Second Bardo: The Period of
Hallucinations (Chonyid Bardo)




If the Primary Clear Light is not
recognized, there remains the possibility of maintaining the
Secondary Clear Light. If that is lost, then comes the
Chonyid Bardo, the period of karmic illusions or intense
hallucinatory mixtures of game reality. It is very important
that the instructions be remembered – they can have great
influence and effect.

During this period, the flow of
consciousness, microscopically clear and intense, is
interrupted by fleeting attempts to rationalize and
interpret. But the normal game-playing ego is not
functioning effectively. There exist, therefore, unlimited
possibilities for, on the one hand, delightful sensuous,
intellectual and emotional novelties if one floats with the
current; and, on the other hand, fearful ambuscades of
confusion and terror if one tries to impose his will on the


The purpose of this part of the
manual is to prepare the person for the choice points which
arise during this stage. Strange sounds, weird sights and
disturbed visions may occur. These can awe, frighten and
terrify unless one is prepared.


The experienced person will be able
to maintain the recognition that all perceptions come from
within and will be able to sit quietly, controlling his
expanded awareness like a phantasmagoric multi-dimensional
television set: the most acute and sensitive hallucinations
– visual, auditory, touch, smell, physical and bodily; the
most exquisite reactions, compassionate insight into the
self, the world. The key is inaction: passive integration
with all that occurs around you. If you try to impose your
will, use your mind, rationalize, seek explanations, you
will get caught in hallucinatory whirlpools. The motto:
peace, acceptance. It is all an ever-changing panorama. You
are temporarily removed from the world of game. Enjoy


The inexperienced and those to who
ego control is important may find this passivity impossible.
If you cannot remain inactive and subdue your will, then the
one certain activity which can reduce panic and pull you out
of hallucinatory mind-games is physical contact with another
person. Go to the guide or to another participant and put
your head on his lap or chest; put your face next to his and
concentrate on the movement and sound of his inspiration.
Breathe deeply and feel the air rush in and the sighing
release. This is the oldest form of living communication;
the brotherhood of breath. The guide’s hand on your forehead
may add to the relaxation.


Contact with another participant may
be misunderstood and provoke sexual hallucinations. For this
reason, helping contact should be made explicit by
prearrangement. Unprepared participants may impose sexual
fears or fantasies on the contact. Turn them off; they are
karmic illusory productions.


The tender, gentle, supportive
huddling together of participants is a natural development
during the second phase. Do not try to rationalize this
contact. Human beings and, for that matter, most all mobile
terrestrial creatures have been huddling together during
long, dark confused nights for several hundred thousand


Breathe in and breathe out with you
companions. We are all one! That’s what your breath is
telling you.


Explanation of the Second


The underlying problem of the Second
Bardo is that any and every shape – human, divine,
diabolical, heroic, evil, animal, thing – which the human
brain conjures up or the past life recalls, can present
itself to consciousness: shapes and forms and sounds
whirling by endlessly.

The underlying solution – repeated
again and again – is to recognize that your brain is
producing the visions. They do not exist. Nothing exists
except as your consciousness gives it life.


You are standing on the threshold of
recognizing the truth: there is no reality behind any of the
phenomena of the ego-loss state, save the illusions stored
up in your own mind either as accretions from game
(Sangsaric) experience or as gifts from organic physical
nature and its billion-year old past history. Recognition of
this truth gives liberation.


There is, of course, no way of
classifying the infinite permutations and combinations of
visionary elements. The cortex contains file-cards for
billions of images from the history of the person, of the
race, and of living forms. Any of these, at the rate of a
hundred million per second (according to
neuro-physiologists), can flood into awareness. Bobbing
around in this brilliant, symphonic sea of imagery is the
remnant of the conceptual mind. On the endless watery
turbulence of the Pacific Ocean bobs a tiny open mouth
shouting (between saline mouthfuls), “Order! System! Explain
all this!”


One cannot predict what visions will
occur, nor their sequence. One can only urge the
participants to shut the mouth, breathe through the nose,
and turn off the fidgety, rationalizing mind. But only the
experienced person of mystical bent can do this (and thus
remain in serene enlightenment). The unprepared person will
be confused or, worse, panicky: the intellectual struggle to
control the ocean.


In order to guide the person, to
help him organize his visions into explicable units, the
Chonyid Bardo was written. There are two sections: (1) Seven
Peaceful Deities with their symmetrically opposed ego traps.
(2) Eight Wrathful Deities who can be joyfully accepted as
visionary productions, or fled from in terror.


Each of the Seven Peaceful Deities
(bisexual Father-Mother figures) are accompanied by
consorts, attendants, lesser deities, saints, angels,
heroes. Each of the Wrathful Deities is similarly
accompanied. Lights, symbolic objects, beautiful, horrid,
threatening, seething, are likewise seen.


If read literally, The Tibetan Book
of the Dead would have you expect the “Master of All Visible
Shapes” (or his opposite, the fondness for stupidity) on the
first day; the “Immovable Deity of Happiness” and his
consort, attendants and opposite on the second, etc. The
manual should, of course, not be used rigidly, exoterically,
but should be taken in its esoteric, allegorical


Read from this perspective, we see
that the lamas have listed or named a thousand images which
can boil up in the ever-changing jeweled mosaic of the
retina (that multi-layered swamp of billions of rods and
cones, infiltrated, like a Persian rug or a Mayan carving,
with countless multi-colored capillaries). By preparatory
reading of the manual and by its repetition during the
experience, the novice is led via suggestion to recognize
this fantastic retinal kaleidoscope.


Most important, he is told that they
come from within. All deities and demons, all heavens and
hells are internal.


