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Summary: Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler

In this book summary, Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal walk us through the process of finding our flow against all odds.

Stealing Fire (2017) explores the controversial and exciting pursuit of altered states of consciousness. From tech entrepreneurs to BASE jumpers, meditators to festival-goers, it takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the revolutionary nonconformists trying to change the way they experience the world.

A surprising look at how some of the most successful people in the world get “in the zone.”

READ THIS BOOK SUMMARY IF YOU:

  • Want to know the secrets of productivity and focus
  • Are prepared to find that secret within yourself
  • Want to do more with your life

Book Summary: Stealing Fire - How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

Introduction

Scientists have been searching for clues about the relationship between peak performance and “flow,” the state of being “in the zone,” where everything clicks and productivity soars. The irony is that those who excel in tapping into flow are rarely the ones who study it, while those who study it rarely have the means to tap into it.

The following from Stealing Fire isn’t a formula for finding your flow, but a collection of knowledge and information designed to help you unlock that potential on your own terms.

Recommendation

Steven Kotler stays true to the sensational, entertaining language he used in his New York Times bestseller, Abundance. He and co-author Jamie Wheal conquer a whirlwind of ideas and stories in this wide-ranging exploration of ecstasis – Greek for altered states of “flow,” euphoria and ecstasy. They explore ways to reach this altered state – covering an array of subjects such as transcendental meditation, intoxicating substances and virtual reality. They’re clear on what you stand to gain and risk. Kotler and Wheal may spend too much time attacking societal taboos, notably the hypocrisy of organized religion and the dishonesty of government in suppressing access to euphoria. Yet they accomplish a unique paradox – a page-turner you will put down frequently to process the implications of the information. Don’t look for too much depth; instead, regard this primer on personal exploration as a guide to the areas that interest you. We recommend this unusual treatise to anyone new to the concepts of flow and ecstasy.

Take-Aways

  • People have always sought mind-altering states and the transcendence of ecstasis, the Greek word for altered states of “flow,” euphoria and ecstasy.
  • Superstition and authoritarian control have long shrouded the true nature of ecstasis.
  • Modern cognitive science offers a greater understanding of altered states.
  • New technologies accelerate the journey into altered mental states, making ecstasis more accessible and less risky.
  • Millions of people tap into altered states using a wide range of techniques.
  • These techniques include yoga, meditation, physical exertion and deep immersion in engrossing activities to generate flow, as well as the use of legal or illegal drugs.
  • Altered states suppress self-consciousness to aid clear thinking and creativity.
  • The flow of altered states accelerates performance and feels euphoric.
  • Attempting to stay in a constant state of ecstasis could cause addiction, destroy your mind or threaten your life.
  • Control your journeys, plan them and realize that not all the ideas you generate while in a state of ecstasis will work in everyday life.

The Case for Ecstasis

Sometimes the hardest part of any tense situation isn’t knowing when to act, but knowing when not to act. Navy SEALs understand this all too well; giving in to impulse can ruin a mission. One SEAL commander, who we’ll call Rich Davis for security reasons, had his team on high alert searching for an al-Qaida insurgent ordered to be taken alive. With dawn only hours away and nothing to show for Davis’ team’s nocturnal stakeout, their patience was rewarded at last when, against all expectations and to the relief of the team, their target stopped within a mile of their position. But Commander Davis didn’t share his men’s feeling of relief; he would have preferred them to slog through many miles of desert to complete the mission because experience told him this would calm their excitement, force them to shed their egos, and encourage them to merge as one unit in service of the task at hand. The ancient Greeks called this state of being ecstasis, literally “stepping beyond oneself.”

The word is similar in meaning to what we now know as “flow,” a state wherein action and actors become indistinguishable. Commander Davis’ priority wasn’t to complete the mission, but to do so as a matter of instinct over protocol. And they did, moving seamlessly and silently across hostile terrain and into a high-walled compound, where their sleeping target was about to get the wakeup call of his life. This is what separates Navy SEALs from your run-of-the-mill infantry: When faced with a crisis, they merge with their team instead of retreating into themselves.

