Monday, July 18, 2011

Buddhism and Dreams

I have always been fascinated by the twisting (il)logic of dreams.  Since I have moved my dream journal to this blog, I thought I would investigate what Buddhist beliefs say about dreams.  One person suggested to me that we shouldn't focus too much on dreams because it distracts us from waking life goals.  I agree that we shouldn't get completely wrapped up in dreams, but I also think that dreams can be a learning experience.  So, I took to the Internet to see what other people think. suggests:
"Dreams are not thought of as being illusions, but depict the illusions of our everyday experience of life. The very nature of dreams are expressive of the complicated realm of fears, longings and mental concepts we are deeply enmeshed in. Nightmares especially show how deeply involved our waking self is with the internal world of passionate feelings and imagery." writes that dreams are a simile for emptiness:
"Dreams symbolize the changing and impermanent nature of all things known to the senses. Sights, sounds, smells, flavors, sensations of touch and thoughts are all dream-like, fleeting, and ultimately unobtainable. By pursuing and grasping material things or ephemeral states, we create the causes for misery and suffering. Those desire-objects are not real and permanent. When they break up and move on, we will experience grief, if we can’t let go. The hallmark of living beings is that we are “sleeping, “ unawakened to the truth of the emptiness and impermanence at the nature of conditioned things. This covering of sleep and lack of awareness is called “ignorance,” and it makes us in our waking state, from the Buddha’s viewpoint, look as if we are dreaming."

I think that dream analysis can help anyone realize flaws in his or her thinking, unhealthy attachments, and can cut through the delusions of the conscious mind to see what we subconsciously know about circumstances.  I would agree that the Buddhist view of dreams is not to get too attached to them because, like everything else in life, they are fleeting and impermanent.  When we wake, we sometimes notice how silly our thinking in dreams is, which gives us the opportunity to practice mindfulness and examine our flawed thinking in waking life.  Also, if you begin to record your dreams, you will notice that you suddenly remember more of your dreams, which is a great example of how the mind can be trained.

What do you think about dream analysis?  Have you found it fruitful?  Or is it just another time waster?

Posted as part of Much Love Monday.


Anonymous said...

as funny as it might sound, i actually enjoy dreaming at times. i know how people always say that it's not good to dream because it interrupts the sleep and such but it's almost like an adventure. an escape from "Reality". u agree? :)

Lisa said...

What a conversation! I think, as with anything else, the analysis can be beneficial if done mindfully. I struggled for a bit with "how does one plan" when trying to just focus on the moment? I found the answer somewhere - when you are planning, plan. (As with "when you are doing the dishes, do the dishes"). Dreams are an oft-forgotten aspect of life and deserve recognition. Everything is fleeting and impermanent - thus, just as deserving of our attention as something else. And yet, it is all moment-by-moment conscious awareness...getting caught in the dream-world or any other world takes us from the moment. Great - now I'm excited about my dreams tonight! :)

G said...

thank you for stopping by my blog, and for adding the link - it looks great with the picture you chose! interesting post about dreams .. i once tried keeping a dream journal - i found it hard to maintain and often what i had written didn't quite make sense .. definitely interesting though! x

Katerina said...

I love to dream. I only wish we could record them and play them back for use as further analysis. (Or sometimes just for a laugh.)
I've always thought an inability to recall your dreams was perhaps a blockage of subconscious intuition. (Not every time but for those who claim to never dream at least).
I've received some wacky messages through dreams though often they help me sort out my honest feelings about situations and unconscious desires.
I feel dreams can be just another tool for self development/ self awareness so long as we don't get completely caught up in them. Sometimes they are just silly figments of an overactive imagination and a way to process the going ons of ones day hardly making sense at all.
The human mind/psyche is a fascinating place we couldn't even begin to hope to completely understand. But dream analysis is a fun way of trying.

Thanks for the add by the way. Glad it brought me across to your blog
Kat :)

Ani said...

I love the great contributions you guys have made to this post with your comments. Thank you so much.

@Blisschic- I've read that we dream several different dreams every night but usually can't remember them. I've also heard people say that they feel that dreams, especially lucid dreams, disrupt their sleep. But is it true? I'm not sure.

I also agree with the adventure/escape idea, but it makes me wonder, has anyone ever become addicted to dreaming? I'm learning through Keith's addiction problems, which I wrote about in the post before this, that addiction has a lot to do with escaping reality. I can also see how lucid dreaming might have addictive qualities. What do you think?

@Lisa- You have a very good point. We often forget to be in the moment. Even when we try to be mindful, it's easy to get distracted. Your comment reminded me to simply focus on the "now". I never really thought about dreams deserving just as much attention as everything else, but I think you're right.

@Georgi- I've found it gets better as you record your dreams more regularly. For about five years I recorded my dreams almost daily, but I'm just starting up again now, after a long break. Did you mean that your dreams themselves are hard to understand? Or is it your handwriting? For me, it's the latter.

Check out to see why I haven't been recording so many dreams. Sometimes I can't even understand myself. Well, actually a lot of the time.

@Kat- I think the processing part is vital as an outlet for feelings that we might not express or even realize we have because the conscious mind diligently attempts to avoid some of those thoughts and feelings. Anyone know the Freudian term for this? I'm drawing a blank at the moment.

I'm not a TV watcher much, but I'd totally watch a YouTube channel of dream re-enactment videos. I think it would be fascinating and probably really humorous too! Anyone ever seen a YouTube channel like this?

Arti said...

I feel that one should dream because those who dont never get theirs fulfilled!!! Dream Big and work hard to achieve your dreams!!
Have a fabulous week ahead:)

Coleen said...

Wow, that was interesting about dreams. I rarely remember mine.
Following from s-b, read my blog. Hope you'll follow on mine too.

Coleen in Ukraine

Kreatita T said...

Sometimes I can relate my dreams to my everyday situations / fears /... They help me to think over the situation.

S-B greetings!

Marina said...

This is such an interesting & spiritual type of blog you have here :) I don't see many of such nowadays. Back to the topic, I do agree that dreams do help anyone realize flaws in his or her thinking because for me, after an intense dream, I find myself thinking back about what the dream could be to me..

- Marina (merreena - swap-bot)

Ani said...

@Arti's suggestion reminds me of my favorite quote, "Listen to your dreams. Those are the sounds that no one else can hear." -Kobi Yamada