Welcome to The Tim Ferriss Show, where it is usually my job to deconstruct world-class performers to tease out their routines, habits, et cetera that you can apply to your own life.
This time around, we have a very special edition featuring Dr. Mark Plotkin and Brian C. Muraresku.
Mark takes over my duties as host and interviews Brian for an episode of the Plants of the Gods podcast. You, my dear listeners, are hearing the audio before anyone else, so this is a Tim Ferriss Show exclusive. I’ve previously featured some of my favorite episodes from that podcast at tim.blog/plantsofthegods. These episodes cover a lot of fascinating ground.
So, who is Dr. Mark Plotkin? Mark (@DocMarkPlotkin) is an ethnobotanist who serves as president of the Amazon Conservation Team, which has partnered with ~80 tribes to map and improve management and protection of ~100 million acres of ancestral rainforests. He is best known to the general public as the author of the book Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice, one of the most popular books ever written about the rainforest. His most recent book is The Amazon: What Everyone Needs to Know. You can find my interview with Mark at tim.blog/markplotkin.
And the guest today is Brian C. Muraresku. Who is Brian? Brian (@BrianMuraresku) graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University with a degree in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit. The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name is Brian’s debut book. In 2020, it became a New York Times bestseller, and Audible named it “Best of 2020” in the History category. His website is brianmuraresku.com. You can also find him on Instagram @brian_muraresku.
This is a tightly packed 55-minute interview. Mark and Brian cover the Eleusinian Mysteries, the pagan continuity hypothesis, early Christianity, lessons from famed religious scholar Karen Armstrong, overlooked aspects of influential philosopher William James’s career, ancient wine and ancient beer, experiencing the divine within us, the importance of “tikkun olam”—repairing and improving the world as we go—and much, much more.
#646: Brian C. Muraresku with Dr. Mark Plotkin — The Eleusinian Mysteries, Discovering the Divine, The Immortality Key, The Pagan Continuity Hypothesis, Lessons from Scholar Karen Armstrong, and Much More
This episode is brought to you by GiveWell.org ! For over ten years, GiveWell.org has helped donors find the charities and projects that save and improve lives most per dollar. GiveWell spends over 30,000 hours each year researching charitable organizations and only recommends a few of the highest-impact, evidence-backed charities they’ve found. In total, more than 100,000 people have used GiveWell to donate as effectively as possible.
This year, support the charities that save and improve lives most, with GiveWell. Any of my listeners who become new GiveWell donors will have their first donation matched up to $100 when you go to GiveWell.org and select “PODCAST” and “Tim Ferriss” at checkout.
This episode is brought to you by 5-Bullet Friday, my very own email newsletter that every Friday features five bullet points highlighting cool things I’ve found that week, including apps, books, documentaries, gadgets, albums, articles, TV shows, new hacks or tricks, and—of course—all sorts of weird stuff I’ve dug up from around the world.
It’s free, it’s always going to be free, and you can subscribe now at tim.blog/friday.
What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Brian Muraresku:
- Connect with Dr. Mark Plotkin:
- The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name by Brian Muraresku | Amazon
- Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers by Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hofmann, and Christian Rätsch | Amazon
- Mark’s Review of The Immortality Key | American Botanical Council
- Back to the Future | Prime Video
- The Eleusinian Mysteries: the Psychedelic Cult That Thrived For Nearly 2000 Years | Gizmodo
- Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley | Amazon
- The Odyssey by Homer | Amazon
- Eleusis: Mysterious Ancient Town Named European Culture Capital | Greece Is
- Kykeon: The Mysteries of An Ancient Psychoactive Drink | Truffle Report
- The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries by R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann, and Carl A.P. Ruck | Amazon
- Was the Kukeon a Psychedelic Beer? | r/AskHistorians
- The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity Within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East by John M. Allegro | Amazon
- Rick Doblin — The Psychedelic Domino That Tips All Others | The Tim Ferriss Show #440
