After completing the process of ego-death, individuals consider human experience in a
much broader, spiritual framework.
As long as you’re alive, you can live however the hell you want to; to give in to what
people expect of you is to die before your time.
By inducing ego-death and evolutionary perspectives, psychedelic drugs can counteract
the fear of death.
Darkness and death are by no means the mere absence of light and life, but rather their
Death and rebirth experiences are very complex and have biological, emotional and
intellectual, as well as philosophical and spiritual facets.
Death is just one episode, one transitional experience within this magnificent perennial
Diane Linkletter’s suicide was attributed to acid, although she was not tripping when she
Dying persons who had transcendental experiences developed a deep belief in the
ultimate unity of all creation. They often experienced themselves as integral parts of it.
Ego death is not permanent, but the break-through to a broader awareness generally
begins the process of transformation of the personality.
Experiential sequences of death and rebirth typically open the gate to a transbiographical
domain in the human psyche that can best be referred to as transpersonal.
Far from inducing window-jumping and self-destruction, the suicide rate for young
people actually dropped during the LSD boom.
Feelings and visions alike became cold and dead in the writing, a faint account giving a
prosaic one-hundred-thousandth of the experience itself.
God is not dead; he is alive and close. (He’s closer than most people realize. In fact, you
can’t get away from him.)
If the mechanisms of DNA repair, immunological defense and DNA aging codes can be
understood, life can be extended and death postponed indefinitely.
If the religious vigor of a Westerner is enhanced by rich, mystical understanding, this is
certainly preferable to a foolish allegiance to a dead faith.
In the Tibetan tradition, dying, no less than living, is to be performed in complete
In the 20th century, mythology speaks almost a dead language, for the modern mind
knows of no order of truth higher than historical fact. Myth is therefore rejected.
It is hard to imagine a more useful way to combine medicine, psychology and religion
than psychedelic therapy with dying individuals.
Lacking warmth and drive, many churches and religions have either passed out of
existence or have continued in a kind of institutional living death.
LSD subjects can have several sequences of death and rebirth in a single psychedelic
Mythology, the repository of a culture’s sacred history, reveals the relevance and
universal nature of the experience of death and rebirth.
Nothing is higher than these mysteries. They have not only shown us the way to live
joyfully, but they have taught us to die with hope.
Of utmost importance is the psychedelic peak experience, which usually takes the form of
a death-rebirth sequence with ensuing feelings of cosmic unity.
One theme that is particularly powerful and recurs with remarkable frequency in the
mythology of the heroic journey is the encounter with death and subsequent rebirth.
One who has the courage to undergo the shattering of the illusion will die, but will die in
the mystical sense, “…so that he may live again.” (The ego is the illusion which dies.)
Our mythologies preserve the hint of a way back, to the lost unity, though the price is a
form of death.
Powerful experiential sequences of dying and being born can result in dramatic
alleviation of a variety of emotional problems.
Psychedelic drug therapy did not die a natural death from loss of interest; it was killed by
law. (That is fascism).
Psychedelic substances can induce without any specific programming, profound death-
rebirth experiences and facilitate spiritual opening.
The anxiety-laden problem of what will happen to me when I die is like asking what
happens to my fist when I open my hand or where my lap goes when I stand up.
The death-rebirth experience can seem to have transcended all boundaries and become a
drama involving all of mankind.
The deep psychedelic experience is a death-rebirth flip. You turn on to the ancient
rhythm. You become its beat.
The depth and intensity of the death-rebirth experience provides a dramatic framework
for the termination of the old social role and the assumption of the new one.
The ego death that precedes rebirth is the death of our old concepts of who we are and
what the world is like.
The essential effect of the psychedelic experience is the death of the time-bound ego and
the consequent realization of the Supreme Identity.
The experience of death-rebirth is usually so realistic that it is perceived as experientially
identical with actual biological demise.
The experience of dying occurs in the context of the death-rebirth experience and total
surrender to it is always followed by feelings of liberation.