The student with a particular
interest in Tibetan or Tantric Buddhism should steep himself
in the text of the Chonyid Bardo. He should obtain colored
plates of the fourteen dramas of the Bardo, and he should
arrange to have the guide lead him through the prescribed
sequence during the drug session. This will provide an
unforgettable series of liberations and will permit the
devotee to emerge from the experience “reincarnated” in the
lamaist tradition.


The aim of this manual is to make
available the general outline of the Tibetan Book and to
translate it into psychedelic English. For this reason we
shall not present the detailed sequence of lamaist
hallucinations but, rather, list some apparitions commonly
reported by Westerners.


Following the Tibetan Thodo, we have
classified Second Bardo visions into seven types:


The Source or Creator

The Internal Flow of Archetypal

The Fire-Flow of Internal

The Wave-Vibration Structure of
External Forms

The Vibratory Waves of External

“The Retinal Circus”

“The Magic Theatre” [We owe the
phrase “retinal circus” to Henri Michaux (Miserable
Miracle), and the term “magic theatre” to Hermann Hesse

Visions 2 and 3 involve closed eyes
and no contact with external stimuli. In Vision 2 the
internal imagery is primarily conceptual. The experience can
range from revelation and insight to confusion and chaos,
but the cognitive, intellectual meaning is paramount. In
Vision 3 the internal imagery is primarily emotional. The
experience can range from love and ecstatic unity to fear,
distrust and isolation.


Visions 4 and 5 involve open eyes
and rapt attention to external stimuli, such as sounds,
lights, touch, etc. In Vision 4 the external imagery is
primarily conceptual and in Vision 5 emotional factors


The sevenfold table just defined
bears some similarity to the mandalic schema of the Peaceful
Deities listed for the Second Bardo in The Tibetan Book of
the Dead.


The Peaceful Visions


Vision 1: The Source (Eyes closed,
external stimuli ignored)


[The first Peaceful Deity listed
by the Bardo Thodol is the Bhagavan Vairochana who occupies
the center of the mandala of the five Dhyani-Buddhas. His
attributes of source- power have been translated into those
of the monotheistic creator of Western

The White Light, or First Bardo
energy, may be interpreted as God the Creator. The Spreader
of the Seed. The Power which makes all shapes visible. Seed
of all that is. Sovereign Power. The All-Powerful. The
Central Sun. The One Truth. The Source of all Organic Life.
The Divine Mother. The Female Creative Principle. Mother of
the Space of Heaven. Radiant Father-Mother. Magnificent
revelations, both spiritual and philosophic, can occur at
this point making the highest union of experience and
intellect. But, because of bad karma (usually religious
beliefs of a monotheistic or punitive nature), the glorious
light of the seed wisdom it can produce awe and terror. The
person will wish to flee and will beget a fondness for the
dull white light symbolizing stupidity.


Persons from a Judaeo-Christian
background conceive of an enormous gulf between divinity
(which is “up there”) and the self (“down here”). Christian
mystics’ claims to unity with divine radiance has always
posed problems for theologians who are committed to the
cosmological subject-object distinction. Most Westerners,
therefore, find it difficult to attain unity with the


If the guide ascertains that the
voyager is struggling with thoughts or feelings about the
creative source energy, he can read the appropriate
instructions. (Instructions for Vision 1: The


Vision 2: The Internal Flow of
Archetypal Processes (Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored;
intellectual aspects)


If the undifferentiated light of the
First Bardo or of the Source Energy is lost, luminous waves
of differentiated forms can flood through the consciousness.
The person’s mind begins to identify these figures, that is,
to label them and experience revelations about the life
process. [Lama Govinda tells us that Amoghasiddhi
represents “… the mysterious activity of spiritual forces,
which work removed from the senses, invisible and
imperceptible, with the aim of guiding the individual (or,
more properly: all living beings) towards the maturity of
knowledge and liberation. The yellow light of an (inner) sun
invisible to human eyes… (in which the unfathomable space
of the universe seems to open itself) for the serene mystic
green of Amoghasiddhi…. On the elementary plane this
all-pervading power corresponds to the element of air – the
principle of movement and extension, of life and breath
(prana).” Lama Govinda: Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism.
Lodon: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1959, p.120.

The fifth day of the Baro Thodol
confronts the deceased with the Bhagavan Buddha
Amoghasiddhi, Almighty Conqueror, from the green Norther
realm of Successful Performance of Best Actions, attended by
a Divine Mother, and two Bodhisattvas representing the
mental functions of “equilibrium, immutability, and almighty
power” and “clearer of obscurations.”]


Specifically, the subject is caught
up in an endless flow of colored forms, microbiological
shapes, cellular acrobatics, capillary whirling. The cortex
is turned in on molecular processes which are completely new
and strange: a Niagara of abstract designs; the life-stream
flowing, flowing.


These visions might perhaps be
described as pure sensations of cellular and sub-cellular
processes. It is uncertain whether they involve the retina
and/or the visual cortex, or whether they are flashes of
direct, molecular sensation in other areas of the central
nervous system. They are subjectively described as internal


Another class of internal process
images involves sound. Again we do not know whether these
sensations originate in the auditory apparatus and/or in the
auditory cortex, or whether they are flashes of direct,
molecular sensations in other areas. They are subjectively
described as internal sounds: clicking, thudding, clashing,
soughing, ringing, tapping, moaning, shrill whistles.
[The Tibetan Book includes a brilliant discussion of
internal process noises. “… innumerable (other) kinds of
musical instruments, filling (with music) the whole
world-systems and causing them to vibrate, to quake and
tremble with sounds so mighty as to daze one’s


“Tibetan lamas, in chanting their
rituals, employ seven (or eight) sorts of musical
instruments: big drums, cymbals (commonly brass), conch
shells, bells (like the handbells used in the Christian Mass
Service), timbrels, small clarionets (sounding like Highland
bagpipes), big trumpets, and human thighbone trumpets.
Although the combined sounds of these instruments are far
from being melodious, the lamas maintain that they
psychically produce in the devotee an attitude of deep
veneration and faith, because they are the counterparts of
the natural sounds which one’s own body is heard producing
when the fingers are put in the ears to shut out external
sounds. Stopping the ears thus, there are heard a thudding
sound, like that of a big drum being beaten; a clashing
sound, as of cymbals; a soughing sound, as of a wind moving
through a forest – as when a conch-shell is bone; a ringing
as of bells; a sharp tapping sound, as when a timbrel is
used; a moaning sound, like that of a clarionet; a bass
moaning sound, as if made with a big trumpet; and a shriller
sound, as of a thigh-bone trumpet.”


