What are Dreams?


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djsmcc's picture

Please see Upaya.org Alan Wallace "Lucid Dreaming" 13 episodes. Lucid dreaming already has an established place in traditional Buddhism. I personally was surprised when years ago I discovered that I wasn't the only person trying to do Zazen while dreaming. I was working fifty hour weeks, doing Zazen during lunch and while sitting next to my daughter as she fell asleep. I wanted to utilize that time when I was dreaming to practice.

KZ's picture


laurie180's picture

Sounds great. Sleep tight and see you later!

Morann's picture

If you can control your dreams then you can control your waking reality right? Isn't that the point of it all? How about we all accept the fact that we are not in control and that we never were and never will be. That's called humility.

pattiwilson's picture

"Chained to the banquet table, a prisoner of his rich tastes. He offers prayer and sacrifice for delivery from desire. When even the desire for delivery has been cleansed, his prayers will have been answered."

what are control, not-in-control, humility and non-humility but desires?

Dylan Tuccillo's picture

Well said Morann! We couldn't agree more. We try to avoid the word "control" when we talk about lucid dreaming, although it ends up slipping in accidentally. We'd rather people think of it as steering one's own experience within the dream world, while at the same time having humility that:
-Our conscious minds are creating only some small aspects of this place, not the entire dream.
-What is this place we call the dream world? Is it me? Is it a collective consciousness? We can't tell you the right answer, because no one knows. Another thing to be humble about. Perhaps we can figure out this question ourselves as we consciously explore our dreams?
-Try becoming lucid in a dream, and then instead of trying to control it, chose to simply witness it, and let it carry you to where it thinks you should go.
-Let's bring some of these lessons into the waking world.

bisonusa's picture

What qualifies these guys to be knowledgeable "experts" on this subject? No offense meant, but what makes them any more expert on this than me, you, or anybody else?

Dylan Tuccillo's picture

No offense taken. We feel comfortable identifying ourselves as experts because of the years we spent researching, discussing, and boiling down the concepts of lucid dreaming. Add to that many hours spent in the dream world, experimenting with various techniques and situations--flying abilities, nightmare defusing, dream character interaction, among many. But if anyone feels uncomfortable following our guidance as gospel, we encourage you to become lucid in your own dreams and discover, through experience, what this ability has to offer.

Hanny2's picture

earlier this year, during a 9-day retreat, I experienced what I think would be called "night paralysis", or maybe "sleep paralysis" after having a profound and deep meditation sitting earlier in the day. will you be speaking to this at all during this retreat? thank you, and i hope your presentations are a little longer next times!

hiddensmiles's picture

hi, I remember there was an excellent article on this several years ago in a mag called "Science News". The cover picture was of an ugly demon sitting on someones chest. It might have been 7/1/2005 issue. "Science News" has re-vamped it's web site and older issues are not available online.
The phenomenon the article describes, appears in all cultures. It is often characterized by becoming conscious during sleep and feeling paralyzed, unable to breath and move. Sometimes persons have an image of an ugly being sitting on their chest preventing their breathing.
As I remember it, the authors maintain that the paralysis is a characteristic of a sleep state humans transit thru briefly during sleep cycles. I don't remember the details. They felt it was not threatening or harmful in any way. Phenom did not seem to be linked to anything.
If you feel this is a problem for you, please consult qualified medical experts.

James Mullaney's picture

I frequently dreamed lucidly between the ages of 4 and 6, and my very young nephew and niece have also reported what I can identify as lucid dreams of their own. For me it happened naturally and spontaneously, but it stopped occurring around the time that the socialization process in school got underway in earnest. I wonder if there's a reason why children seem to have a natural aptitude for this experience?

Dylan Tuccillo's picture

James, this is something we've often wondered about. A few years back I was staying on a farm with a family, about the time I was researching for our book. I became friends with the farmer's 13 year-old son, and quickly mentioned lucid dreaming to him. The next morning he casually told me that he had one of those dreams I was talking about, and decided to fly around the farm, no big deal. We've noticed that an important characteristic in lucid dreamers is confidence and a playful, stress-free determination. And children also live many waking hours inside their imaginations, the same place that we go when we dream, so that's familiar territory to them. But of course you don't need to be a child to have these qualities, you can embrace that inner child of yours and let go of stress--this should be a fun activity.

James Mullaney's picture

Thanks for your reply - I'm looking forward to learning much more in the coming weeks.

kenwass's picture

I think this kind of retreat, or more accurately, the variety of retreats, is what makes Tricycle so valuable. For those who find it objectionable, no reason to tune in if you do, but it made my day to find a topic I have always been interested in the subject of a Tricycle retreat. The universe is expanding and I am happy to see that Tricycle is too.

Karma Kunchar's picture

Tricycle, thank you for hosting this retreat. As my Dharma practice has progressed, my ability to attain and sustain lucidity has blossomed unexpectedly. I am fortunate to have many wonderful, experienced teachers to consult about this topic but I appreciate the opportunity to gain more guidance on how to use this lucidity to benefit my practice. Upon realization that I am dreaming, (if the excitement of the increased perception doesn't overwhelm me) my usual intention is to just to try call to mind the Dharma. I picture my teacher or my Dharma center and they appear fairly easily. My goal is to get my dream body to assume the meditation posture, do prostrations, or circumambulate our stupa, but those physical acts seem to be more challenging. Any tips?
I have read two books that were helpful: The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Mark Dahlby & Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold. I look forward to this retreat and the discussion surrounding this topic. Sweet dreams...

idaleung1's picture

My problem is that I don't remember having dreams. Do you have any tips on how to remember dreams?

