Archives for posts with tag: tenzin wangyal rinpoche

Often, relying on the intellect for understanding, we become satisfied with concepts. We can be conditioned to assume, upon hearing certain words, that we understand what is meant without ever having had direct experience of what the word indicates. Instead of relying on direct apprehension of the truth behind the concept, we consult the conceptual models we have constructed of that which we wish to understand.

This makes it easy to stay lost in the moving mind; it is mistaking the map for the territory, or the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. While we may end up with an impressive description of the truth, we also end up not living in that truth.

The conceptual mind is incapable of direct perception; it recognizes things only through projected mental images and through language, which is itself inferential. The conceptual mind does not need to stay oriented in the sensual present, but can exist in its own fabrications.

This capacity of the conceptual mind to model direct experience, though of inestimable value to us as humans, is the cause of one of the most insistent obstacles in practice. Before and after direct experience of the nature of mind, the conventional mind attempts to conceptualize the experience. We can then think we know the nature of mind when we are only experiencing a relationship to a concept.


Although the purest desire is the longing for the wholeness and completion of full realization of rigpa, because we do not directly know the nature of mind, the desire becomes attached to other things.

If we directly observe desire rather than becoming fixated on the object of desire, the desire dissolves. And if we can abide in pure presence, the desire, the desiring subject, and the object of desire will all dissolve into their empty essence, revealing the clear light.

We can use the satisfaction of desire as a means of practice. There is joy in the union of emptiness and clarity. At the moment when desire is satisfied, the desire ceases and the apparent duality between desiring subject and object of desire collapses. When that duality collapses, the base, the kunzhi, is there, exposed, though the force of our karmic habits usually carries us into the next movement of duality, leaving a gap in our experience, almost an unconsciousness, rather than the experience of rigpa.

For example, there is the practice of sexual union between man and woman. Normally our experience of orgasm is one of pleasant dreaminess, almost unconsciousness, an exhaustion of desire and restlessness that comes about through fulfillment of desire. But we can integrate that bliss with awareness; rather than becoming lost, if we maintain full awareness without separating the experience into an observing subject and the experience being observed, we can use the situation to find the sacred.

The moving mind drops away for a moment and reveals the empty base; integrating that moment with awareness, we have the integration of emptiness and bliss that is spoken of particularly in tantric teachings.

We can train ourselves so that pleasure itself is a reminder to come to full awareness, to bring awareness to the present moment, the body, the senses, and to let go of distraction. This is one way to integrate desire with clear light. When pleasure is used as a door to practice, the pleasure is not lost; we need not be anti-pleasure. When the subject and object dissolve in clear light, then the union of emptiness and clarity is experienced and there is joy.

Tibetans have a saying: “The more wisdom is present, the less thoughts there will be.”

The third kind of sleep, which is realized through sleep yoga, is clear light sleep. It is also called the sleep of clarity. It occurs when the body is sleeping but the practitioner is neither lost in darkness nor in dreams, but instead abides in pure awareness.

Clear light is defined in most texts as the unity of emptiness and clarity. It is the pure, empty awareness that is the base of the individual.

“Clear” refers to emptiness, the mother, the base, kunzhi. “Light” refers to clarity, the son, rigpa, pure innate awareness. Clear light is direct realization of the unity of rigpa and the base, of awareness and emptiness.

Ignorance is compared to a dark room in which you sleep. Awareness is a lamp in that room. No matter how long the room has been dark, the moment the lamp of awareness is lit the entire room becomes luminous.

There is a buddha in the flate, the dharmakaya. You are that luminosity. You are the clear light; it is not an object of your experience or a mental state.

When the luminous awareness in the darkness is blissful, clear, unmoving, without reference, without judgement, without center or circumference, that is rigpa. It is the nature of mind.

When thought is observed in awareness with neither grasping nor aversion, it dissolves. When the thought–the object of awareness–dissolves, the observer or subject also dissolves.

The second kind of sleep is samsaric sleep, the sleep of dreams. Samsaric sleep is called “great delusion” because it seems endless.

Unlike the sleep of ignorance, in which the gross moving mind ceases, samsaric sleep requires the participation of the gross mind and the negative emotions.

While it is the body that calls us to the sleep of ignorance, emotional activity is the primary cause of dream. The secondary causes are actions based in grasping or aversion.

The sleep of ignorance, which we call “deep sleep,” is a great darkness. It feels like a darkness thousands of years old, and it is even older: it is the essence of ignorance, the root of samsara. No matter how many nights we sleep, every night for thirty years or seventy, we cannot finish sleeping. We return to it again and again as if it recharges us, and it does.

Ignorance is the sustenance of samsara and, as samsaric beings, when we dissolve into the sleep of ignorance, our samsaric lives are fed. We wake stronger, our samaric existence refreshed. This is “great ignorance” bnecause it is immeasurable.

We experience the sleep of ignorance as a void or blank, in which there is no sense of self and no consciousness. Think of a long, tiring day, rainy weather, a heavy dinner, and the resultant sleep in which there is neither clarity nor sense of self. We disappear. One manifestation of ignorance in the mind is the mental drowsiness that pulls us toward such dissolution in unconsciousness.

