The Bardo Thodol "Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State", is a funerary text that describes,
and intends to guide one through, the experiences of the consciousness after death during the interval known as bardo between
death and rebirth. It also includes chapters on the signs of death and rituals to undertake when death is closing in or
has taken place.
The Bardo Thodol is recited by lamas over a dying or recently deceased person, or sometimes over an effigy of the
deceased. This a sign of the influence of shamanism on Tibetan Buddhism. The name means literally "liberation through
hearing in the intermediate state".
One can compare the descriptions of the Bardo Thodol with accounts of certain "out of the body" near-death experiences described by people who have nearly died in accidents or on the operating table - these typically contain accounts of a "white light", experienced as, somehow, a living being, and of helpful figures corresponding to that person's religious tradition.
The Bardo Thodol actually differentiates the intermediate states between lives into three bardos (themselves further subdivided): _______________________________
1.0 - First Bardo The Period of Ego-Loss or Non-Game Ecstasy (Chikhai Bardo) Moment of death
1.1 - Part I The Primary Clear Light Seen at the Moment of Ego-Loss.
Question 1: Do you embrace this supreme experience not in a selfish and egoistic way but rather with love and compassion for all sentient beings?
Question 2: Do you realize that your OWN mind and SELF is identical with the Clear Light, implying that YOU are the Ultimate Reality, "the All-good Buddha", transcending time, eternity, and all creation?
1.2 - Part II The Secondary Clear Light Seen Immediately After Ego-Loss.
Individual advanced in meditation: - "Recognize yourself as the Dharmakaya"
Individual at student-level in meditation: - "Meditate on his tutelary deity"
Individual of the common folk: - "Meditate upon the Great Compassionate Lord"
2.0 - Second Bardo The Period of Hallucinations (Chonyid Bardo) Experiencing of reality
2.1 - The Peaceful Visions
Vision 1: The Source
(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored)
Vision 2: The Internal Flow of Archetypal Processes
(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored; intellectual aspects)
Vision 3: The Fire-Flow of Internal Unity
(Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored, emotional aspects)
Vision 4: The Wave-Vibration Structure of External Forms
(Eyes open or rapt involvement with external stimuli; intellectual aspects)
Vision 5: The Vibratory Waves of External Unity
(Eyes open, or rapt involvement with external stimuli; emotional aspects)
Vision 6: "The Retinal Circus"
Vision 7: "The Magic Theatre"
2.2 - The Wrathful Visions (Second Bardo Nightmares) _______________________________
3.0 - Third Bardo The Period of Re-Entry (Sidpa Bardo) Rebirth
3.1 - Preliminary Instructions:
- Instructions for RE-ENTRY VISIONS
- Instructions for THE ALL-DETERMING INFLUENCE OF THOUGHT
- Instructions for JUDGMENT VISIONS
- Instructions for SEXUAL VISIONS
3.2 - Methods of Preventing Re-Entry:
1. First Method: Meditation on the Buddha 2. Second Method: Meditation on Good Games 3. Third Method: Meditation on Illusion 4. Fourth Method: Meditation on the Void
3.3 - Instructions for Choosing the Post-session Personality _______________________________
After Re-birth one is born in to the 3 Bardos of the wheel of existence "Bhavacakra"
Those are: Bardo of "life" (or ordinary waking consciousness), Bardo of "dhyana" (meditation), and Bardo of "dream". Thus together the "six bardos" form a classification of states of consciousness into six
broad types, and any state of consciousness forms a type of "intermediate state" - intermediate between other states
of consciousness. Indeed, one can consider any momentary state of consciousness a bardo, since it lies between our
past and future existences; it provides us with the opportunity to experience reality, which is always present but
obscured by the projections and confusions due to our previous unskillful actions.
4 - Bardo of Life(ordinary waking consciousness) 5 - Bardo of Dhyana(meditation) 6 - Bardo of Dream
The force that turns the Wheel: 3 Roots of Evil:Greed, Hatred, Ignorance
The Paths one can choose in life: Light Path & Dark Path
Six Worlds of Existence:
World of God’s & Deva's
World of Asuras (Demigods, Titans, Fighting Demons)
World of Humans
World of Animals
World of Pretas (Hungry ghosts)
World of Cold & Hot Hell’s
Twelve Interdependent Causes and Effects (Twelve Links of Causality)
1. Ignorance: Spiritual Blindness 2. Fate: Volitail Actions 3. Consiousness: Indecisive Materialism 4. Name & Form: Spiritual & Physical Energy 5. The 6 Sense’s: Ear, Eye, Nose, Tounge, Body & Mind 6. Contact: Touch 7. Sensation’s: Feeling’s & Emotion’s 8. Craving’s: Desire’s, Thirst & Hunger 9. Clinging to: Sensual Entangelment 10. Becoming: Coitus 11. Birth: Birth of a Child 12. Old Age & Death: Physical Decay
Every time you die, which ever existence you lived, you will return back to the 3 Bardos of Death (Bardo Thodol),
to be set face-to-face with Yama: Force of Impermanence, and will get a new chance to recognize the primary
clear light seen at the moment of "Ego-Loss".
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.
The drug is only one component of a psychedelic session. Equally important is the mental and spiritual preparation, both before and in the course of taking the drug. The authors find no need to invent new mental and spiritual materials for this purpose. The great literature on meditation lends itself very well to this use. This manual uses material from The Tibetan Book of the Dead for this preparation. The authors also make an important contribution to the interpretation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. They show that it is concerned not with the dead, but with the living. The last section of the manual provides instructions for an actual psychedelic session, under adequate safeguards.
