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Glenn Mullin




I think all ancient traditions around the world consider the dream state to be every much as real as the waking state. And they also consider that learning to work with or retain consciousness in dreams and developing certain, if you will, abilities, to work with the dream state, to be every bit as important as the life skills we require during our waking life or during the waking state. So in the tantric tradition coming from India to Tibet when they talk about meditation or spiritual training or spiritual practice, essentially they divide it into three realms, working with the waking state, working with the sleep state and thirdly, working with the out of body state which they call bardo or the in between - in between life and death, the out of body state. Dream yoga, in particular dream training, is very, very important in all of these because, if you will, it's kind of a bridge between ordinary waking reality and the transcendental reality of our other side of our being, the other side of the coin of our waking life. Very similar I think in the Tibetan tradition to how say ancient traditions such as the aborigines of Australia, perhaps the Hopi in Navajo of the southwest here in North America, very similar attitudes. Perhaps a difference with the Tibetan tradition is that it has a very well documented and articulate map to how to work with these situations essentially because India was a highly literate civilization and therefore this was all written about, documented, studied, experimented with and so on in a very methodical manner.


The dream yoga training or the dream doctrine training which is perhaps a more accurate translation there's the training in what one does during the day which is learning to (phone interruption) -

Essentially what the - the yogi or the meditator is trying to do with the dream yoga is to access the very subtle body of dreams and to be able to use that body as a vehicle to travel to transcendental states of being, either inner psychological realms of one's own being to understand one's own deeper level of one's psyche or else to engage in out of body experiences. And for - I think for ancient civilizations there's nothing odd or unusual about the out of body experience. For us, we consider it to be ah something supernatural or paranormal. But actually it's totally normal in that everyone experiences it. We all have out of body experiences. We just don't have, in our civilization we don't have a - a code, if you will, to crack the meaning of what's going on or to be able to interpret those in our own waking life language, if you will.


It can be. It's not necessarily so. The dream body can either work within the bodily energy structure and thus one could say is working with different dimensions of one's own genetic and psychic subliminal levels or it can actually leave the body in our dreams. We can actually leave our body using the dream body as a kind of an airplane or a kite or something like this. So I think ordinary people experience that from time to time. Perhaps once a month or a few times a year where they will actually have the dream experience in which the dream body actually separates from the ordinary body and travels. People don't really understand it as such in our society because our waking language isn't equipped for that kind of ah view. But I think all ancient societies considered it precisely to be out of body experience. In the tantric yogas of the ah the Buddhism coming from India to Tibet, there are very precise techniques for developing the ability to consciously engage in out of body experiences at any time. For instance, it's often said that high lamas, for instance, if they're going to give a particular teaching and they want to review the matter they're going to teach, they'll put the text under their head at night, go to sleep and ah preprogram themselves before going to sleep to in their dream take out that text and read it during the sleeping state. And this is very very common. It's not like one or two lamas out of a million can do it. It's considered to be quite a common ability and easily acquired by anyone who engages in the trainings.


It's really an historical issue I think really from the - I think if we look at our very ancient societies, particularly the Celtic societies of Western Europe, the Druidic traditions from which Western and Central Europe descend, we see a great deal of interest and a great deal of material suggesting that at one time we were - we had a strong tradition in that direction. Also if we look at very early Roman and Greek societies, we do see ah hints that something was going on there in that direction. But I think, unfortunately in the West, our society developed in something of a more linear, more materialistic and a very strongly militant direction from about the 3rd, 4th, 5th centuries on which really culminated in Europe, I think with the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th centuries with very - well with a very harsh attitude towards the human experience, a very limited and highly defined attitude and one in which extraordinary experience really was not tolerated. I think most peoples in Europe who had the abilities of dream yoga or the abilities of dream access would have run into trouble with the various inquisitions of the churches during those ages and it was very much oppressed, very much ah attacked. And so really didn't come into our time with an intact situ- with an intact technology, if you will. Then in this century in the fields of psychology we've tried to do a little bit with it. But of course this is less than a hundred year old science and really it's working pretty well in the dark in terms of what direction to take it. The main difference with ancient societies is the technology is ah well the technology represents many centuries of unbroken experimentation and unbroken development.