Although ecstasis comes in many forms, they’re all rooted in the same soil. What allows a SEAL to neutralize their personal fears in favor of a collective goal also compelled Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to make one of the most important hiring decisions in tech history. Their company had grown exponentially since its founding, and Page and Brin knew they could no longer manage it on their own. After interviewing for almost a year without getting any closer to finding their perfect CEO, they took a page from the Navy SEAL training handbook and scrapped all conventional screening processes, instead immersing their top pick in a five-day barrage of psychological and physical extremes to answer the allimportant question: Would they merge or retreat?

What happened wasn’t what you might expect. In lieu of grueling training exercises and mock missions, they took their finalist, Sun Microsystems veteran Eric Schmidt, to the annual Burning Man extravaganza, which Page and Brin attended religiously. Just as Commander Davis wanted his men fatigued to the point where ego no longer mattered, Page and Brin wanted to test Schmidt in his rawest state. Clearly, their decision paid off: Over the next decade, Schmidt increased Google’s revenues by nearly four times.

It might surprise you to learn that the so-called altered states economy generates about four trillion dollars a year. This economy includes substances such as tobacco and alcohol, psychological stimulants like pornography, and ego enhancers like smart phones and social media; it justifies a market saturated by everything from dance music to popular fiction. But the pleasures of the altered states economy are fleeting. None of us, not even the SEALs, has found the secret that would make ecstasis available to any and all of us at the drop of a hat. Is it really worth the trouble, then, to seek out ecstasis?

The Four Forces of Ecstasis

The wild neurobiological horses of ecstasis can be corralled into four basic stables, the first of which is selflessness. All of us have an inner voice that never seems to shut up, an intangible critic that tells us we’re too unattractive, too unqualified, and too weak. But whenever we step into our zones, that voice is silenced. This only happens when selflessness is switched on.

The second stable is timelessness. Today, we work longer and harder than ever before, and almost always feel rushed to get things done as a result. This compulsion to rush causes us to forget to enjoy the here and now, which is troubling because living in the present can have deep psychological benefits. Presence in the now precludes us from dwelling on painful past experiences and hoping for a better tomorrow that might never come.

Next is effortlessness. Cultivating this sense of personal ability allows us to transcend the limits of motivation. Effortlessness isn’t merely a feeling; it’s a scientifically recognized cocktail of pleasure chemicals exploding from the brain into every available nook and cranny of your being. This is why people who’ve experienced flow often describe it as an “addictive” process. It doesn’t require great sacrifice on your part, either, beyond a willingness to commit yourself to a goal.

The fourth and final stable is richness. In lay terms, richness is almost like déjà vu: It is a feeling of knowing everything that is and ever was wherein thought and action are so unified that there’s no longer a delay between them. Such moments are difficult to define, but are brimming with significance and a feeling of connection to everyone and everything. We can safely say that ecstasis really is the wonder drug we need to achieve our best. While many have sought the use of actual drugs to induce it — Steve Jobs, for one, famously advocated for the use of LSD as a productivity booster — we now know that such shortcuts aren’t necessary; the tools we need are already inside us.

But the fact is that psychotropic drugs and other mind-enhancing substances have been used by humanity for millennia. Whether in anthropologists’ tales of ayahuasca-ingesting shamans or too-good-to-be-true Hollywood fantasies (such as the 2011 film Limitless), our culture is inundated with the consideration of the possibilities of substance-assisted states of consciousness. Such mythologies share a fierce commitment to the idea of individuality: The shaman acts as a paragon of knowledge and respect in his or her community. Bradley Cooper’s character in Limitless is likewise propelled to elite status by his new-found, substanceenabled abilities. In contrast, real-world examples of altered states on a collective scale often fall on the side of fanaticism, hatred, and even genocide.

