KUNDROLLING
Dzogchen Community Of New York

Main   Teacher   Community   Calendar   The Bookstore   Library   Gallery   Links   Dream Yoga   Contact Us

Interview with Dr. Michael Katz

Editor of "Dream Yoga" and author "The White Dolphin"


              MK:  What I want to do tonight, and then for the next few days and as long as I'm here, is to try to assist you all in developing your own dream practice, and what that means for each of you might be quite different.  So this is a little bit of a, a kind of a training that I'll be trying to do to give some practical suggestions for working with your dreams, and hopefully it will be something valuable for you all. So the perspective that I'm going to take is largely from the Tibetan Buddhist system of working with dreams. And also because I am a psychologist and I've studied dreams from a Western perspective, then I hope that having that background will assist you in understanding the Tibetan Buddhist system from more of a Western point of view.

            So to start with, is that there are many types of dreams, and then also all of us have different capacities for working with our dreams.  So when I say, oh, you know, I'd like to be of assistance in helping you to work with your dreams, it may mean for some of you that that will be towards being able to remember your dreams.  And then for some others of you who remember their dreams regularly, then it might be for being able to have the experience of lucidity in your dream.

             And for those of you who don't know what the experience of lucidity in a dream is, what I mean is that you would be able to have a dream and understand and know that you're dreaming at the same time, so there's an awareness, a consciousness that you are dreaming.  That's what we refer to as lucidity.

              And then if you have the capacity for being lucid in your dreams occasionally, as many of us have had a lucid dream at some point in our life, then perhaps maybe I can assist you in helping to prolong the experience of lucidity.

              Also from the Tibetan Buddhist perspective, dream work perspective, there are ways of transforming dreams and working with dreams once you are lucid, and at that point we're talking about extraordinary potential.  So I have had a little experience with these extraordinary types of dream work potentials, and my teacher, Namkhai Norbu, is one of the foremost masters of dream work and having extraordinary experiences within a dream.

              So what I want to do is give you an understanding of the differences between dream yoga and the practice of natural light, and also, as I said, give you some practical suggestions for developing your own dream practices. So first of all, I'd like to know a little bit about you, and how many of you are people who have already had experiences with lucidity in your dreams.  Okay.  And how many of you are also people who are involved in meditation and Buddhism?  So a lot of you are.  So we have a pretty - that's okay, don't feel left out.

              Well, the Buddha, he likened our phenomenal existence, that means what we see before us, all that we experience, he likened it to a dream, or an illusion.  And then he gave a variety of metaphors, that life was like lightning, or the reflection of the moon in water, or an echo in a city.  He tried to, through these metaphors, he tried to convey what the actual, what actually reality is, and what he was saying is that this all is an illusion, that somehow what we see before us is not real in some way.

              So whether or not you believe that or whether you feel that this is real versus an illusion, for the purposes of developing our dream work practice, we will take the perspective that this is all a dream.  And that's because when we go to sleep at night and we have dreams, and then we wake up the next day, there's a very big difference between the state that we're in when we're sleeping and dreaming and the state that we're in when we awaken.

              So oftentimes we wake up, and for a few moments we may remember our dream, and then we're deluged with our daily routines, and we jump out of bed, we're getting ready for work, we turn on the radio, or the news, or something like that.  And then the dream, it disappears, or recedes into the background, and we don't do much with it, and then we're in our day.  We're in our waking state, so it's now something different.

              But if we look at everything as a dream, then there's permeability that occurs, and so instead of there being a big difference between the waking time and the dream and sleep time, there's this interactiveness, or permeability.

          So what we do when we're training for doing dream work is to see things as a dream. And then philosophically, the question arises, Is that possibly true?  Is this potentially, really just a dream or an illusion?

              So when we want to do a little retreat or workshop and focus on dreams, then we're going to very specifically attempt to see everything as a dream.  And so I invite you to be in a dream here with me and to look at things in a little different way.

              For example, you might look around the room and you might say that, well, here is somebody who is part of your dream, talking about dreaming and lucid dreaming.  And in fact, that from the perspective of being in your dream, that you manifested or created me, that I'm a part of your dream. 

          And it was your interest in dreaming, this strong interest that you have in dreaming, and particularly lucidity in your dreams, that caused you to manifest me and all the other people here in the room.

              So perhaps we have a connection, a strong connection with the other people here in the room, and that connection over time would become evident, some sort of karmic connection, something that the Tibetan Buddhists might call thendro (phonetic), or a connection that we have.

              So I'm a part of your dream, and you manifested me out of emptiness.  And here in the room you can see that I'm drinking, this is the dream I'm dreaming.  You're dreaming that I'm drinking water.  Your pen and your notebook are dream objects, and all of the characters are part of the dream.

