PROLOGUE: Who or What Killed Einstein? - In which the fierce and ultimately fatal face of Nature is outlined. It appears that each of us, temporarily orchestrated out of physics, chemistry and biology, be enmeshed within a relentlessly sophisticated evolutionary process, a process which, for some reason, the Universe was always poised to sustain. Along with Mr Einstein (before Nature consumed him), we bravely ask why the Universe should be endowed with such a remarkable capacity? Why on Earth should Nature have facilitated the eventual emergence of consciousness? What kind of a phenomenal tease is this? We rightly demand that Nature provide us with some answers! The seed of a new idea is here planted - namely that altered states of consciousness derived from wholly natural environmental resources can allow us to interface more intimately with such a user-friendly reality process. In this way, we might really get some answers as to the point of it all......
CHAPTER ONE: Consuming God's Flesh - When you go down to the woods today be sure you know your shamanic history. Introducing our main man Robert Gordon Wasson and his extensive ethnobotanical research into the historical use of entheogenic fungi and how he eventually came to unearth the extraordinary vision-inducing Mexican psilocybin mushroom in the 1950's. This adventurous man thus warms us up for the main features to come. Nature, by jove, turns out to be wilder than we could possibly imagine, and, more importantly, inherently transcendental. The natural alchemical substance psilocybin, an alkaloid still new to Western science, reveals itself as a potential key to unlocking the mysteries of consciousness.
CHAPTER TWO: An Ancient Form of Communion - Details concerning the use of psilocybin mushrooms by the once mighty Aztec and Mayan civilisations. The alluring conjecture that the spiritual impulse originated from our ancestors' ingestion of vision-inducing plants is also introduced.
CHAPTER THREE: Psilocybin flows in and out of the Western Mind - The true story of how the 60's got rolling on the back of an entheogenic mushroom.
CHAPTER FOUR: Investigating the Earth's Alchemical Skin - We learn more about the shamanic use of entheogenic plants as well as previewing the second wave of human-based psychedelic science.
CHAPTER FIVE: The Mushroom and the Synapse - In which we delve into the neuronal architecture of the brain so as to comprehend more fully the nature and potential dynamics of consciousness. Meet the neuron, the synapse, the neurotransmitter, and the cunning route through which psilocybin operates.
CHAPTER SIX: The Stuff of Consciousness - The mystery of the mutable human mind is cracked open and served up on a plate of profound implications. We see how the symbolic visionary dialogue induced by entheogenic agents represents the coalescence and integration of vast amounts of information. The felt presence of the transcendental Other is then delineated in informational terms.
CHAPTER SEVEN: A Universe of Information - The mind/body dualism of Descartes is laid to rest, as information reveals itself as the fundamental stuff of Nature with consciousness itself representing a particular pattern of information embodied within the neuronal substrate of the brain. An attempt is then made to conquer an understanding of the essential nature of information.
CHAPTER EIGHT: Does the Universe Compute? - If the entire reality process can be understood as a dynamic flow of information (consciousness included), then what on Earth governs the on-going evolution of such an informational system or computation as it must surely be? We boldly investigate.
CHAPTER NINE: Wrestling with Reality - The mystery of our smart and obligingly intelligible Universe is openly debated. Evolution by natural selection is re-interpreted as being the manifestation of Natural Intelligence, a property of Nature which ensures that information is continually integrated and organised. It thus emerges that a smart algorithmic code be inherent in the very contextual fabric of Nature. Upon reflection, it would appear that we have never had it so good, especially once we begin to apprehend our true situation at the hands of Natural Intelligence.
CHAPTER TEN: A Neo-Shamanic Climax - A casual word on the Omega Point and the surprise lurking at the end of history. In particular, are we the means through which the transcendental Other awakens?
EPILOGUE: Trick or Treat? - A practical guide to ascertaining the truth of my fantastic claims for, Goddess knows, I could have been wrong all along.