429. Jamie Wheal: Ethical Cult Building & Ecstatic Sex Practices for Awakening Your Inner Mystic

Jamie Wheal

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

I say this all the time – but today’s interview is one of my favorites of all time. Jamie Wheal is a talented conversationalist, killer writer, and the author of Recapture the Rapture, a supremely high-level how-to book, if you will, on how people might recapture the individual bliss and collaborative magic that we’ve strayed so far away from.

Jamie Wheal is an expert on peak performance and leadership, specializing in the neuroscience and application of Flow states. He has advised everyone from the U.S. Naval War College and Special Operations Command, the athletes of Red Bull, and the owners of NFL, NBA, MLB, and Premier League teams to the executives of Google, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, Cisco, and Young Presidents' Organization.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

I say this all the time – but today’s interview is one of my favorites of all time. Jamie Wheal is a talented conversationalist, killer writer, and the author of Recapture the Rapture, a supremely high-level how-to book, if you will, on how people might recapture the individual bliss and collaborative magic that we’ve strayed so far away from.

We assess society at this stage of de-evolution before delving into ways Jamie has uncovered that we may deepen our understanding, and thus, our experience. Then, we spend some time talking about sex – past the stigmas and social strcutures put in place to distract and confuse us – to hone in on what a deeply spiritual and connective practice it can be, if you let it.

We wrap with a thoughtful dissection of what makes a bad cult, and what makes a good one. Jamie delivers his insight without even a hint of pretentiousness; he’s honest, hopeful, and confident – giving his words an inviting warmth that I know you’ll enjoy.

00:07:34 — A Critical Juncture for Humans

  • Recapture the Rapture by Jamie Wheal
  • 17k-foot hike to a hot spring full of snakes
  • Connection between “Rapture” and “rapture”
  • The Woodstock/Burning Man of 1803 
  • American spiritual soup
  • Why we can’t hear the centrists

00:34:23 — Ascension is Possible: Finding Meaning 3.0 

  • William James and nitrous oxide (The Atlantic)
  • Substances as a tool
  • Your brain on nitrous oxide
  • Intentionality is everything
  • Ritualistic use in tribal Western New Guinea

00:59:01 — Sexual Practices to Deepen Your Experience

  • Illuminating the lack of research on sexuality 
  • Unique nature of human sexuality 
  • Sex magic and hermetic traditions
  • Creating a more exalted experience 
  • Truly making love 

01:31:34 — Building Ethical Cults

More about this episode.

Watch on YouTube.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:00:07] Let's say somebody who can bring someone else into a more expanded state than they can harness or access themselves. They're going to want to do one of four things to that person. If it's passive positive, like I just had that state experience, I want to stay more. I'm going to sign up for the next question. You want to follow them. If it's super active positive, I want to merge with them. I want to love them. I want to project on them. I might even want to fuck them, which is why there's also so many scandals in evangelical churches and everything else because of the Holy Ghost feeling it's tough to keep up your pants. You got to put it someplace. And so there's the follow or the fuck.

And then if it goes negative, it goes below the equator into some kind of reactivity or fear base, the first thing would be to fear them. I need to recoil. They're up in my business; they're telling me about; I'm going to have to let go; this is uncertain; I don't know what's happening, so I fear them. And then if you get either really your back up against the wall or you get them up, then we go to fight them. So the fear, fuck, follow, fight seems to be the default for everybody from Malcolm X to MLK to Jerry Garcia to Osho to Gandhi to-- you name it. My name is Jamie Wheal, and this is the Life Stylist podcast.

Luke Storey:  [00:01:21] Hey, humanoids, Luke Storey here. I am so excited to drop today's episode. I just wrapped this interview a couple of hours ago, and I got to say my head is still spinning with ideas and inspiration. What an epic guest! This is Episode 429, Ethical Cult Building and Ecstatic Sex Practices for Awakening your Inner Mystic featuring Jamie Wheal. Your show notes, links, and transcripts are located at lukestorey.com/rapture. Let's go ahead and tee up our guests for those of you who are unfamiliar. 

Jamie Wheal is the author of the global bestseller and Pulitzer Prize-nominated Stealing Fire and the founder of the Flow Genome Project, an international organization dedicated to the research and training of human performance. Now the flow of this chat is loosely tethered to the topics and the sequence of Jamie's latest and daresay greatest book, Recapture the Rapture. We start out by exploring our current crisis of meaning and our general flailing in the face of a broad choice of impending apocalyptic outcomes as a species. So we dissect tribalism, cultural division, and the many crises in which we find ourselves at this critical turning point.

Next, we dig our heels into some cultural anthropology and neurophysiology. And Jamie shares his insights on how we can each develop practices using sexuality and even some substances to create the states required for individual ascension to higher levels of awareness and even social cohesion. So we spend the first hour or so navigating this terrain. Then in hour two we map out a plan for what he refers to as ethical cult building or stated otherwise, systems of conscious community we can create to support one another to experience a new paradigm of social structure.

Now, I'll blaze through but a few of the sub-topics covered here and then we'll get right into it, the story of Jamie finding himself in a hot spring full of snakes 17,000 feet up in the mountains of Tibet, Jamie's definition of capital R Rapture in the historical and biblical sense and the small r rapture in experiencing ecstatic states, the pros and cons of using substances to achieve those states, author William James's use of nitrous oxide or laughing gas, the value of using psychedelics as a rite of passage at the milestones of life like adolescence, marriage, and death, and the pitfalls of using them recklessly, the evolutionary context of human sexuality and the horned ape theory, the reason science has failed to put much effort into researching human sexuality as a whole, and the many powerful sexual practices anyone can use to deepen intimate bonds and achieve higher states of consciousness and even overall performance.

Then as we enter phase two of the interview, we get into some deeply compelling ideas on how unethical and exploitative cults come to be and why many cult leaders and their followers are led astray and often harmed in the process. We'll also touch briefly on my personal experience with cults. And Jamie then provides a very insightful list of red flags to watch out for so that we don't find ourselves entrenched in a cult unknowingly. And in the finale of this episode, Jamie lays out some very thought-provoking ideas on how we can create conscious communities or micro-cultures that are universally beneficial to all involved and free of the trappings of the infamous cults we've come to know and hopefully avoid.

And finally, we close the circle with the foray into the 12 traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous and how that model of organizing principles might be a viable and maybe even indestructible template for creating lasting communities moving forward. Now, I've said this before and I'll likely say it again, that this was one of my all-time favorite episodes. Its content is timely and chock full of practical insights that might just get us over the hump of our current societal shitstorm. So I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And if that's the case, please share it far and wide. All right, get your thinking caps on and welcome Mr. Jamie Wheal to the Life Stylist podcast.

Jamie Wheal, welcome to the show.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:05:29] Thanks for having me, man.

Luke Storey:  [00:05:29] Yeah, I'm really excited to talk to you today. There is almost too much to talk about. That is my fear largely because you're a very broad thinker and a big creative thinker. I like to think that, to some degree, I share that quality with you. And I got to say I've been just completely consumed by your most recent book, Recapture the Rapture. As I was telling you pre-interview, I did an experiment. I started the audiobook at about 1.5 speed and read along with the physical hard copy of the book, and then got pretty good at that because I wanted to take notes because if I listen to an audiobook, "Oh, I want to talk to him about that," then I forget. Or I'm in the car I'm going to run off the road trying to take a note. Then I bumped it up to two then eventually today when I was getting the last chapter in, I ended up on 2.5.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:06:24] Holy moly.

Luke Storey:  [00:06:25] Yeah, which is really an interesting way to take in a book, but it did help me actually get the gist of the whole thing and be able to parse out what I think might be attainable in terms of the conversation. Before we start, I want to just say, budding writer to establish successful writer, your writing is insanely good. There are literally dozens of sense where I'm just like, "Ah, that's fucking good." That'd be just a sentence, a paragraph great, but I mean just so many brilliant word plays. So it was really inspiring to me, just from a writing perspective of setting the bar. And I had to resist the downside of comparison because quarter the way through, I'm like, "Luke, why do you even bother--" You know what I mean? "That compare and despair thing?"

Jamie Wheal:  [00:07:19] Oh, I'm going to hate that.

Luke Storey:  [00:07:20] Yeah, I mean, it's like if you're a guitar player, "Oh, I'm going to play guitar." And then you listen to Jimi Hendrix. It's kind of like, well, why? And I had that feeling, but I'm going to get over it. I will use it as inspiration and not despair. What's the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?

Jamie Wheal:  [00:07:38] I think the thing I'm most curious about is almost the answer to the question that this book, Recapture the Rapture, tees up, which is if we're in a meaning crisis, and our old forms of meaning are collapsing under the weight of our reality, then what is a new way forward? Sort of a meaning 3.0. And so for me right now, I am super geeked on all things, big history, literally not even just American history over the last few centuries or 1,000 years even, but just more like, literally, what is the evolution and direction or what is the direction of evolution? Question. Is there one?

And what is the teleological thrust or story with a point and an ending of the human experience or consciousness in the universe or even consciousness on this planet? And combining everything from geology and evolutionary biology, literally, origins of life, are they in thermal vents in the oceans, are they in these hot springs, in the deserts? And how did that happen? And what is the driving force of life? And what is the driving force of emerging consciousness? And how can we understand the human experience within that bigger org such that fundamentally, we have a story that can provide us with hope and direction, and consolation and motivation that could survive even the collapse of our civilization?

So that's what I'm reverse engineering for. I'm like, "What is this story that actually centers us, places us in the arc of something that matters a plot we are participants in? And what would give us a sense of back to the unfolding of consciousness through the eons on this earth, whether or not our current expression of culture persist indefinitely? Because if that crashes, most people's stories are out of luck. So what is an anti-fragile mytho poetics for the apocalypse? That's what I'm geeking out right now.

Luke Storey:  [00:09:38] Okay. That's great. Not that I was expecting this answer, but one could answer like, "Yeah, I'm really into baseball lately. My team's ahead this season, and I'm stoked. I got a new barbecue."

Jamie Wheal:  [00:09:50] I know I'm a little late to the whole PokemonGo thing, but it's just fired me up.

Luke Storey:  [00:09:54] That's hilarious, man. That's very cool. Well, that sets the perfect premise of this chat really is to just completely compress your book down into sum of its parts is where are we, where have we been, where do we want to go, and how are we going to get there, which you've given us. If anyone just took a few of the tools in this book, and I'm sure many people listening are already practicing many of the things that you talk about in terms of consciousness expansion and then as we are able to support ourselves and evolve as individuals that we might come together in mutually supportive and healthy ways, I'm sure many people are doing that, but what a daunting task just to get your own ship together. To get your own house in order is no small feat. I'm aware of it. I'm in the process of doing that myself for all these years. And it's a fun process.

But then how do we actually come together and support each other in doing so without ultimately creating a cult that is exploitive of the people that it intended to serve in the first place? But anyway, I want to set a little bit of a framework. So no, I don't. Actually, the first thing I want to ask you is tell me about this. I'm a hot springs junkie. My number one favorite thing in the world is soaking in hot springs. And at one point in the book, it's totally related to a much deeper story, but you talk about being up in the Himalayas or something in Tibet and soaking in a hot spring, finding that it was full of snakes, and I was like, please just tell me what happened with that.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:11:31] Absolutely unfucking real. So we hike into 17,000 feet to this little tantric monastery that had been-- was so high up, the Chinese had missed it. So it was intact from the Cultural Revolution and their annexation of Tibet. And at the same time, it was this Nunnery over these mountains from the neighboring monastery and they were doing sky burials when we got there. So to picture this incredible, like, literally like Yosemite times 10 as far as scale. It was just fucking monastery with this huge Alpine river pouring out of these sheer granite faces.

And then going past these flat to kind of like Potala Palace style Tibetan structures, which was the nunnery and then straight through this rock wall, boom, the whole thing just punches straight through the mountain. This story is part of some of the magic. That's how it happened because that's not erosion work, the river just goes through a hole in the side of the mountain. And right next to that spot with this huge churning whitewater are these amazing hot springs. So we get there after busting ass for days.

And we finally get up there and we're like, oh my gosh, it's afternoon. It's nearly sunset. We're going to rock this. This is going to be a peak moment. For sure, we're going to nail this one. We get on our trunks. We go tiptoeing down to the river, we hop in, and then the sun's setting. And we're like, this is the life winning. And then one of our students looks down and screams bloody murder, and she's like, "There's a snake around my leg." And we're like, whatever go, you are tripping. This is elevation sickness, whatever we're going to play through. And then she keeps wiggling.

And then we just suddenly look around and in the fading light, the stone wall around us is just pulsing. And we're like, what the fuck? And then we zero in on it. It is all this. It's like six to nine inches of snakeheads, cantilever out from the rocks all weaving and looking at us, and it was absolutely horrific. I have a mortal fear of snakes of any stripe. I scream like a schoolgirl. If one crosses my path, my kids bust my balls all day long on this. So to see that while we're sitting there in the water was just absolutely over the top and we never went back.

Luke Storey:  [00:13:46] And you-- I'm assuming, in the book, you stated that they ended up they weren't poisonous, but you don't know that in the moment, right?

Jamie Wheal:  [00:13:53] No, in the moment you're just like this just is wigging out every little monkey bone in my body and I'm out of here.

