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Buddhadharma : Summer 2015
32 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 2 0 1 5 change the frightening images we see in our dreams into peaceful forms. Using the same process, we can transmute negative emotions we feel during the daytime into increased awareness. Thus we can use our dream experiences to develop a more flexible life. With continuing practice, we see less and less difference between the waking and the dream state. Our experiences in waking life become more vivid and varied, the result of a light and more refined awareness... This kind of awareness, based on dream practice, can help create an inner balance. To gain mastery over dream and sleep is to gain mastery over your own mind. The real point isn’t to control your dreams but rather to have control over your mind. By gaining mastery over your mind, you become fearless in the dark. The nighttime yogas can illuminate and therefore eliminate fear, the pri- mordial emotion of samsara. By conquering fear, we also vanquish hope. This is the desperate hope of the ego, not the wholesome aspiration of waking up to benefit others. Hope and fear are the parents of the eight worldly prisons, and with the nighttime practices we can escape these confining walls. With no hope for pleasure, gain, fame, and praise, we are no longer controlled by the fear of pain, loss, shame, and blame. As this equanimity matures, we eventually have no prefer- ence for samsara or nirvana—both are seen to be illusory. Dream yoga also develops both relative and absolute siddhi, or psychic power. Relative siddhi is when you have power over the world; absolute siddhi is when the world no longer has power over you. In terms of relative siddhi, masters who have accomplished dream yoga and truly see the world as a dream can manipulate the physical world as if it is no longer physical. Miracles happen when you tune in to the miraculous and illusory nature of reality. Christ did it, the Buddha did it, and masters from any tradition can do it. Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso Rinpoche says, “It is possible to trust such accounts if you understand that the nature of samsara is indi- visible appearance and emptiness like a dream or a magical illusion.” In the case of absolute siddhi, which is much more important, dream yoga reveals the dream- like nature of experience, and therefore it has less power over us. The world only has the power we give to it, a power we unwittingly bestow when we take things to be real. If we freeze the world into concrete and steel, that nightmare of reification can hurt us. That’s what it means to be non-lucid—tak- ing appearances to be real when they are not. If we see the world as illusory, it can’t fundamentally hurt us. That’s what it means to be lucid—to cut through delusory appearances to the truth. As it says in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, “Emptiness cannot harm emptiness.” When you wake up spiritually, you feel things more (because you’re so awake) but they hurt you less (because there’s nobody to hurt). Another fruition of dream yoga is liberating humor. Seeing things as solid, lasting, and indepen- dent is such a joke. And dream yogis get it. When we “break up” in laughter or “crack up” after a good joke, that lighthearted feeling comes from breaking or cracking our solid and serious approach to things. The more solid the setup, the bigger the joke. The lifelong narrative of seeing things as solid, lasting, and independent is suddenly turned on its head, and that’s a gut-buster. The Dzogchen master Longchenpa said: Since everything is but an apparition, Perfect in being what it is, Having nothing to do with good or bad, Acceptance or rejection, You might as well burst out laughing! While the awakened ones are full of humor, they’re also full of compassion. Imagine being in a room full of hundreds of sleeping people while you’re the only one awake and wandering around. Some people are sleeping soundly while others are writhing and moaning from an obvious nightmare. Your natural response, especially if it’s a room full of loved ones, would be to rouse them from their slumber and say, “Wake up! It’s just a bad dream.” This is how the awakened ones spend their lives. Dream yoga also inspires simplicity. What’s the point in spending your life chasing dreamlike apparitions? When you’re no longer caught up in illusory appearances, you cease grasping after them. When grasping ceases, so does samsara. The end of materialism (seeing things as solid, lasting, and independent) means the end of consumerism. Mat- ter just doesn’t matter anymore.