Wednesday, March 20, 2024


It was the last week of my brief stint at a major ad agency from which I had just resigned. I saw an ad in the newspapers promoting a competition sponsored by Rolex with a 50,000 Swiss Franc cash prize (worth about M$250,000 perhaps) for the winning project proposal (I don’t remember what the categories were, but there was one for ‘Exploration and Discovery’). I sat down at my typewriter and wrote the following proposal. I never did hear back from Rolex but this intriguing document just resurfaced from my rusty filing cabinet after 40 years...


Antares in 1977 playing Snoopy
What constitutes a satisfactory human life experience? Does all life exist on an experimental basis – or do life processes simply fulfil specific ontological programs (in accordance with an archetypal metaprogram)? To what extent can we see foresee, accelerate, or escape evolutionary trends? Is it possible to develop a true Group Mind? Do we really qualify as gods?

Having found no ready answers to the above questions, I am determined to devote a fair portion of my life to investigating basic issues from as many angles as are available to a human individual – and to formulate practical ways to assimilate and synthesize, as comprehensively as possible, all the intelligence and wisdom humanity has inherited from philosophers, sages, scientists, artists, and laymen and women past and present – so as to ultimately realize a joyful continuity and conscious coherence on the earth plane.

In an earlier era such an undertaking would have been considered impossible, since it would be expected to go on forever. Today we have an option to go on forever.

[Project XTC will, of necessity, include every conceivable and inconceivable field of Enterprise including all three listed in this competition. Exploration and Discovery, nevertheless, seems to capture the underlying spirit of the project most aptly.]

Reality is whatever one thinks it is

Thoughts are multidimensional wave emanations of Mind. Some thoughts occur on single planes, others on multiple. All thoughts are valid expressions of being. The scientist records the motion of thoughts and observes their effects, in an attempt to intellectually grasp the meaning of their manifestation. The mystic arrests the motion of thoughts by understanding their causes, in order to know the source of their manifestation. The fine line that distinguishes science from mysticism swiftly vanishes as each area of investigation graduates into what is popularly classified as the esoteric. Only on the more exoteric or fundamental levels do traditional divisions remain apparent. The physical world and the metaphysical world are one – each differentiated from the other only by function and relative position on the spectrum of manifestation. But what has all this got to do with Project XTC?

The Third Man Theme

In a dualistic frame of reference, all debate becomes destructive and ends in a deadlock. A third factor is obviously necessary to the solution or resolution of problems in which two factors appear to be in direct and irreconciliable conflict. The third factor, then, may be said to add an extra dimension to the eternal quest for the right answers.

It is to this quest that Project XTC addresses its primary thrust. Twenty years have gone into this project and an essential working theory has been evolved. Subjectively, Project XTC has already been successfully accomplished. Objectively, however, it has only just begun. The final outcome of every research project is determined by its contribution to civilization as a whole. Just as the scientist’s ultimate challenge lies in coherently redistributing the wealth of his experimental results within and beyond the defines of his discipline, so the mystic’s ultimate challenge is to transmit faithfully the distillations of his supramundane experiences to those well tuned to receive. The immediate objective of Project XTC would necessarily be to design an operational structure for personal, as well as collective, utilization in progressive stages of an ever-evolving reservoir of intelligence and wisdom fed by tributaries from all fields of endeavor.

A Nuclear Interactor Mindpower Plant

Every individual has a unique mind potential. Genius is unique mind potential developed to an optimally discernible degree. Madness is unique mind potential accelerated to the spectral fringes of human thought. Assuming that every mind is a discrete nucleus of existential being, it follows that principles derived from a study of nuclear  physics apply, to a limited extent, in the case of vital relationships.

Entropic heat/hate may be said to be generated in fission/division within, between or amongst mind nuclei. Katabolic radioactivity results which, on a socio-political plane, invariably terminates in lethal, internecine warfare. Envisage, however, the fusion or synthesis of interacting mind nuclei (note subtle difference between “reacting” and “interacting” – in terms of human relationships, reacting is more often than not an involuntary thalamic response overriding cortical conditioning; whereas interacting implies a combined “inner and outer” brain response qualified by immediate circumstances) in which anabolic radioactivity, with its healing and nurturing properties, may give rise to syntropic (anti-entropic), reciprocal love/evolution.