The experience of ego-death in psychedelic sessions is the most powerful remedy against
The mystical consciousness is so much more deeply rooted than any other human
impulse and is characterized by an experience that goes beyond death.
The parallels between the phenomenology of rites of passage and LSD experiences
involving death and rebirth are far-reaching.
The perspective of the continuation of life in another form has a very liberating effect on
the individual and can considerably alleviate despair and the fear of death.
The Puritans killed the senses. English culture killed emotion. And now it was necessary
to dynamite the concrete lid, to “blow the mind” as the LSD followers call it.
The region of death becomes knowable and death itself is seen primarily as a rite of
passage to a spiritual mode of being.
The therapeutic effects associated with the experience of death and rebirth are so
The very living of any one organism is a perpetual birth, death and elimination of its own
The visionary experience is described in the 7th book of Plato’s Republic and mapped in
the Bhagavad Gita and the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
The visionary revelation answers the escape question. There is no death. Ecstatic,
The ways of liberation propose that what many, perhaps, discover in death may also be
discovered in the midst of life.
There’s a plastic film between you and the divine process around you. It’s your
egocentricity, your deadening mind.
To be uneasy is the original derivation of the word disease; my anxiety and worry about
my certain death was a disease.
Until recently, it was rarely seriously considered that the descriptions of the adventures of
the soul after death could reflect experiential reality.
Victory over life and death is won by seeing the oscillating dance of energy and yielding
We have lost the art of playing with our life, the joy has gone out of it. Existence has
become an affair of deadly serious.
What really dies in the process of ego-death is that part of us that holds a basically
paranoid view of ourselves and of the world around us.
With adequate support and guidance, such episodes can prove to be very beneficial for
the dying individual.
Your own consciousness shining, inseparable from the great Body of Radiance, is subject
neither to birth nor death.
After the experience of ego death, abuse of alcohol or narcotics, as well as suicidal
tendencies, are seen as tragic mistakes due to an unrecognized and misunderstood
spiritual craving for transcendence.
Awareness of all normal sense impressions and the empirical ego seems to die or fade
away while pure consciousness of what is being experienced paradoxically remains and
seems to expand as a vast inner world is encountered.
Clients who experience psychological death-rebirth and/or feelings of cosmic unity tend
to develop a negative attitude toward the states of mind induced by alcohol and narcotics.
This has proved extremely useful in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.
Creative or revelatory experiences involve a temporary and voluntary breaking up of
perceptual constancies, permitting one “to shake free from dead literalism, to re-combine
the old familiar elements into, new, imaginative, amusing, or beautiful patterns.”
Every initiation into what lies behind the passing show involves an unmasking which is
the same thing as the death of the role or identity that one has assumed in the socio-
I became intrigued by the possibilities that LSD psychotherapy seemed to offer for the
alleviation of the emotional suffering of cancer patients facing the prospect of imminent
death. (That was Stanislav Grof.)
I predict that dying is a merging with the entire life process. In other words, we become
every form of life that has ever lived and will live. We become the DNA code that wrote
the entire script. Consciousness returns to the genetic code. (That was Timothy Leary.)
In many places of the world and in different historical periods, mythological figures and
stories became the central focus of sacred mysteries in which neophytes experienced
ritual death and rebirth.
Individuals who experienced the phenomenon of ego death followed by the experience of
rebirth and cosmic unity seemed to show radical and lasting changes in their fundamental
understanding of human nature and its relation to the universe.
It may be that LSD not only changes the pre-conditions of death, but alters the transition
as well. The question is, does it do anything else? No one can answer, for in this realm,
there is not a single expert.
It may be that the fear of dying is in part a projected memory of birth and that what Freud
called the death instinct is also related to a desire to return to the womb. If the birth agony
is experienced as a death agony, this life is in a sense already life after death.
Jung and his followers brought to the attention of Western psychology the utmost
significance of all the symbolic variations on the theme of death and rebirth in our
archetypal heritage. (This is way beyond what Freud knew, wrote or talked about.)
