Archives for posts with tag: anamnesis

The third preparation involves reviewing the day before going to sleep, and strengthening the intention to practice during the night. As you prepare for sleep, allow the memories of the day to arise. Whatever comes to mind recognize as a dream. The memories most likely to arise are of those experiences strong enough to affect the coming dreams.

Then develop the strong determination to recognize the dreams of the night for what they are. Make the strongest intention possible to know directly and vividly, while dreaming, that you are dreaming. T he intention is like an arrow that awareness can follow during the night, an arrow directed at lucidity in dream.

The Tibetan phrase we use for generating intention translates as “sending a wish.” We should have that sense here that we are making prayers and intentions and sending them to our teachers and to the buddhas and deities, promising to try to remain in awareness and asking for their help.


When a reaction arises, remind yourself that you, the object, and your reaction to the object are all dream. Think to yourself, “This anger is a dream. This desire is a dream. This indignation, grief, exuberance, is a dream.”

The truth in this statement becomes clear when you pay attention to the inner processes that produce emotional states: you literally dream them up through a complex interaction of thoughts, images, bodily states and sensations. Emotional reactivity does not originate “out there” in objects. It arises, is experienced, and ceases in you.

Every situation and reaction should be recognized as a dream. Do not just slap the sentence onto a piece of your experience; try to actually feel the dream-like quality of your inner life. When this assertion is actually felt, not just thought, the relationship to the situation changes, and the tight, emotional grip on phenomena relaxes. The situation becomes clearer and more spacious, and grasping and aversion are directly recognized as the uncomfortable constricts that they truly are.

The teachings generally refer to this particular practice as a method to give up attachments. There are healthy and unhealthy ways to give these up. It does one little good to suppress desires; they are then transformed into internal turmoil or external condemnations and intolerance.

And it also works against spiritual development to attempt to flee from pain through distraction or by tightening the body in order to choke off experience. It can be healthy to give up worldly life and become a monk or a nun or it can be an unhealthy attempt to escape difficult experiences through suppression and avoidance.

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.

When encountering this obstacle you may feel that your mind is calm, but in a passive, weak mental st8ate in which the concentration has no strength. It is important to recognize this state for what it is. It can be a pleasant and relaxed experience and, if mistaken for correct meditation, may cause the practitioner to spend years mistakenly cultivating it, with no discernible change in the quality of consciousness.

If your focus loses strength and your practice becomes lax, straighten your posture and wake up your mind. Reinforce the attention and guard the stability of presence. Regard the practice as something precious, which it is, and as something that will lead to the attainment of the highest realization, which it will. Strengthen the intention and automatically the wakefulness of the mind is strengthened.

Balancing the Prana

This is a simple practice one can do to balance the prana. Men should use the left ring finger to close the left nostril and exhale strongly from the right nostril. Imagine that all stress and negative emotions flow out with the exhalation. Then close the right nostril with the right ring finger and inhale deeply, very softly and gently, through the left nostril. After inhaling let all the air, the prana, pervade your entire body while you hold the breath for a short period. Then gently exhale and remain in a calm state.

Women reverse the order.

Repeating this again and again will balance one’s energy. The rough emotional prana is exhaled from the white channel and the blissful wisdom prana is inhaled through the red channel. Allow the neutral prana to pervade the entire body. Abide in that calm.

Dream and Reality

Any reaction to any situation–external or internal, waking or dreaming–that is rooted in grasping or aversion leaves a trace in the mind. As karma dictates reactions, the reactions sow further karmic seeds, which further dictate reactions, and so on. This is how karma leads to more of itself. It is the wheel of samsara, the ceaseless cycle of action and reaction.

The karmic traces left in the mind are like seeds. They require certain conditions in order to manifest. The karmic trace manifests when the right situation is encountered. The elements of the situation that support the manifestation of the karma are known as the secondary causes and conditions.

Once we really understand that each karmic trace is a seed for further karmically governed action, we can use that understanding to avoid creating negativity in our life, and instead create conditions that will influence our lives in a positive direction. Or, if we know how, we can allow the emotion to self-liberate as it arises, in which case no new karma is created.