              In fact, you might ask yourself, Is this a dream?  And that would be very useful if you did, to ask yourself, is this a dream.  Because when we ask ourselves if this is a dream, it creates a habit, and that habit can follow us into the dream state.

              So what I'm suggesting to you is, so far, that you see everything as a dream, at least for this evening, and if you're joining me at the workshop, then we will continue to have that awareness that everything is a dream.  And we're doing that not from the philosophical point of view, which may or may not be true, but we're doing that from the point of view of a practical way of developing your dream practice.  If you do that, if you see that this is a dream, if you see everything as a dream, then you're more likely to progress in this dream work.

              There are a variety of ways that we can enhance these good habits so as to progress in dream work.  Another way of doing that is to look around and to notice whether there is  something that could be a tip or a cue that we are dreaming. 

          So in addition to saying to ourselves, is this a dream,  which I'm suggesting to you you might do about maybe ten times between now and when you go to sleep tonight.  Ask  yourself, is this a dream, in addition to carrying the awareness that this is a dream.

              The next thing to do is to look around and to see if there's something that you might notice in this dream that could cue you that you're having a dream.  If you did find something that was incongruous about what you see here, then that can be the impetus for becoming lucid in your dream.

              Let me give you an example.  I had a dream that a dog was on a roof trying to jump from one house to another house.  As I watched the dog jump, it missed, and instead of falling to the ground, it began to float, something like an astronaut might do in one of these capsules in a non gravity situation.  And when I saw the dog doing this kind of non gravity thing, then I knew that it was a dream, and I said to myself, this is a dream, and at that moment I became lucid.  So that was a cue that this was not reality, and it was actually a dream.

              Now, if you look around this room here, it's possible that some of the features of the room might be incongruous.   For example, you might notice that the fire extinguisher is here on this podium, or you might notice that the apple is sitting there, and a few other things like that.

              Now, once you've noticed that something is incongruous,  then with your intention, with a strong intention, it will be useful for you to say, when I have that dream tonight, when I dream of a fire extinguisher tonight, then I will become lucid.  So you're creating a habit of, A, of examining whether or not you're in a dream.  You're going to do that a number of times over the next few hours, let's say, before you go to sleep.

              Then you're going to examine different environments that you're in, like this one here, and see if there's something that's incongruous, such as a fire extinguisher, or some guy talking about lucid dreams and knocking over the bell.  If you have that kind of a dream tonight, then make the strong wish or intention that you become lucid because of that incongruity, that you'll know that this is a dream.

              So we have a few hours now before we go to sleep, and you're going to carry this awareness and do these simple exercises.  A lot of it, of developing lucidity in your dreams or even remembering more dreams or understanding dreams, a lot of it is going to depend on your strong intention to want to do so.

              In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this strong intention, this intentionality is often described as making prayers, that we want to pray that we have these experiences.  For example, you might want to pray that you experience many dreams.  If you're not one to pray, then you might just auto suggest, from a Western point of view, that you have many dreams.  Say to yourself, Tonight I'm going to have and remember many dreams, and then from either the autosuggestion perspective or from the prayer perspective, that you might either pray or auto suggest that your dreams might be clear and auspicious, and furthermore, that
you might have lucidity in your dreams.

              So you might make this strong wish that tonight I'm going to have lucid dreams.  And then furthermore, if you take this intention a little further, that you could wish or pray to be able to transform your dreams, or to engage in the special applications of dreams.

              From the Western psychological point of view, we're talking about autosuggestion or simply strong intention of mind, and from the Tibetan Buddhist point of view, we're talking about prayer to our teacher or to the enlightened beings, that they assist us in developing this capacity for dream work.

              Now, most of us most of the time have dreams which are the product of our anxieties and preoccupations, and in general, are not a very important class of dreams.  From the Tibetan Buddhist perspective, we call them samsaric dreams. 

          From the Western perspective, we would say that these are relative dreams, or relatively unimportant dreams.  But there's a whole other class of dreams that, from the Tibetan Buddhist point of view, we refer to as dreams of clarity, clarity dreams.

              Before the lecture, one of you asked me about the Western dream work system, such as the Freudian dream work system and the Jungian dream work system, and so on.  Most of these analytical types of dream systems are referring to relative dreams, and we analyze these dreams, and they have meaning, and pertain to our anxieties and our preoccupations and all that.  But what we're going to focus on more over the next few days is the other type of dream, which is
the dream of clarity.

