#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
Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show
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Brought to you by GiveWell.org charity research and effective giving and 5-Bullet Friday, my very own email newsletter.
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.
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[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.
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Past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show include Jerry Seinfeld, Hugh Jackman, Dr. Jane Goodall, LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jamie Foxx, Matthew McConaughey, Esther Perel, Elizabeth Gilbert, Terry Crews, Sia, Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm Gladwell, Madeleine Albright, Cheryl Strayed, Jim Collins, Mary Karr, Maria Popova, Sam Harris, Michael Phelps, Bob Iger, Edward Norton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Strauss, Ken Burns, Maria Sharapova, Marc Andreessen, Neil Gaiman, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Jocko Willink, Daniel Ek, Kelly Slater, Dr. Peter Attia, Seth Godin, Howard Marks, Dr. Brené Brown, Eric Schmidt, Michael Lewis, Joe Gebbia, Michael Pollan, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Vince Vaughn, Brian Koppelman, Ramit Sethi, Dax Shepard, Tony Robbins, Jim Dethmer, Dan Harris, Ray Dalio, Naval Ravikant, Vitalik Buterin, Elizabeth Lesser, Amanda Palmer, Katie Haun, Sir Richard Branson, Chuck Palahniuk, Arianna Huffington, Reid Hoffman, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Rick Rubin, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Darren Aronofsky, Margaret Atwood, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, Dr. Gabor Maté, Anne Lamott, Sarah Silverman, Dr. Andrew Huberman, and many more.