Consciousness, Psychedelics, & Reality: Graham Hancock’s Discourse Against Materialist Science & Monotheism

Graham Hancock is no stranger to modern discourse on the nature of consciousness. Since his early scholarly days he has challenged materialist science with alternative theories addressing mysteries of ancient civilizations, extra-terrestrials, psychedelics, and consciousness. In a recent lecture at the National Arts Club Art and Technology Committee, Hancock continued his controversial examination of the aforementioned topics.

He opened his lecture with a question addressed to famous evolutionist, atheist, and author, Richard Dawkins, probing him on one of atheism’s most imperative conjectures, “How do you prepare for life in a world where there is no God?”

Hancock went on to recite Dawkins’s answer, “You prepare for it by knowing that life is what we have and so you better make it a life to the fullest”. Although he asserted that he couldn’t agree more with the notion of living one’s life to the fullest, Hancock didn’t accept Dawkins’s materialist view which states that consciousness is only a product of electro-chemical brain activity. He believes there is a lot more to consciousness than that expressed from the empty reductionist view point.

“What science is this [opinion] based on? What has [Dawkins] done to prove that there is nothing after death?”

Hancock argues Dawkins’s statement with a bold case, expressing that he is merely stating his “very narrow and very limited ‘religious’ belief”. Dawkins’s belief is just that, an act of faith, because there is no scientific evidence to back up his claim. But nevertheless, a large majority of people still buy into these scientists’ beliefs based on their university credentials.

Last year, Hancock released a TEDx Talk that was subsequently banned due to the subject matter discussed. Hancock elaborated on the reason in his lecture,

“Certainly the brain is involved in consciousness in some vital way, but it’s unclear exactly how and this is the first area that I got into trouble with TED for my brief TEDx Talk which was on their website for a couple of weeks before they took it off. I couldn’t understand why they took it off, but it later became clear that there is a faction of scientists who advised TED who belong to what is called the materialist/reductionist tendency, and they believe that all phenomena can be reduced to matter, and that there is nothing that exists outside of the material realm if it cannot be measured or counted.”

Does the brain create consciousness like a generator produces electricity? Material scientists believe that consciousness is an epi-phenomenon or a miracle or sorts. They understand its development in relation to the Darwinian concept of ‘survival of the fittest’, that our brains evolved to have this consciousness as an advantage over other species. They state that once we’re dead, consciousness no longer exists, and we are simply reduced to matter. “What about near-death-experiences or out-of-body-experiences?” Hancock asks.

To refute this model, Hancock uses the analogy of a TV and its antenna. “The relationship of the brain and consciousness might be more like a TV set and the TV signal. And again, I got into trouble with TED even for suggesting this, but they will say ‘I know consciousness is localized to the brain because when I shut off this area of the brain , this or that area of your consciousness will blink out, and therefore that proves that your brain makes that bit of your consciousness’. But isn’t that true with the TV analogy? If you damage the TV screen, the picture won’t be so good, but that doesn’t mean the signal isn’t there still.”

To get a clearer understanding of consciousness and life after death, Hancock suggests looking back at ancient civilizations, particularly the ancient Egyptians, who possessed a remarkable model of the afterlife. By studying the intricate and numerous hieroglyphs in the pyramid walls (transcribed today in what is known as the Book of The Dead), one quickly realizes the Egyptians honoured death even more so than life as a large majority of their lives were based around the preparation for death, and that when this time came a soul would face Anubis in a review of their life. The consequences of a person’s life choices were something to reflect on deeply according to the Egyptians. Likewise, the Ancient Egyptians believed in reincarnation – after each life a soul would review lessons learned in the previous life to ensure that they would not repeat them in the next.

The Egyptians held strong beliefs about life after death.
The Egyptians held strong beliefs about life after death.

Interestingly, Hancock also adds an alternative narrative to the Egyptian civilization which may challenge many people’s beliefs. Referencing the Tibetan Book of The Dead, Hancock revealed their belief that love, ethics, and mediation alone cannot bring one enlightenment. He asserts that the Egyptians used psychedelic plants to access higher levels of consciousness. Famous ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna proposes the Tree of Knowledge depicted in engravings was actually a reference to the plant Acacia Nilotica, which contains levels of DMT in its bark. The Egyptians were known alchemists, so this extraction theory should not be considered far-fetched.

