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Dream Yoga

Have you ever had a dream of someone that you would rather not remember or even think about? I imagine that most of us have had one (or more) of those dreams. Have you ever had a dream that was really intense, totally overwhelming, and you really wish, while you were in the midst of it, that is was not happening? I imagine that most of us have had one (or more) of those dreams. The thing about life is that every time we sleep, we dream. And, though there have been contemplations, lectures given, books written, and scientific studies performed about dreams there still is no absolute answer as to what they truly are or what they actually mean.
In Japanese, the word, “Yume,” is used to describe a dream. It’s direct meaning is, “Eyes in sleep.” I think that’s a pretty good definition as though, in our dreams, our bodies are removed from the physical world of actuality, we are living a complete reality.

Think about it. Think about how real your dreams truly feel. You are living a complete storyline in all its completeness. You move, you feel, you act, you react, you interact, and a story is constructed and told. When you are in that dream is your reality any less real than it is when you are awake? But, that story ultimately means nothing, because when you wake up, it is gone. There is no action or reaction or karma or anything.
Some/many believe that dreams are the foretelling of what is to come. But, what is to come? Is not what is coming based upon you deciding to do what you have done in the past, leading to what you will encounter in the future? Isn’t what is to come based upon what you decide to do right now? So, any prophecy may be a prophecy, but a prophecy is only ultimately defined by the choice(s) you make in any given moment.
In Tibetan Buddhism and various sects of Hinduism there is actually a Yoga developed to embrace dreams. It is known as, “Svapnadar┼Ťana Yoga,” The Yoga of the Dream State. Without going too much into detail, as that would take volumes, Dream Yoga is based on the theory of, “Bardo,” in Tibetan Buddhism, which refers to transitional states in human consciousness. “Milam Bardo,” is the stage of Dream Yoga when one works to use dreams as a pathway towards greater realization.
From this teaching, and numerous other schools of thought, people have attempted to control their dreams and the direction they travel and the things they experience within them. Some even claim that they can. But, have you ever attempted to control your dream and change its direction once you were deeply inside of it? As dreams completely overtake your sleeping body and mind, this is virtually impossible as you are so lost and/or control by the mechanism of the dream. Thus, those claims are simply the proclamations made by persons who wish to appear more than all who follow them. …Just like all of those unlikely claims that no one else (that you) can never seem to be able to accomplish. It’s all just gibberish.
So, where does this leave us? It comes back to the
fact of life that so many people attempt to fight; life is life, reality is reality, and that is all we have. Dreams are a reality that we are given and must live with.
In Zen, it is understood that though it may be human nature to fight the obvious; the clearest, purist truth of reality is that the simplest is the most pure and true. Though there may be all these implied definitions placed upon why you dream. Though there may be all of these techniques that claim you can control your dreams and use them for some greater good/goal in your life, that is all just the promise of illusion. It is all maya. For at its simplest most pure understanding, dreams are just what they are; dreams. No matter how hard you attempt to alter the reality of your dreams, your dreams exist in a separate plane of existence where physical choice and mental selection is highly removed from the equation. You are just living what you are living.
In awake life, there are choices to be made. These choices not only set up what you will encounter next, but they can affect the life of you, your loved ones, your friends, and maybe even everyone else on the whole planet. Thus, your choice is the defining factor of your karma and what is to happen next in your life. Dream, on the other hand, exist in a place of no karma. They exist on a plane of reality that is not bound by physical reality. Thus, you may love the dream you have, you may hate the dream you have, you may live all kinds of weird storylines in your dreams, you may even spend your whole life trying to control your dreams, but that does not make them holy. But, if you release, if you let all things simply be as they are with no judgement or attempt at control, than all things in your dreams and, thus, your life, become perfect. At least as perfect as the Zen of Acceptance can lead you to.