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Lucid Dreaming in Tibet

October 30, 2007 on 8:56 pm | In Dream Books, Lucid Dreams | 2 Comments

Tibetan lamas teach that lucid dreaming can be used as a path to enlightenment. They teach a number of practices, called dream yogas, using lucid dreaming as a spiritual path.

Both Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, the indigenous Tibetan belief system, teach that daily life is an illusion, a sort of dream. So lucid dreaming, the practice of controlling your dreams, is considered to be perhaps as real as daily life.

Tibetans have other meditation practices for becoming aware that daily life is a sort of dream and for remembering that fact at all times. One of the most famous and powerful is dzogs chen, which is practiced by the Dalai Lama.

Some of the training for the dzogs chen practice is, in fact, much like the hypnogic imagery method for lucid dreaming. The practice itself is much like lucid dreaming in that you must learn to remain aware in every waking moment that what you are experiencing at any given time is not quite real. That keeps you from being lost in the illusion.

The dream teachings say some lucid dreams are, and some are not, out-of-body experiences. In either case, they say, the dream body is made of energy-mind and mimics the tendencies of the physical body. That is, you will probably pretty much feel and look as you do in daily life.

The instructions for using dreaming as a spiritual path are known in Tibetan as rmi lam gyi gdams pa . There are various versions of the dream teachings, as the various Tibetan religious sects have their own teachings.

Lucid dreaming and other dream yogas are among the many Tibetan esoteric practices described in The Treasury of Knowledge, Book Eight, Part Four: Essoteric Instructions, A Detailed Presentation of the Process of Meditation in Vajrayana, by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, translated by Sara Harding. The book comes out in January, but you can preorder it from Snow Lion Publications now.

These teachings are from the Kagyu or “Red Hat” order of Tibetan Buddhism. They say that in the beginning, one must accept

…two vital points: unbroken mindfulness in the day, and rigorous techniques of esoteric instructions at night.

There are four impediments to recognition: excessive emptiness, excessive sleepiness, excessive wakefulness, and excessive complacency. Once these are dispelled by remedial esoteric instructions, the dream is recognized to be just that, and that is dream recognition [lucid dreaming].

Moreover, like the dream, all phenomena are essentially empty and as such can appear as anything at all. Thus the two truths are combined.

For more information read the cover story of the new Fall 2007 issue of the Snow Lion Publications Buddhist News & Catalog (newspaper). To request a free copy of the newspaper-catalog, call 1-800-950-0313. Or visit the website:



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  1. Hey,

    Welcome to the BYB Sunday!

    Looking forward to read the many BYB Sunday posts on your blog.

    Comment by NeoBluePanther — November 5, 2007 #

  2. This is very helpful for me. Thanks to you. I look forward to your BYB posts.

    Comment by SandyCarlson — November 5, 2007 #

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