No authoritarian government, whether ecclesiastical or secular, can tolerate the
apprehension that each one if us is God in disguise, and that our real inmost, outmost and
utmost Self cannot be killed. That’s why they had to do away with Jesus.
Psychedelic research seems to offer a unique approach to the future exploration of the
process of ritual transformation. The parallels between LSD sessions and the ritual death-
rebirth process are striking.
Some of these persons report that the death-rebirth process seems to have removed a
subtle film from their senses which previously prevented them from experiencing reality
Spiritual practice begins by allowing ourselves to die to the ego’s ideas about how things
should be and to love and accept the truth of things as they are. (The ego doesn’t know
the meaning of truth.)
Terror at the confrontation with the Divine is natural and instinctive and has been felt by
every voyager on the great journey beyond the self. It’s the fear of death, the loss of
control. (There is no real death and it’s the ego that fears, loses control and “dies”.)
The concept of human existence as a life-and-death struggle for survival in a world
governed by the law of the jungle gives way to a new image of life as a manifestation of a
cosmic dance or a divine play.
The “death” which must be undergone to behold the vision of God is the death of a false
identity and the withdrawal from the world which is required for liberation is withdrawal
from the game that this particular person, so-and-so, is my one and only self.
The institutional Christian churches tell us that Jesus was the only Son of God, that he
incarnated as a human in order to die on the cross as a penalty for our sins, and thereby
save the world. But that is a sad caricature, a pale reflection of the true story.
The main objective of psychedelic therapy is to create optical conditions for the subject to
experience the ego death and the subsequent transcendence into the so-called psychedelic
The mind must be prepared and the conditions right for a profound mystical or religious
experience to occur. And even then, the drug user may go through a descent into torment
and even a seeming death agony before attaining joyous unity and rebirth.
The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the source of all true
art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger is as good as dead. (That was
Albert Einstein. That’s right, Albert Einstein.)
The participation of archetypal elements in the death-rebirth process reflects the fact that
deep experiential confrontation with the phenomena of death and birth typically results in
a spiritual and mystical opening and mediates access to the transpersonal realm.
The possibility of consciousness after death was rejected not because it contradicted
clinical observations, but because the concept was incompatible with existing scientific
The presupposition that one’s own religion is, even without examining others, the best
and truest of all is stupidity. Science, too, has a mythological level, which is the fiercely
held position that the physical universe, outside man, is dead and stupid.
The sage often appears to be an idiot or “wildman” because he doesn’t take the choosing
seriously. It’s not life or death. It’s life and death and ultimately, there is nothing to be
dreaded. There is nothing outside the universe, against which it can crash.
The wide historical and geographical distribution of transformative rituals focusing on
death and rebirth and their psychological relevance for individuals, groups, and entire
cultures suggest that they must reflect important basic needs inherent in human nature.
There is no doubt that a genuine comprehension of religion, mysticism, shamanism, rites
of passage or mythology is impossible without intimate knowledge of the death
experience and the death-rebirth process.
Those individuals who have faced death and rebirth in their sessions show specific
changes in their perception of themselves and the world, in their hierarchies of values,
general behavior, and overall world-view.
Unusual states of consciousness, similar to those produced by LSD, occur spontaneously
in many dying individuals for reasons of a physiological, biochemical, and psychological
What can be done to prevent the glory and the freshness from fading into the light of
common day? How can we educate children on the conceptual level without killing their
capacity for intense nonverbal experience?
Death is the point at which man escapes the time barrier of the conscious mind. Life does
not begin and does not end. We speak of it in this way because the conscious mind can
only express itself in terms of time and space. But this end, this event called death, is not
all. And if there is something after death then there had to be something before birth.
If the history of science teaches us anything, it is that uncomfortable data cannot be swept
under the rug indefinitely. Galileo, we know, was not silenced; his manuscripts were
smuggled out and published after his death, laying the groundwork not just for the
science of astronomy, but for experimental physics in general.
