Author Archives: Robert Mitchell



I often have people reach out to me who are interested in utilizing psychedelics for personal growth. I am able to instruct and guide them in this experience. I have an extensive background in the subject and my track record in utilizing this technology successfully, is excellent. psychedelics, if used thoughtfully and methodically, can bring about great personal transformation. However, psychedelics are not the be all and end all of transformation. They may not even be the best tools to transform one’s consciousness and its relationship to what is eternal and unchanging. The most effective tool for this undertaking is without a doubt, meditation.

Oftentimes when people wish to consult with me about creating a relationship with psychedelics, my first question is, “Do you meditate?” Whether or not, they do, at that point does tell me something about their orientation toward life, themselves, and reality. If they are in fact interested in transforming their experience of reality, it is meditation, not psychedelics that offers the greatest long term benefits. In my experience psychedelics present a doorway of experiencing oneself, and one’s inner landscapes in a new way. Meditation offers the propulsive system that can move one from perceiving the doorway, to moving through it.

The Macdonaldization of Meditation has brought us reams of books about mindfulness. Mindfulness moves one’s attention from one’s thoughts to one’s sensations. This is a good start. But it really is meditation for dummies. To be aware in the moment of what one senses is of course much more desirable than being inundated with thought patterns birthed of suffering, pain, history and neuroses. Mindfulness works to a degree, but it is a band aid, compared to what is really possible with meditation. What is possible is moving from one’s thoughts about life and oneself, and one’s suffering, into the awareness of the intelligence that forms one’s body, energetic systems, and origins. This is meditation’s great potential. It does all the same things that psychedelics do, and it does it at its own speed. Psychedelics can take over one’s consciousness, sometimes at an unwanted speed. Meditation can be risen out of, at will. It is entirely safe, and entirely manageable. Using these tools together increases each of their efficacy.

Psychedelics and Meditation overlap in their ability to peel away the layers of identity. In both cases, we leave our usual manner of thinking and perceiving, which is created out of a mish mash of our immediate environment, our social relations, culture, media, and the historical origins of our thinking and feeling state. As we leave this experience, and the habits it creates, we re-connect with the origins of our experience. As our breath moves through our sensate physical state we encounter structural systems based in history, biography, pain, trauma, and avoidance. Using just the breath, and the more important tool of determination, we can move through these states to what lies beneath. And what lies beneath can be as spectacular as anything one might ever experience on a psychedelic trip.

Beneath the thinking mind, in the realm of sensation, we contact our true origins. We may find our original structure, as created by nature, and the intelligence that gives rise to everything. Beyond history and biography and the sensations they birth, are the formative intentions of the intelligence that gave birth to us in this lifetime. Our actual raison d’etre. These are that kind of depths available in meditation, and they are not as far away as one might think. In the depths of meditation, one encounters one’s karma, the actual dynamics of what has created the structures and purpose of one’s life. The purpose that precedes all experience. The logos of one’s life. It is right there beneath the usual mind chatter and recycled habitual physical sensations. One may find in how they hold their body, a narrative they have spoken their entirely life. But lurking just below these habits is an eternal purpose that gives rise to all transitory experience. Connecting with this can be the most transformative experience available. It returns life to its origins in holism, after life has been experience only in the fractioned aspect of the origins of the ego.

For me, psychedelics are a cypher. People come looking for psychedelics, and what they find is their origins. And once they have discovered their origins, they will never again be confused about what their life is about. This confusion swirls around the illusion that ego is constructed only to maintain a cohesive narrative that begins with our first memories of our life, and will end in our physical system losing its integrity. Between these origins and these endings, lurking below our habits of thinking and being, is the eternal field of our existence. It is this field that has brought us into this life, and it is to this field we will return at its end. Meditation, and to a lesser extent psychedelics, grant us access to this field during this very life.


