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~ The Psychedelic Experience ~
A manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
By Timothy Leary, Ph.D., Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., &
Richard Alpert, Ph.D.


The authors were engaged in a program of experiments with LSD and
other psychedelic drugs at Harvard University, until sensational
national publicity, unfairly concentrating on student interest in the
drugs, led to the suspension of the experiments. Since then, the
authors have continued their work without academic auspices.

is dedicated,


July 26, 1894 - November 22, 1963
with profound admiration and gratitude.

"If you started in the wrong way," I said in answer to the
investigator's questions, "everything that happened would be a proof
of the conspiracy against you. It would all be self-validating. You
couldn't draw a breath without knowing it was part of the plot."

"So you think you know where madness lies?"

My answer was a convinced and heartfelt, "Yes."

"And you couldn't control it?"

"No I couldn't control it. If one began with fear and hate as the
major premise, one would have to go on the conclusion."

"Would you be able," my wife asked, " to fix your attention on what
The Tibetan Book of the Dead calls the Clear Light?"

I was doubtful.

"Would it keep the evil away, if you could hold it? Or would you not
be able to hold it?"

I considered the question for some time. "Perhaps," I answered at
last, "perhaps I could - but only if there were somebody there to tell
me about the Clear Light. One couldn't do it by oneself. That's the
point, I suppose, of the Tibetan ritual - somebody sitting there all
the time and telling you what's what."




A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness.
The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its
characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of
space-time dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Such experiences of
enlarged consciousness can occur in a variety of ways: sensory
deprivation, yoga exercises, disciplined meditation, religious or
aesthetic ecstasies, or spontaneously. Most recently they have become
available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as
LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT, etc. [This is the statement of an
ideal, not an actual situation, in 1964. The psychedelic drugs are in
the United States classified as "experimental" drugs. That is, they
are not available on a prescription basis, but only to "qualified
investigators." The Federal Food and Drug Administration has defined
"qualified investigators" to mean psychiatrists working in a mental
hospital setting, whose research is sponsored by either state or
federal agencies.]

Of course, the drug dose does not produce the transcendent experience.
It merely acts as a chemical key - it opens the mind, frees the
nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures. The nature of
the experience depends almost entirely on set and setting. Set denotes
the preparation of the individual, including his personality structure
and his mood at the time. Setting is physical - the weather, the
room's atmosphere; social - feelings of persons present towards one
another; and cultural - prevailing views as to what is real. It is for
this reason that manuals or guide-books are necessary. Their purpose
is to enable a person to understand the new realities of the expanded
consciousness, to serve as road maps for new interior territories
which modern science has made accessible.

Different explorers draw different maps. Other manuals are to be
written based on different models - scientific, aesthetic,
therapeutic. The Tibetan model, on which this manual is based, is
designed to teach the person to direct and control awareness in such a
way as to reach that level of understanding variously called
liberation, illumination, or enlightenment. If the manual is read
several times before a session is attempted, and if a trusted person
is there to remind and refresh the memory of the voyager during the
experience, the consciousness will be freed from the games which
comprise "personality" and from positive-negative hallucinations which
often accompany states of expanded awareness. The Tibetan Book of the
Dead was called in its own language the Bardo Thodol, which means
"Liberation by Hearing on the After-Death Plane." The book stresses
over and over that the free consciousness has only to hear and
remember the teachings in order to be liberated.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead is ostensibly a book describing the
experiences to be expected at the moment of death, during an
intermediate phase lasting forty-nine (seven times seven) days, and
during rebirth into another bodily frame. This however is merely the
exoteric framework which the Tibetan Buddhists used to cloak their
mystical teachings. The language and symbolism of death rituals of
Bonism, the traditional pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion, were skillfully
blended with Buddhist conceptions. The esoteric meaning, as it has
been interpreted in this manual, is that it is death and rebirth that
is described, not of the body. Lama Govinda indicates this clearly in
his introduction when he writes: "It is a book for the living as well
as the dying." The book's esoteric meaning is often concealed beneath
many layers of symbolism. It was not intended for general reading. It
was designed to be understood only by one who was to be initiated
personally by a guru into the Buddhist mystical doctrines, into the
pre-mortem-death-rebirth experience. These doctrines have been kept a
closely guarded secret for many centuries, for fear that naive or
careless application would do harm. In translating such an esoteric
text, therefore, there are two steps: one, the rendering of the
original text into English; and two, the practical interpretation of
the text for its uses. In publishing this practical interpretation for
use in the psychedelic drug session, we are in a sense breaking with
the tradition of secrecy and thus contravening the teachings of the

However, this step is justified on the grounds that the manual will
not be understood by anyone who has not had a consciousness-expanding
experience and that there are signs that the lamas themselves, after
their recent diaspora, wish to make their teachings available to a
wider public.

Following the Tibetan model then, we distinguish three phases of the
psychedelic experience. The first period (Chikhai Bardo) is that of
complete transcendence - beyond words, beyond space-time, beyond self.
There are no visions, no sense of self, no thoughts. There are only
pure awareness and ecstatic freedom from all game (and biological)
involvements. ["Games" are behavioral sequences defined by roles,
rules, rituals, goals, strategies, values, language, characteristic
space-time locations and characteristic patterns of movement. Any
behavior not having these nine features is non-game: this includes
physiological reflexes, spontaneous play, and transcendent awareness.]
The second lengthy period involves self, or external game reality
(Chonyid Bardo) - in sharp exquisite clarity or in the form of
hallucinations (karmic apparitions). The final period (Sidpa Bardo)
involves the return to routine game reality and the self. For most
persons the second (aesthetic or hallucinatory) stage is the longest.
For the initiated the first stage of illumination lasts longer. For
the unprepared, the heavy game players, those who anxiously cling to
their egos, and for those who take the drug in a non-supportive
setting, the struggle to regain reality begins early and usually lasts
to the end of their session.

Words like these are static, whereas the psychedelic experience is
fluid and ever-changing. Typically the subject's consciousness flicks
in and out of these three levels with rapid oscillations. One purpose
of this manual is to enable the person to regain the transcendence of
the First Bardo and to avoid prolonged entrapments in hallucinatory or
ego-dominated game patterns.

The Basic Trusts and Beliefs. You must be ready to accept the
possibility that there is a limitless range of awareness for which we
now have no words; that awareness can expand beyond range of your ego,
your self, your familiar identity, beyond everything you have learned,
beyond your notions of space and time, beyond the differences which
usually separate people from each other and from the world around

You must remember that throughout human history, millions have made
this voyage. A few (whom we call mystics, saints or buddhas) have made
this experience endure and have communicated it to their fellow men.
You must remember, too, that the experience is safe (at the very
worst, you will end up the same person who entered the experience),
and that all of the dangers which you have feared are unnecessary
productions of your mind. Whether you experience heaven or hell,
remember that it is your mind which creates them. Avoid grasping the
one or fleeing the other. Avoid imposing the ego game on the

You must try to maintain faith and trust in the potentiality of your
own brain and the billion-year-old life process. With you ego left
behind you, the brain can't go wrong.

Try to keep the memory of a trusted friend or a respected person whose
name can serve as a guide and protection.

Trust your divinity, trust your brain, trust your companions.

Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.

After reading this guide, the prepared person should be able, at the
very beginning of his experience, to move directly to a state of non-
game ecstasy and deep revelation. But if you are not well prepared, or
if there is game distraction around you, you will find yourself
dropping back. If this happens, then the instructions in Part IV
should help you regain and maintain liberation.

"Liberation in this context does not necessarily imply (especially in
the case of the average person) the Liberation of Nirvana, but chiefly
a liberation of the 'life-flux' from the ego, in such a manner as will
afford the greatest possible consciousness and consequent happy
rebirth. Yet for the very experienced and very highly efficient
person, the [same] esoteric process of Transference [Readers
interested in a more detailed discussion of the process of
"Transference" are referred to Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines,
edited by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, Oxford University Press, 1958.] can be,
according to the lama-gurus, so employed as to prevent any break in
the flow of the stream of consciousness, from the moment of the ego-
loss to the moment of a conscious rebirth (eight hours later). Judging
from the translation made by the late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup, of an old
Tibetan manuscript containing practical directions for ego-loss
states, the ability to maintain a non-game ecstasy throughout the
entire experience is possessed only by persons trained in mental
concentration, or one-pointedness of mind, to such a high degree of
proficiency as to be able to control all the mental functions and to
shut out the distractions of the outside world." (Evans-Wentz, p. 86,
note 2)

This manual is divided into four parts. The first part is
introductory. The second is a step-by-step description of a
psychedelic experience based directly on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
The third part contains practical suggestions on how to prepare for
and conduct a psychedelic session. The fourth part contains
instructive passages adapted from the Bardo Thodol, which may be read
to the voyager during this session, to facilitate the movement of

In the remainder of this introductory section, we review three
commentaries on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, published with the
Evans-Wentz edition. These are the introduction by Evans-Wentz
himself, the distinguished translator-editor of four treatises on
Tibetan mysticism; the commentary by Carl Jung, the Swiss
psychoanalyst; and by Lama Govinda, and initiate of one of the
principle Buddhist orders of Tibet.


"Dr. Evans-Wentz, who literally sat at the feet of a Tibetan lama for
years, in order to acquire his wisdom . . . not only displays a deeply
sympathetic interest in those esoteric doctrines so characteristic of
the genius of the East, but likewise possesses the rare faculty of
making them more or less intelligible to the layman." [Quoted from a
book review in Anthropology on the back of the Oxford University Press
edition of The Tibetan Book of the Dead.]

W. Y. Evans-Wentz is a great scholar who devoted his mature years to
the role of bridge and shuttle between Tibet and the west: like an RNA
molecule activating the latter with the coded message of the former.
No greater tribute could be paid to the work of this academic
liberator than to base our psychedelic manual upon his insights and to
quote directly his comments on "the message of this book."

The message is, that the Art of Dying is quite as important as the Art
of Living (or of Coming into Birth), of which it is the complement and
summation; that the future of being is dependent, perhaps entirely,
upon a rightly controlled death, as the second part of this volume,
setting forth the Art of Reincarnating, emphasizes.

The Art of Dying, as indicated by the death-rite associated with
initiation into the Mysteries of Antiquity, and referred to by
Apuleius, the Platonic philosopher, himself an initiate, and by many
other illustrious initiates, and as The Egyptian Book of the Dead
suggests, appears to have been far better known to the ancient peoples
inhabiting the Mediterranean countries than it is now by their
descendants in Europe and the Americas.

To those who had passed through the secret experiencing of pre-mortem
death, right dying is initiation, conferring, as does the initiatory
death-rite, the power to control consciously the process of death and
regeneration. (Evans-Wentz, p. xiii-xiv)

The Oxford scholar, like his great predecessor of the eleventh
century, Marpa ("The Translator"), who rendered Indian Buddhist texts
into Tibetan, thereby preserving them from extinction, saw the vital
importance of these doctrines and made them accessible to many. The
"secret" is no longer hidden: "the art of dying is quite as important
as the art of living."


Psychology is the systematic attempt to describe and explain man's
behavior, both conscious and non-conscious. The scope of study is
broad - covering the infinite variety of human activity and
experience; and it is long - tracing back through the history of the
individual, through the history of his ancestors, back through the
evolutionary vicissitudes and triumphs which have determined the
current status of the species. Most difficult of all, the scope of
psychology is complex, dealing as it does with processes which are

Little wonder that psychologists, in the face of such complexity,
escape into specialization and parochial narrowness.

A psychology is based on the available data and the psychologists'
ability and willingness to utilize them. The behaviorism and
experimentalism of twentieth-century western psychology is so narrow
as to be mostly trivial. Consciousness is eliminated from the field of
inquiry. Social application and social meaning are largely neglected.
A curious ritualism is enacted by a priesthood rapidly growing in
power and numbers.

Eastern psychology, by contrast, offers us a long history of detailed
observation and systematization of the range of human consciousness
along with an enormous literature of practical methods for controlling
and changing consciousness. Western intellectuals tend to dismiss
Oriental psychology. The theories of consciousness are seen as occult
and mystical. The methods of investigating consciousness change, such
as meditation, yoga, monastic retreat, and sensory deprivation, and
are seen as alien to scientific investigation. And most damning of all
in the eyes of the European scholar, is the alleged disregard of
eastern psychologies for the practical, behavioral and social aspects
of life. Such criticism betrays limited concepts and the inability to
deal with the available historical data on a meaningful level. The
psychologies of the east have always found practical application in
the running of the state, in the running of daily life and family. A
wealth of guides and handbooks exists: the Book of Tao, the Analects
of Confucius, the Gita, the I Ching, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, to
mention only the best-known.

Eastern psychology can be judged in terms of the use of available
evidence. The scholars and observers of China, Tibet, and India went
as far as their data allowed them. They lacked the findings of modern
science and so their metaphors seem vague and poetic. Yet this does
not negate their value. Indeed, eastern philosophic theories dating
back four thousand years adapt readily to the most recent discoveries
of nuclear physics, biochemistry, genetics, and astronomy.

A major task of any present day psychology - eastern or western - is
to construct a frame of reference large enough to incorporate the
recent findings of the energy sciences into a revised picture of man.

Judged against the criterion of the use of available fact, the
greatest psychologists of our century are William James and Carl Jung.
[To properly compare Jung with Sigmund Freud we must look at the
available data which each man appropriated for his explorations. For
Freud it was Darwin, classical thermodynamics, the Old Testament,
Renaissance cultural history, and most important, the close overheated
atmosphere of the Jewish family. The broader scope of Jung's reference
materials assures that his theories will find a greater congeniality
with recent developments in the energy sciences and the evolutionary
sciences.] Both of these men avoided the narrow paths of behaviorism
and experimentalism. Both fought to preserve experience and
consciousness as an area of scientific research. Both kept open to the
advance of scientific theory and both refused to shut off eastern
scholarship from consideration.

Jung used for his source of data that most fertile source - the
internal. He recognized the rich meaning of the eastern message; he
reacted to that great Rorshach inkblot, the Tao Te Ching. He wrote
perceptive brilliant forewords to the I Ching, to the Secret of the
Golden Flower, and struggled with the meaning of The Tibetan Book of
the Dead. "For years, ever since it was first published, the Bardo
Thodol has been my constant companion, and to it I owe not only many
stimulating ideas and discoveries, but also many fundamental insights.
. . Its philosophy contains the quintessence of Buddhist psychological
criticism; and, as such, one can truly say that it is of an unexampled

The Bardo Thodol is in the highest degree psychological in its
outlook; but, with us, philosophy and theology
are still in the mediaeval, pre-psychological stage where only the
assertions are listened to, explained, defended, criticized and
disputed, while the authority that makes them has, by general consent,
been deposed as outside the scope of discussion.

Metaphysical assertions, however, are statements of the psyche, and
are therefore psychological. To the Western mind, which compensates
its well-known feelings of resentment by a slavish regard for
"rational" explanations, this obvious truth seems all too obvious, or
else it is seen as an inadmissible negation of metaphysical "truth."
Whenever the Westerner hears the word "psychological," it always
sounds to him like "only psychological."

Jung draws upon Oriental conceptions of consciousness to broaden the
concept of "projection":

Not only the "wrathful" but also the "peaceful" deities are conceived
as sangsaric projections of the human psyche, an idea that seems all
too obvious to the enlightened European, because it reminds him of his
own banal simplifications. But though the European can easily explain
away these deities as projections, he would be quite incapable of
positing them at the same time as real. The Bardo Thodol can do that,
because, in certain of its most essential metaphysical premises, it
has the enlightened as well as the unenlightened European at a
disadvantage. The ever-present, unspoken assumption of the Bardo
Thodol is the anti-nominal character of all metaphysical assertions,
and also the idea of the qualitative difference of the various levels
of consciousness and of the metaphysical realities conditioned by
them. The background of this unusual book is not the niggardly
European "either-or," but a magnificently affirmative "both-and." This
statement may appear objectionable to the Western philosopher, for the
West loves clarity and unambiguity; consequently, one philosopher
clings to the position, "God is," while another clings equally
fervently to the negation, "God is not."

Jung clearly sees the power and breadth of the Tibetan model but
occasionally he fails to grasp its meaning and application. Jung, too,
was limited (as we all are) to the social models of his tribe. He was
a psychoanalyst, the father of a school. Psychotherapy and psychiatric
diagnosis were the two applications which came most naturally to him.

Jung misses the central concept of the Tibetan book. This is not (as
Lama Govinda reminds us) a book of the dead. It is a book of the
dying; which is to say a book of the living; it is a book of life and
how to live. The concept of actual physical death was an exoteric
facade adopted to fit the prejudices of the Bonist tradition in Tibet.
Far from being an embalmers' guide, the manual is a detailed account
of how to lose the ego; how to break out of personality into new
realms of consciousness; and how to avoid the involuntary limiting
processes of the ego; how to make the consciousness-expansion
experience endure in subsequent daily life.

Jung struggles with this point. He comes close but never quite
clinches it. He had nothing in his conceptual framework which could
make practical sense out of the ego-loss experience.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Bardo Thodol, is a book of
instructions for the dead and dying. Like The Egyptian Book of the
Dead it is meant to be a guide for the dead man during the period of
his Bardo existence. . . .

In this quote Jung settles for the exoteric and misses the esoteric.
In a later quote he seems to come closer:

. . . the instruction given in the Bardo Thodol serves to recall to
the dead man the experience of his initiation and the teachings of his
guru, for the instruction is, at bottom, nothing less than an
initiation of the dead into the Bardo life, just as the initiation of
the living was a preparation for the Beyond. Such was the case, at
least, with all the mystery cults in ancient civilizations from the
time of the Egyptian and Eleusinian mysteries. In the initiation of
the living, however, this "Beyond" is not a world beyond death, but a
reversal of the mind's intentions and outlook, a psychological
"Beyond" or, in Christian terms, a "redemption" from the trammels of
the world and of sin. Redemption is a separation and deliverance from
an earlier condition of darkness and unconsciousness, and leads to a
condition of illumination and releasedness, to victory and
transcendence over everything "given."

Thus far the Bardo Thodol is, as Dr. Evans-Wentz also feels, an
initiation process whose purpose it is to restore to the soul the
divinity it lost at birth.

In still another passage Jung continues the struggle but misses again:

Nor is the psychological use we make of it (the Tibetan Book) anything
but a secondary intention, though one that is possibly sanctioned by
lamaist custom. The real purpose of this singular book is the attempt,
which must seem very strange to the educated European of the twentieth
century, to enlighten the dead on their journey through the regions of
the Bardo. The Catholic Church is the only place in the world of the
white man where any provision is made for the souls of the departed.

In the summary of Lama Govinda's comments which follow we shall see
that the Tibetan commentator, freed from the European concepts of
Jung, moves directly to the esoteric and practical meaning of the
Tibetan book.

In his autobiography (written in 1960) Jung commits himself wholly to
the inner vision and to the wisdom and superior reality of internal
perceptions. In 1938 (when his Tibetan commentary was written) he was
moving in this direction but cautiously and with the ambivalent
reservations of the psychiatrist cum mystic.

The dead man must desperately resist the dictates of reason, as we
understand it, and give up the supremacy of egohood, regarded by
reason as sacrosanct. What this means in practice is complete
capitulation to the objective powers of the psyche, with all that this
entails; a kind of symbological death, corresponding to the Judgement
of the Dead in the Sidpa Bardo. It means the end of all conscious,
rational, morally responsible conduct of life, and a voluntary
surrender to what the Bardo Thodol calls "karmic illusion." Karmic
illusion springs from belief in a visionary world of an extremely
irrational nature, which neither accords with nor derives from our
rational judgments but is the exclusive product of uninhibited
imagination. It is sheer dream or "fantasy," and every well-meaning
person will instantly caution us against it; nor indeed can one see at
first sight what is the difference between fantasies of this kind and
the phantasmagoria of a lunatic. Very often only a slight abaissement
du niveau mental is needed to unleash this world of illusion. The
terror and darkness of this moment has its equivalent in the
experiences described in the opening sections of the Sidpa Bardo. But
the contents of this Bardo also reveal the archetypes, the karmic
images which appear first in their terrifying form. The Chonyid state
is equivalent to a deliberately induced psychosis. . . .

The transition, then, from the Sidpa state to the Chonyid state is a
dangerous reversal of the aims and intentions of the conscious mind.
It is a sacrifice of the ego's stability and a surrender to the
extreme uncertainty of what must seem like a chaotic riot of
phantasmal forms. When Freud coined the phrase that the ego was "the
true seat of anxiety," he was giving voice to a very true and profound
intuition. Fear of self-sacrifice lurks deep in every ego, and this
fear is often only the precariously controlled demand of the
unconscious forces to burst out in full strength. No one who strives
for selfhood (individuation) is spared this dangerous passage, for
that which is feared also belongs to the wholeness of the self - the
sub-human, or supra-human, world of psychic "dominants" from which the
ego originally emancipated itself with enormous effort, and then only
partially, for the sake of a more or less illusory freedom. This
liberation is certainly a very necessary and very heroic undertaking,
but it represents nothing final: it is merely the creation of a
subject, who, in order to find fulfillment, has still to be confronted
by an object. This, at first sight, would appear to be the world,
which is swelled out with projections for that very purpose. Here we
seek and find our difficulties, here we seek and find our enemy, here
we seek and find what is dear and precious to us; and it is comforting
to know that all evil and all good is to be found out there, in the
visible object, where it can be conquered, punished, destroyed or
enjoyed. But nature herself does not allow this paradisal state of
innocence to continue for ever. There are, and always have been, those
who cannot help but see that the world and its experiences are in the
nature of a symbol, and that it really reflects something that lies
hidden in the subject himself, in his own transubjective reality. It
is from this profound intuition, according to lamaist doctrine, that
the Chonyid state derives its true meaning, which is why the Chonyid
Bardo is entitled "The Bardo of the Experiencing of Reality."