“Not only is this interesting as a
theory of Tibetan sacred music, but it gives the clue to the
esoteric interpretation of the symbolical natural sounds of
Truth (referred to in the second paragraph following, and
elsewhere in our text), which are said to be, or to proceed
from, the intellectual faculties within the human
mentality.” – (Evans-Wentz, p. 128)] These noises, like
the visions, are direct sensations unencumbered by mental
concepts. Raw, molecular, dancing units of


The minds sweeps in and out of this
evolutionary stream, creating cosmological revelations.
Dozens of mythical and Darwinian insights flash into
awareness. The person is allowed to glance back down the
flow of time and to perceive how the life energy continually
manifests itself in forms, transient, alwasy changing,
reforming. Microscopic forms merge with primal creative
myths. The mirror of consciousness is held up to the life


As long as the person floats with
the current, he is exposed to a billion-year lesson in
cosmology. But the drag of the mind is always present. The
tendency to impose arbitrary, isolating order on the organic


Sometimes the voyager feels he
should report back his vision. He converts the life flow
into a cosmic ink-blot test – attempts to label each form.
“Now I see a peacock’s tail. Now Muslim knights in colored
armor. Oh, now a waterfall of jewels. Now, Chinese music.
Now, gem-like serpents, etc.” Verbalizations of this sort
dull the light, stop the flow and should not be


Another trap is that of imposing a
sexual interpretation. The dancing, playful flow of life is,
in the most reverant sense, sexual. Forms merging, spinning
together, reproducing. Eros in its countless manifestations.
The Tibetans refer to the female Bodhisattvas Pushpema,
personification of blossoms, and Lasema, the “Belle”,
depicted holding a mirror in a coquettish attitude. Keep the
pure, spontaneous awareness of the Mirror-like Wisdom. Laugh
joyously at the tricks of the life process, forever decking
out forms in seductive, enticing patterns to keep the dance
going. If the voyager interprets the visions of Eros in
terms of his personal sexual game model, and attempts to
think or plan – “what should I do? what role should I play?”
– he is likely to slip down into the Thrid Bardo. Sexual
plots dominate his awareness, the flow fades, the mirror
tarnishes, and he is rudely reborn as a confused, thinking


Still another impasse is the
imposition of physical symptom games upon the biological
flow. The new somatic sensations may be interpreted as
symptoms. If it is new, it must be bad. Any organ of the
body may be selected as the focus of the “illness.” People
whose primary expectation when taking a psychedelic
substance is medical, are particularly likely to fall into
this trap. Medical doctors are, in fact, extremely prone and
can imagine colorful diseases and fatal attacks.


In the case of the most widely-used
psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, etc.), it is safe to say that
such bodily effects are virtually never the direct effect of
the drug. The drug acts only on the brain and activates
central neural patterns. All physical symptoms are created
by the mind. Bodily sickness is a sign that the ego is
fighting to maintain or regain its hold over an outpouring
of feeling, over a dissolution of emotional


If the person complains of physical
symptoms such as nausea or pain, the guide should read him
the Instructions for Physical Symptoms.


The negative, wrathful counterpart
to this vision occurs if the voyager reacts with fear to the
powerful flow of life forms. Such a reaction is attributable
to the cumulated result of game playing (karma) dominated by
anger or stupidity. A nightmarish hell-world may ensue. The
visual forms appear like a confusing chaos of cheap, ugly
dime-store objects, brassy, vulgar and useless. The person
may become terrified at the prospect of being engulfed by
them. The awesome sounds may be heard as hideous, clashing,
oppressive, grating noises. The person will attempt to
escape from these perceptions into restless external
activity (talking, moving around, etc.) or into conceptual,
analytic, mental activity.


The experience is the same, the
intellectual interpretation is different. Instead of
revelation, there is confusion; instead of calm joy, there
is fear. The guide, recognizing the voyager to be in such a
state, can help him get free, by reading the Instructions
for Vision 2.


Vision 3: The Fire-Flow of Internal
Unity (Eyes closed, external stimuli ignored, emotional


The First Bardo instructions should
keep you face-to-face with the void-ecstasy. Yet there are
classes of men who, having carried over karmic conflict
about feeling-inhibition, prove unable to hold the pure
experience beyond all feelings, and slip into emotionally
toned visions. The undifferentiated energy of the First
Bardo is woven into visionary games in the form of intense
feelings. Exquisite, intense, pulsating sensations of unity
and love will be felt; the negative counterpart is feelings
of attachment, greed, isolation and bodily

It comes about this way: the pure
flow of energy loses its white void quality and becomes
sensed as intense feelings. An emotional game is imposed.
Incredible new physical sensations pulse through the body.
The glow of life is felt flooding along veins. One merges
into a unitive ocean of orgastic, fluid electricity,
[The Peaceful Deity of the Bardo Thodol personifying
this vision is the Buddha Amitabbha, the all-discriminating
wisdom and feeling, boundless light, representing life
eternal. Lama Govinda writes that “The deep red light of
discriminating inner vision shines forth from his heart…
fire corresponds to him and thus, according to the ancient
traditional symbolism, the eye and the function of seeing.”
(Govinda, op. cit., p. 120.) With the Bhagavan Amitabbha
comes the Bodhisattva Chenrazee, embodiment of mercy or
compassion, the great pitier ever on the lookout to discover
distress and to succour the troubled. He is joined by the
Bodhisattva “Glorious Gentle-voiced One,” and the femal
incarnates “song” and “light.”] the endless flow of
shared-life, of love.