It is one of the oldest and most universal practices for the initiate to go through the
experience of death before he can be spiritually reborn. Symbolically he must die to his
past, and to his old ego, before he can take his place in the new spiritual life into which
he has been initiated.
It is only when the person begins to return, begins to be reborn, that he becomes upset by
death and dying. In the earlier phase, when he really is dead, merged with infinite
oneness, there is no concern, only peace. (“Really is dead” means that the ego is dead and
if the ego is dead, then there really is peace.)
Jesus had to die because he broke through the frontiers of consciousness, because he
broke through what it means to be religious. (Even in today’s “modern” and “civilized”
world, anyone who encourages others to be religious by expanding their consciousness is
likely to be jailed if not murdered.)
Kent St. University was the scene of a slaughter. The National Guard fired their rifles
into a group of antiwar demonstrators and killed four students and wounded thirty. It was
the beginning of the end of the dream of peace and love and equality. We realized that
our own fathers would kill us.
Leary once remarked that people who believe that LSD should be illegal because some
users have committed suicide, maybe because of it, should agitate even more heatedly for
the abolition of examinations. Statistics show that the link between final exams and
suicide is true beyond any doubt. Every year the college suicide rate rises at exam time.
Often, there is an actual experience of truths, they are KNOWN to be truths, which, when
presented in conceptual terms to the mind in its normal state, seem incomprehensible and
absurd. Such propositions as “God is love” are realized with the totality of one’s being
and their truth seems self-evident in spite of pain and death.
Psychology, man’s view of his nature, is always the last to adapt to a new world view.
From the standpoint of established values, the psychedelic process is dangerous and
insane—a deliberate psychotization, a suicidal undoing of the equilibrium man should be
The death-rebirth cycle has been recognized as a natural and lawful pattern throughout
our history by many cultures. Just as spring reliably follows winter year after year, so the
development of a new life automatically follows a full experience of the destruction of
The therapeutic results transcended anything I had ever witnessed. Difficult symptoms
that had resisted months and even years of conventional treatment often disappeared after
experiences such as psychological death and rebirth, feelings of cosmic unity and
sequences that clients described as past-life memories.
The thought of death does not in the least disturb me, because I am firmly convinced that
our spirit is altogether indestructible and thus continues from eternity to eternity. It is like
the sun, which to our eyes seems to disappear beyond the horizon, while in actual fact it
goes on shining continuously.
Under appropriate conditions the psychedelics could considerably speed and facilitate the
process of working through psychological blocks. Material inaccessible in an ordinary
state could be brought into awareness, sometimes producing dramatic transformations
including death/rebirth experiences and alleviation of symptoms.
When Western science dismissed the concept of consciousness after death as a
fabrication based on wishful thinking and superstition, this judgment was not based on
the careful study of the area in question that is otherwise characteristic of the scientific
While the religious establishment worries itself into reams of cross arguments on whether
or not God is dead, these thinkers merely smile and shake their heads. God isn’t dead; He
isn’t even lost. He is right there in the deepest recesses of the mind where he has always
been. Doubting Thomases need only allow LSD to show them the way.
A new and exciting area was discovered for psychedelic psychotherapy: the care of
patients with terminal cancer and some other incurable diseases. Studies of dying
individuals indicated that this approach was able to bring not only alleviation of the
emotional suffering and relief from severe physical pain associated with cancer, but also
dramatically transform the concept of death and change the attitude toward dying.
Elements of plant consciousness can be accompanied by philosophical and spiritual
ideation and insights. Several subjects, for example, have pondered over the purity and
unselfishness of plant existence and have seen plant life as a model for ideal human
conduct; unlike animals and man, most plants do not kill and do not live at the expense of
Exploration of the potential of these substances for the study of schizophrenia, for
didactic reasons, for a deeper understanding of art and religion, for personality
diagnostics and the therapy of emotional disorders and for altering the experience of
dying has been my major professional interest throughout these years and has consumed
most of the time I have spent in psychiatric research. (That was Stanislav Grof.)
