Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
April 30 1991
Tonight we are starting a new series, and although it is untraditional from the Buddhist path and presentation, I think it is beneficial and productive to good realization because often we take Buddhism and the techniques presented as somehow there is still something between that and myself as an entity, or myself as an experiencing person. Therefore, working with one's dreams tends to make one more integrated one's spiritual practice. I think you will find much of what is presented in the meditation techniques is very applicable but because perhaps being under the name Buddhist presentation, we put is as something that we are going to do, sort of like church on Sunday or something like that, and because it is in that category, we disassociate it from being an everyday experience. So in working with dreams, which is what we are going to be striving towards, that will help to bridge the gap and make it a more everyday event.
You attitude and thought patterns of the day establish how your dreams are experienced. Therefore when you have weird dreams, it makes you more conscious. Dreams which are telling you something make you realize that your attitude is not in harmony right now because I am having these unpleasant experiences. Or maybe I am having pleasant experiences so maybe my attitude is very productive of this particular experience. So dreams are an indicator of attitude or perspective we can have. They are beneficial and I think bring a whole new life and vitality into one's practice if one uses that.
To start this, we are not going to talk about dreams. They are your own individual personal imagery that you will experience and I cannot talk about those other than giving some guidelines. But I am sure each of you have outrageous and silly and different experiences as you dream. Therefore, how to bring that into a perspective that we can understand what is happening for ourselves, and taking that, if I moved back to the Buddhist ideal, which is working for the benefit of others, striving for self realizations so one can abetter benefit sentient beings, that is the ideal one should strive to move to. There is ideal there.
But if you want to understand your dreams, and give context to whom you are, one has to step back into the basic being. And, there is a theme, what could be termed a central shaft which things pivot around. That is the image I want you to become familiar with to have as your self. That there is a central theme for your existence. And then, you formulate or establish the various things around you. That is then the statement of your existence, and that is the theme you are running on. And you are expressing or manifesting yourself in images around this theme.
So if you want to understand your dreams a little more, or understand the imagery that is coming in your dreams, such as why am I getting this image, and why am I experiencing the sorts of experiences I am, we might have a terrifically clear mind saying this is what I want to do with myself. As I say, for a Buddhist, I want to gain self realization. Or whatever. And although we have that as a personal ideal, if we go into ourselves we have all of these other experiences and things which happen to us. And, why? Why am I experiencing these and not a paragon of virtue or something really nice I am trying to be. And I have these other things, something is indicating something is wrong or not in harmony or correct.
For this evening I want to put you through an observation. I don't think you can do it with an introverted aspect of observation. They way that you are going to come to some conclusion about it is more what you are doing. Physical activity versus your intellectual idealism. Because if you can touch base with what you do with yourself as an activity, you will actually understand how real your ideals are. If you have ideals which are practical and functional within you, or whether they are only idealistic thoughts in your brain. And that is important to differentiate between them, because although your ideals will set a certain tone, the actual activities indicate where you are at. And therefore you can judge better and gain a better understanding of your dream images.
This evening I want to term as the theme. What is your theme? We will take the shaft which is the movement of the self towards happiness. I like the idea of what could be a theme which would apply to all of us, the easiest theme is I want to be happy, I do not want to suffer. And that is universal. Each can apply it to themselves and observe what you do about it. The job you have. The work you undertake. The person you live with. The people you don't live with. The type of activities you do in the day and in the evening. All the things you do are directly related to your pursuit of what you consider to be happiness. Your pursuit of what you consider to be the avoidance of suffering. What you do to make things at least manageable.
To get in touch with that theme you have to touch base drives. In looking at yourself, looks at the activity you do land have done which indicate that drive is there. For example, some of you have partners, some of you do not have partners in life. In that way, you can say there is a statement being made about me, about my theme. And this is what I am doing. We do have an ideal and we do have a manifestation of that. So you can say there is a definite need or amount of energy applied by me in that area. I have pursued a particular person to live with and I have that person. Or I have a certain amount of energy which is looking for the potential of a relationship and is something which is there in a way which is functioning. Of course it's fulfillment or non fulfillment is affecting you.