Visions related to the circulatory
system are common. The subject tumbles down through his own
arterial network. The motor of the heart reverberates as one
with the pulsing of all life. The heart then breaks, and red
fire bleeds out to merge with all living beings. All living
organisms are throbbing together. One is joyfully aware of
the two-billion-year-old electric sexual dance; one is at
last divested of robot clothes and limbs and undulates in
the endless chain of living forms.


Dominating this ecstatic state is
the feeling of intense love. You are a joyful part of all
life. The memory of former delusions of self-hood and
differentiation invokes exultant laughter.


All the harsh, dry, brittle
angularity of game life is melted. You drift off – soft,
rounded, moist, warm. Merged with all life. You may feel
yourself floating out and down into a warm sea. Your
individuality and autonomy of movement are moistly
disappearing. Your control is surrendered to the total
organism. Blissful passivity. Ecstatic, orgiastic,
undulating unity. All worries and concerns wash away. All is
gained as everything is given up. There is organic
revelation. Every cell in your body is singing its song of
freedom – the entire biological universe is in harmony,
liberated from the censorship and control of you and your
restricted ambitions.


But wait! You, You, are disappearing
into the unity. You are being swallowed up by the ecstatic
undulation. Your ego, that one tiny remaining strand of
self, screams STOP! You are terrified by the pull of the
glorious, dazzling, transparent, radiant red light. You
wrench yourself out of the life-flow, drawn by your intense
attachment to your old desires. There is a terrible rending
as your roots tear out of the life matrix – a ripping of
your fibres and veins away from the greater body to which
you were attached. And when you have cut yourself off from
the fire-flow of life the throbbing stops, the ecstasy
ceases, your limbs harden and stiffen into angular forms,
your plastic doll body has regained its orientation. There
you sit, isolated from the stream of life, impotent master
of your desires and appetites, miserable.


While you are floating down the
evolutionary river, there comes a sense of limitless
self-less power. The delight of flowing cosmic
belongingness. The astounding discovery that consciousness
can tune in to an infinite number of organic levels. There
are billions of cellular processes in your body, each with
its universe of experience – an endless variety of
ecstasies. The simple joys and pains and burdens of your ego
represent one set of experiences – a repetitious, dusty set.
As you slip into the fire-flow of biological energy, series
after series of experiential sets flash by. You are no
longer encapsulated in the structure of ego and


But through panic and a desire to
latch on to the familiar, you shut off the flow, open your
eyes; then the flowingness is lost. The potentiality to move
from one level of consciousness to another is gone. Your
fear and desire to control have driven you to settle for one
static site of consciousness. To use the Eastern or genetic
metaphor, you have frozen the dance of energy and committed
yourself to one incarnation, and you have done it out of


When this happens, there are several
steps which can take you back to the biological flow (and
from there to the First Bardo). First, close your eyes. Lie
on you stomach and let you body sink through the floor,
merge with the surroundings. Feel the hard, square edges of
your body soften and start to move in the bloodstream. Let
the rhythm of breathing become tide flow. Bodily contact is
probably the most effective method of softening hardened
surfaces. No movement. No body games. Close physical contact
with another invariably brings about the unity of fire-flow.
Your blood begins to flow into the other’s body. His
breathing pours into your lungs. You both drift down the
capillary river.


Another form of life process images
is the flow of auditory sensations. The endless series of
abstract sounds (described in the preceding vision) bounce
through awareness. The emotional reaction to these can be
neutral or can involve intense feelings of unity, or of
annoyed fear.


The positive reaction occurs when
the subject merges with the sound flow. The thudding drum of
the heart is sensed as the basic anthem of humanity. The
whooshing sough of the breath as the rushing river of all
life. Overwhelming feelings of love, gratitude and oneness
funnel into the moment of sound, into each note of the
biological concerto.


But, as always, the voyager may
intrude his personality with its wants and opinions. He may
not “like” the noise. His judgmental ego may be
aesthetically offended by the sounds of life. The heart thud
is, after all, monotonous; the natural music of the inner
ear, with its clicks and hums and whistles, lacks the
romantic symmetries of Beethoven. The terrible separation of
“me” from my body occurs. Horrible. Out of my control. Turn
it off.


The trained guide can usually sense
when ego-attachment threatens to pull the person out of the
unitive flow. At this time he can guide the voyager by
reading the Instructions for Vision 3.


Vision 4: The Wave-Vibration
Structure of External Forms (Eyes open or rapt involvement
with external stimuli; intellectual aspects)


The pure, content-free light of the
First Bardo probably involves basic electrical wave energy.
This is nameless, indescribable, because it is far beyond
any concepts which we now possess. Some future atomic
physicist may be able to classify this energy. Perhaps it
will always be ineffable for a nervous system such as that
of homo sapiens. Can an organic system “comprehend” the
vastly more efficient inorganic? At any event, most persons,
even the most illuminated, find it impossible to maintain
experiential contact with this void-light and slip back to
imposing mental structures, hallucinatory and revelatory,
upon the flow.