You may ask why it is better to liberate emotion rather than to generate positive karma. The answer is that all karmic traces act to constrain us, to restrict us to particular identities. The goal of the path is complete liberation from all conditioning. This does not mean that, once one is liberated, positive traits such as compassion are not present. They are. But when we are no longer driven by karmic tendencies we can see our situation clearly and respond spontaneously and appropriately, rather than being pushed in one direction or pulled in another.

The relative compassion that arises from positive karmic tendencies is very good, but better is the absolute compassion that arises effortlessly and perfectly in the individual liberated from karmic conditioning. It is more spacious and inclusive, more effective, and free of the delusions of dualism.

In dream the karmic traces manifest in consciousness unfettered by the rational mind with which we so often rationalize away a feeling or a fleeting mental image. We can think of the process like this: during the day the consciousness illuminates the senses and we experience the world, weaving sensory and psychic experiences into the meaningful whole of our life. At night the consciousness withdraws from the senses and resides in the base.

If we have developed a strong practice of presence with much experience of the empty, luminous nature of mind, then we will be aware of and in this pure, lucid awareness. But for most of us the consciousness illuminates the obscurations, the karmic traces, and these manifest as dream.

The karmic traces are like photographs that we take of each experience. Any reaction or grasping or aversion to any kind of experience–to memories, feelings, sense perceptions or thoughts–is like snapping a photo. In the darkroom of our sleep we develop the film. Which images are developed on a particular night will be determined by the secondary conditions recently encountered.

Our consciousness, like the light of a projector, illuminates the traces that have been stimulated and they manifest as the images and experiences of the dream. We string them together like a film, as this is the way our psyches work to make meaning, resulting in a narrative constructed from conditioned tendencies and habitual identities: the dream.

If we abide in awareness during a dream, we can allow the karmic traces to self-liberate as they arise and they will not continue on to manifest in our life as negative states. As in waking life, this will only happen if we can remain in the non-dual awareness of rigpa, the clear light of the mind. If this is not possible for us, we can still develop tendencies to choose spiritually positive behavior even in our dreams until we can go beyond preferences and dualism altogether.

Ultimately, when we purify the obscurations until none remain, there is no film, no hidden karmic influences that color and shape the light of our consciousness. Because karmic traces are the roots of dreams, when they are entirely exhausted only the pure light of awareness remains: no movie, no story, no dreamer and no dream, only the luminous fundamental nature that is absolute reality. This is why enlightenment is the end of dreams and is known as “awakening.”


by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

If we cannot remain present during sleep, if we lose ourselves every night, what chance do we have to be aware when death comes? If we enter our dreams and interact with the mind’s images as if they are real, we should not expect to be free in the state after death.

Look to your experience in dreams to know how you will fare in death. Look to your experience of sleep ti discover whether or not you are truly awake.

. . .

In Tibet, new leather skins are put in the sun and rubbed with butter to make them softer. The practitioner is like the new skin, tough and hard with narrow views and conceptual rigidity. The teaching (dharma) is like the butter, rubbed in through practice. The sun is like direct experience; when both are applied the practitioner becomes soft and pliable.

But butter is also stored in leather bags. When butter is left in a bag for some years, the leather of the bag becomes hard as wood and no amount of new butter can soften it. Someone who spends many years studying the teachings, intellectualizing a great deal with little experience of practice, is like that hardened leather.

The teachings can soften the hard skin of ignorance and conditioning, but when they are stored in the intellect and not rubbed into the practitioner with practice and warmed with direct exprience, that person may become rigid and hard in his intellectual understanding.

We must be careful not to store up the teachings as only conceptual understanding lest that conceptual understanding becomes a block to wisdom. The teachings are not ideas to be collected, but a path to be followed.

11 June 1930

Dr. Jung: As you know, the public does not always buy the high-grade merchandise, they want to have things cheap; so it is quite possible and even very probable that his own new realizing powers are more or less unwilling to acquire that high-grade merchandise. Now, what would that mean? Well, this is a precious piece of masculine psychology. We have so often spoken critically of women, and here we come to men. I shall not spare them.