How many of us now realize that space is the same as mind or consciousness? That your
inside goes with your entire outside as your front with your back? That this galaxy and all
other galaxies are just as much you as your heart or your brain? That your coming and
going, your waking and sleeping, your birth and your death are exactly the same kind of
rhythmic phenomena as the stars and their surrounding darkness?
If the intellect by nature cannot understand life, it follows that the intellect by nature
cannot understand death. Its view of death results from the fact that it looks only at the
parts, not the Whole. If it would look at the Whole, it would see immediately that life is
immortal. The esoteric doctrine would be that it is precisely our insistence on personal
immortality which makes us blind to our actual immortality.
In many traditions, the notion of “dying before dying” is essential to spiritual
advancement. Coming to terms with the fact of death as part of the continuity of life is
seen as tremendously liberating, releasing one from the fear of death and opening one to
the experience of immortality. As the 17th century Christian monk, Abraham a Santa
Clara wrote: “A man who dies before he dies does not die when he dies.”
In most preindustrial societies and ancient civilizations, there have existed powerful
rituals designed to transform and consecrate individuals, groups, or even entire cultures.
These transformative events, termed rites of passage by anthropologists, are of
fundamental importance to the discussion of the experience of symbolic death and
It has been shown that LSD experiences of death and rebirth and mystical states of
consciousness can change patients’ concepts of death and life and alleviate their fears of
dying. Psychedelic therapy has proved to be more than an important tool in the control of
mental and physical pain, it has contributed greatly to our understanding of the
experience of death.
Leary had always talked about the deadening effect of the “adjust or else” brand of
psychology that had held sway over the 1950’s, but he hadn’t realized just how dead in
the water most of his colleagues were until he offered them psilocybin and they refused
to try it. My God, these were psychologists yet they lacked the slightest curiosity about
their own unconsciouses!
Loss of self may be experienced as an actual death and rebirth, undergone with anguish
and joy of overwhelming intensity. In some cases, the culmination is a mystical ecstasy in
which for an eternal moment all contradictions seem reconciled, all questions answered,
all wants irrelevant or satisfied, all existence encompassed by an experience that is felt to
define the ultimate reality, boundless, timeless, and ineffable.
The average Westerner is naive about nonordinary states of consciousness and has many
misconceptions and prejudices about some of the experiences that are potentially the
most healing. We try to convey a clear message that such phenomena as death-rebirth
sequences, archetypal visions and states of cosmic unity are absolutely normal and that
having them in no way implies pathology.
The everyday clinical practice of LSD psychotherapy brings repeated evidence of the
powerful healing potential of the death-rebirth process. The discovery of this potent
therapeutic mechanism, as yet unrecognized and unacknowledged by Western science,
represents one of the most surprising findings of my LSD research. (That was Stanislav
The findings from psychedelic explorations throw entirely new light on the material from
history, comparative religion and anthropology concerning the ancient mysteries of death
and rebirth, rites of passage of various cultures, shamanic procedures of all times,
aboriginal healing ceremonies, spiritual practices of various religious and mystical
traditions and other phenomena of great cultural significance.
The most human thing about man is his eternal, childlike hope that somehow, someday,
the deepest yearnings of his heart will come true. Who is so proud and unfeeling that he
will not admit that he would be deliriously happy if, by some strange magic, these deep
and ingrained longings could be fulfilled? If there was eternal everlasting life beyond
death after all?
The mystics continuously get in trouble with religious authorities, but often also with
political authorities. By his teaching and by the very way he lives, Jesus appeals to
common sense and blows the pretense of public opinion to pieces. Common people said,
“Wow, this man speaks with authority, not like our authorities.” You can imagine how
the authorities felt about it and how they reacted: “This man has to die!”
The process I was witnessing in others and experiencing myself had a deep similarity
with shamanic initiations, rites of passage of various cultures, and the ancient mysteries
of death and rebirth. Western scientists had ridiculed and rejected these sophisticated
procedures, believing that they had successfully replaced them with rational and
scientifically sound approaches.