Thus we are brought to another
frequent vision which involves intense, rapt, unitive
awareness of external stimuli. If the eyes are open, this
super-reality effect can be visual. The penetrating impact
of other stimuli can also set off revelatory


It comes about this way. The
subject’s awareness is suddenly invaded by an outside
stimulus. His attention is captured, but his old conceptual
mind is not functioning. But other sensitivities are
engaged. He experiences direct sensation. The raw “is-ness.”
He sees, not objects, but patterns of light waves. He hears,
not “music” or “meaningful” sound, but acoustic waves. He is
struck with the sudden revelation that all sensation and
perception are based on wave vibrations. That the world
around him which heretofore had an illusory solidity, is
nothing more than a play of physical waves. That he is
involved in a cosmic television show which has no more
substantiality than the images on his TV picture tube.
[The Peaceful Deity of the Thodol personifying this
vision is Akshobhya. According to Lama Govinda, “In the
light of the Mirror-like Wisdom … things are freed from
their “thingness,” their isolation, without being deprived
of their form; they are divested of their materiality,
without being dissolved, because the creative principle of
the mind, which is at the bottom of all form and
materiality, is recognized as the active side of the
universal Store Consciousness (alaya-vijnana), on the
surface of which forms arise and pass away, like the waves
on the surface of the ocean….” (Govinda, op. cit., p.


The atomic structure of matter is,
of course, known to us intellectually, but never experienced
by the adult except in states of intense altered
consciousness. Learning from a physics textbook about the
wave structure of matter is one thing. Experiencing it –
being in it – with the old, familiar, gross, hallucinatory
comfort of “solid” things gone and unavailable, is quite
another matter.


If these super-real visions involve
wave phenomena, then the external world takes on a radiance
and a revelation that is staggeringly clear. The experienced
insight that the world of phenomena exists in the form of
waves, electronic images, can produce a sense of illuminated
power. Everything is experienced as


These exultant radiations should be
recognized as productions of your own internal processes.
You should not attempt to control or conceptualize. This can
come later. There is the danger of hallucinatory freezing.
The subject rushes back (sometimes literally) to the
three-dimensional reality, convinced of the fixed “truth” of
one experienced revelation. Many misguided mystics and many
persons called insane have fallen into this ambuscade. This
is like making a still photograph of a television pattern
and shouting that one has finally seized the truth. All is
ecstatic electric Maya, the two-billion-year dance of waves.
No one part of it is more real than another. Everything at
all moments is shimmering with all the meaning.


So far we have considered the
positive radiance of clarity; but there are fearful negative
aspects of the fourth vision. When the subject senses that
his “world” is fragmenting into waves, he may become
terrified. “He,” “me,” “I” are dissolving! The world around
me is supposed to sit, static and dead, quietly awaiting my
manipulation. But these passive things have changed into a
shimmering dance of living energy! The Maya nature of
phenomena creates panic. Where is the solid base? Every
thing, every concept, every form upon which one rests one’s
mind collapses into electrical vibrations lacking


The face of the guide or of one’s
beloved friend becomes a dancing mosaic of impulses on one’s
cortex. “My consciousness” has created everything of which I
am conscious. I have kinescoped my world, my loved ones,
myself. All are just shimmering energy patterns. Instead of
clarity and exultant power, there is confusion. The subject
staggers around, grasping at electron-patterns, striving to
freeze them back into the familiar robot forms.


All solidity is gone. All phenomena
are paper images pasted on the glass screen of
consciousness. For the unprepared, or for the person whose
karmic residue stresses control, the discovery of the
wave-nature of all structure, the Maya revelation, is a
disastrous web of uncertainty.


We have discussed only the visual
aspects of the fourth vision. Auditory phenomena are of
equal importance. Here the solid, labelled nature of
auditory patterns is lost, and the mechanical impact of
sound hitting the eardrum is registered. In some cases,
sound becomes converted into pure sensation, and synesthesia
(mixture of sense modalities) occurs. Sounds are experienced
as colors. External sensations hitting the cortex are
recorded as molecular events, ineffable.


The most dramatic auditory visions
occur with music. Just as any object radiates a pattern of
electrons and can become the essense of all energy, so can
any note of music be sensed as naked energy trembling in
space, timeless. The movement of notes, like the shuttling
of oscillograph beams. Each capturing all energy, the
electric core of the universe. Nothing existing except the
needle-clear resonance on the tympanic membrane.
Unforgettable revelations about the nature of reality occur
at these moments.


But the hellish interpretation is
also possible. As the learned structure of sound collapses,
the direct impact of waves can be sensed as noise. For one
who is compelled to institute order, his order, on the world
around him, it is at least annoying and often disturbing to
have the raw tattoo of sound resonating in


Noise! What an irreverent concept.
Is not everything noise; all sensation the divine pattern of
wave energy, meaningless only to those who insist on
imposing their own meaning?


Preparation is the key to a serene
passage through this visionary territory. The subject who
has studied this manual will be able, when face to face with
the phenomenon, to recognize and flow with it.


The sensitive guide will be ready to
pick up, on any cue, that the subject is wandering in the
fourth vision. If the voyager’s eyes are open (indicating
visual reactions), he can read the Instructions for Vision


If the guide senses that the voyager
is experiencing the fragmentation of external sound into
wave vibrations, he can amend the instructions appropriately
(changing the visuaol references to auditory).


