Eric Brown 17 min read

The HighExistence PhD: 75 Legendary Articles to Level Up Your Life

Psychology & Happiness alan watts ayahuasca

hex phd wisdom ancient knowledge highexistence

Why are you here?

Why are you reading this post? What led you to HighExistence?

If this isn’t your first article or dive down the rabbit hole — what prompts you to return to our corner of the internet?

Maybe you want to learn something new. To heal a part of yourself. To ask big questions and depart on a journey in search of the answers. To challenge deeply ingrained foundational beliefs.

Whatever the reason, we now have over 850 articles to help you on your journey. They range from psychedelic explorations, to esoteric mysticism, productivity secrets, Zen koans, lucid dreaming, civilization design, life secrets, and everything in-between.

We also celebrated our 10th birthday this year!

As we look back on a decade past, and look forward to the decade ahead — we pondered what a HighExistence Masterclass would look like. If you attended the School of HighExistence — what would you learn? What would your major be? Who would you be when graduation came around?

From these questions, the HEx PhD was born.

We’ve hand selected 75 of our all-time favourite articles, carefully curated to provide a comprehensive update to your soul and psyche.

We’ve distilled decades of our own personal experience and understanding into this overview, with the goal of creating fully capable, sovereign members of society at the end of it. If you dare take the leap into this, greatness awaits.

What you do with this information is up to you, but we promise you won’t be the same after reading it.

For those who are ready to do the work, we give you the HighExistence PhD Program.

highexistence phd

1 – Mastering the Mind + Human Psychology

The Psychedelic Emotion: Why We Need More “Awe” In Everyday Life

In a world that is becoming increasingly jaded and stubbornly unimpressed, cultivating and experiencing awe can remedy the psycho-spiritual illnesses we are collectively facing. Awe is a truly psychedelic emotion.

The Most Important Relationship You’ll Ever Have is With Yourself

You, over and above any one else in your life, are deserving of your own love and compassion. You have done so well, and have so much to give. Sit, appreciate how far you have come. This is the foundation that a thriving life is built upon.

30 Warning Signs of a Toxic Person

The long-term psychological and emotional effects of toxic relationships are extremely damaging, and can hold us back considerably from thriving in life. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to spot these individuals. This is essential reading for anyone susceptible to falling victim to energy vampires.

Resentment is Corrosive Acid Eating You From Within

Resentment. It’s like a thick, black, boiling sludge, sitting deep in your gut, unmoving, unwavering in its intensity. It’s a highly corrosive spiritual acid, slowly dissolving your own satisfaction, moral compass, compassion, and virtue.

Self-Love Means Treating Yourself As Your Own Dear Friend

If you consider yourself successful, but can’t show yourself love, compassion, and kindness — how successful are you really? What are you doing all of this for, if not to cultivate a deep appreciation for yourself?

Hurt People Hurt People. Healed People Heal People.

Far more often than not, the way someone treats us is a reflection of where they are presently, not something that we did. Only those who feel internally upset move and project that energy onto others, seeking some from of relief from the emotions that they cannot process or handle.

Am I a Bad Person? Navigating an Encounter with Your Shadow Self

The Shadow, as coined and popularized by famed depth psychologist Carl Jung, refers to the aspects of our selves and psyches that we turn away from, that we resist. The anger, rage, vengefulness we feel that we deem ‘unacceptable’ or sub-human. Instead of resisting this, we should learn how to navigate this space, and to truly sit down with our shadow, and begin to integrate it.

Carl Jung and the Shadow: The Ultimate Guide to the Human Dark Side

Working through your own psychological shadow can propel you to depths you didn’t think possible, but through the struggle you emerge a true warrior, honed and healed and ready for battle. There is a whole new world waiting in the shadow of the subconscious mind, waiting for you to explore.

How I Hacked “The Hero’s Journey” and Transcended Ordinary Life

The hero’s journey. The archetypal adventure that turns a child into an adult. The epic mono-myth of human culture, as religious scholar Joseph Campbell would say. It is played out in our own lives, on the big cinematic screens, and deep in our most personal dreams.

Traumatized Supermen: The Self-Improvement Industry’s Most Destructive Blindspot

Despite all the virtuous good the self-development space has to offer, there seems to be one glaring blindspot: healing past trauma. Everyone experiences trauma in life, and unless properly integrated and reconciled, can manifest in various ways as we grow up, in addictions, self-defeating behaviours, or personality deficits.