Generally in the tantric yogas they talk about accomplishing the dream technology by one of two methods. One, the first of those which is the simpler one, the more easily accomplished but also the less reliable is by means of cultivating a kind of a conscious resolution during the waking state. Kind of preprogramming oneself during the day really from dawn till dusk until - from dawn until the moment you go to sleep. Working on preprogramming one's mind so that after one goes to sleep, this thought pattern which has been laid upon the conscious mind will come to arise somewhat automatically. They term this training as though doing a mantra. In other words, one repeats a certain kind of a code to oneself, if you will, throughout the day. And then the idea is after one goes to sleep and a dream arises, this code will arise of its own nature or will emerge of its own nature and come into play as a factor. This isn't considered a very reliable or a very strong method but it is a method by which anyone can essentially at least achieve conscious dreaming or lucid dreaming, maintaining a wakefulness in the dream state. This second technique which one could call the yoga of dreams is essentially learning to control the energies of the physical body. And essentially balancing the way the energies flow as one slips from waking state into dream state or into sleep state. Following that what they call in Tibetan, depa, a dissolution of the physical energy so the relaxation dissolving of the physical energies and retaining consciousness throughout it.


The link made here is that essentially the mind has a dimension known as ussel in Tibetan, the clear light, the primordial radiance, perhaps similar to what we call in Christianity the Christos dimension of consciousness. The primordially pure ah nature of consciousness which is the same in all sentient beings. Now the less evolved one is spiritually the less access one has to that level of one's consciousness. The consciousness is always there, but the less access we have to it. So in our ordinary waking state, our consciousness will be rather coarse. That clear light is the ultimately subtle dimension and in between those comes a whole range of experienes, a whole range of dimensions of experience, one of those being the dream state. So essentially it's said that we have three illusory bodie which which we can work. The illusory body of the waking state which is difficult to work with because during the waking state our mind tends to be very linear and very - taking everything for granted. The conceptual mind is very strong and we tend to fall into pure habit. It's the topba or numtokin in Tibetan means some kind of preconceived conceptual level of coarse consciousness which it's often likened to putting a horse inside of a fence. Its benefit - the benefit is that you control the horse. The difficulty or the shortfall of it is that the horse is stuck in that little fenced area. So that's like our waking state. When we open the door of that fence and we move into the sleeping state, the horse can go much further in a much more abstract and less linear way. The benefit of that of course is that the range of one's experience is greatly enhanced. The limitation is if you don't know what you're doing, you're going to have difficulty tracing down that horse at any given moment and getting them to do whatever sort of conventional job you want him to do. So the ideas in our waking state, our consciousness and our realm of experience is strongly conditioned by the elements, the education, the world view of our time, place. Everything is put in very much a time-space factor. In the dream state, we break down the time-space factor to a certain extent and thus come a little bit closer, if you will, to a kind of a timeless, primordial, eternal nature of our own spirit and nature of world view. And then this is kind of a bridge, if you will, to the hereafter, the after-death what we experience. The dream body is sort of halfway to the body we have after the moment of death before taking another rebirth or before - before going on to other realms of being. The .... is somewhat like that. The dream body also is considered very, very important because it links us to various dimensions of our own ah innate spiritual capacity. So in the dream state we can remember things that we could never remember in our conscious states. We can achieve certain levels, if you will, of almost clairvoyance. Like for instance in dreams, we can fly, we can walk through walls, we can talk to people who are dead. We can - how real these are is another thing but we have those experiences. And the principle is that if we can purify the dream body, if we can gain ah a more subtle dimension of our consciousness so that in the dream state we can appreciate or ah understand in context the range of experiences that arise, it's a quantum leap in our, the meaning of our life or the value of our life or the potential of our life. Often it's said that if we can learn to practice dream yoga, it's like extending our life by 50%. Most people sleep 8 hours a day; they have 16 hours of waking state. If they can learn dream yoga, learn to work with dreams it's like increase our life span by 50%. In terms of spiritual potential, it's even more ah dynamic than that because that 50% if we can learn to work with the dream state, we can bring a tremendous amount of energy, knowledge and if you will, spiritual understanding from sleep and dream into the waking state. So it - ah in many of the dream yoga manuals one reads in Tibetan, the way it's put is when you practice correctly the dream and sleep yogas enhance the waking state. And when we practice the illusory body in the waking state, this enhances the dream yoga and sleep state yogas. So the idea is when we learn to work with both together, both or each make the other much more powerful, much more meaningful, much more dynamic. When, on the other hand, we ignore one, like if we for instance totally ignore our waking state life, and just concentrate on our sleeping and dreaming life, we may have rich dreams and a rich sleeping state but we will suffer a little bit in the waking state on account of that. On the other hand, if we only concentrate on waking state -