Vision 5: The Vibratory Waves of
External Unity (Eyes open, or rapt involvement with external
stimuli; emotional aspects)


As the learned perceptions disappear
and the structure of the external world disintegrates into
direct wave phenomena, the aim is to amintain a pure,
conten-free awareness (First Bardo). Despite the
preparations, one is likely to be led backwards by one’s own
mental inclinations into two hallucinatory or revelatory
interpretations of reality. One reaction leads to the
intellectual clarity or frightened confusion of the fourth
vision (just described). Another interpretation is the
emotional reaction to the fragmentation of differentiated
forms. One can be engulfed in ecstatic unity, or one can
slip into isolated egotism. The Bardol Thodol calls the
former the “Wisdom of Equality” and the latter the “quagmire
of worldly existence accruing from violent egotism.”
[The Peaceful Deity of the fifth vision comes in the
form of the Bhagavan Ratnasambhava, born of a jewel. He is
embraced by the Divine Mother, She of the Buddha Eyes, and
accompanied by the Bodhisattvas, womb of the sky, All-good,
and those holding incense and rosary. “On the elementary
plane Ratnasambhava corresponds to the earth, which carries
and nourishes all beings with the equanimity and patience of
a mother, in whose eyes all beings, borne by her, are
equal.” (Govinda, op. cit., p. 119.)] In the state of
radiant unity, one senses that there is only one network of
energy in the universe and that all things and all sentient
beings are momentary manifestations of the single pattern.
When egotistic interpretations are imposed on the fifth
vision, the “plastic doll” phenomena are experienced.
Differentiated forms are seen as inorganic, dull,
mass-produced, shabby, plastic, and all persons (including
self) are seen as lifeless mannequins isolated from the
vibrant dance of energy, which has been lost.

The experiential data of this vision
are similar to that of the fourth vision. All artifactual
learned structure collapses back to energy vibrations. The
awareness is dominated not by revelatory clarity but by
shimmering unity. The subject is entranced by the silent,
whirling play of forces. Exquisite forms dance by him, all
surrounding objects radiate energy, brilliant emanations.
His own body is seen as a play of forces. If he looks in a
mirror, he sees a shining mosaic of particles. The sense of
his own wave structure becomes stronger. A feeling of
melting, floating off. The body is no longer a separate unit
but a cluster of vibrations sending and receiving energy – a
phase of the dance of energy which has been going on for


A sense of profound one-ness, a
feeling of the unity of all energy. Superficial differences
of role, cast, status, sex, species, form, power, size,
beauty, even the distinctions between inorganic and living
energy, disappear before the ecstatic union of all in one.
All gestures, words, acts and events are equivalent in value
– all are manifestations of the one consciousness which
pervades everything. “You,” “I” and “he” are gone, “my”
thoughts are “ours,” “your” feelings are “mine.”
Communication is unnecessary, since complete communion
exists. A person can sense another’s feeling and mood
directly, as if they were his own. By a glance, whole
lifetimes and words can be transmitted. If all are at peace,
the vibrations are “in phase.” If there is discord, “out of
phase” vibrations will be set up which will be felt like
discordant music. Bodies melt into waves. Objects in the
environment – lights, tree, plants, flowers – seem to open
and welcome you: they are part of you. You are both simply
different pulses of the same vibrations. A pure feeling of
ecstatic harmony with all beings is the keynote of this


But as before, terrors can occur.
Unity requires ecstatic self-sacrifice. Loss of ego brings
fright to the unprepared. The fragmentation of form into
waves can bring the most terrible fear known to man: the
ultimate epistemological revelation.


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.


The terror comes with the discovery
of transience. Nothing is fixed, no form solid. Everything
you can experience is “nothing but” electrical waves. You
feel ultimately tricked. A victim of the great television
producer. Distrust. The people around you are lifeless
television robots. The world around you is a facade, a stage
set. You are a helpless marionette, a plastic doll in a
plastic world.


If others attempt to help, they are
seen as wooden, waxen, feelingless, cold, grotesque,
maniacal, space-fiction monsters. You are unable to feel. “I
am dead. I will never live and feel again.” In wild panic
you may attempt to force feeling back – by action, by
shouting. You will then enter the Third Bardo stage and be
reborn in an unpleasant way.


The best method to escape from fifth
vision terrors is to remember this manual, relax, and swing
with the wave dance. Or to communicate to the guide that you
are in a plastic doll phase, and he will guide you


Another solution is to move to the
internal biological flow. Follow the instructions given in
the third vision: close your eyes, lie prone, seek bodily
contact, float down into your bodily stream. In so doing,
you are recapitulating the evolutionary sequence. For
billions of years, inorganic energy danced the cosmic round
before the biological rhythm began. Don’t rush


If the guide senses that the person
is experiencing plastic doll visions or is afraid of the
uncontrollability of his own feeling, he should read to him
the Instructions for Vision 5.


Vision 6: “The Retinal


Each of the Second Bardo visions
thus far described was one aspect of the “experiencing of
reality.” The inner fire or outer waves, apprehended
intellectually or emotionally – each vision with its
correspondent traps. Each of the “Peaceful Deities” appears
with its attendant “Wrathful Deities.” To maintain any of
these visions for any length of time requires a certain
degree of concentration or “one-pointedness” of mind, as
well as the ability to recognize them and not to be afraid.
Thus, for most persons, the experience may pass through one
or more of these phases without the voyager being able to
hold them or stay with them. He may open and close his eyes,
he may become alternately absorbed in internal sensations
and external forms. The experience may be chaotic,
beautiful, thrilling, incomprehensible, magical,
ever-changing. [In the Bardo Thodol, on the sixth day
appear the radiant lights of the combined Five Wisdoms of
the Dhyani-Buddhas, the protective deities (gatekeepers of
the mandala) and the Buddhas of the Six Realms of
game-existence. According to Lama Govinda: “The Inner Way of
Vajra-Sattva, consists in the combination of the rays of the
Wisdoms of the four Dhyani-Buddhas and their absorption
within one’s own heart – in other words, in the recognition
that all these radiances are the emanations of one’s own
mind in a state of perfect tranquility and serenity, a state
in which the mind reveals its true universal nature.”
(Govinda, op., cit., p. 262.)]