Or, maybe you have no interest in a relationship. Why is that? Again sometimes those areas where we have a complete disinterest is a fundamental fact of existence and indicates something.
In Jungian psychology, which I base these next few weeks on, the greater sense of being is termed self, and the term complex is that which exists within ourself and how we function. I am gong to state that in a little different way to help you look at yourself. So, you have this theme. And that theme is manifesting itself in activities. There is one area involved with relationship. Where do you stand in regards to your relationship. You need to see that you have an ideal, an ideal of having the right partner for example. But there are also the activities you do. For example, you are flirting with people sometimes. Or maybe you find yourself acting with people in a particular way. Or being aggressive to another person in a particular way. These are activities which indicate what is going on in you and is something about your theme.
Or you could take the ideal that we want to be happy and not suffer. And if you took that basic, idea, I want to be happy and not suffer, and ask what do I do? I am going to work everyday, what do I do about my work? Am I involved in my work or am I doing it dispassionately. Or am I actually detesting each moment I do it? Where do I stand in that?
The more you start to realize how you relate to the overall picture of the self, and I have the idea of a central shaft or theme, and then there is a broader pyramid which goes around that which then has the details of what that theme is. And if you took one section here, and term it work. And the next section here, and term it relationship. And you could take the next section here and term it as personal self. I think the theme you could identify as I want to be happy. Then you could apply it to the different areas such as work, relationships, body health, and personal psyche, like where is your mind at, what sort of positions does your personality take in regards to that.
This is a big subject, but if you become more observant of this aspect of yourself, then your dreams will be understood for what they are manifesting about you. Because in your dreams will be certain themes, certain things will appear. Why does your mother appear in your dreams? Or a particular style of male or female appear in my dreams? Or why do particular situations appear. Violent situations or aggressive situations. situations where there is a war going on? Why are these particular situations always coming to you?
This is a long term process and I am not in a rush to go into this thing. But if you want to understand particular dream images it is interesting and something which happens regularly and has an effect on us. You could appreciate it as insight into yourself because they are you. The imagery produced is you. They are not imported. The producer, writer, and cast is you. But there is a central shaft. I want to be happy and I don't want to suffer.
And we have this round circle with four parts. Work. What you are doing for work which falls into I want to be happy and I don't want to suffer. Another, relationship, close relationships, and in this I want to be happy and I don't want suffer. What is happening in that area. The next one, body and health, what are you doing about your body and health? SAnd last, we could term our attitude which refers to many things but we will say, what is our general philosophy about life? And that is interesting, we have a philosophy but how much do we live up to our philosophy.
So often we are not aware of our theme and yet it is what we are doing with ourselves. If we become more conscious of it, and the solution of which we are a part of will form more consciously and in that way we can get information about ourselves, what we are doing, about our work, our relationships, our body, our attitude. You might find one particular aspect taking up most of the quadrant. Maybe one area carries a lot more weight. And how you realize that is what are you doing? Like, I am spending fifteen hours a day at my job. That is a statement. And then, what is happening in regards to the other quadrants and why?
If you find one area predominating, you have hit your theme. And it is not anything which you sit down and meditate on, it is just what you are doing. You can not see your theme by sitting down thinking about it. But you can see what you are doing in the day to day activity. So it is a wonderful exercise. It is sometimes very revealing as to what our reality is, who and what we are, what we do versus what we philosophize about ourself. And then we can sometimes see why we have the dreams we have. Because we have this big hang up. We have a particular area which is a major part of our life.
That is the meditation for this evening. To become tranquil, relaxed, and then look at yourself in what you have done in the past. What has changed in regards to your work, relationship, body, attitude? Perhaps you can discover what you have been looking for in your life. Maybe you can be more conscious of the central theme and what makes you tick.
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