Those who were previously convinced that death was the ultimate defeat and meant the
end of any form of existence discovered various alternatives to this materialistic and
pragmatic point of view. They came to realize how little conclusive evidence there is for
any authoritative opinion in this matter and often began seeing death and dying as a
cosmic voyage into the unknown.
Under the influence of Freudian psychoanalysis, the concept of the ego is associated with
one’s ability to test reality and to function adequately in everyday life. Individuals who
share this limited point of view see the perspective of the ego death with horror.
However, what actually dies in this process is a basically paranoid attitude toward the
Each person will become his own Buddha, his own Einstein, his own Galileo. Instead of
relying on canned, static, dead knowledge passed on from other symbol producers, he
will be using his span of 80 or so years on this planet to live out every possibility of the
human, prehuman and even subhuman adventure. As more respect and time are diverted
to these explorations, he will be less hung-up on trivial, external pastimes. (That was
The richness of the experiential content is augmented by the fact that the process involves
an endless variety of illustrative material from biology, zoology, anthropology, history,
mythology and religion. Psychedelic sessions focusing on the death-rebirth process not
only have great therapeutic potential, but are a source of invaluable scientific,
sociopolitical, philosophical and spiritual insights. (That material is seen with the eyes
The thing that most aroused my interest was the tone and contents of what my classmates
who had taken the drug were saying. They talked to each other in stunned, excited voices
about love, sharing, identity, unity, death, ecstasy—topics not generally discussed by
psychology students except with cynical flippancy or heavy academic seriousness—but
certainly never from experienced confrontation, as was happening now. (That was Ralph
An understanding of death is the key to liberation in life.
Biological death is the beginning of an adventure in consciousness.
Church religion is spiritually dead.
Death is the ultimate equalizer.
“Die and come to life”.
He not busy being born is busy dying. (That was Bob Dylan.)
Heaven need not wait for the grave.
I don’t really fear death because I feel like I experienced it.
Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.
Life is a position of time. Death is a position of time. They are like winter and spring.
Loss of ego may be confused with physical death.
Nothing dies, it merely moves into another manifestation of the whole.
Only the body dies and the Self is eternal.
Perhaps what they call living is really dying and dying is our liberation into true life.
Psychedelic drug therapy was killed by the law.
Suffering and death are problematic for the ego rather than the organism.
The experiences of death and rebirth are very rich and complex.
The person is “dead”, yet can think and answer questions.
The real self exists on after the death of the body.
The sequences of dying and being born or reborn are frequently very dramatic.
The state of mind associated with dying can be experienced during life.
There is a touch of death, a preparation for the big one.
There is no death, his true self being as eternal as the universe.
We die, creatively speaking, when we cling too fast to the definite.
We have to realize that we are as deeply afraid to live and to love as we are to die.
What death negates is not the individual, not the organism/ environment, but the ego.
What dies is not consciousness but memory.
You don’t die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are.
The world is not static and dead. It’s now a shimmering dance of living energy. All
solidity is gone.
He stands outside of and apart from his familiar ego, all its protective barriers having
been shed; and this can lead in some to transcendent experience, while in others to a deep
panic. To those for whom the ego is their only possible self, the only possible mode of
consciousness, its disappearance is a kind of death.
Emotionally I experienced death and birth as similar events, two ends of the same
continuum and therefore to be similarly interpreted.
Following the ego death, individuals saw human experience in a much broader spiritual
He felt that if he could die right then, he could keep the tremendous beauty and rich
emotions for himself throughout eternity.
He saw eternal cycles of life and death unfolding in front of his eyes. Nothing really got
destroyed; everything was in eternal flux and transformation.
He was seeing life as an endless sequence of cycles in which becoming, being, and
perishing were just chapters in the same great book.
I knew that my Self outlasts physical death and that my essence, the me that is eternal,
exists without form.
I realized that I was dead and that I was in the place which is the aboriginal base of all
I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is on the contrary, a living
Presence. I became conscious in myself of eternal life.
I thought that I was near death; when suddenly, my soul became aware of God, in an
intense present reality. I felt him. I cannot describe the ecstasy I felt.