He will travel freely through many
worlds or experience – from direct contact with life-process
forms and images, he may pass to visions of human
game-forms. He may see and understand with unimagined
clarity and brilliance various social and self-games that he
and others play. His own struggles in karmic (game)
existence will appear pitiful and laughable. Ecstatic
freedom of consciousness is the keynote of this vision.
Exploration of unimagined realms. Theatrical adventures.
Plays within plays within plays. Symbols change into things
symbolized and vice versa. Words become things, thoughts are
music, music is smelled, sounds are touched, complete
interchangeability of the senses.


All things are possible. All
feelings are possible. A person may “try on” various moods
like so many pieces of clothing. Subjects and objects whirl,
transform, change into each other, merge, fuse, disperse
again. External objects dance and sing. The mind plays upon
them as upon a musical instrument. They assume any form,
significance or quality upon command. They are admired,
adored, analyzed, examined, changed, made beautiful or ugly,
large or small, important or trivial, useful, dangerous,
magical or incomprehensible. They may be reacted to with
wonder, amazement, humor, veneration, love, disgust,
fascination, horror, delight, fear, ecstasy.


Like a computer with unlimited
access to any programs, the mind roams freely. Personal and
racial memories bubble up to the surface of consciousness,
inter-play with fantasies, wishes, dreams and external
objects. A present event becomes charged with profound
emotional significance, a cosmic phenomenon becomes
identical with some personal quirk. Metaphysical problems
are juggled and bounced around. Pure “primary process,”
spontaneous outopouring of association, opposites merging,
images fusing, condensing, shifting, collapsing, expanding,
merging, connecting.


This kaleidoscopic vision of
game-reality may be frightening and confusing to an
ill-prepared subject. Instead of exquisite clarity of
many-levelled perception, he will experience a confused
chaos of uncontrollable, meaningless forms. Instead of
delight at the playful acrobatics of the free intellect,
there will be anxious clinging to an elusive order. Morbid
and scatological hallucinations may occur, evoking disgust
and shame.


As before, this negative vision
occurs only if the person attempts to control or rationalize
the magic panorama. Relax and accept whatever comes.
Remember that all visions are created by your mind, the
happy and the unhappy, the beautiful and the ugly, the
delightful and the horrifying. Your consciousness is
creator, performer and spectator of the “retinal


If the guide senses that the voyager
is in or seems to be in the “retinal circus” vision, he may
read to him the appropriate instructions Instructions for
Vision 6: “The Retinal Circus”.


Vision 7: “The Magic


If the voyager was unable to
maintain the passive serenity necessary for the
contemplation of the previous visions (the peaceful
deities), he moves now into a more dramatic and active
phase. The play of forms and things becomes the play of
heroic figures, superhuman spirits and demigods. [In the
Tibetan Handbook, this is described as the vision of the
five “Knowledge-Holding Deities,” arranged in a mandala
form, each embraced by Dakinis, in an ecstatic dance. The
Knowledge-holding Deities symbolize “the highest level of
individual or humanly conceivable knowledge, as attained in
the consciousness of great Yogis, inspired thinkers or
similar heroes of the spirit. They represent the last step
before the “breaking-through” towards the universal
consciousness – or the first on the return from there to the
plane of human knowledge.” (Govinda, op. cit., p. 202.) The
Dakinis are female embodiments of knowledge, representing
the inspirational impluses of consciousness leading to
break-through. The other four Knowledge-Holders, besides the
central Lord of Dance, are: the Knowledge-holder abiding in
the earth, the Knowledge-holder who has power over the
duration of life, the Knowledge-holder of the Great Symbol,
and the Knowledge-holder of Spontaneous Realization.]
You may see radiating figures in human forms. The “Lotus
Lord of Dance”: the supreme image of a demi-god who
perceives the effects of all actions. The prince of
movement, dancing in an ecstatic embrace with his female
counterpart. Heroes, heroines, celestial warriors, male and
female demi-gods, angels, fairies – the exact form of these
figures will depend on the person’s background and
tradition. Archetypal figures in the forms of characters
from Greek, Egyptian, Nordic, Celtic, Aztec, Persian,
Indian, Chinese mythology. The shapes differ, the source is
the same: they are the concrete embodiments of aspects of
the person’s own psyche. Archetypal forces below verbal
awareness and expressible only in symbolic form. The figures
are often extremely colorful and accompanied by a variety of
awe-inspiring sounds. If the voyager is prepared and in a
relaxed, detached frame of mind, he is exposed to a
fascinating and dazzling display of dramatic creativity. The
Cosmic Theatre. The Divine Comedy. If his eyes are open, he
may visualize the other voyagers as representing these
figures. The face of a friend may turn into that of a young
boy, a baby, the child-god; into a heroic stature, a wise
old man; a woman, animal, goddess, sea-mother, young girl,
nymph, elf, goblin, leprechaun. Images of the great painters
arise as the familiar representations of these spirits. The
images are inexhaustible and manifold. An illuminating
voyage into the areas where the personal consciousness
merges with the supr-individual.

The danger is that the voyager
becomes frightened by or unduly attracted to these powerful
figures. The forces represented by them may be more intense
than he was prepared for. Inability or unwillingness to
recognize them as products of one’s mind, leads to escape
into animalistic pursuits. The person may become involved in
the pursuit of power, lust, wealth and descend into Third
Bardo rebirth struggles.


If the guide senses that the voyager
is caught in this trap, the appropriate instructions may be
used Intructions for Vision 7: “The Magic


The Wrathful Visions (Second Bardo


Seven Second Bardo visions have been
described. At each one of them, the voyager could recognize
what he saw and be liberated. Multitudes will be liberated
by that recognition; and although multitudes obtain
liberation in that manner, the number of sentient beings
being great, evil karma powerful, obscurations dense,
propensities of too long standing, the Wheel of Ignorance
and Illusion becomes neither exhausted nor accelerated.
Despite the confrontations, there is a vast preponderance of
those who wander downwards unliberated.