Mr. Schmitz: He does not realize it enough. It is unconscious.

Dr. Jung: That is right, and that is a very important point about men. You see, a man knows exactly when a thing is wrong or what it should be if it were right, and he is inclined to assume that, when he thinks the thing, it is done, because he is convinced of it in his mind. Yet it is not done at all. A man can write a book or preach a marvelous sermon about how people should behave without carrying out the principle at all in his private life. He does not live it. That is an entirely different consideration.

The spirit is strong, but the flesh is awfully¬† weak. The Yin power, the realization power, is very low, very inferior, it doesn’t follow suit, it doesn’t accept that wonderful thought and put it to work; it remains inert and passive and fails to move at all.

The thought enjoys itself in itself, revolves in itself and goes on revolving in itself, and nothing comes out of it. Reality goes on as it always has and nothing is changed, yet the man who is identical with that wonderful thought up in the air thinks it has changed a great deal. He thinks: I have an entirely different view of things and the world, therefore everything is different.

Yet when it comes down to hard facts nothing is different, everything is as it was. If such a man had a good Yin power, a good realizing power instead of an inferior one, he would feel at once that he thought but never realized, and therefore he had no right to think that way–that he shouldn’t think those things.

If he does think those things, he must realize that he has pledged himself. But that absolutism of thought and conviction is rarely to be found, as it is entirely a religious quality. Only a religious man has that quality, that Yin power, that puts his thoughts through into work. The mere intellectual has nothing of the kind, he has absolutely no realizing powers; it is air.

Thus the most important thing he can imagine turns out to be just words; to say it is nothing but words is not far from the truth. And this is so common that nearly all men believe it is words and not reality. When they hear somebody talking, I say about ninety-nine percent of all men surely assume that it is just words and not reality, because in ninety-nine cases that is true.

21 May 1930

You see, as long as man has but one function, he is just aware that he can do something, but he is always up against an overwhelming psychological condition, the three in the unconscious, the majority, on top of him.

Then he acquires a second function and becomes more complete. He gains more balance and acquires something like a philosophical consciousness. He can be aware of himself as such a psychological being. He can say: I want to do this or that, and he can also say: I see how foolish that is. While with only one function that is impossible, there is no reflection; it is only with the acquisition of the two functions that he has acquired a mirror. The left hand can then judge the right hand, and he has thereby gained a sort of divinity, a superior point of view.

The third function makes a second mirror. He can say: I see this fellow here who is watching that chap down there, and I see how he thinks and that he makes a wrong conclusion. With a fourth function there would be still more consciousness.

Obviously, it is a tremendous thing in the growth of consciousness that one can get behind oneself, that one can as a spectator again and again mirror oneself. Probably one can actually do it only to a limited extent, there are presumably certain restrictions to our consciousness, but one can see the possibility of infinite mirrorings and of infinite judgment. In that case, one would arrive naturally at a being who was so fabulously superior to conditions that it would be an almost limitless freedom, like the complete freedom of God that has not to obey conditions because it is the only condition that is.

Therefore the more functions one acquires, the more one deprives the divinity, or the magical factor, the mana factor, of its efficiency. It is as if one were undermining it, or hollowing it out, because one takes away from it and adds to oneself with every new point of view. So one lifts oneself up above conditions. That is the path of redemption in the East, the attainment of successive conditions of consciousness which gradually liberate man from the pairs of opposites, from the qualities, from concupiscentia, from the wheel of death and rebirth, as they express it.

Now, one would conclude that, through this detachment of the functions, we would arrive at a complete assimilation of the Trinity, in other words, a complete assimilation of the divine factor within ourselves. But then nothing would be left apparently. Or is that a wrong conclusion?

. . .

Dr. Jung: Yes, that is a terrible paradox, but you must not mix it up with philosophy. This is psychology, where we really move in paradoxes. The more divine, the farther from Earth–speaking psychologically, and from that you may conclude that God is a most inefficient being. But that is of course metaphysical. It may be true and it may not be true.

