Timothy Leary: referred to the tube as the perfect metaphor for the highly conscious life

Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist who supported and promoted the use of psychedelic drugs, under controlled conditions, for therapeutic purposes.

Leary was born on October 22, 1920, in "The City of Firsts" - Springfield - in Massachusetts.

At the age of 39, Dr. Timothy Leary and Dr. Richard Alpert began experiments with psychedelics, specifically LSD-25.

Between 1960 and 1962, the clinical psychologist and his partner conducted a series of tests - named Harvard Psilocybin Project - which quickly raised concerns within the scientific community.

The project involved undergraduate students, who took LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, peyote, and other psychedelic drugs. In 1963, Leary and Alpert were dismissed from Harvard University in order to curb the undergraduate interest in LSD.

Leary established in Mexico the International Foundation for Internal Freedom, but the Mexican government demanded that he leave the country.

Leary considered the marijuana laws unjust and a violation of the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment guaranteeing the right of spiritual exploration, the Fifth Amendment guaranteeing immunity of self-incrimination, and the Eighth and Ninth Amendments.

LSD: Timothy Leary believed in the power of the ocean and surfers

"The chemical I'm about to ingest is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. It's addictive and can be lethal in large quantities. It is harder to get in its pure state," Leary once said at a lecture in UCLA, on January 18, 1967.

Leary quickly became one of the most popular leaders of the counterculture movement of the 1960s with a concept of life based on the phrase "turn on, tune in, drop out."

The controversial character was arrested several times. In 1970, The Brotherhood of Eternal Love paid $25,000 to Weather Underground to get Leary out of prison.

The operation was a success, and Timothy even left a challenging note for the authorities.

Timothy Leary, The Evolutionary Surfer

In the 1960s, surfing was also going through its own alternative cultural revolution. Leary's words were music to California surfers' ears.

In an interview with Surfer Magazine in 1978, the LSD guru established several parallels between his thoughts on life, psychedelics, and the act of riding a wave.

"It's perfectly logical to me that surfing is the spiritual, aesthetic style of the liberated self," Timothy Leary told the surf journalist.

"I've been doing a lot of lecturing, and I've picked out as my symbol, surfing. I want to have film of a surfer right at that point moving along constantly right at the edge of the tube."

Timothy Leary even referred to the tube as the perfect metaphor for a superior, liberated state of mind.

Timothy Leary: the LSD guru thought of himself of an evolutionary surfer

"It's the metaphor of life to me: the highly conscious life. Think of the tube as being the past - and I'm an evolutionary agent - and what I try to do is to be at that point where you're going into the future, but you have to keep in touch with the past," continues Leary.

"That's where you get the power. And sure where you're most helpless, but you also have most precise control at that moment. And using the past, the past is pushing you forward, isn't it? The wave is crashing behind you, right? And you can't be slow about it or you... [Leary illustrates the lip breaking over the surfer]"

Developing the Self Through Surfing

In the interview - interestingly entitled "The Evolutionary Surfer" - the king of acid also talks about the drawbacks of being a beach bum.

"The danger of the vulgar surfer philosophy is that, 'Oh man, nothing is important - just kick back, wait for the wave, just hang out.' That's beautiful, and it's a step forward but, in a sense, it is a dilettante situation," notes Timothy Leary.

"The next step is to create the future - to take responsibility for it. And that's what you're doing. You have taken the passive aspect of surfing, and you have made it into a cultural transmission form that's creating the reality of 100, 200, or 500,000 people."

"People who read your magazine will actualize themselves, their bodies and their minds. Surfers tend to be non-violent people. They tend to be rather poetic, fun-loving, good people."

"I define myself as an evolutionary surfer because surfers have taught me the way you relate to the basic energies, and develop their individual sense of freedom, self-definition, style, beauty, and control."


The interview was conducted by Steve Pezman, former publisher of Surfer Magazine. Later, in the 2004 movie "Glass Love," Pezman shared his thoughts on the chat he had had with Leary.

"The conversation with Leary ratified to me that it was okay to be a surfer, to spend your life seeking the ride, and having the ride. Even as I grow older, and the way I ride becomes atrophied, the sum total of the effort still equals 100 percent," said Steve Pezman.

Half a century later, we know that drugs and surfing don't mix. In fact, it's rather the opposite - surf therapy has become an efficient way of treating drug addiction.

Learn why surfing stoned is not a good idea.

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