Bits of zen flotsam & jetsam from the daily practice of a zen fool with shards of modern Buddhist art from my studio. Sometimes cranky, sometimes inspiring, mostly entertaining.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Is Your Life A Dream?
I promised I would share my spiritual thrashings with you and here's a bit. I am reading "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream And Sleep" by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Dreams have always intrigued me and I have a dream that has followed me in different variations throughout my life. I am always driving in this dream and of course there's lots of variation, mostly troubling like the brakes don't work, or I'm driving from the backseat. Various people accompany me on these crazy drives. Most recently I was surprised and confused to find myself driving a right hand drive car.
But I digress gigantically. The main focus of "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream And Sleep" revolves around developing lucid dreaming capabilities. Rinpoche says: "If we cannot carry our practice into sleep, if we lose ourselves every night, what chance do we have to be aware when death comes. Look to your experience in dreams to know how you will fare in death. Look to your experience of sleep to discover whether or not you are truly awake." Sheesh, I am barely aware when I'm awake was my first thought! But there is something that strikes me as a practice worthy of exploration.
One of the concrete practices Tenzin Wangyal suggests is this: "Throughout the day practice the recognition of the dream-like nature of life... Upon waking in the morning, think to yourself, "I am awake in a dream. When you enter the kitchen, recognize it as a dream kitchen. Pour dream milk into your dream coffee. It's all a dream, you think to yourself, this is a dream. Remind yourself of this constantly throughout the day.... Keep reminding yourself that you are dreaming up your experiences, the anger you feel, the happiness, the anxiety, -- it's all part of the dream... In this way a new tendency is created in the mind, that of looking at experience as insubstantial, transient and intimately related to the minds projections. As phenomena are seen to be fleeting and essenceless, grasping decreases... Doing this practice, like all practice changes the way one engages the world... When we think of an experience as "only a dream" it is less "real" to us. It loses its power over us -- power that it only had because we gave it power, and can no longer disturb us and drive us into negative emotional states. Instead we begin to encounter all experience with greater calm and increased clarity, and even with greater appreciation."
While this practice is aimed at eventually helping us be aware while dreaming, I like the immediate payoff of reminding us that things and circumstances are ever changing and can't be held on to. As I tried this last night (and he recommends making it a deeper experience than just a thought) I noticed that I was okay with regarding the things I find difficult or unpleasant as a dream but wanted the things I loved to be solid and real. In an instant it was apparent where attachment rested it's hook and claw. I also found there was something slightly disorienting in regarding my life as a dream. I could feel the shaky groundlessness of it all.
So I think I might teeter off and have a piece of dream chocolate with a dream cup of tea. Where will your dreams lead you?
Buddhism & Art...if I had to pick two words that give an overview of what I get up to in this world those would be my choices. Buddhism is the ground upon which I rest all else. I like to think it brings me some sanity. It helps me think in some logical way about what I am doing and look at it as deeply as possible. What did I just do? Why ? What's that all about? ...To try and look at my life without sliding over things or fooling myself...To be present for life, not rejecting or preferring one experience over another. Buddhist practice makes my life full and rich, sometimes filled with joy and sometimes with a deep experience of the suffering present in this world.
After all those words does it seem odd to say that it is the simplicity of Zen that appeals to me? This inclination to simplicity pulls me to try and integrate my practice and work, to paint Buddhas, to observe my process as I work.
I am drawn to mixed media, integrating script and words with images and colour.