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The Mind of Daniel Pinchbeck: Evolving Consciousness To Reimagine Commerce, Community, Political Systems & The Environment

By May 21, 2015May 24th, 201921 Comments

“Electronic culture created soulless replacements for connective rituals — television supplanted tribal legends told by the fire; ‘fast food’ consumed in distraction took the place of a shared meal. We substituted matter for Mater (feminine principle), money for mother’s milk, objects for emotional bonds.”

Daniel Pinchbeck

Philosopher. Author. Futurist. Counter culture provocateur.

Described as a mashup of James Merrill, H. P. Lovecraft, and Carlos Castaneda, I was first introduced to Daniel Pinchbeck through his rather fascinating metaphysical study of prophesy in 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl*— a book that explored humanity’s precarious balance between greater self-potential and environmental disaster.

Raised by Beat generation parents — his mother dated Jack Kerouac around the time On The Road exploded on the scene — Daniel’s roots in the New York counterculture movement run deep. Throughout the 1990s, Pinchbeck matured into a member of New York’s literary select. He wrote for publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone and Harper’s Bazaar.

But slowly something happened. As he approached his late twenties, he describes falling into a deep spiritual crisis fueled by a frustration with the inherent shortcomings of mainstream media and a friend’s sudden passing due to a heroin overdose. Despair ultimately led him to an investigation of shamanism. Embracing metaphysical belief systems, his psyche and body began to open to the mystical. His first book, Breaking Open the Head*, chronicled these experiences and observations from a first hand perspective and was heralded as the most significant on psychedelic experimentation since the work of Terence McKenna.

Today, everything Mayan, shamanistic and post-modern psychedelia seems to always point to this uniquely perspicacious, probing mind. And I think it’s fair to say that Daniel is considered a leading pioneer of the post-modern psychedelic movement, advocating a measured, responsible exploration of shamanistic cultural rites and the substances they employ to expand consciousness.

If Daniel is anything, he is a maverick, persistently challenging social, political, economic and cultural paradigms. A man searching for answers both personal and global, his insights are both provocative and fascinating, and more often than not imbued with hope for a better (if not idealized) future world.

A confession: Daniel has a prodigious intellect. I admit to being a bit intimidated. Moreover, I have no experience with psychedelics, and as a sober person in recovery it is unlikely I ever will. So I was unsure as to whether interviewing him would be a good idea or even appropriate for this show. But the opportunity arose and I couldn’t imagine passing it up.

I’m glad I didn’t. Much like my recent conversation with Tom Hardin, this episode marks a departure into new terrain for me. On a personal level, I found Daniel to be engaging, introspective and not surprisingly possessed with the rare ability to muse on a vastly diverse array of challenging themes.

This is a fascinating — albeit at times challenging — mind-bender deep dive into Daniel’s paradigm breaking vision that explores:

  • the raising of global consciousness;
  • the imperative for community building;
  • the importance of rites of passage to transcend ego;
  • the idea of humanity as super-organism;
  • the implications of technology, capitalism and modern consumerist behavior; and
  • the mandate for new economic, environmental and thought paradigms.

So let’s take a trip down the rabbit hole through the looking glass that is the consciousness of Daniel Pinchbeck.

I genuinely hope you enjoy this conversation and look forward to your thoughts in the comments section below.

Peace + Plants,


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Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.


Connect With Daniel: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Background, Context & References:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Books Discussed:

*Disclosure:Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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  • Andrew Mead says:

    Hey Rich,

    I loved your conversation with Daniel (as well as Tom Hardin and Landon). Thanks for getting it done. I’m enjoying the “different” episodes with someone I might not have expected to like (I always end up loving them).


  • Cody_WK says:

    The last 3 podcasts have been really good. I love the tangents
    that you take, and when looked at from a distance really encompasses what is
    means to be mindful and open. Loved it, and love the cookbook. Peace and Plants

  • Daniel Haynes says:

    Rich, this was a real treat of a podcast. I know that you had some trepidation, but it was such a fascinating conversation. Even if one does not fully embrace everything Daniel has to say, his connections and insight, philosophically speaking, was really thought provoking. As a philosopher, I was impressed with how articulate he was and able to draw on such a variety of sources to support his argument. The show notes for this podcast in particular are very helpful! Also, like Cody, I love my Plantpower Way cookbook! Peace+plants

  • Susan Knause says:

    What a GREAT interview! I feel like I could listen again and again and skim more and more layers from it! Great Cookbook too!

  • Tommy F says:

    A very interesting dive into the esoteric world. A man living outside of the box with his thinking, yet trying to connect what works to our shared world here. Lots of great workable insights into the world’s problems.

