Summary of Stealing Fire

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Stealing Fire book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Innovative
  • Engaging


Steven Kotler stays true to the sensational, entertaining language he used in his New York Times bestseller, Abundance. He and co-author Jamie Wheal conquer a whirlwind of ideas and stories in this wide-ranging exploration of ecstasis – Greek for altered states of “flow,” euphoria and ecstasy. They explore ways to reach this altered state – covering an array of subjects such as transcendental meditation, intoxicating substances and virtual reality. They’re clear on what you stand to gain and risk. Kotler and Wheal may spend too much time attacking societal taboos, notably the hypocrisy of organized religion and the dishonesty of government in suppressing access to euphoria. Yet they accomplish a unique paradox – a page-turner you will put down frequently to process the implications of the information. Don’t look for too much depth; instead, regard this primer on personal exploration as a guide to the areas that interest you. getAbstract recommends this unusual treatise to anyone new to the concepts of flow and ecstasy.

About the Authors

Best-selling author Steven Kotler founded the Flow Genome Project, where he researches altered states with Jamie Wheal and others.


An Eternal Flame

The ancient Eleusinian Mysteries – among Greek civilization’s great achievements – influenced Plato and much of Western philosophy. These nine-day “initiatory” rituals were “designed to strip away standard frames of reference, profoundly alter consciousness and unlock a heightened level of insight.” A drug much like LSD inspired these rituals, but using it illicitly invited capital punishment. The Greek elite risked everything to experience its powers. Ever since, new elixirs have emerged, intoxicating their users until authorities intervened. Today, people at the top of industry, elite military officers, scientists and other “psychonauts” enter various states of altered consciousness seeking “flow,” high creativity and peak performance. The mainstream also embraces some similar experiences.

Finding Flow

Psychedelic drugs, deep meditation and sex can induce what the Greeks called ecstasis. Learning transcendental meditation, for example, once took years. Now new technologies and training can teach a person to meditate like a monk in days or even hours. Even the US Navy SEALs have developed advanced...

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