              Now, the dream of clarity oftentimes does include the lucid type of a dream, but the lucid type of a dream is not the only type of clarity dream.  And also there are many different levels of lucid dreams.  For example, other examples of clarity types of dreams may be dreams which are precognitive or predict the future, or have some communication with other types of beings, including animals or other beings, other dimensions, those kinds of things.

              Last month I was with my teacher, Norbu, but people were talking about some of their dreams.  Somebody came up to me and they said, Oh, I had a dream that my mother died last night.  And she was quite upset, and she felt that perhaps she was having a precognitive dream, a dream of clarity. 

          Then she called home to check, and her mother was alive, and her mother said, Well, if you're so concerned about me, why don't you come home?

              So that's an example of a relative dream, out of our anxieties, and so on.  But on the other tack is that another woman at this particular retreat had a dream where her boyfriend was in trouble, and then she called home.  In fact, the boyfriend was in trouble, and the circumstances of the trouble that he was having were very similar to the dream that she had.

              Another example, I was just reading a novel that's become popular.  Maybe it's popular here in Australia, I'm not sure.  It's called Skeletons of the Sahara, and it's about an actual shipwreck that occurred in the early 1800s. 

           This ship ran aground off the coast of Africa, and the sailors were enslaved for a period of time.  The captain of the ship had a dream early on in this period of captivity, and his dream was that there was a particular man who would help them to become free.

              So the book is about the period of time, some months, maybe even some years between when they ran aground and then they ultimately, some of them, were freed.  And it was a very, very difficult period, you can imagine.  The captain of the ship weighed like 230 pounds when he started out.  He weighed like 90 pounds when he finished.  But at the end of the book, when he is freed, he meets the person who he had dreamed about very shortly after he had been shipwrecked.
            So this is an example of a dream of clarity, which we all can have that experience, but of course if we are actively engaged in dream work of this kind of system, then we can have more experiences of that.

              So in this particular Tibetan Buddhist system, and in the book, the Dream Yoga book, which some of you may already be familiar with; it's called Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light.  Actually, these are two different perspectives on working with your dreams.

              Dream yoga is what we're going to be focusing on over the next few days, and what we've already begun to focus on by actively engaging in attempting to become lucid in our dreams.

              The other part of the title of the book, And The Practice of Natural Light, refers to the practice of Dzogchen in the Tibetan Buddhist system.  And for
those of you who are not aware of what Dzogchen is, it's the Great Perfection practice of Tibetan Buddhism, and refers to having a certain kind of awareness and presence at all times.

              So we're not really focused on doing the practice of natural light over the next few days, because it necessitates a transmission from a great lama, such as Namkhai Norbu.  But I just mention it because if you have that opportunity at some point, it would be a wonderful thing to take this transmission and to begin to work with that instant presence, and so on. 

              The difference between dream yoga and the practice of natural light, in a nutshell, is that in the dream yoga practice we engage in attempting to become lucid in our dreams, whereas in the practice of natural light, through our presence and awareness, this special awareness and presence, that lucidity occurs naturally out of that presence and awareness, and it's not something that we have to attempt to create or to work towards, through some sort of effort.  It's an effortless system of meditation.

              But we're not all capable of that.  I'm not capable of that, in most instances.  So it's very valuable to develop these capacities to work with our sleep and dreams, and we spend so much time every day in sleep and dreams, a third of our life, that it's useful to make some sort of -- to do something with that.

              So over the next few days, what I'd like to focus on is developing these experiences of lucidity, and if some of us have these experiences of lucidity on a regular basis, then also to prolong the experience of lucidity, and then to be able to do some sort of transformation or something along those lines within the dream state.

              Now, I know that a lot of you already have some experience with meditation, but what I want to do now is to introduce a meditation.  Perhaps many of you are aware of it already.  A practice of shi ne, or a practice of shi ne or concentration type of -- calm abiding is how it's described. 

          And the reason is that even if you have some experience doing shi ne meditation, is that we need shi ne meditation, that power of concentration, in order to maintain lucidity in our dream.  So if we have that capacity, then we will be able to prolong, maintain the experience of lucidity in our dream.

              Some people might refer to shi ne meditation as a foundational, or beginner's meditation, but in fact the importance of shi ne meditation extends from the
beginning of the path to the end of the path.  At some point in your dream, it might be useful to attempt to do a type of meditation such as shi ne within your dream, and to then examine what happens within the dream when you do that. 

          What I'm suggesting to you is that if you have the capacity to become lucid in your dream, to then engage in a practice such as shi ne meditation. So what we're going to do is a short period of meditation together, and if you have not done shi ne meditation before this, then this is something that you can continue to practice.  And if you have practiced shi ne meditation, it's always valuable to do.