How to Defeat the Procrastodragon Once and For All

It is a tragedy of modern society how many dreams and brilliant gifts to the world are lost due to fear, laziness, and procrastination. It is a plague, slowly infecting the psyche of modern society, and most afflicted with this disease die a quick death, but aren’t buried until much later.

The “Can’t Complain” Philosophy: How Stoic Philosophy Can Level Up Your Life

We live in a culture of outrage. An entire population content only with complaining, with no focus on action or resilience. The ‘snowflake generation’. It is possible, in fact, to bear the collective burden of society and existence without complaint. You may actually bear it with an eagerness, an internal fortitude reserved only for the ancient Gods of myth and legend.

Panpsychism: 3 Reasons Why Our World is Brimming with Sentience

Are we the only sentient creatures in the cosmos? An existential fluke, outcome of a random string of events that suddenly spawned conscious apes? Perhaps. But what if consciousness, or sentience, isn’t the exception to existence, but the rule?

25 Psychological Life Hacks that Will Help You Gain the Advantage in Social Situations

Have you walked away from an interaction with someone wondering just how they do it? How did they know what to say, how could they be so charismatic? Why are they so competent with their negotiation? Not just the product of innate talent, social psychology can be learned, and practiced, and improved.

The Medical Gaze: Why Depression Should Not Be Reduced To Chemical Imbalance

As scientific reductionism rose to prominence as the collective lens with which we view reality, we began to separate the individual experience, reducing it solely down into a serious of biochemical processes in the brain. But this is missing a large part of the picture, performing a disservice to the patient and the society they live within.

The Wim Hof Method Revealed – How to Consciously Control Your Immune System

Do you consciously beat your heart? Do you think about how to grow your hair? These processes are autonomous, existing outside of our conscious regulation. Our immune system falls under this category as well, or so we thought.

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Cultivating Your Contemplative Practice

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Meditation

Meditation is the meta-skill to end all meta-skills. It is a instrumental tool in mastering your mind and subsequently mastering life. It is flexible, approachable, infinitely deep, and immensely beneficial. It can quite literally change your brain for the better.

10 “Spiritual” Things People Do That Are Total Bullshit

No world or sub-culture is free from stigma, dogma, charlatans, get-rich-quick schemes — the spiritual world is no different. Just look at the ‘woke’ movement that has been plaguing the political left for the past few years. It’s a sign of a healthy psyche to be able to laugh at yourself.

How to Let Go of Dark Thoughts Like a Zen Master

Have you ever been stuck in a thought loop? Suffered from invasive thoughts, that you never want to entertain but can’t seem to let go of? Something wildly out of character, that you wonder how corrupted you must be to even be having this thought?

How to (Not) Give a Fuck Like a Zen Master

You control absolutely none of your external environment. You can create the illusion that you do, but ultimately life will unfold as it will, and we are along for the ride. This grasping for control can create a lot of needless suffering. If only we could let go, to not give a fuck.

60 Hours of Meditation in 5 Days: How The Whole World Became The Black Mirror of My Ego

Have you ever considered sitting a silent retreat? This look deep behind the curtain of a tightly regimented Zen Sesshin will leave your head swirling, either teeming with excitement or recoiling in shock.

9 Mindfulness Exercises to Make You More Focused Than Eckhart Tolle on a Limitless Pill

Attention is your most valuable resource. Alongside your time, this is what lets you create a life worth living. You must focus deeply on where you attention goes, how focused the spotlight of your consciousness is, and how you rest and recover it.

Unlocking the Shamanic Perspective for a Profoundly Magical Existence

The Shamanic perspective is a unique take on human experience, a whimsical and sacred practice of communion with All, with Nature, with Being itself. If you seek that enchantment, if you are ready to experience real magic — it is here waiting for you.

Mystical Science: A Voyage Beyond the Limits of Science

The Scientific worldview has proudly sat atop the throne that God once sat for generations now, having successfully overthrown the dominance of religion when informing and guiding society. This has brought us many beautiful gifts, but Science is seen as infallible, untouchable, incontrovertible.

Why It’s Time to Shut Up in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Inner turbulence stems from a lack of stillness, a lack of peace. A lack of true Knowing. The wise man speaks rarely, choosing instead to listen, to observe. Next time you find yourself internally tense, consider remaining silent.

Who Created God? – The Secret History of “Spirit-Force”

The idea, theory, and practice of God is a nearly universal truth and experience for humanity. The oldest cultures and most modern societies have their own unique flavour of supernatural beings. Why is this the case? What value do humans derive by holding dearly to this belief?