Hancock moves his attention to the ancient texts of the Hermetics and the Gnostics, quoting an line from one of the texts, “Man’s duty is not to acquiesce in his merely human state but rather in the strength of his contemplation of things divine to scorn and disguise that mortal part which has been attached to him because it was needful that he should keep and tend the lower world.” This was also a central aspect of the Egyptian texts, that we should not be attached to our material body, that we reach for the ‘heavens’ as a metaphor for our spiritual self.

The Gnostics also were also early opponents of certain sects of Christianity, specifically Catholicism, stating that no ‘God’ would judge another human being, let alone advocate burning someone at the stake. They viewed Christ as a teacher who didn’t actually die for our sins, that we are responsible for our own sins. Another controversial concept from early Gnosticism reveals that the serpent in the story of Adam and Eve was not in fact the devil, for the serpent was trying to tell them about the ‘Tree of knowledge’, and ‘God’ was trying to keep this knowledge away from humans to ensure they wouldn’t attain godly power through this knowledge.  An early Gnostic art piece exposes the Tree of Knowledge for what it actually is, the psychedelic mushroom Amanita Muscaria.

The Gnostics alluded to the 'Tree of Knowledge' being the psychedelic mushroom, Amanita Muscaria.
The Gnostics alluded to the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ being the psychedelic mushroom, Amanita Muscaria.

A faction of the Gnostics called the Cathars who lived in Southern France in the 1100s were surprisingly advanced for their time: they believed in equality for all, influenced the Troubadour music wave, ate mainly vegetarian, promoted universal literacy, and even made their own paper. Unfortunately, anyone who held Cathar/Gnostic beliefs was persecuted by the Roman Catholics in a crusade which took place in the late 1100s. This was largely due to the fact the Cathars saw the Pope as an agent of the devil.

Most monotheistic faiths impose leaders between the people and the divine (i.e., Christianity, Judaism, Islam). These ideological factions talk the talk about peace and love but walk the walk of hatred and suspicion. Hancock makes the daring assertion that it’s these three faiths which are at the root of the world’s problems today.  The state is the next form of segregation which ultimately places the control of our consciousness in the hands of others. States operate on fear, hatred, and suspicion, (war on terror, national security). Hancock addresses the pointlessness of patriotism, asking what its relevance really is. “Why should we be especially attached to someone because they happen to be born on the same piece of land as me? Shouldn’t we be interested in a community of ideas? Shouldn’t we be patriotic to the entire human race? We’ve become a species of amnesia, lulled into a false sense of purpose.”

“There is a war on our consciousness”, Hancock states. It is curious why a natural brain hormone like DMT is a Schedule I drug, yet the ancient Egyptians pegged it as the ‘Tree of Life’.  Shouldn’t we have sovereignty over our own consciousness? Natural mind-expanding plants are categorized as dangerous, yet pharmaceuticals and alcohol kill millions each year. Perhaps Hancock isn’t too far off in his statement.


Hancock presents a strong argument against material science. There is a rigidness within this faction of belief that reduces the unlimited to something finite, something Hancock pegs as a dishonour to the miracle that is consciousness. Hancock also advocates to be weary of both modern and timeworn control schemes (i.e., religion, pharmaceuticals, the state) which aim to suppress the evolution of consciousness, a warning which may trigger the defence of many but stands as a crucial wake-up call to the world. Just as the ancients affirmed, psychedelics must be seen as an important tool in exploring and expanding human consciousness. Perhaps these natural tools truly do hold the key to the advancement of mankind’s evolution.




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  1. Pingback: Anonymous
  2. “…we tend to see hydrogen as just dead, material, odourless, colourless stuff. But from an evolutionary perspective, we realize that if you just take hydrogen, and you leave it alone it eventually turns into a human. To me, it suggests that if human are spiritual beings, then hydrogen is somehow spiritual too.” (Brian Swimme, Cosmologist)

    1. “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason, and also ego; these constitute My nature divided into eight parts. This indeed my lower nature; other than this, by which the whole universe is sustained know it to be My higher (or Spiritual) nature in the form of jive (the life principle)….. all beings have evolved from this twofold prakriti, and that I am the source of entire creation, and into me again it disappears.” (Lord Krishna)

    2. “The current descending some distance and focusing ………., it brought some creation (Agam Lok, Alakh Lok & Sat Lok) into existence. The process of creation stopped at this stage and for a considerable time this was the entire creation.