Luke Storey:  [00:13:59] And it's so unexpected too. We were talking about Colorado where you've lived and I've lived as well. And I was always disappointed because snakes were really hard to come by there. At that altitude, they weren't that common. When I was a kid in California, my main pastime for a number of years was catching snakes. And so if I was at 17,000 feet, I would be less expectant of snakes appearing, let alone in a freaking hot spring. You see those on National Geographic Channel and stuff. You see the hot spring monkeys, but I've never seen any animals come near hot springs ever and I've been in dozens if not 100 or more of them, I'd say over my lifetime. So yeah, I had to just get more insight on that. Let's begin by defining rapture briefly being the premise of your book. If we're going to recapture this, what's your definition of it?

Jamie Wheal:  [00:14:52] Yeah, I think there's two, and it's really important to tease them apart. So on the capital R Rapture, what we're thinking of is typically some form of end of time story closely identified with the Christian evangelical movement in America. There was a series of books left behind that then blew up this notion that at some point in the future, quite near future, possibly, all the saved or blast will be beamed up to the mothership. And then all the folks, the leftovers, which is that HBO show will be left behind. So that's the idea of the Christian evangelical Rapture. There are lots of others around the world of some form of end-time deliverance.

But that's a very specific one. And it has implications for everybody, nonbelievers and believers because it's strongly influencing American geopolitics. So there's a very strong element of Christian belief. And Martin Luther King also subscribed to this school of thought. So it crosses party lines, but it is actually informing our policies with Israel, our military aid, armaments, all sorts of things in the Middle East because there are American voting citizens and donors and politicians and legislators that are actually egging on a final showdown in the Middle East and armed conflict because it brings us closer to the return of Jesus for the second coming, and you're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, the press is like separation of church and state, what? So everyone's entitled to their own religious beliefs. That's one of the pillars of American civil society.

But when a small subsection of the population start influencing literally geopolitics and are actually egging us on to a final confrontation, you're like, we should really be talking about this together. So it's not even like we're not on the same page. We're not even in the same books. So that is capital R Rapture that it would be really important for us all to think more about. And that's just one example. There are other ones where, for instance, like the techno-utopian rapture, even Elon's discussions of moving to Mars, Stephen Hawking agreed, the idea that if we don't figure a way to get off the planet by the end of this century, we could be doomed. We might snuff it. That's a major, major assumption for a bunch of super smart people to come to.

Luke Storey:  [00:17:05] And, of course, it begs the question, okay, if we're going, who gets to go and who decides?

Jamie Wheal:  [00:17:10] Yeah, all sorts of things. And those all become redemptive stories, but only for a tiny 1% population. So then if that's the situation, we're in a world of increasing volatility, crisis, uncertainty, lots of people are wigging out and it's super tempting to want to leapfrog to a happily ever after, if not for everyone, at least for me and my people, then the flip side is how do we, as individuals not get overwhelmed by that? How do we not succumb to anxiety, depression, grief, melancholy, the diseases of despair that we know so much about these days? How are we not deeply traumatized by this unspooling of our reality? And that's the recapturing of the lowercase rapture. Our own personal bliss, belonging, wholeness, vitality, aliveness, integration, health. So we need to recapture our personal lowercase raptures in order to be able to draw from the healing, the inspiration, and the connection that we need to address the capital R Rapture. How does this all go down?

Luke Storey:  [00:18:12] Awesome. Sort of like become the change you want to see in the world type thing. So if we want to become that change, then what are the tools that we can use to facilitate that change, which is a lot of what's laid out in the book.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:18:25] Fundamentally, how to become a DIY, anti-fragile agent of change.

Luke Storey:  [00:18:31] Love it. Okay, cool. Thank you for illuminating that. So part one of the book goes into this idea around choosing your own apocalypse, and the meaning crisis in which we find ourselves now. So we've got meaning 1.0 based on faith, then meaning 2.0 based on modernism, and then 3.0 is where we're hoping to lean into now. Could you maybe just give a brief setup for that part of it?

Jamie Wheal: [00:19:00] Yeah, just super quickly. And obviously, for the last 10 to 100,000 years, we have always subscribed to the belief system of our tribe or clan. And that's given us the answers to who am I, what's going on, and what should I do with this one precious life kind of thing. So like, oriented us and informed us and directed us. And then, really, lately, the last few decades, we've seen a seeming, I wouldn't say permanent, but a new trend, that is less and less people are affiliated with organized religions of any stripe. So that's the spiritual, the non-religious, the nuns, none of the above, that group of people. And for the first time ever in human history, which is it's an easy statement to say that, but really think about that, for the first time ever, as long as we've ever been human, there are more people that don't believe and don't subscribe to a community of faith or practice than do.

Luke Storey:  [00:19:54] Oh, that's huge.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:19:55] It's huge.

Luke Storey:  [00:19:56] That's interesting.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:19:57] Just think of the logic of it. You didn't flip the bird to be shaman, or your rabbi, imam or priest and to be a believer or simply to be one of the people and entitled to the rights and privileges of our tribe. But to be a nonbeliever was to be a pagan, a heretic, an apostate, and actively persecuted and dehumanized. So it wasn't a good survival strategy to be outside the pale of the church, whatever flew on the roof.

Luke Storey:  [00:20:22] As crazy as the world and its inhabitants are at the moment, which we were talking about earlier, you could take any slice of history or prehistory and probably think from that perspective, the world's gone mad, and so has everyone else. But I wonder if it's the circles that I run in, it seems to me that more people are "spiritual" in quotes than ever before as things are falling apart, and there's all this tribalism and chaos on one end. 

But I wonder if people are less spiritual in terms of being associated with a religious organization or identifying with a particular theology or belief system, but are perhaps more people open to the idea that there is some sort of spiritual nature to life itself and are seeking in various ways, maybe, however, independently, to become closer to that and to integrate that into their lives? That's my only hope is that we are finding our way we might have just left the church as a whole to do it.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:21:27] Yeah. And just know that's not a novelty, or an aberration. That's a profound, that's a deeply American expression of religiosity. So the first and second great awakenings were in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and they rip through the colonies. Literally, they were called the burned over districts where those awakenings happened and their complaint was we are sick and tired of the stuffy orthodoxy, the rules and regs of our parents and grandparents, and their orthodox religions. 

We crave and yearn for and deserve direct experience. This is my own personal Jesus. This is walking with the Lord. This is notions of grace, charismatic possession, or inhabitation. and like 1803 Cane Ridge, Kentucky man, they had basically the Woodstock meats Burning Man of their era. And it was the far western hemisphere of the country at the time, the Appalachian Ridge. It was bumfuck, Kentucky. They had over 10,000 people gather. 

There was so many crowds that the charismatic preachers that were drawing the big crowds, just like DJs had to build scaffolding to be up above the crowd. People stayed up all night. They were swinging whiskey, they were getting busy, they were playing fiddle and banjo tunes, it was a total rager, and this is 1803. So this notion of what you just described with a spiritual but not religious, is actually 100% in keeping with this persistent American religiosity versus some novelty--

Luke Storey:  [00:22:52] We're still on this upward bound hockey stick.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:22:56] We're seekers. We're mystics magical thinkers, seekers, even Trump where people say he's factually challenged and make shit up that he wants to be more true. And just a lie repeated often enough, said Frederick Gubbels, becomes the truth. It actually has roots in New Age thought just like the seeker. Norman Vincent Peale was his minister, one of his only bouts of quote-unquote, "observant Christianity" was actually to the power of positive thinking guy, which weds to the secret and New Age conversation. So you're like, oh, this is the same as it ever was and we've all come out of the same goofy-ass American spiritual soup.

Luke Storey:  [00:23:38] Oh, that's hilarious, man. In terms of breaking down where we find ourselves now, one thing that I have noticed despite the fact that I think more and more people are starting to embrace some sort of spiritual practice, is that the divisiveness and the tribalism is just out of control partially because I think it's just the nature of things to cyclically go that way because you lean too far one way and there's this rebound effect and it goes too far the other way, and we're always boomeranging back and forth between conserving what once was that we value and embracing the new and the fear of what's new to the people that want to embrace the old and all, they call it left right liberal conservative, but perhaps because everyone has a microphone now it's just-- I don't know if it's worse, or if people are just louder because everyone has an Instagram microphone or whatever they have. Everyone can pop up their own website and be a news source now.

But I'm sitting back just going like, wow, man, can everyone just take it down a notch? Let's relax. I think there are more people who are probably-- because these are the people I like to think that I'm around and consider myself amongst their ranks that like just resting in the middle and not seeking an extreme, but just kind of the people I guess that have moved here to Texas to recently that I know is kind of, I just want to do good in the world, be as kind as possible, successful as possible, and just not be fucked with and I don't have any desire to--

Jamie Wheal:  [00:25:17] Maybe go bow hunting on some shrooms with my bros. That's so wrong.

Luke Storey:  [00:25:21] We could. I coined a phrase a couple days ago, I think we're going to see if it goes viral called Texafonian. So you heard it here first, folks. No, it is we are all hilarious memes of ourselves. But I think that more people in terms of their worldview really just want to get along with people and just have a family, have a career, buy a house, just live their life. And then the voices on both sides of this just happened to be the loudest. So it seems like there's more of them, whether you call that fundamentalist right wingers or crazy cultural Marxist left-wingers. I just think that people in the middle aren't as vocal. Do you share that perspective?

Jamie Wheal:  [00:26:03] Yeah, I mean, our buddy Tristan Harris, who founded the Center for Humane Technology, he was the Google ethicist and then did that social dilemma documentary, he uses the phrase limbic capitalism, meaning it's just going straight into our primal fight-flight, survival instincts and it's all algorithmically optimized. So you're right, the moderate middle has always been the extremes. 

We've got the story of the American Revolution and the founding of this republic from the propagandists to one, but if you take a look at actually what was happening in the colonies, of course, they were all loyal English subjects, a few here and there had their grievances and grumbles but their identity was 1000% English or British. So the Tories who were like, you guys are a bunch of Yahoo's and you're about to do a smash and grab for your own benefits we're not in. It got flogged off to Canada. They all had to flee.

So yeah, so we've always had this moderate middle. And especially right now our perception doesn't reflect demographic reality because they've done some fascinating studies on the usual suspects platforms-- Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tik, Tok, whatever-- and have found that 90% of the posts and retweets or 90% of user generated content is actually coming from less than 10% of the population. And because it's limbic capitalism, and it's algorithmically optimized, you can either do cuteness and adoration, all kitten and puppies, or you do outrage. And outrage is almost always a stem dynamic. And so we're now getting AI weaponization and optimization of that fringe 5% on either side, screaming at each other across the middle.

And because those are our visual reference points, no man's land is looking increasingly sketchy to hang out in. You're like, oh, this is like we're done. This is like World War I. [Inaudible 00:27:46] barbed wire and mustard gas up here. So I'm going to go hauling us back into the nearest foxhole, but those foxholes have moved further and further apart and they're being manned by lupia and lupia extremist. So yeah, I would say that perception is wildly distorted from the number of people who have always just like those Tories and those colonists, they just wanted their farms because think about it, if George Washington and his crew camp, they still killed other cows, trampled the fields, slept with their daughters, did whatever they did, no one wanted that. We have always around the world wanted a chance to live our lives as quietly and peacefully as possible, and to have our children have a better life than we did. And I think that is a profoundly unifying human experience. And it's important for us to remember it as we seek to bridge those extreme divides.

Luke Storey:  [00:28:35] I have a dream that-- I don't like politics or really know that much about them in general, but what if that group in the middle, the biggest yet least vocal group actually started to consolidate some power and even form a political party of sorts?

Jamie Wheal:  [00:28:51] Here's the most interesting thing I've heard. It comes out of the digital democracy.

Luke Storey:  [00:28:53] Why do we have so much power-- not we, I guess I would consider myself part of that group, but they're the ones that just seem to be blown wherever the wind goes from the forces on both sides that are more vocal and aggressive.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:29:07] Well, there is a nascent movement. We actually had some folks that were policy wonks, and analysts in DC come to our last event and just give us updates on what they're up to. And they're doing parallel democracy movements around the world. And so they're launching and standing up different ways of doing it. 

And one of the more interesting examples is from Taiwan, which is increasingly in the news these days, but it's liquid democracy or digital democracy. To me, it seems the most credible third-party shot, much more so than parole, much more so than other moonshot options, which is you use Blockchain-enabled voting, so stable, secure, anonymous, falsifiable, all those kinds of things, and you basically just poll citizenry on opinions on all the major social and legislative issues. And you have a candidate that simply stands up and pledges to do their best to enact the legislation of the super majority at all times. That's their platform. 

So you think about gun control, you think about reproductive rights, you think about all these things, and there's clear super majorities of actual voters. But by the time you go through the cheese grater of electoral colleges and congressional representation and everything, the system is gamed mightily by less than 30% of the population. So that right there, if everybody did the $10 donations or the $20 donations, and you actually created war chests, for the supermajority candidates, that would be a direct democracy by the people for the people work around.

Luke Storey:  [00:30:34] Wow. I like it.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:30:35] Isn't it interesting?

Luke Storey:  [00:30:36] Yeah, that's very interesting. It's helpful. I've not heard of it, but it's one of the things I'm like, is this all we've got really? [Interposing voices 00:30:42]. And like I said, even looking at both sides, I'm just like, this is just corny, as my wife would say. She just breaks it down like, this is corny. It's just lame. Leave aside the destructive nature of the system and obviously, how the citizens are usually on the short end of the stick of the geopolitical agenda. But it's just lame. There's got to be smarter people than this, and what are we going to do to perhaps get them in place? So that's exciting. There were a lot of statistics and stuff you cited in the book that were shocking and troubling. One of them was that there are more suicide deaths in the US than disease and war combined.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:30:36] And I think that might even be worldwide.