If we look beyond these rare exceptions, however, ecstasis can be embraced as an important part of personal development, signaling a shift from altered states to altered traits. Fitness and exercise exemplify this idea; even a brief examination of popular physical activities will show you that you cannot train the body without also training the mind. Shaolin monks have known this for 500 years; yoga practitioners have known for 5,000 years. Western ideologies, on the other hand, have normalized a mind-body distinction, and as a result, we look at sequenced stretching and martial arts with exotic wonder.

The dark secret of flow is that it can be dangerous or even fatal. Some people access flow through risky activities like wingsuit BASE-jumping, rock climbing, or skydiving, and swear by the feeling of clarity afforded them by those experiences — so much so that they’re willing to put their lives on the line in these pursuits of ecstasis. This is another reason why the rest of us fear the prospect of flow: We’ve convinced ourselves that it comes only at great risk, despite the fact that the necessary forces are already all around us.

The Road to Eleusis

Burning Man, the festival where Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s mettle was successfully tested, is the ideal place to witness ecstasis at work. Every year, this “antifestival” attracts bohemians and anarchists, as well as increasingly large numbers of subcultural gurus, technological movers, and communications experts. The result is a weeklong community booming in the middle of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, a three-hour drive from Reno.

What sets Burning Man apart from a nightclub or other similar environment is its geographic and philosophical isolation. Removed from the cares and structures of everyday life, attendees find themselves knee-deep in ecstasis wherever they step. Silicon Valley’s best and brightest swear by it as an environment where everything becomes possible and that inspires some of the brightest minds in technological development in a way that nothing else can. Elon Musk is just one of the many big names to have experienced the benefits of its atmosphere of unity: Burning Man saw the debut of his all-electric Tesla Roadster in its prototype form, and cleared Musk’s mind enough to come up with the Hyperloop transit system and SolarCity energy model.

It’s important to note that Burning Man’s success depends almost entirely on the efforts of volunteers. Each of these volunteers finds creative yet practical solutions for making an otherwise inhospitable piece of land habitable for the festival’s participants, or “Burners,” as they’ve come to be known. This is proof that ecstasis is nothing without an allegiance to the collective.

Summary

An Eternal Flame

The ancient Eleusinian Mysteries – among Greek civilization’s great achievements – influenced Plato and much of Western philosophy. These nine-day “initiatory” rituals were “designed to strip away standard frames of reference, profoundly alter consciousness and unlock a heightened level of insight.” A drug much like LSD inspired these rituals, but using it illicitly invited capital punishment. The Greek elite risked everything to experience its powers. Ever since, new elixirs have emerged, intoxicating their users until authorities intervened. Today, people at the top of industry, elite military officers, scientists and other “psychonauts” enter various states of altered consciousness seeking “flow,” high creativity and peak performance. The mainstream also embraces some similar experiences.

Finding Flow

Psychedelic drugs, deep meditation and sex can induce what the Greeks called ecstasis. Learning transcendental meditation, for example, once took years. Now new technologies and training can teach a person to meditate like a monk in days or even hours. Even the US Navy SEALs have developed advanced sensory deprivation techniques to block external distractions and induce flow. These tools cut the time it takes to teach a recruit a new language from 26 weeks to six.

“The human brain remains the most complex machine on the planet.”

For US Navy SEAL Team Six, flow means entering a state of “collective awareness.” The team must act as one – at peak performance and with absolute focus – to execute its most dangerous missions. Only by entering this state of “merged consciousness,” can SEALs multiply their intelligence and prevent the actions of one individual from jeopardizing the whole mission. Their brains release powerful chemicals, including norepinephrine and dopamine, which make their responses razor-sharp. A SEAL’s ability to merge consciousness with the team, especially in the dangerous, difficult conditions, matters more than any other skill or ability he or she possesses.

“Advances in science and technology are giving us unprecedented access to and insight about the upper range of human experience.”

