The Man Behind the Mavericks of the Mind: An Interview with David Jay Brown

The new edition of Mavericks of the Mind will be published by MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) in around two weeks, and it’s available now for pre-order on Amazon.


"I suspect that all matter and energy in the universe is ultimately composed of consciousness, and that the final goal of evolution is for the external world of material reality to fully mirror the internal world of the collective imagination."


Your journey begins the moment you realize you're on it. For us, that journey started long before Time-Peace, and along the way came a handful of books which helped pave the way. One of those books was Mavericks of the Mind, a collection of interviews from some of the most original thinkers and leading edge philosophers in the world.

Now, in anticipation of the release of the new edition of Mavericks of the Mind, we had the opportunity to interview the man who made it all possible. For those of you who have read his books, you know how cool he is. And for those of you who haven't, it's an honor for us to introduce you to David Jay Brown.


Time-Peace: What did you hope to achieve when you first created Mavericks of the Mind? Looking back, what would you say you have achieved?

David Jay Brown: When Rebecca and I first began doing interviews together back in 1989, we wanted to ask leading-edge thinkers important questions that few people were asking them in interviews. We were particularly interested in philosophical questions about the nature of reality and consciousness, and about the interface between science, creativity, and spirituality. Our fascination with these topics had emerged from our late-night, cannabis-fueled discussions, and our occasional psychedelic journeys together. 

We were actually pretty surprised that nobody had really interviewed all these brilliant thinkers about these philosophical topics before. We were interested in questions like: How did consciousness arise? What happens to consciousness after death? Will the human species survive, and if so, how will humans evolve in the future? What is the nature of God? What inspires creativity? How is technology effecting human evolution and human consciousness? How have psychedelics effected your work and your perspective on life?

 We asked these questions to pretty much everyone that we interviewed, and combined them with personal questions about their work, and questions about one another’s work. One of the key things that Rebecca and I initially set out to do with these interviews was to foster interaction and exchange between our interviewees. We wanted to create a more inclusive perspective, one that combined their viewpoints into a larger whole. This was the single most important goal of Mavericks of the Mind, and we tried to synergize what we believed were the most important messages emerging on the planet.

I think that we achieved these lofty goals with the book rather well, and looking back, I can see how the book served a valuable function by concisely summarizing some unusually valuable ideas, and introducing them to a new audience. I’ve received many letters from people over the years who told me that the book was inspirational to them at key points in their lives, that learning about certain ideas in the book helped to change their perspective, and that the book played an important role in inspiring a number of people to explore the ideas presented in the book further.


TP: You've interviewed some the greatest thinkers of our lifetime. So we're curious, if you could interview anyone from any time period in the history of the world, who would it be?  

DJB: Great question! Actually, I enjoy consulting with historical figures all the time, while I’m meditating in altered states of consciousness, as an exercise of the imagination. But, really, there are just too many incredible historical figures that I’d like to interview, that to pick a single one, would just be too difficult. So I’ll mention a few people that come to mind. Some of the people that I wish I had been able to interview include John Lennon, Aldous Huxley, Ken Kesey, Alan Watts, Carry Grant, William Burroughs, Socrates, and Herman Hesse.


TP: Out of all the interviews you've done, is there one that stands out among the rest? How about the best answer you've ever received..

 DJB: Oh, that’s a really tough question to answer. There are a couple of interviews that really stand out for me, and were especially magical and fun to conduct. I’d say that the interviews with John Lilly, Jerry Garcia, Matthew Fox, and George Carlin were among my favorites. I think that my all-time favorite response came from a question to Terence McKenna. I asked Terence what he thought the ultimate goal of human evolution was, and he replied, “Oh, a good party.”


TP: One of our favorites is definitely John C. Lilly.  One question you always ask is about death and whether it is believed consciousness continues to exist beyond the body. Do you think Lilly looked at death as the ultimate sensory deprivation?

DJB: That’s an interesting question, and I’m not really sure how John would respond to that. John was a real trickster, and I would take everything that he said with a grain of salt, as it was sometimes difficult to tell when he was being serious and when he was being playful. John did sometimes talk about certain parallels between his ketamine trips in the isolation tank and what he thought happened to consciousness after death. However, he also said that he refused to equate his experiences with death, and he seemed to be content with the mystery. However, I remember Tim Leary once saying something about death that I think relates to your question. He said that death isn’t really all that hard to imagine when you think about how “alive” you are right now in faraway places, and, at the time, he seemed to be implying that death might just be a loss of sensory data.