Luke Storey:  [00:30:54] Okay. And just one of the things I parsed out, I was like, if you need to know the state of things, that's a pretty solid representation of how out of touch we are and disconnected we are.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:31:54] Yeah, and this goes to that meaning crisis as well because-- and I don't mean this in any way to be alarmist, I just mean, this is a sort of heartfelt mapping of possible futures, is that if we are seeing rises in diseases of despair, if we're seeing that more people are choosing to step off this wheel than to participate in the life they were given, those are serious health indicators of how we're doing. And then you survey Gen Z, and I think it's like 30 to 40%, a significant chunk, are opting out of thinking about or planning to have a family because they don't believe that it is worth bringing another life into. So that's effectively intergenerational suicide. It's just a different time scale.

Luke Storey:  [00:32:43] It also impose depopulation scheme.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:32:45] Yeah. And we know that in the entire developed world, there's a massive demographic cliff coming where we have way too many old people and none of young people, babies, and workers to replace them. And those are massive and acute. They're not just sorters. And so you look at that, and you're like, okay, that is the working definition of cross cultural trauma, is that not only are we experiencing the challenges and griefs and disruptions of this world as it's unfolding right now, but also we've lost because of the meaning crisis, we've lost all of our old comforting and orienting stories about what it means, what's our part, and what do we do next.

So in that kind of narrative collapse, it does feel really essential for us to find stories that serve, that activate the better angels of our nature, and remind us of the high watermarks of our culture, our commitments, our values like universal humanism. All men and women, regardless of race, color, or creed are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's badass, super noble and idealistic, never ever attained, riddled with compromises and hypocrisy along the way, and unintended consequences along the way, and still the best fucking thing humans have ever come up with. And the only thing we've ever espoused that transcends our evolutionary biological imprint to care for kids, kin, and clan, and to actually extend the same caring concern to strangers on the other half of the world that don't look like us, dress like us, or worship the same God, that's revolutionary, and we're going to lose it.

Luke Storey:  [00:34:17] Yeah. Well, let's see if we can find some ways to avoid having that happen. So in part 2 of the book, you talk about this Alchemist cookbook, and you explore some of the ways that we can create meaning 3.0. And I don't want to spend too much time on this because I really want to focus on the most fun part, which is the sexuality and then as I said, get into some of the culture, ethical cult building, as we close up. 

But the five tools are respiration, embodiment, substances, music, and sexuality. And I guess we could go into substances first if I'm going to do my best to keep us on track here. But when you cover that particular tool, one of the most interesting parts to me was William James, the famous philosopher's use of nitrous oxide. So I just wanted-- because we used to call it hippie crack back in the '90s when I was going to Dead shows, and I used some recently. I was doing some stem cell stuff that was a little uncomfortable. And so I had a little nitrous tank there in the office I was provided.

And it was the first time I think I'd done nitrous oxide since Grateful Dead parking lots back in the day. And I was like, this is pretty good. This could be useful. And then I come back and start reading in your book that it does have some history of being used for something other than anesthesia and coming down off acid at a Dead show. So maybe give us a little bit of the perspective of substances as a tool because I think many people think of it as just recreational escapism, or addiction, and then some people are, of course, fervent fans of psychedelics are going to save the world. And maybe there's somewhere in the middle, which I think is where you landed.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:36:13] Yeah, I was just thinking like NYU neuroscientist, Oliver Sacks that most people are familiar with. He said, say what you want about drugs, but they work on demand. And then, Mircea Eliade, the University of Chicago, comparative religionist, in the 1950s, he wrote that famous book, Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. And there's a sense of, say what you will about them, but they actually provide a repeatable and relatively consistent shift in neuro chemistry and result in psychology. So experimentally, they're really valuable, which is why there's been this explosion of learning about theories of mind consciousness, all these things with the combination of the psychedelic renaissance lately and fundamentally high-grade measurement devices like fMRI.

So now we can put somebody in a definitive known state and scan their brain in this clunky $10 million device. And we know repeatably that the comparable thing is happening. So there is that. And in your description of nitrous-- and to me, part of the experimental insight is less what does a quote-unquote, "drug do"? It's what do we do when we are on that drug, when metabolizing that drug, and therefore how do we learn the knobs and levers to get back to that state using a much broader palette of interventions?

So as an example of that, Karl Deisseroth, who's the father of optogenetics, he's a professor at Stanford, has done a study with epileptics and mice, so both human and mice and ketamine, the dissociative anesthetic that is both used in surgeries and is also recreationally used and abused. And he did it to try and prompt an out of body experience. That's the dissociative path. And they wanted to see whether that dissociation getting out of my head, basically, for even for 15 to 45 minutes, did that help with depression and anxiety. 

So they triggered it and they figured out, the mice were doing whatever the little twitchy thing they do to indicate they're dissociated, and the people were self-reporting. And they then zeroed in on what was happening in the brain and they found a specific central region near the hippocampus that was basically giving off a 3 hertz EEG signature, and 3 hertz is damn nearly the lowest. We're up in the 30s and 40s in beta activity. Then there's alpha activity flow states. Beta activity slipping off to sleep or deep meditative states. Delta is damn near brain dead.

So 0.1 to 4 hertz is that range and he's like, oh, okay, so when these folks under the influence of ketamine are having an out-of-body experience, their brain is firing at this 3 hertz, so then, and this is my point about breadcrumbs, drugs as breadcrumbs, not as final destinations. They then went back and electrically stimulated the patient's brain, same spot to 3 hertz, no ketamine. They still had the dissociative out of body experience. And then that prompted a study--

Luke Storey:  [00:39:14] Where do I get this machine now?

Jamie Wheal:  [00:39:16] Exactly. So this is what prompted the research is then a different group of research to see that work and be like okay, let's see if we can repeat this with nitrous oxide because we know nitrous oxide according to the MIT anesthesiology department actually creates double amplitude delta wave brainwaves for 3 to 12 minutes. So after ingestion of a 50/50 gas blend, probably what you were breathing during your mask, after 3 to 12 minutes you get double amplitude delta, which is this crazy near brain-dead state things like flatliners normally only accessible in deep and dreamless sleep and no other time in the waking spectrum.

Suddenly your eyes open like backdoor lucid dreaming and you're basically like eyes open, totally alert, going through double amplitude, huge cresting brainwaves at this dupe-like frequency where you can see anything you can think of and think of anything you can see with a 300 IQ for 3 to 12 minutes. And wouldn't you know, they wanted to see does this help depression like that ketamine did and the answer was also yes. And then when you do radar plots of 5-MeO-DMT, so basically there's shots from on top of the two hemispheres of the brain, and they typically color in which parts are firing and which parts aren't, the entire fucking thing lights up like a Christmas tree on the peak of 5-MeO. So you're like, oh, this is super interesting.

So three of the known most highly engaging information dense compounds, known demand, all correlate with the delta wave frequency, which also correlates with positive psychological and mental and physical health outcomes, which also appears to be super information rich. So to me, that nitrous oxide story, that's where any mention of substances as tools really comes full circle. You're like, oh, okay, what they do is they provide ways for us to create repeatable experiments and gather data to much more deeply understand the workings of our own neurophysiology and its impacts tangential and orthogonal as they may be on our psychology and lived experience. And can we use that to better engineer the Alchemist cookbook, the tools too?

Luke Storey:  [00:41:24] God, there's so many fascinating tidbits in there. With the nitrous oxide, it's interesting because-- and then a walk away from that procedure going, oh, I need to get my own tank, but I found it really interesting to be dissociated yet still have my faculties. I was still the one grabbing the mask when I felt too much pain and wanted a little bit more. But I was there, but not there. It's a really interesting state to be in, and one that I'm not entirely unfamiliar with. But that one I think I was really tracking because I wanted to stay present, but also didn't want to be traumatized by the discomfort I was feeling with all these needles going in my freaking ear and whatnot. So it's interesting.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:42:05] Stem cells in your ear?

Luke Storey:  [00:42:08] Yeah. It's pretty wild. I had a little bit of ketamine too, 50 milligrams and a little nitrous. It was for tinnitus and hearing loss. It takes three months to see if it works. I don't know yet. It was only a month ago.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:42:21] Did you get the Bluetooth, your own tunes for the surgery? Would you mind if I just rock this out?

Luke Storey:  [00:42:27] No, it's funny, both doctors that I've worked with most recently with stem cells, one is Matt Cook out in San Jose, and this was John Lieurance in Sarasota, Florida. I just mentioned the Grateful Dead. Matt cook just blares the dead through all his surgical procedures. So last time, I was like, this is cool. Imagine if hospitals were like that? It's like light some incense, create a vibe, put on some good music and allow your nervous system to relax into the process of hopefully healing.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:42:54] And you can literally be like [Inaudible 00:42:59] but this is pretty good.

Luke Storey:  [00:43:00] And then you mentioned the 5-MeO-DMT. And the times that I've experienced that, I mean, when I re-emerge, and there's a person there to think about it, I'm always wondering, what the fuck was happening in my brain? I was like, I need to QEG next time. I was so curious. So that's fascinating too because there's just no other in my experience of 51 years, there's nothing that even comes close to that experience on all levels. But it does seem to be really centered in your brain. You just know, like, holy shit, something very unique is happening here, leaving apart all of the mystical spiritual nature of just the physiology of it is just freaking mind-blowing. It's like, you just left the planet and here you are.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:43:52] And to me, that's actually the cutting edge. I keep waiting for the psychedelic renaissance to get here because we're very much locked in. For a while it was, should we or shouldn't we? like moral justification. Then became like, giddy reports of all the new breakthrough science that legitimates and validates it. And then became hypermedicalized. So we're only ever talking about DSM 5 and reimbursable health insurance claim stuff. We're talking about this is to suicide, this is to trauma, this is to depression, this is to anxiety, this is the ADND, this to bulimia, this is to smoking cessation. And it's all working backwards from basically the medicalized pathologies of our default world. And very little is actually ontologically exploring or mapping what the fuck is going on up there.

So if, for instance, you can find a fairly coherent neurological signature, let's just say there's 10 vital signs, and if you tweak each part of your body or brain into those optimal zip codes, or sweet spots, you tend to have these profound non-ordinary states of consciousness with hyper rich information, inspiration, lateral thinking, pattern recognition, cogitation, then where are we going? Is there a coherent place or are these all just optimized meet suits and our wetware? So it's enclosed within our skin encapsulated egos, or are we accessing an information layer that is basically extemporaneous? And I don't even know what the parallel one would not have this physicality or embodiment, disembodied and extemporaneous.

And if so, what are the physics of that metaphysics? How does access coming and shutter running from those domains? How does it work? How does information there-- because it surely isn't one-to-one and linear. If it was, we'd all just play the lottery all day. But it's orthogonal and slippery. So the relationship between information from those realms going on the one hand be the source of Epiphany, the apocryphal story of Watson and Crick or Buckminster Fuller's design realm, or Einstein downloading general relativity on a rowboat in Lake Geneva. There's those moments, the graces, the Muses, or whatever it would be that we've always spoken of. And we've always done it with some form of prepositional distance from just our own thinking. From time immemorial, this was divine music. Of course, it was, that kind of a thing.

So beginning to actually, instead of just bungee jump into the back of me on and everybody's experiences just psychological content, or it's for a medical condition, or it's for whatever, it's like, actually, hey, what? If you put your body and brain into that receiver signal, as you tune your antenna in these directions, you appear to receive information that is not local, way smarter, way more complex, often funnier, and you're like, all the things that it also appears to do. And what is that space? Couldn't we start at least provisionally mapping it? 

To me, that's a super interesting branch of the psychedelic conversation because most people haven't done it in a postmodern multi-perspectival way. They've seen what they've seen, and they've then begun busily painting and decorating their very own new shiny reality tunnel, but they're just trapped in their own version, versus-- and that's what am I using on my iPad versus making the move to be like, well, wait, there's a home screen with all the apps, and I can double click on the one that's useful, but I'm not stuck or wed to that worldview exclusively. And then further inquiry, if you want it would be then and then who's holding the iPad? Looking at the home screen choosing between the apps, or the reality tunnels we click into, so to me, that would be super fun and high time.

Luke Storey:  [00:47:36] I love that. Yeah, it's funny to see where that movement is going now. And as you said, leaning into the medical system, which already, I guess there is something wrong with us. But then it's been adopted by the sick care model. There's the assumption that there's something wrong with you, but what if these tools were actually just being viewed from the perspective of what's right with you? How do we find it? 

And the interesting thing too that you alluded to was it's not even that doing breathwork, or a sexual practice or a plant medicine or something like that, is doing the thing to you, it's triggering something that you're doing. There's an empowering piece there. So maybe by the mapping you're describing, we can each get better at knowing the terrain and finding our way there and then finding the modalities to get there that are compatible with the confines of what we're willing to do and not do and, of course, which are the most safe and appropriate.

You gave this example of the mountain Ok people-- is that how you pronounce it? or Ok people of the Western New Guinea and how they treat psychedelics and these rites of passage that you give as a broad guidepost or sense of mapping of adolescence, marriage, and death. And you illustrated they have this really interesting system wherein the initiates have to really be grandfathered in. It's like the whole tribe is just taking mushrooms all the time. There are rites of passage and it's done very intentionally. I thought that was really interesting because the intentionality around substances as you know, is everything. So what else might you have to say briefly on that piece of just a word of warning for all those that are really excited and just running willy-nilly into the forest naked with the mushrooms?

