Electric Dreams

An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange

Lucy Gillis & Robert Waggoner

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  Gillis, Lucy (2000 March).An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange. Electric Dreams 7(3). Retrieved July 14, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams 


The Lucid Dream Exchange (LDE) is expanding its format to include book reviews, articles, and other lucid dream related information. This month I am pleased to offer an insightful book review by LDE co-editor Robert Waggoner.


The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep
by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

1998, Snow Lion Publications, $16.95, paperback, 208 pages Reviewed by Robert Waggoner At the 1998 Association for the Study of Dreams conference, I heard the author, a lama in the indigenous Bon tradition of Tibet, speak on their religious view and his personal experiences in dream yoga and sleep yoga after years of focused training. Dream yoga refers to a philosophy and set of practices to enhance awareness in one's waking and dreaming life, which leads to lucidity in the dream state.

For the Bon, when lucid, one can use the state as 'tertons' or treasure finders to discover 'gong-ter' or mind treasures, and for purposes of guidance, healing, divination, etc. Emphasis is placed on seeking even greater clarity, mental flexibility and fullness of lucidity, however, so that one can reach the intermediate goal between death and rebirth "of staying aware and undistracted as the after-death visions arise, (which) depends on the capacities developed in dream yoga"(p.139). The ultimate, final goal of dream yoga is for the practice to evolve into sleep yoga, or yoga of the clear light; simply put, this is experiencing a pure non-dual awareness and can occur during waking or sleeping hours. The author develops a clear set of foundational principles for dream yoga. They include repeatedly reminding yourself that your daily experience is "as a dream," which will increase your sense of clarity and calm, and alter your experience of events. This should also show that the 'meaning' of a thing is imputed by cultural conditioning, and that there is little fundamental distinction between dream-experience and waking-experience. Second, one should become more aware of their habitual reactions of "grasping and aversion and seek to decrease their significance by realizing that objects and experiences are "ephemeral, insubstantial and fleeting." The third principle is to strengthen intent by developing a determination before falling asleep to know that we are dreaming when we dream. And the final principle is to recall your dreams, and use your successes and failures positively to improve your practice.

There are numerous detailed practices of breathing, visualizing protection and love, expressing clear intention and evoking assistance. And these are followed by other practices such as visualizing chakras, waking in the night to practice, using sleeping positions, developing a sense of personal power and fearlessness, and doing meditation to increase one's likelihood of lucidity.

Once lucid, the author delineates eleven categories of experience and seeks to use lucid dreaming to transform each of these, so that one can see the potential inherent in lucid dreaming. For example, one category is "quantity"; so when lucid, one might see a bicycle and say, "When I turn around and look again, there will be ten bicycles!" Other categories like "journey" require one to visit new places while lucid, and "seeing" would ask that you see, for example, your heart pumping. By having lucid transformations in each of the eleven areas, one develops mastery and deeper understanding. Sleep yoga goes beyond basic lucid dreaming towards an experience of pure awareness in which there is no subject or object; it is clear, in that it is essentially emptiness, and light, in that it is pure awareness without distinctions. As the author states, "Any linguistic construction that attempts to comprehend it is already in error... ", so obviously it is to be experienced rather than reasoned through discussion.

As a Westerner and lucid dreamer, why read this book? First, there are innumerable interesting details, hints and anecdotes that may illuminate incidents in your lucid dreaming. These cross cultural connections make one realize the universality of the experience apart from the terminology or philosophy used. Second, reading accounts of other's lucid abilities may spur you on to greater personal lucid goals. Third, it may prompt philosophical questions and concepts about the nature of reality or consciousness - some of which you can try to experiment on in the lucid state. And finally, even the jaundiced reader who skips whole chapters and winces at religious precepts, would have to admit that an expanded view of lucid dreaming engages one in greater thought and analysis.

If you intend to purchase this book, be prepared for the general Buddhist ideas of karma, prana, chakras, etc., and the less commonly known terms that are thoughtfully explained in the glossary. One may have to use some creativity in applying some of the concepts into a Christian or non-religious manner, and seeing their essential value. For example, though you may not care to evoke a Buddhist goddess for protection, you may decide that the basic idea is that your inner self feels safe in the lucid dream environment, and give yourself an appropriate affirmation as an alternative, e.g., "I am completely safe when dreaming."

I also enjoyed this book because of some of my own explorations into lucid dreaming five to ten years ago, in which I became lucid and purposely ignored all the dream characters and objects, so that I could directly engage whatever was behind or beyond lucid dreaming. I had some fascinating lucid dreams. Then all of a sudden, I began to have a whole new type of lucid dream experience - which made me think for the first time, that maybe there is something even beyond lucid dreams and the way to get there is to get lucid about lucid dreams. For the serious student of lucid dreaming, The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep is a detailed, interesting and thoughtful look at ancient practices for increasing awareness and lucidity. I recommend it for serious students and those conversant with Eastern religious ideas.


The Lucid Dream Exchange is a quarterly issue of lucid dream
experiences, articles, and announcements submitted by individual readers. If you'd like more information about The Lucid Dream Exchange
contact Lucy Gillis at lucy@turbotek.net