I am a Los Angeles native. I was born into the Scientology Center(though it was Cedars of Lebanon Hospital at the time). My first memories are of being in Coldwater Canyon and having a unitive experience of the hills, trees and chaparral. I remember thinking I was the hills of Coldwater Canyon. As a child, I dreamt of Coldwater Canyon in its pre-civilized state, without roads and without homes. I remember being at a party with my parents in Laurel Canyon, and being aware of a viscous, primordial reality flowing by outside the windows of the house, while inside, Hollywood types honked on about recent developments in the film industry.

As a teenager, i sat in my father’s palliative care room at Cedars Sinai during the final days of his life. It was an awesomely profound time. The doors into the next world swung open into his room. Once, while I was aware this was happening, a B list Film Director came to visit him, and then proceeded to regale my father with production details of his latest green lit project., while totally ignoring his impending death. “Sean Connery, Meg Ryan,” it was all happening. At a certain point, my father(who was probably taking one of his last ten thousand breaths) turned to me, and whispered quietly, “Get him out of here.” So I did.

After my father died, i left Los Angeles. I thought I would never return. I thought it was Sodom, and the least profound place anyone could ever live. I went to college in upstate New York and graduate school in the Bay Area. But while I was in graduate school, something strange began happening. I started dreaming of Los Angeles as I once had as a very young child. It was not about the culture of Los Angeles, or the people I had encountered there. The dreams were of a primordial Los Angeles. A part of Los Angeles that existed in its natural form, above the city below(which I called “The Flats.”) ) During the dreams, I remember wondering if this was a place that actually existed somewhere behind Beverly Hills and Bel Air, up near Mulholland, or whether it was a dreamscape. There was mountainous terrain, flowing creeks, abundant wildlife, and sometimes melting snow. It was the same dreamscape I experienced as a child, and it left me intrigued. When I recorded these dreams, I always described them not as of Los Angeles, but of “Suncanyon.”

Eventually, I found my way back to Los Angeles and rediscovered the Los Angeles of my early childhood. The verdant nature, the rugged terrain where coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions roam and thrive. It was still there. Primordial Los Angeles as it has always been, and always will be. The superficial crust of it changes. The developments, and the people who come here in pursuit of their dreams. The fires and the earthquakes continue to come and go. But beneath even the unceasing nature, a primordial reality flows that calls out for the transformation of consciousness that a human lifetime offers. It’s there right now as it was outside that window in Laurel Canyon in 1971. I have written elsewhere(City of The Dead) about the primordial reality of Los Angeles. There is a mystical reality here, a living bardo, that the demands for attention that so many place on the limited real estate of our consciousness, often camoflage.. But right below this push, a mystical foundation flows right in front of us. If you are here, or anywhere, it is there. Don’t miss it. Yoke it.


I was thinking of posting about Gaia before hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the historic typhoon that left a million people homeless in India.  Beyonce’ and Jennifer Lawrence are weighing in, so I figured I would too.  Gaia theory is constructed around the notion that the Earth and it’s biosphere is a living system.  James Lovelock, an environmental scientist published his first book on the theory in 1979.  Using the Goddess Gaia as it’s namesake was the idea of William Golding, who came up with another great title for a book, “Lord of The Flies.” Environmentalists love Gaia theory, because it’s poetic. Environmental Scientists have less affection for it, mostly because it is a theory that exists outside. of mechanistic science which has been dominant since Newton had an apple fall on his head.

