My guest on today’s podcast, Jamie Wheal, first joined me on the podcast episode: “Recapture the Rapture: Biohacking Sex, Tantric Breathwork, Plant Medicines For Orgasmic Enhancement & Much More!” for which the title is pretty self-explanatory regarding the wildly stimulating topics we covered on that show.
Today Jamie, a so-called “neuroanthropologist” is back, describing exciting elements from his new book Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex, and Death in a World That’s Lost Its Mind, a book in which he maps out a revolutionary new practice—Hedonic Engineering—that combines neuroscience and optimal psychology. It’s an intensive program of breathing, movement, and sexuality that mends trauma, heightens inspiration, and tightens connections—helping us wake up, grow up, and show up for a world that needs us all.
This is a book about a big idea. And the idea is this: Slowly over the past few decades, and now suddenly, all at once, we’re suffering from a collapse in Meaning. Fundamentalism and nihilism are filling that vacuum, with consequences that affect us all. In a world that needs us at our best, diseases of despair, tribalism, and disaster fatigue are leaving us at our worst.
It’s vital that we regain control of the stories we’re telling because they are shaping the future we’re creating. To do that, we have to remember our deepest inspiration, heal our pain and apathy, and connect to each other like never before. If we can do that, we’ve got a shot at solving the big problems we face. And if we can’t? Well, the dustbin of history has swallowed civilizations older and fancier than ours.
Recapture the Rapture is divided into three parts. The first, Choose Your Own Apocalypse, takes a look at our current Meaning Crisis—where we are today, why it’s so hard to make sense of the world, what might be coming next, and what to do about it. It also makes a case that many of our efforts to cope, whether anxiety and denial, tribalism and identity politics, are likely making things worse.
The middle section, The Alchemist Cookbook, applies the creative firm IDEO’s design thinking to the Meaning Crisis. This is where the book gets hands-on–taking a look at the strongest evolutionary drivers that can bring about inspiration, healing, and connection. From breathing to movement, sexuality, music, and substances—these are the everyday tools to help us wake up, grow up, and show up, i.e., how to blow yourself sky-high with household materials.
The final third of the book, Ethical Cult Building, focuses on the tricky nature of putting these kinds of experiences into gear and into our culture—because, anytime in the past when we’ve figured out combinations of peak states and deep healing, we’ve almost always ended up with problematic culty communities. Playing with fire has left a lot of people burned. This section lays out a roadmap for sparking a thousand fires around the world—each one unique and tailored to the needs and values of its participants. Think of it as an open-source toolkit for building an ethical culture.
In Recapture the Rapture, Jamie takes radical research out of the extremes and applies it to the mainstream—to the broader social problem of healing, believing, and belonging. The book provides answers to the questions we face: how to replace blind faith with direct experience, how to move from broken to whole, and how to cure isolation with social connection. Said even more plainly, it shows us how to revitalize our bodies, boost our creativity, rekindle our relationships, and answer once and for all the questions of why we are here and what do we do now?
Jamie is also the author of Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work and the founder of the Flow Genome Project, an international organization dedicated to the research and training of human performance. His work and ideas have been covered in The New York Times, Financial Times, Wired, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc., and TED. He has spoken at Stanford University, MIT, the Harvard Club, Imperial College, Singularity University, the U.S. Naval War College and Special Operations Command, Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, the Bohemian Club, and the United Nations.
He lives high in the Rocky Mountains in an off-grid cabin with his partner, Julie; two children, Lucas and Emma; and their golden retrievers, Aslan and Calliope. When not writing, Jamie can be found mountain biking, kitesurfing, and backcountry skiing.
During this discussion, you’ll discover:
-What the heck is a “neuroanthropologist?”…07:34
- Jamie’s academic background is in historical anthropology
- How do you assess and compare different cultural approaches to the same fundamental human condition across time and space?
- Wade Davis, National Geographic explorer says in his TED talk that “we have to stop thinking of other cultures as deficient attempts to be our culture”
- Look at interesting things throughout history, and ask “who else has done this across time and space?”
- A pattern language begins to emerge
- Very rarely do we strip out the mythology of history and focus on the technology (how did this happen?)
