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The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
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The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  4,599 ratings  ·  147 reviews
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.

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Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 12th 2000 by Citadel Underground (first published 1964)
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Coquille Fleur
I remember reading this in high school. Bought it at a cool hippie shop in downtown Indy and finished it in the fall of my senior year. Had an intense night the day I finished it and found enlightenment in a closet. Rushed to the bookstore the next day and randomly picked out Be Here Now, written by Ralph Metzner, Ram Dass, who hung with Leary. Later, my best friend's parents turned out to be married by Tim Leary. Also, as a side note, some boys that teased me mercilessly all through high school ...more
Timothy Leary gets hate from all sides. He gets hate from squares for the obvious reasons. But he also gets hate from hippies, heads, and others who might form his own community because they somehow feel as if he gives them a bad image. Because mainstream academics don't take Leary seriously, his audience wants to distance themselves from his name.

However, Leary deserves credit as a fearless pioneer. I found myself totally immersed in understanding with this book, but at the same time I felt som
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: let-s-get-high
No wonder Leary refused to speak to Ken Kesey when he showed up at the house. Leary > Kesey, by a lot. While Kesey’s kind of an idiot, Leary is brilliant, creative, original, inspiring. Kesey is a selfish hedonist, kind of a terror of a Jack Russell terrier, whereas Leary is a serene, sincere, wise, generous-souled therapy dog.

Even reading this book while not on psychedelics was such a calming, reassuring, nurturing, and immersive experience that made me feel connected and serene and mindful.

Evelynn Passino
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Self-help junkies
Recommended to Evelynn by: Professor
I have to admit, this book leaves me wanting to be a better person. I don't want the drama of acid, but I'm all for the journey of self discovery. As I read through the last section, I found myself wondering if I was capable of meditating to the extent of ego-death. I also pondered recording the guides and meditating "on" them. Somehow that seems like cheating.

So, that's the good part. The bad part is that I basically had to use the techniques (hold on, don't think) to get through this book. It
Avel Rudenko
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly described acquired experiences by three Ph.D's. Although once in a mind trip, you are left to your own mind's devices and figments of the imagination and emerging creative processes. Contained herein is the key to experience life after death while still living in the same body, as hinted at in John 4. English translations do not carry the essence to American audiences as pure as American interpretations. It was for this reason that people hearing of the results of the American versio ...more
A fascinating explanation and step-by-step account of hallucination, Leary, Metzner, and Alpert's The Psychedelic Experience creates and explains an interesting philosophy of what occurs in the mind when it is in a hallucinogenic state. As a writer, this book helped me to understand that even the most organic and seemingly fluid things can, in some way, be broken down and examined in a way that can make sense of them; there is always a way to organize the stories inherent in reality, no matter h ...more
Awenydd Orchantra Faeryn
2.5 Stars

A guide for the use of psychedelics for an enlightenment, ego-release, or spiritual purpose based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

I have had such expansive and enlightening experiences in my life. These came through and to me in Divine Love and was without outer guidance of any sort. While I like the idea of this book existing for those who do not fully trust the path within, their higher consciousness, and All That Is, I found that most of what it was saying was unnecessary for me to r
Bon Tom
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you want to experiment with psychedelics, this is it. User's manual. Now, I would be first in line if I wasn't so afraid of spiders, and in psychedelic experience you pretty much get what you expect. Damn. ...more
It is hard to rate this; I'm just glad it exists. ...more
Alan Newton
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Otto Lehto
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Branded as the champion of bacchanalian excess and antinomian discord - and the miscreant father of the "turn on, tune in, drop out" slogan - few people care to remember that there was also a more systematic, Apollonian side to Dr. Timothy Leary. Beneath his trickster persona, he was a first rate psychologist who wanted to properly contextualize the psychedelic experience and imbue its therapeutic use with life-transforming structural cohesion. His goal was to pioneer scientific and personal dis ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I should have read the Tibetan Book of the Dead before reading this.

In saying that, as a stand-alone piece of work 'The Psychedelic Experience' seemed more woo-woo than substance.

My expectations were more along the lines of a 'psychedelic how-to' - touching base on the benefits of these drugs on cognitive function and spirituality. It didn't live up to these expectations.
Ugnė Siaur
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The manual explains the possible effects while experiencing certain psychedelics, basically LSD. Interesting because the manual is written in such a form as being a ‘travel note’ for a voyager ready for a mind trip.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
[LFO - Freak playing softly in the distance]
Laekin Anania
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Zoom zoom :-)
Colin Baumgartner
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed the information about the Book of the Dead. The practical information was also interesting. What I am a bit skeptical about is the tone of the writing. The voice of the writing is a bit too self-important. It also sometimes gets bogged down in the sort of Ivory Tower mindset that apparently even disgraced professors can’t escape...