Andrew Gladstone's picture

Hi idaleung
That is the topic of next week's retreat - so please check in on Monday!
Andrew Gladstone

bija's picture

I've only read a little about bardos. Do people use these techniques as preparation for the bardo stages of death in the Tibetan traditions? To keep oneself from freaking out during the scary hallucination stage of the bardos? I am also curious about why this teaching is on Tricycle.

"Used loosely, the term "bardo" refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise from the impulses of one's previous unskillful actions. For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth."

Richard Fidler's picture

I was under the impression that Tricycle was about the dharma, not pseudoscience. The Buddha dharma is straightforward: the dissatisfaction that goes with a self-centered perspective on the world and one's release from that delusion through the Eightfold Path. Lucid dreaming is irrelevant to the dharma--in fact, it is antithetical to the basic teaching of anatta (no self): after all, when one is lucid dreaming who, exactly, is being aware of him/herself? I'm curious what is next at this site: crystal therapy, reflexology, Indian dietary practices? Let us stick to the dharma, the basic traditions of Buddhism--especially those that are adaptable to the West: Vipassana, Zen, certain aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. There are other sites to visit for those who wish to explore alternative practices and spiritual outlooks.

northpole's picture

Agreed. Might not sign up again if any more of this kind of stuff appears.

djsmcc's picture

Please see Upaya.org Alan Wallace "Lucid Dreaming" 13 episodes. Lucid dreaming already has an established place in traditional Buddhism. I personally was surprised when years ago I discovered that I wasn't the only person trying to do Zazen while dreaming. I was working fifty hour weeks, doing Zazen during lunch and while sitting next to my daughter as she fell asleep. I wanted to utilize that time when I was dreaming to practice.

endelade33's picture


endelade33's picture

I tend to agree that a retreat on lucid dreaming is a sign that Tricycle is going mainstream. Maybe it is to celebrate the new app for idevices ? To me, this suggest that mainstream Western buddhism is closer to New Age than I previously thought.

sharmila2's picture

I might have had the same attitude 3 months ago; lucid dreaming does seem very new-agey. However, during my recent 6 week retreat, as practice became very deep, it started to happen naturally, and my practice continued during my dreams as well, except that due to the greater degree of "letting go" there was an even more profound bliss and some deep insights that arose in dream state but persisted into waking - all without my having the slightest conscious inclination toward dream yoga of any kind. So there is definitely something to it that is completely able to be integrated into Buddhist practice and in my case at least happened automatically without my intent. Practicing during sleep has also been mentioned in classic Vipassana texts as well as the Tibetan tradition, so i dont think it as far outside the mainstream as it first appears.

northpole's picture

Fair enough, there is a tradition, but perhaps what unsettled me about this is that it appears to use the 'retreat' as a marketing mechanism for a book sale. For me that seems to tarnish the very good tradition on Tricycle. I don't think I've seen anything like it before.

I'm afraid I may well now not renew my subscription as the marketing process now has appeared in my daily email meditation topic. Tricycle has been a very useful support for my practice but have a jingle appear as a 'retreat' and then as a part of an interesting and often useful p-art of my daily routine is really not inspiring.

Sorry to whinge, but there is something not right here in this case.

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi northpole,

We don't mind a bit of whinging ;)

We've included a link to "A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming" under the Supplementary Materials section of the retreat because we do think that it will supplement people's experience of the retreat; it's an opportunity to have further clarification of the techniques that our retreat leaders describe here. Tricycle, however, does not receive any proceeds from these sales, so it's certainly not marketing for us.

I'm not sure if I fully understand the second part of your concern here, but the quotes that appear in our Daily Dharma email are always from our magazine or blog.

I hope this explains our thought process some...

Warm wishes,
Emma Varvaloucas
Managing Editor

northpole's picture

Thanks for the post. I'm not concerned about 'who' may get financial gain from the retreat feature. I'm concerned 'that' it was a marketing exercise.

The second part of my comment is about the @daily Dharma' posts that I find interesting. In this case, 'How to become lucid', Daily Dharma for 24th November, seemed to be an extension of this marketing strategy. None of the other daily posts seem to have been marketing exercises.

Of course, I can take it or leave it, but this particular retreat (and subsequent marketing exercise and spam) seems out of kilter with the tone of much of the other good work on Tricycle.

Anyway, I've decided that the greater value is to be had by keeping up with the really good things that go on here. As a solo meditator I would very much miss this place.

Thanks for your thoughts.
Very best and warm wishes.

wendyyee's picture

Dreaming and dream recall are a gifts made clearer, dearer and more personal with Practice. Create intent, then b surprised, rewarded, scared and experience sacredness.

grammypam37's picture

I've been "lucid" dreaming since I was about 9 and the little man with the tall black hat crept under the door sill. I would even dream, that I woke up and was creeping into my parents' room and into their bed but he would still come through the door. One night, I turned around and said "go away! You're just a dream." It worked pretty well most of my life and I am now 76. Only occaisionally it hasn't work and I can usually attribute a "nightmare" to, as Scrooge said, "a bit of undigested potato."! I love dreaming and hope this course will make them more constant and deeper. Thanks!

Md21's picture

I'm really grateful for this course, I've tried reading some literature around it, but it was very 'out there'. I'm grateful that you guys are presenting the practice as something to be taken seriously, and something to be practiced seriously.
I can't wait for the next episode.