Jamie Wheal:  [00:49:40] I'll just say wear your chakras. But I think the mountain Ok people are just one really cool example because I think it is fair to say that we are absolutely outside of time, history, and precedent with unrestricted access to everybody. All you can eat. That's never happened anywhere. There's no way to manage such powerful substances or experiences. So everybody talks these days about yes, integration, we need more integration. We're doing this ketamine clinic and, of course, we plan to do integration. Go to a festival, make sure you get your integration. It's elusive like vitamin C, but no one's doing it. And the reason we're not doing it is because there's no culture to keep it or hold it outside of harm reduction and emergency events and that kind of thing or specific medicalized patient-client relationships.

And so the mountain Ok people have almost a Montessori approach to how you have access. So it's not tops down, stingy priests. It's open source. Unlike a Montessori classroom, the rule for those little kids that prevent it from being mayhem is the whole place is stocked with awesome. And you are allowed, welcomed, and encouraged to take anything off the shelf that you are drawn to, provided, you've already been introduced to the proper use and care, taking it out, working with it, and putting it away again by the director, by a teacher, then you're good to go.

It's a little bit like a CrossFit gym where you can't just roll in and start throwing bars around. You have to do a three-day fundamentals or intensive like this is the Olympic lifting, this is the different bits and pieces. Now you can come here and work out till you puke. So with the mountain och, they have three different substances and a tiered roster of initiation levels. So it starts out with ginger, which we might not think of as much, but I bet if you pound pounds of raw ginger on an empty stomach not having slept, etc, etc. you might get some place. Or even just strong medicinal tonics to start with. So I think there's three to four levels of that. Then there's tobacco. And again, it's not like our American spirits or Marlboros. This is probably Nicotiana Rustica, which is 17% nicotine, not 1% nicotine, and they roll up these giant cone blunts, and just like puff tuff. So they--

Luke Storey:  [00:51:49] I've seen all these 13-year-olds puking their guts out.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:51:51] They get close to nicotine narcosis. It's like that's what they're actually at. The high end of that, that's what they're gunning for. And then finally, there are the mushroom initiations. And they're different strains. They're different species. And there's, I think three of them. And the first two is your elective bits as you get older as you mature. But then the final one is reserved for their Lamas/PhDs. 

So each invitation is fewer and fewer. People are actually leveled up to the higher reaches. And then that one is balls out like it's a crazy toxic mushroom. It's not like Amanita, but it's something that's no fun and you would not want to score right now on the dark web and try for yourself. It can kill you and would if it wasn't for all the specialized, ritualized preparations, consumptions hardships. And it's still a roll of the dice. That's what makes it the big daddy initiation. That's the boss level.

And the key thing, which I think is just awesome, about the end result of that is that they have an open source approach to Revelation. So if you get initiated to the highest level, and you chip balls and see some shit, you get to bring that back and you get to add it to the holy book. So rather than you being burned at the stake as a heretic, like Joan of Arc, you don't get to talk to God. That door shut a long time ago. They keep updating their scripture with the latest revelations from their most initiated elders.

Luke Storey:  [00:53:10] So cool.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:53:11] Isn't it?

Luke Storey:  [00:53:11] Yeah. I think just as a kid that didn't go through any rites of passage and put myself through a lot of pain, I think about just how incredible that could be if it was done right. And you point out in the book, that we give our kids amphetamines, antidepressants, and anti-psychotics without even batting an eye. But imagine telling someone that you want to give your kid their first 5-MeO dose at 13 or 14, you get thrown in prison. And people would think you are insane and abusive. And not that that wouldn't be right, but just as a stark contrast to that we don't really think about anything in terms of really potentially dangerous drugs that we're giving our kids yet to many people the thought of initiating a younger person through the intentional use of something like plant medicine, mushroom, etc. is just completely out of our cultural possibility.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:54:13] Yeah. And to be clear, I would think that 13 and 14 year old is exploitative. To me, it would child abuse.

Luke Storey:  [00:54:20] Well, I mentioned that because it wasn't just an idea that popped in my head. One of the facilitators that I sat with, with that particular medicine is from a tribe in Mexico and explained to me that they do use 5-MeO-DMT, the Bufo Toad, as an initiation for kids when they turn 13. I don't know if it's the full thing which could be very destabilizing. So yeah, I'm with you on that.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:54:20] But that's also within a culture and community care.

Luke Storey:  [00:54:31] And they probably like these folks from New Guinea have a whole cultural system that makes that safe and appropriate and hopefully useful. But I remember him telling me that. It's like, man, I couldn't really use that probably at 13 or maybe not, maybe too much, I don't know.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:55:05] Well, that's the other thing. We talked about phases of life. And then so we use the mountain Ok people as an example, but then that idea of adolescent initiations, maybe 16, 18, somewhere in there, marriage, obviously, union communion, and then end of life preparation, those to me, if there was ever a TLDR, to my perspective on psychedelics, as I think used appropriately and informed in culture a good way they can be powerful catalysts for healing, inspiration, and connection. And in general, people should be doing more less often.

So schedule those three-lifetime heroic doses and initiatory experiences and then process and integrate the living fuck out of them for the rest of your days. Just like medicine quest for the Lakota or any other indigenous people, they went like, "Oh, bro, and I did the circle of stones. And then I didn't fucking eat anything for three or four days. And then welcome, Tonka man, he landed on my head. I can't wait to go back next week." They had it, they cherished it, they put it in their medicine bag, and they worked with it for the rest of their days.

Luke Storey:  [00:56:15] Yeah. Well, I think with something like 5-MeO, even if someone never so much has had a sip of beer, hit off a joint their entire life, one solid experience of that is enough, probably from multiple lifetimes. And there's a lot to integrate to your point.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:56:33] We are all just incredibly complicated star-like.

Luke Storey:  [00:56:37] It's not something I think most people would benefit from doing all the time or doing even many times. But I think about sometimes as my parents get older, and I think, oh, man, I'm facing their mortality, and then look at my own mortality. I think, man, how am I going to process when they pass? I don't know what I will do.

Jamie Wheal:  [00:56:58] You get a ratcheting. You feel the entire wagon wheel, clunking forward, and you're like, oh, I'm now on the shop in my family line. I have no appreciation for how much they were just breaking trail ahead of me.

Luke Storey:  [00:57:11] So that's something I'm pondering, oh, yeah, there's going to be another initiation. I have a number of ways to approach that.

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Let's get into the sexuality. In part one of the sexual part, you gave the evolutionary context for sexuality and compare McKenna's stoned ape theory to what might be even more likely or at least equally so the horned ape theory and how much sexuality has actually shaped who and what we are as a species. And what I thought was also really interesting is the fact that you illuminated the lack of research by and large scientifically. It's like sexuality just tucked away in a drawer and people that try to insert that word into their research papers, get their funding polled. It's just crazy. I had never thought about it because I'm not really in the academic circles and I just see what comes out of them. But I'm like, wow, we are really missing a huge piece here. Maybe just give people a little bit of framework for that, the horned ape, just the evolutionary part of that.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:00:03] Yeah, for sure. And just to put in some perspective, we've split the atom. We've built Hubble space telescopes and large hadron colliders to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang. And it wasn't until the mid '90s, we had an anatomically accurate map of a woman's clitoris.

Luke Storey:  [01:00:26] Oh my God. 

Jamie Wheal:  [01:00:28] You're like, what? The highest concentration of nerve endings in any body including men's and the central reproductive organ of life on this planet. And you're like, wait a sec, 1990? What? How exactly? So just to frame the evolutionary run at this because we're just so locked into our psychological orientation to our sexuality and cultural stories and norms and taboos and all of these things, just to pan back and do the anthropologist from space overview is we are utterly unique among 4,000 species of animals in our sexuality. So human sexuality is in no way normative. It's a complete freaky aberration, and very, very specifically in the frequency, intensity, intentions, results of our sexuality. So for instance, everything from male penis size, which is four times any of our other great ape cousins.

Luke Storey:  [01:01:34] That's so crazy. You're talking about like 500-pound gorillas.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:01:38] One and a half Jimmies.

Luke Storey:  [01:01:40] Poor guys.

Jamie Wheal: [01:01:41] Yeah. And you're like, oh, okay, so this was a mating signal. And evolutionary psychologist Jeff Miller says it is likely a selection process by the females, but it's basically a status display saying look-- the phrasing was, look, I can pack all of this. I'm so fit and healthy. I'm such a G, that I can afford to pack all this useless protoplasm onto the end of my penis. So I should be a-- It's like learning to dance and Tango or for Amanda. That's saying, I've got bodily control, I've got time to learn these things. It's sexy for those signaling reasons.

And then also women's hips and breasts. Most animals only have swollen breasts when they're actively lactating. Wide hips and full breasts impede evasion and mobility. So they're an anti-selection process other than it serves some sexual selection advantage. Then there's concealed ovulation on the part of the females. We're not purple bottom baboons or mooing cows that all know their cycles and signal them and it's widely understood.

And frequent female orgasm, clearly not as frequent as sex-positive therapist and everybody else would want and argue for but still much more so than the animal kingdom where the animal kingdom sex is nasty, brutish, and short. It often leaves you dead or at risk. You can get clipped, there's competitors, there's other predators. There's a whole host of things. You get in, you get out, you get done, you forget about it, until it briefly during estrus or heat consumes everybody, and then is gone again.

So our persistent interest, our persistent physiological displays, the unique adaptations, you're like, oh, wow, we are absolute freaks in the animal kingdom. And then what if we told you that somewhere in the forest there's a male and a female, this very special species, and they have magic bits. And when they put their magic bits together for long enough, and just the right combination, light shoots out their brains. You're like, who are those things, and then sometimes it even it's such a magical and special thing that it can even create new life. And this is this whole amazing, wonderful package. And look at those little creatures and they can basically fuck themselves to God consciousness. How about that?

So you're like oh, so now we've done the anthropologist from space, but we've just taken a clear-eyed look and not that we are just in the water, not knowing we're wet of dysfunctional, socially conditioned, indulgent, repressed, psychosexual hooey. We can actually be like, wow, we are virtually alone in the animal kingdom to be wired up the way we're wired up. And if you were looking for the consciousness explosion of what 70,000 years ago, whenever it was when we suddenly got super smart, and known tools and fire and flintknapping and all these good things and music and a bunch of other stuff, Terence McKenna famously said, we came down to the trees, we cooked through dung for bugs, for food, mushrooms grew on dung, ergo we must have found and eaten those mushrooms also etc, etc. hence tripping clever apes.

And maybe it's a tenuous theory and there's definitely mixed opinions within solid anthropological academic circles. But you're like, well, what else? Could it produce sustained brain change? Would have been naturally and intuitively and self incenting or autotelic? People are going to do it. You don't need a billboard campaign, you don't need tax rebates. People are going to do it. And why ubiquitously available? Not just let's just say in the little microclimates where those particular mushrooms grow. And you would say that oh, yeah, sexuality is one of-- other than breathing, and food or hunger, it is one of the top three strongest evolutionary drives. So we know we're hard-coded like evolution through the kitchen sink and making sure we could pull that off every generation with no instruction manual. So you're like, definitely, it's autotelic. We're going to do it. I'm going to figure out a way.

Luke Storey:  [01:05:47] I love the example you gave of the film, The Blue Lagoon. I haven't seen it probably since I was a kid, and it was out but it's a great example of what you just described to young people that grow into puberty and go, "Oh, what's this thing?"

Jamie Wheal:  [01:06:01] Your chocolate my peanut baby. Exactly. So then you realize, oh, now our sexuality actually checks all the boxes, if we were doing the forensic research as to what kind of practice behavior substance, whatever was the catalyst for our expensive brain change. And Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, he writes about this. And he says, we think of basically fire language and bipedal mobility like walking on twos or our opposable thumbs because we think of those as the cornerstones of human evolution, but in reality, you have to include sexuality in there, that our sexuality is so unique and potent because there's nothing else when you go back to us discussing the compounds, like 5-MeO, like psilocybin, like MDMA, like ketamine, like any of these, there's virtually nothing else that so reliably and so intensely creates that kind of neurochemical cascade of dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, oxytocin, serotonin, all the goodies that people generally zero in on when they're looking at mood altering or enhancement, plus neurophysiology, the static electric discharge, it's almost like when you've left your laptop open with way too many windows all week, and that it just gets glitchy and Zoom doesn't work or YouTube won't play, then you have to do a cold reboot.

So the orgasmic tension release and discharge through a primary nervous system with all of the soothing and mending and healing, neurochemical cascade that happens during and after, profoundly health-giving. And also back to that original question of recapturing our lowercase raptures in the face of uppercase Raptures, lots of crazy stories and possibilities about what could go badly wrong. The ability to discharge our micro PTSD that we're all just accumulating every day, just relating, like frantic and bored, like road, it's like crazy town. So to get to turn off our fritzing laptops through the death-rebirth experience of orgasmic release, profoundly healthy if you just consider it from the category of sexual fitness.

So if the evolutionary sexuality is like, hey, we're freaks and misfits in the animal kingdom. We have these very special capacities which appear to have made use of and they might even be responsible for our evolution and complexity, self-awareness, functionality, and for sure, pair bonding and survival of our offspring, then shouldn't we have a sexual practice that is more than just exclamation point on the end of a really good day like high five. Honey, let's bang one out for bank, or power negotiating ship to dispense or withhold in order to get other things you value or care, which is our default.

