Timothy Leary

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Timothy Leary : biography

October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996

Others contest this characterization of the Millbrook estate; for instance, in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe portrays Leary as interested only in research and not in using psychedelics merely for recreational purposes. According to "The Crypt Trip" chapter of Wolfe’s book, when Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters visited the residence the Pranksters did not even see Leary, who was away on a three-day trip. According to Wolfe, Leary’s group even refused to give the Pranksters LSD.

In 1964, Leary coauthored a book with Alpert and Ralph Metzner called The Psychedelic Experience based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In it, they wrote:

A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of spacetime dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Such experiences of enlarged consciousness can occur in a variety of ways: sensory deprivation, yoga exercises, disciplined meditation, religious or aesthetic ecstasies, or spontaneously. Most recently they have become available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, etc. Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures.

Repeated FBI raids ended the Millbrook era. Regarding a 1966 raid by Liddy, Leary told author and Prankster Paul Krassner, "He was a government agent entering our bedroom at midnight. We had every right to shoot him. But I’ve never owned a weapon in my life. I have never had and never will have a gun around."

On September 19, 1966, Leary founded the League for Spiritual Discovery, a religion declaring LSD as its holy sacrament, in part as an unsuccessful attempt to maintain legal status for the use of LSD and other psychedelics for the religion’s adherents based on a "freedom of religion" argument. (Although The Brotherhood of Eternal Love would subsequently consider Leary their spiritual leader, The Brotherhood did not evolve out of IFIF International Foundation for Internal Freedom.) On October 6, 1966, LSD was made illegal in the United States and controlled so strictly that not only were possession and recreational use criminalized, but all legal scientific research programs on the drug in the US were shut down as well.

In 1966, Folkways Records recorded Leary reading from his book The Psychedelic Experience, and released the album The Psychedelic Experience: Readings from the Book "The Psychedelic Experience. A Manual Based on the Tibetan…". at Smithsonian Folkways

During late 1966 and early 1967, Leary toured college campuses presenting a multimedia performance "The Death of the Mind" attempting an artistic replication of the LSD experience. He said the League for Spiritual Discovery was limited to 360 members and was already at its membership limit, but encouraged others to form their own psychedelic religions. He published a pamphlet in 1967 called Start Your Own Religion to encourage just that (see below under "writings").

Leary was invited to attend the January 14, 1967 Human Be-In by Michael Bowen, the primary organizer of the event,http://books.google.com/books? id=eFaq_I24teQC&pg=PA641&dq=timothy+leary+%22michael+bowen%22&lr=&as_brr=0&client=firefox-a#PPA299,M1 a gathering of 30,000 hippies in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park In speaking to the group, he coined the famous phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out". In a 1988 interview with Neil Strauss, he said that this slogan was "given to him" by Marshall McLuhan when the two had lunch in New York City, adding, "Marshall was very much interested in ideas and marketing, and he started singing something like, ‘Psychedelics hit the spot / Five hundred micrograms, that’s a lot,’ to the tune of [the well-known Pepsi 1950s singing commercial]. Then he started going, ‘Tune in, turn on, and drop out.’"Strauss, Neil. Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: Journeys into Fame and Madness. New York: HarperCollins, 2011, 337-38