The reality experienced in the Chonyid state is, as the last section
of the corresponding Bardo teaches, the reality of thought. The
"thought-forms" appear as realities, fantasy takes on real form, and
the terrifying dream evoked by karma and played out by the unconscious
"dominants" begins.

Jung would not have been surprised by professional and institutional
antagonism to psychedelics. He closes his Tibetan commentary with a
poignant political aside:

The Bardo Thodol began by being a "closed" book, and so it has
remained, no matter what kind of commentaries may be written upon it.
For it is a book that will only open itself to spiritual understanding
and this is a capacity which no man is born with, but which he can
only acquire through special training and special experience. It is
good that such to all intents and purposes "useless" books exist. They
are meant for those "queer folk" who no longer set much store by the
uses, aims, and meaning of present-day "civilization."

To provide "special training" for the "special experience" provided by
psychedelic materials is the purpose of this version of The Tibetan
Book of the Dead.


In the preceding section the point was made that eastern philosophy
and psychology - poetic, indeterministic, experiential, inward-
looking, vaguely evolutionary, open-ended - is more easily adapted to
the findings of modern science than the syllogistic, certain,
experimental, externalizing logic of western psychology. The latter
imitates the irrelevant rituals of the energy sciences but ignores the
data of physics and genetics, the meanings and implications.

Even Carl Jung, the most penetrating of the western psychologists,
failed to understand the basic philosophy of the Bardo Thodol.

Quite in contrast are the comments on the Tibetan manual by Lama
Anagarika Govinda.

His opening statement at first glance would cause a Judaeo-Christian
psychologist to snort in impatience. But a close look at these phrases
reveals that they are the poetic statement of the genetic situation as
currently described by biochemists and DNA researchers.

It may be argued that nobody can talk about death with authority who
has not died; and since nobody, apparently, has ever returned from
death, how can anybody know what death is, or what happens after it?

The Tibetan will answer: "There is not one person, indeed, not one
living being, that has not returned from death. In fact, we all have
died many deaths, before we came into this incarnation. And what we
call birth is merely the reverse side of death, like one of the two
sides of a coin, or like a door which we call "entrance" from outside
and "exit" from inside a room."

The lama then goes on to make a second poetic comment about the
potentialities of the nervous system, the complexity of the human
cortical computer.

It is much more astonishing that not everybody remembers his or her
previous death; and, because of this lack of remembering, most persons
do not believe there was a previous death. But, likewise, they do not
remember their recent birth - and yet they do not doubt that they were
recently born. They forget that active memory is only a small part of
our normal consciousness, and that our subconscious memory registers
and preserves every past impression and experience which our waking
mind fails to recall.

The lama then proceeds to slice directly to the esoteric meaning of
the Bardo Thodol - that core meaning which Jung and indeed most
European Orientalists have failed to grasp.

For this reason, the Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan book vouchsafing
liberation from the intermediate state between life and re-birth,-
which state men call death,- has been couched in symbolical language.
It is a book which is sealed with the seven seals of silence,- not
because its knowledge would be misunderstood, and, therefore, would
tend to mislead and harm those who are unfitted to receive it. But the
time has come to break the seals of silence; for the human race has
come to the juncture where it must decide whether to be content with
the subjugation of the material world, or to strive after the conquest
of the spiritual world, by subjugating selfish desires and
transcending self-imposed limitations.

The lama next describes the effects of consciousness-expansion
techniques. He is talking here about the method he knows-the Yogic-but
his words are equally applicable to psychedelic experience.

There are those who, in virtue of concentration and other yogic
practices, are able to bring the subconscious into the realm of
discriminative consciousness and, thereby, to draw upon the
unrestricted treasury of subconscious memory, wherein are stored the
records not only of our past lives but the records of the past of our
race, the past of humanity, and of all pre-human forms of life, if not
of the very consciousness that makes life possible in this universe.

If, through some trick of nature, the gates of an individual's
subconsciousness were suddenly to spring open, the unprepared mind
would be overwhelmed and crushed. Therefore, the gates of the
subconscious are guarded, by all initiates, and hidden behind the veil
of mysteries and symbols.

In a later section of his foreword the lama presents a more detailed
elaboration of the inner meaning of the Thodol.

If the Bardo Thodol were to be regarded as being based merely upon
folklore, or as consisting of religious speculation about death and a
hypothetical after-death state, it would be of interest only to
anthropologists and students of religion. But the Bardo Thodol is far
more. It is a key to the innermost recesses of the human mind, and a
guide for initiates, and for those who are seeking the spiritual path
of liberation.

Although the Bardo Thodol is at present time widely used in Tibet as a
breviary, and read or recited on the occasion of death,- for which
reason it has been aptly called "The Tibetan Book of the Dead"- one
should not forget that it was originally conceived to serve as a guide
not only for the dying and the dead, but for the living as well. And
herein lies the justification for having made The Tibetan Book of the
Dead accessible to a wider public.

Notwithstanding the popular customs and beliefs which, under the
influence of age-old traditions of pre-Buddhist origin, have grown
around the profound revelations of the Bardo Thodol, it has value only
for those who practise and realize its teaching during their life-

There are two things which have caused misunderstanding. One is that
the teachings seem to be addressed to the dead or the dying; the other
that the title contains the expression "Liberation through Hearing"
(in Tibetan, Thos-grol). As a result, there has arisen the belief that
it is sufficient to read or recite the Bardo Thodol in the presence of
a dying person, or even of a person who has just died, in order to
effect his or her liberation.

Such misunderstanding could only have arisen among those who do not
know that it is one of the oldest and most universal practices for the
initiate to go through the experience of death before he can be
spiritually reborn. Symbolically he must die to his past, and to his
old ego, before he can take his place in the new spiritual life into
which he has been initiated.

The dead or the dying person is addressed in the Bardo Thodol mainly
for three reasons: (1) the earnest practitioner of these teachings
should regard every moment of his or her life as if it were the last;
(2) when a follower of these teachings is actually dying, he or she
should be reminded of the experiences at the time of initiation, or of
the words (or mantra) of the guru, especially if the dying one's mind
lacks alertness during the critical moments; and (3) one who is still
incarnate should try to surround the person dying, or just dead, with
loving and helpful thoughts during the first stages of the new, or
afterdeath, state of existence, without allowing emotional attachment
to interfere or to give rise to a state of morbid mental depression.
Accordingly, one function of the Bardo Thodol appears to be more to
help those who have been left behind to adopt the right attitude
towards the dead and towards the fact of death than to assist the
dead, who, according to Buddhist belief, will not deviate from their
own karmic path. . . .

This proves that we have to do here with life itself and not merely
with a mass for the dead, to which the Bardo Thodol was reduced in
later times. . . .

Under the guise of a science of death, the Bardo Thodol reveals the
secret of life; and therein lies its spiritual value and its universal

Here then is the key to a mystery which has been passed down for over
2,500 years - the consciousness-expansion experience - the pre-mortem
death and rebirth rite. The Vedic sages knew the secret; the
Eleusinian initiates knew it; the Tantrics knew it. In all their
esoteric writings they whisper the message: it is possible to cut
beyond ego-consciousness, to tune in on neurological processes which
flash by at the speed of light, and to become aware of the enormous
treasury of ancient racial knowledge welded into the nucleus of every
cell in your body.

Modern psychedelic chemicals provide a key to this forgotten realm of
awareness. But just as this manual without the psychedelic awareness
is nothing but an exercise in academic Tibetology, so, too, the potent
chemical key is of little value without the guidance and the

Westerners do not accept the existence of conscious processes for
which they have no operational term. The attitude which is prevalent
is: - if you can't label it, and if it is beyond current notions of
space-time and personality, then it is not open for investigation.
Thus we see the ego-loss experience confused with schizophrenia. Thus
we see present-day psychiatrists solemnly pronouncing the psychedelic
keys as psychosis-producing and dangerous.

The new visionary chemicals and the pre-mortem-death-rebirth
experience may be pushed once again into the shadows of history.
Looking back, we remember that every middle-eastern and European
administrator (with the exception of certain periods in Greece and
Persia) has, during the last three thousand years, rushed to pass laws
against any emerging transcendental process, the pre-mortem-death-
rebirth session, its adepts, and any new method of consciousness-

The present moment in human history (as Lama Govinda points out) is
critical. Now, for the first time, we possess the means of providing
the enlightenment to any prepared volunteer. (The enlightenment always
comes, we remember, in the form of a new energy process, a physical,
neurological event.) For these reasons we have prepared this
psychedelic version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The secret is
released once again, in a new dialect, and we sit back quietly to
observe whether man is ready to move ahead and to make use of the new
tools provided by modern science.



(Chikhai Bardo)

Part I: The Primary Clear Light Seen At the Moment of Ego-Loss.

All individuals who have received the practical teachings of this
manual will, if the text be remembered, be set face to face with the
ecstatic radiance and will win illumination instantaneously, without
entering upon hallucinatory struggles and without further suffering on
the age-long pathway of normal evolution which traverses the various
worlds of game existence.

This doctrine underlies the whole of the Tibetan model. Faith is the
first step on the "Secret Pathway." Then comes illumination and with
it certainty; and when the goal is won, emancipation. Success implies
very unusual preparation in consciousness expansion, as well as much
calm, compassionate game playing (good karma) on the part of the
participant. If the participant can be made to see and to grasp the
idea of the empty mind as soon as the guide reveals it - that is to
say, if he has the power to die consciously - and, at the supreme
moment of quitting the ego, can recognize the ecstasy which will dawn
upon him then, and become one with it, all game bonds of illusion are
broken asunder immediately: the dreamer is awakened into reality
simultaneously with the mighty achievement of recognition.

It is best if the guru (spiritual teacher), from whom the participant
received guiding instructions, is present, but if the guru cannot be
present, then another experienced person; or it the latter is also
unavailable, then a person whom the participant trusts should be
available to read this manual without imposing any of his own games.
Thereby the participant will be put in mind of what he had previously
heard of the experience and will at once come to recognize the
fundamental Light and undoubtedly obtain liberation.

Liberation is the nervous system devoid of mental-conceptual activity.
[Realization of the Voidness, the Unbecome, the Unborn, the Unmade,
the Unformed, implies Buddhahood, Perfect Enlightenment - the state of
the divine mind of the Buddha. It may be helpful to remember that this
ancient doctrine is not in conflict with modern physics. The
theoretical physicist and cosmologist, George Gamow, presented in 1950
a viewpoint which is close to the phenomenological experience
described by the Tibetan lamas.

If we imagine history running back in time, we inevitably come to the
epoch of the "big squeeze" with all the galaxies, stars, atoms and
atomic nuclei squeezed, so to speak, to a pulp. During that early
stage of evolution, matter must have been dissociated into its
elementary components. . . . We call this primordial mixture ylem.

At this first point in the evolution of the present cycle, according
to this first-rank physicist, there existed only the Unbecome, the
Unborn, the Unformed. And this, according to astrophysicists, is the
way it will end; the silent unity of the Unformed. The Tibetan
Buddhists suggest that the uncluttered intellect can experience what
astrophysics confirms. The Buddha Vairochana, the Dhyani Buddha of the
Center, Manifester of Phenomena, is the highest path to enlightenment.
As the source of all organic life, in him all things visible and
invisible have their consummation and absorption. He is associated
with the Central Realm of the Densely-Packed, i.e., the seed of all
universal forces and things are densely packed together. This
remarkable convergence of modern astrophysics and ancient lamaism
demands no complicated explanation. The cosmological awareness- and
awareness of every other natural process- is there in the cortex. You
can confirm this preconceptual mystical knowledge by empirical
observation and measurement, but it's all there inside your skull.
Your neurons "know" because they are linked directly to the process,
are part of it.] The mind in its conditioned state, that is to say,
when limited to words and ego games, is continuously in thought-
formation activity. The nervous system in a state of quiescence,
alert, awake but not active is comparable to what Buddhists call the
highest state of dhyana (deep meditation) when still united to a human
body. The conscious recognition of the Clear Light induces an ecstatic
condition of consciousness such as saints and mystics of the West have
called illumination.

The first sign is the glimpsing of the "Clear Light of Reality," "the
infallible mind of the pure mystic state." This is the awareness of
energy transformations with no imposition of mental categories.

The duration of this state varies with the individual. It depends upon
experience, security, trust, preparation and the surroundings. In
those who have had even a little practical experience of the tranquil
state of non-game awareness, and in those who have happy games, this
state can last from thirty minutes to several hours.

In this state, realization of what mystics call the "Ultimate Truth"
is possible, provided that sufficient preparation has been made by the
person beforehand. Otherwise he cannot benefit now, and must wander on
into lower and lower conditions of hallucinations, as determined by
his past games, until he drops back to routine reality.

It is important to remember that the conscious-expansion process is
the reverse of the birth process, birth being the beginning of game
life and the ego-loss experience being a temporary ending of game
life. But in both there is a passing from one state of consciousness
into another. And just as an infant must wake up and learn from
experience the nature of this world, so likewise a person at the
moment of consciousness expansion must wake up in this new brilliant
world and become familiar with its own peculiar conditions.

In those who are heavily dependent on their ego games, and who dread
giving up their control, the illuminated state endures only so long as
it would take to snap a finger. In some, it lasts as long as the time
taken for eating a meal.

If the subject is prepared to diagnose the symptoms of ego loss, he
needs no outside help at this point. Not only should the person about
to give up his ego be able to diagnose the symptoms as they come, one
by one, but he should also be able to recognize the Clear Light
without being set face to face with it by another person. If the
person fails to recognize and accept the onset of ego loss, he may
complain of strange bodily symptoms. This shows that he has not
reached a liberated state. Then the guide or friend should explain the
symptoms as indicating the onset of ego loss.

Here is a list of commonly reported physical sensations:

1. Bodily pressure, which the Tibetans call earth-sinking-into-water;
2. Clammy coldness, followed by feverish heat, which the Tibetans call
water-sinking-into-fire; 3. Body disintegrating or blown to atoms,
called fire-sinking-into-air; 4. Pressure on head and ears, which
Americans call rocket-launching-into-space; 5. Tingling in
extremities; 6. Feelings of body melting or flowing as if wax; 7.
Nausea; 8. Trembling or shaking, beginning in pelvic regions and
spreading up torso.

These physical reactions should be recognized as signs heralding
transcendence. Avoid treating them as symptoms of illness, accept
them, merge with them, enjoy them.

Mild nausea occurs often with the ingestion of morning-glory seeds or
peyote, rarely with mescaline and infrequently with LSD or psilocybin.
If the subject experiences stomach messages, they should be hailed as
a sign that consciousness is moving around in the body. The symptoms
are mental; the mind controls the sensation, and the subject should
merge with the sensation, experience it fully, enjoy it and, having
enjoyed it, let consciousness flow on to the next phase. It is usually
more natural to let consciousness stay in the body - the subject's
attention can move from the stomach and concentrate on breathing,
heart beat. If this does not free him from nausea, the guide should
move the consciousness to external events - music, walking in the
garden, etc.

The appearance of physical symptoms of ego-loss, recognized and
understood, should result in peaceful attainment of illumination. If
ecstatic acceptance does not occur (or when the period of peaceful
silence seems to be ending), the relevant sections of the instructions
can be spoken in a low tone of voice in the ear. It is often useful to
repeat them distinctly, clearly impressing them upon the person so as
to prevent his mind from wandering. Another method of guiding the
experience with a minimum of activity is to have the instructions
previously recorded in the subject's own voice and to flip the tape on
at the appropriate moment. The reading will recall to the mind of the
voyager the former preparation; it will cause the naked consciousness
to be recognized as the "Clear Light of the Beginning;" it will remind
the subject of his unity with this state of perfect enlightenment and
help him to maintain it.

If, when undergoing ego-loss, one is familiar with this state, by
virtue of previous experience and preparation, the Wheel of Rebirth
(i.e., all game playing) is stopped, and liberation instantaneously is
achieved. But such spiritual efficiency is so very rare, that the
normal mental condition of the person is unequal to the supreme feat
of holding on to the state in which the Clear Light shines; and there
follows a progressive descent into lower and lower states of the Bardo
existence, and then rebirth. The simile of a needle balanced and set
rolling on a thread is used by the lamas to elucidate this condition.
So long as the needle retains its balance, it remains on the thread.
Eventually, however, the law of gravitation (the pull of the ego or
external stimulation) affects it, and it falls. In the realm of the
Clear Light, similarly, the mentality of a person in the ego-
transcendent state momentarily enjoys a condition of balance, of
perfect equilibrium, and of oneness. Unfamiliar with such a state,
which is an ecstate state of non-ego, the consciousness of the average
human being lacks the power to function in it. Karmic (i.e., game)
propensities becloud the consciousness-principle with thoughts of
personality, of individualized being, of dualism. Thus, losing
equilibrium, consciousness falls away from the Clear Light. It is
thought processes which prevent the realization of Nirvana (which is
the "blowing out of the flame" of selfish game desire); and so the
Wheel of Life continues to turn.

All or some of the appropriate passages in the instructions may be
read to the voyager during the period of waiting for the drug to take
effect, and when the first symptoms of ego-loss appear. When the
voyager is clearly in a profound ego-transcendent ecstasy, the wise
guide will remain silent.

Part II: The Secondary Clear Light Seen Immediately After Ego-Loss.

The preceding section describes how the Clear Light may be recognized
and liberation maintained. But if it becomes apparent that the Primary
Clear Light has not been recognized, then it can certainly be assumed
there is dawning what is called the phase of the Secondary Clear
Light. The first flash of experience usually produces a state of
ecstasy of the greatest intensity. Every cell in the body is sensed as
involved in orgastic creativity.

It may be helpful to describe in more detail some of the phenomena
which often accompany the moment of ego-loss. One of these might be
called "wave energy flow." The individual becomes aware that he is
part of and surrounded by a charged field of energy, which seems
almost electrical. In order to maintain the ego-loss state as long as
possible, the prepared person will relax and allow the forces to flow
through him. There are two dangers to avoid: the attempt to control or
to rationalize this energy flow. Either of these reactions is
indicative of ego-activity and the First Bardo transcendence is lost.

The second phenomenon might be called "biological life-flow." Here the
person becomes aware of physiological and biochemical processes;
rhythmic pulsing activity within the body. Often this may be sensed as
powerful motors or generators continously throbbing and radiating
energy. An endless flow of cellular forms and colors flashes by.
Internal biological processes may also be heard with characteristic
swooshing, crackling, and pounding noises. Again the person must
resist the temptation to label or control these processes. At this
point you are tuned in to areas of the nervous system which are
inaccessible to routine perception. You cannot drag your ego into the
molecular processes of life. These processes are a billion years older
than the learned conceptual mind.

Another typical and most rewarding phase of the First Bardo involves
ecstatic energy movement felt in the spine. The base of the backbone
seems to be melting or seems on fire. If the person can maintain quiet
concentration the energy will be sensed as flowing upwards. Tantric
adepts devote decades of concentrated meditation to the release of
these ecstatic energies which they call Kundalini, the Serpent Power.
One allows the energies to travel upwards through several ganglionic
centers (chakras) to the brain, where they are sensed as a burning
sensation in the top of the cranium. These sensations are not
unpleasant to the prepared person, but, on the contrary, are
accompanied by the most intense feelings of joy and illumination. Ill-
prepared subjects may interpret the experience in pathological terms
and attempt to control it, usually with unpleasant results. [Professor
R. C. Zaehner, who as an Oriental scholar and "expert" on mysticism
should have know better, has published an account of how this prized
experience can be lost and distorted into hypochondriacal complaint in
the ill-educated.

. . . I had a curious sensation in my body which reminded me of what
Mr. Custance describes as a "tingling at the base of the spine," which
according to him, usually precedes a bout of mania. It was rather like
that. In the Broad Walk this sensation occurred again and again until
the climax of the experiment was reached . . . I did not like it at

(R. C. Zaehner: Mysticism, Sacred and Profane. Oxford Univ. Press,
1957, p. 214)

If the subjects fails to recognize the rushing flow of First Bardo
phnomena, liberation from the ego is lost. The person finds himself
slipping back into mental activities. At this point he should try to
recall the instructions or be reminded of them, and a second contact
with these processes can be made.

The second stage is less intense. A ball set bouncing reaches its
greatest height at the first bounce; the second bounce is lower, and
each succeeding bounce is still lower until the ball comes to rest.
The consciousness at the loss of the ego is similar to this. Its first
spiritual bound, directly upon leaving the body-ego, is the highest;
the next is lower. Then the force of karma, (i.e., past game-playing),
takes over and different forms of external reality are experienced.
Finally, the force of karma having spent itself, consciousness returns
to "normal." Routines are taken up again and thus rebirth occurs.

The first ecstasy usually ends with a momentary flashback to the ego
condition. This return can be happy or sad, loving or suspicious,
fearful or courageous, depending on the personality, the preparation,
and the setting.

This flashback to the ego-game is accompanied by a concern with
identity. "Who am I now? Am I dead or not dead? What is happening?"
You cannot determine. You see the surroundings and your companions as
you had been used to seeing them before. There is a penetrating
sensitivity. But you are on a different level. Your ego grasp is not
quite as sure as it was.

The karmic hallucinations and visions have not yet started. Neither
the frightening apparitions nor the heavenly visions have begun. This
is a most sensitive and pregnant period. The remainder of the
experience can be pushed one way or another depending upon preparation
and emotional climate.

If you are experienced in consciousness alteration, or if you are a
naturally introverted person, remember the situation and the schedule.
Stay calm and let the experience take you where it will. You will
probably re-experience the ecstasy of illumination once again; or you
may drift into aesthetic or philosophic or interpersonal
enlightenments. Don't hold on: let the stream carry you along.

