Once again, we have a reverberation with the 1960s, when many people first heard about mind-expanding chemicals through the trip manual The Psychedelic Experience (1963), written by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner. This book mapped the dynamics of psychedelic rapture onto the visionary descriptions of dying, death and afterlife travel offered up, once again, in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Whether you interpret the text as a crude misappropriation or as a savvy psycho-spiritual mash-up (I think it’s both), its continued resonance is a reminder that, even if psychedelic experience is nothing more than a neural construction (and what, according to neuroscience, isn’t?), it still invokes the existential and religious questions brought up by the implacable conundrum of our own necessary demise. Indeed, it is perhaps here that we most see their mettle.

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