American Book of the Deadby E. J. Gold
With over 120,000 copies sold, this unique contemporary work brings the timeless Tibetan Bardo teaching into current American culture and language, with 49 days of readings for someone who has died or who is preparing for the dying experience. This book has been and still remains an important tool for providing a spiritual service to a dying person as opposed to… See more details below
With over 120,000 copies sold, this unique contemporary work brings the timeless Tibetan Bardo teaching into current American culture and language, with 49 days of readings for someone who has died or who is preparing for the dying experience. This book has been and still remains an important tool for providing a spiritual service to a dying person as opposed to grieving, processing loss, or mourning for that person's passage. Front matter includes "Notes on the Labyrinth" (or the Bardo...) and other commentary by the author that provides insights for an American reader who wishes to provide this guiding service to a family member, spouse, friend, or anyone who is terminal. The reading instructions very clearly outline when and what to read, without any limitation of belief system--the practice is presented as non-denominational, not requiring Buddhist or Christian or Jewish prayers, but also not in conflict with any of these. A schedule of readings shows graphically how to carry out the full series of 49 days of readings, at approximately 10 to 20 minutes per reading. The book has been in use since 1974 in various editions, taught in university courses on Death & Dying and related subjects (it is referenced in a recent handbook of acting exercises, for example...), and used by hospice workers and nurses internationally. The American Book of the Dead is often referenced in discussions of the 1970's West Coast spiritual renaissance, and many of the baby boomer generation will recall it in circulation when they were in college or beginning their careers. Translated editions have appeared in Spanish and Greek languages, with editions in preparation in German, French, Italian, and Polish. There is a course available by correspondence and on the internet that gives additional training for readers who wish to pursue the practice of performing "Labyrinth Readings" or "Bardo guiding" as a service to others--beyond one's own family and personal network.
- Gateways Books & Tapes
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 10th edition
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)
Read an Excerpt
American Book of the Dead
By E. J. Gold
Gateways Books and Tapes/IDHHB, Inc.Copyright © 2005 E.J. Gold
All rights reserved.
FIRST STAGE OF THE VOYAGE IN THE MACRODIMENSIONS OF THE LABYRINTH
MOMENT OF DEATH THROUGH SECONDARY CLEAR LIGHT
This covers the specific period between the time that the voyager or the family and friends of the voyager request readings through the vigil following Terminus. This includes getting the reader to the location of the voyager's Terminus point, confirming or altering arrangements as necessary to make the voyager's transition from the human dimension into the macrodimensional domains as gentle as possible, arranging the reading chamber space, preparing the voyager with readings and, if possible, with exercises extending into and through the initial levels of Clear Light, arranging to attend the formal service following Terminus, and making sure that the biological machine is not removed to a mortuary before a full hour has passed following medical certification of the moment of brain-death.
Step One: Terminus is close; the launch window into the macrodimensions is opening, and the voyager has entered into the final symptoms; you have already made arrangements for the cleansing fumigation of the chamber if possible ... while incense can't be used in the presence of oxygen, essential oils can, and work as well. In some respiratory cases, of course, this will be impossible, and should be dispensed with. Flowers and candle could and should be used, if conditions permit. Generally the candle is burned and the flowers arranged, but there are no fixed rules and other options may present themselves.
Undoubtedly you have already determined the conditions under which you will work, and at the last minute, all that remains is to choose the exact location for the reader to perform the reading and to make sure that visitors remain, not too close, in an area which will not interfere with the voyager's attention nor, of course, prevent them from fully participating in the passage.
Be sure to make definite arrangements with the hospital staff and confirm that they understand the importance of not removing the biological machine during the period of Vigil, until the launch window is fully closed, and that when transition of the voyager into the macrodimensional domains is completed, you will indicate this and permit the removal of the organic remains. You should explain to hospital staff that this is generally a period of fifteen minutes and no more than half an hour from Terminus.
Most hospice staff are very cooperative and you should have no problems with this whatever. Some family members or hospital staff may wish or need to remain; carry on with your task and keep your energy and attention concentrated on the performance of the Clear Light reading.
Make certain beforehand that the hospice staff expects you and will allow you entry without having to wait at the desk for lastminute confirmation or approval from the family or doctor, unless you want to be left standing around the waiting room or lobby until a half hour after the wake.