Google invested millions in a mindfulness facility to help employees attain flow and remain within their heightened focus. The benefits of ecstasis drive an “altered states economy” that features coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, immersive experiences, virtual reality, online porn and social media. It accounts for a $4 trillion chunk of the US economy annually.

The “Four Characteristics” of Ecstasis

Everyone experiencing ecstasis shares the same four feelings that make up the “STER” acronym:

  • Selflessness” – In evolutionary terms, the brain’s prefrontal cortex formed relatively recently. It enables humans to act thoughtfully at the cost of heightened self-awareness. The opportunity to escape churning thoughts, however briefly, drives the quest for altered states. Respites from your critical self can provide “a few moments of relief” from your inner clamor. Shutting “off the self” lets you see yourself clearly and objectively.
  • Timelessness” – People obsess about time more than they do about money or sex. In an altered state, you live in the moment and forget past failures or future possibilities. You perform better because you access clear data – information from the “now” rather than fuzzy data from the past or unreliable predictions about the future.
  • Effortlessness” – In achieving a state of ecstasis, your brain releases six neurochemicals – “norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, anandamide and oxytocin.” These make you feel great and more capable, so you want to keep doing whatever it was that released them in the first place. You can reach flow and ecstasis through sexual techniques, “micro-doses” of psychedelic drugs, jumping off a cliff in a wingsuit, advanced meditation and yoga, or engaging deeply with purposeful work.
  • Richness” – The neurochemicals of flow heighten awareness and help you draw connections you might otherwise ignore or miss. This provides euphoric feelings of understanding and oneness, including the ability to bring disparate ideas together, to see things in a new light and to generate ideas and solutions.

Flow-Inducing Experiences

Despite the adverse health effects intoxicants can have on humans and other animals, they both take drugs. For example, bottlenose dolphins toss puffer fish back and forth to ingest small doses of their “neurotoxins” and to get high. Cats use catnip. Dogs lick toads, and goats eat “magic mushrooms.” Use of drugs in some of the animal kingdom suggests a natural, biological drive.

Society’s Strictures and Endorsements

For most people, psychedelic drugs remain “beyond the pale” – that place where demons lurk. Achieving euphoria has risks. Researcher Robin Carhart-Harris uses fMRI scans to assess subjects who are high on psychedelics. Scans show that parts of the brain responsible for ego and self-consciousness shut down, allowing other parts that normally don’t connect with each other to form links, thus leading to novel ideas and creativity. Carhart-Harris asserts that these insights should help relax taboos against drugs so humanity can solve its hardest problems and discover more about the unknown universes within each person.

“Under normal conditions, with an active prefrontal cortex constantly scanning scenarios in the past and the future, we spend very little time living completely in the present.”

British physician David Nutt encountered resistance when he determined that horseback riding is many times more dangerous than using the drug Ecstasy. The press vilified Nutt, and he had to explain himself to Parliament. He tested legal and illegal drugs and found heroin harmful, but second to alcohol. He ranked LSD, mushrooms and ecstasy as far lower risks than tobacco. After this study, the government fired him as Britain’s drug czar even though the nation’s most prestigious medical journal published his findings.

“When our attention is focused on the present, we stop scanning yesterday for painful experiences…We quit daydreaming about a tomorrow that’s better than today. With our prefrontal cortex offline, we can’t run those scenarios.”

Substantially identical drugs – illegal “meth” and legal Ritalin – have very different paths. One can lead to addiction, overdose, jail and death; the other is prescribed to millions of children. Society endorses Ritalin, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, which keep the workforce and the economy humming. But when people go too far, the results can include addiction and overdoses. Efforts to escape within yourself, reach ecstasis, or find elation can lead to great harm.

