Joel Gruber

Joel Gruber

Joel Gruber

Director and Lead Guide
New Gods: Mystical Empiricism
Mind, Body and Plant Integration

Following a transformative psychedelic experience at the age of 18, Joel Gruber began a lifelong quest to answer a single question: could this transformative experience be achieved without psychedelics? Following his undergraduate education, he spent three years studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism in India. Upon return, Joel earned an MA in Buddhist studies from Naropa University and a doctoral degree in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, specializing in Buddhism and contemplative practice. During his five-year tenure at the University of San Diego, he wrote dozens of pieces in journals, edited volumes and popular forums. Upon realizing it was possible to create transformative mystical experiences in the classroom, Joel left academia to found New Gods, a non-profit offering programs that provide many of the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics via an accessible, gradual path of transformation (without psychedelics).

Manufacturing the Impossible: A Practice-Based Approach to Instigating the Mystical Experience (without Psychedelics)

According to the ideologies driving a consumerist, ego-based and perpetually distracted culture in the grips of a mental health crisis, mystical experiences are paranormal impossibilities. Yet they happen all the time, even more so when using psychedelics. As research has demonstrated, psychedelics can be used to treat a range of mental health issues, working quickly and somewhat predictably to produce mystical experiences, which in turn present new possibilities and extra-normal healing potentials for those suffering from addiction, depression and suicidal ideation. There are, however, limitations to psychedelics.

What if there were a way to manufacture transformative mystical experiences safely, consistently, and rather expediently, without psychedelics? In this talk, Gruber will demonstrate that there is indeed a way. After briefly reviewing the biopsychosocial reasons psychedelics produce mystical experiences, Gruber will summarize three years of research, highlighting the benefits, shortcomings and potential of a 30-day intensive program designed specifically to engineer mystical experiences, without relying on psychopharmacological means. By detailing methods used to deconstruct, modernize and scaffold practices from a range of wisdom traditions, including mental imagery, manipulation of subtle body, cultivation of altruistic love and controlled exhaustion, Gruber will explain how these contemplative practices can function synergistically to instigate self-transcendence, while also laying the foundations for a potential solution to one of the more vexing issues facing the psychedelic renaissance: integration, or the application and embodiment of psychedelic insights to produce lasting change.

When insanity and delusion become normal, paranormal mystical experiences can, in several important ways, more accurately reflect something like objective reality. By drawing attention to several of the “impossible” experiences witnessed (and documented) in the 30-day intensive, Gruber will explain how these mystical experiences expand the scope of what is currently considered possible, while also opening the door to a potentially promising opportunity to help turn a mental health crisis into a renaissance, with and without psychedelics.