    3. “Below this Region, during second phase of creational process, the two Kalas viz., Niranjan (Invisible Force Current) and Jyoti (Electromagnetic Force) together evolved the creation of five Tattwas (elements), four Khans (species, categories of life) and three Gunas (qualities). Then Niranjan separated Himself from the rest, putting the burdens of looking after the creation on them. Nobody could know of Niranjan. Only they made conjectures.” (His Holiness Soamiji Maharaj, Founder of Radhasoami Faith)

    Invisible Force and Gravitation Force have identical characteristics.

    4. According to Radhasoami FAITH THE UNIVERSE (MACROCOSM) has been divided into three Grand Divisions –
    (a) Pure Spiritual Region – Region of pure spirit or pure consciousness
    (b) In the second grand division both Spirit Force and Material Forces are manifest but spirit force predominates
    (c) In third grand division material forces predominate over spirit force. Spirit force is very feeble in this region.

    There are many subdivisions in each grand division. Every subdivision has its own level of consciousness.
    Gravitation Force is the strongest force on black holes and weakest on Earth Planet.

    1. “………… The human body provides the opportunity for going down into life forms of animals, birds, vegetables etc. and go further down into metals or go up from the human form and attain the status of gods etc. and then become one with God.” (Sir Sahabji Maharaj (1881-1937), 5th Spiritual Head of Radhasoami Faith)

    In other words metal and God and other intermediary stages, all have consciousness, although different from each other.

    2. Maharshi Mahesh Yogi (1975) had described seven levels of consciousness. Each level of consciousness has different values of Physiology.

    3. Swami Niranjananand Saraswati (2006) says: “Human beings are composed of two forces; prana-the cosmic energy, and consciousness-the evolving energy.” Thus consciousness is constantly evolving.

    4. “……..only some aspects of the consciousness of the CE (Consciousness Element) are accessible through physical measurements. The main instrument capable of sensing any feature of CE or deriving some properties of it is the mind of a sentient entity.” (Prof. Ashok Agarwal (2012))

    Through spiritual practices (Meditation and Yoga) we may be able to have access at all levels of consciousness.

    CONCLUSIVELY it can be stated, “Ek tattva ki pradhanta, kaho use jad ya chetan” (Jai Shankar Prasad).
    (ONLY ONE ELEMENT PREDOMINATE, say it matter or consciousness). Thus consciousness is all that which exists- living or non-living.

    Thus Living and Non-living needs to be redefined.

  3. Can someone tell me where this picture with the mushroom comes from? I’d love a reference or something. I’ve been asking around on forums today and I can’t find a single Gnostic who has seen this picture before.

  4. The universe cannot exist without a super-existence. Quantum mechanics tells us that the universe would have come into existence by chance due to the random fluctuations of the quantum equations, but this presupposes a super-existing dimension where the quantum mechanical equations could have fluctuated in. There is no other answer despite what such personages as Dawkins would state. These people are merely hiding their heads in the sand trying to solve the question by pretending that they have the answer. Nothing comes from nothing, no matter what these foolish people tell us. Mu, the mass of the universe does not =0, so therefore there must be super-existing state where SMu=Mu, where SMu is the super-existing mass. So at the beginning of the universe SMu became Mu through the manifestation of the imaginary number wave form equations. -SMU squared=+/-Mu, to manifest the full spectrum of the equation. In the Kabbala there is the Ein Soph, the super-existence, there super-existence is both unknowable and not-unknowable. Anything that can be manifested as a thought even is not the Ein Soph. This equation can only be solved by Boolian algebra. The super-existence is not the universe. In juxtaposition to this is the cosmic, which is the combined awareness of all the universe. This is the gods of nature, all the other spiritual forces and all the sentient beings everywhere.

    1. Dear Curanderozapoteca

      What do you think about my following views?