- How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan | Amazon
- This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan | Amazon
- Michael Pollan — Exploring the Frontiers of Psychedelics | The Tim Ferriss Show #365
- Michael Pollan — This Is Your Mind on Plants | The Tim Ferriss Show #520
- Lophophora Williamsii (Mescal, Mescal Buttons, Peyote) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox
- Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) | Drug Science
- The Nitrous Oxide Philosopher | The Atlantic
- Peyote: The Sacred Cactus | Plants of the Gods
- Did the Romans Basically Steal All Their Ideas from Ancient Greece? | Quora
- Gnosticism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Dionysian Mysteries | Wikipedia
- Mark 4:11 KJV | Bible Gateway
- The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity | The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
- Ayahuasca and Creativity by Benny Shanon | MAPS
- Harmala Alkaloid | PsychonautWiki
- Chemically-Induced Otherworldly Experiences of Zoroastrians in Iran | ESPD 55
- Dennis McKenna — The Depths of Ayahuasca: 500+ Sessions, Fundamentals, Advanced Topics, Science, Churches, Learnings, Warnings, and Beyond | The Tim Ferriss Show #523
- Zoroastrianism | Wikipedia
- Alcohol in the Bible | Wikipedia
- The Death of Socrates – Wikipedia
- What Killed Socrates? Toxicological Considerations and Questions | Postgraduate Medical Journal
- Early Christians Might Have Been High on Hallucinogenic Communion Wine | Vice
- Hallucinogens, Healing, Culture, and Conservation | Plants of the Gods
- Detection of a Beer Brewed at Godin Tepe (Iran) 5,500 Years Ago | Beer Studies
- The Role of Cult and Feasting in the Emergence of Neolithic Communities: New Evidence from Göbekli Tepe, South-Eastern Turkey | Antiquity
- Which Came First, Beer or Bread? | Quora
- The First Wine & Beer: Chemical Detection of Ancient Fermented Beverages | Analytical Chemistry
- Midas Touch | Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales
- Mushroom Expert Exhumes the Stoned Ape Theory | Big Think
- How the Drunken Monkey Hypothesis Explains Our Taste for Liquor | The Atlantic
- The Value of Truth | Philosophy Talk
- Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology
- What is Communion? Its Meaning and Symbolism Explained | Bible Study Tools
- This Hallucinogenic Fungus Might Be Behind the Salem Witch Trials | Discover Magazine
- Altered Minds: Mescaline’s Complicated History | Nature
- The World’s Largest Psychedelic Research Center | The Tim Ferriss Show #385
- US Veterans with PTSD Turn to Psychedelic Drugs Overseas as VA Frustration Grows | Navy SEALs
- Roland Griffiths, PhD — Life’s Ultimate Glide Path, An Unexpected Stage IV Diagnosis, Facing Death, How Meditation and Psychedelics Can Help, and The Art of Living a Life of Gratitude | The Tim Ferriss Show #641
- The God Paradox: Brian Muraresku & Karen Armstrong | After Skool
- What Is a Zen Koan? History and Interpretation of Koans | Being Zen
- Zen Master Henry Shukman — 20 Minutes of Calm, Plus the Strange and Powerful World of Koans | The Tim Ferriss Show #560
- Henry Shukman — Zen, Tools for Awakening, Ayahuasca vs. Meditation, Intro to Koans, and Using Wounds as the Doorway | The Tim Ferriss Show #531
- Roland Griffiths | Horizons New York 2022
- Self Unbound: Ego Dissolution in Psychedelic Experience | Neuroscience of Consciousness
- The Immortality Key: Psychedelics and the Ancient Age with Brian Muraresku & Prof. Carl Ruck | Jordan Peterson
- Lucy In The Sky With Nazis: Psychedelics and the Right Wing | Psymposia
- High Times Magazine
- Kambo: The Controversial Drug Derived from Stressed-Out Frogs | The Guardian
- Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World | My Jewish Learning
- [07:24] Who is Brian C. Muraresku?
- [09:19] The Eleusinian mysteries.
- [11:51] The ridicule of Carl Ruck.
- [16:18] Why are these ideas only being accepted now?
- [18:22] How the Eleusinian mysteries influenced Christianity.
- [23:54] A mind-altering Eucharist?
- [28:07] The role of beer and wine in the foundation of civilization.
- [31:31] Patrick McGovern.
- [33:33] Stoned apes and/or drunk monkeys?
- [39:04] Changing attitudes at the Vatican.
- [40:13] What’s going on at Harvard Divinity School today?
- [43:14] Karen Armstrong and the God paradox.
- [50:57] Ethnobotanists find friends in strange places.
- [51:55] Doing good in the world based on the otherworldly.
- [54:21] What is the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT)?
- [56:10] Psychedelics at Harvard didn’t begin with Leary and Alpert.
- [58:35] Learning from past mistakes and respecting the heritage of compounds from which we benefit.
Related and Recommended
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.