      I first encountered Gaia Theory in 1993.  I was getting a Master’s Degree in Psychology at The California Institute of Integral Studies.  I was taking a class with Ralph Metzner called “Green Psychology.”  Ralph was a member of the triumvirate, along with Tim Leary and Richard Alpert, who did the Psychedelic Research at Harvard in the early 1960’s that unleashed psychedelics onto a generation.  Tim Leary subsequently pursued the life of polysubstance addicted psychedelic prophet, and Ram Dass had become a Guru for the baby boomers, but Ralph with his severe intellectual German mind, had just kept digging at the mysterious roots of being human.  The only indications of his 60’s origins were a ponytail, and the occasional medicine pouch he wore hanging from his neck, both of which I had found unfortunate.  When he spoke passionately, I experienced it like sunshine shining through an ornately designed crystal chandelier.  He was blindingly brilliant, and more than a little intimidating.  In fact, I didn’t write my final paper for his class, because I felt frightened of exposing myself to his piercing intellect.  I took an incomplete, and a few months later, realized I was going to need a grade in his class to graduate.  I approached him hesitantly and reminded him that I’d taken his class, but hadn’t written the final paper, but would now like to.  “You took my class six months ago, didn’t write the final paper, and now would like me to read it, and give you a grade?” He spoke incredulously with a slight German accent that I had always experienced as menacing.  I nodded sheepishly, embarrassed by my desire for him to help me solve my problem.  “Well, that is such a fucking bold request, I have to say, ‘Yes,'”he responded.  As I remember it, he may have even smiled.  I know I did.  When I got the paper back, I had received an A, that made me extremely proud.

     I don’t have the paper anymore.  But I’d like to share what I learned in his class.  Ralph had long since stopped proselytizing about psychedelics, though the scuttlebutt was that didn’t mean he was no longer using them.  But his passion(as it had become for many psychedelicists) was the environment.  Psychedelics had lead him to the awareness of nature, and the way it was suffering by the stewardship of humanity.  In the sixties, Jim Morrison sang(mostly likely from a psychedelic state, “What have we done to the Earth? What have we done to our fair sister?”  Ralph was still exploring this question.  But he was more focused on the psychological suffering resulting from being cut off from an intuitive and nurturing relationship with nature as the organic source of existence, and also from the lack of relationship with the deeper intelligence behind nature’s mechanics.  He thought all kinds of psychological difficulties had their origins in this alienation.  Things like eating disorders, addictions,  and a even physical diseases had their origins in people’s alienation from nature, or from having been raised by people who were at least a generation removed from a meaningful relationship with the natural world.

     Ralph made a very convincing argument.  A lot of his theories were influenced by his exploration of indigenous shamanism, and it was much more fundamental than the psychodynamic theories about psychopathology I had encountered throughout graduate school.  But it was in my exposure to Gaia Theory where my head was really turned.  Al Gore’s environmental tome had been published the year before and we were early in the Clinton Presidency, and there was a real sense of optimism about the world.   I remember asking his opinion of Gore’s book, and his response was “Those assholes know exactly what’s going on with carbon in the atmosphere, and they won’t do a thing about it, watch.” Sadly, there was very little that they did do. In more recent times, Barack Obama stated in his speech the night of his election that history would see his election as a time when the rising oceans receded and the earth cooled.” Sadly, although he was both informed and inspired, he also was limited in what he could accomplish(The Paris Accord notwithstanding).  Global Warming had been building momentum for a long time even before Gore’s book,  and recent revelations show that Chevron has known about the effects of rising carbon levels in the atmosphere for over fifty years.  One has only to watch “Soylent Green”, produced in 1973,  to realize that the effects of Global Warming which we are now being experienced were being prophesized long ago.

    Ralph wasn’t a scientist, though science was not hard for him to understand.  He was a psychologist with interests in indigenous wisdom traditions.  But he liked Gaia theory and explained it well.  To him, the Earth and its’ biosphere was an organic system.  It was a body.  Like a cell, or an animal, or a human body.  And like all bodies, what it worked towards was homeostasis.  It wanted to function ideally, and was composed to do so.  The pre-industrial age composition of the environment was designed for ideal survivabilty of all the species who inhabited the earth.  Gaia theory espoused that there was a keen intelligence behind this composition.  It wasn’t random, it wasn’t chance, and it was as fragile as all inspired creations.  Gaia theory didn’t care so much what the intelligence behind the design was, just that it had an intention and a purpose.