TP: Another topic you love to ask about is lucid dreaming. Do you see any parallels between this "evolution of consciousness" taking place and a sort of collective waking up from within the dream world?

DJB: Yes, indeed. I think that’s a really good metaphor for what’s going on. I suspect that all matter and energy in the universe is ultimately composed of consciousness, and that the final goal of evolution is for the external world of material reality to fully mirror the internal world of the collective imagination. I suspect that dreams and realities are, ultimately, just different levels, vibrational states, or dimensions of the same world, and that both are just as real or unreal as the other. It seems to me as though most people are sleepwalking through their lives and that our culture puts us into a kind of trance. Becoming more conscious, and understanding that we’re continuously creating reality, and shaping it with our own minds, is the first step, I think, towards waking up from the trancelike slumber that we’re in, and taking a more formative role in the creation of reality.


TP: It must be a bit funny being on the other side of the interview process. What question would you ask yourself that we would never think of? 

DJB: Well, I’m not sure that I can think of something to ask myself that you would never think of, but I can try. I guess that I would ask myself the following question, as this is something that’s really been on my mind a lot lately. Do I think that the hyperdimensional, transcorporeal beings that one encounters on a powerful shamanic journey with ayahuasca or DMT have a freestanding, independent existence, or are they merely parts of my own psyche? This is something that I’ve thought about quite a bit, in various states of consciousness, and have discussed in detail with various experts--like DMT researcher Rick Strassman, anthropologist Jeremy Narby, and the late ethnobotanist Terence McKenna--and I still haven’t really got a clue as to what is going on. I think that the answer may lie in transcending the black and white nature of the question, and understanding that there may be other possibilities besides dividing the whole universe into “self” and “other.”


TP: Who is the ultimate Maverick of the Mind/what makes someone a maverick of the mind?

DJB: A “maverick” is basically an independent thinker, someone who thinks for him or her self, and all my illustrious interviewees are experts in various fields who have all given some thought to the evolution of consciousness and the exploration of the mind. There are quintessential “mavericks of the mind”--such as Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, and John Lilly--although I think that any kind of “ultimate maverick of the mind” would have to be some kind of transpersonal being, a composite or a community of people. I guess the ultimate “maverick of the mind” is the composite being that’s created by integrating the interdisciplinary views of all our different interviewees.


TP: What an amazing opportunity it is to have learned from some of the most brilliant beings on the planet. Although they all have different ideas and perspectives, do you find any one overarching theme that unites all of their philosophies together?

DJB: Not so much one overarching theme, I don’t think, but several cross-pollinating themes--such as interconnection, the integration of science and spirituality, transcending culture, being comfortable with mystery, and the necessity for compassionate, creative, and conscious thinking. We really tried to create a synergistic perspective with Mavericks of the Mind, by linking together the ideas and concepts of those people that we interviewed. This interconnecting thread that runs through the interviews demonstrates that the visions expressed--which stem from divergent points of view--are also complementary with one another, and this provides me with a tremendous sense of inspiration and hope.


TP: True of False? 

a) Time is an illusion.

In general, for all of “true or false” questions, I’d have to answer: Sometimes true, sometimes false, sometimes true and false, and sometimes neither true or false. It all depends on one’s context and state of consciousness. 

That said, time and space are part of continuum that can be transcended. Once transcended, time and space then appear to be an illusion, in the sense that its perception depends upon arbitrary distinctions and comparative movements.


b) Your perception creates your reality.

You know, I can never seem to figure out if my perceptions create reality or vice versa. I think it’s some kind of a back and forth process that continually feeds back upon itself.


c) Everything is interconnected.

I think that using the word “is” can be dangerous. Everything certainly appears to be fluidly interconnected, from a both a scientific and a psychedelic perspective, although in normal, left-brain dominated, waking consciousness boundaries appear, distinctions are drawn, and things appear to be quite separate. I’m not really sure what “is,” just how some things appear.


d) The Universe is in alignment. 

Alignment with the Multiverse? Wouldn’t this require something outside of the universe for it to be in alignment with? I don’t think that it can really ever possibly get out of alignment because it’s always a perfect balance of positive and negative forces.


TP: If you had one last chance to tell everyone in the world one last thing, what would it be?

DJB: Nothing is more important than love. Please be kind to one another and don’t take life so damn seriously.

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