Overall though, a fascinating look into psychedelics and the importance of set and setting.
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lot of good advice mixed with a lot of mysticism. However, my lack of knowledge and experience may be showing.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The cultural wave that created this book is beginning to re-emerge in today’s society. Merging beliefs from East to West, making a balanced lifestyle. There’s a difference between freedom from one’s ego, and the loss of ego. Elements of the psychedelic experience have been seamlessly inserted into our present day technology, scientific paradigms and pop culture, as the originators of these domains were using psychedelics, discovering the genetic code, for example. The emphasis on rational though ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Tibetan Book of the Dead but adapted for ego-death. A condition very similar to near-death experiences (NDE) which is what you can achieve with high doses of psychedelics or just DMT, which doesn't lend itself to a trippy afternoon, but yanks you straight to ego-death.
Does anybody need a manual for this? Nah, not at all, in fact, one could argue that with psychedelics everybody can have a profound illuminating experience such as that without years of spiritual or meditative training. However
Garrett Cash
Sep 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
"Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream."

I have not taken nor will I ever take drugs, but I've been interested in examining this book for a while since I'm a student of 1960's rock music. John Lennon took the quoted line for the song "Tomorrow Never Knows," and from what I've seen the book was pervasively influential among the counterculture.
The book is simply atrocious. Remember all those stereotypical hippie things you see in films where they sit and meditate saying bu
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: know-thyself
Although I have read many controversial things about Leary before, I decided to give this book a try. What a joy! Forget what you know about Leary. Read this book from a new perspective. Read it if you are into psychedelics and willing to get broader and mystical experiences. Very unfortunate that many 'psychonauts' or amateurs in psychdelics discuss so much about the trips and all it gets into are memes, funny stories or bad trips. I wish everyone had read this book before challenging and 'over ...more
Jun 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Wonderfully written book that does exactly what it promises to do. It must be stressed that I am not a fan of shortcuts to enlightenment. Everything has a cost in this existence. The karmic system supports this understanding. It feels to me like treating the symptoms instead of disease. Say you get exposed to enlightenment. But your life systems and behaviors have not been conditioned to support an enlightened state. You will continue to muddy up your life with ego games and the like. As for the ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Though it's easy to cast a hairy eyeball at Leary & co for their Milbrook antics and for appropriating Tibetan Buddhist iconography and spirituality, there is still some wisdom to be found in this old tome. I found the sections on bodily symptoms of "entering the 2nd bardo" (or coming up, in other words) to be particularly helpful--framing them as the ego's way of protesting its dissolution, instead of any physical disease/problem, is definitely something I'll try to hold onto for my next trip. ...more
A fascinating explanation and step-by-step account of hallucination, Leary, Metzner, and Alpert's The Psychedelic Experience creates and explains an interesting philosophy of what occurs in the mind when it is in a hallucinogenic state. As a writer, this book helped me to understand that even the most organic and seemingly fluid things can, in some way, be broken down and examined in a way that can make sense of them; there is always a way to organize the stories inherent in reality, no matter h ...more
Ryan Bunyan
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
An eye opening interpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead which seeks to both explain each Bardo and their sub categories while giving tips on how to achieve enlightenment and remain ego-free when experiencing them. I will definitely be utilizing the instructions written in the last part of the book the next time I trip sit for someone. The book was very informative, well written and will be very useful in future trips as much of the information was quite analogous to experiences either myse ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First, I would like to get this out of the way
this book is a MANUAL, a GUIDE, NOTHING ELSE
The book is very well written, I would recommend this as an ESSENTIAL book for any psychonaut, I know that in his later years Tim Leary did fall out of popularity, and with good reason, but I would recommend this book to anyone who is planning to have a psychedelic trip, even experienced psychonauts should have a look at it, as I said before, if you truly want to have an insightful experience, I recommend t
Dec 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Maybe it was just because I'd been living alone in a seaside cabin for a week, but this book was way more interesting than I would have expected. Reading the original material totally subverts the cartoon version of Leary that has been handed down to me. I lowered my rating from four to three stars just because I'm now unsure of how many of the interesting thoughts I got out of this book were things that I brought to it. In any case it's thought-provoking, with or without a substance. ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: drugs
I wasn't high enough for this book.

I feel like if I was super high on acid I would have appreciated this book more. It was interesting, but I feel a lot of it is impossible to absorb without the proper experience behind it.

Interesting read though!
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nowadays, and in the past, people thought Tim Leary was wrong.
Also, I gave this manual an extra star because he said some stuff I hadn't really seen anywhere else yet. So I boosted the score to make it seem a little better than it is which could make more people read it. By that logic, should everyone read this even though those not into the subject will most likely find it nonsensical and silly?
People can go their entire lives without having a psychedelic experience, which would be akin to nev
Giuseppe Turco
May 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I expected more from this book, which is quite known and celebrated among people interested in psychedelics. In my opinion, it presents a too much mystical approach to the subject, i.e. a guide to a psychedelic trip. Nonetheless, I think that for a person planning to have this kind of experience(s) in his/her life, either if he/she were or not be already familiar to psychedelics, this book could still constitute a useful guide, full of advices that should make one able to face any type of occure ...more
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Timothy Francis Leary was an American writer, psychologist, futurist, modern pioneer and advocate of psychedelic drug research and use, and one of the first people whose remains have been sent into space. An icon of 1960s counterculture, Leary is most famous as a proponent of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of LSD. He coined and popularized the catch phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out." ...more

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