Instructions for Use during a Psychedelic Session

Timothy Leary’s The Psychedelic Experience

A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

Instructions for Use during a Psychedelic Session

First Bardo Instructions


O (name of voyager)

The time has come for you to seek new levels of reality.

You are ego and the (name) game are about to cease.

You are about to be set face to face with the Clear Light

You 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.


This is now the hour of death and rebirth;

Take advantage of this temporary death to obtain the perfect state –


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,


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.


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.

You are 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.

You are 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.

You are 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.


Second Bardo Preliminary Instructions



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:


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.



Instructions for Vision 1: The Source (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.


Instructions for Physical Symptoms


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.


Do not struggle.

You are 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.


Instructions for Vision 2: The Internal Flow of Archetypal Processes (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,


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.


Instructions for Vision 3: The Fire-Flow of Internal Unity (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.


Instructions for Vision 4: The Wave-Vibration Structure of External Forms (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.


Instructions for Vision 5: The Vibratory Waves of External Unity (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.


Instructions for Vision 6: “The Retinal Circus”


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.


Instructions for Vision 7: “The Magic Theatre”


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.

You are 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.


Instructions for the Wrathful Visions


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.


Third Bardo: Preliminary Instructions


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,

You are consciousness rises up,

Like a trout leaping forth out of water,

Striving for its original form.

You are 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,

You are 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,

You are 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.

You are 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 distraction.


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.


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.



Instructions for Re-entry Visions


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 gained.


Instructions for the All-Determining Influence of Thought


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.


Instructions for Judgment Visions


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.

You are karma.

No one is doing anything to you.

There is nothing to do.

You are 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.

You are 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.


Instructions for Sexual Visions


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 them.


Four Methods of Preventing Re-entry


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.

Instructions for Choosing the Post-Session Personality


(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.

You are 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.