              What I'm going to do is suggest that we sit together, and we're going to find an object that we're going to focus on quite close to where we're sitting.  Then we're going to gaze in a one pointed way at that object, and then when we notice that our mind is wandering a little bit, we bring it back to the object, and then again we bring it back to the object.  Try to sit pretty much without moving, and find an object to focus on.  This is called shi ne with an object, for obvious reasons.  Okay?

              It helps to sit straight backed, sit straight up in your chair.  There's a whole system of Tibetan yoga, which is the inner channels and the winds that are inside the channels.  And when the channels are crooked, then the winds don't go in the proper way, and consequently we want to be sure to sit straight backed.

              All right, so we're going to do this meditation for just a short period of time.  (Bell) So you might notice that when you attempt to focus on the object that the mind, which is often likened to a wild, crazy monkey, jumps around, and then you come back.  In fact, the dreams are not very different.  You know, it's our         mind which is going this way and that way in the dreams, and we identify with our dreams and we don't recognize that they are an illusion.

              So because I am talking a lot about sleeping and dreaming and so on, it's possible that you all could become sleepy and fall asleep on me.  What I'm going to do is, we're going to take a little break, but not a break from the actual system here.  We're just going to take a break from sitting around in the seats.  And the break will be that we will just walk around here or in the hallway for the next ten minutes, and just be in a dream, so everything that we see and hear is part of our dream.  Just be silent while you do that, go around and so on.

              One time I was giving a lecture pretty recently, and in fact I noticed somebody nodding off in the room.  And I was thinking, Oh, well I'm putting him to sleep, I'm talking about dreams and sleep and all.  Then afterwards he came up to me and he said to me, Oh, well, I fell asleep, but I was having a lucid dream.  It was kind of a left-handed compliment that he gave me.

              It's now ten of twelve, ten of one, and we'll come back together at one o'clock.  So for the next ten minutes, just be in your dream, but be quiet.

              It sometimes enhances the experience of being in a dream to wear sunglasses, so if you want to wear sunglasses. (Bell) Let's ask ourselves, Is this a dream?  You know, there are many possibilities within the realm of lucidity, and I once was trying to come up with ideas as to why one would want to be lucid, like a list of things, you know.  In the States we have these popular nighttime talk shows where you make lists, the tenth most important reason, the ninth most  important reason, the eighth most important reason, et cetera, like that.

              I thought, well, one important reason is that if you want to be able to multi-task.  You are city people, so you should know about multi-tasking.  In New York we do three things at once.  If we go to the bathroom, we bring the telephone in there and a book as well, and maybe we do like a meditation if we're spiritually oriented or something. 

          But that would be like one reason for being lucid. Then another reason for being lucid might be that you can cut down on your travel bills.  If you develop
your lucidity, you can travel to exotic places and not have to worry about paying for the plane ticket.

              Then another reason for being lucid would be for possibly spicing up your sex life.  I'll tell you a couple stories about that.  This one student of mine in one
of my workshops, he attended the workshop with his girlfriend, and they were very lovey dovey.  He decided that he was going to find her in his dream that night, and so he was strongly focused on finding his girlfriend in the dream.

              And sure enough, the next day he came back and he said, "I found her," and then he had some sort of experience, sensation experience in his dream.  He was quite pleased. 

          Of course, if he had put that intention into being lucid, then he probably would have had that experience.  When we have our mind focused on something, we can often create that.

              In fact, you know, there are possibilities in the realm of sensation.  Another possible reason for being lucid is to know what the movie, The Matrix, is about.  Right?

              These are all relative reasons for being lucid.  All of these are unimportant reasons for being lucid, in fact.  A lama that I knew, he once likened all those kinds of applications of lucidity or those kind of dream experiences as being fun and games.

              But why we would really want to be lucid, is that the capacity for lucidity is the gateway towards self-liberation.  Let me explain a little bit about what that means and why the practice of lucidity and developing lucidity is so extremely important.

              That is, that at some point we're all going to die, and from the Buddhist perspective, we will be ultimately reborn in some way.  From the Buddhist perspective, there's an opportunity at the time of death for either improving our future rebirth, or even exiting the wheel of samsara, of samsaric life after life after life.

              So why would I bring that up here in the middle of a talk about lucid dreaming?  When we go to sleep, very shortly after we fall asleep there's a period where we enter a deep unconsciousness, or a kind of a faint or a swoon, where we're deeply unconscious.  Then after we emerge from this period of deep unconsciousness, the mind engages again, and that's the period when we begin to dream.  The mind is engaging in our dreams.  It's the reengagement of the
mind.