Luke Storey:  [01:08:44] The transactional.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:08:46] That's how most of us are doing, it's either high fives or tit for tats. And instead, what does sexual fitness look like that you would do just like flossing your teeth, just like going for a run, healthy cardio, just like strength and conditioning 20 years, like, of course, we would have protocols and practices that we engage in using this system for maximal health, vitality, and well being. And then, oh, by the way, if you really add them all up, and you combine all these things, you can also get to profound, magical, mystical, epiphanic state, which used to be the realms of either Tantra in the East doors, or Western sex magic and the hermetic traditions. 

And you're like, oh, now we can unlock those treasure chests, decode them with the science and the optimal psychology so you're not having to keep the mythologies from centuries ago, from places far away, and you can just decode the protocols. And you're like, oh, this is rad and we can put it towards basically reclaiming our own healing, inspiration, and connection, our own trauma work, and our own relational work, and even our own contemplative or mystical practice.

Luke Storey:  [01:09:50] Wow, I think that's what was so compelling about this piece of the book, which took two whole sections obviously--

Jamie Wheal:  [01:09:59] Just flip the wires to the bomb.

Luke Storey:  [01:10:01] But as someone who's thoroughly and probably way too much explored the first two categories of sexual expression, the transactional and also just the end of the day explanation point as you put it and really up until very recently in my life, I never gave it much thought, but also I have become increasingly bored with that and unmotivated by that realm to the point where, at times I've thought I might be getting older and having low testosterone. But I don't think it's that. I think it's just I played that card and it's like, what else is there? And the what else is there barrier-- and I'm sure I'm not alone in this-- is like, oh God, I don't want to become some tantric nerd and go through all of that.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:10:53] [Inaudible 01:10:56] for the rest of us.

Luke Storey:  [01:10:57] All the accouterment of all of the belief systems and the subcultures and all the things that's definitely not my lane. So I think what you're resting on here and have explored in the book is really fascinating because this is very easily personalized according to your preference. And we're just dealing with neurophysiology here. And so it's a matter of-- not necessarily even having a partner because some of these practices that you outlined in the book could be a solo mission, but man, you just have a partner that is somewhat compatible in their curiosity to explore these altered states in ways in which we can use sexuality as an actual practice and make something more meaningful out of it.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:11:40] You'd be like, hey, you want to go become time traveling Space monkeys? And you're like, "Yeah, sure. Let's check that out."

Luke Storey:  [01:11:47] One thing that I have remembered too-- and I probably share a lot of things in this podcast my wife would not be happy about, but my experience in one particular occasion, and this probably should be happening more and it's why I'm interested in learning about this, but in that post-orgasmic state, now there's been some study around that you explore in the book, I was having visuals. I thought I had taken a decent dose of mushrooms or something and laying there going, "What is happening?" And it wasn't even that we did anything extraordinary. It just happened to be one day this nice afternoon, the thing happened and then this thing happened. And I thought, What the fuck is this? I shared it with my wife. And she's like, "Yeah, I was just having that too." I was like, "What is that? How do we do that again?" And so I think--

Jamie Wheal:  [01:12:42] Well, that that's the middle section of the book is how you do it again and here's the end notes.

Luke Storey:  [01:12:47] In part 2 of the sex and then the recipe is as you said at the end. So this isn't something that just has to be left up to chance like, "Oh, that was nice. I hope that happens again randomly." There are actually tools. So maybe you could explore some of those, sound, and breath, and some of the other ways in which one could create a more exalted or healing experience in their sexuality.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:13:14] Yeah, and again, just to unstick us because, again, sexuality is such a sticky topic. We almost always get gunned back up in our preconceptions and assumptions. But just to basically say, hey, look, 50% of this practice, if we're describing some form of stacked practice, meaning you're doing a bunch of things together to be complimentary, and you're talking about something like the sexual yoga becoming, or sexual fitness is even simpler category, but things we would do with our physical and emotional relational arousal systems in order to increase our capacities, integration, etc, etc. Fully 50% of all the steps or instructions or assumptions on sexual at all it's just if you want to double it, you can weave in and blend sexuality. And to your point--

Luke Storey:  [01:14:06] Which is why your book isn't like, grab the sex toy and put it here. There's nothing in that realm actually, that's interesting.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:14:14] Yeah. And there's also individual practices that you just described, and that could include intimate practice solo, but there's partner practices, which is more like acro yoga, or Aikido, or massage, or just sport or rock climbing, where it's better, safer or more effective to do with another partner. And then there's potentially pot or couples practice, where there's some degree of physical or emotional intimacy involved. Therefore trust and therefore it's probably best in a dedicated relationship with its own specific agreements around that practice and everything else. So just to give everybody that sense of things.

But the simplest is you just think of anything good. You could take Thera guns, like percussive massages, you could take time massage where we're actually applying traction to each other and lengthening our muscles and opening up our joint capsule, you can do breath work either to deeply relax or to animate and vitalize or to even trip out in the sense of Holotropic, or hyperventilatory breathwork shifts state, you can do movement, spinal movement and fascia, so the sliding surfaces of our body or the mobility of our pelvis, the undulations of our spine, you can engage in all those kinds of practices.

So you could just be on a mat, on a bed, whatever it would be soft, plushies space to be and you could just be doing all of this kind of bodywork, Qilian integration. And it's fantastic, especially to music. So you have music, sight, sound, all those kinds of things. And then you can layer in gas-assisted breathwork-- oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, whatever those combinations and blends would be. You could have physician prescribed oxytocin and ketamine nasal spray, which would be a supplement. You can microdose Cialis to both partners to be boosting nitric oxide, the body-brain stuff, be boosting that. And then you can play with all those things.

And then if you include sexual arousal and stimulation and combinations, now you're really into that sexual yoga becoming space. You're like, "Oh, we're doing all the things. And we're deliberately stacking them so that they have maximum amplitude. How high do I get into the information layer and how long is my hangtime before I float back down?" And you reduce the wavelength of the time it took, the metabolic half. If you do Ayahuasca or LSD or even mushrooms, those are 8 to 12-hour experiences. And they're slow run-ups and slow run-downs, and you have to do quite a bit to get higher, but the higher both makes the shoulders weirder. You're exposed to vulnerable. You could be dealing with public situations and randos. You could be hungry, tired, cold. There's a whole bunch of things that can happen in those shoulders just like that bumper sticker on water bottles for dead heads, like set brakes are weird. That's why.

And so if you increase amplitude, decrease wavelength, not only do you get more information, but you come back without the body load or psychological vulnerabilities or exposures, and you can not fumble that football. So you can remember the bit of just crystalline insight, and you've done it in less time, which also fits in householders' pulse. There's many, many more days. I'll have 90 minutes to three hours than I have 12, which gives us the mezzo sacraments. People are talking about heroic dosages, and they're talking about micro-dosing, but very few people are talking about mezzo dosing, the middle layer.

And the middle layer is arguably the essential thing because what's happening right now is people are going and blowing out the pipes. And whether that's we go down to Peru and I do ayahuasca for five days straight, and I come back and I'm like, cross-eyed and fuzzy for six months trying to figure out what the fuck that was about, or I just went to Burning Man and I typed my obligatory like, 11 things that changed my life at Burning Man medium post that no one wants to read, but then we go from 186,000 miles a second like speed of light all the way back down to zero over months, weeks, and years. And then we look for the next atom bomb. But we're not just spinning the flywheel with these periodized once a week, once a month, once a season touchpoints that can actually keep that momentum and keep us on a more expanded integrated space.

Luke Storey:  [01:18:39] God, in an ongoing or long-term relationship too, just think about the potential for longevity. You talked about the seven-year itch and that there's actually some changes that take place within people when they're in a partnership where at certain times you become bored or disinterested in your partner in general or sexually. This opens up to me just a vast realm of possibilities. And also seems if one was to start to apply some of this, that at least in my experience, it's not just going to happen. 

It's like you need a plan and someone that's on board like, hey, date night has taken on a new meaning. Let's commit to one another that we're going to explore this realm as you've described here because I find if there's not some sort of agreement or date set or a plan that is kind of like, "Oh, that sounded cool. Yeah, that interview was great. And someday yeah, I would like to get into that." But then you get back into life and now your householding has overtaken your desire to recreate your own lowercase r rapture, so maybe what do you have in terms of how one could actually start to develop the practice and commit and get buy-in from their partner should they have one on exploring some of this?

Jamie Wheal:  [01:20:11] There's so much rich, really profound content in what you were just pointing out, which is what happens in, let's say long-term committed relationship just as an example. The 21st century and everybody's consenting adults, so choose your relational format. Just be good to each other and honor your agreements to the best of your abilities. But that said, the notion of crawl, walk, run like this is the equivalent of high-altitude mountaineering. So you don't want half a dozen revolving semi-competent downspouts. You need somebody that's going to save your ass hanging from a porter legend in a six-day storm.

So there is deep reason to at the bare minimum start with one dedicated partner even if you have more expansionist aims or goals. And what it will often do is it provides a profound source of energy, vitality, pair bonding, connection. Helen Fisher, the Kinsey Institute researcher, she said there's no such thing as casual sex. Every time there's that neurochemical cascade and imprint wherever you are on the relationship arc, and you are being shaped and changed by this incredibly evolutionary essential and neuro physiologically rich experience.

So just putting more coins in the relationship bank account, you literally can learn to make love. You can generate the feelings of attraction, of affection, of trust, of safety, of passion, of inspiration, of all. You can just tweak that shit. Once you realize you can make love, you don't have to go to your therapist to bitch and moan about why each of you isn't feeling like they've got enough of it. So that right there is game changing. And the simplest is, hey question, partner brushing teeth at night, would you be open if we explored for a fixed period of time? 28 days, 30 days, six months, a year whatever it is for you. Start small. Give yourself the option to re-up, read, visit, let it die on the vine. And would you be open to committing to sexual fitness as practice on a regularly agreed upon cadence whether we want to or not?

Luke Storey:  [01:22:18] That's the key because oftentimes, some of the greatest sexual experiences are spontaneous, whether it's with a committed partner or otherwise. But those just seem so spontaneous. They just happen. You do it when you feel like it.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:22:32] When you're spitting bricks at each other it's the last thing you feel like doing. I'm still stuck in my old game of negotiating by withholding. I feel like I'm in a power spot saying no to intimacy connection, etc, etc. And to drop that at the door and bow onto the mat as it were, and be like okay, we are showing up for our practice hell or high water. The Australian tantric teacher very long, he was a fascinating fellow. But he said something that is so jarring. You can't unhear it, which he said, "Until you'd rather eat a shit sandwich than fuck your partner. You haven't even begun Tantra." And you're like, damn, that's a high bar.

Luke Storey:  [01:23:12] Oh my God. Yeah. But I think that the key phrase there is whether you want to or not. I'm not a fitness guy. I just was not born with the gene that enjoys a high heart rate. When I worked out--

Jamie Wheal:  [01:23:31] I've never heard that. That seems so reasonable.

Luke Storey:  [01:23:32] Yeah. I have this AI exercise bike and the oxygen contrast there everything in the garage. And it's probably $10,000 worth of gear down there, which I just start my own gym and let other people use it. But I look at that thing and I'm just like, naff, not today. And it takes everything I've got to get out there. So once I do I do. And if I commit that I'm going to do it, I do it because I'm pretty good at holding commitments to myself. But it's the hurdle of doing it whether I want to or not. And the thing that differentiates whether it happens or not is if I make a decision that it's going to happen at a specific time.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:24:09] Well, there's also a pretty damn good crackerjack prize at the end of this one, way better than Peloton, hi fives, and emojis.

Luke Storey:  [01:24:15] Yeah, that's true. That's true. Let's not minimize the value of a beautiful interaction with someone. But I think that's it is that we're going to commit to this as a practice. Practice, to me, is the keyword. That's the linchpin. I remember when I first started meditating 25 years ago I was like, oh, how do you make your mind stop? I was very misinformed about the purpose and technique of it at the time, but when the word practice was involved, then "Oh, so this is something that you're going to get better at?" This is something that is going to be frustrating or difficult, and maybe you don't want to do in the beginning, but over time, you build the muscle and you get better at it.

It's like I have these guitars-- and I love the way you talk about music in your book too, I won't get off on that, but I'm not trying to be in a band. Been there, done that, couldn't make it. So stopped and did what I do now, talk to artists and rather than trying to be one. But when I pick up those guitars, something really magical happens is that my brain changes, my body changes, I get creative, I get in a flow state, it's an incredible tool for me. And there's no goal, yet I get better because it's a practice. It's not a practice of practicing guitar, it's a practice of taking myself into a state that I enjoy. And then the result of that is it takes less wherewithal for me to sit down and do it. And so the idea of actually making a concerted effort to integrate sex practices into your life is incredible.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:25:47] Yeah, well, and also, just to be super clear, there's two legs to this stool, or it's almost like a watershed, like a Continental Divide. You see those signs on mountain paths and it's like that way. Raindrop goes to the Pacific that way, it goes to the Atlantic. And so the first half of let's just call it sexual fitness is defragging our nervous systems and harddrive from micro to macro PTSD. So it's helpful. But then the other half, as you become more capable and competent together, it can become full-on magical mystical practice, revelatory and tend to not talk about that side of it simply because it can sound so ridiculous or sensational or just you know that the spiritual marketplace is so trampled with hooey. You just don't want to go near it. 

But not to undersell the fact that you can literally get the dials right in a very reproducible way with those combinations of interventions we've been discussing briefly and you can love each other out of time and space at least subjectively experientially into a place of profound epiphanic revelation aka the ancient mysteries. So we now have the neuroscience and psychology to map, and track, and explain what was arguably the seedbed of every initiatory, mystical ecstatic state ever fucking created across this planet for 100,000 years. It's just now we know why this will work. 