Thus, in the Tibetan Thodo, after
the seven peaceful deities, there come seven visions of
wrathful deities, fifty-eight in number, male and female,
“flame-enhaloed, wrathful, blood-drinking.” These Herukas as
they are called, will not be described in detail, especially
since Westerners are liable to experience the wrathful
deities in different forms. Instead of many-headed fierce
mythological demons, they are more likely to be engulfed and
ground by impersonal machinery, manipulated by scientific,
torturing control-devices and other space-fiction horrors.
[Some general remarks about the Tibetan interpretation
of these visions. The Wrathful Deities are regarded as “only
the former Peaceful Deities in changed aspect.” Lama Govinda
writes: “The peaceful forms of Dhyani-Buddhas represent the
highest ideal of Buddhahood in its completed, final, static
condition of ultimate attainment or perfection, seen
retrospectively as it were, as a state of complete rest and
harmony. The Herukas, on the other hand, which are described
as “blood-drinking,” angry or “terrifying” deities – are
merely the dynamic aspect of enlightenment, the process of
becoming a Buddha, of attaining illumination, as symbolized
by the Buddha’s struggle with the Hosts of Mara…. The
ecstatic figures, heroic and terrifying, express the act of
breaking through towards the unthinkable, the intellectually
“Unattainable.” They represent the leap over the chasm,
which yawns between an intellectual surface consciousness
and the intuitive supra-personal depth-consciousness.”
(Govinda, op. cit., pp. 198, 202.)]


The Tibetans regard the nightmare
visions as primarily intellectual products. They assign them
to the Brain chakra, whereas the peaceful deities are
assigned to the Heart chakra and the Knowledge-Holding
deities to the intermediate Throat chakra. They are the
reactions of the mind to the process of
consciousness-expansion. They represent the attempts of the
intellect to maintain its threatened boundaries. They
symbolize the struggle of breaking through to ego-loss
understanding and awareness.


Because of the terror and awe they
produce, recognition is difficult. Yet in a way it is also
easier in that, since these negative hallucinations command
all attention, the mind is alert and therefore through
trying to escape from fear and terror, people get involved
in psychotic states and suffer. But with the aid of this
manual and the presence of a guide, the voyager will
recognize these hell visions as soon as he sees them, and
welcome them like old friends.


Again, when psychologists,
philosophers, and psychiatrists, who do not know these
teachings, experience ego-loss – however assiduously they
may have devoted themselves to academic study and however
clever they may have been in expounding intellectual
theories – none of the higher phenomena will appear. This is
because they are unable to recognize the visions occurring
in these psychedelic experiences. Suddenly seeing something
they had never seen before and possessing no intellectual
concepts, they view it as inimical; and, antagonistic
feelings arising, they pass into miserable states. Thus, if
one has not had practical experience with these teachings,
the radiances and lights will not appear.


Those who believe in these doctrines
even though they may seem to be unrefined, irregular in
performance of duties, inelegant in habits, and perhaps even
unable to practice the doctrine successfully – let no one
doubt them or be disrespectful towards them, but pay
reverence to their mystic faith. That alone will enable them
to attain liberation. Elegance and efficiency of devotional
practice are not necessary – just acquaintance with and
trust in these teachings.


Well-prepared persons need not
experience Second Bardo hell visions at all. Right from the
beginning they can pass into paradisiacal states led by
heroes, heroines, angels and super-spirits. “They will merge
into rainbow radiance; there will be sun-showers, sweet
scent of incense in the air, music in the skies,


This manual is indispensable to
those students who are unprepared. Those proficient in
meditation will recognize the Clear Light at the moment of
ego-loss and will enter the Blissful Void (Dharma-Kaya).
They will also recognize the positive and negative visions
of the Second Bardo and obtain illumination
(Sambhogha-Kaya); and being reborn on a higher level will
become inspired saints or teachers (Nirmana-Kaya). The study
and pursuit of enlightenment can always be taken up again at
the point where it was broken by the last ego-loss, thus
ensuring continuity of karma.


by the use of this manual,
enlightenment can be obtained without meditation, through
hearing alone. It can liberate even very heavy ego-game
players. The distinction between those who know it and those
who do not becomes very clear. Enlightenment follows
instantly. Those who have been reached by it cannot have
prolonged negative experiences.


The teaching concerning the
hell-visions is the same as before; recognize them to be
your own thought-forms, relax, float downstream. The
Instructions for the Wrathful Visions may be read. If, after
this, recognition is still impossible and liberation is not
obtained, then the voyager will descend into the Third
Bardo, the Period of Re-Entry.


Conclusion of Second


However much experience one may have
had, there is always the possibility of delusions occurring
in these psychedelic states. Those with practice in
meditation recognize the truth as soon as the experience
begins. Reading this manual beforehand is important. Having
some degree of self-knowledge is helpful at the moment of

Meditation on the various positive
and negative archetypal forms is very important for Second
Bardo phases. Therefore, read this manual, keep it, remember
it, bear it in mind, read it regularly; let the words and
meanings be very clear; they should not be forgotten, even
under extreme duress. It is called “The Great Liberation by
Hearing” because even those with selfish deeds on their
conscience can be liberated if they hear it. If heard only
once, it can be efficacious because even though not
understood, it will be remembered during the psychedelic
state, since the mind is more lucid then. It should be
proclaimed to all living persons; it should be read over the
pillows of ill persons; it should be read to dying persons;
it should be broadcast.


Those who meet this doctrine are
fortunate. It is not easy to encounter. Even when read, it
is difficult to comprehend. Liberation will be won simply
through not disbelieving it upon hearing it.


Here ends the Second Bardo the
Period of Hallucinations