              At the time of our death there's a similar process that occurs, and that is that initially there's a period of a deep unconsciousness, or a swoon.  From the Tibetan Buddhist perspective, the mind reengages, the mental body is reengaged, and we go through a progression of what we call the bardos or transition states, from the point of being alive to the point of future rebirth.

              So the deep unconscious state that initially we experience is also a time when we might have a special experience of the clear light, which is correspondent
to the Dzogchen system that I mentioned earlier.  If we have this capacity for instant presence and awareness, then we might also recognize our intrinsic reality through clear light. 

          In the Buddhist system that's called the meeting of the mother and the son, mother being the intrinsic clear light and the son being our instant presence, our capacity for recognizing this like that.

              So that's one opportunity for some sort of special liberation or elevating our future rebirth, and that is correspondent to the Dzogchen system.  But it's very difficult for most of us to recognize this clear light, this light of intrinsic reality. What happens is that after that period of time when there's this unconsciousness, then the mental body reengages, and we have the unfolding of a series of hallucinations, which are the sidpai bardo.  Depending on our karma and the kind of life we've led, that kind of thing, these hallucinations may be one, these may be certain kind of objects, and some of these hallucinations may be very frightening, some of them may be very seductive. If at that time we can recognize that these are merely projections of our own mind and not real, then we have
a special opportunity.  But if we don't have any experience in recognizing that these hallucinations are unreal, then we are identified with them and we react, we're reactive to them.

              For example, when you watch a movie in a movie theater, if it's a scary movie, you still know that Godzilla is not going to jump out of the screen and grab you, or Freddy is not going to slash you, or something like that.  You know that.  But in your dream, typically, if there's a frightening, nightmarish type of a character in your dream, then you and I normally will react, and we'll run.  We'll do something to get away, or possibly we might, you know, try to fight, or something like that.  But in any case, we are completely identified with the dream.  We have no recognition that this dream is our projection.

              So when you talk about the dream state or the mental body state, when we react, our reactivity is extreme.  If in the mental body we are frightened, then you can imagine that we're just blown by that fear.  So at the time of death that fear more or less blows us right into another rebirth that's predominated by our karmic fear, and so on.

              On the other hand, if we've developed some experience with recognizing that our dreams are in fact illusion and that we can be lucid, we have a totally different experience.  We are not particularly frightened by scary types of dreams, and we're not necessarily seduced by seductive dreams, unless we want to be, let's say, and we have some experience with recognizing that these things are illusion.

              Now, it may not be sufficient to simply recognize that dreams are illusion, and then to expect that when we die that we're going to then be able to self-liberate.  But if we have an experience with lucidity and also we have some sort of meditation practice that we can apply at that time, then I think that there's a much greater likelihood that we actually can elevate our future rebirth, or possibly have some sort of a liberation experience.

              So this is really the only reason for developing lucidity.  I mean, the other reasons are relatively important, but not absolutely important.  And yet even saying that, I know that the few, or the experiences of lucidity that I've had, the meditative experiences within lucidity that I've had, these are epiphanies, each one of them, that has changed my life immensely.  When I talk with other people who have had these experiences, they also say the same thing.  An experience of lucidity, a meditative experience within a dream, it's a potentially life changing experience.

              But even so, that's not the primary reason for practicing, so we have to recognize what the overriding purpose and reason for doing these kinds of practices is.

              So just to review a little bit, we are going to, for the next few hours, until we go to sleep, we're going to continue to recognize that we're in a dream, and we're going to have the intention that we're going to remember our dreams tonight, that we're going to have the experience of lucidity within our dreams.  We're going to look around a number of times over the next few hours to determine whether or not we're in a dream and whether there's something that's an incongruity, and we're going to make the strong intention to, once we have that particular dream again, to become lucid. Now, there are many different ways of enhancing the possibility of becoming lucid, or even just to have more dreams and to recognize them, to remember them.  For example, you might want to take a book such as the
Dream Yoga book, or another book of dreams, put it under your pillow.  It's not like once you sleep on a book like that, it's going to suddenly infuse into your mind.  On the other hand, because we've kind of created this sort of seed of suggestion that we might have a lucid dream, and we put that under there, it can help.

              In Tibetan Buddhism they take this kusha grass in an empowerment.  If you have an empowerment, they give you kusha grass, and they tell you to put one stick, the long stick and a short stick of kusha grass under your pillow, and then remember what your dreams are.  I personally doubt that the kusha grass actually has the property of developing dreams, or some sort of special dreams, but it's the autosuggestion that is the reason.

