BOOK TWO: chapter nine: the nature and meaning of dreams and visions (part 2)


PART TWO: Biding Your Time

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[from Buddhas Heruka, Manjushri, and Naropa]

As you meditate your way to Enlightenment, you’ll attain a state of mental concentration called Samadhi,  ‘Tranquil Abiding’, or simply ‘Abiding’.

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Many consider this a level of high attainment; the fact is, you really need to get there before you can go anywhere else.

Abiding is the state at which you first really have some control over your mind. Up until then you may always be able to bring your mind back to your object when it wanders, but it still does wander.

Once you arrive at the point of tranquil abiding, your mind is content to stay on its object without getting distracted.

This then frees your mind to get on with its virtuous object/subject of meditation/focus.

You may be wondering why We’re talking about meditation in a chapter on dreaming and visioning. Tranquil abiding, dreaming and visioning share many characteristics. They all require a mind that focuses singularly on its object of concentration.

In meditating, you choose a virtuous object, say ‘Compassion’. Once you get your mind focused onto compassion, you then do a very special kind of wandering in which you explore all the nooks and crannies and ins and outs of compassion, never straying from the boundaries of that concept until you’re done with that meditation (for the time being).

When you’re dreaming and visioning, your mind also stays within certain boundaries – those of your dream or vision world.

For most people, dreams flicker past rapidly. You slip into your dream world for just a moment, until some mental distraction (usually another dream incident) whisks you away. You’re not even able to ‘keep your place’ within the dream world, much less exert any control over it.

The same holds true for visioning: you might catch a fleeting glimpse of something, but then it’s gone before you can really inspect it and make some use of it. As you develop steadier concentration, you’re better able to follow, and later control, your object, dream or vision. Once you reach this point, these activities become much more productive for you.

Now, when We say “productive” We certainly don’t mean to take a work-horse attitude about these activities which may actually give you a lot of pleasure.

You can use meditation, dreams and visions to reach your goals and make your life more enjoyable.

Having an unpleasant experience while meditating, dreaming or visioning results from your karma. If you know how to dream actively (not passively) then ‘nightmares’ might not disturb you, and you’ll still be eager to get on to your next dream. However, if you treat dreaming as work… Well, you know what’s likely to happen. Similarly for meditating and visioning: you want to set yourself up to reap benefits, not discouragement.

So, how do you reach the point of Tranquil Abiding in meditation, so that it can sharpen all of your mental activity?

With a lot of patience.

How to you keep your patience? By not taking on more than you can handle. How do you know how much you can handle? By trying something new, and watching to see how your mind reacts.

For example, if you sit to meditate for twenty minutes and afterwards find that you feel tired, discouraged or irritable, or you experience any other negative emotion, then try only fifteen minutes the next time.

Please note: feeling tired and falling asleep are not the same thing.

Sometimes when you dream or vision, the mind relaxes more quickly than you can keep up with and follow while remaining conscious. When this happens, it’s not wasted effort; it’s just that you’re not training as actively as when you are conscious.

So keep adjusting your time spent practicing until you find a length of time that suits you, and then modify it as you go along.

Of course you may find this challenging if you happen to be participating in a group class and everyone is on a different personal rhythm. You may end up feeling inadequate or superior, and neither of these attitudes is going to help you.

There’s a trade-off that you have to weigh: on the one hand, group practice certainly generates more powerful energy (positive or negative).

On the other hand, when you’re in a group you’re more likely to be faced with distractions.

Practicing alone reverses the effects of practicing in a group, and both of these options involve compromise.

A third option that you might like to try experimenting with is to practice with a small group of people who are at a similar level of experience as yourself.

If you’re fortunate enough to find or form such a group, you may find the best of both worlds.

In any case, if you do group practice, you still need to make time for your individual practice as well. The powerful energy of group practice can help you get a taste or preview of levels you may advance to, but you need private time to hone your skills and gain understanding of where you are on the spectrum of concentration.

Practicing alone takes more self-discipline and strong motivation, but you have more freedom to choose your schedule and meditation object.

The solo-practice scenario parallels more similarly what you face during dreaming and visioning. So, as We get back to our main subject, We can conclude:

A steady private meditation practice may make your dreaming and visioning skills more effective.

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BOOK TWO: chapter nine: the nature and meaning of dreams and visions (part 08)


PART EIGHT: Being A Go-Between

[From Buddhas Heruka, Manjushri, and Naropa]
 
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You do a special type of dreaming once for each of your lifetimes, and that is always the last dream of that life.

Tibetans call this dream state the ‘bardo’, but We call it ‘In-Between Dreaming’.

Dreaming is very familiar to you; you do it often.

You also know the In-Between Dream very well. But during your life it generally resides in your sub-conscious, like other unremembered dreams. You know on some level that you have them, but you can’t remember them, at least not fully.

You In-Between Dream every time you permanently leave your body to move on to your next body and life.

Whether you believe it or not, you’ve dreamed in this way – many, many times.

Since everyone has super-consciously familiarity with this kind of dreaming, there’s no need to be anxious about whether you’ll know what to ‘do’ once you’re there; it comes naturally. If you’re in the habit of asking for help from you Guides, this dream will go more easily for you, because you’ll automatically have others there to help you.

Even if you’ve never asked for help, you’ll eventually figure it out; it just may take you a bit longer.

Many Buddhist traditions teach that the bardo lasts for a specific length of time. We’d like for you to consider that the In-Between Dream can be nearly instantaneous, or it can go on for many, many ‘years’; its length depends upon the individual’s preferences, karma, and merit. People who have lots of good karma and merit, and who’ve asked for lots of help, can get in and out of this dream in a flash. It is, after all, just a walk down a ‘lane’. For those who are more stubborn, it can take longer.

