#78 – Smoking the Toad

Dealing successfully with our suffering involves transcending the world of form, ending our identification with our body, mind and emotions. Journalist Michael Pollan has been courageously experimenting lately with alternative and even illegal substances that extend the boundaries of reality for our species. Our only way to avoid our self-created “Apocalypse” is to create a new paradigm.

Perhaps one way to create the insights that will empower our paradigm shift will involve “smoking the toad.” However, before we get to the toad Pollan set’s an historical context for our decidedly divergent human narrative. In the 1950s Aldous Huxley wrote a book about his mescaline trip. “‘The Doors of Perception’ is a seamless, confident elegantly written travelogue of a psychedelic journey that the author found astonishing but entirely comprehensible.” (1)  What do mushrooms and toads have to do with creating a new story for humanity?

Any new human narrative will have to be radically different to overcome the inertia that drives the self-destructive behavior of our current dystopia. Could we even find the words to describe it? Pollan gave it a go after smoking the venom of the Sonoran Desert toad. “Indeed, this is one of the most interesting aspects of psychedelic experience: how it allows you to observe the mind in real time as it imposes form—a metaphor, a hallucination, a pattern—on the anarchy of thought and sensation that the molecules incite.” (1)

So we have Huxley who found his experience “entirely comprehensible” and Pollan who found his “ineffable.” And then we have another group of insightful people who find a paradigm shift possible without the aid of pot, mushrooms or toad venom. Click on the link below to take a “trip” with these extraordinary individuals.

Insight # 78:   We forge the chain and we alone can break it. – Vivekananda



  1. Pollan, Michael. “Smoking the Toad.” The New York Times Book Review. December 30, 2018, pages 8-9.

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