Should We “Revere” the Universe? — An Exploration of Yūgen

Nature is sacred. If nothing else, that which nourishes, stewards, and births us deserves its place on top of the hierarchy of the sacred.

Spiritual Bypassing: How Spirituality Sabotaged My Growth

With the growing world of ‘love and light, only’, we need to ensure that we maintain healthy boundaries, channel effective emotion, and maintain a level of decency and respect for ourselves. We must avoid spiritual bypassing.

Stop Bullshitting Yourself If You Want To Wake Up (From The True Matrix)

What are you doing all of this work for? What is the underlying motivation to your efforts? Are you being honest with yourself? Can you look at yourself in the mirror, knowing that you’re acting from true intention and a place of love and not hate?

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Life Secrets to Hack the Matrix of Being

Follow Your Bliss and the Universe Will Open Doors Where There Were Only Walls

The second you decide to move towards that which most excites you, the Universe rallies behind you. But it requires full commitment, leaning in all the way, trusting the process, in order to unfold effectively. Follow your highest excitement, and the world will respond in turn.

Be Kind. Little Else Matters.

Are you familiar with the Golden Rule? An ethical maxim that translates across the worlds religions and culture. ’’Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’’

“Failure” is No Big Deal

There is only one way in the world in which you are guaranteed to fail — never trying at all. All other paths lead to big wins, small wins, or learning moments. So long as you try, so long as you do not stop, you will not fail.

The Meaning of Life is to Give and Receive Love

What are you here for? What good can you do for the world? Fundamentally, this can be boiled down into a simple sentence: to give, and receive, Love.

How to Wake Up and Become Unstoppable

There is no one other than yourself who knows what you Need. You are the ultimate authority of the quality and content of your own life. You are an immutable, immense power.

Carl Jung On Why We Must Learn To Accept Ourselves Before We Can Help Others

Until you have faced the deepest and darkest, and the most brilliant and brightest parts of yourself — it is misguided at best and dangerous at worst to believe you can influence and impact those around you. We must accept and embrace all of us, before helping others.

The Meaning of Life is That it Stops

Do you fear death? Why? It is one of the only things guaranteed in life. Did you fear the time before you were born? So then, why fear the time once you have passed? It need not be something that frightens us.

12 Deceptively Simple Secrets to Dramatically Improve Your Existence

Inside of you there is immense power, waiting to be unlocked. Can you feel it? Can you feel everything that you have to offer the world? Why are you holding onto it? Keeping it hidden away from everyone. To unlock it is to give the greatest gift you can to the world: your full Being.

15 Big Life Insights I Wish I Knew at 18

The game of life is complex, complicated, and deeply nuanced. It can be a difficult territory to navigate. Though it doesn’t have to overwhelm us, there are a number of things we can do to drastically improve our ability to play the game.

The Secret to Life in 2 Words

Resist Nothing.

50 Life Secrets and Tips

If we treat life like a giant game, what would the cheat codes be? How do we hack the matrix of reality and transcend the ordinary games everyone is playing?

How I Embarked On A Slippery Hero’s Journey By Following My Bliss(ters)

The path to your dreams is not easy. In fact, that’s the point. Only through overcome obstacles do we find the rewards that are worth searching for. It is through hard work, not around with, that we reach true Greatness.

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10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Drinking Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca has risen prominently into the collective consciousness over the past few years, increasingly surfacing as a conversation topic in psychedelic-spiritual circles, and with the proliferation of local and international retreats offering the entheogenic brew.

Ayahuasca: A Story of Death, Rebirth and Love

The arc of the ayahuasca experience stands archetypal and sacred, with shamans providing the space and structure needed to dive deep into these inner explorations. Adventurous psychonauts tend to explore realms of diving love, full being, and themes of death, responsibility, humility, and the illusion of the self.

Beyond Existentialism: An Interview With Tao Lin

New-York based writer and author Tao Lin took an incredible, Terence McKenna-fuelled journey deep into Nihilism and out the other side. It turns out, there is something beyond Existentialism.

5 Myths About Psychedelics That We Need to Stop Spreading

Many psychedelic proponents tend to view psychedelics as a panacea, and universal cure for any ailments of the psyche. This is dangerous ground to tread. There are a few, very common, highly pernicious myths that seem to make their way around the psychedelic circles.

The Hidden Psychedelic History of Philosophy: Plato, Nietzsche, and 11 Other Philosophers Who Used Mind-Altering Drugs

It is commonly said that Western philosophy is just a series of footnotes to Plato. There might be some truth to this, but there’s something else important to note here. Plato, and many of the ancient philosophers, were known to partake in the drinking of the Kykeon, a potentially psychedelic brew. Is the foundation of modern philosophy a psychedelic experience?