The experienced person is usually beyond dependence on setting. He can
turn off external pressure and return to illumination. An extroverted
person, dependent upon social games and outside situations may,
however, become pleasantly distracted (colors, sounds, people). If you
anticipate extroverted distraction and if you want to maintain a non-
game state of ecstasy, then remember the following suggestions: do not
be distracted; try to concentrate on an ideal contemplative personage,
e.g., Buddha, Christ, Socrates, Ramakrishna, Einstein, Herman Hesse or
Lao Tse: follow his model as if he were a being with a physical body
waiting for you. Join him.

If this is not successful, don't fret or think about it. Perhaps you
don't have a mystical or transcendental ideal. That means your
conceptual limits are within external games. Now that you know what
the mystic experience is, you can prepare for it next time. You have
lost the content-free flow and should now be ready to slip into
exciting confrontation with external reality. In the Second Bardo you
can reash and deeply experience game revelations.

We have just anticipated the reactions of the naturally mystical
introvert, the experienced person, and the extrovert. Now let's turn
to the novitiate who shows confusion at this early stage of the
sequence. The best procedure is to make a reassuring sign and do
nothing. He will have read this manual and will have some guidepost.
Leave him alone and he will probably dive into his panic and master
it. If he indicates that he wishes guidance, repeat the instructions.
Tell him what is happening. Remind him of his phase in the process.
Urge him quietly to release his ego struggle and drift back into
contact with the Clear Light.

Preparation and guidance of this sort will allow many to reach the
illuminated state who would not be expected to recognize it.

At this point, it is necessary to inject a word of benign warning.
Reading this manual is extremely useful, but no words can communicate
experience. You are going to be surprised, startled and delighted. A
person may have heard a detailed description of the art of swimming
and yet never had the chance to swim. Suddenly diving into the water,
he finds himself unable to swim. So with those who have tried to learn
the theory of how to experience ego-loss, and have never applied it.
They cannot maintain unbroken continuity of consciousness, they grow
bewildered at the changed condition; they fail to maintain the
mystical ecstasy; they fail to take advantage of the opportunity
unless upheld and directed by a guide. Even with all that a guide can
do, they ordinarily, because of bad karma (heavy ego games) fail to
recognize the liberation. But this is no cause for worry. At the
worst, they just slip back to shore. No one has drowned, and most of
those who have taken the voyage have been eager to try again.

Even those who have familiarized themselves with the road maps and who
previously have had illumination, may find themselves in settings
where heavy game behavior on the part of others forces them into
contact with external reality. If this happens, recall the
instructions. The person who masters this principle can block out the
external. The one who has mastered control of consciousness is
independent of setting.

Again there are those, who although previously successful, may have
brought ego games into the session with them. They may want to provide
someone else with a particular type of experience. They may be
promoting some self goal. They may be nurturing negative or
competitive or seductive feelings towards someone in the session. If
this happens, recall the instructions. Remember the unity of all
beings. One to me is shame and fame. One to me is loss or gain.
Jettison your ego program and float back to the radiant bliss of at-

If you reach the Clear Light immediately and maintain it, that is
best. But if not, if you have slipped down to reality concerns, by
remembering these instructions you should be able to regain what the
Tibetans call the Secondary Clear Light.

While on this secondary level, an interesting dialogue occurs between
pure transcendence and the awareness that this ecstatic vision is
happening to oneself. The first radiance knows no self, no concepts.
The secondary experience involves a certain state of conceptual
lucidity. The knowing self hovers within that transcendent terrain
from which it is usually barred. If the instructions are remembered,
external reality will not intrude. But the flashing in and out between
pure ego-less unity, and lucid, non-game selfhood, produces an
intellectual ecstasy and understanding that defies description.
Previous philosophic reading will suddenly take on living meaning.

Thus in this secondary stage of the First Bardo, there is possible
both the mystic non-self and the mystic self experience.

After you have experienced these two states, you may wish to pursue
this distinction intellectually. We are confronted here with one of
the oldest debates in Eastern philosophy. Is it better to be part of
the sugar or to taste the sugar? Theological controversies and their
dualities are far removed from experience. Thanks to the experimental
mysticism made possible by consciousness-expanding drugs, you may have
been lucky enough to have experienced the flashing back and forth
between the two states. You may be lucky enough to know what the
academic monks could only think about.

Here ends the First Bardo,
The Period of Ego-loss or Non-Game Ecstasy


(Chonyid Bardo)


If the Primary Clear Light is not recognized, there remains the
possibility of maintaining the Secondary Clear Light. If that is lost,
then comes the Chonyid Bardo, the period of karmic illusions or
intense hallucinatory mixtures of game reality. It is very important
that the instructions be remembered - they can have great influence
and effect.

During this period, the flow of consciousness, microscopically clear
and intense, is interrupted by fleeting attempts to rationalize and
interpret. But the normal game-playing ego is not functioning
effectively. There exist, therefore, unlimited possibilities for, on
the one hand, delightful sensuous, intellectual and emotional
novelties if one floats with the current; and, on the other hand,
fearful ambuscades of confusion and terror if one tries to impose his
will on the experience.

The purpose of this part of the manual is to prepare the person for
the choice points which arise during this stage. Strange sounds, weird
sights and disturbed visions may occur. These can awe, frighten and
terrify unless one is prepared.

The experienced person will be able to maintain the recognition that
all perceptions come from within and will be able to sit quietly,
controlling his expanded awareness like a phantasmagoric multi-
dimensional television set: the most acute and sensitive
hallucinations - visual, auditory, touch, smell, physical and bodily;
the most exquisite reactions, compassionate insight into the self, the
world. The key is inaction: passive integration with all that occurs
around you. If you try to impose your will, use your mind,
rationalize, seek explanations, you will get caught in hallucinatory
whirlpools. The motto: peace, acceptance. It is all an ever-changing
panorama. You are temporarily removed from the world of game. Enjoy

The inexperienced and those to who ego control is important may find
this passivity impossible. If you cannot remain inactive and subdue
your will, then the one certain activity which can reduce panic and
pull you out of hallucinatory mind-games is physical contact with
another person. Go to the guide or to another participant and put your
head on his lap or chest; put your face next to his and concentrate on
the movement and sound of his inspiration. Breathe deeply and feel the
air rush in and the sighing release. This is the oldest form of living
communication; the brotherhood of breath. The guide's hand on your
forehead may add to the relaxation.

Contact with another participant may be misunderstood and provoke
sexual hallucinations. For this reason, helping contact should be made
explicit by prearrangement. Unprepared participants may impose sexual
fears or fantasies on the contact. Turn them off; they are karmic
illusory productions.

The tender, gentle, supportive huddling together of participants is a
natural development during the second phase. Do not try to rationalize
this contact. Human beings and, for that matter, most all mobile
terrestrial creatures have been huddling together during long, dark
confused nights for several hundred thousand years.

Breathe in and breathe out with you companions. We are all one! That's
what your breath is telling you.

Explanation of the Second Bardo

The underlying problem of the Second Bardo is that any and every shape
- human, divine, diabolical, heroic, evil, animal, thing - which the
human brain conjures up or the past life recalls, can present itself
to consciousness: shapes and forms and sounds whirling by endlessly.

The underlying solution - repeated again and again - is to recognize
that your brain is producing the visions. They do not exist. Nothing
exists except as your consciousness gives it life.

You are standing on the threshold of recognizing the truth: there is
no reality behind any of the phenomena of the ego-loss state, save the
illusions stored up in your own mind either as accretions from game
(Sangsaric) experience or as gifts from organic physical nature and
its billion-year old past history. Recognition of this truth gives

There is, of course, no way of classifying the infinite permutations
and combinations of visionary elements. The cortex contains file-cards
for billions of images from the history of the person, of the race,
and of living forms. Any of these, at the rate of a hundred million
per second (according to neuro-physiologists), can flood into
awareness. Bobbing around in this brilliant, symphonic sea of imagery
is the remnant of the conceptual mind. On the endless watery
turbulence of the Pacific Ocean bobs a tiny open mouth shouting
(between saline mouthfuls), "Order! System! Explain all this!"

One cannot predict what visions will occur, nor their sequence. One
can only urge the participants to shut the mouth, breathe through the
nose, and turn off the fidgety, rationalizing mind. But only the
experienced person of mystical bent can do this (and thus remain in
serene enlightenment). The unprepared person will be confused or,
worse, panicky: the intellectual struggle to control the ocean.

In order to guide the person, to help him organize his visions into
explicable units, the Chonyid Bardo was written. There are two
sections: (1) Seven Peaceful Deities with their symmetrically opposed
ego traps. (2) Eight Wrathful Deities who can be joyfully accepted as
visionary productions, or fled from in terror.

Each of the Seven Peaceful Deities (bisexual Father-Mother figures)
are accompanied by consorts, attendants, lesser deities, saints,
angels, heroes. Each of the Wrathful Deities is similarly accompanied.
Lights, symbolic objects, beautiful, horrid, threatening, seething,
are likewise seen.

If read literally, The Tibetan Book of the Dead would have you expect
the "Master of All Visible Shapes" (or his opposite, the fondness for
stupidity) on the first day; the "Immovable Deity of Happiness" and
his consort, attendants and opposite on the second, etc. The manual
should, of course, not be used rigidly, exoterically, but should be
taken in its esoteric, allegorical form.

Read from this perspective, we see that the lamas have listed or named
a thousand images which can boil up in the ever-changing jeweled
mosaic of the retina (that multi-layered swamp of billions of rods and
cones, infiltrated, like a Persian rug or a Mayan carving, with
countless multi-colored capillaries). By preparatory reading of the
manual and by its repetition during the experience, the novice is led
via suggestion to recognize this fantastic retinal kaleidoscope.

Most important, he is told that they come from within. All deities and
demons, all heavens and hells are internal.

The student with a particular interest in Tibetan or Tantric Buddhism
should steep himself in the text of the Chonyid Bardo. He should
obtain colored plates of the fourteen dramas of the Bardo, and he
should arrange to have the guide lead him through the prescribed
sequence during the drug session. This will provide an unforgettable
series of liberations and will permit the devotee to emerge from the
experience "reincarnated" in the lamaist tradition.

The aim of this manual is to make available the general outline of the
Tibetan Book and to translate it into psychedelic English. For this
reason we shall not present the detailed sequence of lamaist
hallucinations but, rather, list some apparitions commonly reported by

Following the Tibetan Thodo, we have classified Second Bardo visions
into seven types:

1. The Source or Creator Vision 2. The Internal Flow of Archetypal
Processes 3. The Fire-Flow of Internal Unity 4. The Wave-Vibration
Structure of External Forms 5. The Vibratory Waves of External Unity
6. "The Retinal Circus" 7. "The Magic Theatre" [We owe the phrase
"retinal circus" to Henri Michaux (Miserable Miracle), and the term
"magic theatre" to Hermann Hesse (Steppenwolf).

Visions 2 and 3 involve closed eyes and no contact with external
stimuli. In Vision 2 the internal imagery is primarily conceptual. The
experience can range from revelation and insight to confusion and
chaos, but the cognitive, intellectual meaning is paramount. In Vision
3 the internal imagery is primarily emotional. The experience can
range from love and ecstatic unity to fear, distrust and isolation.

Visions 4 and 5 involve open eyes and rapt attention to external
stimuli, such as sounds, lights, touch, etc. In Vision 4 the external
imagery is primarily conceptual and in Vision 5 emotional factors

The sevenfold table just defined bears some similarity to the mandalic
schema of the Peaceful Deities listed for the Second Bardo in The
Tibetan Book of the Dead.


Vision 1: The Source [The first Peaceful Deity
listed by the Bardo Thodol is the Bhagavan Vairochana who occupies the
center of the mandala of the five Dhyani-Buddhas. His attributes of source-
power have been translated into those of the monotheistic creator of
Western religions.]
(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored)

The White Light, or First Bardo energy, may be interpreted as God the
Creator. The Spreader of the Seed. The Power which makes all shapes
visible. Seed of all that is. Sovereign Power. The All-Powerful. The
Central Sun. The One Truth. The Source of all Organic Life. The Divine
Mother. The Female Creative Principle. Mother of the Space of Heaven.
Radiant Father-Mother. Magnificent revelations, both spiritual and
philosophic, can occur at this point making the highest union of
experience and intellect. But, because of bad karma (usually religious
beliefs of a monotheistic or punitive nature), the glorious light of
the seed wisdom it can produce awe and terror. The person will wish to
flee and will beget a fondness for the dull white light symbolizing

Persons from a Judaeo-Christian background conceive of an enormous
gulf between divinity (which is "up there") and the self ("down
here"). Christian mystics' claims to unity with divine radiance has
always posed problems for theologians who are committed to the
cosmological subject-object distinction. Most Westerners, therefore,
find it difficult to attain unity with the source-light.

If the guide ascertains that the voyager is struggling with thoughts
or feelings about the creative source energy, he can read the
appropriate instructions. ==|==>> INSTRUCTIONS FOR VISION 1: THE

Vision 2: The Internal Flow of Archetypal Processes
(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored; intellectual aspects)

If the undifferentiated light of the First Bardo or of the Source
Energy is lost, luminous waves of differentiated forms can flood
through the consciousness. The person's mind begins to identify these
figures, that is, to label them and experience revelations about the
life process. [Lama Govinda tells us that Amoghasiddhi represents ". .
. the mysterious activity of spiritual forces, which work removed from
the senses, invisible and imperceptible, with the aim of guiding the
individual (or, more properly: all living beings) towards the maturity
of knowledge and liberation. The yellow light of an (inner) sun
invisible to human eyes . . . (in which the unfathomable space of the
universe seems to open itself) for the serene mystic green of
Amoghasiddhi. . . . On the elementary plane this all-pervading power
corresponds to the element of air - the principle of movement and
extension, of life and breath (prana)." Lama Govinda: Foundations of
Tibetan Mysticism. Lodon: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1959, p.120.

The fifth day of the Baro Thodol confronts the deceased with the
Bhagavan Buddha Amoghasiddhi, Almighty Conqueror, from the green
Norther realm of Successful Performance of Best Actions, attended by a
Divine Mother, and two Bodhisattvas representing the mental functions
of "equilibrium, immutability, and almighty power" and "clearer of

Specifically, the subject is caught up in an endless flow of colored
forms, microbiological shapes, cellular acrobatics, capillary
whirling. The cortex is turned in on molecular processes which are
completely new and strange: a Niagara of abstract designs; the life-
stream flowing, flowing.

These visions might perhaps be described as pure sensations of
cellular and sub-cellular processes. It is uncertain whether they
involve the retina and/or the visual cortex, or whether they are
flashes of direct, molecular sensation in other areas of the central
nervous system. They are subjectively described as internal visions.

Another class of internal process images involves sound. Again we do
not know whether these sensations originate in the auditory apparatus
and/or in the auditory cortex, or whether they are flashes of direct,
molecular sensations in other areas. They are subjectively described
as internal sounds: clicking, thudding, clashing, soughing, ringing,
tapping, moaning, shrill whistles. [ The Tibetan Book includes a
brilliant discussion of internal process noises. ". . . innumerable
(other) kinds of musical instruments, filling (with music) the whole
world-systems and causing them to vibrate, to quake and tremble with
sounds so mighty as to daze one's brain. . . ."

"Tibetan lamas, in chanting their rituals, employ seven (or eight)
sorts of musical instruments: big drums, cymbals (commonly brass),
conch shells, bells (like the handbells used in the Christian Mass
Service), timbrels, small clarionets (sounding like Highland
bagpipes), big trumpets, and human thighbone trumpets. Although the
combined sounds of these instruments are far from being melodious, the
lamas maintain that they psychically produce in the devotee an
attitude of deep veneration and faith, because they are the
counterparts of the natural sounds which one's own body is heard
producing when the fingers are put in the ears to shut out external
sounds. Stopping the ears thus, there are heard a thudding sound, like
that of a big drum being beaten; a clashing sound, as of cymbals; a
soughing sound, as of a wind moving through a forest - as when a
conch-shell is bone; a ringing as of bells; a sharp tapping sound, as
when a timbrel is used; a moaning sound, like that of a clarionet; a
bass moaning sound, as if made with a big trumpet; and a shriller
sound, as of a thigh-bone trumpet."

"Not only is this interesting as a theory of Tibetan sacred music, but
it gives the clue to the esoteric interpretation of the symbolical
natural sounds of Truth (referred to in the second paragraph
following, and elsewhere in our text), which are said to be, or to
proceed from, the intellectual faculties within the human mentality."
- (Evans-Wentz, p. 128)] These noises, like the visions, are direct
sensations unencumbered by mental concepts. Raw, molecular, dancing
units of energy.

The minds sweeps in and out of this evolutionary stream, creating
cosmological revelations. Dozens of mythical and Darwinian insights
flash into awareness. The person is allowed to glance back down the
flow of time and to perceive how the life energy continually manifests
itself in forms, transient, alwasy changing, reforming. Microscopic
forms merge with primal creative myths. The mirror of consciousness is
held up to the life stream.

As long as the person floats with the current, he is exposed to a
billion-year lesson in cosmology. But the drag of the mind is always
present. The tendency to impose arbitrary, isolating order on the
organic process.

Sometimes the voyager feels he should report back his vision. He
converts the life flow into a cosmic ink-blot test - attempts to label
each form. "Now I see a peacock's tail. Now Muslim knights in colored
armor. Oh, now a waterfall of jewels. Now, Chinese music. Now, gem-
like serpents, etc." Verbalizations of this sort dull the light, stop
the flow and should not be encouraged.

Another trap is that of imposing a sexual interpretation. The dancing,
playful flow of life is, in the most reverant sense, sexual. Forms
merging, spinning together, reproducing. Eros in its countless
manifestations. The Tibetans refer to the female Bodhisattvas
Pushpema, personification of blossoms, and Lasema, the "Belle",
depicted holding a mirror in a coquettish attitude. Keep the pure,
spontaneous awareness of the Mirror-like Wisdom. Laugh joyously at the
tricks of the life process, forever decking out forms in seductive,
enticing patterns to keep the dance going. If the voyager interprets
the visions of Eros in terms of his personal sexual game model, and
attempts to think or plan - "what should I do? what role should I
play?" - he is likely to slip down into the Thrid Bardo. Sexual plots
dominate his awareness, the flow fades, the mirror tarnishes, and he
is rudely reborn as a confused, thinking being.

Still another impasse is the imposition of physical symptom games upon
the biological flow. The new somatic sensations may be interpreted as
symptoms. If it is new, it must be bad. Any organ of the body may be
selected as the focus of the "illness." People whose primary
expectation when taking a psychedelic substance is medical, are
particularly likely to fall into this trap. Medical doctors are, in
fact, extremely prone and can imagine colorful diseases and fatal

In the case of the most widely-used psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin,
etc.), it is safe to say that such bodily effects are virtually never
the direct effect of the drug. The drug acts only on the brain and
activates central neural patterns. All physical symptoms are created
by the mind. Bodily sickness is a sign that the ego is fighting to
maintain or regain its hold over an outpouring of feeling, over a
dissolution of emotional boundaries.

If the person complains of physical symptoms such as nausea or pain,
the guide should read him the ==|==>> INSTRUCTIONS FOR PHYSICAL

The negative, wrathful counterpart to this vision occurs if the
voyager reacts with fear to the powerful flow of life forms. Such a
reaction is attributable to the cumulated result of game playing
(karma) dominated by anger or stupidity. A nightmarish hell-world may
ensue. The visual forms appear like a confusing chaos of cheap, ugly
dime-store objects, brassy, vulgar and useless. The person may become
terrified at the prospect of being engulfed by them. The awesome
sounds may be heard as hideous, clashing, oppressive, grating noises.
The person will attempt to escape from these perceptions into restless
external activity (talking, moving around, etc.) or into conceptual,
analytic, mental activity.

The experience is the same, the intellectual interpretation is
different. Instead of revelation, there is confusion; instead of calm
joy, there is fear. The guide, recognizing the voyager to be in such a
state, can help him get free, by reading the ==|==>> Instructions for
Vision 2.

Vision 3: The Fire-Flow of Internal Unity
(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored, emotional aspects)

The First Bardo instructions should keep you face-to-face with the
void-ecstasy. Yet there are classes of men who, having carried over
karmic conflict about feeling-inhibition, prove unable to hold the
pure experience beyond all feelings, and slip into emotionally toned
visions. The undifferentiated energy of the First Bardo is woven into
visionary games in the form of intense feelings. Exquisite, intense,
pulsating sensations of unity and love will be felt; the negative
counterpart is feelings of attachment, greed, isolation and bodily

It comes about this way: the pure flow of energy loses its white void
quality and becomes sensed as intense feelings. An emotional game is
imposed. Incredible new physical sensations pulse through the body.
The glow of life is felt flooding along veins. One merges into a
unitive ocean of orgastic, fluid electricity, [The Peaceful Deity of
the Bardo Thodol personifying this vision is the Buddha Amitabbha, the
all-discriminating wisdom and feeling, boundless light, representing
life eternal. Lama Govinda writes that "The deep red light of
discriminating inner vision shines forth from his heart . . . fire
corresponds to him and thus, according to the ancient traditional
symbolism, the eye and the function of seeing." (Govinda, op. cit., p.
120.) With the Bhagavan Amitabbha comes the Bodhisattva Chenrazee,
embodiment of mercy or compassion, the great pitier ever on the
lookout to discover distress and to succour the troubled. He is joined
by the Bodhisattva "Glorious Gentle-voiced One," and the femal
incarnates "song" and "light."] the endless flow of shared-life, of

Visions related to the circulatory system are common. The subject
tumbles down through his own arterial network. The motor of the heart
reverberates as one with the pulsing of all life. The heart then
breaks, and red fire bleeds out to merge with all living beings. All
living organisms are throbbing together. One is joyfully aware of the
two-billion-year-old electric sexual dance; one is at last divested of
robot clothes and limbs and undulates in the endless chain of living

Dominating this ecstatic state is the feeling of intense love. You are
a joyful part of all life. The memory of former delusions of self-hood
and differentiation invokes exultant laughter.

