Interview with James Fadiman: The Daemon and the Doors of Perception

Dr. James Fadiman

Just published and now available here at The Teeming Brain: my interview/conversation with Dr. James Fadiman, one of the pioneers of transpersonal psychology and modern research into the spiritual and therapeutic applications of psychedelics. This has been a long time in coming, for reasons that I explain in the interview’s introduction.

The interview is ten thousand words, so be prepared to settle in. A lot of what we talk about focuses on the practical and philosophical inadequacies of dogmatic scientific materialism in dealing with things like anomalous and paranormal experiences such as inspiration and perceived communication or encounters with supernatural entities. Here’s a key excerpt:

JAMES FADIMAN: The reductionists eventually paint themselves into a corner. Consider the people who talk about the neurophysiology of dreams. They say, “Look, here’s this little part of the brain that turns on when you’re dreaming, and therefore dreams are psychophysiological in nature.” Then we ask, well, what generates a sex dream, a dream where a dead person appears with information, and a dream where you’re seated before a large pizza? And of course they say, “Why don’t you just go away.”

MATT CARDIN: I think you’re raising the basic question of phenomenology as it relates to ontology.

JAMES FADIMAN: But if you take the position that the brain is the place through which consciousness moves, so that it acts kind of like a radio, then all of those different dreams are much more understandable, because we can say they’re coming from different channels, different stations, different gods, different muses. And that makes much more sense. . . . Science’s fundamental error is a religious sort. Science says, “Certain data (since we know it does not exist) you shall not look upon.” Science holds up the story of the church and Galileo to emphasize how dogmatic the church was in its refusal to look at evidence. But if you say to scientists, “What do you know about telepathy? What do you know about clairvoyance? What do you know about near-death experiences?” they say, “Those don’t exist, and I’ve never spent a moment looking at the evidence, because they can’t exist” . . . . Scientism — science as a religion — and science are quite far apart. You see, I think I’m a scientist. That means that anything that happens, whether subjective, objective, sensory or whatever, I look at it. That may be due to my psychedelic experiences, which reminded me that, “Whatever you think the world is made of, James, you have a very limited view.” My muse chimes in and says, “Obviously, if you look at the size of the universe and contrast it with the size of your brain, the chances of your being able to know everything are statistically almost non-existent.”

MORE: “Interview with James Fadiman: The Daemon and the Doors of Perception


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Posted on November 14, 2014, in Psychology & Consciousness, Religion & Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Daemonic-dread is immensely powerful for psychedelic experiences without the use of drugs and Vietnamese, Khmer and Korean sorcerers.. as well as Jewish women entreating dybbuk, Buddhists even, rely upon dread for possession, which is how they reach states of enlightenment , mania, and psychosis. I recommend Paul Copp’s new book on the use of pillars, gateways, talismans and such.. its the magical system used along the Silk Road which was a methodology stretching from the near east and europe through to asia and the very furthest east. It’s clear to me anyway that significant portions of Korean theology of shamanism and shamanized Christianity are their own that actually was co-opted in the original creation of Christianity . The people who made the Bible weren’t cognizant of what the trinity was supposed to represent, and the original idea of that is a Korean one, the cross is an ancient religious symbol of Wu shamans, the cross potent, they were the magi . Christianity is really behind its evolution at its foundation in a lot of ways originally Chinese, and the other large part of it you can see evolving from Virgil’s Aeneid, the separation of Heaven out of Hell is a feel good disconnect , and merely convenience, but those ideas originally had powerful empathetic resonances not lost on me. I digress.

    • Haunting the Buddha by Robert DeCaroli is super amazing about Buddhism and supernatural horror as the means of enlightenment.

    • I don’t believe that the magi who came to baby Jesus in the stories are literally Chinese or Koreans, its just that they could have been, and who they were isn’t so important as the fact that the symbol means something in Christianity that you can’t understand just by examining Christianity, to really understand the symbol of the cross you have to understand how Jesus dying on the cross is like dying on the world tree or cosmic axis for possession. That’s what the cross really represents, and it’s impossible to say and pointless to say who the cross originally belonged to, but important to understand what that symbol means and represents. Which is : it means sacrifice, well what kind of sacrifice? the shaman’s. and this is… I think this is a fact. and it’s a fact that these cultures were in harmony with each other at one time. or that significant amounts of these populations were, but then at some point it goes to hell for real because they’re not anymore.

  2. The other crucial bit of course that the Wu cross is a symbol of objection and not of power . The power that comes into a shaman isn’t their’s. When I think of Wu sorcerers I don’t think of Mortal Kombat so much, though it is sort of like that, so much as I think of Korean dramas , and I think the Japanese drum up the power several notches too high as far as what a shaman is or does. It’s not everyone that should be a shaman. The ecstasy comes about following soul loss. I think that is important. I like Christianity as sort of a base to think about shamanism because otherwise it just becomes lets all rock and roll and be shamans? no , Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, elegy, Lovecraft, make it clear to me that the occult is pessimistic.

  3. LOL that was a typo i meant a symbol of abjection. ABJECTION .

  4. Best analysis of Mortal Kombat i can do is,

    Shang Tsung is Jesus Christ, but Shang Tsung is never himself (that’s the point)

  5. and Shang Tsung is subhuman , why? Because he died. He’s a tabula rasa, “Shang Tsung” doesn’t exist, he’s only ever Shang-Tsung-as-Kano or Shang-Tsung-as-Scorpion . Scorpion is useful too. Scorpion is never himself he is a Hell mouth. and to be that means to fall into the embrace of the Other. which is Tremendous and Terrifying, but its the shaman who can raise up and empower souls, without the shaman those souls aren’t called back, and so reincarnation according to Robert DeCaroli’s book, read it so excellent, is being reBorn. not just being embodied.

  6. MY 2 CENTS .

    being Re Born . Once that happens you are born again, you’re not a shaman, you’re a little shit baby, a rational ego self . be thankful you have a self at all . I don’t know why occultists don’t see it this way . whatever.

  7. in order for an Occultist to get anything out of the Occult -by themselves- , they have to be worth a shit to be called and then worth enough shit to be reincarnated the way the shaman chooses.

  8. the Shaman is able to call, and to expel, and to boot souls out and kick them to the curb as well, so elitists should be careful about that.

  9. internet goblins ate my comment!

    I wanted to welcome you back, Matt, and thank you for this long awaited interview. What a delight to read. I had a question but can’t recall how I worded it yesterday and today, after a long day, I’ve not got the brainpower to reformulate it. Maybe another time.

    Most importantly, might I suggest periodic conversations between you two and letting us all in on them?

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