Book Of The Week: Stealing Fire

Have you ever heard about the myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and shared it with humans? What he stole from the gods included the power to seed civilization via language, art, medicine, and technology. 

Of course, Prometheus was eventually punished by Zeus and sentenced to eagles tearing out his internal organs for eternity.

“Stealing Fire” continues to be a rebel’s game when bringing non-ordinary/altered states of consciousness to everyday human experiences.

Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal have written  “Stealing Fire” to give us a glimpse into what we can experience beyond the superficial and how these experiences can lead to transformation in how we live and work.

What Is Ecstasis?

Unconsciousness seems to have a hold on humanity. This default setting keeps individuals in the rat race of life. Unconsciousness causes the illusion of separateness. 

The opposite of unconsciousness can be found in ecstasis. 

A great example is the story of a group of Navy SEALs. 

Stationed in Afghanistan in 2004, members of an elite team were faced with tracking down Al-Wazu. During the mission, the team came together in unprecedented ways. They moved together and in unison. There was no separateness. (Of course, they succeeded in capturing Wazu.)

This “switch“ of moving as one unit is just the beginning of ecstasis. 

As mentioned in the book, Plato once described ecstasis as a state where ordinary consciousness is gone entirely. What remains is a sense of euphoria and connection to the greater intelligence.

This is also known as group flow at its peak state.

Whichever way you interpret it, your life will not remain the same once experienced.

The way you live and the way you work will be transformed.

You’ll be able to let go of fear and begin to see what really matters.

How Can We Get Access To And Better Understand Non-ordinary States Of Consciousness?

Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal have said that we all can gain access to altered states of consciousness through four forces:


Many people are looking to move beyond social stereotypes and what they think should be their defined identity. 

Through psychological developments, we can better understand our own growth and make sense of the journey we’re on.


If you’re into concrete data, like me, neurobiology can help to explain what is happening in the brain and body when different mental states are experienced.

It’s tough to describe experiences beyond the expected level, but neurobiology gives us some simple terms to go on.


As a motivational force, intoxication with drugs seems to be a primary factor. It turns out that this is biologically normal. 

Although they can be dangerous, mind-altering substances provide a way of breaking a pattern and can lead to more creative approaches to problem-solving.

Our ego constantly filters our ideas before we can even act on them. Intoxication seems to loosen that tight grip from the ego.


Breakthroughs in technology, like neurofeedback or virtual reality, are providing techniques that can bring epiphanies and experiences to hundreds of thousands of people at once instead of isolated events.

Final Thoughts 

One of the greatest ideas presented in the book is that experiencing selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness, and richness of life through non-ordinary states of consciousness can speed up learning, make healing more effortless, and create concrete change in our lives.

It may not be easy, though, as there are always forces at work trying to keep us from “Stealing Fire.“

This is another one of those incredible books I hope this short summary has done justice.

Please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on this subject. Thanks for reading!

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases of books through this site. 

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