All the harsh, dry, brittle angularity of game life is melted. You
drift off - soft, rounded, moist, warm. Merged with all life. You may
feel yourself floating out and down into a warm sea. Your
individuality and autonomy of movement are moistly disappearing. Your
control is surrendered to the total organism. Blissful passivity.
Ecstatic, orgiastic, undulating unity. All worries and concerns wash
away. All is gained as everything is given up. There is organic
revelation. Every cell in your body is singing its song of freedom -
the entire biological universe is in harmony, liberated from the
censorship and control of you and your restricted ambitions.

But wait! You, You, are disappearing into the unity. You are being
swallowed up by the ecstatic undulation. Your ego, that one tiny
remaining strand of self, screams STOP! You are terrified by the pull
of the glorious, dazzling, transparent, radiant red light. You wrench
yourself out of the life-flow, drawn by your intense attachment to
your old desires. There is a terrible rending as your roots tear out
of the life matrix - a ripping of your fibres and veins away from the
greater body to which you were attached. And when you have cut
yourself off from the fire-flow of life the throbbing stops, the
ecstasy ceases, your limbs harden and stiffen into angular forms, your
plastic doll body has regained its orientation. There you sit,
isolated from the stream of life, impotent master of your desires and
appetites, miserable.

While you are floating down the evolutionary river, there comes a
sense of limitless self-less power. The delight of flowing cosmic
belongingness. The astounding discovery that consciousness can tune in
to an infinite number of organic levels. There are billions of
cellular processes in your body, each with its universe of experience
- an endless variety of ecstasies. The simple joys and pains and
burdens of your ego represent one set of experiences - a repetitious,
dusty set. As you slip into the fire-flow of biological energy, series
after series of experiential sets flash by. You are no longer
encapsulated in the structure of ego and tribe.

But through panic and a desire to latch on to the familiar, you shut
off the flow, open your eyes; then the flowingness is lost. The
potentiality to move from one level of consciousness to another is
gone. Your fear and desire to control have driven you to settle for
one static site of consciousness. To use the Eastern or genetic
metaphor, you have frozen the dance of energy and committed yourself
to one incarnation, and you have done it out of fear.

When this happens, there are several steps which can take you back to
the biological flow (and from there to the First Bardo). First, close
your eyes. Lie on you stomach and let you body sink through the floor,
merge with the surroundings. Feel the hard, square edges of your body
soften and start to move in the bloodstream. Let the rhythm of
breathing become tide flow. Bodily contact is probably the most
effective method of softening hardened surfaces. No movement. No body
games. Close physical contact with another invariably brings about the
unity of fire-flow. Your blood begins to flow into the other's body.
His breathing pours into your lungs. You both drift down the capillary

Another form of life process images is the flow of auditory
sensations. The endless series of abstract sounds (described in the
preceding vision) bounce through awareness. The emotional reaction to
these can be neutral or can involve intense feelings of unity, or of
annoyed fear.

The positive reaction occurs when the subject merges with the sound
flow. The thudding drum of the heart is sensed as the basic anthem of
humanity. The whooshing sough of the breath as the rushing river of
all life. Overwhelming feelings of love, gratitude and oneness funnel
into the moment of sound, into each note of the biological concerto.

But, as always, the voyager may intrude his personality with its wants
and opinions. He may not "like" the noise. His judgmental ego may be
aesthetically offended by the sounds of life. The heart thud is, after
all, monotonous; the natural music of the inner ear, with its clicks
and hums and whistles, lacks the romantic symmetries of Beethoven. The
terrible separation of "me" from my body occurs. Horrible. Out of my
control. Turn it off.

The trained guide can usually sense when ego-attachment threatens to
pull the person out of the unitive flow. At this time he can guide the
voyager by reading the ==|==>> Instructions for Vision 3.

Vision 4: The Wave-Vibration Structure of External Forms
(Eyes open or rapt involvement with external stimuli; intellectual

The pure, content-free light of the First Bardo probably involves
basic electrical wave energy. This is nameless, indescribable, because
it is far beyond any concepts which we now possess. Some future atomic
physicist may be able to classify this energy. Perhaps it will always
be ineffable for a nervous system such as that of homo sapiens. Can an
organic system "comprehend" the vastly more efficient inorganic? At
any event, most persons, even the most illuminated, find it impossible
to maintain experiential contact with this void-light and slip back to
imposing mental structures, hallucinatory and revelatory, upon the

Thus we are brought to another frequent vision which involves intense,
rapt, unitive awareness of external stimuli. If the eyes are open,
this super-reality effect can be visual. The penetrating impact of
other stimuli can also set off revelatory imagery.

It comes about this way. The subject's awareness is suddenly invaded
by an outside stimulus. His attention is captured, but his old
conceptual mind is not functioning. But other sensitivities are
engaged. He experiences direct sensation. The raw "is-ness." He sees,
not objects, but patterns of light waves. He hears, not "music" or
"meaningful" sound, but acoustic waves. He is struck with the sudden
revelation that all sensation and perception are based on wave
vibrations. That the world around him which heretofore had an illusory
solidity, is nothing more than a play of physical waves. That he is
involved in a cosmic television show which has no more substantiality
than the images on his TV picture tube. [The Peaceful Deity of the
Thodol personifying this vision is Akshobhya. According to Lama
Govinda, "In the light of the Mirror-like Wisdom . . . things are
freed from their "thingness," their isolation, without being deprived
of their form; they are divested of their materiality, without being
dissolved, because the creative principle of the mind, which is at the
bottom of all form and materiality, is recognized as the active side
of the universal Store Consciousness (alaya-vijnana), on the surface
of which forms arise and pass away, like the waves on the surface of
the ocean. . . ." (Govinda, op. cit., p. 119.)

The atomic structure of matter is, of course, known to us
intellectually, but never experienced by the adult except in states of
intense altered consciousness. Learning from a physics textbook about
the wave structure of matter is one thing. Experiencing it - being in
it - with the old, familiar, gross, hallucinatory comfort of "solid"
things gone and unavailable, is quite another matter.

If these super-real visions involve wave phenomena, then the external
world takes on a radiance and a revelation that is staggeringly clear.
The experienced insight that the world of phenomena exists in the form
of waves, electronic images, can produce a sense of illuminated power.
Everything is experienced as consciousness.

These exultant radiations should be recognized as productions of your
own internal processes. You should not attempt to control or
conceptualize. This can come later. There is the danger of
hallucinatory freezing. The subject rushes back (sometimes literally)
to the three-dimensional reality, convinced of the fixed "truth" of
one experienced revelation. Many misguided mystics and many persons
called insane have fallen into this ambuscade. This is like making a
still photograph of a television pattern and shouting that one has
finally seized the truth. All is ecstatic electric Maya, the two-
billion-year dance of waves. No one part of it is more real than
another. Everything at all moments is shimmering with all the meaning.

So far we have considered the positive radiance of clarity; but there
are fearful negative aspects of the fourth vision. When the subject
senses that his "world" is fragmenting into waves, he may become
terrified. "He," "me," "I" are dissolving! The world around me is
supposed to sit, static and dead, quietly awaiting my manipulation.
But these passive things have changed into a shimmering dance of
living energy! The Maya nature of phenomena creates panic. Where is
the solid base? Every thing, every concept, every form upon which one
rests one's mind collapses into electrical vibrations lacking

The face of the guide or of one's beloved friend becomes a dancing
mosaic of impulses on one's cortex. "My consciousness" has created
everything of which I am conscious. I have kinescoped my world, my
loved ones, myself. All are just shimmering energy patterns. Instead
of clarity and exultant power, there is confusion. The subject
staggers around, grasping at electron-patterns, striving to freeze
them back into the familiar robot forms.

All solidity is gone. All phenomena are paper images pasted on the
glass screen of consciousness. For the unprepared, or for the person
whose karmic residue stresses control, the discovery of the wave-
nature of all structure, the Maya revelation, is a disastrous web of

We have discussed only the visual aspects of the fourth vision.
Auditory phenomena are of equal importance. Here the solid, labelled
nature of auditory patterns is lost, and the mechanical impact of
sound hitting the eardrum is registered. In some cases, sound becomes
converted into pure sensation, and synesthesia (mixture of sense
modalities) occurs. Sounds are experienced as colors. External
sensations hitting the cortex are recorded as molecular events,

The most dramatic auditory visions occur with music. Just as any
object radiates a pattern of electrons and can become the essense of
all energy, so can any note of music be sensed as naked energy
trembling in space, timeless. The movement of notes, like the
shuttling of oscillograph beams. Each capturing all energy, the
electric core of the universe. Nothing existing except the needle-
clear resonance on the tympanic membrane. Unforgettable revelations
about the nature of reality occur at these moments.

But the hellish interpretation is also possible. As the learned
structure of sound collapses, the direct impact of waves can be sensed
as noise. For one who is compelled to institute order, his order, on
the world around him, it is at least annoying and often disturbing to
have the raw tattoo of sound resonating in consciousness.

Noise! What an irreverent concept. Is not everything noise; all
sensation the divine pattern of wave energy, meaningless only to those
who insist on imposing their own meaning?

Preparation is the key to a serene passage through this visionary
territory. The subject who has studied this manual will be able, when
face to face with the phenomenon, to recognize and flow with it.

The sensitive guide will be ready to pick up, on any cue, that the
subject is wandering in the fourth vision. If the voyager's eyes are
open (indicating visual reactions), he can read the ==|==>>
Instructions for Vision 4.

If the guide senses that the voyager is experiencing the fragmentation
of external sound into wave vibrations, he can amend the instructions
appropriately (changing the visuaol references to auditory).

Vision 5: The Vibratory Waves of External Unity
(Eyes open, or rapt involvement with external stimuli; emotional

As the learned perceptions disappear and the structure of the external
world disintegrates into direct wave phenomena, the aim is to amintain
a pure, conten-free awareness (First Bardo). Despite the preparations,
one is likely to be led backwards by one's own mental inclinations
into two hallucinatory or revelatory interpretations of reality. One
reaction leads to the intellectual clarity or frightened confusion of
the fourth vision (just described). Another interpretation is the
emotional reaction to the fragmentation of differentiated forms. One
can be engulfed in ecstatic unity, or one can slip into isolated
egotism. The Bardol Thodol calls the former the "Wisdom of Equality"
and the latter the "quagmire of worldly existence accruing from
violent egotism." [The Peaceful Deity of the fifth vision comes in the
form of the Bhagavan Ratnasambhava, born of a jewel. He is embraced by
the Divine Mother, She of the Buddha Eyes, and accompanied by the
Bodhisattvas, womb of the sky, All-good, and those holding incense and
rosary. "On the elementary plane Ratnasambhava corresponds to the
earth, which carries and nourishes all beings with the equanimity and
patience of a mother, in whose eyes all beings, borne by her, are
equal." (Govinda, op. cit., p. 119.)] In the state of radiant unity,
one senses that there is only one network of energy in the universe
and that all things and all sentient beings are momentary
manifestations of the single pattern. When egotistic interpretations
are imposed on the fifth vision, the "plastic doll" phenomena are
experienced. Differentiated forms are seen as inorganic, dull, mass-
produced, shabby, plastic, and all persons (including self) are seen
as lifeless mannequins isolated from the vibrant dance of energy,
which has been lost.

The experiential data of this vision are similar to that of the fourth
vision. All artifactual learned structure collapses back to energy
vibrations. The awareness is dominated not by revelatory clarity but
by shimmering unity. The subject is entranced by the silent, whirling
play of forces. Exquisite forms dance by him, all surrounding objects
radiate energy, brilliant emanations. His own body is seen as a play
of forces. If he looks in a mirror, he sees a shining mosaic of
particles. The sense of his own wave structure becomes stronger. A
feeling of melting, floating off. The body is no longer a separate
unit but a cluster of vibrations sending and receiving energy - a
phase of the dance of energy which has been going on for millennia.

A sense of profound one-ness, a feeling of the unity of all energy.
Superficial differences of role, cast, status, sex, species, form,
power, size, beauty, even the distinctions between inorganic and
living energy, disappear before the ecstatic union of all in one. All
gestures, words, acts and events are equivalent in value - all are
manifestations of the one consciousness which pervades everything.
"You," "I" and "he" are gone, "my" thoughts are "ours," "your"
feelings are "mine." Communication is unnecessary, since complete
communion exists. A person can sense another's feeling and mood
directly, as if they were his own. By a glance, whole lifetimes and
words can be transmitted. If all are at peace, the vibrations are "in
phase." If there is discord, "out of phase" vibrations will be set up
which will be felt like discordant music. Bodies melt into waves.
Objects in the environment - lights, tree, plants, flowers - seem to
open and welcome you: they are part of you. You are both simply
different pulses of the same vibrations. A pure feeling of ecstatic
harmony with all beings is the keynote of this vision.

But as before, terrors can occur. Unity requires ecstatic self-
sacrifice. Loss of ego brings fright to the unprepared. The
fragmentation of form into waves can bring the most terrible fear
known to man: the ultimate epistemological revelation.

The fact of the matter is that all apparent forms of matter and body
are momentary clusters of energy. We are little more than flickers on
a multidimensional television screen. This realization directly
experienced can be delightful. You suddenly wake up from the delusion
of separate form and hook up to the cosmic dance. Consciousness slides
along the wave matrices, silently at the speed of light.

The terror comes with the discovery of transience. Nothing is fixed,
no form solid. Everything you can experience is "nothing but"
electrical waves. You feel ultimately tricked. A victim of the great
television producer. Distrust. The people around you are lifeless
television robots. The world around you is a facade, a stage set. You
are a helpless marionette, a plastic doll in a plastic world.

If others attempt to help, they are seen as wooden, waxen,
feelingless, cold, grotesque, maniacal, space-fiction monsters. You
are unable to feel. "I am dead. I will never live and feel again." In
wild panic you may attempt to force feeling back - by action, by
shouting. You will then enter the Third Bardo stage and be reborn in
an unpleasant way.

The best method to escape from fifth vision terrors is to remember
this manual, relax, and swing with the wave dance. Or to communicate
to the guide that you are in a plastic doll phase, and he will guide
you back.

Another solution is to move to the internal biological flow. Follow
the instructions given in the third vision: close your eyes, lie
prone, seek bodily contact, float down into your bodily stream. In so
doing, you are recapitulating the evolutionary sequence. For billions
of years, inorganic energy danced the cosmic round before the
biological rhythm began. Don't rush it.

If the guide senses that the person is experiencing plastic doll
visions or is afraid of the uncontrollability of his own feeling, he
should read to him the ==|==>> Instructions for Vision 5.

Vision 6: "The Retinal Circus"

Each of the Second Bardo visions thus far described was one aspect of
the "experiencing of reality." The inner fire or outer waves,
apprehended intellectually or emotionally - each vision with its
correspondent traps. Each of the "Peaceful Deities" appears with its
attendant "Wrathful Deities." To maintain any of these visions for any
length of time requires a certain degree of concentration or "one-
pointedness" of mind, as well as the ability to recognize them and not
to be afraid. Thus, for most persons, the experience may pass through
one or more of these phases without the voyager being able to hold
them or stay with them. He may open and close his eyes, he may become
alternately absorbed in internal sensations and external forms. The
experience may be chaotic, beautiful, thrilling, incomprehensible,
magical, ever-changing. [In the Bardo Thodol, on the sixth day appear
the radiant lights of the combined Five Wisdoms of the Dhyani-Buddhas,
the protective deities (gatekeepers of the mandala) and the Buddhas of
the Six Realms of game-existence. According to Lama Govinda: "The
Inner Way of Vajra-Sattva, consists in the combination of the rays of
the Wisdoms of the four Dhyani-Buddhas and their absorption within
one's own heart - in other words, in the recognition that all these
radiances are the emanations of one's own mind in a state of perfect
tranquility and serenity, a state in which the mind reveals its true
universal nature." (Govinda, op., cit., p. 262.)]

He will travel freely through many worlds or experience - from direct
contact with life-process forms and images, he may pass to visions of
human game-forms. He may see and understand with unimagined clarity
and brilliance various social and self-games that he and others play.
His own struggles in karmic (game) existence will appear pitiful and
laughable. Ecstatic freedom of consciousness is the keynote of this
vision. Exploration of unimagined realms. Theatrical adventures. Plays
within plays within plays. Symbols change into things symbolized and
vice versa. Words become things, thoughts are music, music is smelled,
sounds are touched, complete interchangeability of the senses.

All things are possible. All feelings are possible. A person may "try
on" various moods like so many pieces of clothing. Subjects and
objects whirl, transform, change into each other, merge, fuse,
disperse again. External objects dance and sing. The mind plays upon
them as upon a musical instrument. They assume any form, significance
or quality upon command. They are admired, adored, analyzed, examined,
changed, made beautiful or ugly, large or small, important or trivial,
useful, dangerous, magical or incomprehensible. They may be reacted to
with wonder, amazement, humor, veneration, love, disgust, fascination,
horror, delight, fear, ecstasy.

Like a computer with unlimited access to any programs, the mind roams
freely. Personal and racial memories bubble up to the surface of
consciousness, inter-play with fantasies, wishes, dreams and external
objects. A present event becomes charged with profound emotional
significance, a cosmic phenomenon becomes identical with some personal
quirk. Metaphysical problems are juggled and bounced around. Pure
"primary process," spontaneous outopouring of association, opposites
merging, images fusing, condensing, shifting, collapsing, expanding,
merging, connecting.

This kaleidoscopic vision of game-reality may be frightening and
confusing to an ill-prepared subject. Instead of exquisite clarity of
many-levelled perception, he will experience a confused chaos of
uncontrollable, meaningless forms. Instead of delight at the playful
acrobatics of the free intellect, there will be anxious clinging to an
elusive order. Morbid and scatological hallucinations may occur,
evoking disgust and shame.

As before, this negative vision occurs only if the person attempts to
control or rationalize the magic panorama. Relax and accept whatever
comes. Remember that all visions are created by your mind, the happy
and the unhappy, the beautiful and the ugly, the delightful and the
horrifying. Your consciousness is creator, performer and spectator of
the "retinal circus."

If the guide senses that the voyager is in or seems to be in the
"retinal circus" vision, he may read to him the appropriate

Vision 7: "The Magic Theatre"

If the voyager was unable to maintain the passive serenity necessary
for the contemplation of the previous visions (the peaceful deities),
he moves now into a more dramatic and active phase. The play of forms
and things becomes the play of heroic figures, superhuman spirits and
demigods. [In the Tibetan Handbook, this is described as the vision of
the five "Knowledge-Holding Deities," arranged in a mandala form, each
embraced by Dakinis, in an ecstatic dance. The Knowledge-holding
Deities symbolize "the highest level of individual or humanly
conceivable knowledge, as attained in the consciousness of great
Yogis, inspired thinkers or similar heroes of the spirit. They
represent the last step before the "breaking-through" towards the
universal consciousness - or the first on the return from there to the
plane of human knowledge." (Govinda, op. cit., p. 202.) The Dakinis
are female embodiments of knowledge, representing the inspirational
impluses of consciousness leading to break-through. The other four
Knowledge-Holders, besides the central Lord of Dance, are: the
Knowledge-holder abiding in the earth, the Knowledge-holder who has
power over the duration of life, the Knowledge-holder of the Great
Symbol, and the Knowledge-holder of Spontaneous Realization.] You may
see radiating figures in human forms. The "Lotus Lord of Dance": the
supreme image of a demi-god who perceives the effects of all actions.
The prince of movement, dancing in an ecstatic embrace with his female
counterpart. Heroes, heroines, celestial warriors, male and female
demi-gods, angels, fairies - the exact form of these figures will
depend on the person's background and tradition. Archetypal figures in
the forms of characters from Greek, Egyptian, Nordic, Celtic, Aztec,
Persian, Indian, Chinese mythology. The shapes differ, the source is
the same: they are the concrete embodiments of aspects of the person's
own psyche. Archetypal forces below verbal awareness and expressible
only in symbolic form. The figures are often extremely colorful and
accompanied by a variety of awe-inspiring sounds. If the voyager is
prepared and in a relaxed, detached frame of mind, he is exposed to a
fascinating and dazzling display of dramatic creativity. The Cosmic
Theatre. The Divine Comedy. If his eyes are open, he may visualize the
other voyagers as representing these figures. The face of a friend may
turn into that of a young boy, a baby, the child-god; into a heroic
stature, a wise old man; a woman, animal, goddess, sea-mother, young
girl, nymph, elf, goblin, leprechaun. Images of the great painters
arise as the familiar representations of these spirits. The images are
inexhaustible and manifold. An illuminating voyage into the areas
where the personal consciousness merges with the supr-individual.

The danger is that the voyager becomes frightened by or unduly
attracted to these powerful figures. The forces represented by them
may be more intense than he was prepared for. Inability or
unwillingness to recognize them as products of one's mind, leads to
escape into animalistic pursuits. The person may become involved in
the pursuit of power, lust, wealth and descend into Third Bardo
rebirth struggles.