Innate ignorance is the primary cause of sleep. The necessary secondary causes and conditions for its manifestation are tied to the body and the body’s weariness.

When we fall asleep with mind and body disconnected, they each go their own way. T he body holds on to stress and tensions accumulated during the day, and the mind, too, continues as it was during the day, running from one place to another, one time to another, ungrounded and lacking any steadiness and calm. It exists in an anxious or drowsy state with very little presence.

To change this situation, to have healthier sleep and stronger results in dream practice, spend a few minutes before sleep reconnecting to presence and calm.

As suggested earlier, imagine being surrounded by enlightened protective beings, particularly by dakinis. Imagine them protecting you as a mother does her child, radiating love and compassion toward you.

Then, feeling secure and at peace, pray, “May I have a clear dream. May I have a lucid dream. May I understand myself through dream.”

Repeat these lines again and again, out loud or internally. This is so simple to do, but it will change the quality of sleep and dreams and you will be more rested and grounded in the morning.

Rather than waiting for experience to alter the breath, we can deliberately alter the breath to change our experience. The nine breaths of purification is a short practice to clear and purify the channels and relax the mind and body.

Sit in a cross-legged meditation posture. Place your hands palm-up in your lap, with the left hand resting on the right. Bend your head just a little to straighten the neck.

Visualize the three channels of energy in your body. The central channel is blue and rises straight through the center of the body; it is the size of a cane, and widens slightly from the heart to its opening at the crown of the head.

The side channels are the diameter of pencils and join the central channel at its base, about four inches below the navel. They rise straight through the body to either side of the central channel, curve around under the skull, pass down behind the eyes, and open at the nostrils. In women the right channel is red and the left is white. In men the right channel is white and the left is red.




Men: Raise the right hand with the thumb pressing the base of the ring finger. Closing the right nostril with the ring finger, inhale green light through the left nostril. Then, closing the left nostril with the right ring finger, exhale completely through the right nostril. Repeat this for three inhalations and exhalations.

With each exhalation, imagine all the obstacles linked with male potencies expelled from the white channel in the form of light-blue air. These include illnesses associated with the winds (pranas) as well as obstacles and obscurations connected with the past.

Second Three Breaths

Change hands and nostrils and repeat for three inhalations and exhalations. With each exhalation, imagine all obstacles linked with female potencies expelled from the red channel in the form of light-pink air. These include illnesses associated with bile as well as obstacles and obscurations associated with the future.

Third Three Breaths

Place the left hand on the top of the right in the lap, palms up. Inhale green healing light into both nostrils. Visualize it moving down the side channels to the juncture with the main channel, four finger widths below the navel. With the exhalation, visualize the energy rising up the central channel and out the top of the head. Complete three inhalations and exhalations.

With each exhalation, imagine all potencies for the illnesses associated with hostile spirits expelled from the top of the head in the form of black smoke. These include illnesses associated with phlegm as well as obstacles and obscurations associated with the present.

The importance of the four preparations to the later stages of dream yoga cannot be overstated. They are much more powerful than they appear to be. Furthermore, they are practices anyone can do. They are more psychologically oriented than many practices and will present no difficulty for the practitioner.

Simply doing a practice before going to bed may be ineffective, but with consistent practice of the preparations during the day it becomes it becomes much easier to attain lucidity in dream and to then go on to the further practices. Using these practices makes everything that happens a cause for the return to presence, and this will bring great benefit to daily life as well as lead to success in dream yoga.

If you do not have immediate results, even if you must practice for a long time before achieving lucidity in dream, there is no need to be discouraged. Do not think that it is useless and that you cannot accomplish the practice. Think about the differences in how you thought and acted when you were ten years old, relative to now–there is constant change.

Do not allow yourself to get stuck, believing that whatever limits you have in your practice today will continue in the future. Knowing that nothing remains the same, you need not believe that the way things manifest now are the way they must continue.

Experiencing the vivid, luminous, dream-like qualities of life allows your experience to grow more spacious, lighter, and clearer. When lucidity is developed in dream and in waking, there is much greater freedom to shape life positively, and to finally give up preferences and dualisms altogether and remain in non-dual presence.

The fourth foundational practice is engaged upon awaking in the morning. It further cultivates strong intention and also strengthens the capacity to remember the events of the night.

Begin by reviewing the night. Did you dream? Were you aware that you were in a dream? If you dreamt but did not attain lucidity, you should reflect, “I dreamt but did not recognize the dream as a dream. But it was a dream.” Resolve that next time you enter a dream you will become aware of its true nature while still in the dream.

If you find it difficult to remember dreams, it can be helpful, throughout the day and particularly before sleep, to generate a strong intention to remember dreams. You can also record dreams in a notepad or with a tape recorder, as this will reinforce the habit of treating your dreams as something valuable. The very act of preparing the notebook or recorder at night serves to support the intention to recall the dream upon waking. It is not difficult for anyone to remember dreams once the intention to do so is generated and sustained, even over just a few days.

Finally, during the morning period, generate a strong intention to remain consistent in the practice throughout the day. And pray with your full heart for success; prayer is like a magical power that we all have and forget to use.

This practice merges into the first foundational practice, recognizing all experience as a dream. In this fashion the practice becomes uninterrupted around the wheel of day and night.

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.