Dreams in Buddhism

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What if all of life was but a dream? For Tibetan Buddhists, all experience is illusion. One way to achieve awareness of the illusory nature of reality is through work with dreams. In this lesson, we look at some of the different conceptions and uses of dreaming in Buddhist spiritual practice.

 

Podcast Lecture: The Somniloquy

 

Readings:

Young, Dreaming in the Lotus: Ch. 1, 4

 

Questions:

1. What is "Sacred Biography" and what role do dreams play in them?

2. Which verb is used in South Asian texts that refer to the experience of having a dream? What is the significance of this verb according to Young?

3. What is the distinction between dream consciousness and dream content? How are each of these viewed in Buddhist practice?

4. What is the main difference between elite and popular views of dreaming in Buddhist tradition?

5. How do some practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism view the states of wakefulness, dream, meditation and death?

6. How are dreams used to illustrate the concepts of emptiness and illusion in Tibetan Buddhism?

 

Activities:

Film Study--"Groundhog Day": This 1993 comedy has a strong Buddhist theme. Phil Connors keeps waking up in the same day, over and over again. Get a copy of the film and watch it with the following questions in mind.

--How is his experience like a dream?

--What does it teach him? How does it change him?

--How does he break the cycle?

--At what moment does he truly "wake up?"