If the guide senses that the voyager is caught in this trap, the
appropriate instructions may be used ==|==>> INTRUCTIONS FOR VISION 7:

(Second Bardo Nightmares)

Seven Second Bardo visions have been described. At each one of them,
the voyager could recognize what he saw and be liberated. Multitudes
will be liberated by that recognition; and although multitudes obtain
liberation in that manner, the number of sentient beings being great,
evil karma powerful, obscurations dense, propensities of too long
standing, the Wheel of Ignorance and Illusion becomes neither
exhausted nor accelerated. Despite the confrontations, there is a vast
preponderance of those who wander downwards unliberated.

Thus, in the Tibetan Thodo, after the seven peaceful deities, there
come seven visions of wrathful deities, fifty-eight in number, male
and female, "flame-enhaloed, wrathful, blood-drinking." These Herukas
as they are called, will not be described in detail, especially since
Westerners are liable to experience the wrathful deities in different
forms. Instead of many-headed fierce mythological demons, they are
more likely to be engulfed and ground by impersonal machinery,
manipulated by scientific, torturing control-devices and other space-
fiction horrors. [Some general remarks about the Tibetan
interpretation of these visions. The Wrathful Deities are regarded as
"only the former Peaceful Deities in changed aspect." Lama Govinda
writes: "The peaceful forms of Dhyani-Buddhas represent the highest
ideal of Buddhahood in its completed, final, static condition of
ultimate attainment or perfection, seen retrospectively as it were, as
a state of complete rest and harmony. The Herukas, on the other hand,
which are described as "blood-drinking," angry or "terrifying" deities
- are merely the dynamic aspect of enlightenment, the process of
becoming a Buddha, of attaining illumination, as symbolized by the
Buddha's struggle with the Hosts of Mara. . . . The ecstatic figures,
heroic and terrifying, express the act of breaking through towards the
unthinkable, the intellectually "Unattainable." They represent the
leap over the chasm, which yawns between an intellectual surface
consciousness and the intuitive supra-personal depth-consciousness."
(Govinda, op. cit., pp. 198, 202.)]

The Tibetans regard the nightmare visions as primarily intellectual
products. They assign them to the Brain chakra, whereas the peaceful
deities are assigned to the Heart chakra and the Knowledge-Holding
deities to the intermediate Throat chakra. They are the reactions of
the mind to the process of consciousness-expansion. They represent the
attempts of the intellect to maintain its threatened boundaries. They
symbolize the struggle of breaking through to ego-loss understanding
and awareness.

Because of the terror and awe they produce, recognition is difficult.
Yet in a way it is also easier in that, since these negative
hallucinations command all attention, the mind is alert and therefore
through trying to escape from fear and terror, people get involved in
psychotic states and suffer. But with the aid of this manual and the
presence of a guide, the voyager will recognize these hell visions as
soon as he sees them, and welcome them like old friends.

Again, when psychologists, philosophers, and psychiatrists, who do not
know these teachings, experience ego-loss - however assiduously they
may have devoted themselves to academic study and however clever they
may have been in expounding intellectual theories - none of the higher
phenomena will appear. This is because they are unable to recognize
the visions occurring in these psychedelic experiences. Suddenly
seeing something they had never seen before and possessing no
intellectual concepts, they view it as inimical; and, antagonistic
feelings arising, they pass into miserable states. Thus, if one has
not had practical experience with these teachings, the radiances and
lights will not appear.

Those who believe in these doctrines even though they may seem to be
unrefined, irregular in performance of duties, inelegant in habits,
and perhaps even unable to practice the doctrine successfully - let no
one doubt them or be disrespectful towards them, but pay reverence to
their mystic faith. That alone will enable them to attain liberation.
Elegance and efficiency of devotional practice are not necessary -
just acquaintance with and trust in these teachings.

Well-prepared persons need not experience Second Bardo hell visions at
all. Right from the beginning they can pass into paradisiacal states
led by heroes, heroines, angels and super-spirits. "They will merge
into rainbow radiance; there will be sun-showers, sweet scent of
incense in the air, music in the skies, radiances."

This manual is indispensable to those students who are unprepared.
Those proficient in meditation will recognize the Clear Light at the
moment of ego-loss and will enter the Blissful Void (Dharma-Kaya).
They will also recognize the positive and negative visions of the
Second Bardo and obtain illumination (Sambhogha-Kaya); and being
reborn on a higher level will become inspired saints or teachers
(Nirmana-Kaya). The study and pursuit of enlightenment can always be
taken up again at the point where it was broken by the last ego-loss,
thus ensuring continuity of karma.

by the use of this manual, enlightenment can be obtained without
meditation, through hearing alone. It can liberate even very heavy
ego-game players. The distinction between those who know it and those
who do not becomes very clear. Enlightenment follows instantly. Those
who have been reached by it cannot have prolonged negative

The teaching concerning the hell-visions is the same as before;
recognize them to be your own thought-forms, relax, float downstream.
after this, recognition is still impossible and liberation is not
obtained, then the voyager will descend into the Third Bardo, the
Period of Re-Entry.


However much experience one may have had, there is always the
possibility of delusions occurring in these psychedelic states. Those
with practice in meditation recognize the truth as soon as the
experience begins. Reading this manual beforehand is important. Having
some degree of self-knowledge is helpful at the moment of ego-death.

Meditation on the various positive and negative archetypal forms is
very important for Second Bardo phases. Therefore, read this manual,
keep it, remember it, bear it in mind, read it regularly; let the
words and meanings be very clear; they should not be forgotten, even
under extreme duress. It is called "The Great Liberation by Hearing"
because even those with selfish deeds on their conscience can be
liberated if they hear it. If heard only once, it can be efficacious
because even though not understood, it will be remembered during the
psychedelic state, since the mind is more lucid then. It should be
proclaimed to all living persons; it should be read over the pillows
of ill persons; it should be read to dying persons; it should be

Those who meet this doctrine are fortunate. It is not easy to
encounter. Even when read, it is difficult to comprehend. Liberation
will be won simply through not disbelieving it upon hearing it.

Here ends the Second Bardo
the Period of Hallucinations


(Sidpa Bardo)


If, in the second Bardo, the voyager is incapable of holding on to the
knowledge that the peaceful and wrathful visions were projections of
his own mind, but became attracted to or frightened by one or more of
them, he will enter the Third Bardo. In this period he struggles to
regain routine reality and his ego; the Tibetans call it the Bardo of
"seeking rebirth." It is the period in which the consciousness makes
the transition from transcendent reality to the reality of ordinary
waking life. The teachings of this manual are of the utmost importance
if one wishes to make a peaceful and enlightened re-entry and avoid a
violent or unpleasant one.

In the original Bardo Thodol the aim of the teachings is "liberation,"
i.e., release from the cycle of birth and death. Interpreted
esoterically, this means that the aim is to remain at the stage of
perfect illumination and not to return to social game reality.

Only persons of extremely advanced spiritual development are able to
accomplish this, by exercising the Transference Principle at the
moment of ego-death. For average persons who undertake a psychedelic
voyage, the return to game reality is inevitable. Such persons can and
should use this part of the manual for the following purposes:

(1) to free themselves from Third Bardo traps;
(2) to prolong the session, thus assuring a maximum degree of
(3) to select a favorable re-entry, i.e., to return to a wiser and
more peaceful post-session personality.

Although no definite time estimates can be given, the Tibetans
estimate that about 50% of the entire psychedelic experience is spent
in the Third Bardo by most normal people. At times, as indicated in
the Introduction, someone may move straight to the re-entry period if
he is unprepared for or frightened by the ego-loss experiences of the
first two Bardos.

The types of re-entry made can profoundly color the person's
subsequent attitudes and feelings about himself and the world, for
weeks or even months afterwards. A session which has been
predominantly negative and fearful can still be turned to great
advantage and much can be learned from it, provided the re-entry is
positive and highly conscious. Conversely, a happy and revelatory
experience can be made valueless by a fearful or negative re-entry.

The key instructions of the Third Bardo are: (1) do nothing, stay
calm, passive and relaxed, no matter what happens; and (2) recognize
where you are. If you do not recognize you will be driven by fear to
make a premature and unfavorable re-entry. Only by recognizing can you
maintain that state of calm, passive concentration necessary for a
favorable re-entry. That is why so many recognition-points are given.
If you fail on one, it is always possible, up to the very end, to
succeed on another. Hence these teachings should be read carefully and
remembered well.

In the following sections some of the characteristic Third Bardo
experiences are described. In Part IV instructions are given
appropriate to each section. At this stage in a psychedelic session
the voyager is usually capable of telling the guide verbally what he
is experiencing, so that the appropriate sections can be read. A wise
guide can often sense the precise nature of the ego's struggle without
words. The voyager will usually not experience all of these states,
but only one or some of them; or sometimes the return to reality can
take completely new and unusual turns. In such a case the general
instructions for the Third Bardo should be emphasized ==|==>> THIRD

I. General Description of the Third Bardo

Normally, the person descends, step by step, into lower (more
constricted) states of consciousness. Each step downwards may be
preceded by a swooning into unconsciousness. Occasionally the descent
may be sudden, and the person will find himself jolted back to a
vision of reality which by contrast with the preceding phases seems
dull, static, hard, angular, ugly and puppet-like. Such changes can
induce fear and horror and he may struggle desperately to regain
familiar reality. He may get trapped into irrational or even bestial
perspectives which then dominate his entire consciousness. These
narrow primitive elements stem from aspects of his personal history
which are usually repressed. The more enlightened consciousness of the
first two Bardos and the civilized elements of ordinary waking life
are shelved in favor of powerful, obsessive primitive impulses, which
in fact are merely faded and incoherent instinctual parts of the
voyager's total personality. The suggestibility of Bardo consciousness
makes them seem all-powerful and overwhelming.

On the other hand, the voyager may also feel that he possesses
supernormal powers of perception and movement, that he can perform
miracles, extraordinary feats of bodily control etc. The Tibetan book
definitely attributes paranormal faculties to the consciousness of the
Bardo voyager and explains it as due to the fact that the Bardo-
consciousness encompasses future elements as well as past. Hence
clairvoyance, telepathy, ESP, etc. are said to be possible. Objective
evidence does not indicate whether this sense of increased
perceptiveness is real or illusory. We therefore leave this as an open
question, to be decided by empirical evidence.

This then is the first recognition point of the Third Bardo. The
feeling of supernormal perception and performance. Assuming that it is
valid, the manual warns the voyager not to be fascinated by his
heightened powers, and not to exercise them. In yogic practice, the
most advanced of the lamas teach the disciple not to strive after
psychic powers of this nature for their own sake; for until the
disciple is morally fit to use them wisely, they become a serious
impediment to his higher spiritual development. Not until the selfish,
game-involved nature of man is completely mastered is he safe in using

A second sign of Third Bardo existence are experiences of panic,
torture and persecution. They are distinguished from the wrathful
visions fo the Second Bardo in that they definitely seem to involve
the person's own "skin-encapsulated ego." Mind-controlling
manipulative figures and demons of hideous aspects may be
hallucinated. The form that these torturing demons take will depend on
the person's cultural background. Where Tibetans saw demons and beasts
of prey, a Westerner may see impersonal machinery grinding, or
depersonalizing and controlling devices of different futuristic
varieties. Visions of world destruction, dying in space-fiction modes,
and hallucinations of being engulfed by destructive powers will
likewise come; and sounds of the mind-controlling apparatus, of the
"combine's fog machinery," of the gears which move the scenery of the
puppet show, of angry overflowing seas, and of the roaring fire and of
fierce winds springing up, and of mocking laughter.

When these sounds and visions come, the first impulse will be to flee
from them in panic and terror, not caring where one goes, so long as
one goes out. In psychedelic drug experiences, the person may at this
time plead or demand to be brought "out of it" through antidotes and
tranquillizers. The person may see himself as about to fall down deep,
terrifying precipices. These symbolize the so-called evil passions
which, like narcotic drugs, enslave and bind mankind to existence in
game-networks (sangsara): anger, lust, stupidity, pride or egoism,
jealousy, and control-power. Such experiences, just as the previous
one of enhanced power, should be regarded as recognizing features of
the Third Bardo. One should neither flee the pain nor pursue the
pleasure. Recognition is all that is necessary - and recognition
depends upon preparation.

A third sign is a kind of restless, unhappy wandering which may be
purely mental or may involve actual physical movement. The person
feels as if driven by winds (winds of karma) or shunted around
mechanically. There may be brief respites at certain places or scenes
in the "ordinary" human world. Like a person travelling alone at night
along a highway, having his attention arrested by prominent landmarks,
great isolated trees, houses, bridgeheads, temples, hot-dog stands,
etc., the person in the re-entry period has similar experiences. He
may demand to return to familiar haunts in the human world. But any
such external placation is temporary and soon the restless wandering
will recommence. There may come a desperate desire to phone or
otherwise contact your family, your doctor, your friends and appeal to
them to pull you out of the state. This desire should be resisted. The
guide and the fellow voyagers can be of best assistance. One should
not try to involve others in one's hallucinatory world. The attempt
will fail anyway since outsiders are usually unable to understand what
is happening. Again, merely to recognize these desires as Third Bardo
manifestations is already the first step toward liberation.

A fourth, rather common experience is the following: the person may
feel stupid and full of incoherent thoughts, whereas everyone else
seems to be perfectly knowing and wise. This leads to feelings of
guilt and inadequacy and in extreme from to the Judgment Vision, to be
described below. This feeling of stupidity is merely the natural
result of the limited perspective under which the consciousness is
operating in this Bardo. Calm, relaxed acceptance and trust will
enable the voyager to win liberation at this point

Another experience, the fifth recognizing feature, which is especially
impressive when it occurs suddenly, is the feeling of being dead, cut
off from surrounding life, and full of misery. The person may with a
jolt awake from some trance-like swoon and experience himself and the
others as lifeless robots, performing wooden meaningless gestures. He
may feel that he will never come back and will lament his miserable

Again, such fantasies are to be recognized as the attempts of the ego
to regain control. In the true state of ego-death, as it occurs in the
First or Second Bardos, such complaints are never uttered.

Sixth, one may have the feeling of being oppressed or crushed or
squeezed into cracks and crevices amidst rocks and boulders. Or the
person may feel that a kind of metallic net or cage may encompass him.
This symbolizes the attempt prematurely to enter an ego-robot which is
unfitting or unequipped to deal with the expanded consciousness.
Therefore one should relax the panicky desire to regain an ego.

A Seventh aspect is a kind of grey twilight-like light suffusing
everything, which is in marked contrast to the brilliantly radiating
lights and colors of the earlier stages of the voyage. Objects,
instead of shining, glowing and vibrating, are now dully colored,
shabby and angular.

general instructions for the Third Bardo state and its recognizable
features. Any or all of the passages may be read when the guide senses
that the voyager is beginning to return to the ego.

II. Re-entry Visions

In the preceding section the symptoms of re-entry were described, the
signs that the voyager is tryihng to regain his ego. In this section
are described visions of the types of re-entry one can make.

The Tibetan manual conceives of the voyager as returning eventually to
one of six worlds of game existence (sangsara). That is, the re-entry
to the ego can take place on one of six levels, or as one of six
personality types. Two of these are higher than the normal human,
three are lower. The highest, most illuminated, level is that of the
devas, who are what Westerners would call saints, sages or divine
teachers. They are the most enlightened people walking the earth.
Gautama Buddha, Lao Tse, Christ. The second level is that of the
asuras, who may be called titans or heroes, people with a more than
human degree of power and vision. The third level is that of most
normal human beings, struggling through game-networks, occasionally
breaking free. The fourth level is that of primitive and animalistic
incarnations. In this category we have the dog and the cock, symbolic
of hyper-sexuality concomitant with jealousy; the pig, symbolizing
lustful stupidity and uncleanliness; the industrious, hoarding ant;
the insect or worm signifying an earthy or grovelling disposition; the
snake, flashing in anger; the ape, full of rampaging primitive power;
the snarling "wolf of the steppes;" the bird, soaring freely. Many
more could be enumerated. In all cultures of the world people have
adopted identities in the image of animals. In childhood and in dreams
it is a process familiar to all. The fifth level is that of neurotics,
frustrated lifeless spirits forever pursuing unsatisfied desires; the
sixth and lowest level is hell or psychosis. Less than one percent of
ego-transcendent experiences end in sainthood or psychosis. Most
persons return to the normal human level.

According to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, each of the six game worlds
or levels of existence is associated with a characteristic sort of
thraldom, from which non-game experiences give temporary freedom: (1)
existence as a deva, or saint, although more desirable than the
others, is concomitant with an ever-recurring round of pleasure, free
game ecstasy; (2) existence as an asura, or titan, is concomitant with
incessant heroic warfare; (3) helplessness and slavery are
characteristic of animal existence; (4) torments of unsatisfied needs
and wants are characteristic of the existence of pretas, or unhappy
spirits; (5) the characteristic impediments of human existence are
inertia, smug ignorance, physical or psychological handicaps or
various sorts.

According to the Bardo Thodol, the level one is detined for is
determined by one's karma. During the period of the Third Bardo
premonitory signs and visions of the different levels appear, that for
which one is heading appearing most clearly. For example, the voyager
may feel full of godlike power (asuras), or he may feel himself
stirred by primitive or bestial impulses, or he may experience that
all-pervasive frustration of the unhappy neurotics, or shudder at the
tortures of a self-created hell.

The chances of making a favorable re-entry are increased if the
process is allowed to take its own natural course, without effort or
struggle. One should avoid pursuing or fleeing any of the visions, but
meditate calmly on the knowledge that all levels exist in the Buddha

One can recognize and examine the signs as they appear and learn a
great deal about oneself in a very short time. Although it is unwise
to struggle against or flee the visions that come in this period, the
==|==>> INSTRUCTIONS FOR RE-ENTRY VISIONS are designed to help the
voyager regain First Bardo transcendence. In this way, if the person
finds himself about to return to a personality or ego which he finds
inappropriate to his new knowledge about himself, he can, by following
the instructions, prevent this and make a fresh re-entry.

III. The All-Determining Influence of Thought

Liberation may be obtained, by such confrontation, even though
previously it was not. If, however, liberation is not obtained even
after these confrontations, further earnest and continued application
is essential.

Should you feel attachment to material possessions, to old games and
activities, or if you get any because other people are still involved
in pursuits that you have renounced, this will affect the
psychological balance in such a way that even if destined to return at
a higher level, you will actually re-enter on a lower level in the
world of unsatisfied spirits (neurosis). On the other hand, even if
you do feel attached to worldly games that you have renounced, you
will not be able to play them, and they will be of no use to you.
Therefore abandon weakness and attachment to them; cast them away
wholly; renounce them from your heart. No matter who may be enjoying
your possessions, or taking your role, have no feelings of miserliness
or jealousy, but be prepared to renounce them willingly. Think that
you are offering them to your internal freedom and to your expaned
consciousness. Abide in the feeling of non-attachment, devoid of
weakness and craving.

Again, when the activities of the other members of the session are
wrong, careless, inattentive or distracting, when the agreement or
contract is broken, and when purity of intention is lost by any
participant, and frivolity and laxness take over (all of which can
clearly be seen by the Bardo voyager) you may feel lack of faith and
begin to doubt your beliefs. You will be able to perceive any anxiety
or fear, any selfish actions, ego-centric conduct and manipulative
behavior. You may think: "Alas! they are playing me false, they have
cheated and deceived." If you think thus, you will become extremely
depressed, and through great resentment you will acquire disbelief and
loss of faith, instead of affection and humble trust. Since this
affects the psychological balance, re-entry will certainly be made on
an unpleasant level.

Such thinking will not only be of no use, but it will do great harm.
However improper the behavior of other, think thus: "What? How can the
words of a Buddha be inappropriate? It is like the reflection of
blemishes on my own face which I see in a mirror; my own thoughts must
be impure. As for these others, they are noble in body, holy in
speech, and the Buddha is within them: their actions are lessons for

Thus thinking, put your trust in your companions and exercise sincere
love towards them. Then whatever they do will be to your benefit. The
exercise of that love is very important; do not forget this!

Again, even if you were destined to return to a lower level and are
already going into that existence, yet through the good deeds of
friends, relatives, participants, learned teachers who devote
themselves wholeheartedly to the correct performance of beneficent
rituals, the delight from your feeling greatly cheered at seeing them
will, by its own virtue, so affect the psychological balance that even
though heading downwards, you may yet rise to a higher and happier
level. Therefore you should not create selfish thoughts, but exercise
pure affection and humble faith towards all, impartially. This is
highly important. Hence be extremely careful.

are useful in any phase of the Third Bardo, but particularly if the
voyager is reacting with suspicion or resentment to other members of
the group, or to his own friends and relatives.

IV. Judgment Visions

The judgment vision may come: the Third Bardo blame game. "Your good
genius will count up your good deeds with white pebbles, the evil
genius the evil deeds with black pebbles." A judgment scene is a
central part of many religious systems, and the vision can assume
various forms. Westerners are most likely to see it in the well-known
Christian version. The Tibetans give a psychological interpretation to
thisas to all the other visions. The Judge, or Lord of Death,
symbolizes conscience itself in its stern aspect of impartiality and
love of righteousness. The "Mirror of Karma" (the Christian Judgment
Book), consulted by the Judge, is memory. Different parts of the ego
will come forward, some offering lame excuses to meet accusations,
others ascribing baser motives to various deeds, counting apparently
neutral deeds among the black ones; still others offering
justifications or requests for pardon. The mirror of memory reflects
clearly; lying and subterfuge will be of no avail. Be not frightened,
tell no lies, face truch fearlessly.

No you may imagine yourself surrounded by figures who wish to torment,
torture or ridicule you (the "Executive Furies of the Robot Lord of
Death"). These merciless figures may be internal or they may involve
the people around you, seen as pitiless, mocking, superior. Remember
that fear and guilt and persecuting, mocking figures are your own
hallucinations. Your own guilt machine. Your personality is a
collection of thought-patterns and void. It cannot be harmed or
injured. "Swords cannot pierce it, fire cannot burn it." Free yourself
from your own hallucinations. In reality there is no such thing as the
Lord of Death, or a justice-dispensing god or demon or spirit. Act so
as to recognize this.