It is your job to make certain that everyone attending and directly involved has a definite understanding of what you are going to do and what is expected of them in terms of silence and remaining reasonably still, which means not fidgeting noisily, moving suddenly or playing pinochle during the reading.
You should not allow yourself to be drawn into a defense of your actions at this time; just explain quietly that you're concentrating, you need your full attention, and that you'll be happy to explain it all after the event. The best way to handle this is to give this book to any interested inquirer ... of course, that can get expensive ... on second thought, better lend or sell this book to interested parties.
Step Two: If time permits, take a bath or shower and do not use perfume, cologne or after-shave, as it can be disruptive to the voyaging atmosphere. Ordinary perfumes are generally not helpful in macrodimensional inductions, and are never used by serious voyagers.
You should have set aside special clothes for voyager assistances, and these should have been cleaned and pressed, and held in reserve only for those times when you attend a voyager. You should waste no time at this, but should have had everything ready beforehand.
Step Three: Before you dash off madly to attend the voyager at bedside, it's wise to determine where the voyager is actually going to be. By the time you arrive at the voyager's home, someone may have decided to transfer the voyager to a hospital, location unknown, no note on the door, and neighbors are unaware of any of this. It is a law in many states that a terminal patient must be transferred to a hospital, regardless of his or her wishes, and kept alive with electronic and mechanical gadgetry in spite of his or her wishes to die naturally.
Step Four: Touch the right side of the frame of the outer doorway and say before entering, "Blessings upon this house in the hour of passing."
Step Five: Outside the Terminus chamber, find out exactly what the present situation is; it may have changed radically since you were called. Find out the attending physician's name, and write it down in your Labyrinth Services Record,the special notebook used to record all labyrinth services performed by you.
When finding out about the patient's condition, you should always determine and notate in your record book next to the exact time (times should be noted in the time column):
1. What is the voyager's present condition, both physically and mentally-emotionally?
2. What is the prognosis — h ow much time before Termin us?
3. Is the voyager able to communicate easily?
If there is time before the voyager is expected to enter the between-lives state, confirm all arrangements with the person responsible. Make a definite point about doing this. Many hospitals are becoming more service oriented and will try to do what you want done, but there are still some old fashioned Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi type hospitals that regard themselves as bastions of defense of the hospital routines developed by Florence Nightingale during the height of the Crimean Conflict.
No matter what happens, don't interrupt the vigil service once begun. If problems develop with the hospital personnel, let the family take care of the situation. Don't get involved with doctors, nurses, coroners, funeral directors, or whatever. Just continue the vigil service until it has been completed, no matter what, short of being carried off bodily by grim-visaged former running backs currently working as attendants.
If you are really tuned into the space of the vigil, nothing — not even an earthquake or a former Perdue running back — will keep you from your appointed rounds.
Make allowances for the family's confusion and upsets, if they occur during and after the moments of death, and be as gentle and compassionate as possible. There is usually a feeling of unreality which occurs as a protective mechanism in the family and friends if they are under stress about death, so they will generally remain obligingly quiet under the persuasive influence of severe shock, giving you the opportunity to perform your service without interference.
Step Six: Return to the room of the patient and check to see that everything is neat, clean and orderly, but don't allow people to come in and clean it at this stage. If it hasn't been done before this, it will be too late now, and will be more of a disturbance than having a messy room to have people bustling about in there.
Waste or trash should be removed, however, and piles of books, magazines or newspapers should be removed or stacked on shelves, neatly.
Step Seven: The exact location from which the reader delivers the labyrinth instructions to the voyager is called the Ambo. A chair should be placed at the Ambo, upon which the reader will sit during the readings. If possible, the Ambo should not be moved once it has been placed.
The family may be seated behind or around the reader during the readings. Passage should be a family event, not a tragic and unknown lonely death in a cold hospital room, surrounded by weird machines — and that's just the nurses — and stainless steel bedpans.