Mainstream Ecstasy

Just as the printing press made religious teachings available to all and undermined the Church’s power in the 15th century, today the “Four Forces of Ecstasis” – psychology, neurobiology, pharmacology and technology – combine to break through the mysteries of consciousness. Evidence is replacing superstition as technology enables more people to experience ecstasis more often. Entire communities have evolved around the quest for altered states. The founders of the Summit Series, an event similar to Nevada’s counterculture Burning Man festival, purchased a Utah mountain to foster a permanent place where ideas and creativity could flow year round.

“If you train your body and brain, and manage your energy and attention, you’ll be able to get into the flow more frequently and perform better at work and at home.”

If you attend Burning Man, you’ll see a wide range of possible altered states, but a lot more goes on than wild parties. Most attendees report at least one “transformative” experience during festival events – and with lasting effects. Burning Man generates new ideas each year, including Elon Musk’s Hyperlink train and Tony Hsieh’s redesign of corporate culture at Zappos. Altered states regularly lead to applicable innovations and to solutions to big problems. When Google searched for a CEO, it put candidates through the grinder. Ultimately, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page settled on Eric Schmidt, who first proved his mettle by attending and understanding the Burning Man festival. Once on board, Schmidt’s ability to enter Google’s consciousness rather than feed his own ego paved the way for his astounding success as CEO.

“So potent is the urge to get out of our heads that it functions as a ‘fourth drive,’ a behavior-shaping force as powerful as our first three drives – the desire for food, water and sex.”

Schmidt’s intangible qualities don’t lend themselves to measurement or easy description. But the work of some “rebel” scientists reveals a better understanding of how and why flow and ecstasis occur. Almost half of US employers promote “mindfulness meditation,” saving millions in medical costs. Harvard professors teach happiness. Some 36 million Americans practice yoga, and neuroscience is booming. Cognitive supplements are a billion-dollar industry. Despite society’s abhorrence of drugs, 10% of Americans use psychedelics, and marijuana is the basis of the fastest-growing US industry.

“We have terabytes of information available to us; we just can’t tap into it in our normal state.”

New scientific knowledge has opened the door to altered states for the masses. Today, millions achieve other levels of consciousness more often, “on demand” and for longer times. The enormous field of personal development promises access to altered states while remaining safely within the bounds of mainstream society. Ecstasis penetrates the popular culture. For example, the finale of the popular television series Mad Men concludes with its protagonist, Don Draper, at Esalen, a famous 1960s spiritual retreat that epitomized the New Age movement. Here, Draper enters the zone and comes up with the legendary ad slogan, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.”

The New Forces of Flow

Exploring flow may require shedding some of the bonds that hold you back, say, from total immersion in an engrossing activity, but it doesn’t require trespassing social norms. Leverage what science knows about your body: Get sunlight. Exercise to lift depression. Stand in a power pose so you feel confident. Don’t wait to feel better to go take a walk; walk now. Don’t wait until after you ace a sales call to pump your fist in the air. Pump yourself up first. Science suggests inducing feelings of triumph beforehand, to prepare, rather than afterward to celebrate.

“If we remember that our unconscious processing can handle billions of bits at once, we don’t need to search outside ourselves to find a credible source for all that miraculous insight.”

Psychology reveals the possible range of consciousness; neurobiology explains which levers trigger which results. The connections between body and mind operate in both directions. Botox injections – which can freeze facial expressions – can cause significant mood changes and even impair users’ ability to empathize. In other words, if you can’t smile, you won’t be happy, and if you can’t frown, you can’t feel sad. Thinking requires the whole body system, including your gut, which acts as a “second brain” if you let it. Just striking an open, powerful physical pose can change your brain chemistry, making you more confident and more willing to take risks. For thousands of years, yoga gurus have used the body to master the mind. To tap your full potential, try to regain the powerful connection between body and mind.

“When altered states trigger timelessness, they deliver us to the perpetual present – where we have undistracted access to the most reliable data.”