    I think you ended the podcast at the right time Rich, as the energy of the conversation was obsessing towards an awkward energy. Sometimes, when engaging our intellect into diverse ideas, we find ourselves cleaning in dirty bathwater.. But no need to throw out all the ideas. 😊
    -Namaste 🙏

  • Jacqueline says:

    Great, interesting conversation Rich! I am really enjoying the interviews you are doing lately!! Although we all may not totally ‘get’ Daniel or agree with him on all fronts, I love the momentum of this movement and that if we believe we can be the change in this world …. we can. With podcasts like this and with more people talking about the same sort of things….the universe has but no choice to comply. Let’s grow this consciousness!!! ps… I’m loving the Plantpower Way book as well. pss… thanks for the show notes and links… I’m going to look some of them up!

  • JasonRH says:

    Rich “is on a” Roll with the podcast. The podcast has been epic since Day 1, but to echo the other commenters the diversity of guests has been awesome recently. No need to be intimidated by your guests Rich, you can hang with the best of them. Really enjoyed your appearance on the JRE as well.

    Daniel was a really fascinating guest, but I don’t agree with the comparisons to McKenna, that guy was in another league. Daniel is obviously a great writer, a deep intellect and seriously knowledgeable about many things, but I found myself expecting more when it came to his ideas about solutions to some of the problems that were discussed.

  • carlagolden says:

    I wish Daniel was more aware of the power of food to impact the future of humanity. Bill McKibben does not promote plant-based eating. Allan Savory’s methods have been debunked. And The Blue Zones have been in the news for years. I enjoyed Daniel’s mind and what he had to say and it would have really been full circle had food been part of the conversation. Thank you Rich!

  • Amanda says:

    I found Daniel rather hard to listen to – despite all this talk about a new paradigm he was clearly annoyed with Russell Brand in a petty way. And as carlagolden mentioned he seemed totally unaware of the impact of our use of animals on our psyche, physical bodies and the environment. I think he needs to stretch his belief system a but more before he starts suggesting others need to do so.

  • Andrew says:

    Hey Rich GREAT interview! It was awesome listening to you navigate trepedition, big intellect and subjects you had little to no direct experience of, with such finesse! You were more vulnerable in this interview and it set the perfect tone for openess and the allowing of different ideas to swirl whether you agreed with them in the end or not! The Plant Power Way ROCKS!! as do you sir! Keep growing and a big WHATS UP to Julie!

  • Andrew says:

    Oops that was trepidation

  • Lauge Schøler says:

    This is the way to go, Rich.

    I love all your stuff about nutrition and athletics, but if you want fresh new territory, this is it. It’s coming from the same place, but I as a listener love when one digs deeper into the mechanics of why things are changing – both on a personal and planetary level.

    Please stay curious about this path and get more guests like Daniel Pinchbeck.

  • Tim Harrell says:

    Any chance you could persuade Patrick Flanagan to come aboard your eclectic pirate ship? Good work as always, my friend!

  • Phil C says:

    Having listened to all of the podcasts, this is the only guest that I actively disliked listening to. Around this topic, I find John Michael Greer or Derrick Jensen far more compelling (Washington state bias?). This guest’s combination of empty rhetorical cliche and overconfidence reminded me of watching Robert Tilton. Something felt “off” about this guy and his ideas.

  • alex says:

    agree with many of the commentators here, of all the podcasts of yours I’ve listened to, the energy in this one was the most awkward, he didn’t sound like a particularly open person, which is strange considering his subject, he dropped too many names and sounded as if he’d, for all his reading, not really thought very deeply about many of the sources he was throwing around–I think this guy needs to do some more careful, compassionate thinking. Love your podcast and it’s so clear to see when you and the guest have a good energy that magnifies and exemplifies rather than detracts.

  • angelica says:

    Fascinating topic, Rich. Your podcast totally works for this sort of thing. It was shorter than your usual but I suppose you can’t go on forever without a solid solution. Keep up the good work! Oh, by the way,my newly-plant based sister in law is loving the smoothies in your new book (the one I gifted to her😊). ✌

  • Peter Hoffman says:

    thought it was actually a great podcast! would definitely look forward to seeing Pinchbeck (didn’t even know about him before the podcast) on the podcast again or any similar type guest.

  • sasha says:


  • sasha says:

    I need the cook book on my tablet- when oh when on kindle??!!!

  • sasha says:


  • Stephen Brown says:

    I agree with Amanda. I listened to this podcast two weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it. But not in a positive way. Daniel was abrasive and did not seem to take Rich’s opinions seriously and that really bothered me. It almost sounded like he was troubled to even be answering questions or conversing with Rich. Also, I grew up listening to hell fire and brimstone preachers try to scare their congregations into putting more money in the offering tray and Daniel kept reminding me of them the longer I listened. I’m sure he’s a very intelligent individual but the conversation had me asking myself why? Cheers to Rich for going in this direction on the podcast because I believe we need to hear from critical thinking minds. Just maybe not Daniel’s.

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