- Is it possible to quantify how society is affected by great minds of past and present
- How do various religious liturgies affect the brain (ohms vs. Hail Mary)
-What does it mean to “recapture the rapture?”…15:15
- Poem The Second Coming by Yeats
- “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity”
- The crazies have hijacked the mic
- The concept of a “rapture” is woven into most cultures, religious or not
- Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religions And The Death Of Utopia by John Gray
- Judeo-Christian/Western civilization has a unique version of time-forward motion (history begins at the fall from grace)
- Hunter-gatherer/pre-industrial agrarian societies had a cyclical version (seasons)
- Delivered to heaven on earth (the rapture)
- Atheist societies mirror religious narratives throughout history
-A contrarian view of the end times…23:56
- Ben believes the events prophesied in the Book of Revelation have already occurred
- We’re already living in the new heaven and new earth
- Inspires a more positive worldview than dreading the coming apocalypse
- Accurate people are more pessimistic and more depressed while willfully pessimistic people tend to do better
-Jamie’s creative writing process…31:55
- Grew up in an eccentric academic environment
- Can’t understand the word unless you understand the history of the word
- Recapture the Rapture was written mostly during quarantine
- 80% of the book came from the place described in the book
- Equivalent of a near-death experience
- 30-40 hrs of 2-3 minute voice memos between Jamie and his partner formed the crux of the book
- Focus on the destination, not the journey
- TK as a placeholder; a great help to a writer
- Steven Pressfield books
- The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne, introduction by Steven Pressfield
- Worldview revelation story—framework: crisis-adapt to a new worldview to save the day-ironic twist in the end
-How prostate massages bring one to a new level of consciousness…43:25
-The 5 big techniques for achieving a peak state of flow…48:35
- Stealing Fire
- Solutions need to be open and available to everyone (cheap or free)
- Longest livers as evolutionary drivers
- We are hardcoded for survival
- Taboos are a sign they should be discussed
- Evolution is amoral
- Use impulses and drivers for deliberate integration vs. instinctive procreation
- Humans aren’t the only beings to get high
- Ron Siegel of UCLA established that intoxication is also prevalent among primates, different mammals, even birds; intoxication as the fourth evolutionary driver
- Altered or elevated states of consciousness can enhance creativity and productivity
- Anthropologists call cultures with only one channel of consciousness as mono-phasic vs. indigenous cultures with multiple channels (poly-phasic)
- Hedonic calendaring
-Why sex, drugs, and rock and roll mark the beginning of civilization, not the end…1:00:44
-About circular breathing…1:05:00
-How to use breath to “steer” your psyche…1:23:40
-How to work directly with Jamie…1:28:05
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
– Jamie Wheal:
– Podcasts And Articles:
- Biohack Your Breath With Nose “Boners,” Carbon Dioxide Inhalation, Tibetan Longevity Stretches & Much More: How To Unlock The New Science Of A Lost Art, With James Nestor.
- A Groundbreaking New Way To Combine Artificial Intelligence, Sound & Music To Boost Creativity, Focus, Sleep & More, With Junaid Kalmadi And Adam Hewett.
- A New Style Of Meditation That Helps You To Stress Less & Accomplish More – The Emily Fletcher Podcast.
- The Man Who Is Curing Blindness And Alzheimers, Growing New Brain Cells & Elegantly Fabricating Some Of The Most Powerful Nootropics Known To Humankind, With Andrew Huberman.
- Boost Your Brain Power With These 4 Underground, Highly Effective Nootropic Compounds Most People Don’t Know About.
- The Ultimate Breathwork Ninja Guide: How To Banish Stress & Kiss High Cortisol Goodbye
– Other Resources:
–The Boundless Cookbook: Optimize your physical and mental performance with nutritious and delicious Greenfield family recipes. This is your roadmap to a culinary journey that includes ancient food and wild game preparation tactics, biohacked smoothies, meat rubs, cocktails, desserts, and beyond—without any restrictive diet, limited ingredients, or tasteless “health foods!”
–Kion Aminos: Building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more. BGF listeners save 20% off your first order at Kion with code BGF20.
–JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it’s the only light therapy device I’d ever recommend. Give it a try: you won’t be disappointed. For a limited time, Joovv wants to hook you up with an exclusive discount on your first order. Just apply code BEN to your qualifying order.
–Clearlight Saunas: You can be sure that I researched all the saunas before I bought mine and Clearlight was the one that stood out from all the rest because of their EMF and ELF Shielding and their Lifetime Warranty. Mention BEN GREENFIELD and you’ll receive an extra discount on your purchase.