Shinzen Young On Lucid Dreaming and The Five Ways

I’ve been applying Shinzen Young’s Five Ways approach to my meditation practice for almost a year now and all I can say is that I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it. It had dramatically improved my sitting meditation, relieved my migraine headaches, made me consistent with my open practice, and most importantly, it gave me a general sense of happiness and contentment in life. In addition, by applying the Five Ways, I’m also able to induce lucid dreams more frequently. That’s why I have incorporated it in my regular practice. See Vipassana-Induced Lucid Dream (VILD).

However, I had some questions on how to continue with my meditation practice whenever I find myself lucid in my dream. After all, the purpose of my lucid dream practice is to extend my meditative awareness within the dream and flow from there. So I submitted a question to Shinzen so that he could shed some light on it.

Question: When doing the Five Ways in a lucid dream, should I label the experience Touch, Sight, Sound or Image/Talk ? (For those who are not familiar with Shinzen’s lingo [pdf], I’m asking Shinzen whether to note lucid dream sensory experiences as “objective” reality or “subjective” reality.) See Shinzen’s answer in this video.

Thanks to HPK and Shinzen for entertaining my questions. May happiness be.

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Comments (3)

  1. Duncan wrote::

    Woah! *Really* interesting! Thank you C4 and Shinzen!

    A couple of thoughts… Shinzen is giving advice here on how to meditate during the dream state, not necessarily on how to explore that state. Although he advocates noting sensations *as* whatever they would have seemed to be in sensory reality, he’s not saying anything specific here about their true nature. Noting them as their sensory analogues is just a way to keep the noting going without hesitation or confusion – just to keep the meditation going.

    This raises the interesting point about whether it’s okay to note things *wrongly* during meditation. Now, ‘sight’ in a dream is *not* actually sight; ‘sound’ in a dream is *not* actually sound. Yet Shinzen says it’s okay to note them as such (i.e. wrongly) because it’s (presumably) the noting itself that matters.

    Is the same true in the waking world when we meditate? Maybe not, because in the waking world we need to engage with reality for what it actually is. In the dream world, however, by following Shinzen’s advice we are not taking interest in that world for what it actually is, but simply seizing an opportunity to continue meditating…

    Or am I missing something? ;-)

    Monday, November 30, 2009 at 3:05 am #
  2. c4chaos wrote::

    Duncan,

    thanks for chiming in.

    you said: “Shinzen is giving advice here on how to meditate during the dream state, not necessarily on how to explore that state.”

    exactly. the lucid dream state is one of the many realms within the Intermediate Realms. i think that Shinzen is coming from the context of “Intermediate Realm is cool but better wake up first before exploring your heart out.”

    “Although he advocates noting sensations *as* whatever they would have seemed to be in sensory reality, he’s not saying anything specific here about their true nature.”

    i agree. then again, i don’t think Shinzen would make grand claims on the “true” nature of things. most of the time what he talks about is sensory reality rather making grand claims on absolute reality (or true nature of things).

    “This raises the interesting point about whether it’s okay to note things *wrongly* during meditation. Now, ’sight’ in a dream is *not* actually sight; ’sound’ in a dream is *not* actually sound. Yet Shinzen says it’s okay to note them as such (i.e. wrongly) because it’s (presumably) the noting itself that matters.”

    yes, it’s the *noting* itself that matters, the labeling is just secondary. take note that Shinzen defines “noting” and “labeling” as different activities (see “How to Note and Label“). labeling can be arbitrary, it’s the noting itself that fosters *concentration*, *clarity*, and *equanimity*. the “goal” is to awaken within the “dream”. from that context, lucid dream and waking reality are the same. so the Five Ways approach should apply to both.

    “Is the same true in the waking world when we meditate? Maybe not, because in the waking world we need to engage with reality for what it actually is.”

    they’re similar but not the same. the dream state is more malleable, more primordial than the waking state. with enough lucidity, it’s relatively easier to observe/contemplate/flow with impermanence in the dream. my intention is to make lucid dream as my laboratory, in which the “goal” of the experiment is awakening.

    B. Alan Wallace has a good description of lucid dreaming as an experiment. check out “Dream Practices: Comparing Dream Yoga and Lucid Dreaming” on Buddhist Geeks.

    “In the dream world, however, by following Shinzen’s advice we are not taking interest in that world for what it actually is, but simply seizing an opportunity to continue meditating…”

    exactly. and that is my overall attitude towards lucid dreaming practice. i learned some lucid dreaming techniques from Carlos Castaneda (see the “The Art of Dreaming“). but i prefer a more direct plunge into the Source before doing more explorations.

    my two cents.

    ~C

    Monday, November 30, 2009 at 8:38 am #
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    Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 5:02 am #