I was dead and yet I was never more joyously alive; thus I knew that after death, the soul
is more alive than we can ever be while living (without LSD).
It was time for the old mind to die, so that a new one, with expanded sensibilities, could
The drug experience seemed to reduce depression, tension, pain and fear of death
The psychological power of his new spiritual vision was so great that it helped overcome
his excessive fear of death.
The Shaman lost all fear of death, knowing it to be literally impossible. “Man has created
Within the domains of visionary travel, I’d now gone all the way toward the beginning, to
my conception, and all the way toward the end, to my death.
Death, instead of being the ultimate end of everything, suddenly appeared as a transition
into a different type of existence; the idea of the possible continuity of consciousness
beyond physical death seemed to be much more plausible than the opposite.
I felt that two people who really love can never be separated, not by space or time or
eternity. The lines of the marriage ceremony “till death due us part” seemed utterly
ridiculous. (The writer wrote it as “till death us to part.”)
Seemingly, some element of my former personality had died, but some other part that
was far more vital had been reborn. Whatever it was that wanted to come to life was
important, but I didn’t yet know how or why.
I felt that I was part of some intricate, unified network that was all-inclusive and eternal
and I felt that in that place I would continue to exist in some form forever. My belief in
the finality of death was undermined by an event that was so real it could not be denied
and I could no longer believe that death was the end of everything.
I looked on fields, and waters, and sky, and read in them a most startling meaning. I
wondered how I had ever regarded them in the light of dead matter. They were now
grand symbols of the sublimest spiritual truths—truths never before even feebly grasped,
and utterly unsuspected.
I now felt I had had some direct experience of the ineffable realms of union with God,
and I discovered that my dissatisfaction with conventional religion was not due to the
death of God, as some theologians proclaimed, but rather to the impoverished concepts of
God, currently in vogue.
I was not I any more but a consciousness that encompassed a vastly broader spectrum
than I ever dreamed of. It doesn’t last, but once you have known it, you can never forget
that it exists. When the experience becomes integrated into your life, the fear of death
disappears— and we can only truly begin to live when we no longer fear death.
In a letter to Humphrey Osmond, Aldous Huxley described a mescaline experience,
during which he came to the conclusion that “I didn’t think I should mind dying, for
dying must be like this, a passage from the known, constituted by lifelong habits of
subject-object-existence, to the unknown cosmic fact.”
It was a beautiful feeling, a verification of what I hoped would be the ultimate truth and a
hopeful view of creation: Don’t worry about your body or about dying. That’s an illusion.
Consciousness cannot die. To me, this was mind-shattering, the ultimate revelation in my
My familiar reality had cracked; a vast new reality that promised liberation from death
and meaninglessness lay before me. I believed that if everybody saw what I now saw
there would be peace on earth. The demons of hate, violence, illness and war would be
banished back into Pandora’s box. The scales would fall from humanity’s eyes and we
would recognize that we are one, and that we are eternal.
When I realized that I was being born again, that life goes on and on and on, the feeling
was overwhelming. I was filled with confidence that it was okay to die, because the
consciousness that inhabits the flesh has a higher destiny. It never began and it won’t end.
It just keeps going. Then I was struck with wave after wave of value wisdom, as though
the forms behind human spirituality were hitting me for the first time.
All patients, said Grof, apparently moved through similar levels during their sessions.
They passed first through aspects of their own life experiences—birth, childhood,
adulthood—and then into experiential realms described in mystical traditions,
experiences of ego-death and rebirth followed by “satori”—the dissolution of ego-
boundaries and the loss of duality, an unfolding awareness of cosmic unity, a sense of
Being dead was not a problem. I was happy to spend eternity in this state.
I felt like I might come to heaven if I die…I was there.
I had a palpable intuitive sense of life after death.
The days of my life had been mostly death! Was I now alive?