Like other flow-inducing techniques, meditation can deliver “unity” – that feeling of oneness with the universe. Studies with fMRI and PET scans show that during intense meditation, energy moves from the part of the brain normally devoted to a sense of self to the part of the brain reserved for focus and attention. This dissolves the boundaries between self and everything else, creating a sense of deep connection. Similar scientific experiments in neurotheology – using “modern brain science to…study…religious experience” – help explain spiritual phenomena like “trances” and “speaking in tongues.”

Privacy and Self-Control

Government and big business remain a threat to ecstasis. Neuromarketing research reveals how consumers react subconsciously to brands and messages. In the emerging “transformation economy, “ as author Joe Pine calls it, marketers will tap your aspirations to sell you what you want to become. “In the transformation economy,” he says, “the customer is the product.”

“Timelessness, devoid of reference points, can feel a lot like paranoid schizophrenia.”

Researchers now can use biometrics to gauge and manipulate people’s emotions and actions. Neuromarketing tools measure pupil dilation, galvanic skin response, heart rate and other subconscious indicators of arousal. The implications for politics, population control and advertising might give anyone pause, especially when combined with addictive entertainments like virtual reality. These flow-inducing technologies deliver an addictive experience. Many people trade their privacy for more ecstasy. Government and corporations have everything to gain by controlling access to altered states. For the first time in centuries, access to ecstasis lies within your easy grasp. Use it responsibly. Stay on your guard, and join with others to make sure authorities and corporations don’t take your access away.

“The ecstasy will always come with the agony; that’s the human condition.”

Practice self-control by policing your transcendental moments carefully. In an ecstatic state, your self-awareness drops and dopamine can make your minor ideas and patterns feel significant. Evaluate any insights you gain a day, a week or even a month later before acting on them. Life and work enrich you and keep you grounded, but living in a constant state of flow could cost you your mind and maybe your life. Seek balance.

Conclusion

There’s no magic formula when it comes to achieving ecstasis; reaching it is as personal as the bliss it affords. If there’s one thing it invariably needs, however, it’s space to be embraced. This is why yoga, meditation, or even something as rudimentary as deep breathing are go-to methods for opening ourselves to its possibilities: Our lives are filled with physical and metaphysical clutter, and moments of clarity are few and far between. If only we take the time to make room for those experiences, we might surprise ourselves. Since we’re constantly balancing our inner and outer lives, we must treat moments of ecstasis with the respect they deserve, for with them comes great responsibility.

First and foremost, we must not let ecstasis inflate our egos, nor should we become “bliss junkies” — ecstasis should be functional, not recreational. Additionally, there are limitations on how deep we should go. Our goal shouldn’t be to dive into the heart of the Matrix à la Neo, but rather to strike a balance between inflation of self and distortion of time. Over-indulgence is never a good thing.

Genres

Motivational, Psychology, Business Culture, Self Help, Science, Personal Development, Productivity, Leadership, Technology and the Future, Creativity, Neurosciences, Self-Esteem, Inspiration, Cognitive Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuropsychology, Social Aspects of Technology, Meditation

About the author

Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal are co-founders of the Flow Genome Project, dedicated to exploring the neuroscience behind psychological optimization. Kotler has earned a name for himself as the author of such bestsellers as Tomorrowland, The Rise of Superman, and Abundance. Wheal, meanwhile, is a peak performance expert whose expertise has helped everyone from the US Navy to professional sports teams achieve their best. Both are in-demand speakers and advisers.

Steven Kotler is a New York Times best-selling author who specializes in human performance. He’s been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes and has appeared in over 100 publications, including the Atlantic and the Harvard Business Review. His other books include The Rise of Superman, Bold, and The Art of Impossible.

Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, an award-winning journalist, and the Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective. He is one of the world’s leading experts on human performance. He is the author of nine bestsellers (out of thirteen books total), including The Art of Impossible, The Future Is Faster Than You Think, Stealing Fire, The Rise of Superman, Bold and Abundance. His work has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes, translated into over 40 languages, and appeared in over 100 publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Atlantic Monthly, TIME and the Harvard Business Review. Steven is also the cohost of Flow Research Collective Radio, a top ten iTunes science podcast. Along with his wife, author Joy Nicholson, he is the cofounder of the Rancho de Chihuahua, a hospice and special needs dog sanctuary.