     Since human beings invented combustible engines, this fragile balance of the atmosphere has been under assault.  Carbon, that had been stored in the earth as decomposed organic material, for millions of years was being harvested and burned.  Gaia theory would posit that there was an intelligence behind storing decomposed organic matter this way.  That it was stored this way for a reason, and that it was human hubris that thought this system could be hacked without consequences.  The consequence of burning carbon and releasing it into the atmosphere is a warmer climate.  But Gaia theory would also state something a little bit more far out.  That man’s lack of wisdom in doing this creates a feedback system where Gaia protects herself.  The source of this warming is man.  This warming is the same kind of warming you get in an organic organism when a virus starts to multiply.  In order to kill the virus, a fever is created that makes the host a less hospitable place to live.  In Gaia theory, the virus is MAN.  Through his rising population and utilization of limited resource, he creates an imbalance, and imposes himself on the other species(through mass extinctions) designed to maintain the balance of the ecosystem.  Thus, one species creates all the imbalance,  and through that species insatiable need for energy to be derived from organic resources(decomposed carbon) that species releases the fever that will be his own destruction.

     Far out, yes? Perhaps.  But maybe only from an anthropocentric perspective.  From the Earth’s perspective as an organism,  the necessity of limiting or culling the population of human beings is just a short term response to a temporary problem.  The Earth is 4.5 billion years old.  Man’s hominid ancestors first appeared two million years ago.  Homo Sapiens have only existed on the earth for between ten and twenty thousand years and have only been burning carbon in industrial amounts for about one hundred and fifty years.  This is a very recent and acute problem.   And once the source of warming(carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation) is stabilized, it will take awhile for homeostasis to return.  It could be a thousand years, it could be two thousand years, it could be ten thousand years, or a hundred thousand.  But to the four and a half billion year old earth, this is not a problem. She’s got all the time in the world.  It is us, whose time is limited.


I couldn’t help noticing how the aftermath photos of the fires in Sonoma and Napa looked like the aftermath photos from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  These devastating fires happening in a paradisiacal part of California, which during my childhood was known for its lush greenness . A fire whose flames were fanned by 75 mph hour winds created by unusually hot air swirling around the regions more native coolness.  Meanwhile the insanely stupid person who is the president looks to start a nuclear war with a country on life support, while taking “climate change” out of the EPA’s vocabulary and demanding that black men don’t protest police brutality before NFL games.

     These images made me think that Kim Jong Un doesn’t have to be able to minituarize a nuclear weapon to mount atop an ICBM to reach our shores, because the nuclear explosion he wishes to release over California is already here.  That’s how dumb he is, and how dumb Trump is.  And just as George W. Bush found his shadow brother in angry rich kid Osama Bin Laden, stupid Donald Trump has found his in the North Korean leader, who continues to invest his countries resources in nuclear weapons, while his capitol city goes without electricity for half of most days because of the sanctions imposed for his nuclear pursuits.

     But, I digress.  In my previous essay, I posited that “Meditation is Psychedelics in slow motion.”  In this one I will present the possibility that global warming is a nuclear armageddon in slow motion.  Over seventy years ago, when nuclear fission was first achieved, it immediately was used for weaponization.  The same mechanics that created the energy release of the Sun were duplicated in order to make bombs. Three years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reduced to ash and several hundred thousand people were killed, the first nuclear power plant went online.  Unfortunately the real possibilities for humanity that fission made available was never fully realized for the good it could do.  Imagine how different the world’s power grid would be if the resources that has gone into making nuclear weapons, had gone into making cleaner and safer forms of nuclear energy.