It must be added that the metabolic processes of the energy-matter universe invariably include both anabolic and katabolic phases – hence the question arises, why bother about either entropy or syntropy? The point is, civilization inherently favors the birth of Order out of Chaos – insofar as we remain cognizant of the vital contribution of Chaos in every formulation of Order we derive from our existence. This explains the romantic appeal of Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde and Tarzan-Lord Greystoke characterizations. One of the most significant potential contributions of Project XTC, therefore, would be the development of a prototype Nuclear Interactor Mindpower Plant with its roots deeply embedded in the firm ground of common sense and its branches freely dancing in the breeze of current discoveries. The need for such flexibly organic intelligence-processing and wisdom-fruiting plants will become increasingly obvious as present nationalistic self-interest matures into planetary mutual-interest. (And this should make it very clear why Herman Kahn and the Hudson Institute, the Rand Corporation, Club of Rome and similar “thinktanks’ are inadequate to our planet’s purpose. They disqualify themselves by their partisanship and their vested interest in maintaining the status quo.)

Apparatus Required:

1. Free Time, i.e., time that is not mortgaged to the compulsions of artificially imposed necessity or siphoned into limited-objective activities. And in this instance the prerequisite of Free Time may apply to the entire Earth population – but for the time being, it is enough for a single individual to experience unconditional use of a human lifetime.

2. Physical Space in which to establish a working base for Project XTC. Equipped with efficient communication and comfortable living facilities (such as a telephone that works and a bathroom that’s well ventilated).

3. “We may take anything we want from our mother planet, so long as we finally return everything in even more perfect condition.” – House Rule #1

4. Money. 50,000 Swiss Francs to start with!

A tool for every technique, a technique for every job

Positive thinking schools teach the successful use of the autohypnotic mind. Vedantic schools preach the folly of dependence on intellect alone; that to enjoy life in all its glory one must learn to utilize every aspect of one’s being. The scientist has his extended sight in microscopes and telescopes. The sage, his insight born of silence. Whether through scientific method or magical ritual, every channel of investigation is justified. For any venture, great or small, can only enhance – if not increase – the quality and scope of life as we know it. 

Of course, there are human activities which do ostensibly just the reverse. But even in such instances, the payoff comes from realizing that we can choose, of our own volition, from a seemingly endless range of options. Ultimately the question arises: who evaluates and determines the merits or demerits of any given system of belief or behavior? In the context of Project XTC, the answer is obvious and simple – I do! “I” being a representative individual member of the planetary populace which, in fact, consists of human, animal, vegetable and mineral cultures configured in symbiotic interdependency. The true “I” must attain and maintain an inclusive universality of viewpoint which can only be realized in perpetual attunement with reality’s flux and flow.

There are any number of known and unknown techniques to achieve attunement vis-a-vis the individual and society, the part and the whole, the one and the all. Pioneers of physical-metaphysical synthesis have contributed immeasurably to the maturation of Mind in our energy-matter universe; each idea, each ideal, has been a success unto itself, only awaiting eventual realization. 

Patanjali gave us our modern Yoga technique. Lao-tze gave us a fluid, timeless philosophy of harmonious living. Men like Spinoza, Kant, Hegel and Descartes gave Western civilization a logical framework upon which to build. Einstein gave us a glimpse behind hitherto locked doors of physical laws. And in recent days, scientist-philosophers like Buckminster Fuller have shown us possibly wiser ways to utilize our limited resources. Then, again, there are thinkers who have thought the unthinkable – and who wait in the shadowy wings of fame, living enigmas in their time – L. Ron Hubbard, to name but one, who offered us Dianetics (the science of mind) and “Scientology” (the religion of knowing one’s mind) but who continues to be regarded by the academic mainstream as a charlatan, crank, or worse. Are all these efforts, then, mere flashes in the pan of primordial nescience? Or can we conceivably use them each and all in various applications, experimentally directed towards a hypothetical, supraconceptual point of convergence?

Carl Jung spoke of the Collective Unconscious – a reservoir of archetypal images and of pure intelligence – which feeds the aspirations and dreams of all sentient creatures. Can it ever become the Collective Conscious? Attempts have been made – and are being made – to test the potentiality of group-mind harmonics and dynamics. It is easy to dismiss these attempts as wishful-thinking and a lot of “occult mumbo-jumbo.” Open-ended experimentation, however, will be a keynote of Project XTC. I want to find out firsthand. It is not enough to say, “Others are already doing it, so why should I?” Can Project XTC be considered “an original idea” since there is hardly anything new about ontological, eschatological and epistemological research? I would describe any enterprise that may bring us closer to knowing our unknown origins as “original.” QED.