Microdosing: The Revolutionary Way of Using Psychedelics

Understood as taking a sub-perceptual dose of a psychoactive compound, microdosing offers willing participants a plethora of subjective benefits. From integration, to energy management, to quality of life, this emerging sub-culture of the psychedelic movement is entering common parlance and now venturing into the scientific community.

The Joys and Pains of Visionary Medicine: Why the Ceremony of Life Comes Before the Ayahuasca Ceremony

Visionary plant medicines are extremely potent tools. They are often some of the strongest psychoactive substances known to modern man. With great power, comes great responsibility, as tools this powerful also have the capability of causing great harm.

highexistence phd

Timeless Wisdom from Brilliant Minds

50 Alan Watts Quotes to Give You a Glimpse of Enlightenment

Alan Watts — the great translator of Eastern wisdom traditions to a modern Western audience — sparked a generation of aspiring enlightened beings. A master orator, the visual landscapes he spoke into being resonate deeply in the souls of those willing to listen.

15 Terrifying Books Jordan Peterson Urges All Smart People to Read

Dostoyevsky. Orwell. Huxley. Nietzsche. These names are no stranger to those who have listened to a Jordan Peterson lecture. His ideas stand of the shoulders of giants, the behemoths who moved mountains with their words.

Nietzsche’s Gymnastics of the Will: The Path From Hell to the Good Life

They say if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. We need to be firm in our convictions, in our attitudes, in our discipline. No one echoed this more seriously than Frederich Nietzsche, originator of the Ubermensch theory among countless others.

12 Books That Destroyed and Rebuilt My Mind

A well-written book transports you across time and space, to different worlds and different centuries. Little portals giving you direct access to ancient wisdom, lifetimes of experience, and vastly differing perspectives.

Jordan Hall Explains Why Humanity Might be on the Verge of Global Collapse

You should know the work of Jordan Hall. An incredibly lucid and near-clairvoyant mind, his models of sovereignty and collective organization have elucidated key shortcomings in our current models of reality.

5 Mind-Blowing Books That Are Worth The Struggle To Read

There are times you come across a book that changes you life forever. They spark a fundamental shift in your being, forever changing the person you are destined to become. The right book at the right time can be a catapult for our personal trajectory, skyrocketing us along our path.

8 Books For a Higher Existence

Good things come to those who read. It’s an investment in your future self. A commitment to growing, learning, becoming. There is something beautiful in flipping through the soft supple pages of a book, downloading sacred lessons from the universe.

7 Books That Will Violently Shift Your Perspectives

Not all reading is done for leisure. Not all of it is a walk in the park. Sometimes we’re ready for a challenge, to have our deepest held beliefs challenged and shaken, to see how well they stand up to critique.

Photographer Ryan Muirhead Talks Depression, Creativity, and What it Means to Be Human

The world shifts dramatically when you begin to look for beauty in everything. When you take different perspectives in pursuit of that one shot. Creativity is fundamental to the human condition, and we explore that idea in this space.

Carl Sagan’s Profound Essay On Why Cannabis Consciousness is Desperately Needed in This Mad and Dangerous World

Carl Sagan. The space sage. Some may not know that Carl Sagan was also a staunch proponent of cannabis culture, viewing it as a remedy for the general ailments slowly infecting contemporary culture. He penned a concise and compelling essay on why cannabis can be this remedy, and what we stand to gain in the adoption of this mindset.

D.H. Lawrence on the Overdeveloped Ego and Our Connection to the Cosmos

There are many jokes in the modern world about our ever-increasing obsession with ourselves. As we connect more with ourselves, we seem to connect less with the vast beauty of Nature and of the Cosmos in which we inhabit. This may not serve us as well as we may hope.

George Orwell on the 7 Ways Politicians Abuse Language to Deceive You

George Orwell, the pseudonym of the famed writer of the dystopian fiction 1984, was a linguistic master. His expert understand of language and nuance allowed him to decipher the hidden motivates and messages hidden inside of political discourse.

What Is Propaganda? Noam Chomsky on Media, Manipulation, and Democracy

Propaganda wasn’t always the dirty word it’s commonly considered today. It started virtuously, meaning to spread information about something, to make people aware of your perspective or idea. Though this, like many great ideas, was twisted, first by religion, then by the state, to serve increasingly nefarious means.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Guide to Conquering Your Existence

Friedrich Nietzsche is a polarizing figure. Some love him. Some despise him, or reject him. Notions aside, if you go digging into his seminal works, you will find gems. Ideas like eternal recurrence, the Overman theory, and more shine like diamonds amongst the coal of the dusty philosophical mines.

