Confusion - Dreaming

In the morning there's the occasional, "Oh thank God (or Buddha?)! It was just a dream, relax." Or sometimes, "Oh how unfortunate, it was just a dream."

Then there's the situation, where you want someone to pinch you and tell you it is just a dream, but no, it doesn't happen - it seems to be really real. Damn it. Can't believe it. And on rare occasions you wonder if this is really happeneing to you right now. Normally things like this just happen in a dream (or a movie, or to other people), but it's real, isn't it? Cool:).

One night last week I had two dreams. In the morning I thought, well, that was a weird one. Then when I came around a corner in the office to my desk I saw someone (from the dream) and realized, "Oh, that other thing was just a dream too." Had just immediately forgotten the second one in the morning was a dream and must have filed it straight and wrongly in memory under real.


Confusion - Dreaming (TAN01) (from TAN01: Then and Now (class) 00:52:28.00 - 00:55:35.00)

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How can we understand this confusion? How many of you remember your dreams? Okay, in a dream does everything appear real?

Students: Yeah.

It may be somewhat more fluid than it is right now, but while you’re dreaming it appears real. One of the great teachers of the 19th century had a dream in which he was being chased by a lion. And he ran into a temple where one of the ancient heads of that tradition was sitting on a throne laughing his head off. He said to this guy, “You can’t be any great lama if you don’t even know that you’re being chased by a lion in a dream and you’re this frightened.” And then he woke up from the dream. But during the dream it feels very real.

How do you know you aren’t dreaming right now? This actually is a deep philosophical question. There is no way to know. How do we know we aren’t a dream in the mind of God? We don’t know. There is no way of telling. That may be a little disturbing to you, but there is no way of telling.

When I was in the three-year retreat, this was made very, very clear to us, because the retreat schedule is pretty demanding, and basically you’re functioning on four or five hours of sleep a night, six if you’re lucky.

You’re meant to be resting in your meditation, but you get tired. And several of us experienced this: we’d wake up, and we’d set up the offerings which was part of the morning ritual, and start doing our prayers and things like that. We’re all in our individual rooms.

It would be going quite nicely, and then we’d wake up [laughter], and we’d go, “What?” Because the offerings wouldn’t be done. Several times I had to wake up twice. In the first wake-up I was actually dreaming, but I had no idea that I was dreaming. And then I’d wake up and go “huh?”

So we don’t know. And that’s what this confusion is like. We experience all this stuff. It feels so real, we act as if this is it, but we really don’t know what the hell’s going on, at all. And the only thing we know is that we struggle. There are a couple of other things we know, but I’ll get to those in a minute.