The American Book of the Dead. Part 1. Training to Transition.  
E.J. Gold
The author of well over two dozen books, E.J. Gold is most well known for The American Book of the Dead, a provocative and contemporary interpretation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Celebrating its thirtieth year in print, with over 125,000 copies sold, E.J.’s pioneering text has secured a place in the annals of modern esoterica.

Stuart Davis, a dharma-rock musician with more than a passing interest in mysticism, suggests to E.J., “Let’s talk about death.” As E.J. explains, in his work, the process of dying is called “transitioning” and the one undergoing this process is the “voyager.” Traditionally, the ABD has two uses: to help the voyager prepare for the transition to non-physical realms, and to instruct the voyager’s loved ones on how they can help his or her transition.

E.J. draws on the everyday experience of moving from waking, to dreaming, to deep sleep to illustrate the transition from “life” to “death.” But has he points out, “death” is only really death from the perspective of biological life, and the “death” transition is actually quite similar to waking in the morning from a night of sleep and dreams. The circumstance of one’s experience has changed from a formless sleep reality, to a subtle dream reality, to a gross waking reality, but one’s “essential self” remains the same throughout.

It’s worth noting that while E.J. speaks of stages of sleep, which is entirely accurate in terms of exterior brainwave behavior, the subjective experience is that of change of state. Phenomenological states come and go—just as waking, dreaming, and deep-sleep states come and go—whereas developmental stages of interior growth represent functions that have become permanently available.

The great spiritual traditions of the world all offer excellent state training for the subtle, causal, and nondual realms, and as that training progresses, stage competence can be achieved (meaning that one can, at will, access subtle, causal, and nondual). As E.J. explains, the ABD is a training manual for the death transition, but if you don’t practice the exercises, it won’t do any good—you won’t have developed to the stage of competence necessary to navigate the post-physical (bardo) realms.*

E.J. is an extraordinary storyteller, and the story of life and death is indeed an extraordinary story to tell. You could be in no better hands: prepare to take a tour through the territory that connects this world to the next....

*An as-yet unexplored part of this knowledge-quest is how the developmental “center of gravity” of the voyager relates to these kinds of practices. Ostensibly, anyone can become competent in the techniques outlined by the ABD, or by any of the spiritual traditions, but how does this state training relate to whether one has an egocentric, ethnocentric, or worldcentric orientation? If Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush, and Nelson Mandela all perfected these techniques, what would that mean? What would be the consequences?

For more on an integral, AQAL approach to spirituality in the modern and postmodern world, check out “What is Integral Spirituality?”
transmission time: 34 minutes
keywords: The American Book of the Dead, John Lilly, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Dr. Craig Enright, brainwaves (beta, alpha, theta, delta), REM, M theory, quantum mechanics, out-of-body experiences, bardo realm, military basic training, “What Is Integral?,” psychedelics, salvation infrastructure, Bell, A Theory of Everything.
most memorable moment: "Back in the days of psychedelics, John Lilly had an interesting thing to say about acid: 'Acid can show you where you are not, but it cannot bring you there....'"

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