I found myself in the land of the Preta Lokas, what the Tibetan Book of the Dead call the hungry ghosts. They exist in one of the lower bardos, an oppressive, dank, subterranean underworld. Gray puffs of smoke, they are merely shadows of their former selves trapped in this place, reborn into one of the hell realms, they are condemned to repeat their mistakes for eternity. I found myself there as well with all these ghosts surrounding me. It was terrifying. So how did I come to be there? Well I was still tripping really hard on acid but I had to be home by 11 o’clock because it was a school night. Everyone was asleep and as I was watching t.v. quietly in the living room, I felt like someone or something was watching me. I could sense a spirit standing just beyond the t.v. and as it moved towards me, it passed right through the t.v. and then through me as well, giving me a cold chill. Using my third eye, my Ajna Chakra, I tuned into the inner landscape. I was surrounded by these spirits in this dull, oppressive place. They were formless, gray clouds of smoke wandering aimlessly, each of completely isolated and unaware of the others presence. They would passed right through me and right through each other. I could hear them too, and old man muttering to himself, a little girl crying out, lost and alone. I was freaking out no doubt but once I sensed what was going on, a feeling of compassion came over me for these poor lost souls. This went on for what seemed like forever. Hours had passed and it was now shortly before dawn. I remember looking out my bedroom window at the early gray dawn it was like something out of movie. They wind swept dramatically through the trees, heavy clouds flew past swiftly across the sky. The outer world seemed dark and foreboding and in the innerworld I was still in the land of the ghosts. I began to panick that I would never get out of this place and that I would go mad. It was just then when on the horizon of this endless plane of gray, I spotted a brightly colored apparition heading in my direction. It was a man! A techincolor cartoon character of a man driving what appeared to be a little toy train and he was chugging towards me. As he approached, he waved and shouted out cheerily ” hop aboard! ” So I did and he guided me back to sanity from the dreary land of the gray ghosts.
It wasn’t until later when I read the Psychedelic Experience, a manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead written by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert, was I able to relate what I had experienced to the Land of the Preta Lokas but there it was in print. In retrospect I truly believe that was my Guardian Angel appearing to me as my fondest childhood memory that led me to safety. May you never experience this desolate realm, “where the shadows run from themselves” and may you at at the very moment of death, recognize the Clear Light of the Ultimate Reality. The state of absolute liberation, if only the soul can recognize it and act in a way to remain in that state. The instructions in the the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the “Bardo Thodol ” which means “The Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Intermediate State” are intended to be read at the moment of the person’s death and are designed to help him do this. He is told, first of all, to embrace this supreme experience not in a selfish and egoistic way but rather with love and compassion for all sentient beings. This will aid him in the second step, which is to realize that his own mind and self is identical with the Clear Light, implying that he himself IS the Ultimate Reality, “the All-good Buddha”, transcending time, eternity, and all creation. If he can recognize this while in this supreme state at the moment of death, he will attain liberation from the Wheel of Rebirth and he will remain in the Clear Light forever.