The universe was experienced as living and not a dead machine.
a profound mystical or religious experience involving elements of death and rebirth,
cosmic unity or communication with God
a radiance that seemed comparable to the light of super-natural brilliance that according
to Oriental scriptures appears to us at the moment of death
an existence of peace and equanimity, a state of well-being and wholeness—transcending
all fear of death
an extremely realistic feeling of the ultimate biological crisis that frequently gets
confused with real dying
an immediate awareness of things as they live and move, as distinct from the mere grasp
of ideas and feelings about things which are the dead symbols of a living reality
becomes open to the possibility that consciousness might be independent of the physical
body and continue beyond the moment of clinical death
instilling a sense of meaning in his personal existence and a feeling that since there is
meaning in life, there is meaning in death
my central sense of identity, which springs directly from the heart of reality and is not
subject to birth or death
not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, where death
was an almost laughable impossibility
reported that their previous suicidal tendencies had actually been unrecognized cravings
for the ego-death and transcendence
sequences of psychological death and rebirth, encounters with archetypal beings, visits to
mythological realms of various cultures (eyes closed)
that at least for some cancer patients, LSD psychotherapy could become a factor
contributing to healing and not only a preparation for death
the administration of LSD to terminal cancer cases, make dying a more spiritual, less
strictly physiological process
the better minds of our age who believe in all sincerity that institutional Christianity is a
dead backwater and the multitudes simply follow their opinion
the dead posturing of robot actors on the fake-prop TV studio stage set that is called
the fear that death will take us into everlasting nothingness, like being buried alive
forever, darkness without end—as if that could be some sort of experience
the parallels between LSD sessions and esoteric procedures focusing on the death
the unfolding possibilities of mind-free consciousness, the liberating effect of the ancient
rebirth process that comes only through the death of the mind
a dramatic shift in our value system, from the emphasis on mechanical prolongation of
life to concern about the quality of dying and death (This refers to people who are really
dying and take LSD. It is also related to the assisted-suicide issue.)
direct spiritual experiences, such as feelings of cosmic unity, a sense of divine energy
streaming through the body, death-rebirth sequences, encounters with archetypal entities,
visions of light of supernatural beauty
experiences of a world transfigured into unimaginable loveliness, charged with intrinsic
significance and manifesting, in spite of pain and death, an essential and divine All-
prepare the individual for eventual biological death by establishing a deep, almost
cellular awareness that periods of destruction are those of transition rather than
the liberated soul who takes on in the spirit of play the task, which others view as a
matter of life or death. (The liberated one knows that it’s life and death or life-death-life-
death, not life or death.)
assertions of having known the origin and goal of history, of having found the answer to
the ancient query, “What am I?”, of having intuited the harmonious structure of the
universe, of having experienced the primacy of love and the brotherhood of man, or of
having realized the reality of life that transcends temporal death
a deeper understanding of the death-rebirth process
a key to the great mysteries of life and death
a mystical transcendental, death-rebirth experience
After-Death, where there is a survival of consciousness, but not of the body as we know it
death a continuation of what had been the hidden aspect of the experience of life
death the transformation and renewal of life, the shuffling of the pack for a new deal
dying into purer being
grateful to be dead—grateful to have been shown the truth
liberated while still in his individual form, before the death of the body
Life in Death
ritual death and rebirth
that death is a change of scene
that death is not the end of consciousness but rather an extension of it
the attainment of the mystical vision through “ego death”
the consciousness-expansion experience—the pre-mortem death and rebirth rite
the culminating experience of a lifetime, man’s redemption from death
the discovery that nothing is really dead
the ecstatic death-and-rebirth experience
the experience of death and rebirth, union with the universe or God
the experience of psychological death
the liberating ego death
the opportunity to experience death without actually dying
the purity and exquisite life and light within death
the recognition of life in death
the rich and complex phenomena of the psychedelic death-rebirth process
the therapeutic significance of the ego death and rebirth experience
this shocking encounter with the phenomenon of death
to kill that greedy old Self (the ego)
to understand that death is false and that life is immortal
whether a suicidal individual can satisfy his “need to die” by “dying” in a drug session