     By the time of the first successes with nuclear fission, everything that had ever lived on earth had been living on nuclear power for billions of years.  Man, thinking he had come so far, by splitting the atom, had reinvented the wheel, by reinventing the Sun. The growth of plants by photosynthesis and the animals that ate them and ate other animals on land in water were grown by the Sun.  Almost everything we eat, or have ever eaten can be traced back to Sunlight, the fission occurring in the Sun. Our hydrocarbon energy systems can all be traced back to sunlight.  Photosynthesis which gave live to so many plants and animals, in their deaths and decomposition returned their no longer animated by life carbon, to the ground.  Billions of years of life and death, all dependent upon the Sun, seeped back into the earth.  Plants, trees, grasses, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, dinosaurs, all seeped back into the soil over millions of years and degraded into oil.  And it would have stayed there forever, if through man’s ingenuity, he hadn’t realized what a plentiful energy resource it was.  Man no longer had to burn and relocate wood for energy.  Energy became liquid and could be sent anywhere through pipelines and brought anywhere by ships.  But what had been settled into the terra firma over billions of years was being released into the atmosphere as quickly as humans could burn it.

     Which takes us to where we are today.  With so much carbon having been released the planet has warmed to the point where firestorms that burn a hundred yards every three seconds are unleashed in places like Sonoma and Napa.  It makes me wonder if the scientists on the Manhattan Project weren’t doing something other than what they thought they were doing in the late 1930’s and and early 1940’s.  Perhaps without their knowledge, they were intuiting a symbolic expression of the slow motion Atom Bomb that is global warming.  They were aware of the profundity of recreating the fission that creates Sunlight that gives life to all that has ever lived on Earth. As I stated in an earlier essay, Robert Oppenheimer who was the project coordinator of The Manhattan Project, uttered the famous words from the Bhaghavad Gita, “I am death, destroyer of worlds,” when he witnessed the first atom bomb detonated.  But even though those bombs destroyed two Japanese cities, they were(thankfully) never used again in the seventy two years since.  Thousands of weapons have been built, uncountable resources have been utilized in construction, development, housing, and transportation of them. The financial cost of the world’s nuclear arsenal is almost unquantifiable.  While the United States rushed to make theirs, and Russia theirs, American Nuclear Bombers flew along the coasts of Russia. and Russian Bombers flew towards America, all the while more and more carbon was being released into the environment, and all those bombers really accomplished was burning more carbon.

     Perhaps when Oppenheimer uttered those words, though he thought he was talking about placing atomic bombs into the worlds arsenals, on a deeper level he was speaking for the gathering storm that was being sensed in the furthest reaches of human awarenedd.  It wasn’t the quick concentrated release of the mechanics of the Sun we had to fear, but the slow motion release of the Sun’s byproducts over several hundred years.  I can only imagine what profundity Oppenheimer would have released seeing the world’s forests devastated by fire..  I’m sure it would rivalthe profundity he uttered in New Mexico, when an atomic bomb transformed a sandy desert to a sheet of glass.

     The Bhaghavad Gita is a poem describing a battle that ends in death.  This is life.  Knowing this, knowing how this ends for everybody, and has ended for everybody, I suppose its message is to consider how we are conducting ourselves with knowledge of our ultimate fate.  Perhaps if there is a blessing from global warming that is it.  This process which has been hastened by our ignorance may ultimately be the thing that unites everyone as they see their connection to a tragedy.  Over and over again, in hurricanes, and fires and floods, you see people stripped of a lifetime of belongings and identities, left only with the instinct to help other people.  “I am death, the destroyer of worlds.”


I have been intrigued the last few days by the excerpts from Hilary Clinton’s book.  She seems like she is casting around blame for her loss to Donald Trump.  Sexism, Comey, Trump, the Russians, and even Bernie Sanders don’t escape blame.  But I think Bernie Sanders is right when he says that she ran against the least popular candidate in American History and lost.  I was no fan of either candidate, and I have been caught up in the manic coverage of Trump’s continual failure.  It’s been fascinating and hypnotic.
Politics is in our culture is the most passionately talked about conventional subject. It’s a way that people casually express their deepest-held values.  But it shouldn’t be.  One of the problems with contemporary life is that politics has displaced religion as an expression of our most profound values.  Our religious instinct has been sublimated in our culture and its distorted expression is our political beliefs.