And because we know why it works, we don't have to leave with mythologies what it all means what some old dude way back once said about it. We can just work with the technologies, what are the actual protocols, evidence-based protocols that work? Now we've completely flipped all of religion on its head because all of religion was tops-down storytelling. This is what it means. This is what you should know, I believe. This is bottoms-up experience design. So go see for yourself. Go check out the burning bush. Bow down in front of the Ark of the Covenant and then you come back with your own insights and information. So that's what we mean about what could meaning 3.0 be.

Luke Storey:  [01:28:03] And the open source requirement for meaning 3.0.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:28:06] Exactly, which is we're not going to suffer tops-down solution by anybody at that point, which is--

Luke Storey:  [01:28:10] And that's why you're not sitting here in an orange robe explaining to me how I can have a 12-hour erection if I sign up for your whatever.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:28:19] It's much more. This is human birthright stuff. And unintentionally, our sexuality causes roughly 50% or more of our world grief, suffering, war, conflict, trauma, all these things. You're like, holy shit, can we untie the strings of an amoral evolution that doesn't give a fuck about us, just wants a robust gene pool? Can we then stand up for ourselves and take responsibility for these very potent forces moving through our bodies, brains, hearts, minds, and lives? And then can we use it towards the project of healing, inspiration, and connection? And then can we let 1,000 fires burn?

We don't need tops-down monolithic structures. It's everybody express your own art, your own truth, what is most reflective and supportive of your own community or your culture? And 999 of those experiments will probably get snuffed out in the storms ahead. Not everything's going to work. Not everything should work. But we are going to see handfuls of brilliant innovations from the most unlikely places, from the slums of Manila, or the boondocks of Kansas, and those moments can catch. And then we can vote with our feet, with our hearts, and our minds. And we can all adapt and adopt these as we go forward. So to me, it's a crowdsource hackathon on meaning 3.0. And what are postmodern contemporary open source expressions of our healing, believing, and belonging?

Luke Storey:  [01:29:44] Awesome, great.

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And that's a perfect segue into the next topic that I want to cover. For those listening, you can find the show notes at lukestorey.com/rapture. Because we breeze through some of the actual tools and mechanics around sexual practice, so I want people to know that everything you rattled off will be there and links to your book. And I think there's even some other resources outside of the actual book that give more detailed descriptions of like, what do you do? Okay, cool. So lukestorey/rapture. Let's get into what you call ethical cult building. And I love that phrase because as I was telling you earlier, I've been unknowingly and unwittingly in a couple of cults that--

Jamie Wheal:  [01:32:26] What kind? What was the flavor?

Luke Storey:  [01:32:28] Well, the first one was this boarding school that I was sent to in northern Idaho called Rocky Mountain Academy. And if anyone looks this shit up, it's crazy. I was a drug addict. I was having problems with the police. So when I was 14, it was like you either go to juvenile detention center until you're 18 or you're you got to find somewhere to leave the state and get out of here, go to a boarding school.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:32:50] Hoods in the woods kind of situation.

Luke Storey:  [01:32:51] Yeah. And it was-- I threw a bunch of podcasts about this, but just to answer your question, it had many of the components of a cult because you were sequestered away from your family, you had to dress a certain way, cut your hair a certain way, there was charismatic leaders, it was very expensive. There were custom linguistics around all of the teachings, unique language to it. If you left, they would send a bounty hunter after you that would then send you to a locked facility mainly in Provo, Utah, really famous pay-for-jail kind of thing for naughty kids.

I didn't know it was a call until a couple of years ago because the irony here and why I like the idea of ethical cult is I still did benefit tremendously. When I was discharged from there, although I, unfortunately, fell back into the clutches of addiction in a very profound way for another decade, I did stop breaking into people's houses and doing some of the more egregious criminal activity that had gotten me sent there in the first place. And also just had an understanding of some of these. It was based on a lot of this early '80s pop psychology, experiential therapy stuff, pounding pillows and group therapy and just all this weird stuff, sleep deprivation, like these workshops where they keep you up for three days and nudge you to keep you awake and it was like you were brainwashed.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:34:27] Sounds almost like [Interposing voices 01:34:29].

Luke Storey:  [01:34:29] Yeah. The interesting thing is you weren't brainwashed into doing anything to serve the charismatic leader. You were brainwashed into having self-esteem like getting in touch with your inner child and stuff. So it was very convoluted in the sense that what you were being indoctrinated into was largely positive, but the methods and means by which they did so were completely unethical and fucking insane. And the facilitators and quasi-therapists that were there teaching were often ex-cons and unlicensed and had no formal training whatsoever. In some cases, even kids that graduated from the school and then became ad hoc counselors.

But it still ultimately was a positive experience in my life. And I'll do a podcast about it or something. But how I found out it was a cult is I was just researching. You get older, you go on Facebook, look for your classmates. And so I went on and looked for it. And there are now survivors of Rocky Mountain Academy groups and such. And I was like, "Survivor? I thought I was a graduate." And they're like, "No, you're a survivor." And then I started to unpack some and go, holy shit I was. So that was the first one.

The second one was a couple of years into my addiction recovery, I was in really bad shape and just completely lost, 26 years old. My anesthesia had been removed and all the underlying trauma and a mental and emotional issues were just festering, and I was just a fucking hot mess. So I came across a mentor at the time who in terms of their understanding of spirituality and consciousness and addiction recovery, we're like Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, whatever kind of quasi-enlightened person you could think of. So their level of understanding was much greater than mine. And they had a tremendous ability to help me and set me on the right course, but also had very abusive cult-like tendencies that developed over the years that I was unaware of, again, until I had emerged and looked back and went, what the fuck was that? That was some really sick stuff.

So my two experiences in different cult dynamics were interesting because I still did derive a lot of benefit, but also endured a lot of abuse that I wasn't really aware of until it was all over looking back. So I find the whole topic and trend of exposing cults and stuff right now really interesting. And I'm continuing to learn about it. And since you use the word an ethical cult as a play on culture, so we're not actually talking about building a cult, but rather, how do we form groups of like-minded people that are doing this type of inner work that we're talking about today and that you explain your book? How do we build community out of this and support one another?

And so, in so doing, as you've indicated, it's really important to look at what to avoid, which is the what to not do, or what to look out for which I felt like I had in my notes here, the fallen guru thing, the Lucifer effect, the things that are indicative of cults that many of us are unaware of, and then fall prey to actually being in one, essentially. So the downside of it, maybe let's explore that a little bit.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:37:53] First of all, just again, just like precision of terms because when we think of cult we think of one very specific quite recent subset, which is like the culty cold, drink the Kool Aid, helter skelter cult, Nexium, whatever we're watching on Netflix lately. And that's actually an aberration. Scholars of religion talk about mystery cults all the time, cults of Kali, cults of Dionysus, cults of Jesus before Emperor Constantine made it a state religion in the fourth century, so basically, small communities of practice around again, repeatable, quite often lineage or persistent, ecstatic or initiatory experience. Those would be mystery cults.

And they've been ubiquitous around the world and have been vibrant and healthy for thousands of years and the promise was like, hey, you as a potential user, or consumer, you have to subjugate yourself to this experience, to this lineage, to this community. But who's leading you is buffered by lineage. It's one person in the role today, more than this 10 years, but they answer to a council, they answer to their ancestors--

Luke Storey:  [01:39:09] Like the Dalai Lama.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:39:10] There's precedent. There's precedent that is actually a buffer between two people and a mindfuck. So that went on for a really long time. And then we get 20th century, we get this merging of Eastern west Travel exchange of ideas, everything from Tibetan, basically Buddhism and Hinduism making their way to the west. And then you had this rise of originally, Eastern teachers, and then quick on their heels, Western imitators, but originally Eastern teachers like Chogyam Trungpa and others who, in some ways, declared a break with their lineage.

Osho was another example of that, like the idea of like, "Yes, I might have come up this way, but I'm now no longer subject to their critiques, or signing off on all of their checklists on my own thing." So now the user had to subjugate themself, but not to a lineage, to an individual self-proclaimed godman or woman realize there. And then obviously is where the wheels go wildly off the tracks. And then the final one would be okay, what might an ethical cult look like? So back to the original definition, a community of practice or worship that doesn't require subjugation of self to anybody. In fact, that honors the individual autonomy and sovereignty of each individual, but at the same time allows for healthy merging with the collective for the healing, inspiration, and connection that that can provide. Can we do that? So that we can we honor the individual instead of subjugating them? And can we actually get better at merging with each other without tripping over our decks or stepping on each other's toes?

Luke Storey:  [01:40:46] And maybe insulate it so that it has some longevity too so that it cannibalize itself. So many of these movements have come out, it's like, oh, it's great at first, then it goes off the rails.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:40:58] They all start out also like Boogie Nights.

Luke Storey:  [01:41:01] Yeah. So what are some of the, I guess, what to look for? I know what not to do. I marked it in your book. I was like, why isn't it my notes? It's right there. There are certain things-- I mentioned the charismatic leader. You're talking about the requirement to surrender your sovereignty and oftentimes wealth, and I think that it's tough for some of us based again, on my experience, to see when we're falling into one of the more negative cults because it's often dressed up with something that appears to be more wholesome and we're also getting value out of it. If you think about the charismatic leader, let's take the guru that's able to transmit the Shakti pot to you and Darsh on, you feel it, and it's real, and you have a healing or realizations, and then you fall for the trap of putting that power on them as an individual rather than just having that be a natural spiritual phenomenon that just happened to be in the presence of this person. So what are some of the trappings of the negative side of a cult that we could look for and hopefully avoid?

Jamie Wheal:  [01:42:23] There's a whole I think nine left punch lists like culty cult checklist, and that's in the book and it's also on the website. You can check it if you want to get into this. And at the same time, the handful that, to me are deal breakers, like just blaring signs. And if you see that it's there almost irretrievable. I've never seen somebody fuck it up that way, and then still turn out to be a--

Luke Storey:  [01:42:43] Okay, give me the red flags. That's the much shorter way to ask the question. I'm looking for an answer.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:42:47] So the soft entry, the thing to notice on the front door is mythologized origin story of the founder. If they have a just so story where either they were composing Mozart by age three, or they asked their parents or their teacher in the cradle, what is really life about, mommy, any kind of early talent as signpost to future--

Luke Storey:  [01:43:11]  Or they could read some complex scriptures when they were four.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:43: 14] Yeah, past life recall, you name it, fill in the blank for what the juju is, but they're taking the claim preemptively. And then or, the opposite, the dama seen Paul and Saul on the road to Damascus. The alternate is, I was a miserable son of a bitch. In fact, let me just regale you with how awful I actually was. I was broke. I was a hedge fund cokehead. I was a womanizer. I was whatever. And then I had my epiphany. And now I've come back with the good news to preach and teach. So either those, we have ample little story buckets in our brains for either of them, we love them both, that's step one warning sign. If anybody's doing that shit these days, they should almost just be disqualified out of the gate.

Luke Storey:  [01:44:04] The second one is interesting, though, because so many people, and I would like to consider myself in this category, have their pain-to-purpose story. I guess it's what you try and do with that story. If you try to get people into it, but anyone that I've met, and obviously the vast majority of people I've interviewed that are doing something very meaningful in the world have suffered tremendously. And they found a way up and out and they're here to tell you the good news and maybe illustrate a roadmap. Really awesome people tend to have that.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:44:38] Yes, well, here's the final bit. This is the extra filter because yeah, I think, we often encourage people like, if you want to know what to do in the world, locate your purpose. Look for the intersection of your talent and your trauma. Where have you felt most acutely the wound of the world? And where do you have asymmetrical leverage to do something good about it? And that's a decent way to find our ways into that. But the third bit will really shed light on the second one, which is absolute has claims of attainment.

Luke Storey:  [01:45:07] Like I'm the only one that has the answer for how I got myself out of that predicament.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:45:11] So if the pain of purpose story is ongoing in human and humble, this is what's happened in my life. This is how I got to now and I'm keeping going with the same humility, learning, attention to healing, your vision, whatever it would be, awesome, that's our lives honestly told. If it becomes constant amber with spotlights and it becomes reified, it becomes turned into a thing and then it becomes justification for all my other subsequent truth claims, this is the key. 

So if I claim that I am unilaterally enlightened, what I've done is I've just dropped the steel gate between me and my humanity and my accountability ever again. I'm perfect if enlightenment equals perfection in my fuzzy thinking, and you're now contaminated belief. Now any wonky shit that happens between me and you or in our community that you notice, sense, think, feel, perceive or dare ring up to me cannot be a coming from that enlightened perfected being.

Luke Storey:  [01:46:08] It's your shit. That's going to breed projection.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:46:12] You're projecting your shit onto me. And they're like, no, okay, okay, okay, so they go back and they think about that, like, okay, how do I reset and scan for all my own unconscious biases? This is a guru. This is the light bringer. They've got to have a point. They got to have insights. I can't have myself. That's why I'm here after all. So that'll settle them for another three to six months. And then they're like, wait a second. You catch them red-handed, like fucking doing poppers and banging your wife and you're like, "Wait a second, bro. That is definitely on you. That was not my fucking shatter projections. You just did a shitty thing." And then they're like, "Ah, well, here's my back pocket. That'll get me out of all my Get Out of Jail cards, which is, that was crazy wisdom, bro. I was doing that whack ass shit for your benefit."

