Portals of Presence
Samye – Dream Yoga
As a little tiny baby we enter the world with innocence as Christ Lights, filled with the joy of Being and peace at heart. There is a radiance that comes with babies and we all recognize it. As children of God or Source, as awakened Buddhas, we have a Chintamani Stone Within Us, a priceless jewel of wisdom, a wish-fulfilling treasure, that we look to the world and grown ups to provide us with guidance in how to nurture and use it.
We naturally feel oneness with God or Love at Source. When we connect deeply in later life through true love or profound natural or spiritual experiences, the whole world suddenly takes on a new vibrant hue and we touch our true nature within, which is nameless and timeless and formless and helps us see beyond the veil of appearances that preoccupies our senses most of the time.
If we focus too much on the external throughout our lives we begin to perceive we are separate, and develop fear and attachment as we try to hang on to the many things we think are outside of ourself, and we lose that divine innocence and the power of presence in being.
My first perception of the world was through a dream of a consciousness, one that existed in the past, as a monk at Samye Monastery in 1959. That dream, an experience I had every night over the period of a year from when I was two years old until when I was three, awoke a deep desire in me to know how and where that consciousness came from, what it was and what it was trying to inform me of. I was divinely curious, one might say, at a very early age, about my mission and purpose in life, one I saw as being interwoven with magic and the stars.
When we are very small our mind is very innocent and pure, like clay that has not been sculpted and lies still in the form of a precious Buddha, Christ or Divine Mother. This power of divine being that lies within from such an early age cannot be found by grasping or searching for it, paradoxically, as that is like using the Buddha to search for the Buddha. It can only be found when the mind is clear and pure and still. Like a tranquil lake. When you look across a still lake on an early morning you can feel the presence I am speaking of. The sacred realm, the vast infiniteness of Being is accessible to us all, at any point in our life. I became curious why the entire world was not involved in a collective desire for unity and peace and how we could best establish presence and knowledge of I AM, the awareness that comes before thinking I am this or I am that and I do this or I own that.
I naturally began with dreams and the yoga of dreams. For me this was exploring the true nature of dreams and how to be present in the dream experience. I wondered how I could use the same presence I felt as a child, that I was consciously developing when I was awake, while I was asleep. Dreams seemed an ideal portal to explore that. A portal of presence.
We are constantly thinking. As the saying goes, we have 60,000 thoughts a day, 40,000 of them which we had yesterday. And unless we are well trained in mindful and heartful practice, 80% of those thoughts will be negative. “I can’t do this” or “I’m not such and such” are very common reflections on life.
The incessant mental thoughts make the internal world we live in very noisy.
Try it now. Let your mind grow calm and take your attention and awareness to your breathing.
“Breathing in” as you breathe in.
“Breathing out” as you breathe out.
As you breathe and bring attention to your breathing notice where your mind goes. Does it stay on the breath or does it wander into thoughts and sounds and distractions like the past and future.
Notice when you are distracted. Label the distraction. If you notice a sound, label it “sound” and if you feel an ache or pain arising in the body notice it, “knee ache”. If you find yourself thinking about the past, name it “past” or “family” if you have been concerned about a family member and if your thoughts wander into the future label it “future” or “job” if you worried about the plans you need to have in place for tomorrow’s schedule in your job.
Make friends with your thoughts, get to know them, their habits and routines, because naming them has a special magic and takes away their power and releases their energy and consciousness back to you, taking you one step closer to the nameless realm of Being.
The world of thoughts and thinking is filled with problems and conflicts, a long way away from the realm of divine innocence and joy we knew as an infant in the arms of our mother. Because that is what we are returning to, with new awareness and wisdom, an inner world filled with love and care and affection like a Divine Mother.
That Divine Mother who knows how to take care of us is deep inside and has always been there. She is our True Self.
When we enter the world of sleep and dreams we are given a unique opportunity to nurture and care for ourselves through the power of dream sleep and dreamless sleep. Dreams bring a message that can be very useful in interpreting and making sense of what is occurring in our subconscious mind and may also be useful in going beyond that such as prophecy, insight into the past and past consciousness and understanding the future and what it has in store for us. If we stay conscious in the dreaming process this is called lucid dreaming where we know we are dreaming. Beyond that is the state of dreamless sleep, where we merge with Source and lose all sense of I am this or that and draw upon vital energies to rejuvenate. There is no longer a “me”. With practice your dreams and your dreamless sleep will be timeless, nurturing, restful and at peace, at one with all things.
Much of what I write here is spontaneous, drawn out from within in response to questions from many of you. I see these dialogues as discussions of the Shared Heart in that the wisdom is as much the questioner’s as the one who answers. We all speak from Oneness when deeply in presence and interconnected and in true relationship.
Here is one such dialogue.
“I often find the meaning of renunciation hard to grasp. Can you elaborate on inner renunciation? Is it surrender?”
It is a very subtle process of surrender.
Let me try to elaborate because I think it is crucial to enlightenment, the end of all suffering.
Most people understand renunciation in terms of giving up something, addictions perhaps, like food or alcohol or sex or whatever they know they are attached to, sense addictions.
Those are important and are easy to identify.
As long as you are ‘busy’ in terms of ‘the material world’ you find that your mind and consciousness is ‘pulled out’ as it were, so it is difficult to even begin to perceive the vastness of the inner world because you are rarely aware of it.
Inner renunciation is much more subtle and requires considerable mastery, meaning time and practice.
To begin, the most essential practice is mindfulness, which both the Buddha, in the Anapanasati Sutra and Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of St Mary mention.
