The following is a transcription of the audio:
In spiritual terms of the three principal states of consciousness, waking, sleeping, and dreaming, the coursest state, the one with the least potential for spiritual evolution is the ordinary waking state.
Because of its malleability, the dream state has more transformative potential. Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, a meditation master says, "It is easier to develop your practices in a dream than in the daytime.
In the daytime, we are limited by our material body. But in a dream our function of mind and our consciousness of the senses are unhindered, we can have more clarity, thus there are more possibilities. If a person applies a practice within a dream, the practice is nine times more effective than when it is applied during the waking hours."
There are also many reports of people using lucid dreams as a preparation for death. In the last year of her life, one woman reported having 160 lucid dreams and said of these dreams, "These dreams teach me how to die." In Tibetan Buddhism, dream yoga, which builds on lucid dreaming, came about principally as a way to prepare for death.
When you realize there's a disembodied dimension of reality, the dream state, that can be as real or even more real than our physical waking state. It shows us that experience can continue without having to have a physical body. With lucid dreaming, you can learn to disidentify, let go of, or die to your physical body and come to identify with a more subtle body that many spiritual traditions assert can transcend bodily death.
For those who relate to this sort of thing, you can also purify karma in a lucid dream and prevent negative karma coming to fruition in the waking state. In Western terms, karma is just another word for habit, which means you can clean up your bad habits in your dreams. In the Buddhist view of mind, karma often starts to ripen in the subtle dream state, before it manifests in the gross waking state, which means it can be purified at this more subtle level.
In this regard, a sensitive relationship to your dreams can literally save your life because you're working with the blueprints of your experience before they become fully constructed and manifest reality. There are countless stories of people having dreams of premonition, where the dreams did indeed come true. My own experience supports this traditional claim. The basic principles of lucid dreaming can help you become more aware of these types of dreams and use them to guide your life or even save it.
You can incubate lucid dreams to receive guidance. Dream incubation goes back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians and then the Greeks. The literature is full of stories about people receiving messages and teachings in their dreams. This sort of thing is common in extended meditation retreats when the mind really opens up. Tenzin Palmo, a British nun spent 12 years in solitary retreat in the Himalayas often snowed in for months in a cave. She said that this was never a problem because whenever she needed guidance or inspiration, she'd ask for it and get it directly from her dreams.
When I did my own three-year retreat, I often did the same thing. I'd incubate a lucid dream, then get the information I needed. Sometimes I'd find myself sitting at the feet of one of my teachers fully lucid and ask questions just the way I did in waking reality.
Now, whether these teachers were somehow infiltrating my mind, or whether they were merely aspects of my own wisdom mind appearing in the form of a teacher, doesn't matter to me. The message is what's important, not the messenger. You can also incubate dreams for others and become a surrogate dreamer, receiving advice for other people. This is a common practice in shamanic traditions and is frequently employed in Tibetan Buddhism. I have never actively incubated such a dream, but I have received such dreams serendipitously. When I share them with the people for whom they were intended, the information did indeed bring benefits.
The spiritual benefits of lucid dreaming really take off when it evolves into dream yoga and sleep yoga, which I'll discuss in more detail later. This is when you engage in a series of progressive meditations while you dream each one more subtle and refined. These practices are designed to expose your bad habits and to replace them with good habits.
Part of dream yoga involves transforming the contents of your dreams, which is really about transforming your mind. What else are dreams made of? So with more advanced lucid dreaming, you're working to transform your mind at deeper levels. For example, in one stage of dream yoga, you work to transform your fear by consciously creating frightful situations in your dreams and then relating to your anxiety and fear in the context of realizing it's all just a dream. In another stage, you work with transforming your identity into a sacred form, as a way to develop flexibility and identity, and to tap into the divine nature of your being.
You can also work with entering into the body of another dream character as a way to develop empathy and compassion. In more advanced stages, you try to see through the contents of the dream altogether, as a way to liberate yourself from being swept away with the contents of your mind.
And finally, you actually meditate in your dreams the same way you would meditate during the day. These and many other spiritual applications of lucid dreaming are explored within the context of dream and sleep yoga, which we'll explore in later courses.
In the audio clip below, which is from one of Andrew's weekend workshops on lucid dreaming, he shares a comment on the difference between lucid dreaming and dream yoga.
Andrew's books on lucid dreaming and dream yoga:
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