      Radhasoami Faith View of Modus Operandi of Creation of Universe

      Part – I

      There is cosmological evidence for God and the Universe existed before
      Big Bang .
      Stephen Hawking writes in The Grand Design, “It is not necessary to
      invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”
      Hawking said the Big Bang was merely the consequence of the law of
      gravity. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking had suggested that the
      idea of God or a divine being was not necessarily incompatible with a
      scientific understanding of the Universe.
      Although Hawking is very close to Truth yet he is not perfect in his
      views while discarding the role of divine being. I consider the role
      of eternal gravity uppermost but I strongly differ with Hawking on the
      role of divine being. I consider Divine Ordainment is the cause of
      Creation of Universe.
      Now I give Radhasoami Faith view of Creation Theory. In Sar Bachan
      (Poetry) composed by His Holiness Soamiji Maharaj the August Founder
      of Radhasoami Faith the details of creation and dissolution has been
      described very scientifically. It is written in Jeth Mahina (name of
      Hindi moth) in this Holy Book: Only He Himself (Supreme Father)and
      none else was there. There issued forth a great current of
      spirituality, love and grace (In scientific terminology we may call
      this current as gravitational wave). This is called His Mauj (Divine
      Ordainment). This was the first manifestation of Supreme Being. This
      Divine Ordainment brought into being three regions, viz., Agam, Alakh,
      and Satnam of eternal bliss. Then a current emerged with a powerful
      sound (this was the first Big Bang). It brought forth the creation of
      seven Surats or currents of various shades and colours (in scientific
      terminology we may call it electromagnetic waves). Here the true Jaman
      or coagulant was given (in scientific terminology this coagulant may
      be called as weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force). Surats,
      among themselves, brought the creation into being.
      These currents descended down further and brought the whole
      universe/multi verse into being i.e. black holes, galaxies etc. were
      I would like to add further that sound energy and gravitational force
      current are non polar entity and electromagnetic force is bi-polar.
      Hence spiritual polarization, if occurred, is occurred in the region
      of Sat Lok and region below to it only.
      Infinite expanse of gravitational force field is the region of dark energy.

      In Bible it is written that in the beginning was the Word; the Word
      was with God; and the Word was God.
      According to Radhasoami Faith “Shabd (Word) is the beginning and end
      of all. The three loks (worlds) and the fourth Lok, all have been
      created by Shabd.” (Sar Bachan Poetry)


      Here the true Jaman (coagulant) was given. The spirituality coagulated
      as it were, and Surats (spirit entities), among themselves, brought
      the creation into being. Thereafter, another Jaman (coagulant) was
      given. Regions from Agam Lok (Inaccessible Region) to Sat Lok (True
      Region) were created during the first creational process. That
      creation is true. That region is eternal. There is no trace of evil
      and suffering. This was the creation for many Yugas and ages. Then
      there appeared a dark coloured current
      That current appeared like a dark coloured stone set in a white one
      and was absorbed in the Darshan of True Being. Then there appeared two
      Kalas i.e. currents (viz. Niranjan and Jyoti) and they together
      evolved the creation of five Tattwas (elements) four Khans (species,
      categories of life) and three Gunas (qualities). The three Gunas
      (qualities) brought about the expansion and proliferation . They
      created Rishis and Munis (sages and holy men), gods and godly human
      beings and demons. Egotism then increased much. Niranjan separated
      himself from the rest, putting the burden of looking after the
      creation on them. Nobody could know of Niranjan. Even the Vedas
      referred to Him as Neti Neti (Not this, Not this). They did not get
      Darshan (Vision) of Niranjan. They made conjectures. Then how can
      anybody have knowledge of Sat Purush (True Being), Source of Niranjan
      and all that exists.
      Scientifically here Jyoti represent three Fundamental Forces of
      Quantum Mechanics i.e. electromagnetic force, weak nuclear force and
      strong nuclear force. NIRANJAN is the fourth Fundamental Force i.e.
      Gravitation Force. Scientific explanation follows in support of my


      Einstein struggled and failed to formulate this theory, but it has
      already been shown that at high enough energies electromagnetism and
      the weak force are the same force known as the electroweak force. It
      is theorized that if energies are increased even further and neutrinos
      acquire mass, which has now been fully documented, all the known
      forces will reduce to the same force thus providing the basis for the
      Grand Unified Theory. This high energy level existed only during the
      very early expansion of the Universe known as the Planck Epoch which
      existed up to 10 to the negative 43rd seconds after the Big Bang where
      the four fundamental forces – electromagnetism, weak nuclear force,
      strong nuclear force and gravitation – all had the same strength.
      After that point the energy level decreased and gravity separated from
      the other 3 fundamental forces and with condensation of elementary
      particles (quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons) into matter formed the
      so-called Standard Model of today’s Universe. (Source: Comments by
      William H. Depperman posted at blog

      It is well known that nothing or very little is known about
      gravitational force till today. It is a mysterious force.