Recognize that you are in the Third Bardo. Meditate upon your ideal
symbol. If you do not know how to meditate, then merely analyze with
great care the real nature of that which is frightening you: "Reality"
is nothing but a voidness (Dharma-Kaya). That voidness is not of the
voidness of nothingness, but a voidness at the true nature of which
you feel awed, and before which your consciousness shines more clearly
and lucidly. [That is the state of mind known as "Sambhoga-Kaya." In
that state, you experience, with unbearable intensity, Voidness and
Brightness inseparable - the Voidness bright by nature and the
Brightness inseparable from the Voidness - a state of the primordial
or unmodified consciousness, which is the Adi-Kaya. And the power of
this, shining unobstructedly, will radiate everywhere; it is the

These refer to the fundamental Wisdom Teachings of the Bardo Thodol.
In all Tibetan systems of yoga, realization of the Voidness is the one
great aim. To realize it is to attain the unconditioned Dharma-Kaya,
or "Divine Body of Truth," the primordial state of uncreatedness, of
the supra-mundane All-Consciousness. The Dharma-Kaya is the highest of
the three bodies of the Buddha and of all Buddhas and beings who have
perfect enlightenment. The other two bodies are the Sambhoga-Kaya or
"Divine Body of Perfect Endowment" and the Nirmana-Kaya or "Divine
Body of Incarnation." Adi-Kaya is synonymous with Dharma-Kaya. The
Dharma-Kaya is primordial, formless Essential Wisdom; it is true
experience freed from all error or inherent or accidental obscuration.
It includes both Nirvana and Sangsara, which are polar states of
consciousness, but in the realm of pure consciousness identical. The
Sambhoga-Kaya embodies, as in the five Dhyani Buddhas, Reflected or
Modified Wisdom; and the Nirmana-Kaya embodies, as in the Human
Buddhas, Practical or Incarnate Widom. All enlightened beings who are
reborn in this or any other world with full consciousness, as workers
for the betterment of their fellow creatures, are said to be Nirmana-
Kaya incarnates. Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup, the translator of the Bardo
Thodol, held that the Adi-Buddha, and all deities associated with the
Dharma-Kaya, are not to be regarded as personal deities, but as
personifications of primordial and universal forces, laws or spiritual
influences. "In the boundless panorama of the existing and visible
universe, whatever shapes appear, whatever sounds vibrate, whatever
radiances illuminate, or whatever consciousnesses cognize, all are the
play of manifestation in the Tri-Kaya, the Three-fold Principle of the
Cause of All Causes, the Primordial Trinity. Impenetrating all, is the
All-Pervading Essence of Spirit, which is Mind. It is uncreated,
impersonal, self-existing, immaterial and indestructible." The Tri-
Kaya is the esoteric trinity and corresponds to the exoteric trinity
of Buddha, the Scriptures and the Priesthood (or your own divinity,
this manual and your companions).

If the voyager is struggling with guilt and penance hallucinations,

V. Sexual Visions

Sexual visions are extremely frequent during the Third Bardo. You may
see or imagine males and females copulating. [According to Jung.
("Psychological Commentary" to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Evans-
Wentz edition, p. xiii), "Freud's theory is the first attempt made in
the West to investigate, as if from below, from the animal sphere of
instinct the psychic territory that corresponds in Tantric Lamaism to
the Sidpa Bardo." The vision described here, in which the person sees
mother and father in sexual intercourse, corresponds to the "primal
scene" in psychoanalysis. At this level, then, we begin to see a
remarkable convergence of Eastern and Western psychology. Note also
the exact correspondence to the psychoanalytic theory of the Oedipus
Complex.] This vision may be internal or it may involve the people
around you. You may hallucinate multi-person orgies and experience
both desire and shame, attraction and disgust. You may wonder what
sexual performance is expected of you and have doubts about your
ability to perform at this time.

When these visons occur, remember to withhod yourself from action or
attachment. Have faith and float gently with the stream. Trust in the
unity of life and in your companions.

If you attempt to enter into your old ego because you are attracted or
repulsed, if you try to join or excape from the orgy you are
hallucinating, you will re-enter on an animal or neurotic level. If
you become conscious of "malness," hatred of the father together with
jealousy and attraction towards the mother will be experienced; if you
become conscious of "femaleness," hatred of the mother together with
attraction and fondness for the father is experienced.

It is perhaps needless to say that this kind of self-centered
sexuality has little in common with the sexuality of transpersonal
experiences. Physical union can be one expression or manifestation of
cosmic union.

Visions of sexual union may sometimes be followed by visions of
conception - you may actually visualize the sperm uniting with the
ovum - , of intra-uterine life and birth through the womb. Some people
claim to have re-lived their own physical birth in psychedelic
sessions and occasionally confirming evidence for such claims has been
put forward. Whether this is so or not may be left as a question to be
decided by empirical evidence. Sometimes the birth visions will be
clearly symbolic - e.g., emergence from a cocoon, breaking out of a
shell, etc.

Whether the birth vision is constructed from memory or fantasy, the
psychedelic voyager should try to recognize the signs indicating the
type of personality that is being reborn.

The ==|==>> INSTRUCTIONS FOR SEXUAL VISIONS may be read to the voyager
who is struggling with sexual hallucinations.

VI. Methods for Preventing the Re-Entry

Although many confrontations and recognition points have been given,
the person may be ill-prepared and still be wandering back to game
reality. It is of advantage to postpone the return for as long as
possible, thus maximizing the degree of enlightenment in the
subsequent personality. For this reason four meditative methods are
given for prolonging the ego-loss state. They are (1) meditation on
the Buddha or guide; (2) concentration on good games; (3) meditation
on illusion; and (4) meditation on the void. See the ==|==>> FOUR
METHODS OF PREVENTING RE-ENTRY. Each one attempts to lead the voyager
back to the First Bardo central stream of energy from which he has
been separated by game involvements. One may ask how these meditative
methods, which seem difficult for the ordinary person, can be
effective. The answer given in the Tibetan Bardo Thodol is that due to
the increased suggestibility and openness of the mind in the
psychedelic state these methods can be used by anyone, regardless of
intellectual capacity, or proficiency in meditation.

VII. Methods of Choosing the Post-Session Personality

Choosing the post-session ego is an extremely profound art and should
not be undertaken carelessly or hastily. One should not return fleeing
from hallucinated tormentors. Such re-entry will tend to bring the
person to one of the three lower levels. One should first banish the
fear by visualizing one's protective figure or the Buddha; then choose
calmly and impartially.

The limited foreknowledge available to the voyager should be used to
make a wise choice. In the Tibetan tradition each of the levels of
game-existence is associated with a particular color and also certain
geographical symbols. These may be different for twentieth-century
Westerners. Each person has to learn to decode his own internal road
map. The Tibetan indicators may be used as a starting point. The
purpose is clear: one should follow the signs of the three higher
types and shun those of the three lower. One should follow light and
pleasant visions and shun dark and dreary ones.

The world of saints (devas) is said to shine with a white light and to
be preceded by visions of delightful temples and jewelled mansions.
The world of heroes (asuras) has a green light and is signalled by
magical forests and fire images. The ordinary human world has a yellow
light. Animal existence is foreshadowed by a blue light and images of
caves and deep holes in the earth. The world of neurotics or
unsatisfied spirits has a red light and visions of desolate plains and
forest wastes. The hell world emits a smoke-colored light and is
preceded by sounds of wailing, visions of gloomy lands, black and
white houses and black roads along which you have to travel.

Use your foresight to choose a good post-session robot. Do not be
attracted to your old ego. Whether you choose to pursue power, or
status, or wisdom, or learning, or servitude, or whatever, choose
impartially, without being attracted or repelled. Enter into game
existence with good grace, voluntarily and freely. Visualize it as a
celestial mansion, i.e., as an opportunity to exercise game-ecstasy.
Have faith in the protection of the deities and choose. The mood of
complete impartiality is important since you may be in error. A game
that appears good may later turn out to be bad. Complete impartiality,
freedom from want or fear, ensure that a maximally wise choice is

As you return you see spread out before you the world, your former
life, a planet full of fascinating objects and events. Each aspect of
the return trip can be a delightful discovery. Soon you will be
descending to take your place in worldly events. The key to this
return voyage is simply this: take it easy, slowly, naturally. Enjoy
every second. Don't rush. Don't be attached to your old games.
Recognize that you are in the re-entry period. Do not return with any
emotional pressure. Everything you see and touch can glow with
radiance. Each moment can be a joyous discovery.

Here end the Third Bardo,
The Period of Re-Entry


Well-prepared students with advanced spiritual understanding can use
the "Transference" principle at the moment of ego-death and need not
traverse subsequent Bardo states. They will rise to a state of
illumination and remain there throughout the entire period. Others,
who are a little less experienced in spiritual discipline, will
recognize the Clear Light in the second stage of the First Bardo and
will then win liberation. Others, at a still less advanced level, may
be liberated while experiencing one of the positive or negative
visions of the Second Bardo. Since there are several turning points,
liberation can be obtained at one or the other through recognition at
moments of confrontation. Those of very weak karmic connection, i.e.,
those who have been involved in heavy ego-dominated game-playing, will
have to wander downwards to the Third Bardo. Again, many points for
liberation have been charted. The weakest persons will fall under the
influence of guilt and terror. For weaker persons there are various
graded teachings for preventing the return to routine-reality, or at
least for choosing it wisely. Through applying the methods of
visualization described, they should be able to experience the
benefits of the session. Even those persons whose familiar routines
are primitive and egocentric can be prevented from entering into
misery. Once they have experienced, for however short a period, the
great beauty and power of free awareness, they may, in the next
period, meet with a guide or friend who will initiate them further
into the way.

The way in which this teaching is effective, even for a voyager
already in the Sidpa Bardo, is as follows: each person has some
positive and some negative game-residues (karma). The continuity of
consciousness has been broken by an ego-death for which the person was
not prepared. The teachings are like a trough in a broken water drain,
temporarily restoring the continuity with positive karma. As stated
before, the extreme suggestibility or detached quality of
consciousness in this state ensures the efficacy of listening to the
doctrine. The teaching embedded in this Manual may be compared to a
catapult which can direct the person towards the goal of liberation.
Or like the moving of a big wooden beam, which is so heavy that a
hundred men cannot carry it, but by being floated on water it can be
easily moved. Or it is like controlling a horse's bit and course by
the use of a bridle.

Therefore, these teachings should be vividly impressed on the voyager,
again and again. This Manual may also be used more generally. It
should be recited as often as possible and committed to memory as far
as possible. When ego-death or final death comes, recognize the
symptoms, recite the Manual to yourself, and reflect upon the meaning.
If you cannot do it yourself, ask a friend to read it to you. There is
no doubt as to its liberative power.

It liberates by being seen or heard, without need of ritual or complex
meditation. This Profound Teaching liberates those of great evil karma
through the Secret Pathway. One should not forget its meaning and the
words, even though pursued by seven mastiffs. By this Select Teaching,
one obtains Buddhahood at the moment of ego-loss. Were the Buddhas of
past, present and future to seek, they could not find any doctrine
transcending this.

Here ends the Bardo Thodol, known as
The Tibetan Book of the Dead



1. Use of This Manual

The most important use of this manual is for preparatory reading.
Having read the Tibetan Manual, one can immediately recognize symptoms
and experiences which might otherwise be terrifying, only because of
lack of understanding as to what was happening. Recognition is the key

Secondly, this guidebook may be used to avoid paranoid traps or to
regain the First Bardo transcendence if it has been lost. If the
experience starts with light, peace, mystic unity, understanding, and
if it continues along this path, then there is no need to remember
this manual of have this manual re-read to you. Like a road map, we
consult it only when lost, or when we wish to change course. Usually,
however, the ego clings to its old games. There may be momentary
discomfort or confusion. If this happens, the others present should
not be sympathetic or show alarm. They should be prepared to stay calm
and restrain their "helping games." In particular, the "doctor" role
should be avoided.

If at any time you find yourself struggling to get back to routine
reality, you can (by pre-arrangement) have a more experienced person,
a fellow-voyager, or a trusted observer read parts of this manual to

Passages suitable for reading during the session are given in Part IV
below. Each major descriptive section of the Tibetan Book has an
appropriate instruction text. One may want to pre-record selected
passages and simply flick on the recorder when desired. The aim of
these instruction texts is always to lead the voyager back to the
original First Bardo transcendence and to help maintain that as long
as possible.

A third use would be to construct a "program" for a session using
passages from the text. The aim would be to lead the voyager to one of
the visions deliberately, or through a sequence of visions. The guide
or friend could read the relevant passages, show slides or pictures or
symbolic figures of processes, play carefully selected music, etc. One
can envision a high art of programming psychedelic sessions, in which
symbolic manipulations and presentations would lead the voyager
through ecstatic visionary Bead Games.

2. Planning a Session

In planning a session, the first question to be decided is "what is
the goal?" Classic Hinduism suggest four possibilities:

(1) For increased personal power, intellectual understanding,
sharpened insight into self and culture, improvement of life
situation, accelerated learning, professional growth.

(2) For duty, help of others, providing care, rehabilitation, rebirth
for fellow men.

(3) For fun, sensuous enjoyment, aesthetic pleasure, interpersonal
closeness, pure experience.

(4) For transcendence, liberation from ego and space-time limits;
attainment of mystical union.

This manual aims primarily at the latter goal - that of liberation-
enlightenment. This emphasis does not preclude attainment of the other
goals - in fact, it guarantees their attainment because illumination
requires that the person be able to step out beyond game problems of
personality, role, and professional status. The initiate can decide
beforehand to devote the psychedelic experience to any of the four
goals. The manual will be of assistance in any event.

If there are several people having a session together they should
either agree collaboratively on a goal, or at least be aware of each
other's goals. If the session is to be "programmed" then the
participants should either agree on or design a program
collaboratively, or they should agree to let one member of the group
do the programming. Unexpected or undesired manipulations by one of
the participants can easily "trap the other voyagers into paranoid
Third Bardo delusions.

The voyager, especially in an individual session, may also wish to
have either an extroverted or an introverted experience. In the
extroverted transcendent experience, the self is ecstatically fused
with external objects (e.g. flowers, or other people). In the
introverted state, the self is ecstatically fused with internal life
processes (lights, energy-waves, bodily events, biological forms,
etc.). Of course, either the extroverted or the introverted state may
be negative rather than positive, depending on the attitude of the
voyager. Also it may be primarily conceptual or primarily emotional.
The eight types of experience thus derived (four positive and four
negative) have been described more fully in Visions 2 to 5 of the
Second Bardo.

For the extroverted mystic experience one would bring to the session
objects or symbols to guide the awareness in the desired direction.
Candles, pictures,books, incense, music or recorded passages. An
introverted mystic experience requires the elimination of all
stimulation; no light, no sound, no smell, no movement.

The mode of communication with the other participants should also be
agreed on beforehand. You may agree on certain signals, silently
indicating companionship. You may arrange for physical contact -
clasping hands, embracing. These means of communication should be pre-
arranged to avoid game-misinterpretations that may develop during the
heightened sensitivity of ego-transcendence.

3. Drugs and Dosages

A wide variety of chemicals and plants have psychedelic ("mind
manifesting") effects. The most widely used substances are listed here
together with dosages adequate for a normal adult of average size. The
dosage to be taken depends, of course, on the goal of the session. Two
figures are therefore given. The first column indicates a dosage which
should be sufficient for an inexperienced person to enter the
transcendental worlds described in this manual. The second column
gives a smaller dosage figure, which may be used by more experienced
persons or by participants in a group session.

LSD-25 (lysergic acid diethylamide) 200-500 micrograms 100-200 micrograms
Mescaline 600-800 mg 300-500 mg
Psilocybin 040-060 mg 020-030 mg

The time of onset, when the drugs are taken orally on an empty
stomach, is approximately 20-30 minutes for LSD and psilocybin, and
one to two hours for mescaline. The duration of the session is usually
eight to ten hours for LSD and mescaline, and five to six hours for
psilocybin. DMT (dimethyltryptamine), when injected intramuscularly in
dosages of 50-60 mg, gives an experience approximately equivalent to
500 micrograms of LSD, but which lasts only 30 minutes.

Some person have found it useful to take other drugs before the
session. A very anxious person, for example, may take 30 to 40 mg of
Librium about on hour earlier, to calm and relax himself. Methedrine
has also been used to induced a pleasant, euphoric mood prior to the
session. Sometimes, with excessively nervous persons, it is advisable
to stagger the drug administration: for example, 200 micrograms of LSD
may be taken initially, and a "booster" of another 200 micrograms may
be taken after the person has become familiar with some of the effects
of the psychedelic state. Nausea may sometimes occur. Usually this is
a mental symptom, indicating fear, and should be regarded as such.
Sometimes, however, particularly with the use of morning-glory seeds
and peyote, the nausea can have a physiological cause. Anti-nauseant
drugs such as Marezine, Bonamine, Dramamine or Tigan, may be taken
beforehand to prevent this.

If a person becomes trapped in a repetitive game-routine during a
session, it is sometimes possible to "break the set" by administering
50 mg of DMT, or even 25 mg of Dexedrine or Methedrine. Such
additional dosages, of course, should only be given with the person's
own knowledge and consent.

Should external emergencies call for it, Thorazine (100-200 mg, i.m.)
or other phenothiazine-type tranquilizers will terminate the effects
of psychedelic drugs. Antidotes should not be used simply because the
voyager or the guide is frightened. Instead, the appropriate sections
of the Third Bardo should be read. [Further, more detailed suggestions
concerning dosage may be found in a paper by Gary M. Fisher: "Some
Comments Concerning Dosage Levels of Psychedelic Compounds for
Psychotherapeutic Experiences." Psychedelic Review, I, no.2, pp. 208-
218, 1963.]

4. Preparation

Psychedelic chemicals are not drugs in the usual sense of the word.
There is no specific reaction, no expected sequence of events, somatic
or psychological.

The specific reaction has little to do with the chemical and is
chiefly a function of set and setting; preparation and environment.
The better the preparation, the more ecstatic and revelatory the
session. In initial sessions and with unprepared persons, setting -
particularly the actions of others - is most important. With persons
who have prepared thoughtfully and seriously, the setting is less

There are two aspects of set: long-range and immediate.

Long-range set refers to the personal history, the enduring
personality. The kind of person you are - your fears, desires,
conflicts, guilts, secret passions - determines how you interpret and
manage any situation you enter, including a psychedelic session.
Perhaps more important are the reflex mechanisms used when dealing
with anxiety - the defenses, the protective maneuvers typically
employed. Flexibility, basic trust, religious faith, human openness,
courage, interpersonal warmth, creativity, are characteristics which
allow for fun and easy learning. Rigidity, desire to control,
distrust, cynicism, narrowness, cowardice, coldness, are
characteristics which make any new situation threatening. Most
important is insight. No matter how many cracks in the record, the
person who has some understanding of his own recording machinery, who
can recognize when he is not functioning as he would wish, is better
able to adapt to any challenge - even the sudden collapse of his ego.

The most careful preparation would include some discussion of the
personality characteristics and some planning with the guide as to how
to handle expected emotional reactions when they occur.

Immediate set refers to the expectations about the session itself.
Session preparation is of critical importance in determining how the
experience unfolds. People tend naturally to impose their personal and
social game perspectives on any new situation. Careful thought should
precede the session to prevent narrow sets being imposed.

Medical expectations. Some ill-prepared subjects unconsciously impose
a medical model on the experience. They look for symptoms, interpret
each new sensation in terms of sickness/health, place the guide in a
doctor-role, and, if anxiety develops, demand chemical rebirth - i.e.,
tranquilizers. Occasionally one hears of casual, ill-planned, non-
guided sessions which end in the subject demanding to be hospitalized,
etc. It is even more problem-provoking if the guide employs a medical
model, watches for symptoms, and keeps hospitalization in mind to fall
back on, as protection for himself.

Rebellion against convention may be the motive of some people who take
the drug. The idea of doing something "far out" or vaguely naughty is
a naive set which can color the experience.

Intellectual expectations are appropriate when subjects have had much
psychedelic experience. Indeed, LSD offers vast possibilities for
accelerated learning and scientific-scholarly research. But for
initial sessions, intellectual reactions can become traps. The Tibetan
Manual never tires of warning about the dangers of rationalization.
"Turn you mind off" is the best advice for novitiates. Control of your
consciousness is like flight instruction. After you have learned how
to move your consciousness around - into ego-loss and back, at will -
then intellectual exercises can be incorporated into the psychedelic
experience. The last stage of the session is the best time to examine
concepts. The objective of this particular manual is to free you from
you verbal mind for as long as possible.

Religious expectations invite the same advice as intellectual set.
Again, the subject in early sessions is best advised to float with the
stream, stay "up" as long as possible, and postpone theological
interpretations until the end of the session, or to later sessions.

Recreational and aesthetic expectations are natural. The psychedelic
experience, without question, provides ecstatic moments which dwarf
any personal or cultural game. Pure sensation can capture awareness.
Interpersonal intimacy reaches Himalayan heights. Aesthetic delights -
musical, artistic, botanical, natural - are raised to the millionth
power. But all these reactions can be Third Bardo ego games: "I am
having this ecstasy. How lucky I am!" Such reactions can become tender
traps, preventing the subject from reaching pure ego-loss (First
Bardo) or the glories of Second Bardo creativity.