              So if you want to take a book, put it under your pillow.  Sometimes people take a little night light and they leave it on in their room, or they might use a candle.  Of course, if you use a candle, you should be careful to use a candle that's in a cup or something like that.  But to leave a little light on in the room, because it's something different.  Of course, if you spent your whole life sleeping with a candle in your room, it's unlikely that you would have any difference in your dream experience, but it would be nice to change your routine a little bit so as to enhance the possibility.

              The other thing is that the most important dreams typically occur towards the end of the night, in the early morning, such as maybe the time from like four to six in the morning, or four to seven, or something like that.  Perhaps, if you don't mind losing a little sleep, you might set your alarm or otherwise suggest to yourself that you're going to wake up a few times.  Then when you wake up, then try to remember the dream that you were just having, assuming you did just have a dream.

              Once you recognize that dream, whatever it is, let's say it's the man in the cream woolen jumper, whatever, and you're dreaming about this man, and then you're going to say to yourself at that moment, When I dream of him again, I'm going to become lucid.  Then what you're going to do is attempt to go back and enter, reenter the dream and allow the dream to continue on.  So you've awoken, and then you make the suggestion that if this dream continues, I continue to dream of this particular character, that I will become lucid, and then you go back to sleep.  And then you do that a few times, if you wake up a few times.

              Now, in the Dream Yoga book you may notice that there are many, many different techniques, and so we may discuss some of them, but also this is for you to experiment with and then to work with. Are there any questions?

              Question:  Can you explain about the use of the white light and maybe the letter of A, and what connection that has with the practice of natural light?

              MK:  Jacques, right?  Jacques is referring to some of the practices from the book Dream Yoga.  In fact, those practices, you know, are primarily associated with the practice of natural light, which I mentioned is the Dzogchen system.  He's referring to a practice that is written, which is a chain of white A's that is visualized, and to go up the central channel, which is something that exists in Tibetan Buddhist yoga practices.  This is to engage the central channel into your dream work practices, and it's a very important part of the practice of natural light.

              The same goes for visualizing the white A in either your heart, or visualizing it in your throat, or in one of the other chakras.  But the thing is, unless you have the capacity to have this instant presence, then it's unlikely that you will be able to carry this presence of the white A throughout the night, which is what the instructions are. 

          Because it's not merely a visualization of a particular syllable, it's actually having the experience of extraordinary presence and awareness, and also having
this visualization of the white A.

              In most cases, when people attempt to apply a practice like Jacques has mentioned, what happens is that from the point of falling asleep to the point where the unconsciousness ends and the mental body reengages, which is when we have dreams, it's very unlikely that we will be able to carry that particular presence uninterrupted.  What normally happens is that we have a short period of a visualization of something, like the white A or something, and then we become unconscious.  Then we lose that thread of presence and awareness, and then we go into the dream state and we are again in the same situation, as if we didn't try to visualize this white A.

              If we have the capacity to maintain pure presence and awareness, then we can have what is called the experience of the wheel of night and day, or the continual presence and awareness throughout all periods of the day and night of presence and awareness, and then every moment is another moment of practicing awareness.  At that time, we might have lucid dreams and many other types of meditative experiences and clarity experiences simply as a byproduct of our extraordinary presence and awareness.

              There's a process where sometimes we fall asleep and there's this period where we might have these sights and sounds and types of experiences which we call hypnogogic, and it's really also just phenomena of our mind.  You know, our mind is somewhat engaged, the dreams are not fully formed.  But really these particular experiences, hypnogogic experiences, it's just a matter of whether or not we can recognize somehow that we're having this experience and become lucid.

              I do this guided nap as part of my workshop, where we all have the opportunity to regress to nursery school and lie down together and take a nap, and also suggest that we develop lucidity.  Many times the experiences people have out of this guided nap are hypnogogic types of experiences. 

          But I don't view them as so important, except when they lead to an experience of lucidity, and there are all different degrees of lucidity. One time someone reported that there was a mutual attraction between himself and another person, and then in his dream he had the experience where he met her.  When he met her, he kind of fondled her a little bit, and then she was quite, a little bit surprised by that, and not totally pleased, because it's kind of like a little bit of a date rape situation, you know, but it was a dream rape situation. 

          It wasn't fully a rape situation. But anyway, that was a degree of lucidity.  It wasn't fully lucid.  He didn't have the intention to do that.  He was just mutually attracted.

 Yes?

              Question:  I've had experiences where I'm sleeping, and then I'm awake, and it's like I can see, like I can see the room and I can hear people downstairs.  I sort of checked IT out and, yeah, I was doing that.  And it might be slightly skewed, what was actually going on, but when I remember it, it's pretty clear.