Plus, some people enjoy being in their In-Between Dream because they can visit all their loved ones without the distractions of a physical body.

So they might choose to stay there for a very long time.

When you’re in your In-Between Dream, you can usually interact with your loved ones through their dreams, visions and meditations. If their minds are more advanced, you might be able to contact them while they’re waking. You can try this even if their minds are not more advanced, and most likely they’ll pause in whatever they’re doing and think of you.

In any case, you can at least try anything you like – it just might work.

Let’s digress briefly to talk about ghosts and spirits.

Ghosts and spirits are not people in their In-Between Dreams. Ghosts and Spirits are Beings who have taken rebirth in physical bodies that are less dense than your human bodies.

They must live out their ghost- or spirit-lifetimes before they can enter their next In-Between Dream, and their lifetimes can last much longer than a human lifetime. They’re not exactly in a fiery hell, but they’re in a much less pleasant state than if they took a human rebirth. They can see you and attempt to interact with you, but they can’t touch and feel you the way that another human can. They often become frustrated when trying to interact with humans, because humans seldom perceive them.

Ghosts and spirits don’t choose this form of rebirth; their karma propels them there.

The karma that sends a person into a spirit rebirth arises when they’ve obstructed others from fulfilling their wishes. We’ll talk more about this topic in a later book.

Sometimes ghosts and spirits try to pose as Enlightened Beings, and when they do this they can cause a lot of confusion.

If you think you’ve run into this kind of situation, test them several ways to see if they’re ghosts or spirits. Please don’t worry about offending Enlightened Beings when you insist on these tests. Your thoroughness and sincerity in getting to the truth delights Enlightened Beings.

Enlightened Beings know no limits of physical constraint.

Spirits are limited in this way, to some extent, since they do have subtle physical bodies.

Since spirits can move through physical matter, though, you can’t really block them physically. You can propel them away from you, but they can always come back.

The best way to get rid of a spirit is either to ignore it or expose it as what it truly is – an essentially powerless being.

The latter method works far more effectively, because it both discourages the spirit from bothering you, and benefits your mind by boosting your spiritual confidence.

You can expose a spirit easily: give it a quiz.

Now, spirits sometimes use telepathy, so if you use a little cleverness it helps. When you ask a spirit a question, try to choose a question to which you already know the answer, so you don’t have to think about the answer. Don’t ask it about common things, like your mother’s name, because it’ll already know all that (as would an Enlightened Being).

Ask it about things spiritual. Ask it a Dharma question, such as “What is the best motivation a person can have?”

Now, if the spirit happens to know the answer (which is unlikely), it’ll still give itself away in other ways as it responds, through its attitude and tone of ‘voice’.

We’re not going to say much more here because spirits can also see anything that any creatures’ eyes (even your own eyes) can see. They could be reading these words right now, and we don’t want to spoil the test. Just please consider the differences in attitudes between Enlightened Beings (which are always loving, kind and patient) and spirits (which are seldom loving, kind or patient), and you can probably deduce for yourself what kind of being is responding.

As a note of encouragement: if you happen to expose a spirit who suddenly starts to behave like an Enlightened Being, please don’t worry, because you may have just helped a spirit attain some level of Enlightenment!

Now, let’s return to In-Between Dream communication.

Please recall that in Book One, We talked about the Lane Between Lifetimes. Along this lane you choose the people and places that you’d like to meet in your upcoming lifetime, and you decide the terms and conditions under which you’ll meet them.

Sometimes your dreams during this current lifetime serve as a preview of your stroll down the lane, so you can make decisions in advance.

When you reach turning points and complete certain chapters of your lifetime, you can use this understanding to create your future.

Most of the time these dreams are set on a lane, road, or pathway of some kind; so if you’re dreaming lucidly you can recognize that this is what’s happening. Sometimes they take place in other settings, and in those instances, you can recognize the type of dream because you’re interacting with people you know, or have known, in this current lifetime.

Please try to use these dreams to work towards resolving your feelings about the people you meet in them.

If you’re able to resolve how you feel about them now, then once you find yourself on your Lane Between Lifetimes you’ll already know how you’re willing to work with them in the future.

One wonderful thing about these dreams is that in them, you can really tell people how you feel without worrying about worldly consequences. So you can actually tell your boss that you’re not willing to work under those conditions again, and you can really tell them to go take a hike, and you don’t have to worry about getting fired.

If you like, you can decide not to see them at all in your next lifetime.

Sometimes that makes it a little easier to deal with them in this lifetime.

Most of the time you carry very mixed feelings about the people you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Some things you like about them, and perhaps they help you. Other things about them may irritate you, or you may view them as very unhelpful.

Please keep in mind is that your most important lessons are seldom easy.

That person who always seems to be beating you down may actually be an Enlightened Being, harassing you just enough to give you an opportunity to learn to stand up for yourself. If you seem to be getting the same lesson over and over again, then perhaps you need to try a different way of responding to the situation when it arises again.

So, please don’t always take it for granted that just because you had a difficult time with someone, that means you need to avoid them in the future. If they’re appearing in that way so you can learn a lesson, then chances are that if you refuse to meet them in the future, someone else will be appearing in your life to bring you that same lesson.

Sometimes you learn best from teachers who seem  most familiar to you.

Dreams can also offer you glimpses of places where you might like to live.

Can a dream place manifest as a ‘real’ place in your life? Maybe not precisely. But dream places can have qualities found in your ‘real’ world, and those qualities can act like guiding forces when it’s time for your next rebirth.

If there’s a type of setting that you find particularly beneficial to your peace of mind, you may notice this in your dreams. So pay attention to where you go in your dreams.

You might discover your next home there.