Planned expectations. This manual prepares the person for a mystical
experience according to the Tibetan model. The Sages of the Snowy
Ranges have developed a most sophisticated and precise understanding
of human psychology, and the student who studies this manual will
become oriented for a voyage which is much richer in scope and meaning
than any Western psychological theory. We remain aware, however, that
the Bardo Thodol model of consciousness is a human artifact, a Second
Bardo hallucination, however grand its scope.

Some practical recommendations. The subject should set aside at least
three days for his experience; a day before, the session day, and a
follow-up day. This scheduling guarantees a reduction in external
pressure and a more sober commitment to the voyage.

Talking to others who have taken the voyage is excellent preparation,
although the Second Bardo hallucinatory quality of all descriptions
should be recognized. Observing a session is another valuable
preliminary. The opportunity to see others during and after a session
shapes expectations.

Reading books about mystical experience is a standard orientation
procedure. Reading the accounts of others' experiences is another
possibility (Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, and Gordon Wasson have written
powerful accounts).

Meditation is probably the best preparation for a psychedelic session.
Those who have spent time in the solitary attempt to manage the mind,
to eliminate thought and to reach higher stages of concentration, are
the best candidates for a psychedelic session. When the ego-loss state
occurs, they are ready. They recognize the process as an end eagerly
awaited, rather than a strange event ill-understood.

5. The Setting

The first and most important thing to remember, in the preparation for
a psychedelic session, is to provide a setting which is removed from
one's usual social and interpersonal games and which is as free as
possible from unforeseen distractions and intrusions. The voyager
should make sure that he will not be disturbed by visitors or
telephone calls, since these will often jar him into hallucinatory
activity. Trust in the surroundings and privacy are necessary.

A period of time (usually at least three days) should be set aside in
which the experience will run its natural course and there will be
sufficient time for reflections and meditation. It is important to
keep schedules open for three days and to make these arrangements
beforehand. A too-hasty return to game-involvements will blur the
clarity of the vision and reduce the potential for learning. If the
experience was with a group, it is very useful to stay together after
the session in order to share and exchange experiences.

There are differences between night sessions and day sessions. Many
people report that they are more comfortable in the evening and
consequently that their experiences are deeper and richer. The person
should choose the time of day that seems right according to his own
temperament at first. Later, he may wish to experience the difference
between night and day sessions.

Similarly, there are differences between sessions out-of-doors and
indoors. Natural settings such as gardens, beaches, forests, and open
country have specific influences which one may or may not wish to
incur. The essential thing is to feel as comfortable as possible in
the surroundings, whether in one's living room or under the night sky.
A familiarity with the surroundings may help one to feel confident in
hallucinatory periods. If the session is held indoors, one must
consider the arrangement of the room and the specific objects one may
wish to see and hear during the experience.

Music, lighting, the availability of food and drink, should be
considered beforehand. Most people report no desire for food during
the height of the experience, and then, later on, prefer to have
simple, ancient foods like bread, cheese, wine, and fresh fruit.
Hunger is usually not the issue. The senses are wide open, and the
taste and smell of a fresh orange are unforgettable.

In group sessions, the arrangement of the room is quite important.
People usually will not feel like walking or moving very much for a
long period, and either beds or mattresses should be provided. The
arrangement of the beds or mattresses can vary. One suggestion is to
place the heads of the beds together to form a star pattern. Perhaps
one may want to place a few beds together and keep one or two some
distance apart for anyone who wishes to remain aside for some time.
Often, the availability of an extra room is desirable for someone who
wishes to be in seclusion for a period.

If it is desired to listen to music or to reflect on paintings or
religious objects, one should arrange these so that everyone in the
group feels comfortable with what they are hearing or seeing. In a
group session, all decisions about goals, setting, etc. should be made
with collaboration and openness.

6. The Psychedelic Guide

For initial sessions, the attitude and behavior of the guide are
critical factors. He possesses enormous power to shape the experience.
With the cognitive mind suspended, the subject is in a heightened
state of suggestibility. The guide can move consciousness with the
slightest gesture or reaction.

The key issue here is the guide's ability to turn off his own ego and
social games - in particular, to muffle his own power needs and his
fears. To be there relaxed, solid, accepting, secure. The Tao wisdom
of creative quietism. To sense all and do nothing except to let the
subject know your wise presence.

A psychedelic session lasts up to twelve hours and produces moments of
intense, intense, INTENSE reactivity. The guide must never be bored,
talkative, intellectualizing. He must remain calm during the long
periods of swirling mindlessness.

He is the ground control in the airport tower. Always there to receive
messages and queries from high-flying aircraft. Always ready to help
navigate their course, to help them reach their destination. An
airport-tower-operator who imposes his own personality, his own games
upon the pilot is unheard of. The pilots have their own flight plan,
their own goals, and ground control is there, ever waiting to be of

The pilot is reassured to know that an expert who has guided thousands
of flights is down there, available for help. But suppose the flier
has reason to suspect that ground control is harboring his own motives
and might be manipulating the plane toward selfish goals. The bond of
security and confidence would crumble.

It goes without saying, then, that the guide should have had
considerable experience in psychedelic sessions himself and in guiding
others. To administer psychedelics without personal experience is
unethical and dangerous.

The greatest problem faced by human beings in general, and the
psychedelic guide in particular, is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of
losing control. Fear of trusting the genetic process and your
companions. From our own research studies and our investigations into
sessions run by others - serious professionals or adventurous
bohemians - we have been led to the conclusion that almost every
negative LSD reaction has been caused by fear on the part of the guide
which has augmented the transient fear of the subject. When the guide
acts to protect himself, he communicates his concern to the subject.

The guide must remain passively sensitive and intuitively relaxed for
several hours. This is a difficult assignment for most Westerners. For
this reason, we have sought ways to assist the guide in maintaining a
state of alert quietism in which he is poised with ready flexibility.
The most certain way to achieve this state is for the guide to take a
low dose of the psychedelic with the subject. Routine procedure is to
have one trained person participate in the experience and one staff
member present in ground control without psychedelic aid.

The knowledge that one experienced guide is "up" and keeping the
subject company, is of inestimable value; intimacy and communication;
cosmic companionship; the security of having a trained pilot flying at
your wing tip; the scuba diver's security in the presence of an expert
comrade in the deep.

It is not recommended that guides take large doses during sessions for
new subjects. The less experienced he is, the more likely will the
subject impose Second and Third Bardo hallucinations. These intense
games affect the experienced guide, who is likely to be in a state of
mindless void. The guide is then pulled into the hallucinatory field
of the subject, and may have difficulty orienting himself. During the
First Bardo there are no familiar fixed landmarks, no place to put
your foot, no solid concept upon which to base your thinking. All is
flux. Decisive Second Bardo action on the part of the subject can
structure the guide's flow if he has taken a heavy dose.

The role of the psychedelic guide is perhaps the most exciting and
inspiring role in society. He is literally a liberator, one who
provides illumination, one who frees men from their life-long internal
bondage. To be present at the moment of awakening, to share the
ecstatic revelation when the voyager discovers the wonder and awe of
the divine life-process, is for many the most gratifying part to play
in the evolutionary drama. The role of the psychedelic guide has a
built-in protection against professionalism and didactic oneupmanship.
The psychedelic liberation is so powerful that it far outstrips
earthly game ambitions. Awe and gratitude - rather than pride - are
the rewards of this new profession.

7. Composition of the Group

The most effective use of this manual will be for the experience of
one person with a guide. However, the manual will be useful in a group
also. When used in a group session, the following suggestions will be
most helpful in planning.

The important thing to remember in organizing a group session is to
have knowledge of and trust in the fellow voyagers. Trust in oneself
and in one's companions is essential. If preparing for an experience
with strangers, it is very important to share as much time and space
as possible with them prior to the session. The participants should
set collaborative goals and explore mutually their expectations and
feelings and past experiences.

The size of the group should depend to some extent on how much
experience the participants have had. Initially, small groups are
preferable to larger ones. In any case, group experiences exceeding
six or seven people are demonstrably less profound and generate more
paranoid hallucinations. If planning for a group session of five or
six people, it is preferable to have at least two guides present. One
will take the psychedelic substance and the other, who does not,
serves as a practical guide to take care of such concerns as changing
the recordings, providing food, etc., and if necessary or desired,
reading selections from the manual. If it is possible, one of the
guides should be an experienced woman who can provide an atmosphere of
spiritual nurturing and comfort.

It is sometimes advisable that the initial session of married couples
be separate in order that the exploration of their marriage game not
dominate the session. With some experience in consciousness-expansion,
the marriage game like others may be explored for any purpose -
increased intimacy, clearer communication, exploration of the
foundations of the sexual, mating relationship, etc.




O (name of voyager) The time has come for you to seek new levels of
reality. Your ego and the (name) game are about to cease. Your are
about to be set face to face with the Clear Light Your are about to
experience it in its reality. In the ego-free state, wherein all
things are like the void and cloudless sky, And the naked spotless
intellect is like a transparent vacuum; At this moment, know yourself
and abide in that state.

O (name of voyager), That which is called ego-death is coming to you.
Remember: This is now the hour of death and rebirth; Take advantage of
this temporary death to obtain the perfect state -Enlightenment.
Concentrate on the unity of all living beings. Hold onto the Clear
Light. Use it to attain understanding and love.

If you cannot maintain the bliss of illumination and if you are
slipping back into contact with the external world, Remember: The
hallucinations which you may now experience, The visions and insights,
Will teach you much about yourself and the world. The veil of routine
perception will be torn from you eyes. Remember the unity of all
living things. Remember the bliss of the Clear Light. Let it guide you
through the visions of this experience. Let it guide you through your
new life to come. If you feel confused; call upon the memory of your
friends and the power of the person whom you most admire.

O (name), Try to reach and keep the experience of the Clear Light.
Remember: The light is the life energy. The endless flame of life. An
ever-changing surging turmoil of color may engulf your vision. This is
the ceaseless transformation of energy. The life process. Do not fear
it. Surrender to it. Join it. It is part of you. You are part of it.
Remember also: Beyond the restless flowing electricity of life is the
ultimate reality -The Void. Your own awareness, not formed into
anything possessing form or color, is naturally void. The Final
Reality. The All Good. The All Peaceful. The Light. The Radiance. The
movement is the fire of life from which we all come. Join it. It is
part of you. Beyond the light of life is the peaceful silence of the
void. The quiet bliss beyond all transformations. The Buddha smile.
The Void is not nothingness. The Void is beginning and end itself.
Unobstructed; shining, thrilling, blissful. Diamond consciousness. The
All-Good Buddha. Your own consciousness, not formed into anything, No
thought, no vision, no color, is void. The intellect shining and
blissful and silent -This is the state of perfect enlightenment. Your
own consciousness, shining, void and inseparable from the great body
of radiance, has no birth, nor death. It is the immutable light which
the Tibetans call Buddha Amitabha, The awareness of the formless
beginning. Knowing this is enough. Recognize the voidness of your own
consciousness to be Buddhahood. Keep this recognition and you will
maintain the state of the divine mind of the Buddha.


Remember: In this session you experience three Bardos, Three states of
ego-loss. First there is the Clear Light of Reality. Next there are
fantastically varied game hallucinations. Later you will reach the
stage of Re-Entry Of regaining an ego.

O friend, You may experience ego-transcendence, Departure from your
old self. But you are not the only one. It comes to all at some time.
You are fortunate to have this gratuitously given rebirth experience.
Do not cling in fondness and weakness to your old self. Even though
you cling to your mind, you have lost the power to keep it. You can
gain nothing by struggling in this hallucinatory world. Be not
attached. Be not weak. Whatever fear or terror may come to you Forget
not these words. Take their meaning into your heart. Go forward.
Herein lies the vital secret of recognition.

O friend, remember: When body and mind separate, you experience a
glimpse of the pure truth -Subtle, sparkling, bright, Dazzling,
glorious, and radiantly awesome, In appearance like a mirage moving
across a landscape in springtime. One continuous stream of vibrations.
Be not daunted thereby, Nor terrified, nor awed. That is the radiance
of your own true nature. Recognize it.

>From the midst of that radiance Comes the natural sound of reality,
Reverberating like a thousand thunders simultaneously sounding. That
is the natural sound of your own life process. Be not daunted thereby,
Nor terrified, nor awed. It is sufficient for you to know that these
apparitions are your own thought-forms. If you do not recognize your
own thought forms, If you forget your preparation, The lights will
daunt you, The sounds will awe you, The rays will terrify you, The
people around you will confuse you. Remember the key to the teachings.

O friend, These realms are not come from somewhere outside your self,
They come from within and shine upon you. The revelations too are not
come from somewhere else; They exist from eternity within the
faculties of your own intellect. Know them to be of that nature.

The key to enlightenment and serenity during this period of ten
thousand visions is simply this: Relax. Merge yourself with them.
Blissfully accept the wonders of your own creativity. Become neither
attached nor afraid, Neither be attracted nor repulsed. Above all, do
nothing about the visions. They exist only within you.

(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored)

O nobly-born, listen carefully: The Radiant Energy of the Seed >From
which come all living forms, Shoots forth and strikes against you With
a light so brilliant that you will scarcely be able to look at it. Do
not be frightened. This is the Source Energy which has been radiating
for billions of years, Ever manifesting itself in different forms.
Accept it. Do not try to intellectualize it. Do not play games with
it. Merge with it. Let it flow through you. Lose yourself in it. Fuse
in the Halo of Rainbow Light Into the core of the energy dance. Obtain
Buddhahood in the Central Realm of the Densely Packed.


O friend, listen carefully. The bodily symptoms you are having are not
drug-effects. They indicate that you are struggling against the
awareness of feelings which surpass your normal experience. You cannot
control these universal energy-waves. Let the feelings melt all over
you. Become part of them. Sink into them and through them. Allow
yourself to pulsate with the vibrations surrounding you. Relax. Do not
struggle. Your symptoms will disappear as soon as all trace of ego-
centered striving disappears. Accept them as the message of the body.
Welcome them. Enjoy them.


(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored; intellectual aspects)

O nobly born, listen carefully: The life flow is whirling through you.
An endless parade of pure forms and sounds, Dazzlingly brilliant,
Ever-changing. Do not try to control it. Flow with it. Experience the
ancient cosmic myths of creation and manifestation. Do not try to
understand; There is plenty of time for that later. Merge with it. Let
it flow through you. There is no need to act or think. You are being
taught the great lessons of evolution, creation, reproduction. If you
try to stop it, you may fall into hell-worlds and endure unbearable
misery generated by your own mind. Avoid game interpretations. Avoid
thinking, talking and doing. Keep faith in the life flow. Trust your
companions on this watery journey. Merge in Rainbow Light, Into the
Heart of The River of Created Forms. Obtain Buddhahood in the Realm
called Pre-Eminently Happy.


(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored, emotional aspects)

O nobly born, listen carefully: You are flowing outward into the fluid
unity of life. The ecstasy of organic fire glows in every cell. The
hard, dry, brittle husks of your ego are washing out, Washing out to
the endless sea of creation. Flow with it. Feel the pulse of the sun's
heart. Let the red Buddha Amitabha sweep you along. Do not fear the
ecstasy. Do not resist the flow. Remember, all the exultant power
comes from within. Release your attachment. Recognize the wisdom of
your own blood. Trust the tide-force pulling you into unity with all
living forms. Let your heart burst in love for all life. Let your warm
blood gush out into the ocean of all life. Do not be attached to the
ecstatic power; It comes from you. Let it flow. Do not try to hold on
to your old bodily fears. Let your body merge with the warm flux. Let
your roots sink into the warm life body. Merge into the Heart-Glow of
the Buddha Amitabha. Float in the Rainbow Sea. Attain Buddhahood in
the Realm named Exultant Love.


(Eyes open, rapt involvement with the external
visual stimuli, intellectual aspects)

O nobly born, listen carefully: At this point you can become aware of
the wave structure of the world around you. Everything you see
dissolves into energy vibrations. Look closely and you will tune in on
the electric dance of energy. There are no longer things and persons
but only the direct flow of particles. Consciousness will now leave
your body and flow into the stream of wave rhythm. There is no need
for talk or action. Let your brain become a receiving set for the
radiance. All interpretations are the products of your own mind.
Dispel them. Have no fear. Exult in the natural power of your own
brain, The wisdom of your own electricity. Abide in the state of
quietude. As the three-dimensional world fragments, you may feel
panic; You may beget a fondness for the heavy dull world of objects
you are leaving. At this time, fear not the transparent, radiant,
dazzling wave energy. Allow your intellect to rest. Fear not the hook-
rays of the light of life, The basic structure of matter, The basic
form of wave communication. Watch quietly and receive the message. You
will now experience directly the revelation of primal forms.


(Eyes open; rapt involvement with external stimuli such as lights,
or movements; emotional aspects)

O nobly born, listen carefully: You are experiencing the unity of all
living forms. If people seem to you rubbery and lifeless, like plastic
puppets, Be not afraid. This is only the attempt of the ego to
maintain its separate identity. Allow yourself to feel the unity of
all. Merge with the world around you. Be not afraid. Enjoy the dance
of the puppets. They are created by your own mind. Allow yourself to
relax and feel the ecstatic energy-vibrations pulsing through you.
Enjoy the feeling of complete one-ness with all life and all matter.
The glowing radiance is a reflection of your own consciousness. It is
one aspect of your divine nature. Do not be attached to your old human
self. Do not be alarmed at the new and strange feelings you are
having. If you are attracted to your old self, You will be reborn
shortly for another round of game-existence. Exercise humble trust and
remain fearless. You will merge into the heart of the Blessed
Ratnasambhava, In a Halo of Rainbow Light, And attain liberation in
the Realm Endowed with Glory.


O nobly born, listen well: You are now witnessing the magical dance of
forms. Ecstatic kaleidoscopic patterns explode around you. All
possible shapes come to life before you eyes. The retinal circus. The
ceaseless play of elements -Earth, water, air, fire, In ever-changing
forms and manifestations, Dazzles you with its complexity and variety.
Relax and enjoy the rushing stream. Do not become attached to any
vision or revelation. Let everything flow through you. If unpleasant
experiences come, Let them flit by with the rest. Do not struggle
against them. It all comes from within you. This is the great lesson
in the creativity and power of the brain, freed from its learned
structures. Let the cascade of images and associations take you where
it will. Meditate calmly on the knowledge that all these visions are
emanations of your own consciousness. This way you can obtain self-
knowledge and be liberated.


O nobly born, listen well: You are now in the magic theatre of heroes
and demons. Mythical superhuman figures. Demons, goddesses, celestial
warriors, giants, Angels, Bodhisattvas, dwarfs, crusaders, Elves,
devils, saints, and sorcerers, Infernal spirits, goblins, knights and
emperors. The Lotus Lord of Dance. The Wise Old Man. The Divine Child.
The Trickster, The Shapeshifter. The tamer of monsters. The mother of
gods, the witch. The moon king. The wanderer. The whole divine theatre
of figures representing the highest reaches of human knowledge. Do not
be afraid of them. They are within you. Your own creative intellect is
the master magician of them all. Recognize the figures as aspects of
your self. The whole fantastic comedy takes place within you. Do not
become attached to the figures. Remember the teachings. You may still
attain liberation.


O nobly born, listen carefully: You were unable to maintain the
perfect Clear Light of the First Bardo. Or the serene peaceful visions
of the Second. You are now entering Second Bardo nightmares. Recognize
them. They are your own thought-forms made visible and audible. They
are products of your own mind with its back to the wall. They indicate
that you are close to liberation. Do not fear them. No harm can come
to you from these hallucinations. They are your own thoughts in
frightening aspect. They are old friends. Welcome them. Merge with
them. Join them. Lose yourself in them. They are yours. Whatever you
see, no matter how strange and terrifying, Remember above all that it
comes from within you. Hold onto that knowledge. As soon as you
recognize that, you will obtain liberation. If you do not recognize
them, Torture and punishment will ensue. But these too are but the
radiances of your own intellect. They are immaterial. Voidness cannot
injure voidness. None of the peaceful or wrathful visions, Blood-
drinking demons, machines, monsters, or devils, Exist in reality Only
within your skull. This will dissipate your fear. Remember it well.


O (name), listen well: You are now entering the Third Bardo. Before,
while experiencing the peaceful and wrathful visions of the Second
Bardo, You could not recognize them. Through fear you became
unconscious. Now, as you recover, Your consciousness rises up, Like a
trout leaping forth out of water, Striving for its original form. Your
former ego has started to operate again. Do not struggle to figure
things out. If through weakness you are attracted to action and
thinking, You will have to wander amidst the world of game existence,
And suffer pain. Relax your restless mind.

O (name), you have been unable to recognize the archetypal forms of
the Second Bardo. You have come down this far. Now, if you wish to see
the truth, Your mind must rest without distraction. There is nothing
to do, Nothing to think. Float back to the unobscured, primordial,
bright, void state of your intellect. In this way you will obtain
liberation. If you are unable to relax your mind, Meditate on (name of
protective figure) Meditate on your friends (name) Think of them with
profound love and trust, As overshadowing the crown of your head. This
is of great importance. Be not distracted.

O (name), You may now feel the power to perform miraculous feats, To
perceive and communicate with extrasensory power, To change shape,
size and number, To traverse space and time instantly. These feelings
come to you naturally, Not through any merit on your part. Do not
desire them. Do not attempt to exercise them. Recognize them as signs
that you are in the Third Bardo, In the period of re-entry into the
normal world.

O (name), If you have not understood the above, At this moment, As a
result of your own mental set, Frightening visions may come. Gusts of
wind and icy blasts, Humming and clicking of the controlling
machinery, Mocking laughter. You may imagine terror producing remarks:
"Guilty," "stupid," inadequate," "nasty." Such imagined taunts and
paranoid nightmares Are the residues of selfish, ego-dominated game-
playing. Fear them not. They are your own mental products. Remember
that you are in the Third Bardo. You are struggling to re-enter the
denser atmosphere of routine game existence. Let this re-entry be
smooth and slow. Do not attempt to use force of will-power.

