Category: Lucid Dreaming
"All samsaric experience is shaped by karmic traces. Moods, thoughts, emotions, mental images, perceptions, instinctive reactions, "common sense," and even our sense of identity are all governed by the workings of karma. For example, you may wake up feeling depressed. You have breakfast, everything seems to be all right, but there is a sense of depression that cannot be accounted for. We say in this case that some karma is ripening. The causes and conditions have come together in such a way that the depression manifests. There may be a hundred reasons for this depression to occur on this particular morning, and it may manifest in a myriad of ways. It may also manifest during the night as a dream...
The karmic traces are like photographs that we take of each experience. Any reaction of grasping or aversion to any experience -- to memories, feelings, sense perceptions, or thoughts -- is like snapping a photo. In the darkroom of our sleep we develop the film. Which images are developed on a particular night will be determined by the secondary conditions recently encountered. Some images or traces are burned deeply into us by powerful reactions while others, resulting from superficial experiences, leave only a faint residue. Our consciousness, like the light of a projector, illuminates the traces that have been stimulated and they manifest as the images and experiences of the dream. We string them together like a film, as this is the way our psyches work to make meaning, resulting in a narrative constructed from conditioned tendencies and habitual identities: the dream....This same process continually occurs while we are awake, making up what we commonly think of as 'our experience'.
Ultimately, when we purify the obscurations until none remain, there is no film, no hidden karmic influences that color and shape the light of our consciousness. Because karmic traces are the roots of dreams, when they are entirely exhausted only the pure light of awareness remains: no movie, no story, no dreamer and no dream, only the luminous fundamental nature that is absolute reality. This is why enlightenment is the end of dreams and is known as "awakening."
— Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep