Stillness Speaks presents SHAMBHALA PUBLICATIONS

Stillness Speaks presents
SHAMBHALA PUBLICATIONS

What Is Dream Yoga? – Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche Bon Buddhism

Oct 12, 2022

dream yoga : “… Dream yoga practice cultivates the stability in awareness needed to free yourself of conditioning and reactivity …” ~ Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

dream yoga Batam sunset stability in awareness wangyal

“… The dream shows the inner truth and reality of the patient as it really is: not as I conjecture it to be, and not as he would like it to be, but as it is … The dream is specifically the utterance of the unconscious …” ~ Carl Jung (The Practical Use of Dream Analysis 1934, Collected Works Vol 16)

I can attest to such “utterance” through my (Sanjiv) own {mini} direct experience: back in ’87, Jungian Psychology was one of several “traditions” in my early explorations into consciousness, resulting in a deep appreciation of Jung’s genius in charting the human psyche. Undertaking my own dream analysis work left an enduring imprint of its value … but it remained in the “western context” leaving me unaware of the “beyond western” implications of what’s possible with dreams.

Turns out, dreams are an integral part of a Tibetan tradition known as Bon (or Bön) Buddhism (or Yungdrung Bon). The dream related practice is known as Tibetan yogas of dream and sleep, which has been largely passed down through oral transmissions (perhaps the reason why it is not well known).

Tenzin Wangyal RinpocheThanks to Shambhala publications, we can offer a mini-dive into this practice through the teachings of a Tibetan master, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, via chapter excerpts from the 2022 edition of his book: The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep: Practices For Awakening (1st edition 1998).

Wangyal’s parents were Buddhist (father a lama and mother a Bon practitioner) and at ten years old he was “… taken to the main Bön monastery in Dolanji, India, and ordained as a monk …”  His interest in (& exposure to) dream (& sleep) yoga began at the age of thirteen (partly due to a potent dream) though he earnestly started studying and practicing sometime later. He was so gifted that at nineteen he began teaching others.

His own words are the best summation of this practice: “The teachings provide us with many methods to improve the quality of ordinary life. That is good; this life is important. But the ultimate use of these yogas is to lead us to liberation. To that end, this book supplies the practitioner with a practice manual, a guide to the yogas of the Bön-Buddhist traditions of Tibet that use dream to attain liberation from the delusions of ordinary life and use sleep to wake from the darkness of ignorance.”

So, we begin this 2-part series with the Introduction by Wangyal Rinpoche …

This series is part of our ongoing Shambhala Publications series that offers substantive previews of selections from Shambhala Publications new and classic titles …

Shambhala Publications

All italicized text in this post (except as noted) is adapted from The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep: Practices for Awakening by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche © 1998, 2022 by Tenzin Wangyal. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. Shambhala Publications has also generously offered a free downloadable PDF of the Table of Contents (link is at the bottom of the post).

You can purchase the book at Shambhala Publications or Amazon.

The Tibetan Yogas of Dream & Sleep: Introduction

The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep: Practices for Awakening by Tenzin Wangyal RinpocheWhen we engage in sleep and dream yogas, we become part of a long lineage. Men and women have, for many centuries, undertaken these same practices, confronted the same doubts and obstacles that we do, and received the same benefits that we can. Many high lamas and accomplished yogis have made sleep and dream yogas primary practices and through them attained realization. Reflecting on this history and remembering the people who dedicated their lives to the teachings—our spiritual ancestors who through these teachings pass to us the fruits of their practice—will generate faith in and gratitude for the tradition.

Some Tibetan masters might find it strange that I teach these practices to Westerners who have not completed certain preliminary practices. The teachings were traditionally maintained as secret teachings, both as a sign of respect and as a protection against dilution through the misunderstanding of unprepared practitioners. They were never taught publicly or given lightly, but were reserved for individuals prepared to receive them.

The practices are no less efficacious and valuable than they ever were, but conditions in the world have changed, so I am trying something different. I hope that by teaching what is effective, openly and simply, the tradition will be better preserved, and more people will be able to benefit from it. But it is important to respect the teachings, both to protect them and to further our own practice. Please try to receive the direct transmission of these teachings from an authentic teacher. It is good to read about these yogas but better to receive the oral transmission, which creates a stronger connection with the lineage. Also, it is easy to encounter obstacles on the path that are hard to overcome on our own but that an experienced teacher can identify and help to remove. This is an important point that should not be forgotten.

Our human lives are precious. We have intact bodies and minds with complete potential. We may have met teachers and received teachings, and we have lives in which we enjoy the freedom to follow the spiritual path. We know practice is essential to the spiritual journey as well as to our aspiration to help others. We also know life passes quickly and death is certain, yet in our busy lives we find it difficult to practice as much as we wish we could. Perhaps we meditate for an hour or two each day, but that leaves the other twenty-two hours in which to be distracted and tossed about on the waves of samsara. But there is always time for sleep. The third of our lives spent sleeping can be a time for practice.

sleeping dreaming wangyal

The main theme of this book is that through practice we can cultivate greater awareness during every moment of life. If we do, freedom and flexibility continually increase as we are less governed by habitual preoccupations and distractions. We develop a stable and vivid presence that allows us to choose positive responses to whatever arises, responses that best benefit others and our own spiritual journey. Eventually we develop a continuity of awareness that allows us to maintain full awareness during dream as well as in waking life. Then we are able to respond to dream phenomena in creative and positive ways and can accomplish various practices in the dream state. When we fully develop this capacity, we find we are living both waking and dreaming life with greater ease, comfort, clarity, and appreciation. We will also be preparing ourselves to attain liberation in the intermediate state (bardo) after death.

The teachings provide us with many methods to improve the quality of ordinary life. That is good; this life is important. But the ultimate use of these yogas is to lead us to liberation. To that end, this book supplies the practitioner with a practice manual, a guide to the yogas of the Bön-Buddhist traditions of Tibet that use dream to attain liberation from the delusions of ordinary life and use sleep to wake from the darkness of ignorance. To use the book most effectively, stabilize the mind through the practice of calm abiding (zhiné) explained in part three. Begin the foundational practices and spend time with them, integrating them into your life. When you think it’s time, begin the primary practices. If possible, it’s helpful to make a connection with a qualified teacher.

sunset awareness every moment wangyal

Take the time needed to obtain results. There is no hurry. We have wandered in the samsara for time without measure. To read another book and then forget it will not change your life. But if we follow these practices to their end, we will wake to our primordial nature, enlightenment itself.

If we cannot remain present during sleep, if we lose ourselves every night, what chance do we have of being aware when death comes? If we enter our dreams and interact with the mind’s images as if they are real, we should not expect to be free in the state after death. Look to your experience in dreams to know how you will fare in death. Look to your experience of sleep to discover whether or not you are truly awake.

Receiving the Teachings

The best approach to receiving oral and written spiritual teachings is to “hear, conclude, and experience.” If learning is approached in this way, the process of learning is continuous and unceasing. But if it stops at the level of the intellect, it can become a barrier to practice.

As to hearing or receiving the teachings, the good student is like a glue-covered wall; weeds thrown against it stick. A weaker student is like a dry wall; what is tossed against it slides to the floor. When the teachings are received, they should not be lost or wasted. Instead, retain the teachings in the mind and work with them. Teachings not penetrated with understanding are like weeds thrown against the dry wall. They fall to the floor and are forgotten.

Concluding means to fully comprehend what is taught, to come to certainty of the meaning of the teaching and how to apply it in practice. Like bringing light to a dark room; what was hidden becomes clear. It’s something we now know rather than something we have merely heard. For example, being told a bowl in a dark room is filled with salt is abstract. We can’t see the salt. When a light is turned on, we see it directly; we can look in the bowl and be certain it is filled with salt. The teaching is no longer something we can only repeat; we know it to be true.

By “applying in practice,” we mean turning what has been conceptually understood—what has been received, pondered, and made meaningful—into direct experience. This process is analogous to tasting salt. Salt can be seen and talked about, its chemical nature understood and so on, but the direct experience is in tasting it. That experience cannot be grasped intellectually and cannot be conveyed in words. If we try to explain it to someone who has never tasted salt, they will not be able to understand what we have experienced. But when we talk of it to someone who has had the experience, then we both know what is being referred to. It is the same with the teachings.

This is how to apply the teachings: hear or read the teachings, study them enough to become certain of the meaning and then realize the meaning through direct experience.

In Tibet, new leather skins are put in the sun and rubbed with butter to make them softer. The beginning practitioner is like the new skin, tough and hard with narrow views and conceptual rigidity. The teaching (dharma) is like the butter, rubbed in through practice, and the sun is like direct experience. When both are applied, the practitioner becomes soft and flexible. But butter is also stored in leather bags. When butter is left in a bag for some years, the leather of the bag becomes hard as wood, and no amount of new butter can soften it. Someone who spends many years studying the teachings, intellectualizing a great deal with little experience of practice, is like that hardened leather. The teachings can soften the hard skin of ignorance and conditioning, but when they are stored in the intellect and not rubbed into the practitioner with practice and warmed with direct experience, that person may become rigid and hard in their intellectual understanding. We must be careful not to store up the teachings as only conceptual understanding lest that understanding become a block to wisdom. The teachings are not ideas to be collected but a path to be followed.

~ Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche 

In the next post we will delve into Tenzin’s views on How Dreams Arise and get a “taste” of the key aspect of this practice: Calm Abiding: Zhine’

So stay tuned …

 

Shambhala Publications

All italicized text in this post (except as noted) is adapted from The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep: Practices for Awakening by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche © 1998, 2022 by Tenzin Wangyal. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. And, click here for the free, downloadable PDF of the Table of Contents.

You can purchase the book at Shambhala Publications or Amazon.

 

 

As Wangyal Rinpoche suggests, practicing dream yoga leads to an improved quality of life which deepens our compassion and kindness towards others … so in that spirit let us help the victims of Hurricane Ian in whatever way we can … and to that end here are some options:

1) 6ABC: How to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian.

2) Go Fund Me: How You Can Help: Donate to Hurricane Ian Relief.

3) USA Today: Here’s how you can help those affected by Hurricane Ian in Florida.

— — — —

We are all facing financial challenges but IF your situation allows you to donate and help then please do so …

THANK YOU!

May you embrace the practice of …  Tibetan Yogas of dream and sleep  … and realize the resulting gifts …

Images (edited & Logo added): Header: Annapurna mountains by saiko3p,1 & Featured) Composite of a) Mangrove tree shoots at Batam’s beautiful sunset island by bp1181dy.gmail.com and b) Human meditating by shmeljov, 2) Tenzin Wangyal’s image from his website, 3 & 8) Shambhala Publications logo, 4) Cover page of The Tibetan Yogas of DReam and Sleep, 5) Metaphorical Dream by agsandrew, 6) Composite of a) Magnificent purple sea sunset by kika.georgieva.. and b) Buddha face close up by vgorbash, 7) . All purchased from depositphotos or 123rtf. All for use only on our website/social channels (these images are not permitted to be shared separate from this post). 3, 4, & 6) generously provided by Shambhala Publications with permission to be used on our website and other digital assets.
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