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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

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,556 ratings  ·  95 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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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,556 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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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
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.
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
Jensen Davis
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Reading this was like repeatedly running into a wall of bullshit
It is hard to rate this; I'm just glad it exists.
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.
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
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
Hiro V.
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
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
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
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.
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!
Teo 2050

Leary T & Metzner R (1964) (04:39) Psychedelic Experience, The - A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

General Introduction
– A Tribute to W. Y. Evans-Wentz
– A Tribute to Carl G. Jung
– A Tribute to Lama Anagarika Govinda

First Bardo: The Period of Ego-Loss or Non-Game Ecstasy (Chikhai Bardo)
– Part I: The Primary Clear Light Seen At the Moment of Ego-Loss.
– Part II: The Secondary Clear Light Seen Immediately After Ego-Loss

Second Bardo: The Period of Hallucinations (Chonyid Bardo
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
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
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting book that, more than the average literature, is more personal than it should be. It sets itself out as a fairly objective manual - and, for the record, it still acts like it - for a typically-regarded-as-subjective experience. The initial premise, i.e. using the teachings of The Tibetan Book of the Dead as proxy for a psychedelic substance intake guide, is as valid as any other for a report or an interpretation, but if you do not feel as deep of a connection as the authors with th ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting in concept, arrogant and anglocentric in actuality. Timothy Leary presents important techniques and ideas for attaining meaningful experiences on psychedelics and the psychedelic experience, but has the audacity to claim that psychedelics are some kind "cheat code" that bypasses years of spiritual study and practice. His tone towards eastern cultures and their spiritual practices carries a condescending tone throughout the reading, and his attitude comes of as blinded excitement at b ...more
Sophy H
Apr 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is average. I think I've been spoiled by the writing of Terence McKenna regarding DMT. In comparison this book feels heavy, over inflated and slightly preachy in manner. Although it references the Tibetan book of the dead, it feels far removed from the sentiments of that superior text. I suppose if you're planning on tripping on acid and want a half baked guide then maybe read it, but it seems to quote common sense such as tripping with a trusted companion and being in a positive space ...more
Shhhhh Ahhhhh
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Instructive and, as someone who's had experiences in the variety of states discussed without any definitive guiding document, very valuable. I think Timothy Leary almost certainly lost his goddamn mind on LSD. With that said, I think this was written before he'd gone too far. It also includes some very interesting dosage recommendations... and instructions on how to avoid a bad trip. Definitely stuff you won't find on erowid.
Ben Tipper
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I’m not sure I love Leary at this time; he may have cared about the drugs just a little too much. A good read though; good preparation. Some of the terminology can be a little funky, and I definitely wouldn’t read this and only this book before starting a journey down the psychedelic road; some more spiritual stuff and more general stuff preaching love and happiness would be good as well. Recommended for those who use psychedelics or are interested.
Andrew Watkins
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
If dying is like tripping on LSD then we have nothing to fear, that's for sure. I wish I knew of this book before I took LSD for the first time. It's insightful and unbiased as to what the experience has and can offer for people. Every time I take a trip I will refer to this book before, during, and after.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-on-phone
Be sure to note that this is a manual - making it a boring read if you're interested in psychedelics only in theory. It's somewhat repetitive, which is not necessarily a criticism, with a very reassuring tone. ("Trust in your companions, in the substance and your brain.") To me it was crazy and wonderful to realise that serious academics exist and have existed to investigate the *experience* of drugs. Some of Leary's underlying assumptions are questionable from an intellectual perspective, but f ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will not make any sense to the ones unfamiliar with psychedelic experience and/or the teachings of Buddhism.

For the rest: it’s invaluable guide that needs to be read and reread on occasion until it’s stuck in your brain. Listened as an audiobook, going to buy a paper and electronic versions too: it should always be as approachable as possible.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is an interesting look at the mind set in the 60's established by Leary and others. I think the new introduction offers a lot of perspective 40 years later and really sets the stage for the writings of Leary and so forth.

This definitely has made me want to read the actually Tibetan Book of the Dead and to really see how they adapted their psychedelic experiences to those teachings.
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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."
“Whether you experience heaven or hell, remember that it is your mind which creates them.” 16 likes
“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”
More quotes…