If possible, there are much better ways to pass through transition, especially in the comfortable and familiar surroundings of one's own home, with the love of the family and friends to sustain one during those last few minutes. Until recently, this was the most common type of passage, but there's too much money at stake in hospital administration to allow this; hospitals, medicine and pharmaceuticals have become such big business in the United States that marketing to the public is no longer necessary. It's accepted by most of us that we are expected to obey a doctor when he or she tells us to go to the hospital. In a sense, we no longer have the right to choose our own medical counsel.
If they are to be used, a candle and incense can be positioned on a night table or TV table nearby. Flowers should be placed so that they don't interfere with your view of the patient. If there is muzak playing, or a music system going, or the TV is on, get it turned off ... unless it's unplugged and running thirty year old sitcoms. Nothing particularly esoteric in this; it just makes good aesthetic sense — in addition, the reader's voice should be the only sound in the chamber ... unless the soundtrack of 2001, A Space Odysseyhappens to be piped over the muzak system, in which case, you'd better have a good clear look around ... things may not be quite what they seem to the inattentive eye.
Sometimes something classical, sweeping but not threatening or overbearing — Sibelius, not Beethoven, for example — may help the voyager resist panic, but generally no matter what has happened before, during the final moments, the voyager will enter into a deep, calm euphoric state, and will tend to be very lucid and receptive to the teaching, perhaps uncharacteristically in relation to the voyager's previous views.
About two minutes prior to the final symptom, even those who during their lives have been trapped so deeply within their psyches that they have been resisting it are clearly and quite suddenly able to view the levels beyond organic existence, and may, surprisingly, welcome and respond to the reading.
Many voyagers who had no previous contact with the teaching will at the point just before the final symptom, say something that indicates that they know more about the teaching and the between-lives state than you do.
It's a wonderful surprise to see the strongly resistant and inhibited psyche suddenly break down; the voyager just shines right through; with a smile, you know that the voyager is right there, and really grateful for your help; it's like a real life transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Step Eight: Now the readings for the approach of Terminus begin ... assuming, of course, that your taxi has arrived in plenty of time. If the voyager wishes, you could schedule daily or twice-weekly readings long before the big day. Preparation for the Ultimate Adventure can be extremely beneficial; it sets in good habits, which even the stress of passage might not interrupt.
When final symptoms become noticeable, stop all other readings, and concentrate on the readings for final symptoms. If the reader has not been trained in the Transference Procedures, Confronting the Primary Clear Light and Confronting the Secondary Clear Light should be read. This provides a clear sequence of subjective impressions which the voyager will experience during the ejection phase as the biological machine shuts down and the nervous system and brain begin their final system crash.
If the voyager has had previous preparation, review the final symptoms, then during transition, indicate them as they occur.
Step Nine: When you recognize the symptoms of Terminus transition, read the Obligatory Reader's Invocation, Readings #1-#3, then the Confrontation with the Clear Light.
At this point, the voyager should be able to view all of existence as one single event, as the vision expands to include all dimensions higher and lower.
The voyager will begin to drift easily into the Clear Light, at least sufficiently to feel it as a mild electrical cushioning or warm, somewhat vibrating, descending blanket. After this relatively lucid period the biological machine will deteriorate rapidly as a result of direct exposure to the Clear Light, and transition will then be entered fully, the voyager moving completely into the Clear Light, eventually causing complete disruption of the functioning of the biological machine which will then pass through the stages of motor death, nerve system death and finally brain death.
Step Ten: Now the Vigil begins. When the voyager passes fully into the Clear Light, at this point you should read Confronting the Clear Light slowly ... but not abnormally slowly ... pausing momentarily after each sentence, using your sensing skills and monitoring your own attention — which will precisely equal the voyager's attention — to make sure the instruction got across. You may find that you are forced to depend on intuition for this.
If at this juncture the hospital staff insists that the voyager's now quite certified biological machine must be removed, don't panic. Just ask them to allow a few minutes to establish contact, then go to the hospital chapel. Almost every hospital has a chapel in it for the use of priests and family in such cases. If they don't, then ask for a space in another room. Of course, if transition occurs at home, then it's much easier, unless the family is given to extreme levels of bureaucracy.
The timing of the readings should allow for seven full unhurried readings of Confronting the Clear Light during the one-hour vigil. When you have completed seven repetitions of the vigil readings, stop. The next time you perform readings, they can be conducted virtually anywhere, using a photograph of the voyager.
