern (quantum) communication, for stability of thought or dependability of behaviour to be successful."

"In the information age, you don't teach philosophy as they did after feudalism. You perform it. If Aristotle were alive today he'd have a talk show."

"Individual societies begin in harmonious adaptation to the environment and, like individuals, quickly get trapped into nonadaptive, artificial, repetitive sequences. When the individual's behavior and consciousness get hooked to a routine sequence of external actions, he is a dead robot, and it is time for him to die and be reborn. Time to "drop out," "turn on," and "tune in.""

"I've left specific instructions that I do not want to be brought back during a Republican administration."

"If you want to move beyond hive-docility, you must become God the Moralist."

"Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time."

"John asked what he could do to help my campaign for governor. "Write a campaign song," I replied. "Okay," said John, "what's the theme?" "Our campaign slogan is 'Come together, join the party.'" "Great title," said John. He grabbed his guitar and started improvising. Come together right now. Don't come tomorrow, don't come alone, Come together right now,"

"LSD is a drug that causes insanity in people who have not taken it."

"LSD is a psychedelic drug which occasionally causes psychotic behavior in people who have NOT taken it."

"Monotheism is the primitive religion which centers human consciousness on Hive Authority. There is One God and His Name is _______ (substitute Hive-Label). If there is only One God then there is no choice, no option, no selection of reality. There is only Submission or Heresy. The word Islam means "submission". The basic posture of Christianity is kneeling. Thy will be done."

"My advice to myself and to everyone else, particularly young people, is to turn on, tune in and drop out. By drop out, I mean to detach yourself from involvement in secular, external social games. But the dropping out has to occur internally before it can occur externally. I'm not telling kids just to quit school; I'm not telling people to quit their jobs. That is an inevitable development of the process of turning on and tuning in."

"Nobody ever understands what a pioneer is doing."

"Now the name traditionally given to external objects or processes which change you internally is sacrament. Sacraments are the visible and tangible techniques for bringing you close to your own divinity."


"My advice to people today is as follows: If you take the game of life seriously, if you take your nervous system seriously, if you take your sense organs seriously, if you take the energy process seriously, you must turn on, tune in, and drop out."

"People have to go out of their mind before they can come to their senses."

"Seven million people I turned on, and only one hundred thousand have come by to thank me."

"People use the word "natural" ... What is natural to me is these botanical species which interact directly with the nervous system. What I consider artificial is 4 years at Harvard, and the Bible, and Saint Patrick's cathedral, and the sunday school teachings."

"Science is all metaphor"

"That intermediate manifestation of the divine process which we call the DNA code has spent the last 2 billion years making this planet a Garden of Eden. An intricate web has been woven, a delicate fabric of chemical-electrical-seed-tissue=organism=species. A dancing, joyous harmony of energy transactions is rooted in the 12 inches of topsoil which covers the rock: metal, fire, core of this planet."