              But then I have this anxiety, and it's trying to -- I get this quick reaction to wake up, but I can't move.  It's like my body is down on the ground, like this pressure sort of all over me.  At times I've gone into quite a panic, and it's like, "Help me."  I used to have it a lot when I was in meditation retreats, at a certain time when I was in more of a deeper level, and then I would go relax, relax.  Sometimes I would try very hard to wake up, and I would be very willful, and then I would relax, and it was like going through a channel and coming down and waking up.  It's quite fearful at times.

              MK:  Well, what happens is when we fall asleep, we have a natural inhibition, our muscles can inhibit.  Otherwise, you can imagine that from our perspective of the evolution of the species, that if we weren't inhibited and we had these dreams where we were being frightened or something like that, we would all run up and in our dream do something crazy.  Sometimes we do that anyway, because if we have a very strong, you know, impression, something very strong, it really overrides that inhibition of the muscles, then we might sleep walk or sleep talk or do something.

              Occasionally, I've been known to kick or do something in the middle of my dream, you know, thinking that I'm in the middle of a dream.  And fortunately, my wife wasn't too close to me at that time.

              But anyway, the thing is that, as you mentioned, that we are inhibited and paralyzed when we're in the dream state. Now, if there's a certain degree, but not full lucidity, then it's possible for us to think that we're awake, and consequently try to move, but we're still in this semi-lucid, still dreaming state.

              Question:  I know I'm dreaming, and I want to wake up.

              MK:  Well, I think that once you become more familiar with being lucid, that if you wanted to wake up, you could.  But it is true that once you are in a lucid dream that you also can hear and experience what's going on around you, so in one corner of your consciousness you might be listening to what's going on in the room, and then also in another corner you're watching this dream progress. The thing about maintaining this lucidity, or becoming fully lucid, that's why I introduced that shi ne meditation.

              Question:  Just relax with that.

              MK:  Right, and also to have that kind of capacity for concentration and focus and so on, it will be very useful.

              Question:  So then you choose like an object in your dream to focus on, or could it be a sensation?

              MK:  It could be either, that's right.  I think it's easier to try to choose an object initially, but then, yes, absolutely, you could use a sensation.

              Yes?

              Question:  Do you mean that you choose an object that  you bring into a dream, or an object that (inaudible).

              MK:  An object that appears in your dream.  If you become very advanced, you could also bring an object into your dream, and then focus on that.  There's really no limit, ultimately.

              Question:  Do any of these practices in particular, or I imagine probably all of them do, make you have more relaxed sleep as well in terms of -- you know, does it not work if you're lucid, you don't have a deep sleep, or if you're having a deep sleep, you might still dream and you might not remember them?  You know, in terms of me waking up in the morning and feeling as revived as possible.

              MK:  Right.

              Question:  It all sounds -- yeah, I'm just a little bit confused.

              MK:  I think that if you become very advanced with lucidity practice and the practice of natural light, then there will be no issue about being revitalized and relaxed.  But as we are beginning to develop this practice, it may be that you're going to be sleeping lighter, especially if you decide you're going to wake up at various times in the night and apply these kinds of things. It's a certain prioritization.  You know, if you have the time, if you want to prioritize this particular practice as something you want to do, then you prioritize that, and you accept that maybe you're going to take a nap at some point during the day, something like that.

              Question:  Even when I've sort of had really late nights and I realize I've got to get up in the morning, I might only have three hours of sleep or something like that, I've actually made the choice to remain lucid and found that it's easier to get up the next day, and I'm a little more revived and mentally prepared.

              A lot of people have trouble sort of, when they have a deep sleep, getting up and getting going again in the morning, but I've actually made that choice, when I know I've only had three hours, and stayed lucid, and it's sort of helped me get going the next day.  I might be twice as tired the next night.

              MK:  Do you have any experience with Dzogchen?

              Question:  I'm not sure what that is.

              MK:  You might want to explore that, because it sounds like maybe you have a connection with that type of system.

              Question:  I just have a question.  I've thought often when I'm dreaming, I quite often have the ability to realize that it's a dream and wake up, and also as well to decide to go back into that dream and continue it. I was just wondering, is there any way to -- I mean, I don't always do that, but I often do that.  I'm
wondering, is there a way to sleep through that?  I don't know if I'm making myself clear, but I often do it, and sometimes it's not by choice.

              MK:  Yeah.  What we just have been discussing is a way to purposefully do that, to imagine that you're in a dream.

              Question:  By bringing objects in, that sort of thing?

              MK:  Yeah, but also just to be in a dream during the day, to intend to be lucid, to look for incongruities, to remind yourself that when you see something that's incongruous, you'll become lucid in your dream.  These are ways to actually become lucid.  In the middle of the night when you continue your dream, if you have that capacity to say.