Vigil is the most vital period of the labyrinth transition; the voyager can easily be overwhelmed at this first powerful encounter with the Clear Light and because most voyagers respond with automatic primate reflexes, this state doesn't generally last very long and the voyager passes quickly into the second stage, marked by the onset of a series of completely predictable visions. Oddly enough, although all voyagers experience the Clear Light at this point, not all voyagers are aware of it. Often the primate consciousness is so dominant, that not even the Clear Light Experience can break the sleep induced by the organic world hallucination.
The exact duration of the Clear Light state depends on several circumstances, some accidental, some not; the condition of the nervous system, organs and general concentration or dispersal of vital force within the biological machine will have some effect, but the strongest determinant factor is the degree of intensity and concentration of attention and presence the voyager has been able to develop during the few years of human life allotted for this purpose.
The voyager should take advantage of this state, because it enables one to pass easily out of the organic state, freeing oneself from the automatically proceeding influence of encounters with various bodies and biological attitudes, habits and beliefs which can be the fundamental cause of all those embarrassing little flubs in the Clear Light state that tend to dump one unceremoniously right back into the primate life down there in the lower dimensions.
Just as the voyager, when reborn in the organic dimensional levels, learns through trial and error and accumulated experience to function biologically, so also there is an awakening and learning in the macrodimensional domains, and through experiential empirical data the voyager becomes familiar with the conditions of existence in the Clear Light, if the state can be maintained long enough for new habits to form.
This is far more certain if experience in macrodimensional levels can be gained and reflexive reactions eliminated or stabilized during the human lifetime through the use of the special attention of the voyager; these methods are outlined in detail in several other volumes: The Human Biological Machine as a Transformational Apparatus, Life in the Labyrinth and The Great Adventure.
The transitional form — as a result of the extreme domination of organic habit — will at first tend to be a rough approximation of the human primate form, together with its mental and emotional sets, and this will continue through the process of separation of voyager and human biological machine, and if the power of organic karma — meaning primate habits and sense-of-self — is very strong, may persist until the moment of rebirth in the lower dimensions, which in the case of extreme organic contamination makes rebirth inevitable.
Excerpted from American Book of the Dead by E. J. Gold. Copyright © 2005 E.J. Gold. Excerpted by permission of Gateways Books and Tapes/IDHHB, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
E.J. Gold has been called a teacher's teacher. His ability to modernize ancient wisdom and his pervasive sense of humor has remained unique in the spiritual landscape for over 30 years. Andrew Rawlinson, in his recent reference work, The Book of Enlightened Masters, says that E.J. Gold can perhaps claim to be Gurdjieff's true heir. He defies categorization. His contemporaries and colleagues include Dr. Claudio Naranjo, Lee Lozowick, Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Reshad Feild, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Murat Yagan, John Lilly, MD, Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, Swami Vishnu Devananda, Guru Raj Singh, Joan Halifax, Samuel Avital, Heather Valencia, Robert de Ropp, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Dru Kristel, and many more. In spite of all these associations and his remarkable list of accomplishments, Gold has cherished a high level of privacy from the media. He has never been highly marketed and will never be 'just another stop' on the guru superhighway. Thus far he has written over four dozen books, among them The American Book of the Dead, a modern American adaptation of Books of the Dead which are common to many cultures throughout history, and which has entered its tenth reprint. The subjects he covers in his many books range from the use and invocation of attention and presence; the waking state; death and dying; practical work on self; shamanism; higher bodies; artifact reading, imprinting and use; cosmic laws; and the suffering of the Absolute. Central to his work is preparation for the Bardo - the Tibetan word for the state following death of the body, as the consciousness unravels and one chooses one's next rebirth. Mr. Gold affirms that through knowledge and experience one can navigate this state and successfully maintain a thread of consciousness between lifetimes, and in this way can become an individual evolving Soul with a greater purpose than ordinary man. To aid others in achieving this end, Gold has entered cyberspace, building an elaborate gaming engine with which he can simulate spaces common to the Bardo, inventing labyrinthine games to be played individually or in multi-user groups. In this way, he hopes to convey the atmospheres and sights of many bardo spaces, to familiarize the player with what they are likely to encounter on the other side.
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