The idea in the tantric tradition is essentially that the sleeping state and the waking state are two sides of the coin of our life. If we can understand both sides well and integrate them as a holistic unit, our life achieves its full potential. It takes on a quantum leap or a quantum dimensional leap in its power, in its strength, in its vibrancy. When we ignore one of those to the detriment - when we ignore one, it has a distinctly detrimental effect on the other. Our waking state is useful because we need linear consciousness in order to assimilate, to integrate and to work with ah the dimensions and the factors, the elements that make up our life. We also need to access non-linear consciousness, we also need to access that consciousness which, if you will, is a little bit like a wild card in a poker game or ah something like that. In our dream state, the nature of consciousness if very very subtle, very malleable. So generally in tantra, it's said it's easiest to meditate in the waking state but it's also the least powerful. Next best is to meditate in dreams. It's more difficult but if you can get it, because consciousness is so malleable at that time, it can be totally reshaped, if you will. The fifth Dalai Lama of the 17th century, Great Dalai Lama as he's called, once said that enlightenment is very easy. It's like an artist taking clay, shaping it into a beautiful image. So like that, in the dream state the clay of the fabric of our spirit is much more subtle, much more malleable. Similarly it goes on to say meditating in dreams is good but better than that is meditating in dreamless sleep, deep sleep. Again, it's very difficult to achieve, more difficult than meditating in dreams. Then it goes on to say meditating in that, better to meditate totally in an out of body environment and so on. They make 4 or 5 or 6 dimensions of meditation. So dream yoga is the first step, if you will, beyond animal consciousness or pure material consciousness. It's the next step in human evolution or human development and it leads to another and to another and to another but it's the first most important step we can take. Generally it's said if we don't take that step, if we don't come to understand our states of dream, our states of sleep then essentially we'll never understand our own subconscious, we'll never understand our own inner spirit, our own inner level of being. And earlier you had asked the question about how this relates to the bardo or the after-life experience, the state between death and whatever happens after death. And in the tantric text it always says if we don't have control of consciousness, if we cannot have lucid dreaming and ah if you will, total peace and clarity in our consciousness during the dream state, there is no way we will have so after the moment of death. If we have fear, confusion, darkness, pain and suffering and so forth in the dream state in an uncontrolled way, this is a very bad sign for what will happen to us after the moment of death because the parallel is drawn between the nature of the dream body and the nature of the after death body.


Actually the body doesn't really need any sleep whatsoever if one has total control over the subtle dimensions of the physical being. The point of sleep essentially is that when we sleep, the coarse energies naturally dissolve into the subtle within the body allowing the coarse to rejuvenate or to regenerate. But if we know how to meditate correctly, we can simply do that same process in our meditations. And then while we meditate we actually rejuvenate. There's not much of an emphasis in cultivating that in Buddhism in staying awake all the time, because the dream consciousness is an important or the sleep consciousness is an important experience. What we have to get over is the addiction to sleep, the kind of laziness of sleep, if you will. Sleep should be something joyous, something enthusiastic, something vibrant and powerful and vivid and full of vitality. It should be every bit as energetic, if you will, as our waking state, just on a - in a different sense of vivaciousness or a different sense of vitality. But many, many holy people who I've met in the 20 years I've travelled around the Middle East and the Far East studying with different spiritual masters and, if you will, high tech - high tech mind people, it's very very common to meet people who never sleep more than a half hour a day. It's not terribly- and it's not particularly encouraged. It's not considered something that everyone should strive for, simply becuse there's no - there's nothing wrong with sleep. It's not something to be abandoned. But many, many lamas I know sleep half an hour a day, 45 mintues a day and have done that for 20 years with no detriment to themselves physically whatsoever. But most lamas do sleep or most holy people in the East do sleep 4 or 5 hours a day simply because it's also considered a very positive creative environment for meditation, for, if you will, self-analysis, although words like that aren't used in Asian traditions but for self-analysis and for integration of other dimensions of one's being.