In order to understand this process, it’s important to understand the two expressions of religious life.   The first is the exoteric religious experience.  This is the experience of a group gathering together in a church, synagogue, or mosque.  Exoteric religious rituals are designed to instill a sense of belonging to a social group that shares your beliefs.  In exoteric religious experience, there is an intermediary between you and the experience of the divine. A priest, rabbi, or an imam communicates the will of the divine to you,  and if you wish to receive the favor of the divine,  you do so by following the instructions and participating in the rituals designed by the intermediary.  In our culture, Evangelicals are a very visible bloc of the population that prefers exoteric religion.  Not coincidentally they are also a very motivated politically.  They see their religious beliefs and their political beliefs as the same thing.  The second manifestation of religious life is esotericism.  Esotericism is a personal experience of the divine without an intermediary.  Examples of this are meditation and yoga practices, depth psychology, or in the mystery cults of Alchemy, Astrology, Gnosticism, and events like Grateful Dead concerts or Burning Man.  The esoteric urge is often sublimated in political life(as it was by Hilary Clinton) in progressive humanism.  In recent days she has demonstrated her confusion by stating she is unwilling to grant absolution to those who did not vote(for her).  Absolution is divine forgiveness for sin, and is something granted by priests in Catholicism and Protestantism, it is not something provided by failed political candidates.  Those who consider themselves too sophisticated to belong to a group that seeks an intermediary between them and the divine, often cloak themselves in doing the will of the divine through their policy work.  In its own way, this can be as misguided(but possible more efficacious) as evangelical devotion to bringing to pass what they see as the will of god.

Both expressions dovetail into the sense of disorder you experience when a political candidate that you do not like becomes President.  For evangelicals, that sort of person was Barack Obama, and for Progressive Humanists, that man is Donald Trump.  As upset as you might be by Donald Trump being President, I assure you it would be easy to find people who were similarly upset by the Presidency of Barack Obama.  In the case of Evangelicals, they imagine “their” candidate as an intermediary for the divine.  Likewise with Progressive Humanists, they imagine a like minded President as someone who shares and will enact their values.  The suffering in each case, is a real.

I don’t think too many Evangelicals are going to be reading this essay.  So, I will address progressive humanists.  Of course Donald Trump is an abomination as a person and a President And he has brought a legion of ne’er do wells with him into his administration.  The impact of these people and their policies is real.  But, does Donald Trump being the President, interfere with your experiencing a genuine sense of the divine and it’s interest in you?  I think for many people, it has.  To Carl Jung, all psychological suffering was in fact, religious.  Where there was a disconnection from our Primordial Origins, there was suffering, and it was only by addressing that suffering that we reconnected ourselves to our source, which can be the only source of all well being.  So, if you think it is Donald Trump is making you suffer, look deeper.  Look at how he symbolizes your separation from your origins.  Likewise, from the eastern perspective of Zen Psychology, whatever it is that you attach your unhappiness to, was something that was sought out to reflect your unhappiness back to you. The feeling precedes the experience.  So, If I feel unhappy, I will seek out the experience of things that reinforce that feeling, like Donald Trump being President.  But the unhappiness precedes the Trump Presidency and the suffering I feel it causes me.

I am not advocating being passive about the political process.  Our country provides us the opportunity to express our values and advocate for them in a variety of ways.  What I am advocating is not misunderstanding ones political passions as religious ones.  The origin of the word religion comes from the latin, “to reconnect.”  Our religious instinct(as strong as our instinct for food or sex) results from finding ourselves in the world and it’s experiences and needing to turn back one hundred and eighty degrees toward our origins, and to make real contact with them. That is the only way we can impact on our moment to moment experience, which is something that Donald Trump being President will rarely be able to touch.  It is this re-connection that is the source of all profound comfort.   Without it, we may be left feeling like when we don’t get what we want, our only comfort may be, “Yoga and lots of chardonnay.”  And we all have access to a lot more than that.