Objectivizing Project XTC: Structure &/or Nonstructure

Ideas generally need a structure to hang on. Any plan of action involves structural design. In the long run, however, structures tend to obstruct further development of the abstract principles they contain. This is the reason I am reluctant to delineate an organizational program for Project XTC. Flexibility is essential to the unfoldment of true form. Nonetheless, for the sake of elucidation, I shall attempt to briefly describe one likely scenario of exploration.

It is important to bear in mind the premise that all kinds of structuralization in Project XTC will be organic in nature and therefore mutable and ephemeral. Let me state that I am not interested in founding a new religion or saving humanity from certain extinction. I am involved with the project only insofar as it gives me pleasure and delight – and what gives me the greatest pleasure and delight is knowing that I am on the right track. If in the process of implementing Project XTC I succeed in by-producing far-reaching and unforeseen benefits for others, I would consider it a matter of serendipity or plain good luck.
Community Scenario – Draft One

Act I: Focus 100% on developing effective interpersonal communication/communion channels and methods. Test various group-dynamic models, e.g., gestalt, encounter and transactional therapy, incorporating elements of neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and transcendental meditation. Explore altered states of consciousness techniques, learning from aboriginal or pentecostal trance-inducing rituals – whatever can enhance conscious bonding among members of the community/tribe. Stress honesty and openness in everyday interactions. Investigate and elaborate on pioneering efforts by visionaries like G.I. Gurdjieff, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Baba Ram Dass). Monitor progress of related community projects  at Findhorn, Lindisfarne, Esalen and the Arica Institute. Establish energetic contact with research groups such as the Association for Research & Enlightenment (ARE), Stanford Research Institute, the Fuller Research Foundation, Masters & Houston’s Foundation for Mind Research, Human Software, Inc, and so on.

Act II: Attract seminal taskforce comprising individuals from a comprehensive spectrum of ethno-cultural affinities with cross-sectional innate abilities and skills. Work towards “Castalia Foundation” concept of a creative seed-community able to operate cooperatively and synergetically on all levels. Encourage self-healing via non-invasive methodologies that include yoga, meditation, taichi, tantra, plant medicines, deep massage, and so on.

ACT III: Assess feasibility of forming a semi-permanent seed-community along autonomous lines (learning from the experience, positive and negative, of predecessor communities like Findhorn and Auroville). Being part of a seed-community will almost certainly be necessary to ensure the continuance of Project XTC during periods of prolonged global confusion and apocalyptic vicissitudes.

ACT IV: Encourage and reward inventiveness in all areas of everyday living, striking a comfortable balance between order and chaos so that innovative ideas can be grounded in technological expertise and engineering knowhow. Beneficial breakthroughs can be exported for the benefit of ever-increasing numbers of planetary inhabitants. It is crucial that the seed-community consciously breaks free of useless, irrelevant, unnecessary or oppressive cultural or ideological imprints inherited from the past. Whatever deemed of value which can be salvaged from traditional institutions – probably not very much – will need to be carefully reassessed and reformulated to avoid a repeat of the mind-control patterns our ancestors fell victim to.

ACT V: Dissolve and disperse the seed-community at its time of ripeness, facilitating cross-pollination with other compatible seed-communities all over the renascent planet. Practise retrospective re-evaluation and introspective reassessment at every stage of the Project. Be willing to recognize and rectify defects and errors in every plan of action or problem-solving approach, no matter how petty or gross, and be ever grateful to the mysterious Wisdom and intuition that makes it all possible.

Keeping a Holistic Outlook and Allowing for a Free Play of Insight

“This is my prediction for the future: whatever hasn’t happened, will happen, and no-one will be safe from it.” ~ J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964)
Of necessity, the foregoing notes and conceptual sketches cannot be regarded as anything more than a crude structural outline of Project XTC. I do not envisage the project as a guided tour of paradise complete with glossy brochures and carefully planned itineraries. Just as no human entity is born with an instruction manual on how to live, so no human culture group or civilization can be expected to function and develop according to a great big factory blueprint. I believe that the dignity of being human stems from the free will factor, that the beauty of humanity lies in its capacity to be wise and foolish at the same time. I do not accept B.F. Skinner’s behavioral engineering theories simply because I feel they epitomize the sense of alienation, anomie and depersonalization that began with the Industrial Revolution and surreptitiously morphed into an overcentralized system of governance that has grown increasingly Orwellian as the 21st century approaches. Even if would-be social engineers like Skinner were to come up with a mandatory vaccination designed to ensure that every newborn baby grows into a helpful, friendly, honest and loving adult, it would only result in a pathetically plastic utopia – and our collective dream of heaven on earth would turn into the ultimate sci-fi nightmare.