“Mindfulness of breath,” as the Buddha says,
and “Where your mind is, there lies the treasure” as Mary Magdalene says.
So the first subtle key is awareness of what you are connecting to, and therefore in an inner way what you are attached to or addicted to.
These are the sense thoughts rather than the sense objects.
Much more subtle to perceive.
Many people are not aware of their thoughts and therefore find the prospect of witnessing them challenging,
So this is why mindfulness of the breath is so important.
In being mindful of, for example “breathing in, I am aware I am breathing in” now opens a whole new world.
Because you suddenly become aware of just how difficult it is for the mind to do this, and how often it gets distracted.
And how addicted it is to ‘movement’.
So now the seeker understands the importance of Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know God”.
Because setting time aside for stillness and silence is actually to open the portal to God.
Once awareness develops.
Then the mind which in its pure state is the Buddha begins to become aware of itself and its attachments.
So the True Self becomes aware of the “me” with all its anxiety, attachments and neuroses.
And it starts the process of letting go or surrendering, through mindful and heartfulness practice.
Giving time to let go or learning how to surrender those thoughts and emotions that block us from perceiving God Within.
That compassion eventually brings wisdom.
And the wisdom learned naturally directs more compassion towards the human condition in yourself and others, which is the path of the Bodhisattva, or Liberator.
Because every time you help someone to free themselves of an anxious thought they have been struggling with, the path towards their own Buddhahood within gets clearer.”
The mind creates a screen, like a movie superimposed over reality, that is filled with names and images, words and concepts that are not the true picture. They are our perspective, much the same way as in the famous story of the blind men and the elephant. The blind men each touch a part of the elephant like her trunk or her tail and then describe the elephant based on this limited perspective. We are like that, projecting our partial experience of reality as the whole truth. This partial perspective is the veil that hinders us in having true relationships with others, that blocks us from interconnectedness, that creates separation between us and the sacred, with Source, God, Love. This is the movie screen of our thoughts that creates the illusion of separateness and creates a “me” and an “I” that does this and that. We divorce ourselves from the innocent divine self and no longer even feel this Oneness with Source but instead fall into the pit of conflict, divided thoughts and eventually despair.
The dream experience itself can be highly illuminating when seen as a practice, like dream yoga. When we awake from our dreams we know we have been dreaming, and when we awake from this illusion of “I” and “me” we begin to see the many beliefs we have about life are also like dreaming. They are merely perspectives, dreams, until we make them realities through our own experience, which then have the power to liberate us.
Here is a simple dream yoga technique to try.
The same presence you are practicing during your waking hours, being mindful of the breath, try applying to your sleeping hours.
Before you go to sleep, meditate using some of the meditation practices I have on the website or Soundcloud or your own practice or Yogananda’s handbook on Kriya Yoga that is available. Try doing at least 10 minutes a night.
As you go to sleep use the conscious breath or being mindful of your breathing to help you fall asleep.
Keep a dream journal beside your bed so you can note anything that occurs if you wake immediately following a dream,
If you wake, note down the dream and return to mindful breathing to put you back to sleep.
Conscious presence during dreams
A more advanced practice from Tibetan Buddhism
Work with the vital energies through Kriya Yoga as outlined by Yogananda and Babaji while you are awake. Gather the vital energies into the central channel, dissolve them and allow the experience of the clear light of being to enter. Then when dreams occur recognize them as dreams.
If this proves challenging then cultivate a strong resolution to retain conscious awareness in the dream state. When meditating, meditate on the throat chakra especially.
Even if you are not trained you can sometimes experience a clear dream and retain awareness in it. If you concentrate strongly on a particular activity all day you may often dream of it at night and be aware of the dream.
For example, it is most useful to meditate upon yourself as the mandala deity, so as the Christ or Guan Yin or any other deity you are attuned to as your Self and meditate also upon the guru within and practice devotion to him or her. Offer prayers that you may experience many dreams, that your dreams be clear and auspicious, and that you retain awareness in your dreams. You can practice using the mantra syllable OM and visualize it inside the central channel at the center of the throat chakra and hold awareness on that spot.
In addition you can try transformative exercises such as consciously initiating a dream pattern or transforming the dream altogether. You can project yourself on the rays of the sun or the moon to a celestial realm or to a faraway human realm and see what is there.
Another practice involves beyond-the-world dreams where you consciously project yourself in the dream to star fields or through star gates such as Sirius or the Pleiades, through Christ Grids from sacred spaces on the earth such as the capstone of the Great Pyramid at Giza, or into various buddhafields such as Sukhavati, Tushita, and Akanishta where you can meet the buddhas and bodhisattvas and listen to them and receive their teachings, activations and initiations. You can practice this during the day so that when it arrives in your dream at night you can be that much more aware and present.
Please note that the pure realms experienced in the initial stages of this practice are just reflections of the real realm. It is not that easy to experience the actual pure dimensions. Your consciousness must be moulded and shaped by your practice to be of the same purity.
Prophecies received of future happenings may be true and the same applies to dream visions of past lives. You should apply yogic techniques for increasing reliability such as can you repeat the experience several times and experience it and transform it if you wish and can you meditate in the dream and retain presence and experience the clear light of being.
(From the Six Yogas of Naropa.)
Love and soul blessings
NOTE : We are all exploring consciousness, existence and bliss together in the One Shared Heart. The dialogues we have here and the experiences we share are all important to our awakening so for this next week please share your dreams as you experience them, if you feel guided to, and I will too.