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

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,998 ratings  ·  115 reviews
The Psychedelic Experience, created by the prophetic shaman-professors Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzer and Richard Alpert, is a foundational text that serves as a model and a guide for all subsequent mind-expanding inquiries. In this wholly unique book, the authors provide an interpretation of an ancient sacred manuscript, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, from a psychedelic ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 2nd 2008 by Penguin Classics (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
Whitney
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
...more
Annie
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
Evelynn Passino
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Avel Rudenko
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Christine
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 ...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
...more
Bon Tom
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tine!
Mar 18, 2013 added it
It is hard to rate this; I'm just glad it exists.
Otto Lehto
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Ben
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Perry
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: esoteric
[LFO - Freak playing softly in the distance]
Nate
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Garrett Cash
"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
...more
Sara Gray
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 ...more
Ross
Jun 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Christine
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 ...more
Ryan Bunyan
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Michael
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.
Bristol
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Contents

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)
...more
Darkvine
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
...more
Mark
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
...more
José
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jim
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sophy H
Apr 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
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
Marcel Mazur
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This guide does a surprisingly good job at adapting [I]The Tibetan Book of the Dead[/I] for psychedelic experiences. Each stage of the bardo journey is explored in the context of an LSD trip. The death and rebirth compared to the dissociation of the ego and the comedown. The way the author explains various phenomena that may occur during a trip is very vivid and the tips provided on how to deal with them make lots of sense. This guide really helps in avoiding a bad trip and panic associated with ...more
Ivo Stunga
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audioboks
From Double-Helix DNA structure being discovered and WEB 2.0 developed partially under LSD to prosaic instructions to give whenever a traveller is struggling with the task of letting go of his preconceived reference-frame by temporary dying - I guess I could've completely avoided my rather traumatic experience / gigabad trip with this when coming back to the Ego realm and thinking that I'm experiencing bodily symptoms of various illnesses mentioned here. What a ride! :)

A great Traveller's guide!
...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."
“Whether you experience heaven or hell, remember that it is your mind which creates them.” 22 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”
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