O (name), As you are driven here and there by the ever-moving winds of
karma, Your mind, having no resting place or focus, Is like a feather
tossed about by the wind, Or like a rider on the horse or breath,
Ceaselessly and involuntarily you will wander about, Calling in
despair for your old ego. Your mind races along until you are
exhausted and miserable. Do not hold on to thoughts. Allow the mind to
rest in its unmodified state. Meditate on the oneness of all energy.
Thus you will be free of sorrow, terror, and confusion.

O (name) You may feel confused and bewildered. You may be wondering
about your sanity. You may look at your fellow voyagers and friends,
And sense that they cannot understand you. You may think; "I am dead!
What shall I do?," And feel great misery, Just like a fish cast out of
water on red-hot embers. You may wonder whether you will ever return.

Familiar places, relatives, people known to you appear as in a dream,
Or through a glass darkly. If you are having such experiences,
Thinking will be of no avail. Do not struggle to explain. This is the
natural result of your own mental program. Such feelings indicate that
you are in the Third Bardo. Trust your guide, Trust your companions,
Trust the Compassionate Buddha, Meditate calmly and without

O (name), You may now feel as if you are being oppressed and squeezed,
Like between rocks and boulders, Or like inside a cage or prison.
Remember: These are signs that you are trying to force a return to
your ego. There may be a dull, gray light Suffusing all objects with a
murky glow. These are all signs of the Third Bardo. Do not struggle to
return. The re-entry will happen by itself. Recognize where you are.
Recognition will lead to liberation.


O (name), You have still not understood what is happening So far you
have been searching for your past personality. Unable to find it, you
may begin to feel that you will never be the same again, That you will
come back a changed person. Saddened by this you will feel self-pity,
You will attempt to find your ego, to regain control. So thinking, you
will wander here and there, Ceaselessly and distractedly. Different
images of your future self will be seen by you; The one you are headed
for will be seen most clearly. The special art of these teachings is
particularly important at this moment. Whatever image you see,
Meditate upon it as coming from the Buddha -That level of existence
also exists in the Buddha. This is an exceedingly profound art. It
will free you from your present confusion. Meditate upon (name of
protective ideal) for as long as possible. Visualize him as a form
produced by a magician, Then let his image melt away, Starting with
the extremities, Till nothing remains visible. Put yourself in a state
of Clearness and Voidness; Abide in that state for a while. Then
meditate again on your protective ideal. Then again on the Clear
Light. Do this alternately. Afterwards, allow your own mind also to
melt away gradually. Wherever the air pervades, consciousness
pervades. Wherever consciousness pervades, serene ecstasy pervades.
Abide tranquilly in the uncreated state of serenity. In that state,
paranoid rebirth will be prevented. Perfect enlightenment will be


O (name), you may now experience momentary joy, Followed by momentary
sorrow, Of great intensity, Like the stretching and relaxing of a
catapult. You will go through sharp mood swings, All determined by
karma. Be not in the least attached to the joys nor displeased by the
sorrows. The actions of your friends or companions may evoke anger or
shame in you. If you get angry or depressed, You will immediately have
an experience of hell. No matter what people are doing, Make sure that
no angry thought can arise. Meditate upon love for them. Even at this
late stage of the session You are only one second away from a life-
changing joyous discovery. Remember that each of your companions is
Buddha within. You mind in its present state having no focus or
integrating force, Being light and continuously moving, Whatever
thought occurs to you, Positive or negative, Will wield great power.
You are extremely suggestible Therefore think not of selfish things.
Recall your preparation for the session. Show pure affection and
humble faith. Through hearing these words, Recollection will come.
Recollection will be followed by recognition and liberation.


O (name), if you are experiencing a vision of judgment and guilt,
Listen carefully: That you are suffering like this Is the result of
your own mental set. Your karma. No one is doing anything to you.
There is nothing to do. Your own mind is creating the problem.
Accordingly float into meditation. Remember your former beliefs.
Remember the teachings of this manual. Remember the friendly presence
of you companions. If you do not know how to meditate Concentrate on
any single object or sensation. Hold this (hand the wanderer an
object), Concentrate on the reality of this, Recognize the illusory
nature of existence and phenomena. This moment is of great importance.
If you are distracted now it will take you a long time to get out of
the quagmire of misery. Up till now the Bardo experiences have come to
you and you have not recognized them. You have been distracted. On
this account you have experienced fear and terror. Even though
unsuccessful thus far You may recognize and obtain liberation here.
Your session can still become ecstatic and revelatory. If you do not
know how to meditate, remember (person's ideal). Remember your
companions Remember this manual. Think of all these fears and
terrifying apparitions as being your own ideal, Or as the
compassionate one. They are divine tests. Remember your guide. Repeat
the names over and over. Even though you fall, You will not be hurt.


O (name), At this time you may see visions of mating couples. You are
convinced that an orgy is about to take place. Desire and anticipation
seize you, You wonder what sexual performance is expected of you. When
these visions occur, Remember to withhold yourself from action or
attachment. Humbly exercise your faith. Float with the stream. Trust
the process with great fervency. Meditation and trust in the unity of
life are the keys. If you attempt to enter into your old personality
because you are attracted or repulsed, If you try to join the orgy you
are hallucinating, You will be reborn on an animal level. You will
experience possessive desire and jealousy, You will suffer stupidity
and misery. If you wish to avoid these miseries Listen and recognize.
Reject the feelings of attraction or repulsion. Remember the downward
pull opposing enlightenment is strong in you. Meditate upon unity with
your fellow voyagers. Abandon jealousy, Be neither attracted nor
repulsed by your sexual hallucinations. If you are you will wander in
misery a long time. Repeat these words to yourself. And meditate on


First Method: Meditation on the Buddha

O (name), tranquilly meditate upon your protective figure (name). He
is like the reflecting of the moon in water. He is apparent yet non-
existent. Like illusion produced by magic. If you have no special
protective figure, Meditate upon the Buddha or upon me. With this in
mind meditate tranquilly. Then causing the visualized form of your
protective ideal To melt away from the extremities, Meditate, without
any thought-forming, upon the Void Clear Light. This is a very
profound art. By virtue of it rebirth is postponed. A more illuminated
future is assured.

Second Method: Meditation on Good Games

(Name), You are now wandering in the Third Bardo. As a sign of this,
look into a mirror and you will not see your usual self (show the
wanderer a mirror). At this time you must form a single, firm resolve
in your mind. This is very important. It is like directing the course
of a horse by the use of the reins. Whatever you desire will come to
pass. Think not of evil actions which might turn the course of your
mind. Remember your spiritual relationship with me, Or with anyone
from whom you have received teaching. Persevere with good games. This
is essential. Be not distracted. Here lies the boundary line between
going up or down. If you give way to indecision for even a second, You
will have to suffer misery for a long, long time, Trapped in your old
habits and games. This is the moment. Hold fast to one single purpose.
Remember good games. Resolve to act according to your highest insight.
This is a time when earnestness and pure love are necessary. Abandon
jealousy. Meditate upon laughter and trust. Bear this well at heart.

Third Method: Meditation on Illusion

If still going down and not liberated, Meditate as follows: The sexual
activities, the manipulation machinery, the mocking laughter, dashing
sounds and terrifying apparitions, Indeed all phenomena Are in their
nature, illusions. However they may appear, in truth they are unreal
and fake. They are like dreams and apparitions, Non-permanent, non-
fixed. What advantage is there in being attached to them, Or being
afraid of them? All these are hallucinations of the mind. The mind
itself does not exist, Therefore why should they? Only through taking
these illusions for real will you wander around in this confused
existence. All these are like dreams, Like echoes, Like cities of
clouds, Like mirages, Like mirrored forms, Like phantasmagoria, The
moon seen in water. Not real even for a moment. By holding one-
pointedly to that train of thought. The belief that they are real is
dissipated, And liberation is attained.

Fourth Method: Meditation on the Void

"All substances are part of my own consciousness. This consciousness
is vacuous, unborn, and unceasing." Thus meditating, Allow the mind to
rest in the uncreated state. Like the pouring of water into water, The
mind should be allowed its own easy mental posture In its natural,
unmodified condition, clear and vibrant. By maintaining this relaxed,
uncreated state of mind Rebirth into routine game-reality is sure to
be prevented. Meditate on this until you are certainly free.


(Name), Listen: It is almost time to return. Make the selection of
your future personality according to the best teaching. Listen well:
The signs and characteristics of the level of existence to come Will
appear to you in premonitory visions. Recognize them. When you find
that you have to return to reality, Try to follow the pleasant
delightful visions. Avoid the dark unpleasant ones. If you return in
panic, a fearful state will follow, If you strive to escape dark,
gloomy scenes, an unhappy state will follow, If you return in
radiance, a happy state will follow. Your mental state now will affect
your subsequent level of being. Whatever you choose, Choose
impartially, Without attraction or repulsion. Enter into game-
existence with good grace. Voluntarily and freely. Remain calm.
Remember the teachings.


Using LSD to Imprint the Tibetan-Buddhist Experience
A Guide to Successful Psychedelic Experience
by Dr. Timothy Leary, PhD

Having read this preparatory manual one can immediately recognize symptoms and experiences that might otherwise be terrifying, only because of lack of understanding. Recognition is the key word. Recognizing and locating the level of consciousness. This guidebook may also be used to avoid paranoid trips or to regain transcendence if it has been lost. If the experience starts with light, peace, mystic unity, understanding, and continues along this path, then there is no need to remember the manual or have it reread to you. Like a road map, consult it only when lost, or when you wish to change course.

Planning a Session
What is the goal? Classic Hinduism suggests four possibilities:

1. Increased personal power, intellectual understanding, sharpened insight into self and culture, improvement of life situation, accelerated learning, professional growth.
2. Duty, help of others, providing care, rehabilitation, rebirth for fellow men.
3. Fun, sensuous enjoyment, esthetic pleasure, interpersonal closeness, pure experience.
4. Trancendence, liberation from ego and space-time limits; attainment of mystical union.

The manual's primary emphasis on the last goal does not preclude other goals - in fact, it guarantees their attainment because illumination requires that the person be able to step out beyond problems of personality, role, and professional status. The initiate can decide before hand to devote their psychedelic experience to any of the four goals.

In the extroverted transcendent experience, the self is ecstatically fused with external objects (e.g., flowers, other people). In the introverted state, the self is ecstatically fused with internal life processes (lights, energy waves, bodily events, biological forms, etc.). Either state may be negative rather than positive, depending on the voyager's set and setting. For the extroverted mystic experience, one would bring to the session candles, pictures, books, incense, music, or recorded passages to guide the awareness in the desired direction. An introverted experience requires eliminating all stimulation: no light, no sound, no smell, no movement.

The mode of communication with other participants should also be agreed on beforehand, to avoid misinterpretations during the heightened sensitivity of ego transcendence.

If several people are having a session together, they should at least be aware of each other's goals. Unexpected or undesired manipulations can easily "trap" the other voyagers into paranoid delusions.

Psychedelic chemicals are not drugs in the usual sense of the word. There is no specific somatic or psychological reaction. The better the preparation, the more ecstatic and relevatory the session. In initial sessions with unprepared persons, set and setting - particularly the actions of others - are most important. Long-range set refers to personal history, enduring personality, the kind of person you are. Your fears, desires, conflicts, guilts, secret passions, determine how you interpret and manage any psychedelic session. Perhaps more important are the reflex mechanisms, defenses, protective maneuvers, typically employed when dealing with anxiety. Flexibility, basic trust, philosophic faith, human openness, courage, interpersonal warmth, creativity, allow for fun and easy learning. Rigidity, desire to control, distrust, cynicism, narrowness, cowardice, coldness, make any new situation threatening. Most important is insight. The person who has some understanding of his own machinery, who can recognize when he is not functioning as he would wish, is better able to adapt to any challenge - even the sudden collapse of his ego.

Immediate set refers to expections about the session itself. People naturally tend to impose personal and social perspectives on any new situation. For example, some ill-prepared subjects unconsciously impose a medical model on the experience. They look for symptoms, interpret each new sensation in terms of sickness/health, and, if anxiety develops, demand tranquilizers. Occasionally, ill-planned sessions end in the subject demanding to see a doctor.

Rebellion against convention may motivate some people who take the drug. The naive idea of doing something "far out" or vaguely naughty can cloud the experience.

LSD offers vast possibilities of accelerated learning and scientific- scholarly research, but for initial sessions, intellectual reactions can become traps. "Turn your mind off" is the best advice for novitiates. After you have learned how to move your consciousness around - into ego loss and back, at will - then intellectual exercises can be incorporated into the psychedelic experience. The objective is to free you from your verbal mind for as long as possible.

Religious expectations invite the same advice. Again, the subject in early sessions is best advised to float with the stream, stay "up" as long as possible, and postpone theological interpretations.

Recreational and esthetic expectations are natural. The psychedelic experience provides ecstatic moments that dwarf any personal or cultural game. Pure sensation can capture awareness. Interpersonal intimacy reaches Himalayan heights. Esthetic delights - musical, artistic, botanical, natural - are raised to the millionth power. But ego-game reactions - "I am having this ecstasy. How lucky I am!" - can prevent the subject from reaching pure ego loss.

Some Practical Recommendations:
The subject should set aside at least three days: a day before the experience, the session day, and a follow-up day. This scheduling guarantees a reduction in external pressure and a more sober commitment. Talking to others who have taken the voyage is excellent preparation, although the hallucinatory quality of all descriptions should be recognized. Observing a session is another valuble preliminary.

Reading books about mystical experience and of others' experiences is another possibility (Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, and Gordon Wasson have written powerful accounts). Meditation is probably the best preparation. Those who have spent time in a solitary attempt to manage the mind, to eliminate thought and reach higher stages of concentration, are the best candidates for a psychedelic session. When the ego loss occurs, they recognize the process as an eagerly awaited end.

The Setting

First and most important, provide a setting removed from one's usual interpersonal games, and as free as possible from unforseen distractions and intrusions. The voyager should make sure that he will not be disturbed; visitors or a phone call will often jar him into hallucinatory activity. Trust in the surroundings and privacy are necessary.

The day after the session should be set aside to let the experience run its natural course and allow time for reflection and meditation. A too-hasty return to game involvements will blur the clarity and reduce the potential for learning. It is very useful for a group to stay together after the session to share and exchange experiences.

Many people are more comfortable in the evening, and consequently their experiences are deeper and richer. The person should choose the time of day that seems right. Later, he may wish to experience the difference between night and day sessions. Similarly, gardens, beaches, forests, and open country have specific influences that one may or may not wish. The essential thing is to feel as comfortable as possible, whether in one's living room or under the night sky. Familiar surroundings may help one feel confident in hallucinatory periods. If the session is held indoors, music, lighting, the availablility of food and drink, should be considered beforehand. Most people report no hunger during the height of the experience, then later on prefer simple ancient foods like bread, cheese, wine, and fresh fruit. The senses are wide open, and the taste and smell of a fresh orange are unforgetable.

In group sessions, people usually will not feel like walking or moving very much for long periods, and either beds or mattresses should be provided. One suggestion is to place the heads of the beds together to form a star pattern. Perhaps one may want to place a few beds together and keep one or two some distance apart for anyone who wishes to remain aside for some time. The availability of an extra room is desirable for someone who wishes to be in seclusion.

The Psychedelic Guide

With the cognitive mind suspended, the subject is in a heightened state of suggestibility. For initial sessions, the guide possesses enormous power to move consciousness with the slightest gesture or reaction.

The key here is the guide's ability to turn off his own ego and social games, power needs, and fears - to be there, relaxed, solid, accepting, secure, to sense all and do nothing except let the subject know his wise presence.

A psychedelic session lasts up to twelve hours and produces moments of intense, intense, INTENSE reactivity. The guide must never be bored, talkative, intellectualizing. He must remain calm during long periods of swirling mindlessness. He is the ground control, always there to receive messages and queries from high-flying aircraft, ready to help negotiate their course and reach their destination. The guide does not impose his own games on the voyager. Pilots who have their own flight plan, their own goals, are reassured to know that an expert is down there, available for help. But if ground control is harboring his own motives, manipulating the plane towards selfish goals, the bond of security and confidence crumbles.

To administer psychedelics without personal experience is unethical and dangerous. Our studies concluded that almost every negative LSD reaction has been caused by the guide's fear, which augmented the transient fear of the subject. When the guide acts to protect himself, he communicates his concern. If momentary discomfort or confusion happens, others present should not be sympathetic or show alarm but stay calm and restrain their "helping games." In particular, the "doctor" role should be avoided.

The guide must remain passively sensitive and intuitively relaxed for several hours - a difficult assignment for most Westerners. The most certain way to maintain a state of alert quietism, poised in ready flexability, is for the guide to take a low dose of the psychedelic with the subject. Routine procedure is to have one trained person participating in the experience, and one staff member present without psychedelic aid. The knowledge that one experienced guide is "up" and keeping the subject company is of inestimable value: the security of a trained pilot flying at your wingtip; the scuba diver's security in the presence of an expert companion.

The less experienced subject will more likely impose hallucinations. The guide, likely to be in a state of mindless, blissful flow, is then pulled into the subject's hallucinatory feild and may have difficulty orienting himself. There are no fmiliar fixed landmarks, no place to put your foot, no solid concept upon which to base your thinking. All is flux. Decisive action by the subject can structure the guide's flow if he has taken a heavy dose.

The psychedelic guide is literally a neurological liberator, who provides illumination, who frees men from their lifelong internal bondage. To be present at the moment of awakening, to share the ecstatic revelation when the voyager discovers the wonder and awe of the divine life-process, far outstrips eartly game ambitions. Awe and gratitude -rather than pride- are the rewards of this new profession.

The Period of Ego Loss or Non-Game Ecstasy
Success implies very unusual preparation in consciousness expansion, as well as much calm, compassionate game playing (good karma) on the part of the participant. If the participant can see and grasp the idea of the empty mind as soon as the guide reveals it -that is to say, if he has the power to die consciously- and, at the supreme moment of quitting the ego, can recognize the ecstasy that will dawn upon him and become one with it, then all bonds of illusion are broken asunder immediately: the dreamer is awakened into reality simultaneously with the mighty achievement of recognition.

It is best if the guru from whom the participant received guiding instructions is present. But if the guru cannot be present, then another experienced person, or a person the participant trusts, should be available to read this manual without imposing any of his own games. Thereby the participant will be put in mind of what he had previosly heard of the experience.

Liberation is the nervous system devoid of mental-conceptual redundancy. The mind in its conditioned state, limited to words and ego games, is continuously in thought-formation activity. The nervous system in a state of quiescence, alert, awake but not active, is comparable to what Buddhists call the highest state of dhyana (deep meditation). The conscious recognition of the Clear Light induces an ecstatic condition of consciousness such as saints and mystics of the West have called illumination.

The first sign is the glimpsing of the "Clear Light of Reality, the infallible mind of the pure mystic state" - an awareness of energy transformations with no imposition of mental categories.

The duration of this state varies, depending on the individual's experience, security, trust, preparation, and the surroundings. In those who have a little practical experience of the tranquil state of non-game awareness, this state can last from 30 minutes to several hours. Realization of what mystics call the "Ultimate Truth" is possible, provided that the person has made sufficient preparation beforehand. Otherwise he cannot benefit now, and must wander into lower and lower conditions of hallucinations until he drops back to routine reality.

It is important to remember that the consciousness-expansion is the reverse of the birth process, the ego-loss experiencee being a temporary ending of game life, a passing from one state of consciousness into another. Just as an infant must wake up and learn from experience the nature of this world, so a person must wake up in this new brilliant world of consciousness expansion and become familiar with its own peculiar conditions.

In those heavily dependant on ego games, who dread giving up control, the illuminated state endures only for a split second. In some, it lasts as long as the time taken for eating a meal. If the subject is prepared to diagnose the symptoms of ego-loss, he needs no outside help at this point. The person about to give up his ego should be able to recognize the Clear Light. If the person fails to recognize the onset of ego-loss, he may complain of strange bodily symptoms that show he has not reached a liberated state:

1. Bodily pressure
2. Clammy coldness followed by feverish heat
3. Body disintegrating or blown to atoms
4. Pressure on head and ears
5. Tingling in extremities
6. Feelings of body melting or flowing like wax
7. Nausea
8. Trembling or shaking, beginning in pelvic region and spreading up torso.

The guide or friend should explain that the symptoms indicate the onset of ego-loss. These physical reactions are signs heralding transcendence: avoid treating them as symptoms of illness. The subject should hail stomach messages as a sign that consciousness is moving arouns in the body. Experience the sensation fully, and let consciousness flow on to the next phase. It is usually more natural to let the subject's attention move from the stomach and concentrate on breathing and heartbeat. If this does not free him from nausea, the guide should move the consciousness to external events - music, walking in the garden, etc. As a last resort, heave.

The physical symptoms of ego-loss, recognized and understood, should result in peaceful attainment of illumination. The simile of a needle balanced and set rolling on a thread is used by the lamas to elucidate this condition. So long as the needle retains its balance, it remains on the thread. Eventually, however, the pull of the ego or external stimulation affects it, and it falls. In the realm of the Clear Light, similarly, a person in the ego-transcendent state momentarily enjoys a condition of perfect equilibrium and oneness. Unfamiliar with such an ecstatic non-ego state, the average consciousness lacks the power to function in it. Thoughts of personality, individualized being, dualism, prevent the realization of nirvana (the "blowing out of the flame" of fear or selfishness). When the voyager is clearly in a profound ego-transcendent ecstasy, the wise guide remains silent.