So the moment you have any of those, you know you're stuffed. And then the final one to really, really notice, it's a bit of a subset, but it comes together. Number one is emphasis on feeling versus thinking. So you massively de-emphasize or outright persecute cognition, discernment, evidence, reason--

Luke Storey:  [01:47:12] Asking questions.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:47:13] Asking questions, and you emphasize somatic experience, sensation, feeling. And quite often get out of your head, get into your heart, that kind of avenue. So if anybody is questioning or connecting dots or asking those questions-- and then the final one is the weaponized use of peak states or vulnerable healing to then either get money, get atonement, get compliance, get obedience, get adulation. So I'm now boundaries dropped or dissolved. So I'm not able to get full consent--

Luke Storey:  [01:47:43] As a participant in this ecstatic experience.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:47:45] Either in a peak state or a cathartic healing experience. Think about one of those stay-up all-night encounter sessions. And at some point, you break down and you're wracked with solids and you're feeling the thing. And then they do the jujitsu, the epistemological juju, of being like, well, what you're feeling right now? It's true, isn't it? And remember, we said, don't think just feel. So the feeling is more true. And then what we'll do is we'll now come along to our entire cosmology is what that meant. 

It could be that you're purging sin, it could be that you're wrestling with entities, it could be that you're metabolizing your psychic trauma, whatever tell just so story unchecked, but because the visceral truth of what you're experiencing right now is coming out of my nose, I am wracked with sobs this did happen with us all here together doing the thing. Therefore, every all of our other truth claims are universally unilaterally true also. And we will extract concession money signed into my trust fund, or my Social Security checks, allegiance.

Luke Storey:  [01:48: 42] Or run to the back of the room and sign up for our next course.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:48: 45] Atonement permissions upsells whatever it would be. And so just those. I think we just did four things and you almost never need to go past those. It's not even like the sociopaths are especially stealthy these days. They're out there brazen, and they're operating in broad daylight and instantly scannable on Tik Tok and Instagram.

Luke Storey:  [01:49:06] Wow. All right. I got what I wanted. That's great. Now on to the idea of an ethical cult and you offer a toolbox to include metaphysics, ethics, and sacraments. And then I'm going to throw in one more thing because it was just so beautiful. And I've heard this story before, but you talk about Aldous Huxley's last words. He took a couple of hits of LSD and said to his wife, above all be kind. That's the takeaway, and that's your insurance provided you're not a delusional leader or cult leader. But what are some of the components of building community or whatever we want to call it that would prevent it from falling into the category that we just covered?

Jamie Wheal:  [01:50:02] Well, I mean, for a long time, because again, you talked about all the podcasts and things that are cult on just these days. And some are interesting. Some I think are getting captured by their own queer eye for the cult guy snuck. They just become too bitchy takedowns, right?

Luke Storey:  [01:50:19]  Yeah, by people that have not built anything themselves oftentimes.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:50:24] Yeah, but with an eye work.

Luke Storey:  [01:50:25] There's a lot of envy in there, too.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:50:27] Yeah. Cloud chasing and all sorts of things. But to your point where you said, "Hey, I think I might have been into culty communities or organizations, but I got a lot of good things out of them nevertheless," that position is actually very controversial within the cult-busting community because you often get what they would experience as still quasi or semi brainwashed folks rationalizing or explaining some of the atrocities, the child abuse, the sexual stuff, the substance, whatever it would be, because they got the Kensho, because they got the Shakti pot. And so that doesn't solve it. But that's just to say that's a lot of the water they're swimming in. But another bit of the water they're swimming in is generally, as a conclusion from that first commitment, there is no such thing as good to explain all the horrors is that there was nothing, there was no there either. There is no such thing as Shakti pot. There is no such thing as charismatic transmission. There's no such thing as state change and [Interposing voices 01:51:23].

Luke Storey:  [01:51:24] And no such thing as a truly enlightened being that does have the ability to transmit healing, love, etc.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:51:32] Any number of things.

Luke Storey:  [01:51:33] Because I've experienced that myself.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:51:35] Who would you identify in that way?

Luke Storey:  [01:51:37] Oh, man, David Hawkins, a teacher that I used to go see speak in Sedona. He's a Sedona-type guy. He's now passed. But yeah, just being in the energy field of that room, it's not even about him, per se. It's the field of consciousness that's cultivated within that where you're having spontaneous realizations and healing and unraveling thought forms that are no longer serving you and things like that. I'm just being in the room. My first one, I think, was, I don't think I know, I was around eight years old. And my mom took me to the ashram of Muktananda, who had an ashram in Oakland at the time in the late '70s. And even at that age, being in that room, I would say that was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life, and I believe truly set me on a course to further pursue that Eastern mysticism and eventually get into all the Vedic meditation, Kundalini Yoga, just always leaning toward that kind of philosophy.

But there was something visceral that was taking place in that room, even at eight years old, and I didn't have to have an intellectual understanding of what was happening. That being had something going on that was undeniable, which could be, of course, proven by the fact that you've got a couple of hundred people sitting there just wanting to hear the next word come out of his mouth. As far as I know, he wasn't one of the buddies that turned it into some sort of exploitive relationship with his devotees or anything, but I've had multiple experiences like that, where I just know, I felt one way, I'm in this being's presence, and I feel different, and it's better different.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:53:20] So yeah, I'm willing to put a provisional pin in the map in defense that there are exceptional humans who can have an outsized impact in a group of other humans, and whether that's with a guitar or with a microphone, or with no words or with beautiful words, just to allow that there's the exceptionality of charismatic transmission. And it's presumably a thing because it's how we've organized around teachers and artists and everything, everyone for a long, long time.

So given that, for a long time, I assume that if you did end up with cultic dynamics, the culty cultic dynamics, whether it's sex, drugs, power, ego, distortion, whatever it would be, that was sign that there was a rock in the Apple Barrel pretty obvious, like, oh, they fucked up like they did something bad or wrong. And then I really came to study it more with Lisa Feldman Barrett. She's a neuroscientist who does work on emotions and feelings. And her big insight was there's interoception, like, literally the guts, there's perception and there's interception. And it precedes all of our emotions. And it's just one of four things. It's active or passive. And it's positive or negative. So you can have an active positive.

And when I realized I was like, oh, wow. You get that profound, charismatic transmitter or teacher or whatever they would be-- artists, and people feel different in their presence. And it's going to activate their nervous system down with a level of interceptive guts, visceral spidey senses, and it's going to be one of those four outcomes. And I was like, oh, shit, this maps perfectly. This is really interesting. So you come up with a realizer. Let's say somebody you can bring someone else into more expanded state than they can harness or access themselves.

They're going to want to do one of four things to that person. If it's passive positive, like I just had that state experience, I want to stay more. I want to sign up for the next question. We want to follow them. If it's super active positive, I want to merge with them. I want to love them, I want to project on them, I might even want to fuck them, which is why there's also so many scandals in evangelical churches and everything else because of the Holy Ghost feeling, it's tough to keep up your pants. You got to put it someplace. And so there's the follow or the fuck.

And then if it goes negative, it goes below the equator into some kind of reactivity or fear base. The first thing would be to fear them. I need to recoil. They're up in my business, they're telling me about-- I'm going to have to let go, this is uncertain, I don't know what's happening. I feel like I'm in deeper water than I've ever been in. So I fear them. And then if you get either really your back up against the wall, or you get a mob, then we go to fight them. So the fear, fuck, follow, fight seems to be the default for everybody from Malcolm X to MLK to Jerry Garcia to Osho, to Gandhi to-- you name it, to many of the fakes as well. So we see that as an anthropological feature of a group of humans connecting into shared space or community or group flow, whatever we would say. And the one who connected the circuit, the monkey, the silverback, that connected the circuit. So we are hardwired to project our golden shadows onto them, they are amazing. They're all these things, which is fundamentally disempowering.

Luke Storey:  [01:56:29] And isn't necessarily the fault of the leader. If they're a leader that's in integrity and are legitimately capable of transmitting positive attributes to their people, and the people go fucking haywire in the way you just described, it's not necessarily the leaders' fault.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:56:50] It didn't have to be.

Luke Storey:  [01:56:50] Unless they have some sort of ethical cult system in place that prevents that from happening.

Jamie Wheal:  [01:56:57] Yeah, look, let's just give Jesus the fucking Mulligan and say, "You nailed it, bro." And he still gets betrayed. There's still the fear, fight, follow, fuck brings that house down too. So you're like, okay, so very few teachers can enter that reality distortion field and the power dynamics and differentials and not get bent over time. But even the ones who are at least theoretically impeccable, those are features not bugs of humans and collective waking up or experiencing peak states and boundary dissolving, healing in community or socialize with others.

So that was my big insight, it was like, oh, this is a feature, not a bug. Therefore, you can't just wag your finger at everybody who puts it in the ditch. You have to be like, oh, no, this is structural. We have to solve for it at a structural level. And so for me, the key to an ethical culture where we help each other heal, receive inspiration, and connect would be is that no one grabs the ring of power. So you just don't do that because you know how problematic it is. 

And if it gets looped through a single ego identity and or incentive structures, including economic sexual egotistical power, whatever it would be, it's going to warp and bend. And there's been those MRI studies on power corrupting brain function like literally mappable on MRIs brain function. The more power somebody has, the less empathetic they become. So that's literally a recent structural [Interposing voices 01:58:21], so then you're like, okay, now, how do we treat? Somebody's going to know what's going on, somebody's got to lead the band for us to play this beautiful music no one's played yet.

So the question there is you buffer it by creating roles, rotating roles, so the person up front isn't Tony Robbins Inc. That's going to go to someone's head, even if he's got a big one. But it is to say, you create hierophant or ministers of the sacred. And ideally, you could even do a man and a woman every time. They could be in costume or God. They could all the way up to wearing masks or it's just rotating cults and faculty because no one goes Fatal Attraction, or fanboys, the ringleader, it's such a silly. 

They're like you put on a top hat, you got this funny tails, you have the bullwhip, you do the thing. We know you're playing a role emceeing this thing. So how do we create that instead of celebrity hype priests instead of personal growth gurus? And you literally have a community of facilitators, and you rotate on and off stage. And someone comes off stage, having just booted everybody up into ecstatic, joyful communion. And you're like, that's great. High fives, hugs, thank you for your service. Smack, smack. You know that special cupcake, head back to the kitchen and go peel some potatoes. You're almost have like a Geiger counter for projection and you're ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding you're overclocked right now. So you need to go and cool your jets. You need to put your hands in the soil. You need to submit yourself to service.

And that way we would have a chance I think of both bringing in In more Jews without it being at risk of destabilizing our projects, which often happens, which intentional community hasn't gone down for one or more of the above of sex, drugs, money power. And there's a reason that all monastic traditions around the world time immemorial have vows, like you don't even get in the front door until you promise poverty, chastity, humility, and obedience because money, sex, power, and control are the things that grab us. So we have to become more creative in how we architect our culture so that it can be ethical because I think the fool's errand is for someone to go, oh, yeah, all those other folks put it in the ditch in that spot, not me or not us. We're smarter. They all said that. So I think we have to just pan back and go, well, wait, what if this is gravity that's happening? And if so, what are the social physics?

Luke Storey:  [02:01:04] Because even the fallen guru who did possess a certain degree of understanding or power or color, what you will, was good for a period of time. And then that inertia of just the ego maybe co-opting the powers that they had or something like that, thinking of Satya Sai Baba in India, who, by all historical and I think accurate accounts had the ability to manifest physical objects out of thin air-- the booty and rings and things like that. And it's widely known that thousands and thousands of people directly saw him do this. But then at a certain point, the story goes, and I believe it's pretty accurate. I spent some time over there and know a bit about the inner workings of it. At a certain time, he lost the ability to do this, and then started doing it as a magic trick and got caught later on.

But there's all this footage and stuff where you see him like, pre deep fake, just poof, that thing's there. It wasn't there. My own family members said this far away from him and watched it happen. I think that's why I know they're not liars and I know they're not crazy. But then he lost the power and started faking it. And then rumor has it that also started behaving very inappropriately, sexually, and I don't know if that's true or not, but he's definitely like a shunned really famous guru. But it's like the person at the front would then be protected from that happening to them because like you said, you don't think that's going to happen if I became the charismatic leader. I think I'm a humble guy. I'm always working on myself. I never think I've arrived.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:02:39] I'm thinking about how many folks we know that do podcasts or have big Twitter followings with Patreon and they get captured literally just being a rebel, public intellectual over the last three, four, or five years. They started out being thoughtful and considerate and people started following them. They went down the fucking rabbit hole.

Luke Storey:  [02:02:57] They got an agent.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:02:58] Yeah. And whether it's great reset, or ivermectin, or take your pick, you're like, oh, no, bro, come back. And they're gone. They're gone because the echo chamber and the incentive structures of their little world are consistently bending them to double down on the thing that has worked. And so my sense is because that question for me goes back to the heart of the comparative religious study of cultic behavior over centuries. I was like, why did so many start out so well? And how do they end up all seemingly so predictably go bad in the end? 

And my, I guess my insight or hypothesis is that it is the looser effect, which you mentioned earlier, which is just that idea of someone can start out being an exceptional human, he's spiritual, emotional intelligence, prodigious insights, maybe an accidental mistake, having access to all kinds of inspiration that they draw from to bring through new stuff, you'd be like, wow, they're just firing on all cylinders. That's amazing. And their early efforts grow these blossoming, vibrant, dynamic communities.

