One: Changing the Karmic Traces

A version of the first foundational practice is rather well known in the West, because dream researchers and others interested in dream have found that it helps to generate lucid dreaming. It is as follows: throughout the day, practice the recognition of the dream-like nature of life until the same recognition begins to manifest in dream.

Upon waking in the morning, think to yourself, “I am awake in a dream.” When you enter the kitchen, recognize it as a dream kitchen. “It’s all a dream,” you think to yourself, “this is a dream.” Remind yourself of this constantly throughout the day.

The emphasis should actually be on you, the dreamer, more than on the objects of your experience. Keep reminding yourself that you are dreaming up your experiences: the anger you feel, the happiness, the fatigue, the anxiety–it is all part of the dream.

In this way a new tendency is created in the mind, that of looking at experience s insubstantial, transient, and intimately related to the mind’s projections. As phenomena are see not be fleeting and essenceless, grasping decreases. Every sensory encounter and mental event becomes a reminder of the dream-like nature of experience. Eventually this understanding will arise in dream and lead to the recognition of the dream state and the development of lucidity.

Imagine yourself as an illusion, as a dream figure, with a body that lacks solidity. Imagine your personality and various identities as projections of mind. Maintain presence, the same lucidity you are trying to cultivate in dream, while sensing yourself as insubstantial and transient, made only of light. This creates a very different relationship with yourself that is comfortable, flexible and expensive.

In doing these practices, it is not enough to simply repeat again and again that you are in a dream. The truth of the statement must be felt and experienced beyond the words. Use the imagination, senses, and awareness in fully integrating the practice with felt experience.

When you do the practice properly, each time you think that you are in a dream, presence becomes stronger and experience more vivid. If there is not this kind of immediate qualitative change, make certain that the practice has not become only the mechanical repetition of a phrase, which is of little benefit.

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