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 lama-gurus.
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 them.
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 experience.
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 consciousness.
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.
Using LSD to Imprint the Tibetan-Buddhist Experience
by Dr. Timothy Leary, Ph.D.
A Guide to Successful Psychedelic Experience
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 beforehand 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.
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 field and may have difficulty orienting himself. 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 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 earthly 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 expert. 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
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 around 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.
About the Authors:
Timothy Leary, Ph.D
October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996
Timothy Francis Leary was born is Springfield, Massachusetts in 1920. He attended West Point in the early '40s (where he didn't exactly fit in) and then served in the military during WWII. He earned his PhD in psychology from U.C. Berkeley and taught there briefly but moved to Harvard after his first wife's death. He first took psilocybin mushrooms in 1960 during a trip to Mexico. When he returned to Harvard he began the Harvard Psilocybin Project, studying the effects of psilocybin on humans. As part of the project he, along with Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner, gave psilocybin to a series of volunteers including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Arthur Koestler, among others.
In 1962 Leary was introduced to LSD for the first time by Michael Hollingshead. He had what he later described as "the most shattering experience of his life". Leary became a spokesman for LSD and the psychedelic movement, encouraging people to "turn on, tune in, and drop out". In 1963, he and Richard Alpert were fired from their positions at Harvard after which they both lived at Millbrook for a time. At Milbrook they continued to work with psychedelics both therapeutically and recreationally...with the occasional help of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Abbie Hoffman and Aldous Huxley.
In 1965, while crossing into the U.S. from Mexico, Leary's daughter was caught with marijuana. Leary took responsibility, was convicted of marijuana possession under the Marijuana Tax Act and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He appealed the case based on the argument that the Marijuana Tax Act required self-incrimination in order to comply with it, and therefore was unconstitutional. In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with him, declaring the Marijuana Tax Act unconstitutional and overturning his conviction.
In 1970, Leary was convicted once again of marijuana possession and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He escaped from the minimum security prison and fled with his wife to Algeria and then Switzerland. In 1973 he was arrested by DEA agents in Afghanistan and returned to prison in California. He served three years before being parolled 1976.
Leary became interested in virtual reality and cyberculture and spent the last twenty years of his life writing and lecturing. He worked with a group of friends to document his own process of dying from prostate cancer. He died quietly in his own bed, surrounded by friends, and on Feb 9 1997, a portion of Leary's cremated remains were launched into space.
Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., who has a B.A. in philosophy and psychology from Oxford University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Harvard University, has been involved in the study of transformations of consciousness ever since, as a graduate student, he worked with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later Ram Dass) on the Harvard Psilocybin Projects. He co-wrote The Psychedelic Experience, and was editor of The Psychedelic Review. During the 1970s, Ralph spent 10 years in the intensive study and practice of Agni Yoga, a meditative system of working with light-fire life-energies. He wrote Maps of Consciousness, one of the earliest attempts at a comparative cartography of consciousness, and Know Your Type, a comparative survey of personality typologies, ancient and modern.
Metzner was the Academic Dean at the California Institute of Integral Studies for ten years, during the 1980's, where he taught courses on "Altered States of Consciousness" and "Developing Ecological Consciousness". He is now Professor Emeritus. He maintains a part-time psychotherapy practice and conducts workshops on consciousness transformation, and ecological consciousness, both nationally and internationally. Metzner's published books include The Well of Remembrance, The Unfolding Self, Green Psychology, and two edited collections on the science and the phenomenology of ayahuasca (Sacred Vine of Spirits) and teonanácatl (Sacred Mushroom of Visions).
The Metzner Alchemical Divination practices have been developed by Ralph Metzner on the basis of extensive experiential research with transformative states of consciousness. These practices have been applied and tested over the past twenty years in the context of psychological work with individuals and groups
Richard Alpert was born in 1931, the son of a wealthy lawyer who was the president of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad and founder of Brandeis University. Alpert studied psychology and earned an M.A. from Wesleyan and a Ph.D. from Stanford. From 1958 to 1963, he taught and conducted research at the Department of Social Relations and the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.
While at Harvard, Alpert's explorations of human consciousness led him to conduct intensive research with LSD and other psychedelic elements, in collaboration with Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, and others. Because of the controversial nature of this research, both he and Leary were dismissed from Harvard in 1963.
In 1967 he traveled to India where he met the spiritual teacher, Neem Karoli Baba. Under his guru's guidance, he studied yoga and meditation and received the name Ram Dass, or "servant of God." Since 1968, he has pursued a variety of spiritual practices, including Hinduism, karma, yoga and Sufism. His book Be Here Now brought him further into the public eye in 1971.
In 1974, Ram Dass created the Hanuman Foundation, which has developed many projects, including the "Prison-Ashram Project," designed to help inmates grow spiritually during incarceration, and the "Living Dying Project," which provides support for conscious dying. He is also a co-founder and board member of the Seva Foundation ("service," in Sanskrit), an international organization dedicated to relieving suffering in the world. (Mystic Fire)
In 1997, Ram Dass suffered a stroke which paralyzed the right side of his body and significantly affected his ability to speak. Despite this challenge, he continues to teach, write and lecture.