Mr. Schmitz: That is the reason why God incarnated himself in the Son. Empirically, he is not, he is incapable, and that is why he has created this terrible world. He must be not only in potentia but in actu.

Dr. Jung: Yes, that is why man is indispensable to God. Without man, God could do nothing. That is not metaphysical. I don’t believe in metaphysics, I only own to psychology, and in our psychology it is surely so–that God finds himself in a very helpless condition. We find that idea in old legends, in that cabalistic legend, for instance, that God in the beginning was all alone, there was nothing except himself, and his loneliness grew and grew to such an extent that he got a terrible headache from it, and realized that there should be something that was not himself.

Suppose one has a tremendous universal insight into things. One shrugs one’s shoulders and says: better that I know nothing at all, for then I could do something. Knowing so much would keep one out of existence,m one wouldn’t know whether one was alive or dead, one would be simply universal.So through that awareness one would be aware of functions, but the interesting thing is that when one is mirroring a thing one does not possess it.

. . .

Mr. Schmitz: Would you say that the divine in analysis might be the method of removing resistances against this honest attempt?

Dr. Jung: Yes, one could say that. For most people’s attempt is not honest, it is an illusion. They make heroic attempts to escape the real attempt, because that is the thing of which people are most afraid. The honest attempt is the worst danger.

Mr. Schmitz: Why danger?

Dr. Jung: Oh, danger because one is afraid of it. It is a risk; one dies by living.

14 May 1930

Mrs. Baynes: You said about this specific case, when you discussed this phase of the dream, that it was as if he were in such close participation mystique with his wife that he could take her as himself subjectively, and it was true that she also was going to be productive.

Dr. Jung: That is it. As you know, this man has practically no relation with his wife, he cannot talk to her because she much prefers to cling to traditional things, to stay in a safe refuge against the chaotic possibilities of the mind, as many a man clings to a safe marriage against erotic possibilities.

This absence of relationship is compensated in the unconscious. You see, when you are living with somebody with whom you have no real relationship, you are unconsciously connected. And that peculiar unconscious relationship produces a psychological condition which could be compared to a sort of continuum where both function, as if they were both in the same tank under water. They are under the same cover, in the same boat, which makes a particular kind of immediate relationship.

This unconscious relationship produces most peculiar phenomena, such as dreams which clearly do not belong to the individual. So when it is a matter of husband and wife, the husband may dream the dreams of the wife, or the other way around; or one of them may be forced to do something which proceeds not from his own psychology but from the psychology of the other. Those are symptoms of such a participation mystique.

Obviously, that man’s conscious relation to his wife is insufficient, so here we can assume an unconscious contamination in which he as well as his wife functions. You see, his wife has a marked resistance against any kind of thinking, as he has against his Eros side. She will not use her mind. A thing must be ready-made and safe, guaranteed for at least two thousand years, backed up by the highest authority, before she will accept it. It must be absolutely water- and air-tight and nothing to be changed.

Of course, that is perfectly unnatural; it is abnormal and machine-like; something has been killed, and it has therefore been compensated in her unconscious, where she produces extraordinary things of which we do not know. There she thinks furiously, there she is busy with all sorts of radical things, perhaps with religion. If we had her dreams we would see that. Her unconscious is in a real turmoil, and it is repressed and cannot boil over into the conscious, but in the night it creeps into the open canals of her husband’s brains.

His mind is open and he speaks it out and shocks her out of her wits, because it is her own stuff he is talking, the stuff she is talking in the night with the devils. And likewise, on the other side, what she says in the conscious is to a great extent brought forth by the unconscious feelings of his anima.

When the patient had this dream I didn’t tell him all this, because at that stage it would have been wrong to preach too much wisdom. It was more important that he should learn to make his own way in analysis, catch the feeling that he could handle the stuff. At first it was very strange to him, but now we shall see his attempts to interpret the dreams coming to the foreground, and I did not want to interfere with that.

In the case of such a man it is very important to be on good terms with his superior function, as in the same way it is wrong to put oneself in opposition to a woman’s Eros. Otherwise one works against a great power, which is too much waste of energy.