Dear Dreamers of the Natural Way,
?Once upon a time, Chuang Tzu dreamed that he was a butterfly, a butterfly fluttering about, enjoying itself. It did not know that it was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly he awoke with a start and he was Chuang Tzu again. But he did not know whether he was Chuang Tzu who had dreamed that he was a butterfly, or whether he was a butterfly dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu. Between Chuang Tzu and the butterfly there must be some distinction. This is what is called the transformation of things?.
– Readings from World Scriptures ? trans. by Andrew Wilson
The question of whether our life is being dreamed for us by some Cosmic Dreamer or we are dreaming our body and our life has long been discussed in spiritual circles. For most people, the dream world is considered unreal, a byproduct or hallucination of some physical brain process. Its essentially the modern scientific world view – only the physical brain/world is defined as real. Its really just a statement that because the scientists can manipulate it, matter is real to them.
But what would happen if you could intervene in the dream world, and express your will in the nether world? What if you could shape it as definitively as the multitudes of choices in daily life shape your physical world experience? This is what spiritual scientists/alchemical meditators do: they lawfully manipulate the life force to achieve greater harmony and balance. This is a very different process than dream interpretation, of which there are many schools and systems that analyze dreams after the dream is over.
Taoist dream practice is about present moment interaction with the forces that control the dream plane. Since those forces appear to gain control while we are sleeping, they are traditionally called the forces of the ?night side? or the ?dark side?. Does this make the dark side evil?
Well, ask yourself ? is sleep evil? It is, after all, the realm labeled by modern psychology as the ?subconscious? in which many evil things might appear to happen ? you might find yourself killing or being killed. But if you love to sleep, and consider yourself a good (at least non-evil) person, what does it mean to be daily refreshed by the dark side?
Is the violence and sexuality that many experience in dreams a form of ?necessary evil?, needed to balance out what is repressed by daylight? Have we made some kind of unconscious pact with the Devil ? s/he will recharge our body batteries to let us live on earth another day, but only if we surrender our consciousness to Him/Her for eight hours?
Most people never consider these questions deeply, because they are afraid of things that go bump in the dark. They don?t want to know the answer, they only want to wake up refreshed, and pretend that the waking self is the only real self. The truth underlying this denial of the dark side is that the need to sleep ? to go unconscious – is the single most powerful thought form on planet earth! Stronger than sex, hunger, religion, political power, etc.
This may be why Taoist dream practice is considered to be the most advanced form of meditation ? its very easy to fall asleep during the process, to succumb to the thought form that ?I must go unconscious now?. Meditators of all traditions commonly think of their practice as a way of merging with their spiritual self or the Divine Spirit. But think about it ? does Spirit go to sleep?
If you think Divine Spirit, the ?All-that-Is? or total all-embracing consciousness of Nature also needs to sleeps eight hours a night, and that like humans, it is subject to cycles of night and day, then you need not bother studying Taoist dream practice. Likewise, if you believe that there is a Light Side that will someday vanquish the Dark Side, that whatever refreshes us during sleep needs to be killed, then you should not explore Tao Dream Practice.
Only if you are willing to explore and embrace the dark side as an equally important aspect of the whole should you attempt to manage your dream state. Tao Dream Practice is a method for managing sleep and the dark side as if it were an equally ordinary part of life as the day/Light side.
Because it effectively doubles the amount of time available to cultivate yourself, it is considered a shortcut. But the extra time available is the least important aspect.
The truth is, everyone has dreams about what they want in their life, and its ordinary to hope that they can manifest these dreams. This Day dreaming-manifesting process is no different in principle than the night dreaming-manifesting process. But there is a difference in effectiveness ? at night, there is no resistance from the dark side, because you have become the dark side.
So you can manifest what you truly need for spiritual development without struggle. That?s the shortcut: no resistance. That is why we love to sleep ? its the only time we are living without resistance. So sleep is an unconscious form of ?wu wei? –
living without coercive action, without trying to push the river. So during sleep, we can get profound answers to what we need from life. The ?genies? of the night side can become our ?genius? by day. Many of mankind?s greatest breakthroughs have thus been dreamed at night by artists, inventors, scientists or others struggling with seemingly unsolvable problems.
I used to run a ?Night School? in the dream plane, where all my friends would come and I would teach them to fly. It was just a gift I had. Flying dreams are one of the most tangible signs of achieving conscious state of non-resistance. In the astral plane its easy to defy gravity, but its still quite a thrill if your mind is awake, simultaneously aware of the force of gravity pulling on your physical body laying on the bed fast asleep.
Anyway, I finally closed that Night School, and decided it was time to open a Day School for living without resistance. That is really what all my ten qigong (chi kung) and inner alchemy Tao Home Study courses are about. So eventually conscious movement, breath, and inner mind meditation cultivates an energy body that is equally comfortable functioning in the Day or Night modes.
What happens when you manage dream states is ultimately no different than managing what we call physical states and their underlying energetic structure. They are both part of the same chi field. But if you can?t come to my Day School ? live or on audio – you can still contact me ? or anyone else who is willing to assist you ? at night. But it helps to know the method.
Dreaming the Inner Smile with you,
?Who takes Heaven as his ancestor, Virtue as his home,
the Tao as his door, and who becomes change ? is a Sage.?
? Chuang Tzu, Inner Chapters