And then there gets to be a place where they are now so luminescent. They're bringing so much metaphorical or charismatic light that everybody around them has to shield their eyes. And the Lucifer moment is when that person either says or embodies the notion of like, dare thee to look upon me and spot my imperfection. The people shield themselves from this almost angelic presence, and they're like, oh, my gosh, you're all of these things that we could never be. And then that person has divorced themselves from their vulnerability, from their mortality, from their humanity. And then they can be 99% light with just one tiny percent left and that's a spectacular being, 1% shadow remaining.

But then because they've invoked that Lucifer effect, then that last little speck of darkness metastasizes and you have a sith lord in a few months. You got cuts up the river. You got Brando and Apocalypse now. You're like what the fuck? You have decorated the office. And so that. How do we answer that? What's the antidote to that? If we're just going to stay in the idiom of the Judeo Christian tradition, like the opposite of the Luciferian, which is deadly to look upon me and spot my imperfection is take out the nails, remove the thorns, put your hand in my side, the Christic pledge, which is it is precisely my mortality plus my divinity, that brings me to my humanity, and I am forever a work in progress. There is no saint without a past or sinner without a future. And I'm simply bearing witness to this my own and all of our lived experience.

Luke Storey:  [02:05:57] Going back to the model that you were outlining earlier of a leadershipless group, and it brought to mind at least some system that keeps people in check, like more of a collective and it brought to mind one of the most sustainable and effective groups, which is the original Alcoholics Anonymous, which is then, of course, blossoming into all these other groups and is seemingly-- that was founded in 1935, is seemingly uncorruptible. And I've observed that as someone who benefitted tremendously from just that teachings and that model, and I'm sure has its faults and is going to evolve, but are you aware of what they call the 12 traditions in Alcoholics Anonymous?

Jamie Wheal:  [02:06:50] The difference in the steps?

Luke Storey:  [02:06:51] Yeah. I'm going to break some of that down because it's shocking to me that no one has adopted these traditions when seeking to organize something as fundamental organizing principles of an ethical culture or group. So the steps are for the individual. These are spiritual principles just well-worn and tested throughout the ages. And if you apply these things to your life, you'll likely be a more fulfilled healthier person, and as a result, probably won't start drinking again.

But the traditions are for the actual groups and the organization itself. And I've always been fascinated by this because it's kept that organization insulated from corruption or from anyone taking over. And it's still thriving, and it doesn't own anything, it doesn't make any money, no one's in charge of it. And the way that it's able to function and still continue to help millions and millions of people around the world is this group of traditions that like in your book you outlined as suggestions, not commandments. And so this is read in almost every 12 Step meeting you could ever go to, and it's the organizing principles that keep it from going off the fucking rails.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:08:07] Oh, nice.

Luke Storey:  [02:08:08] Yeah, you want to check it out?

Jamie Wheal:  [02:08:09] Yeah.

Luke Storey:  [02:08:09] All right. It's a bit long. We don't have to go into it, but--

Jamie Wheal:  [02:08:12] You can just put the headline on each one.

Luke Storey:  [02:08:14] I thought of that from reading your book and going into this piece, and I was like, oh, shit, someone's already done it. Number one, our common welfare should come first. Personal recovery depends on AA unity, the common welfare. For our group purpose, there's but one ultimate authority, a loving God, as He may express himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern. It's like if nobody's governing this organization that you call AA and all the other groups, how the fuck is it still here? It's crazy. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. So welcome to everyone.

Each group should be autonomous, accepting matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole. So your little group can do whatever you want, unless it fucks up what everyone else is doing. Each group has about one primary purpose, to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. And AA group never endorse finance or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose. 

So it doesn't get involved with anything else. It's just its own secular little bubble. Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting declining outside contributions. So if I wanted to, as a philanthropist, for example, leave my billion-dollar inheritance to Alcoholics Anonymous, they would say no. It's insane. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers. So we're not going to build a company. 

Jamie Wheal:  [02:09:45] That is interesting because as a ship pilot, even court mandated 12 step recovery centers that are 100% piggybacking on the norms of AA and are monetizing the hell out of recovery.

Luke Storey:  [02:09:57] Yeah, they're privately owned. But see, this isn't the organization itself. You have people that are incentivized, I'm sure to help people, but also to make money making recovery centers and sober living houses and all this kind of stuff. And what's funny, there's a joke in recovery like, "I went to rehab, I bought a $30,000 big book," which is the book of Alcoholics Anonymous because all they really do in most rehabs is just teach you how to go to AA. Furthermore, AA as such ought never to be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. This is a good one here number 10. I didn't enumerate them, but anyone can look them up. And again, I'm not trying to like be a cheerleader for AA although I am--

Jamie Wheal:  [02:10:48] We were discussing open source culture architecture around healing and community.

Luke Storey:  [02:10:54] Exactly. And I'm like, if this model works, why aren't more people following it? Number 10, Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues, hence, the AA name never be drawn into public controversy. And so you don't have AA going, we're going to make our meetings nonbinary or whatever.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:11:11] Message discipline.

Luke Storey:  [02:11:12] Yeah, it's just, nope, anything happening in the world, we're not addressing. This is for a group to serve the individual, essentially. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion. We need to always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films. Now, many people, unfortunately, because this is not a commandment or a rule, but a tradition, many people in the public eye break this. And I always find that to be a little sad where an actor goes-- [Inaudible 02:11:37]. Yeah, an actor goes on TV and he's like, well, I went to rehab. And now I go to AA and then next month they crashed their car killing a lady in a wheelchair. And people think, well, AA doesn't work. 

So I always get a little bit miffed when people do that. And I've had to find where-- I'm not a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, but I have benefited tremendously in the past from those teachings. But that one's really interesting. And I think most people are pretty respectful about that. But some didn't catch this. And it's not a role. Last one, number 12, anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities, which is beautiful, because, again, there's no leader. Everyone's a trusted servant. So if me and my friends, hey, we want to start our own meeting, and we go do our thing. You have secretaries, you have the treasurer, you have people that volunteer that don't get paid to help support the infrastructure, but none of them would ever have the ability to rise to any power or have any control over anyone else. It's really interesting.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:12:43] Yeah. It's neat. That sounds like a really good checks and balances.

Luke Storey:  [02:12:45] Yeah, it's wild. Yeah, you can have it. So yeah, I just thought of that when reading your book and I thought, man, there is a model. None of that is the model. But there's certainly things in there that have proven over time, at least since 1935 to insulate a group of people with an intended purpose from corruption, abuse, exploitation.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:13:07] Well, and then the simplest TLDR of a bunch of that was don't get sucked into tribal power politics and stay the fuck out of markets and media, which is again, the opposite of Tik Tok, Instagram, self-help marketplace, or megachurches, or any of the things that are our seeming alternate options.

Luke Storey:  [02:13:25] Yeah. And don't amass wealth. It's like the way that this thing operates it's always just paying for itself. And there's very little reserves. There's enough reserves so that it lasts through hard times, but it doesn't amass wealth over time that someone can then co-opt to gain control and steer it in another direction. That's really interesting to me.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:13:46] It's beautiful.

Luke Storey:  [02:13:47] Hot damn, dude. Well, I think we did it. Wow, God, I can't believe we covered just about everything I wanted to cover. I still feel like we go back and do another four episodes and parse out some of the things in the book that I just skimmed over, like respiration, music, some of these other amazing tools. But man, thank you so much for having the mind that you do and the heart that you do and contributing the books that you create, and this conversation and it's been really illuminating for me.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:14:14] I'm stoked to be here, man, thank you.

Luke Storey:  [02:14:15] Yeah, likewise. Last question is, who have been three teachers or teachings that have influenced your life or your work that you could share with us?

Jamie Wheal:  [02:14:23] Beautiful, that's so fun. I would say on the mama wisdom it would probably be Pema Chodron and Alice Walker and Joanna Macy, let's make it that hat trick. On the crazy uncles, it would be Ken Kizzy, Robert Anton Wilson, and we could throw in John Lilly. And then as far as true role models that I aspire to would be Gary Snyder, George Leonard, and maybe Paul Newman.

Luke Storey:  [02:14:58] Wow, I got to show you something when we're done recording. You're going to love this. You cite John Lilly a few times in your book and I don't know that much about him and some of the names you named I know and some I don't. We'll put them in the show notes. But John Lilly was the cat that either invented or made popular sensory deprivation chambers in an effort to induce psychedelic experience without having to actually ingest anything.

Jamie Wheal:  [02:15:28] Well, though, no, he started out interesting ship piles of everything, including pharmaceuticals.

Luke Storey:  [02:15:33] In the chambers?

Jamie Wheal:  [02:15:33] In the tanks. If you've [Interposing voices 02:15:36], that's a variant of his lifestyle. So yeah, he built the sensory deprivation tanks. He had one at Esslyn, had one in a few other places and was doing high-dose LSD experiments for as long as it was research grade legally. He was at the University of Penn, NIH researcher, impeccably trained rigorous dude, and got way, way, way down the rabbit hole in that space. And then when LSD was scheduled, and then no longer available as a research material, he moved to ketamine.

And basically started deep diving into some totally parallel universe matrix like reality with hierarchies and different characters and agents. He became super convinced that there was a silicon state, almost like the Borg or Skynet. He was like there's a solid-state intelligence that is actually an intelligent entity in the universe that is coming to take over the world and is going to trigger thermonuclear war and he needs to get in touch with President Ford to let him know that that's going on. And he's connected enough. He comes from a high-end family plus academic or just he gets fucking through the White House.

He gets through the White House. Some of his peers and colleagues are institutionalizing him, but he's again so connected and so persuasive that he gets out of the loony bin multiple, multiple times. And then he ends up overclocking. Basically, he's flying to land in LAX in a plane. This comet flashes by the window. He has this unstuck-in-time experience where the comet is basically saying, we are solid-state intelligence and we control the entire grid extended. He's like, "Yeah, prove it to me." And then there's this lot of turbulence, all the lights go out in LA, and they're like, "Oh, we're diverting. LAX has just had a power outage. We're going to have to emergency land in Burbank." And that's when he's like, way, way into the putting. Yeah, I'm yes, John Lilly, and then he got into dolphins and sea.

So I dismissed him early because all they heard was float tanks acid and talking to dolphins. I'm like, You're a fruit. I'm not going to bother. And it was only coming back later that I was like, oh, wow. He was actually surprisingly on it and rigorous in his passing of the misto. He did it with academic discipline, etc. And so his famous quote is, "What one believes to be true becomes true within the limits of reality. Within the province of the mind, there are no limits." So he's basically creating this kind of provisional epistemology of how do you make sense of these highly fluid, plastic, ridiculous, non-ordinary spaces, and do it within some form of checklist, or set of mental rules that prevents you from totally losing your mind. And he came, I think, as close as anybody because he sailed right to the edge of the screaming abyss and stayed there for 5 to 10 years. And just made it back by the skin-- 

Luke Storey:  [02:18:34] Oh, my God, that's fascinating. What a trip! I got to learn more about this guy. I just hear about him in the periphery but hadn't looked into it.

Jamie Wheal: [02:18:41] Yeah, but Robert Anton Wilson, he's the precursor to all of Q anon funnily enough. He was an editor at Playboy in the mid '70s. And just for shits and grins like, just as a prank, they had all these letters to the editor, and they're like, these guys are all nuts. Let's see what they can do. So they put together the arch, medic conspiracy was called the Illuminati Conspiracy. People that read the book, it's an underground classic. And it was all the conspiracies like the Bavarian Illuminati, Einstein, JFK assassination, it was all of them glom together and they did it as a prank, published it in the letters to Playboy. They took a fake pen name and pretended it and then they ended up writing this book and he said for like, two years, even though we did it as a joke, and we were 100% the authors and creators of this ludicrous mash-up, a, nobody else got it. They all took it that seriously. And b, shit started getting real and happening to us also.

So that's where he articulates this notion of reality tunnels and the chapel perilous and what happens when you get into a pushback tidal hyper possibility space, and how do you navigate all that without getting lost in a given reality tunnel, just a new different description of the way the reality works. And he said basically, the chapel perilous is that sort of Hall of Mirrors of peak contemplative ecstatic psychedelic states fill in your blank and he goes, basically anyone who enters the chapel perilous leaves one of two things, insane or agnostic. So that agnosticism, that kind of Playful Trickster don't take it or yourself too seriously is the really central I think, touchdown for me as far as how to hold any of these contemplations or experiences.

Luke Storey:  [02:20:19] I sense that about you because you're covering really heavy topics, but there's definitely an air of playfulness to it, which I think is why it gravitates toward it. If your book was too serious, and you were too serious, it won't be--

Jamie Wheal:  [02:20:31] [Inaudible 02:20:32].

Luke Storey:  [02:20:32] Yeah, it wouldn't be too fun. So thank you, man. Thanks again for joining me today. Listen, if you made it to the end of this one, it tells me a lot about you. You've got a curious mind and an open heart. You're interested in the betterment of not only yourself, but of the human condition. So for that, I applaud and thank you. And if you found this conversation meaningful, I'd be deeply grateful if you feel called to text it to a couple of people you love or maybe go all in and post it on your social media feeds. You'd be doing me, Jamie, and hopefully, anyone who hears a great service.

But before we sign off, I'll invite you to join me, my wife, Alyson, and a slew of other speakers and thought leaders at the Modern Nirvana summit this September 23. It is coming up in about three weeks here in Austin, Texas. It's going to be a wild ride and one you don't want to miss. Get your tickets along with the sweet little discount over at lukestorey.com/events. Until then, may your days be filled with joy and wonder.


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