37 Sage Stories from Pema Chodron for a Masterclass in Meditation

Pema Chodron is the grandmother elder that we as a society desperately need. One of the wisest individuals we have come across, her words were directly responsible for much of the work that has come out of HighExistence.

18 Rare Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes to Make You Question Everything

Arguably one of the most brilliant minds to grace humanity in the last few centuries, Nietzsche had a stunning command of human psychology and linguistic prose. Many foundational ideas can be traced back to his original influences.

Hunter S. Thompson’s Monumental Letter on How to Find Meaning and Purpose in Life

Despite his renowned reputation as a gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson had a masterful understanding of how to make meaning, directing ones focus, and of carefully creating a life worth living.

highexistence phd

Exploring the Future of Humanity

The Ultimatum of the 21st Century: Why Humanity Must Level Up or Self-Destruct

We have the power to move continents and shape worlds. To edit genomes and create life. Our collective ethics and sense-making hasn’t caught up to our technological might yet, and that’s becoming a problem for the future of humanity.

5 Unexpected Reasons Why Modern Life Depresses Many People

We are more and more digitally connected, but more and more physically isolated. Modern society and contemporary technology seems uniquely capable of depressing and isolating the constituents of the society it operates in.

The Internet is Destroying Your Attention: How to Survive the Attention Economy

Your attention is your most valuable resource. Everything you do, believe, and think stems from where you place the spotlight of your conscious attention. And right now, a war is being waged to capture as much of it as possible.

12 Life Lessons Learned While Living in a Van and Traveling Europe

Real life isn’t the filtered photo you see on Instagram. Not everything in the digital nomad world or the #vanlife experience is exactly what you think. Lift the veil and peek behind the curtain of this ascetic, nomadic lifestyle — the truth is often stranger, and more beautiful, than you might imagine.

5 Unexpected Reasons the Internet is Making People Dumber

Through the internet, we have absolutely unprecedented access to the collective knowledge of humanity. But that doesn’t mean it’s evenly distributed, or easily accessible. We can easily get caught in filter bubbles, echo chambers of singular viewpoints.

10 Ways to Avoid Becoming Just Another Fool on the Internet

The internet is a massive prediction engine, designed to provide you with exactly what it thinks you want to see. This can be a trap, it can cater to our lowest desires or weakest interests. Fundamentally, it can make a fool out of the best of us.

Why Avoiding The News Makes You Smarter

Deep down, we all know that the news doesn’t report on what is most interesting or relevant to us on that day. It blasts us endlessly with the most shocking and polarizing pieces that in can conjure up in the endless 24-hour news cycle.

Dominator vs. Partnership Cultures: A Profound Re-Telling of Human History

History is always written by the victor. So the past itself is an interpretation, a filtering and repackaging of certain select events that transpired, spun to make the winning group look at favourable as possible.

The Ultimate Flowchart For Determining How You Can Help the World

The worlds need you. You hear the call, you want to be of service. You want to contribute to building the world that we all know is possible. Amazing! But where do you start?

Why Humanity Must Become a Multi-Planetary Species

If and when we stabilize and regenerate our current planet of residence, a far more vast and expansive horizon awaits — the infinitude of space. Humans have always been destined for this future — we feel it deep inside of ourselves.

Now more than ever, it may be more imperative than once thought. A necessity, instead of a hopeful future. Humanity must become a multi-planetary species.


If you’ve made it this far, we are deeply humbled.

It is truly an honour to be in the presence of spiritual warriors like you.

Those committed to personal excellence, to being and becoming a beacon for those who walk the path. A living testament to the goodness of humanity.

Now that you’ve completed your PhD — it’s time to step out of academia and into the real world. What good will you do? Who will you be? How can you live and breathe and embody everything that you’ve read here?

There are 3 stages to human action. Knowing. Doing. Being. You have completed the first stage, knowing. Now that you know what to do — you must act. It must become a part of your life. Through repetition, through continuous conscious action, you will begin to embody these lessons. They will become automatic, habitual — they become part of your being.

Now step forward, confidently, into the world, and be something beautiful for a world that so desperately needs you.


Eric Brown

Eric Brown

I'm a creator, artist, writer, and experience designer. I help people become themselves.

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