Dream Creation

This morning I was riding my bike down an incline and picking up speed.  Then suddenly I realized I was about to fly off a building towards a second skyscraper.  I quickly grabbed a light post and me and the bike swung around to a stop.  When I looked back at the way I had been going to estimate the drop, the building was gone and I was looking at a beach.  With excitement I realized I was dreaming.

“Hmmmm… what do I want to do? ”

Many lucid dreamers like to fly, but I was not interested.  I decided a nice swim would be great.  As I moved into the water I “willed” my clothes off, but they wouldn’t disappear and instead dragged at me.  “Some kind of lucid dream, I cannot even get my clothes off.”

As I was leaving the water after my swim, I noticed the crowd of people on the beach and told myself, “Doesn’t matter that I am naked this is just a dream and I’m in control”.  I then asked myself, “What would you like to do next?”

Since I have been single for many years I decided a little “male action” would be nice.  I picked myself a man and went at it.  In the heat of it all I ended up thinking, “This is my dream, how can he have erectile dysfunction?”

Alas, my experience with being awake in my dreams is not much different than being awake in my life.  I know I am creating what is going on around me, but I still don’t have any control over it in the moment.

Read my earlier posts on Lucid Dreaming, The Man who Dreamt He was a Butterfly,  and Night Practice.

The Man Who Dreamt He Was a Butterfly

Perhaps you have heard this quote by Master Zhuangzi, or at least part of it.

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and moon and butterflythither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

Master Culadasa once remarked that one cannot really know if they are dreaming or awake since the distinction is unclear.  I thought this was curious.  Having had some experiences with lucid dreaming I knew it was possible to make a distinction between being awake and being asleep dreaming.  Further, my dreams seemed to be marked by a lack of clarity or the sense that things only existed where I was looking and could change or disappear if I looked away.

Last night I had a dream that shifted my perspective on this matter.  I just ordered another book on lucid dreaming that has not arrived yet, but when reading reviews of various books one person mentioned a technique of getting into the habit of asking yourself during the day, “Am I dreaming?”  and then following with a second questions, “Am I sure?”  Once the habit of questioning is established, it will follow into your dream state and allow you to “wake up”.

Last night I was in a dream and I stopped and asked myself if I was dreaming.  I answered myself, “no”.  Then I reminded myself that I needed to ask the second question to be sure.  I scanned the area I was in (some type of fair with booths) and concluded, “Sure, not dreaming.”  I asked myself several times during the course of the dream, telling myself, “I need to practice this so that when I’m dreaming I’ll remember to do it.”

The funny thing is that the dream had so many clues that I wasn’t awake.  First my dead brother was in it.  Second one of the people I work with was in it and was Iranian and not native Hawaiian like she is.  Third, my brother connected me up to start working at one of the booths.  And get this:  It was a Lucid Dreaming booth. LOL

Anyway, I need to have a strategy to use during the dream to decide whether I am sure or not sure I am dreaming.  Apparently just scanning my immediate surroundings is not enough.

There is continuity in my awake life that is not present in my dreams.  My mind seems to stream in a cohesive way when I am awake.  I can remember going to sleep, waking up, meditating, and sitting down to blog.  In a dream things are more disjointed.

Leonardo Dicaprio captures it best in Inception when he says,  “Dreams, they  feel real while we are in them, right?  It is only when we wake up that we realize that something was actually strange.  You never really remember the beginning of a dream do you?  You always wind up right in the middle of what’s going on.”  At this point the person he is talking to, Ellen Page, realizes she is dreaming and the dream “explodes” or falls apart.

This may be a clue I can use.  The trick to being sure if I am awake or dreaming is to ask myself if I can remember how I got to the place I am dreaming I am.

More from Master Zhuangzi on dreaming:

How do I know that enjoying life is not a delusion? How do I know that in hating death we are not like people who got lost in early childhood and do not know the way home? Lady Li was the child of a border guard in Ai. When first captured by the state of Jin, she wept so much her clothes were soaked. But after she entered the palace, shared the king’s bed, and dined on the finest meats, she regretted her tears.

How do I know that the dead do not regret their previous longing for life? One who dreams of drinking wine may in the morning weep; one who dreams weeping may in the morning go out to hunt. During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming.

We may even dream of interpreting a dream. Only on waking do we know it was a dream. Only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen. How dense! You and Confucius are both dreaming, and I who say you are a dream am also a dream. Such is my tale. It will probably be called preposterous, but after ten thousand generations there may be a great sage who will be able to explain it, a trivial interval equivalent to the passage from morning to night.


My Experiences with Lucid Dreaming

I was fourteen years old when I first heard about lucid dreaming.  The instructions I heard back then on how to “wake up” during a dream were to focus on your hands.  The idea, as I recall, was to look at your hands once you realized you were dreaming.  I don’t remember what you were supposed to do next, and perhaps that is the reason that the couple of times I did manage to look at my hands, my brief moment of being aware of dreaming passed and I slipped back into the dream unconscious.

I’ve never really tried to cultivate dream awareness, but every once in awhile I have a lucid dream – or at least a moment of lucidity during a dream.  I’ve had dreams where I became aware that I was dreaming, but still couldn’t control my actions and watched myself struggle to make a cell phone call.  I’ve also had repetitive dreams of driving a car without brakes.  These usually trigger me into some awareness of being in a dream state and I simply know that I need to find something to hit to stop the car.  Instead of feeling out of control during the dream I have the awareness to know that I’m dreaming and cannot be hurt, yet still cannot control the car without colliding into something.

My best trigger for lucidity is not being able to see.  This is another common theme in my dreams and it also seems to frequently happen when I am driving a car.  I just cannot get my eyes open.  These days, about 75% of the time, I am able to realize that when I cannot open my eyes I am dreaming.  After the realization, I loosen up, and I just tell myself that I don’t need to see in order to drive.  I have other senses I can use.

While lucid dreaming is exciting, I have never formally pursued the activity because I had never thought it was valuable given my goal of enlightenment.  Then, earlier this year, one of my meditation teachers mentioned he was interested in learning more about lucid dreaming.  I was surprised by his interest, since I know him to at least at third path and cannot imagine a lucid dreaming practice would be something of value to such a person.  Then again, if you are at third path, you might not be too worried about reaching enlightenment and lucid dreaming might just be an extracurricular activity.  Still, his interested made me wonder if there might be some value in the practice.