              Question:  I know that it's real.

              MK:  But this is the way to.

              Question:  I can say that's the dream, I don't want to continue it, and I can wake up.  Or I can say I like this dream, I know it's a dream, but I'll continue it.  Or, you know, wake up, make the decision, go back into it all or not, as the case may be.  I just don't have full control over it.

              MK:  Right.  Well, if you pick up the Dream Yoga book, there's a whole chapter or two on working with transforming your dreams.  There's exercises to do.  Some of them, for example, are making what is large small, what's small large.  Taking what is in the north and putting it in the south.

              Question:  Yeah, I do that.

              MK:  There's other exercises, multiplying the different objects in the dream.

              Question:  It's taking control of it, you can kind of change it.

              MK:  Exactly, but don't forget what I said earlier, that these are all fun and games, and it's very nice, you know, to do these fun and games.  But really what we want to do is to be able to do some sort of important spiritual practice in our dream. If we do a moment or two of spiritual practice in a dream, it's like the equivalent of doing a week or two weeks of spiritual practice in a retreat situation.  You really can have a tremendous insight in a moment in a dream.

              Question:  I'm really not spiritual, though.  I don't know how to go about.

              MK:  Maybe what I'm calling spiritual is consistent with what you're calling not spiritual.

              Question:  Yeah, might be.

              MK:  All right.

              Question:  I've become better at relaxing, and I get into a very deep state of relaxation when I'm trying to go to sleep, but I have this problem of wanting to consciously make the leap into unconsciousness.  I was just wondering if there's any way of, any map for navigating from being relaxed, but not asleep, into being asleep.

              MK:  You want to know how to remain relaxed, but not become unconscious?  Is that what you're asking?

              Question:  Just the opposite, actually.  I was wondering if there's any way of kind of tricking my mind into going from being very relaxed, but conscious, to being asleep, but still awake, to put it another way.

              MK:  The two systems we've talked about tonight, dream yoga and the practice of natural light.  The practice of natural light is a system for maintaining presence and awareness throughout, continuously, through all the different stages of sleep and dreams.  The dream yoga is more focused on developing a state of lucidity out of the dream state.

              So if you're talking about being relaxed, and then from that place of relaxation, maintaining some sort of awareness and presence, what you would like to do is to take transmission in the Dzogchen system and then to become familiar with that system, and then to develop that pure presence and awareness.  Okay? All right, one more question, and we'll call it a wrap, if there is one more question.  Yes?

              Question:  Sometimes I seem to wake up in the morning, and before waking up, I feel like I'm dreaming and I'm still awake or I'm asleep.  I feel like I stay awake for hours, and I know I've actually gone back to sleep, but I've dream that I've still been awake.  Is that lucidity?

              MK:  Yes, it's a degree of lucidity, but not full lucidity.  Don't forget, you are asleep, but your mind is active in that particular time. You know what I said to this other gentleman, and that was initially when you're working with developing lucidity, it may feel like you're sleeping more lightly, but in the long term, if you were to develop this in a really powerful way, then being revitalized or refreshed is not an issue.

              Question:  If you maintain that during the day, then you're probably going to be falling asleep a lot easier at night anyway, because you're making that transition a lot easier?  Is that the idea as well, if you sort of hold onto it during the day, when you reach that point at night when you want to sort of fall into unconsciousness and then get sort of reborn into the rest of it, does it make that transition easier?

              MK:  If you're a very advanced practitioner, very advanced practitioner, then you really don't need much sleep at all, and your dreams are really very minimal as well, perhaps.  That's what Norbu says anyway.  I don't really have that experience myself very often, but it's quite possible that you can just rest in a state of meditative awareness and light.

              All right, one more, and that's it.

              Question:  Do you find that becoming more lucid in your dreams makes you more lucid in the daytime?  I think it would be very useful.  

              MK:  Right, of course.

              Question:  To know this is a dream.

              MK:  Yes, and you can imagine that if we know that something is a dream, we're less attached.  If we know it's illusion, then we know it's, you know, it's not worth being so attached and wrapped up with. So if you are Buddhists or students of Buddhism, you know that the Buddha talked about nonattachment as
being the path.  And so if we carry the realization that all phenomena are illusory and dreams are illusion, then of course we have greater nonattachment.  Then our lives are smoother, because a lot of our suffering comes from attachment.

              All right.  Well, it's been a pleasure to join you in your dream tonight, and I wish you all good luck in having good dreams tonight, and becoming lucid, and I look forward to hearing about some of your experience in our workshop, or if you're able to join me in one of the other lectures.

NY Dzogchen Community Hot Line: (212) 564-1024