Generally not, generally not. People who sleep that little generally, for instance, don't practice dream yoga. If one practices dream yoga then one will sleep more rather than less, say 10, 12 hours a night. This is also very common. I've met many who do this. Essentially the ones who really cut their sleep it's for what they call clear light of sleep meditation. It's said that at the moment - the moment between the - the gap between each thought moment has a flash of clear light consciousness. The moment we go to sleep has a flash of clear light consciousness. The moment of death has a flash of clear light consciousness. The moment of sexual orgasm has a flash of clear light consciousness. Each of those four clear light consciousnesses is, if you will, the pinpoint, the portal from which we can look through into the primordial dimension of our spirit, primordial dimension of our being. So it is very common training in the tantric yogas to learn to work with the clear light of sleep. It's the most easy of the 4 or 5 types of clear light consciousnesses. The clear light of sleep is most easy to work with because at the moment of going to sleep, all of the energies of the body begin to relax, relax, relax. As they put it in the classical literature, the energies of earth dissolve into water, the energies of water dissolve into fire, fire dissolves into air, air into space and space into the three dimensions of our consciousness. And then those three dimensions one by one develop - dissolve into a more and more subtle - into the more subtle until it dissolves into the clear light. So we have a natural experience of our primordial nature at the very moment of going to sleep.

Therefore applying a technology, a yogic technology at that moment renders that clear light very easily acquired. Unlike the clear light of death, at which we only get one chance, the clear light of sleep we can practice on on a daily basis. Or unlike the clear light of the moment of sexual orgasm in which the whole body and the whole mind is very excited, and therefore that excitation can distract from an absorption in a clear light experience, at the moment of sleep, everything has moved into a very pacific and a very quiet silene a quiet stillness environment, making that clear light more readily accessible for peoples on ordinary levels, if you will. So generally, the peoples who really shorten their sleep like that, it's because they're primordially - primarily working with the clear light of sleep. The idea is wait until it arises, then hold that primordial consciousness as long as can be retained. As soon as the coarser levels of energy of the body and the coarser levels of consciousness start to stir and then one will come out of that clear light consciousness. So for the yogi doing that training, there's no point in sleeping any more. So if you can only hold it for 15 minutes, he'll only sleep for 15 minutes a night. If he can only hold it for an hour, he'll sleep for an hour. It's like the Dalai Lama once put it when he was teaching a course on dream yoga that I attended or related to dream yoga that I attended about 10 or 15 years ago. If one can really train in that practice, then 10 minutes of remaining in clear light is like a full night of sleep. No more than 10 minutes is required to get the complete rest that one would get in a full night of sleep for an ordinary person. But essentially the idea is that's not something one wants to emphasize in one's practice unless one is doing a very particular training or at a particular level of training. Essentially one wants to live an ordinary lifestyle, if you will, as a Tibetan, as the Tibetan proverb puts it, change your mind, leave your body as is. It's the same with sleep and the same with ordinary life patterns. Sleep 5, 6, 7, 8 hours a day, whatever you like. Just learn to access those states in a creative, meaningful and developmental way. Don't just go to sleep and just waste that 6, 8, 10 hours into meaningless or as it's put in the traditional scriptures, don't let it just flow into ignorance and confusion but rather develop those life skills which can carry through into that state and which can make every moment of sleep, every bit if not more meaningful than the moments of the waking state.