Project XTC is founded on the premise that every individual is unique and worthy of autonomy and has the potential to evolve and mature into a divine and sovereign entity, firmly rooted in an innate sense of responsibility, which grants the greatest degree of freedom to the individual without impinging negatively on the well-being of the collective.

A great many of the difficulties confronting our current pseudo-civilization are potentially instructive to our onward evolution as a supposedly sentient species. As we outgrow artificially imposed limitations (such as cultural imprints of tribal, ideological or theological differences) we will discover that the solution to any problem is most likely to be found with only a minor shift of attitude - wherein we choose the gentlest and wisest solution - and altitude - wherein we raise our atomic vibrations to a subtler frequency, thereby enjoying vastly enhanced and expanded consciousness.

Most boundaries and limitations are actually imaginary - and explorers have been called foolhardy because they figured this out ahead of everyone else. But only the ones that make it back alive are given the badge of courage. When a civilization approaches senility, explorations are discouraged or ignored and orthodoxies enforced on pain of death. A culture in its busy, ego-driven, ambitious youth often has no time to explore its own depths and the amazing universe beyond its immediate concerns. Yet explorers and explorations will endure and persist through all time: the quest for the grail of truth is an intrinsic quality of consciousness itself, and we inhabit a sentient planet, indeed an entire multiverse of as-yet-unknown possibilities. Just as a man seeks to know himself, the universe too seeks to know itself. As within, so without – and there will always be a complementary interrelation between inner and outer voyagings.

Project XTC is essentially an attempt by a single individual, working in collaboration with others, to create a dynamic interface and link between explorers of Inner and Outer Space.

Why XTC?

Ecstasy is a state of consciousness reported by mystics and visionaries who have discovered a way to transcend their own boundaries and limitations and reconnect with the supreme wisdom inherent in the natural world. Cognitive ecstasy is the conduit through which mages and sages, seers and shamans, oracles and visionaries derive their spontaneous knowing, or Gnosis. We are beginning to realize that both the mystical and scientific approach to unlocking the mysteries are guided by the same irresistible impulse – the only difference lies in the choice of tools and terminology. The moment we lower our defences and stop mocking one another, we stand a damn good chance of ecstatically reaching the exact same conclusions – of finally, orgasmically, coming together.

Papers I have written

The Organization as a Geometric Projectile for the Exploration and Mastery of Spatial Mundanity (Private circulation, 1975)

A Letter to R. Buckminster Fuller describing protoconcepts of Multiphase Space-Mastery Techniques (August 1975)

Why We Must Say NO to Nuclear Power (Private circulation, 1977)

Books others have written

Passages About Earth:  An Exploration of the New Planetary Culture by William Irwin Thompson, Harper & Row, 1973, 206 pp.

The Magic of Findhorn by Paul Hawken, Harper & Row, 1975, 343 pp.

Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon, Methuen 1930 (reissued by Penguin Books in 1972 with Last Men in London, 605 pp.

Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon, Methuen 1937 (reissued by Penguin in 1972), 284 pp.

Olaf Stapledon – an inspiration to Project XTC

Olaf Stapledon beautifully expresses a vast-pattern visionary perspective of human existence, against an awesome backdrop of Cosmos. His superwide-angle overview of past and future history, with clear-sighted nonpartisanship, greatly aids in our contemplation of the human condition. Starmaker and Last and First Men offer valuable mental exercises in advanced futurology.

Simulations of God by John C. Lilly, Simon & Schuster, 1975, 284 pp.

Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space by John C. Lilly, Paladin 1972, 215 pp.

Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer by John C. Lilly, Bantam Books,1974, 174 pp.

Remarks on John C. Lilly’s work

John Lilly is a pioneering technician of the psyche who has creditably and credibly translated the supra-rational symbology of mystical experience into scientifically coherent and accessible terms. Familiarity with this material would be vastly helpful in assessing Project XTC.

Tentative Schedule for Project XTC

Prephase - January 1957 through January 1970
Phase I – January 1977 through 1984
Phase II & III – 1984 through 1991
Phase IV – 1991 through 2005
Phase V – 2005 through 2018
Phase VI – 2018 through ?

 25 March 1977
(Revised  & reposted 11 June 2017)