  5. Ok I did some checking around online and I have some serious problems with this article. From what I am told there is no evidence that Cathars are actually Gnostic. They had similar ideas regarding YHWH, Satan creating the world (even though the demi-urge in Gnostic thought is not satan exactly), and the material world.

    Gnostics taught Gnosis is the source of salvation and there seems to be no evidence the Cathars or Bogomils did, unless there is some evidence I don’t have access to.

    There was a split in Judaism about a “demi-urge” called the “metatron” which influenced early Christianity and the Gnostics. The teaching of Gnosis was added later. Therefor I don’t see how there can be any guarantee that Cathars/Bogomils didn’t reject YHWH based on Jewish writings and the Catholic scriptures. The differences between YHWH and Christ are striking and numerous. So anyone at any place or time could come to the same conclusion.

    All these paintings etc are from the 1,100’s or close to it. So #1 Hancock is assuming that Cathars/Bogomils are absolutely Gnostics, and descended from second century Gnostics, and had access to Gnostic texts. This seems like a HUGE stretch to me. Unless of course there is some evidence I, and no other Gnostics I know have access to.

    #2 Hancock is assuming the depiction of psychedelic mushrooms are not actually condemning the mushroom.

    Also I can’t find anyone who actually thinks “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross” is a legitimate argument about the development about Christianity. 11th century Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with developing Christianity. Early Christian writings are full of contradictions and infighting about theological issues. I’ve never seen anything about “fertility” or psychedelics.

    From what I’ve read and been told some of the earliest Christian sects were against procreating, i.e. Marcionites, Thomasine Christians. The Gnostic text The Testimony of the Truth describes sexual desire and procreation as “archons” or demons.

    Does someone have info I don’t or is Mr. Hancock making assumptions about Gnosticism that prop up his ideas about the role of psychedelics? I’m not trying to be a dick but I would like some more clarity on the issue b/c I think there may be some problems with Mr. Hancock’s argument.

    1. The connection between Gnosticism (Manicheans) and Cathars (Bogomils) is hinted on the wikipedia page of Manicheans, but it’s even better elaborated on the wikipedia page of Bogomils. Hanckock’s “assumption” is essentially correct, even though I’m not sure if he has heard of the Bogomils. There was a Bulgarian documentary on the Cathars in which experts from Languedoc, France pretended they never heard of the Bogomils. Unfortunately, history is way too politicized.
      And yes, the Bogomils very likely had access to Gnostic scriptures. The ancient world was very well connected, for example it is well known that Pythagoras travelled a great deal and had access to Egyptian and Zoroastric priests and scriptures. Also, the early Christianity was very close to the Orphic tradition on the Balkan, and obviously, it is also close to Gnosticism, so here you have one more connection.

  6. Brains with billions qualities and a complexity without limits cannot be understood by man.
    Then build a theory does not make much sense.

    However , one can detect signals from the brains if the brains have a problem .
    I discovered these signals .
    These signals are external and internal.
    External signals : changing behavior : nervousness or irritability or intolerance or…sweating, clumsiness, poor memory,…
    Internal signals : point that hurt if you press it , and these signals are right under the skin and usually on the head .(zone A + B) see site.

    If you have these signs , then this is evidence that your brains (bio – computers ) have a problem and that they are no longer able to control the organs and systems properly , in other words , A DISEASE CAN OCCUR
    My invention of 2007, proves that one can recover if one treats the internal signals with a natural product .
    Result : the internal and external signals disappear and one is healthy again .

    This proves that the cause of a disease was detected , and that one is able to cure , all the physical and psychological diseases and the treatment is personalized , it is handled externally. ( osmosis effect )
    For further details see

    When your bio – computers work perfectly then it prevents to get sick and this lifelong , more your skills will develop according to the limits of your DNA !!!

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