Category: Powers of Yoga
We all know what it's like to mistake dreams for reality. When we dream, it is far from obvious that we are actually in the dream world, so we see familiar and unfamiliar faces, go to all sorts of places, and witness all kinds of strange events that don’t really make any sense.
Many of us are used to the idea that you’ll be able to wake up if you pinch yourself while you are in the dream world. Unfortunately, those who think this is true are dreaming. Say what? Uh-huh!
In Buddhism, Hinduism, and Gnosticism, reality is considered as nothing but a pointless cyclic illusory detention center that we all need to get out of, i.e., a dream. The waking state, dream state, and deep dreamless sleep are mere phases of the mind. We think that just because we spend a much longer time in the waking state then this world we’re in is the real one, but actually it’s not.
It is said that in an average lifetime, six years will be spent on dreaming. Can you imagine yourself dreaming for six years continuously without waking up? What would you do in your dreams?
I guess those people who have completely lost their minds are "living the dream" since they can no longer tell the difference between what's real and what's not. Nevertheless, since your dreams often seem as real and vivid as your experience of being awake, how can you ignore the possibility that you are also dreaming even now as you are reading this article?
Ramana Maharshi, a great sage from India, once said:
“In a dream you have no inkling that it is a dream, and therefore no obligation to make an effort to get out of it. But in this life you have some intuition based on your experience of sleep and on what you hear and read, that it is a sort of dream, and this intuition imposes on you the duty of making an effort to get out of it. However, who wants you to realize the Self if you don’t want to? If you prefer to be in this dream, stay as you are.”
Indeed, it is questionable whether we are right in believing that we are not dreaming. It is also questionable whether we are right in believing that the world we experience is real. These are the kinds of questions that many philosophers, sages, and spiritual masters both in the past and in the present urge us to meet head-on. For all you know, your dreams are probably just dreams within a dream ala Inception style.
Inducing Lucid Dreams
Tibetan Dream Yoga
Tibetan Dream Yoga
|Padmasambhava by Nicholas Roerich|
Tibetan dream yoga is one of the renowned Six Yogas of Tibet. The other five are: Inner heat yoga, Illusory body yoga, Clear light yoga, Bardo yoga, and Conscious transformation yoga. These ancient Buddhist practices originated from yogic techniques practiced by spiritual masters in India. The tantric master Padmasambhava, founder of the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism, is said to be the one who brought the Six Yogas to Tibet in the 8th century.
The Tibetan dream yoga has been utilized and developed for several centuries by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It helps them attain lucidity in the dream state so that they can allot more time to practice meditation and thereby reach enlightenment or do other spiritual work.
The books below have helped me understand how Tibetan Buddhists induce lucid dreams. If you want to have a genuine copy that you can put on your shelf, you can order one from Amazon. Here are the titles that you can check out:
- The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep - Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
- Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light, Revised - Namkhai Norbu
- Meditation, Transformation, and Dream Yoga - Gyatrul Rinpoche
Here’s an excerpt from Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light:
If you concentrate a great deal during the day, imagining that you are living a dream, then during the night the dream itself will also seem less real. The subject, that which experiences the dream, is the mind. By holding the thought that all is a dream, you begin to dissolve this “subject”. That is, the mind begins to dissolve itself, automatically. Or, to put it another way, when the object or vision is dissolved, the action runs back towards the subject, causing complete dissolution. Thus, neither vision nor dream exists any longer. – Namkhai Norbu
I have decided to cite these books instead of providing specific steps because many people out there just want to experience lucidity so they can goof around in the dream world as they do when they are awake. From the Buddhist perspective, both the objects in our dreams and objects we find in this world are empty and have no substantial nature (see The Three Marks of Existence).
More important than “knowing how” is “knowing why” you want to induce lucid dreams. The dreams we experience most of the time are just the continuation of our mental activities in the waking state. Even mystical visions, psychedelic trips, out-of-body and near death experiences are treated by Buddhists as impurities and irrelevant to the path of Enlightenment. Hence, if you want to have lucid dreams, the very first thing that you should try to reflect upon is the possibility that you’re in one. Sweet dreams, brothers and sisters!