Jamie Wheal is the author of the global bestseller Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, Navy SEALs and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work. Wheal is an expert in peak performance and leadership, specializing in neuroanthropology––the intersection of culture, biology and psychology and the founder of the Flow Genome Project, an international organization dedicated to the research and training of ultimate human performance. Wheal is a mountaineer who’s guided the North Face of Mount Everest, trained Navy Seals, Olympians and RedBull extreme athletes and advised everyone from the U.S. Naval War College and Special Operations Command to the executives of major corporations including Google, Goldman Sachs and Cisco, among others. His work and ideas have been covered in The New York Times, Financial Times, Wired, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, INC, and TEDx. Wheal lives in Austin, TX.

Jamie Wheal is the founder of the Flow Genome Project, an international organization that researches human performance. He has given talks at Stanford University, Imperial College London, and the United Nations. Wheal is also the author of Recapture the Rapture.

Table of Contents

Introduction
The Never-Ending Story 1
Accidental Prometheans 4
Part 3 The Case for Ecstasis
Chapter 3 What Is This Fire?
The Switch 9
The High Cost of Ninja Assassins 12
Google Goes Fishing 18
Hacking Ecstasis 22
The Mind Gym 25
The Altered States Economy 28
Chapter 2 Why It Matters
The Ambassador of Ecstasis 33
Selflessness 37
Timelessness 39
Effortlessness 41
Richness 44
Wicked Solutions to Wicked Problems 46
Chapter 3 Why We Missed It Beyond the Pale 51
The Pale of the Church 52
The Pale of the Body 56
The Pale of the State 60
Pipers, Cults, and Commies 65
Part 2 The Four Forces of Ecstasis
Chapter 4 Psychology
Translating Transformation 73
The Bell Tolles for Thee 75
Mad Men 77
Taking the Kink Out of Kinky 81
Good for What Ails You 86
Altered States to Altered Traits 90
Chapter 5 Neurobiology
Outside the jar 95
I Can’t Feel My Face 96
The Al Shrink 100
Precognition Is Here (But You Knew That Already) 103
The Birth of Neurotheology 106
OS to UI 111
Chapter 6 Pharmacology
Everybody Must Get Stoned 115
The Johnny Appleseed of Psychedelics 119
This Is Your Brain on Drugs 124
The Hyperspace Lexicon 126
The Molecules of Desire 132
Chapter 7 Technology
Dean’s Dark Secret 135
Things That Go Boom in the Night 139
The Digital Shaman 142
Enlightenment Engineering 146
The Flow Dojo 148
Part 3 The Road to Eleusis
Chapter 8 Catch a Fire
The Sandbox of the Future 157
When the Levee Breaks 163
Disrupting the Brahmins 168
High Times on Main Street 174
Nothing New Under the Sun 178
Chapter 9 Burning Down the House
The Atomic Donkey 182
He Who Controls the Switch 185
Spooks to Kooks 187
Soma, Delicious Soma! 193
Ecstasy Wants to Be Free 199
Chapter 10 Hedonic Engineering
“Known Issues” of STER 201
Selflessness: It’s Not About You 202
Timelessness: It’s Not About Now 203
Effortlessness: Don’t Be a Bliss Junkie 205
Richness: Don’t Dive Too Deep 206
The Ecstasis Equation 209
Hedonic Calendaring 212
There is a Crack in Everything 216
Conclusion
Row Your Boat or Fly Your Boat? 219
An Afterthought 221
Acknowledgments 225
A Quick Note on Inside Baseball 227
Notes 233
Index 277
About the Authors 294

Review

Stay tuned for book review…

Nina Norman is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. She has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Nina has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. She is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Nina lives in London, England with her husband and two children. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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